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GOOD: Global Organization of Democracies

10 Dec

Here’s a triple, a trifecta, a trinity, from Charlie Keil. It’s about a Global Organization of Democracies (GOOD). Let him explain it.

An Open Letter to Citizens of the World

Dear Citizen:

I think we need a common GOOD, a Global Organization Of Democracies, one nation one vote, (so that a confederation of indigenous peoples up the Amazon can have the same voting power as the USA, Okinawa the same vote power as Japan, etc.) [big so-called democracies may not want to be members at first], to be meeting year round to suggest ways of: stopping “ethnic cleansing” and “administrative massacres,” terrorism, and wars; sharing air, water and resources fairly; raising global carbon taxes for local carbon sequestration (planting trees, fostering permacultures) going strong everywhere; planning and fostering a global literacy campaign focused on young women, etc., etc.

For every real problem you can think of, the world needs to hear these discussions, suggestions, planning sessions year round so that hopes can realistically be raised about stopping climate destruction, reducing global storming, etc. Can you give these “self-determination of peoples” and “conserving the speciation” ideas 8 minutes a day? 12 minutes a day on Saturday and Sunday?

Peace is the Way! (to ecological balance)

Charlie Keil

For the common GOOD

To stop the ecocatastrophe and build world peace processes a Global Organization of Democracies (GOOD) supporting the International Criminal Court (ICC) could coordinate efficient regional police forces to help prevent “administrative massacres” and terrorism, thereby enhancing the security of all peoples and encouraging states to redirect a growing portion of their military budgets to economically sustainable problem-solving over time. Continue reading

The Real Estate Deal That Could Change the Future of Everything – Neighborhoods – The Atlantic Cities

20 Nov

Why the real estate industry sucks:

Investors primarily concerned with a quick return have given us what real estate developer Chris Leinberger calls a disposable built environment. We’ve taken a 40-year asset class in real estate, he says, and turned it into a five-to-seven-year one. This is one byproduct of the weird reality that it’s easier for people who don’t live in your community to invest in it, that it’s easier to finance new suburban strip malls than to redevelop an empty storefront.

via The Real Estate Deal That Could Change the Future of Everything – Neighborhoods – The Atlantic Cities.

How to get ready for 2016 – Salon.com

11 Nov

This article is oriented toward standard-issue party politics, which isn’t TnT’s cup of tea. The suggestions presume it. But the general advice is sound, start working now for 2016:

Take a week, take a month, whatever you need to rest up from the 2012 campaign cycle. But then? If you want to really make a difference in American politics, the time to get started is now. Not in September or October 2016, but in the next several months. Here’s why – and five suggestions for what you can do.

Here’s the sixth suggestion:

6. Or just get involved in a local party organization. Whether this one is worth it varies quite a bit from place to place, to be sure. In some areas, formal party organizations are excellent gateways into participation. In others, they’re just meaningless sideshows – although in some of those places, there are parallel groups of some sort, either highly organized or just loosely arranged, that really are more important than the formal party organizations. And all of these groups will vary in terms of how open they are to new participants. As with anything, don’t expect to walk in and immediately start rewriting the platform in your first meeting. But that’s the advantage of getting involved now, in the off-season. By the time most people start thinking about elections again, someone starting now will have had a chance to build up some seniority and influence.

In the case of Jersey City, the politics is dominated by an Old School machine. But my local Democratic Committee was quite successful in running an independent candidate for the City Council. She won against the Machine. That win is VERY BIG.

via How to get ready for 2016 – Salon.com.

What Have I Learned from Sandy? Resilience Begins in Responsibility

8 Nov

I phrase it as a question because, though, considered as a weather event, hurricane Sandy is over and done with, as a psycho-cultural-historical event, it is only in the early phases of its life. In an earlier post (Thoughts on Sandy: We Must Change Our Ways, NOW) I talked about the need to restructure our world:

We have to rethink and restructure. We have to decouple and downsize. Otherwise we’re committing suicide by “civilization” and technology.

That idea isn’t new to me. It’s been with me in one form or another for a long time.

But, whatever lessons Sandy has for others—and I hope her lessons have been deep ones—I’m beginning to think that she does have a lesson for me, a lesson about self-reliance, community, and their interdependence. Still, I’m not sure. It’s too soon to tell. In any event, before I get around to a tentative account of THAT lesson, I want first to talk about some other lessons.

Sputnik, Martial Law, Berlin Wall

These lessons are personal lessons, though not entirely so. They are lessons about the intersection of my life with the larger currents of history. As such, I don’t expect that these historical events will have the same or similar significance for others, though they might. Briefly, these are the events:

  • 1957: The Russians launched Sputnik, the first man-made satellite to circle the earth
  • 1968: Martin Luther King was assassinated, riots broke out, and martial law was declared in Baltimore
  • 1989: Berlin Wall came down and set the stage for the reunification of Germany

I was ten years old in 1957 and was fascinated by outer space, rockets, and such—a fascination stoked, no doubt, but various TV programs by Walt Disney and films such as Forbidden Planet (1956). The launching of Sputnik marks the first time my dreams and fantasies met-up with history.

The launching of Sputnik was certainly a world historical event. Shorn of politics, it was the first time that humans stepped off of the earth to inhabit outer space, if only briefly. But of course, we can’t divorce Sputnik from Cold War politics, nor did I do so as a ten-year old. I knew, in my ten-year old way, that it was important for America to beat the Russians in the space race that Sputnik had catalyzed.

However, by the mid-1960s I had decided that, if the Cold War was in fact a real and pressing international conflict, it was a conflict dominated by a military-industrial complex that was more interested in preserving itself than in preserving the peace. The war in Vietnam had made me a pacifist and the counter-culture had almost made me a hippie.

Almost. I wore hippie clothing, listen to the Beatles, the Doors, and Jimi Hendrix, and smoked weed—yes, I inhaled. But I never made it too full-out hippiedom. I was too much of an intellectual for that.

And when Martin Luther King was assassinated in 1968, riots broke out in Baltimore, where I was attending The Johns Hopkins University. The riots took place in East Baltimore, far from the North Charles Street campus of university, but that made no difference when martial law was declared. The whole city was put on lock-down. Curfew was 4PM and National Guard vehicles and men patrolled the streets. Of course I had to break curfew, along with some of my hippie (and non-hippie) friends. Continue reading

After Hurricane Sandy, Debating Costly Sea Barriers in New York Area – NYTimes.com

8 Nov

In the past few years proposals have been floated to protect the NYC area from flodding by putting large gates into New York Bay. The gates would lie in the seafloor most of the time but would be raised into place during a major storm, such as Sandy.

He said that if gates had been placed in strategic spots like the Arthur Kill, between Staten Island and New Jersey, they would have protected some of the areas that were swamped by floodwaters, including the edges of Lower Manhattan, low-lying areas of Brooklyn and Queens and the western part of Staten Island, as well as Jersey City and Hoboken, N.J.

“The idea is that you raise these barriers, and anywhere inside of that you’re basically protected,” Dr. Colle said, adding, “With a solid barrier, we basically can have business as usual in Lower Manhattan.”

But vexing questions remain. Would industries tolerate immense disruption from the construction of barriers in the city’s busy waterways? Would residents object to the marring of vistas? With climate change advancing, can scientists accurately predict the size of hurricanes that the sea gates would one day have to withstand?

And where would the $10 billion-plus in construction money come from? Even a study — taking into account the complexity of New York waterways, projections in the rise in sea levels and other factors — would take years and millions of dollars.

The scientists and engineers who have worked on conceptual designs for the city say a comprehensive study is needed on what would be the most effective locations and the most practical type of barriers — whether they swing close like a driveway gate or pivot up from the ocean floor, for example.

A feasibility study by the Army Corps of Engineers, which would have jurisdiction, would require authorization from Congress.

“A lot of things need to be taken into consideration before we throw up a giant wall,” said Chris Gardner, a spokesman for the corps.

What strikes me as that time to do the preliminary study and then the actual construction is on the order of significant climate change due to global warming. Thus one can imagine that the climate is changing fast enough that such gates would be obsolete by the time they’re built. These gates make sense ONLY if we take major steps to stop pumping CO2 into the atmosphere. Otherwise it’s just more wishful techno-dreaming.

via After Hurricane Sandy, Debating Costly Sea Barriers in New York Area – NYTimes.com.

Thoughts on Sandy: We Must Change Our Ways, NOW

5 Nov

IMGP1487rd

I didn’t really think much about Sandy until I went grocery shopping on Sunday afternoon, October 28. The fact that Irene hadn’t hit Jersey City as bad as had been predicted meant little about Sandy. And I knew that. But still, how bad could it be? So I didn’t stock up on batteries, candles, and non-perishable food. Thus it’s a matter of luck that I had enough to get through four-and-a-half days without power.

Of course, I also had friends, June Jones in particular. A number of people met at her place for meals. She was cooking up a storm. Without power the food in her freezer would spoil quickly. She decided to cook it up and had her friends and family over.

Thanks, June!

And then there’s my friends at the Villain. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

So I got home from shopping on Sunday afternoon and spent some more time on my Halloween costume: Trash Master. I was coming down the home stretch on it and figured it would be ready in plenty of time for the Halloween party we were throwing for the kids in the garden.

Did some more work on the costume on Monday and more this and that. Took some photos of wind whipping through the garden (see above) and planned my work for the rest of the week. Around 8:30 PM or so that evening the power flickered and then went out. But it came back in a minute or so. Every once in awhile I could feel the building shake. At 9:05 PM the power went out again, and didn’t come back.

Not to worry. I was ready for bed anyhow—I’m going to bed early these days, and getting up early, too, as always. I figured the power would be back when I woke up, or later that day.

I woke up Monday morning to darkness. I had some breakfast, grabbed my camera, and hit the streets by 6:45 AM. Very few lights were on anywhere. That was NOT a good sign, not good at all. Oh, some big buildings had lights on, buildings with generators no doubt. But mostly things were dark, in Jersey City AND in Manhattan.

Continue reading

In backup generators we trust? – Boing Boing

4 Nov

Right now, your neighborhood gets that voltage and frequency signal from the larger grid as a whole. If you’re suddenly cut off from the signal, your neighborhood will cease to have a working electric system — even if there are sources of generation right there down the block.

In an emergency situation, we do suddenly have lots of hyper-local generation sources — those 12 million backup generators. What we don’t have is the infrastructure in place to take advantage of that. A backup generator can power a building, but, in general, it can’t share resources with the building next door.

A microgrid would change that, enabling areas the size of neighborhoods to operate independently in the event of an emergency. “Your backup generators are tied together and then you can redirect power from where it’s available … say at a bank … to a hospital, or a fire station, or someplace more critical,” Zimmerle said.

Doing that means updating technology, but it also means changing the way we think about legal and regulatory frameworks. In particular, Zimmerle pointed to power purchase agreements — contracts between the people who get electricity to your house and the people who generate it. In some places, those two jobs are done by the same people. But where they aren’t, power purchase agreements usually limit the amount of electricity that can be generated locally.

via In backup generators we trust? – Boing Boing.

Evolutionary Alienation

27 Sep

What do you mean by that? you ask. Crudely put, we evolved in a world surrounded by plants and animals. We’re now headed pell-mell into cities where plants and animals are largely absent. And so we no longer fell at home. We’re alienated. We miss our friends and companions.

And we’re not going to find them by cruising the web or watching CGI movies.

Do you actually believe that? you ask. How the hell would I know? says I, I just thought of it.

What made you think of it?

Two things: cartoons and community gardens.

How so? Continue reading

The Tomato Incident | Vermont Commons

25 Sep

The Transition movement is rooted in permaculture principles, which some people call “social permaculture.” Applied on a social level, the principle of observation leads to some important foundational questions. Where are we? What’s going on? Who’s involved? Where are we going? How are we getting there? How do we work together?

This isn’t something that we can simply read articles about. We need to experience these questions together in shoulder-to-shoulder, hands-on kinds of ways (kind of like my tomato plants) to see—by trial and error- just what makes us lush, green and bountiful! Reading articles can ignite good ideas—but they have to be tried on, worn and felt. We have to experience what works and what doesn’t in order to make choices for our communities (and our gardens) that will give us thriving resilience.

This means getting out there and doing it. It means shucking off the social isolation that, as Americans, we have unquestionably accepted for the past two decades. It means letting go of the concept of ‘rugged individualism’. The Transition  movement is about transitioning away from overly individuated singularity toward an integrated synthesis. We, as individuals, will necessarily awaken to our roles as a part of the collective. We will reclaim our rightful place as ‘citizens’ instead of being merely content to be ‘consumers’.

via The Tomato Incident | Vermont Commons.

Bleg: Beyond/Beneath the Nation-State

21 Sep

Two days ago I put up a post in which I asserted, by the time-honored method of pulling it out of my arse, that

in the long run, more and more political action which shift to cities and thereby ‘hollow out’ the increasingly sclerotic system of nation states which governs the earth and the global level. In a century the nation states will be husks of what they are now and most of the world’s civic business will be conducted by shifting coalitions of cities and regions.

I’m interested in exploring that notion.

Very.

Anyone have ideas, suggestions for things to check out, etc.? Any relevant science fiction?

* * * * *

In that post I cited, as examples,

  • the Second Vermont Republic, a group of citizens who want Vermont to secede from the USofA,
  • the Transition Town movement, folks who are adamantly apolitical but who, in anticipation of peak oil, are working toward local self-sufficiency in food and energy and all that that implies, and
  • Mayors of Peace, an international organization of cities seeking to end nuclear weapons by 2020.

What else is there like that, where “like that” is interpreted generously? Continue reading

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