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“Any way they can.”

It was the bad old days of the Reagan Administration.  i was living in Santa Cruz and rapidly ditching my liberal Democrat roots and becoming an anarcho-feminist.

 

fall in love not in line

Reagan wanted to reward his campaign contributing oil company friends.  So he proposed permitting off shore oil leases on the California coast.  This was fantastically unpopular among Californians.

free fools voltaire

Still Reagan wanted to pretend that there was concern for the public’s opinion and he sent his secretary of Interior, Don Hodel to talk with the people of Santa Cruz.  Hodel brought with him some oil company PR flacks who showed how this oil 1) was desperately needed and 2) how the major oil companies had a great record with safe recovery of oil from off shore and 3) had no real alternative.  The audience was totally not buying it.

 

Prof Rabbit and Brother Rabbit

Prof Rabbit and Brother Rabbit

At the last minute Rabbit and i decided to go to the public hearing.  It was jammed.  So was the list of people who wanted to comment critically on the presentations of the oil companies and the secretary of the interior.

Rabbit was not deterred.  He went up and spoke to the moderator of the event.  He promised he would talk for less than 30 seconds.  He would wait for his moment and when the moderator signaled him he we jump up quickly.  The moderator being a flexible Santa Cruz type permitted this extraordinary action.

When Rabbits 15 seconds of super stardom was signaled he jumped to the podium.  “Secretary Hodel, as you can tell by the comments in this room the plan for off shore oil drilling is fantastically unpopular here in California.  So i have just two things to say to you.  1) There are some people in this room who will stop you any way they legally can”

common way to give up power - ALice Walker

“2) And there are other people in this room, who will stop you anyway they can.”  Rabbit bounded from the room and it took the moderator well over 30 seconds to get the room to calm down.

No additional oil drilling took place off the California coast.

 

 

 

The Anarchists and the Bankers

By GPaul Blundell
If you really want to learn how to make organizations work, try organizing demanding and productive consensus based organizations composed of feisty and opinionated anarchists.  Rewards, punishments, and hierarchies are convenient crutches that you just don’t get to use.  This is our theory on why the FEC communities generate process consultants and facilitation trainers.  It’s like Frank Herbert’s theory of the Sardaukar but with group process.This summer I had the pleasure of visiting Las Indias, an anarchist transnational cyberpunk commune currently based in Bilbao.  Delightful folks, really.  They, like many other modern communards, have gotten into the organizational consultation business and operate a worker coop providing consultation.

Somewhere in Bilboa

Somewhere in Bilboa

Over the years, they’ve been hired by a long list of impressive and, for an anarchist collective, unlikely seeming clients.  Then, in 2006, they were approached by one the biggest banks in Latin America and Spain.  It was suffering from organizational malaise and wanted help for fueling innovation in its ranks.  Las Indias took the job and, after analyzing the situation, decided, like the good transnational anarchists that they are, that the bank was suffering from two major ills: they had too much hierarchy and they were too divided nationally.  The prescription was simple and radical.  They insisted that the bank stuff -more than 120,000 workers- should learn to talk and work out of the hierarchy with a focus in internal open conversations rather than communication segregated by nation or department.

And so they built up the first internal blogsphere used by a big multinational corporation.  And what did they see?  According to Las Indias, the new open transnational space immediately started fostering innovation and quickly six new products where designed by volunteer teams. What is probably even more important: the conversation changed the atmosphere and allowed a collective and wider reflection on including differing perspectives.

eyes surreal

As part of this wave of rediscovery, with workers rediscovering their own environment and the future living inside and around it, the bank financed the first book series of collected of essays by living authors released under Public Domain in Europe. The books, on such at-the-time arcane subjects as P2P systems, the sharing economy, and workers’ transnational cooperativism, were both free for download as ebooks and as a paper edition. The commercial success of the print version was a rare and surprising success in the Spanish editorial scene: even though everybody had the option to have them for free as e-books, thousands of copies of every single title were sold in traditional bookshops.

However, anarchist transnationalist organization was a bit too much for the bank in the long run. The “Innovation Department” who contracted las Indias closed (their members were all promoted) and the bank turned progressively towards a flashier policy of buying dotcom businesses and trying to integrate them into the existing organization. Emphasis on internal conversation was decreased and emphasis on promoting external blogs and marketing was increased. In 2010, after a few years as a successful but then orphaned experiment, they closed the internal blogosphere, the first massive conversational space in a big worldwide organization.

monkey with gun

The bank weathered Spain’s financial crisis in 2008 relatively unscathed. Las Indias suspects that the reflection and innovations fueled by the open conversations had outside of the structure of the hierarchy helped them to avoid dangerous policies then common in other banks. Las Indias walked away from the project, but with a recognized and salable experience that later opened doors for them to more big institutions and businesses of the European Union and Latin America.

An opportunity for your dark green friend

Perhaps there is this type of person in your life, they are unusually principled, comfortable with hard work and they likely think most people are not going far enough to personally work on saving the environment.  They might have principal objections to flying, a vegan diet or live off the grid.  People and groups which adopt these reasonable, but oft seen as extreme positions i sometimes refer to as “dark green“.  I worked in a Czech dark green groups office.  It was many floors of steps to walk up, i did not know for 3 years that there was an elevator in the building.   You know the type.

Living Energy Farm is an ambitious and challenging project.  Essentially preparing for a post petroleum world, while it can still be done relatively comfortably.  However they are using a prefigurative approach, in which we model the practices which will be used in the resource-scarce future.  This means lots of things by hands, living closer to the seasons and nightfall, and thinking about how to reduce one’s impact seriously.

Below is Living Energy Farms latest Newsletter.

21st century camp fire

21st century camp fire

Living Energy Farm
July, August, September 2014 Newsletter

Living Energy Farm Needs You!

Have you ever thought about helping Living Energy Farm? Well, now we have a warm, dry place for you to stay. After the relentless cold and wet of last winter, facing the prospect that our project could come to a halt this winter, we worked with our supporters to gain the use of a house in the town of Louisa, one mile from LEF. (We call the house Magnolia, in honor of the massive Magnolia tree in the yard.) This will allow us to keep the project moving through the coming cold months. If you have any carpentry or mechanical skills, that’s great. If not, we can still use your help. Now we can offer you a warm bed. Much better than a tent in winter!

We are, in all honesty, stretched pretty thin right now. With Debbie and Alexis expecting their new baby any time now [Nikita has been born and both mom and kid are healthy – Paxus] we are trying to bring in the harvest, keep construction moving, and take care of the daily necessities of life. In our last newsletter, we put out a call for support. The response was tremendous. We have had numerous people come by and pitch in. That has been a huge help! Now with Magnolia in place, we can support more people through the winter. We have a lot to learn from each other. Consider giving us a visit! If we are slow to communicate, be patient. We have our hands pretty full.

Barn Raising, post petroleum style

Barn Raising, post petroleum style

Earthheart

Our main house at LEF, Earthheart, is coming along. We have it “dried in,” meaning the roof, windows, doors, and sheathing are done, so the building can go through the winter without damage. Thanks to some glorious volunteer crews from our local Louisa Baptist Church and the APO Service Fraternity of UVA, the first coat of exterior stucco is largely done. The interior framing is complete. Most of the wiring for our DC electrical system is done. We still need to do some plumbing, and get the ductwork in place for the solar heating system. Once those utilities are in place, we can put in the ceiling, and the strawbales, then push to completion! We will have a strawbale workshop sometime in the next few months. We will post a note to our lists when that time comes.

Seeds

Our seed harvest is almost finished for the year. This year our crops included corn, okra, watermelons, peppers, squash, and eggplant. We have “contracts” for each of these crops. These contracts are a non-binding agreements we make with the seed companies to produce a certain amount of seed. We will make almost all of our contracts this year, and we will have a significant surplus of some crops/ seeds.

Right livelihood, close to the earth

Right livelihood, close to the earth

This year we also contracted with seed companies to do variety trials of sweet corn and tomatoes. A variety trial consists of growing many different varieties (usually a few dozen) under identical conditions to compare yield, flavor, disease/insect resistance, and other factors. Our trials included many heirloom favorites, a few hybrids, and some new varieties coming from open-pollinated plant breeders across the country. Variety trials are a new and exciting line of work for us. They are the first step in the research and development of the best quality open pollinated varieties for organic conditions in our area. We are excited about pursuing this work in more depth next year, and maybe doing some breeding work as well, in cooperation with our friends at Common Wealth Seed Growers (www.commonwealthseeds.com).

Persimmons
We started picking our first cultivated fruits from trees we grafted on the land just 3 years ago. The photo is of Rosa, our youngest member, holding Yates persimmons. The Ruby persimmons also made a good handful of fruit this year, though they are not ripe yet. Yummy!

People’s Climate March — New York City

Several of us from LEF went to New York City to attend to the People’s Climate March on Sept 21. (Lovely train ride.) We tried to get near the front of the march to hand out flyers and talk to people as they marched by, but we never found the front of the march. After many hours of handing our flyers and talking to people, we never saw the end of the march. Any guesses about number of people attending can only be guesses. Manhattan was swarmed by protesters. One of our supporters in the city made us a beautiful banner and sandwich boards. (I wore one that said “I am Building a Community that Runs Without Fossil Fuel.) A LOT of people were interested in our project. We conducted more than a half dozen interviews with independent film makers, handed our flyers, and spoke to hundreds of people.

PeoplesClimateMarch-balloon.jpg.650x0_q85_crop-smart

The march was huge, diverse, impassioned — a beautiful display of the desire for a better world. As throngs of students, religious groups, and countless organizations chanting slogans about ending fossil fuel dependency passed by, I was deeply struck by how little understanding exists among the public of exactly what that means. After the march, numerous commentators have made the point that while it is was clear what the march was opposed to, it was not clear what it was in favor of. We feel like LEF is a answer to many of the problems caused by fossil fuel, and that is not a small matter. But we cannot expect important truths to magically transmit themselves. Corporations sell their products by communicating in multiple medias at the same time. We have to do something similar — keep talking about our important truths, over and over again. The most important thing you can do is to start taking your own life in the direction of fossil fuel sobriety, and talking to your friends about it. If we can help you do that, let’s see what we can teach each other. Life without fossil fuel is not hard, but we have to show people. We have to convince them. We will have to keep working on that for a long time to come.

Living Energy Farm is a project to build a demonstration farm, community, and education center in Louisa County that uses no fossil fuels. For more information see our website www.livingenergyfarm.org, or contact us at livingenergyfarm@gmail.com. Donations are tax deductible.

Community Matchmaking – Oct 18th Brooklyn

If we are honest with ourselves, we are just guessing.  Guessing what it will take to start new communities and especially what it will take to start new income sharing communities in NYC.  What we do know is that we are making lots of friends and allies and there are a bunch of people who are willing to help, or listen and consider these wild schemes.

We know that there are not many other groups who are doing the community promotional work we are doing, and the handful of events we have organized since the beginning of the year seem to have had a disproportionate effective – jump starting forming communities which were stalled in their launch, recruiting new people to existing NYC communities, deep advising and support for communities which are going through restructuring.

community-services

It is not the work we thought we were going to be doing, but it is quite satisfying and important work.  [The current Point A collective has decided not to chase the much hyped “sharing economy” as our Plan B if we can’t start new communities soon]

What we are guessing this month is Community Matchmaking is the trick.  We have not yet figured out if we are going to do a speed dating-like thing – or just stick to the more conventional “meet the communities” open market place of projects (after each gives a one minute self reflective presentation or some other format).

Speed-dating-night

We are returning to the BUZ on Saturday Oct 18th to network, educate, discuss and debate intentional communities in the New York City metro area.  We are hoping to hit at several different aspects of community life including: children/families. supporting activism, enabling sustainable living, sharing work and living space.

And we are looking for presenters (though we already have some in-city ringers lined up) for workshops.  And of course, we are especially seeking seekers.  People who do not yet have  community but are seeking it are encouraged to attend.

If you think you are going to come then please RSVP on Facebook (if you have not already dropped out of FB).

SONY DSC

The BUZ is a very big space, come share it with us.

Further Event Information:

This is a networking and educational event for people who are looking for intentional community or are forming new ones as well as residential communities seeking new members. People interested in supporting collectives in the city, but not necessarily living at one, are also welcome.

A collection of workshops and interactive events will assist participants in finding allies and guides to living more collectively. We understand how difficult it is to live cooperatively in and around the city. Yet there are important examples and opportunities for people interested in activism, sustainability, collective child care and education and shared living and working spaces.

Current Format

10 to noon Pot Luck Brunch – informal discussion and networking
12:30 to 6PM Workshops, community presentations, structured networking.

This event is hosted by the Point A project (see http://www.FromPointA.org)

Cost: Sliding Scale $5 to $10 – no one refused for lack of funds.

Facebook’s Fumble

Social media is tremendously important and Facebook is an awful primary platform.  Friendster gave way to MySpace, MySpace lost dominance to Facebook and then …

Facebook Fail

i am quick to confess i want Facebook to fail.  Not just because of their terrible privacy policies, not just because they are mining personal data to sell to all manner of annoying corporations and government agencies, not just because Facebook uses it’s users are lab rats in social experiments, not just because it bans images of mothers breastfeeding but permits images of misogynist violence, not just because Facebook enables identity theft, though these things certainly encourage my upset and frustration with the giant of social media.

The reason i want Facebook to fail is that i want popular, powerful, alternative social networking solutions which will be institutionally supportive of efforts to use social media as a positive transformative technology, rather than just another capitalist cog.

You dont want to piss these gals off, trust me.

You dont want to piss these gals off, trust me.

So i was extra pleased when i saw that Facebook undid all the positive media it had earned by including 56 gender identifications after having had just two since it’s founding. It did this by deciding everyone on Facebook had to have profiles with their legal names on them.  And then taking complaints from people who saw FB users using fictitious names, FB has taken down hundreds of drag performers’ pages and has given them the option to change their profile name or lose their profile completely.

This policy has hit drag performers especially hard.  In part because many user names are obviously not birth names, in part because someone has apparently been reporting lots of drag performers,
Read More…

Eliptigo – go go

Abigail has a new kind of bike.  And the fans are going wild.

Abigail and Eliptigo

Abigail and her mango Elliptigo

She reports that as she rides around Eugene, almost everywhere she goes people are excited and want to play .  “Take us with you” scream the teen girls on the track as she cruises by, College students call out “Nice Ride”, cars pull up next to her to inquire about the quality of the ride, and toddlers to octogenarians turn their heads and cheer their approval. The bike has universal appeal.

A funologist wobbles forward

A funologist wobbles forward

Of all the Elliptigo videos we watched the best one was French

A Mountain of Pillows

The Tarrytown NY spring craft fair is one of our best shows.  Hawina and i have been doing it for quite some years now and the commune does handsomely selling to affluent NYC suburban customers.  It is an extended family affair.  Willow comes with us, as does Corb and some years Angie and other years Feonix.  The Stars and Corb split to cost of the extra hotel room and food, so the commune is not paying for this giant entourage.

Willow and Evan in Time Square

Willow and Evan in Time Square

We decided to take a bit of a chance and try the fall craft show at Tarrytown.  This is risky because most people wont buy hammocks this late in the year.  On this trip we brought Evan from Twin Oaks with us.  We spent a day in NYC doing touristy things before the fair.  Time Square, Staten Island Ferry and based on Aurora’s suggestion the Society of Illustrators compelling Spectrum exhibit

"Morning Walk" from Spectrum Exhibition

“Morning Walk” from Spectrum Exhibition

Not far from the Society of Illustrators is my favorite part of Central Park.

Alice, Willow and Paxus in Central Park

Alice, Willow, Paxus and a neuro-atypical hatter in Central Park

When we are at the Tarrytown fair we stay at the Marriott hotel which has fancy elevators and is near to the fair site.    Like most hotels, the Marriott has room service.  In the first couple of hours we used it to get a refrigerator and fix the television.  From a young persons perspective, room service is like magic.  You pick up the phone, you describe a problem and shortly there after the right person comes to fix it and then politely vanishes.

The power of room service

The power of room service

Willow loves pillows.  And the hotel is pretty generous with them.  But none-the-less he called room service and asked them to bring 3 more for him.  Now he has 6.  Life is good.

[This post has been approved by Evan and Willow.]

PS We did acceptably well at the fair, about $5K total, we might come back next year.

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