Archive | Propaganda RSS for this section

Ice Cream Truck

paxus:

Okay, this is just too cute

Originally posted on Running in ZK:

While I was working at our warehouse on one of the last muggy days of the year, I heard a noise that I assumed was someone’s cell phone going off.  It sounded like an ice cream truck, though.  I turned to Arlo and said, “Haha, that person’s cell phone sounds like an ice cream truck.  When we looked outside, however, the noise was coming from an “ice cream truck” that Summer, Tim, and Anya constructed out of a golf cart and cardboard.  They had ice cream available in coolers.  It was suck a treat for everyone to take a break from working to eat ice cream on a hot day, and we were all impressed with the creativity of the project.  Twin Oakers are great at executing clever ideas.

the "ice cream truck"

the “ice cream truck”

View original

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.

Pinkwash

The Facebook thread was incredulous.  Several people were completely convinced it was a joke.  How could a group fighting breast cancer be taking money from a company which sells fracking fluids and services (an activity known to cause cancer)?

But not only is it not a joke, it has been going on for a couple years now and until recently no one was paying attention.  The Susan G. Komen Foundation is this nations largest breast cancer fighting organization.  They have been happily taking $100K per year from oil extraction company Baker Hughes.

understandably unbelievable

understandably unbelievable

But for those who have been tracking the Komen Foundation’s political evolution, this should be no surprise.  In 2012, Komen chose to stop funding Planned Parenthood (PP), because they were “under investigation.” This was a thin rouse, which was quickly revealed for what it was, an effort by the conservative leadership of Komen to strike at PP because it provides abortion services.  The investigation consisted of trumped up charges by similarly motivated House Republicans, and it went nowhere.

fashionable corporate giving

fashionable corporate giving

But Komen’s plans to defund PP exploded in their face in a stunning way.  Individual contributions to Komen dropped dramatically.  In the fiscal year in which they made this mistake they lost $77 million over the previous year’s funding, representing 22% of their total income.  Komen reversed its choice to defund PP after only 3 days, but the damage was already done.

Fierce Backlash

Fierce Backlash

There are other problems with Komen.  Specifically, only 20% of the donations they receive go to breast cancer research.  Over 50% go to educational programs.  If you know the non-profit world, it is far easier to hide bloated salaries and bogus programming under the “education” category than under research.  And many critics think research is more important than education at this point.

And thus we add “Pinkwash” to our vocabulary.  As Baker Hughes produces 1,000 pink drill bits to promote their campaign,  there is now a petition to get Komen to reverse their choice, as they did so quickly with their PP foolishness.

Perhaps Komen has outlived its usefulness or is unreformable as an organization, and like Monsanto and Siemens nuclear division, it is time for it to die.

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.

October is Umbrella Revolution

The pro-democracy protest in Hong Kong have been labeled by an excited mainstream media “The Umbrella Revolution”, despite the organizers distaste for the name.  They say they do not want a full revolution and they are a civil disobedience movement.  But as this month may well show, they have every capacity to become a major transformative effect on totalitarian mainland China.

If you have never been to Hong Kong it is a bit hard to describe.  I was there for a week in 1991.  It was the first place i saw someone talking on two cell phones at the same time.  Even over 20 years ago, this model of laissez-faire capitalism was running at 120% of the speed of Manhattan, with neon lights which more than rivaled it.  It is the only developed place that i have been which has virtually no zoning controls.  Sky rises host hair salons beside meat packing facilities beside student hostels.  But for over a century it has been an occupied land, first by the British who installed their provincial governors, then by the Chinese who want to continue to control the slate of candidates for governor in the 2017 elections, the first elections since independence in 1997.

One of many logos for the Umbrella Revolutions

It is called the Umbrella Revolution for a couple of reasons.  The first is that it is a collection of groups working together, starting with the Occupy Central with Peace and Love group, which was originally mostly academics and students.  The second is that protesters have been using umbrellas to hold back both the seasonal rains and the pepper spray of the police.

Size matters - transformative protests, their fraction of youth and number

Size matters – transformative protests, their fraction of youth and number

One of the questions that rolls through the minds of some activists is “How powerful is the Occupy name?”  My personal impression is that it is quite valuable, especially if you consider anyone dedicated to non-violence can use it.  Besides the current important protests in Hong Kong (partly organized by Occupy Central) there are numerous other Occupy affiliated groups doing all manner things.  One of my personal favorites is “Strike the Debt” which has purchased at cut rates student loans, which just paid slight me over $100K to cancel over $2 million in US student debt.  I’ve written about the San Francisco’s Occupy Housing which reclaims foreclosed properties for the original tenants.

The mainstream media often dismisses the Occupy movement as failed and chaotic.  What is actually true is that Occupy has inspired actions around the world, some of which are collapsing repressive regimes.  Let’s hope the Umbrella Revolution can wrestle control from the plutocrats in Beijing.

For poor weather and bad police

For poor weather and bad police

Crowds swelled to over 100K people despite the often challenging weather and challenging reprisals.

Extended FAQs – Twin Oaks and Personal Possessions

i want to extend the Twin Oaks website FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions).  i am choosing existing entries i am interested in and re-posting them in my blog and then extending them.  Here is the FAQ on personal possessions.

The community provides for all our basic needs–food, clothing, housing, health care, etc. Each member has their own private bedroom. The community will provide furniture (bed, lamp, dresser, etc.) or members can bring their own. Members bring their own clothing when they move here, and we also have Community Clothes aka “Commie Clothes” which provides additional clothing as members need it over time. Members can bring personal possessions with them (e.g. books, musical instrument, camera, stereo, CD’s, computer, etc.) and whatever they keep in their room remains theirs. Other personal possessions can either be stored elsewhere (usually at family/friend’s house), donated to the community, or lent to the community for the duration of the person’s membership. Please also see our Property Code for more information.

What do you really need?

What do you really need?

What is missing from this description is that you are also allowed to bring a personal bike that you can store outside your room.  Though for egalitarian reasons, technically you can’t ride your personal bike around campus as if it were a community bike., tho some members ignore this perhaps archaic rule.  Additionally, by becoming a member you can supplement your personal wardrobe with the collective clothes library, called commie clothes.

My bike before i lived at Twin Oaks, ridden by my ex-girlfriend Natasha

My bike before i lived at Twin Oaks, ridden by my ex-girlfriend Natasha

But what is more important generally, is that we are striving to avoid members feeling envious of materials things that other members have.  And in my evaluation this mostly works.  The culture of the community discourages people from showing off expensive presents they have received.  And this cultural norm has not (for example) eliminated the envy experienced by some members when others go on long trips away from the community.  This is not possible for many communards, because travel and lodging is expensive.

And even more importantly, from my perspective, the sharing techniques used by Twin Oaks and Acorn are models the rest of the world should embrace.  Americans hate sharing, but i am banking on them hating climate disruption more than they hate sharing.  It might turn out that entire planet depends on this assumption being right.

Should Japan Restart it’s Reactors?

Japan was the third largest nuclear power in the world, with 50 operating reactors on March 10th, 2011.  Then the 3/11/11 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami hit, leading to 3 meltdowns and 5 other reactors being crippled or permanently decommissioned.  There are now 42 reactors in Japan which could theoretically be restarted.  For technical and political reasons they have all been idle for the last year.

Should Japan restart these reactors?  At first the answer might seem an obvious yes.  These reactors represented almost 30% of the countries generating capacity.  Without them, as the Abe government has claimed the economy will suffer as will the environment.  Without them, as the nuclear utilities have claimed, there will be blackouts and brownouts.   Except that has not been what has happened.

From Greenpeace Happy First Nuclear Free Birthday Report

From Greenpeace Happy First Nuclear Free Birthday Report

Despite a significant increase in fossil fuel use for energy generation, the total CO2 emissions have only increased minimally (on the order of 8% in 2010 to 2012).  This is because overall energy use is way down through energy efficiency and conservation and CO2 emissions have also been mitigated by renewables coming online.

Nor has the Japanese economy crashed in response to the lack of nuclear power.  In fact in 2012, the first full year after Fukushima, still reeling from the tsunami and earthquake, and with most of it’s nuclear fleet shut down,  Japan had it’s highest recorded GDP ever.

How is this possible?

Japan fuel replacement

The short answer is Japan has dramatically changed it’s relationship with energy.  In the last year when it has been fully nuclear free, it has put in place conservation and efficiency programs that are replacing 13 reactors worth of power.  In addition generous feed in tariffs are inspiring both home owners and businesses to install renewable sources of energy and this has amounted to another 3 reactors worth of power being saved.  At this rate in just 2 more years all the reactors capacity will be replaced.  So given how the last few years have been, why dont we just wait and see.  As many other countries have delayed nuclear projects including Bangladesh, Jordan, Lithuania, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Vietnam.

 

Japan renewable growth

So it turns out the not at all obvious answer (given the government and utilities mistatements) is that seismically and volcanically active Japan is better off leaving all it’s reactors turned off.   It is better off economically, environmentally and in terms of energy services. This is also what 59% of the Japanese public want.

But, sadly, this is nothing like a done deal.   These reactors represent hundreds of billions of dollars in investments for the nuclear utilities.  The nuclear utilities and the Abe administration have no intention of giving them up without a fight.   This is possibly the biggest industrial fight in the history of the planet.  A back of the napkin calculation is that these reactors have several trillion US dollars worth of life in them.  Only big wars are more expensive.

Much of the data and all of the charts for this report come from the excellent new Greenpeace “Nuclear Free Japan year one

 

 

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,695 other followers