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April Fools! Jokes on us – Hinkely B and C

Were there any justice in the world, April Fools day would be the annual nuclear power holiday.  The industry started by fooling us from its very inception.

Eisenhower’s Atoms for Peace has been the vehicle for the development on nuclear weapons around the world. The Price Anderson nuclear insurance act fools you into thinking there is liability protection from nuclear accidents, there is not.  Pundits from Fox News to the NY Times claim reactors are a solution to climate change, but they aren’t.    Nuclear proponents claim they produce inexpensive power, but they don’t. One of the biggest jokes on us is the idea that renewables with constantly decreasing generation prices are not going to eventually beat out extraction based technologies like fossil fuels and nuclear. In fact, we are well past this point.

Were we to embrace this obvious fact, we would not be building 5 reactors in the US right now. solar-and-nuclear-costs-the-historic-crossoverIn the spirit of this nuclear foolery holiday a small handful of British activists blocked the road going into operating UK reactor Hinkley B.  Their basic complaint is that this reactor is operating past its design life and endangering the locals and money is being wasted on upgrading it, especially given the fact that the price of renewables is markedly down in the UK.    hinkley 2 blockade But the real joke this year is Hinkley C.   The proposed total cost for this new giant Anglo-French  reactor complex is over US$ 50 billion.  This project is often billed as “the most expensive energy project ever.”  It is also being attacked for its massive subsidies by anti-nuclear Austria.   With a government negotiated contract guaranteeing $137/MWH which is twice the current UK wholesale price and over 5 times the current US price.

Don’t be fooled.

Comparing the opinion polls; why NEI gets it so wrong

paxus:

Sometimes having a lot of money and an incredible PR machine is not enough to keep people fooled. This won’t stop the nuclear industry from trying however.

Originally posted on GreenWorld:

Digging into the Gallup poll shows Americans' energy priorities: clean energy. Digging into the Gallup poll shows Americans’ energy priorities: clean energy.

Every Spring, Gallup conducts a poll on energy issues and the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) usually does so too–and usually tries to beat Gallup to the punch so that it can tout its numbers first.

Not surprisingly, the NEI numbers somehow always show large public support for nuclear power.

Perhaps surprisingly, Gallup and NEI use the same basic polling question on nuclear power. But they tend to come up with very different numbers. And never have the numbers been more divergent than this year.

Gallup’s poll was released today, and showed support for nuclear power at its lowest level since 2001–the overall low point for nuclear since Gallup began regularly asking the question. According to Gallup, 51% of the American people “strongly favor or somewhat favor the use of nuclear energy as one of the ways to provide…

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Three Levels of Transparent Communication

I have not done a single Transparency Tools workshop on the current PANYC trip.  I have however been working with Ogtar who has so far done two of them.  In trying to explain the technique to him there are some things which I observed that I think are worth commenting on.  The first is that I see as the three levels of transparency.

The first level is simple self revelation.  Most common among the our tools for this are “If you really knew me” and hot seat (where others deeply question someone in the group).  While people are encouraged to be a bit daring in these exercises, you are always at choice as to what you reveal and how much.

What really winds you up?

What really winds you up?

The second level is empathy building.  This is when instead of a self revelation you reflect experiences or emotional states you have had which are similar to those of another member in the group.  This type of transparency frequently comes out while the crosstalk tool is in use or “i have a story about you”.  After some transparency exercise (and especially after “if you really knew me”) we ask for cross talk, where the share of one participant has sparked an empathetic or other emotional response from someone else in the group.  By sharing this (in crosstalk or some other tool) it builds bridges between the members of the group who have similar histories.

"Don't just sit there"

“Don’t just sit there”

The third level is emotional housekeeping.  When a member of the group tells another something which is standing in the way of clear and complete communication.  This is most regularly done using the Withhold or Unsaid tools.

It is this last level of transparency which I refer to as the sharp edge of this tool set.  This is because it is where some of the most important healing and connecting work is done.  And it is also the tool in which it is most easy for people to mess up and hurt each other.  In part because of this it is the tool I most often introduce new groups to, without having them try it on each other.

This-Sign-Has-Sharp-Edges-Funny-Signs

Often, if the group consists of people who don’t know each other, it is an inappropriate tool to use, because there is not anything important for people to clear with each other.  But even when there are things to clear among participants, in the first or second transparency tools session the group may not yet have built up enough trust for it to make sense to try.  And again this week while we were introducing a NYC collective house to the full Transparency Tools set, someone grabbed this tool after it was explained and used it to get stuff off their chest which was bothering them about another person in the group.  [This also happened with the Catalyst Ecovillage group we trained in February.]

Don't try this at home

Don’t try this at home

There is something deeply satisfying to me as a purveyor of these tools when new users feel so excited about a tool they are introduced to that even when they are discouraged from using it, they daringly grab it pick it up and try it.  So far the results have been impressive and positive.

New Propaganda Tools – The Point A Foldie

Before there were zines, there were fingerbooks. An 8.5” by 11” sheet of paper cut in half and then folded into half small booklets, with high graphic content and relatively few words. I made a lot of these on different topics while I was working in Europe.   There was one on consensus, one on reactors and the most popular one on open relationships which got translated into several languages.

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I’ve sat at a whole bunch of tables in my day handing out propaganda. I watch people and what they reach for and pick up. From a collection of full size flat pieces of paper, a tri-fold and a fingerbook, a surprising fraction of the time, a typical curious passer by will pick up the fingerbook first. Often people will only take one thing and if you are in the propaganda business, you want to be first.

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There was a Point A pamphlet, I did not have much to do with it, I really did not like it. The font was tiny, there were hardly any graphics, it was folded into an 1/8th of a page with some strange cut pattern which was confusing. As someone who had made a lot of fairly popular fingerbooks, it offended my sensibilities.

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Recklessly, Trip left her email open. I fired off message to GPaul pretending to be her, complaining about the Point A pamphlet and asking if he and Lily would fix it. Not noticing that I had spelled incompetently wrong (a dead give away since Trip would never do such a thing), GPaul was both fooled and took the request seriously. A beautiful thing resulted from this spoof.

In the type of last minute scramble indicative of so many things in the Point A project, Drew [link blog], GPaul [link something] and Lily [link MatchMaker bio] pulled together a Point A “foldie” which is a kissing cousin of a fingerbook (no cutting thank you) in time for the DC Point A introductory event. Which was conveniently a few days before the PANYC Community MatchMaking event this weekend.

The world is a better place.

New Communities in Washington DC?!

We are constantly guessing when and what type of events we should be organizing in order to spark the new communities movement. This time we clearly guessed right.

Triple Threat organizing discussion groups

Triple Threat organizing discussion groups

We had about 70 people at this quickly organized event.  We crowded the Keep with enthusiastic and chatty folks. Many were experienced community people but for most of the group this was relatively new stuff.

John Keep describes his collective house and their trajectory towards income sharing

John Keep describes his collective house and their trajectory towards income sharing

Lovely food and engaging conversation were had. After GPaul did a wild and woolly version of open space technology, we broke into working groups talking about:

I was in the healing discussion group which was held in part in an empty Jacuzzi tub.

There were a lot of people richly chatting in the Keep kitchen

There were a lot of people richly chatting in the Keep kitchen

It was a lovely warm up for our content in NYC this coming weekend, the Community Matchmaking (see Facebook Invite) event. Here is the evolving program for that event, being held at the Brooklyn Free School.

GPaul at the helm

GPaul at the helm

All photos by Dragon

Pack Lightly

There were a few moments in planning for the upcoming PANYC trip that it looked like we were going to have very little space for luggage.  “Let’s all travel light,” I suggested.  “I can pack less than you,” Triple Threat said in that reckless manner she has.  Except she can’t.

My current plan is to bring nothing.

no baggage

Yes, I will have the one change of clothes on my back and carry a cell phone charger and toothbrush in my pocket- but I can do a week long trip in another city without a backpack or suitcase.  In fact it is almost my preference.

You might say “But don’t you want a change of clothes?”  Sure, that would be nice, and I have lots of generous friends (as almost everyone does) who are willing to put up with my slightly strange behavior so I will tell stories and do their dishes.  Many of them feel good about sharing their stuff- no one ever asks, so they don’t get a chance to show up in this way.  A few years back I made a New Years resolution to travel without luggage, though I could not pull it off consistently.  But in a pinch, no problem.

Trip never had a chance.

Which words can we still use? Commune? Communism?

There are all manner of messages which we want to get out to the world and recently myself and my comrades working on the Point A project have been thinking about what messages people are ready for.

Anarchist_Communist_Flag_by_TapiocaDeath

These messages, perhaps?

On our most recent NYC trip we realized that we were making it sound harder than it really is to become income sharing.  “They don’t need to have a cottage industry.” GPaul said, “They don’t even need to live together.”

Indeed, the only thing which stops people from becoming income sharing is a lack of trust.  If you trust each other, you can change your agreements and begin taking care of more needs cooperatively almost immediately.

We started thinking about a workshop that would explain this. But what do we label the workshop?

I wanted to call the workshop “You can become income sharing now!” But GPaul and others thought it was not compelling enough or it was too abstract.  GPaul even questioned whether people would know what income sharing is. GPaul’s rework was “Communism Now! Why wait for the revolution?”  Alarm bells went off in my brain.

Can we reclaim this damaged name?

Can we reclaim this damaged name?

I wrote GPaul:
Communism is dead.  Sorry, it is a political non-starter, worse than anarchism actually (tho not as bad as Stalinism and Fascism).  Many progressives and almost all liberals do not associate it with a quasi-utopian desirable state.
Nothing jumps to mind to salvage the title, since I get your meaning and there is not an obvious substitute (Utopia Now!, Equality Now! Community Now! all don’t work).
In his provocative way GPaul replied:

I both agree and disagree: Communism is dead to some people, perhaps even most people, but communism is not dead.  The question here is “who is our audience?”.    We have many possible audiences.  One audience could be radical leftists.  When giving tours and explaining the communes to folks I’ve been leading with “anarchism” and “communism” for years and getting surprisingly little shock or pushback.  Radical leftists are one demographic that is more likely than others to be interested in what we are offering.  We can aim a workshop at them.  They will respond differently to the word “communism” than other people.  For other people we might have to rebrand this workshop.  For other people this might not even be an appropriate workshop (we might have to begin with “why should you want to share income?” in any of its various permutations).

I remain skeptical, but I am curious what my readers think. you say commie like it is a bad thing Some readers will be glad to hear that this blog is finally getting reorganized.  Specifically, the portion of the blog which is about community life (including the Point A work, the Virginia egalitarian communities, Freedonia and other underground efforts, Commune Snapshots [images with few words], the Communities Conference and advances in sharing techniques) may be spun off and turned into its own blog with its own domain name.

I was thinking of the name CommuneLife.org – but other experienced communards thought the name “commune” was too dated, too distant and too misunderstood and untrusted.  When we talked to twenty somethings, they had no baggage around the word commune and thought it might be cool.  The Fellowship of Intentional Communities actually uses the word commune as a name for income sharing communities and lists 166 of them under this category.

Again, feel encouraged to weigh in and discuss your thoughts about this.

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