I think there are three principal classes of what i call catastrophic risk technologies: nuclear, genetic modification, nanotechnology. In each of these three cases the technopiles and capitalists are mostly winning, though we are pushing back in nuclear. In each of these three cases, relatively accessible mistakes can have global detrimental impacts.
As of this writing there are 395 protests worldwide scheduled for this May 25th (this coming Saturday) against Monsanto for its work on genetically modified organisms. Of these 230 are in the US, which seems appropriate given Monsanto is a US creation. Fortunately, i will be able to go to the protest in Washington DC. [Which in this case is especially aptly called Death City]. Stay tuned for pictures of this protest.
This is a lot of simultaneous protests. Let’s look at some of the other big international protests in comparison. This is about 1/3 the size of the Occupy movement at it’s height (which wikipedia claims were in 951 cities in 82 counties on the 15th of October 2011). It is about 1/8th the size (in terms of locations) of the world wide protests against the Iraq War (which wikipedia estimates at over 3000 locations and over 36 million people between Jan 3 and April 12 2003) in the lead up to the unlawful US invasion. The Iraq War protests were greater in number of cities in the US, bit possibly smaller in number of participants than the mass protests against the Vietnam War in the US, which started well after the conflict began.
But there is something very different happening here. Occupy had a huge agenda. Most of the Iraq War protests took place in Europe which was keenly aware of the deceptions of the Bush administration about the invasion. These Monsanto protests are targeted at a single corporation, which is in most of the protest countries operating legally.
There is another difference, there is no real spark for these coordinated action. There is no war looming, there is no financial crisis sharpening the inequities between rich and poor. And the demands of the Monsanto protest are highly accessible:
- Boycott Monsanto owned companies
- Label GMOs
- Repeal US “Monsanto Protection Act”
- More research on health effects of GMOs
- Holding Monsanto and supporting politicians accountable thru direct communication
Clearly missing from this list is a ban on further GMO product releases until the research on health effects is completed. India and other countries have banned sale or cultivation. Hungary went so far as to burn 1000 acres of GMO corn and make planting or selling GMO crops a felony. Unwilling to wait for often slow government action, activists around the world are destroying GMO crops themselves, risking imprisonment, typically the test beds.
When i dig into who is organizing this March Against Monsanto, it appears to be tiny groups including:
These groups are so small, that Anti-Media has only 3 comments on their March announcement. Activist Free Press appears to be a one person operation. a-revolt is of slightly indeterminate size, but it could be just a few handful of people.
I was asked at lunch today what the spark for this global protest movement was and a couple people thought it was the passage of the Monsanto Protection Act. The more i read about this legislation the more especially vexing it is. So much so that the national outcry has been loud enough to to spark the first congress person calling for provisions of the bill to be removed.
There is a long fight ahead to stop Monsanto, but it seems to have powerful memetic legs and global significance.
I have been a terrible mood for the last few days, which i will write about in a another post. But this article on Buycott really made me smile. The short version is this app (written by a lone 26 year old over the last 16 months) has the capacity to scan a bar code on something you are thinking of buying with your cell phone and see the corporate lineage of what you are considering buying.
What is exciting (but potentially deceptive) is that this app reached number 10 in the downloads nationally within hours of it being released (tho they had to ultimately pull the droid version because of some bug). The Forbes article points out that for some things (like conventional breakfast) nasty corporate domination as set in, in a way which will make it difficult to have any conventional breakfast.
It harks back to the question “Can Social Networks Save the World?” The answer is still probably no, but with each iteration, with each attempt our chances improve and things start to get better.
[The author of this post works for Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, a heritage and organic seed company in Virginia, which is part of the lawsuit to stop Monsanto from suing farmers who have been contaminated by their GMO seeds.]
The talented and lovely Tikva has started a comic which is largely about polyamory.
Tikva and i lived at Twin Oaks together some years back…
Of course poly folks are our own best critics
i recruited her perhaps a decade back on the Harvard Yard, she was a shooting star
Her comic can be found at http://kimchicuddles.tumblr.com/
i just heard that Acorn lost a couple of charming interns because the place is too dirty. Let’s be clear, it is pretty dirty. And in our defense the place is a farm. We grow an increasing fraction of our own food as well as a significant number of seeds for the business. This means an approximately endless supply of people working in dirt and coming in for at least a couple of meals and meetings on the average day.
And this topic inevitably comes up whenever we talk about our diversity as a community; it may be that our biggest barriers are cultural and that if we are truly going to be more open to a wider diversity of people, we may have to do some shifting of our internal culture. Being cleaner is an obvious starting point.
But please don’t suggest that there is an easy fix, if we all just pitched in a bit more. It just does not seem to work out that way, at least in the communities i frequent. There are people who clean, and some clean quite a lot. And pushing back there are kids and pets and poorly house trained adults (and even well trained adults and kids who occasionally screw up in the scores of entries into the residential buildings each day). It is going to take some clever ideas and some culture changing.
I was posting for Loud Love and i ran across this question on Facebook in the open polyamory group.
I see the words “poly” and “swinger” being used together as if they are one and the same… or maybe that is just how I am reading it. Do most consider them interchangable?
For me the answer is clearly “no”. The equivalent question would be “Is Baptist interchangeable with Christian?”. Polyamory is an overarching term of which there are many flavors (like Christian). Swingers are one relatively small subset of the entire group. Poly is about having honest interactions among multiple romantic and/or sexual intimates. Swinging is when you are honest about having multiple partners, but you are specifically seeking relatively low commitment and usually short term relationships. In the best case swingers are people who enjoy sex, are responsible about it, and want to have more than one sexual partner. But these connections generally do not lead to longer-lasting romantic adventures.
The Polyamory Virginia Listserve sends the following text to all of its new members:
Welcome to the Polyamory_Virginia at Yahoo!
Please review this message.
Posts advertising commercial personals sites will be deleted, as will requests for swing partners and one line personals.
Now, with that out of the way, this group is for those single or couples who are into Polyamory or are interested in it and live in Virginia. POLYAMORY IS NOT SWINGING. It’s loosely defined as being able to sustain stable, loving, and long-term relationships with more that one person at a time.
If you’re just looking for a fling, this is not the place for you. Move along.
Though i have no hard numbers, my guess is that the number of people who are involved in more committed polyamorous relationships far exceeds the number of swingers in the world. But then i found this graphic:
Of course there are swingers who are not being honest with each other and the above diagram shows this. What is the larger world of non-monogamy in this Venn diagram? Well, it could be people who are not honestly practicing multiple romantic relationships OR more likely this author uses a different definition of polyamory than i do. They might use a simpler polyamory definition like “multiple romantic/sexual relationships with the possibility (or desire) of long term committed relationships”.
And i personally object to this diagram, because it has non-monogamy surrounded by a sea of monogamy, which might be demographically true, but we certainly dont need to be surrounded ontologically.
For the opposite perspective, check out this fascinating article from Loving More magazine. And check out these stories of flings, affairs, three-ways etc. in the context of monogamish [sic!] relationships.
Thanks to Sarah Taub from Network for a New Culture for pointing out this much better Venn diagram.
Let’s back up a moment and assume you don’t know much about the online dating world and OkCupid in particular. [i will confess i have never actually been on OkCupid, so i am telling you my story of what i think is happening there.] One of the things you perhaps don’t know about me is that i am a matchmaker of sorts. I help people find communities, romantic partners and allies in being able to live in the countries that they wish to reside in.
For finding a romantic partner there is no better service (if you are reading this blog) than OkCupid*. It is free (it has ads), it is vast, it has fun surveys and quizs to fill out to help you find people who might have similar values to you and you can write your own quizs and contribute to the content of the social network. It is groovy in three dozen ways; it is to online dating what wikipedia is to online general knowledge. 7 out of 8 friends or allies who have found new romantic partners in the last two years have found them through this service, it is very powerful.
And with any great power comes great danger. For example what would you think if someone answered “yes” to the following question:
Have you ever been in a situation where you tried, but for various reasons did not succeed, in having sexual intercourse with an adult by using or threatening to use physical force (twisting their arm, holding them down, etc.) if they did not cooperate?
This question and others like it are being asked in surveys on OkCupid, but they were developed for criminal institutions to try to discover rapists, who had not already been caught. You will likely not be surprised that the people who said “yes” to this statement are found statistically more likely to be involved in a rape assault. And it turns out that there are a fair few people who answer yes to this question.
So you put this new filter on and a request or message comes thru and the computer tells you this person is high risk. Then presumably you block or discourage the person who gets the red flag. Might you possibly be blocking the suitor of your dreams? Probably not and who cares. The pool is big enough so that we should be throwing away all the fish that are likely poisoned.
The filter is not perfect, of course. Some folks interested in sexual assault are smart enough to get that this question is a trap, so add on apps are no alternative for good judgement. But it is another addition to the portfolio of tools which are helping push back on rape and build a sexy consent culture.
* I should say if you are a Christian looking for another Christian you might have better luck at eHarmony than OkCupid. But i would not recommend this site politically, because it does not permit people to search for intimates of the same gender.
What is important to me in this coming month is promoting the Loud Love conference and so we get a bunch of people to experience it. We have a good program and a great team of organizers (see below).
Loud Love is about exploring, expressing, exporting and celebrating your romantic identity and experience. There are a wide range of workshops offered from Blues Dancing (a non-sexual intimacy building skill) to Honest Seduction (yes, this is not a contradiction in terms) to Drag King 101, to Transcending Jealousy and building compersion (yes, people actually succeed in this) to advanced polyamory techniques.
Plus there is a days worth of open space technology which permits conference participants to present on topics that the group in interested in.
At the end of our last organizers meeting Sky pointed out that we are not where we want to be for this Loud Love event, which is in two short months. And it made me realize that despite the good work we have done (securing a space, finding presenters, designing workshops, budgeting and more) there is more left to do to make this happen.
i dont usually ask things of my readers, but this post i will. Please think about a friend of yours (or possibly you yourself) who would be well served by this event. Then encourage them to register and attend or let us know who they are and we will let them know you recommend them for our event.
Here are the awesome folks i get to work with on this event:
Sky Blue has been experimenting with relationships since he was 8 years old and did his first
mediation with squabbling friends. He’s been in some form of open relationship for most of the last 14 years. A drop-out from UC Santa Cruz he’s lived and worked in cooperative and communal groups for most of the last 17 years. His purpose in life is to help bring people together to transform themselves, each other, and the world around them.
Kassia is a musician, activist, community builder and all-around nosey-parker. She has traveled the world, lived on a commune, toured the US with a klezmer band, and practiced Jewish Farming. After spending several years in Charlottesville helping start two small collective businesses (a hostel and a home-veggie gardening biz), she concluded that there is more fun to be had on the commune and recently moved back to Twin Oaks to work on her life-goal of conspiring with the universe to have as much fun as possible.
Angie Tupelo is a queer, anarchist, polyamorous, feminist, sub-identified, sex-positive gal. She recently moved back to the “real world” after living on a commune for 4 years, and is gradually adjusting to wearing shoes. She gives workshops on Polyamory, BDSM for Feminists, Honest Seduction, Kink for Abuse Survivors, and Intentional Community living. She blogs about life, love, revolution, mental illness, and how they fit together in her life, and really really enjoys bacon.
Ali has been bisexual and polyamorous since before she knew what those words meant. She languished in mainstream culture for several years feeling ashamed of her desires for multiple concurrent intimacies with different genders before she found her physical and philosophical home at Twin Oaks. Among Ali’s many life goals is to make sex an acceptable form of social currency and move it from the taboo to appropriate dinner table conversation. She wants to normalize polyamory as a relationship model, move forward the idea of a mischief (group) of interconnected lovers taking care of one another, and to make group intimacy & sex as easily & openly sought as coupledom.
Paxus facilitates a workshop called “Modesty is Dangerous” and you can start figuring out who he is from there. Paxus self-identifies as a revolutionary, but more importantly he identifies you, dear reader, as a potential co-conspirator in designing irresistible ideas which will change the world (super memes). He comes to the Loud Love organizing team engaged, reckless, and feeling intensely daring. His tangled form of activism fuses direct action against those threatening the biosphere (Monstanto, Westinghouse, et. al) with actively fostering and building new income-sharing intentional communities with proselytizing for radical intimacy models (including Honest Seduction). Paxus is one of three parents in a polyamorous family. His biography does not make credible fiction and was thus rejected by Wikipedia. He co-founded and directs the Emma Goldman Institute for Theoretical and Applied Funology, an entity which there seems to be no proof actually exists.
MacGyver dumped her job in high end tine-share real estate marketing to live with her friends in the country and do righteous work for an organic seed company. She drives a tractor, works as cook and carpenter and tends chickens at absurd o’clock in the morning. She spends 97% less time worrying about things than the average US American. Some of her friends call her Surprise. She is not afraid to pick up a microphone and entertain without a plan as to what she is going to say or sing when she grabs it. Not a day goes by when she is not appreciative for ditching the mainstream life and moving to Acorn.
“I am excited about your homestead and I want to help you find magical people to be in it” I messaged joan. I see myself as a recruiter not just for the communities I live in but for the movement in general. Shagbark looked to me to be a very promising project, and I wanted to help in this way. So it was doubly disappointing to get joan’s reply.
“we are not actually looking for anyone else, we are going to be small for a while at least.”
What makes communities thrive is the people in them. It seems obvious, but when you look at the success rate of new communities, you know that it is going to take some pretty extraordinary people to make them work. joan is like this and then some.
Henna artist, reluctant geek, pocket philosopher, social networker and cute animal magnet, joan underhill Shagbark is one of the tiny crew of pioneers of this 6 acre intentional family homestead, near the well established north eastern Missouri eco-villages of Dancing Rabbit and the income sharing Sandhill Farm. Shagbark is a pod inside the Red Earth community effort.
Shagbark is a careful mix of primativist and contemporary technologies. It fuses permaculture, and the desire to be comfortable with a conscious lifestyle. Shagbark rejects the current money system and touches it as little as possible in its daily operation. The project boasts a number of accomplishments, including planting over 1000 trees since it started in 2009. The culture they are creating is one with no formal meetings and work guided by the members deepest desires.
This homestead boasts an impressive number of projects and animals, but to me what is really impressive is that they are trying this at all. There are much more comfortable and easy lifestyles than this dark green farming practice.
You can help this impressive model of healthy holistic living by going to their indiegogo fundraising campaign. They have raised almost half of the $4200 they need for the coming year, stretching the few dollars they have very far. Please help them continue this critical work.
Lots of people are motivated by deadlines, i certainly am. So when i saw that the deadline for the Institute for Anarchist Studies writing grant was Feb 1st and it was Feb 1st and i had no time to write anything, i did what any self respecting disorganized organizer would do – i emailed asking for more information.
To my joy, the deadline had moved a couple of weeks and it was still possible for me (and perhaps you) to get an application in for a grant for an essay (or translation) on how to improve the world as seen through an anarchist lens. Since Feb 1st they have pulled down the link which tells you that the deadline has been extended and what the application process is. But in the noble anarchist tradition of leaking information, at the bottom of this message is what you need to do to be considered for the small grants of between $250 and $1000.
What is important to me, is what it is we should be writing about. Unsurprisingly, for those who know me, i want to do a piece on sharing systems. Specifically, how sharing systems which have been developed in the commune can be exported to Babylon.
But if you identify as an anarchist who thinks part of the work that you need to do is share powerful ideas with others, this might be your grant.
If i could split in three, i think what i would write about is:
- How to spark a social network to replace Facebook
- Tools for living without money
- Exporting sharing systems from the commune to the mainstream
What should you be writing about?
So this is what you would have gotten if you had asked before Feb 1st for the information about the grant. But it actually appears that the website has expired, rather than that they intentionally stopped sending stuff out.
Thanks for contacting us about our grants for writing and translation projects. Due to ongoing issues with our application and Web site, we have extended our winter deadline for proposals. Grant applications are now due by or before midnight EST on February 15, 2013. We apology for any inconvenience or delay. We’re working on a totally new Web site that will be both attractive and functional, offering an easy online application for future grant rounds.
For now, below you’ll find the grant application questions. Please address them succinctly yet fully, and return them to us via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Please fill out the questions below, and acknowledge the fine print.
- Please attach a writing sample, no longer than 5 double-spaced pages in length, as a .doc file.
We look forward to receiving your grant application, and will be in touch with all applicants with our decisions by the late March or early April.
Institute for Anarchist Studies
Tentative Project Title:
Your full name:
Your email address:
Your full address:
Your phone number:
Project completion date:
Note: Your essay must be completed within six months of being awarded a grant.
Please provide a succinct one- to two-paragraph summary of your essay project, including as applicable your main points, key argument(s), and research or other supporting materials.
Project Approximate Length:
What insights does your piece offer into social, political, and/or economic structures of domination? What contributions does it make to efforts to abolish or radically transform these structures and create a free, just, and cooperative society?
Why is your essay project especially important at this particular time? Please provide a one- to two-paragraph summary on how you see your essay project fitting into the current context of anarchist/radical thought and/or organizing.
If applicable, briefly note any key theoretical influences/sources for this project.
Project Personal Experience:
What experience do you have that is relevant to your project? This can include experience with the methodology you are proposing here, pieces you have written on related themes, educational or organizing/activist experience, research, employment, languages, and so on. If your application is for a translation, include your translation experience. Please explain why you feel that you would be a good candidate to undertake and complete this project.
Language of project:
What language will the work be written in? If it will be in a language other than English, can you provide English translation?
If writing a translation, do you have the translation rights? We will not consider applications for translations without the original author’s permission.
The IAS is interested in having the essays it funds be as widely available as possible in forms that are relevant and accessible to radical movements and thinkers. To this end, we attempt to publish as many of the funded essays as we can, but also appreciate efforts by the grantee to disseminate their work.
Project IAS Publishing:
Are you open to having your completed essay project be published in Perspectives on Anarchist Theory, or as part of a small book series by the IAS and AK Press?
What other plans do you have to publish or otherwise disseminate your essay beyond possible IAS publishing opportunities?
Terms and Conditions
Relationship to IAS:
I am not. I am not an officer, director, member of the grant selection committee, or any other committee of the IAS. I am not related to anyone serving in any of the above capacities.
Yes, I agree. I will complete the above project within six months of receiving the grant (generally August 30 or January 30 of a given year), and I will send a finished copy of the essay or translation to the IAS by this date.
Yes, I agree. Whether I own the piece’s copyright or not, I grant the IAS permission to publish the completed work in the IAS journal Perspectives on Anarchist Theory, as part of an anthology, or in a small book format.
Yes, I agree. If I am awarded a grant and the IAS decides to pursue the publication of my essay in its journal or as part of a book series, I am willing to work with an IAS editor to prepare the essay or translation for publication.
Yes, I agree. Whether I own the piece’s copyright or not, I grant the IAS permission to publish the completed work in the IAS journal Perspectives on Anarchist Theory, as part of an anthology, or in a small book format.
Yes, I agree. If the project must take more than six months to complete, I will request in writing an extension of the deadline, no less than one month before the original deadline. If I fail to request an extension, or if the IAS does not accept the request, I will return the grant money.
Yes, I agree. I will return the grant money in full if I fail to complete the project in the required time frame.
Publish without funding:
Yes, I agree. If you are not funded, another support we offer is posting info re: projects on our Web site. Would you be ok with this?
My first impression is that the most important difference between Acorn and Twin Oaks is that here at Acorn there is a more robust culture of invitation. Part of this is people socializing in the living room off the dining space all during the day. Also there are comfortable and inviting social scenes in the farm house, yellow living room (also off the kitchen), and in the smoke shack. There are often people to hang out with in any of these places. After a full day of seed picking today, i hung out in the smoke shake and we listened to Terrance McKenna audios files, which was both entertaining and thought provoking.
But equally important is the ability to plug in at anytime to the work situation; you can see if there are a bunch of seeds orders which need to be shipped and you can ship them. Other people are doing it, you can join them – especially if they are people you like. The living rooms of the main residence (Heartwood) have been taken over by the seed business as have a couple of bedrooms. Living or eating in the main building means the work situation is around you all the time, always beckoning.
And this is mostly a young community, with well over half the members under 30 years of age [in contrast about 1/4 of Twin Oakers are under 30, excluding kids]. So there is a fair amount of internet time spent social networking and playing. And there is parallel work: people watching a football game and shipping an order, Mac listening to “A Game of Thrones” audio book and doing data entry. So the entire line between labor creditable work and socializing and recreation is slightly blurred. Add to this what i call “soft quota”, where the community does not generally track the labor of the members and there is an expectation that they will make about 42 hours a week in labor creditable activities, based on their own estimation of their labor. [In contrast, Twin Oaks has hard quota, where you track and report your hours, they are applied to various budgets, you need to make quota on average and you need to do it in approved budgets. You can run afoul of the community by being below quota or by over spending budgets.]
The flexibility is very comfortable for me (even though during the visitor period I do have to keep track of my hours). But quota is never my problem.
Part of my euphoria about being here is influenced by honeymooning with Mac. With whom i had this revealing conversation the other day:
Paxus: So your friend is coming and i thought we should decide if I am going to be with you two, or perhaps for part of the time and if it might be better early in her visit, …
Mac: What are you doing?
Mac: Why? She will be here, you will be here, if we hang out great, if we don’t great. Why are you trying to plan?
i didn’t have a good reason, except my programming. i am being invited to think differently.
- Monsanto vs Occupy vs Iraq Protests
- Surprising possibilities – the case for hope
- Chicken Boy
- Killing bigger demons – Monju
- The Netizens fight back
- The universe wants horny beefies
- UVa Dumpster Dive
- Grillin' like a villain
- May is Kewaunee Closes
- On being a new manager
- PAL and Bedrooms
- Poly Comics
- A hammock for you, my American Friend?
- Mysterious internet tendencies
- Barefoot Bible