Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Meanwhile, in Boston...

I'm on my way to Austin, and I just get word about a fantastic direct action that happened today in Boston. I'm so excited for my friends back home, and can't wait to get back. Boston is where it's at! I'm looking forward to hearing some personal accounts. My thoughts are with my friends and comrades who might still be in custody.

From the Understory:

150+ Rally in Boston: Not with Our Money!

Climate crisis, housing crisis, financial crisis… more and more people are connecting the dots. I just returned from a rally in Harvard Square that put all of the pieces together in a powerful way. More than 150 people came together on a sunny fall day to protest the banks that are financing coal power, foreclosing on homes, and getting rich - all with the backing of the US government and taxpayers’ money. The demonstration (sponsored by RAN and Rising Tide Boston) was peaceful, positive and purposeful - with music and lots of energy to attract and engage the lunchtime crowd.

The multigenerational rally included women in their seventies and a baby attending his second protest. Speakers from City Life/Vida Urbana talked about how Bank of America’s irresponsible lending practices have led to a wave of home evictions in Boston, while other speakers called for Bank of America to take responsibility for the social and environmental impacts of its financing. Participants carried signs with the message “Not with Our Money,” bearing pictures of coal power plants, tar sands, and foreclosed homes. Passersby were overwhelmingly supportive and took hundreds of pieces of literature.

After rallying in front of BofA, we marched and danced our way around the corner to the Citi bank branch. Waiting for us were four young activists who had chained themselves in front of the bank to temporarily shut down one branch and send a clear message that we will not stop until the bank stops funding dirty energy and starts investing in sustainable alternatives and community solutions. We kept up the music, chants and songs as police arrested the four. It was a first arrest for each of them, and they looked calm and strong as police unlocked them and took them into custody. They’re still in custody as I write this, and some of the demonstrators have stationed themselves outside of the police station to show their support.

It’s inspiring to see more and more people taking up the call for real solutions to our financial and climate crisis. As peaceful protests spread across the country and increasing numbers of people get involved, I look forward to more afternoons like this one spent with ever-larger crowds of people who can see a better future and won’t stop until we get there.

For more pics, visit our Flickr page.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

It all comes down to community, and food. An update from the road.

Sitting at a truck stop, somewhere in Mississippi, about 80 miles outside New Orleans. Just want to take a minute to write down some thoughts and update you all on what we've been up to. Most of the crew is in the truck stop restaurant right now, listening to the debate between Biden and Palin. I can only take so much of these politicians. I was, however, glad to hear a question on climate change. In his response, Biden used the two biggest oxymorons possible, "clean coal and safe nuclear." (Ackhh!) The fact is that neither of the candidates has any idea of what we need to do to solve the climate crisis, and they are all too invested in business-as-usual to see the solutions in front of us. That doesn't really bother me, though, because I have very little faith in centralized government. I know that the solutions will come from strong local communities, in the relocalization of food and energy production. "The time of the nation-state is coming to an end." (The prominent public figure who said this asked not be quoted... but it's true!)

Anyways (*breath) ... we left Knoxville yesterday, after being there for two weeks. Except for having some of the worst air quality in the country, Knoxville seems to be a great place to live. It's cheap, warm, has a great music scene; good conditions for a destitute activist. Further, I sense that the community is on the verge of engaging a sustainable and conscious world vision. There are several bubbles that have been growing. Set near the coal-fields and conservative Bible-belt of the U.S., it would be an interesting and inspiring experience to witness and take part in the transition of Knoxville into a sustainable community.

During outreach and organization for the Knoxville event, we made solid connections with several groups and individuals which are playing a part in transforming this small city. We had a chance (?) encounter with Tracie, an organizer of the Knoxville Permaculture Guild. At the Roadshow, Tracie delivered a workshop on urban gardening. Her partner, Chad gave an intro to permaculture. Over the two days, we had a rather solid workshop schedule, diverse and well attended. We also had workshops on water catchment, biodiesel, mountaintop removal, and of course, mushrooms!

While we were in Knoxville we received much support in the form of food donations from Beardsley Community Farm and the Three Rivers Market Co-op. Both are conscious local businessess and centers for the community. I didn't get a chance to visit the farm, but the co-op was warm and welcoming, and had a great organic herb section!

I gotta toss in a shameless plug for Smith & Associates Geothermal. They install geothermal home water-heating units in Eastern Tennessee. These guys were super chill and supportive of our project. I hope that we helped them get a little business. We also had Big Frog Mountain Solar powering our solar stage. (You might have seen these guys before. It's the same solar rig that powers the solar stage at Bonnaroo.) They drove a couple hours to be part of our event, and only charged us for travel expenses. They hooked us up. (...I guess that's a pun.)

We had a hard time booking food vendors for the event. It was something that was worrying me all along, because, you can't have a good gathering without good food! Fortunately, at the last minute, two groups pulled through and supported us. Knoxville Food Not Bombs pulled through on Sunday and served some tasty chutny, chile, and Panera pastries. I was glad we could have FNB there. They are actively building sustainable community and setting an example; take advantage of waste, care for your neighbors.

Yawah from Organic Roots Cafe was able to attend and serve her delicious and unique meals on Saturday (forbidden rice and beans... amazing!). She was so excited about our project and thankful to us for coming to Knoxville. I have to say that Yawah is one connected individual. I could feel her calming energy when talking with her. I'm glad I got a chance to meet her, and I'm glad that Knoxville has been blessed with such an individual. On our way out of town, she sent me a text message, which was well timed for myself and a close friend:

"So divinely is the world organized
that every one of us in our place and
time is in balance with everything else."

These are the types of connections I was sure I would make on this journey. With all the daunting crises, the constant bad news, and nihilistic outlooks trying to creep in and pull me back down into apathy and fear, it's so important to connect, explore and be inspired by the good individuals with positive intentions, who are "being the change" in each of there own ways. There are so many of us out there. It's important to remember that.

I've only been able to briefly touch on the connections and experiences I had in Knoxville. I still need to let you all know about the ACE conference that some of us attended in Abingdon, VA, and about my time at the UMD house. Hopefully I have time again, soon. We are actually, at this time, driving through the Ninth Ward in New Orleans. This is about to get intense, and I think we might be lost. Time to look out the window and get off this computer.

Peace, and thanks for reading.

Resolving the paradox of energy versus water

I came across an interesting article on energy and water. It's been said that before the wars over oil are completed, we will be fighting over water. This article provides a holistic analysis of how water issues are intertwined with energy issues, and provides an inspiring set of solutions and steps forward towards a just and sustainable system.

Energy versus Water: Solving Both Crises Together

Water is needed to generate energy. Energy is needed to deliver water. Both resources are limiting the other—and both may be running short. Is there a way out?

By Michael E. Webber

Water and energy are the two most fundamental ingredients of modern civilization. Without water, people die. Without energy, we cannot grow food, run computers, or power homes, schools or offices. As the world’s population grows in number and affluence, the demands for both resources are increasing faster than ever.

Woefully underappreciated, however, is the reality that each of these precious commodities might soon cripple our use of the other. We consume massive quantities of water to generate energy, and we consume massive quantities of energy to deliver clean water. Many people are concerned about the perils of peak oil—running out of cheap oil. A few are voicing concerns about peak water. But almost no one is addressing the tension between the two: water restrictions are hampering solutions for generating more energy, and energy problems, particularly rising prices, are curtailing efforts to supply more clean water.

Read the full article here