Nov 2014 Sovereignty News

We’re talking a lot about sustainability, whose interdependent concept is sovereignty – the right of self-determination. Some people don’t get that sovereignty depends on sustainability – you can’t control your own community if you’re dependent on exploiting other people for your food, energy and goods.

But ultimately sustainability also depends on sovereignty. If the banks create the credit that buys the houses, the money is an IOU to them. Therefore they, under their other hat as corporations, create the jobs. Growing food, creating energy and making products is a lot of work. If our collective labor serves corporate profits we’re left to do the real work of becoming sustainable in our spare time. That’s not going to work!

Here’s a way that I adapted a Buckminster Fuller quote to describe the goal:

To enable a world that works
for the most amount of people,
in the shortest possible time,
with the least degree of disparity,
and the best repair of ecology,
through voluntary cooperation
between small sovereign states.

So here are some recent things that came to my attention:

From Move to Amend, 600 communities nationwide now have resolutions that corporations are not people. The Union of Concerned Scientists, along with Michael Pollan and others, is calling for a National Food Policy and is being called terrorists and anarchists because of their support of the EPA in slashing carbon emissions from power plants.

Slow Money is livestreaming their 2014 Louisville conference for free. The keynote speakers are Wendall Barry, Vandana Shiva and Joel Salatin.

The Citizens Trade Campaign is pushing to derail Fast Track, which means that trade deals are written in committee and Congress can only vote yes or no without amendments (unless necessary to get them passed.) This is especially dangerous with the TPP – TransPacific Partnership – on the table during the lame duck session. This would cover 40% of the people in the world, dictating tariffs, medicine patents and financial regulations and overruling environmental laws, labor rights, “Buy Local” programs, food safety and consumer labeling. Click here to oppose it.

Good things happening in Asia include Kailash Satyarthi winning the Nobel Peace Prize with Malala Yousafzai. Kailash started RugMark, now called GoodWeave, which certifies that rugs aren’t made with child labor – children as young as 4 shackled to looms. He’s had bones in every part of his body broken in the process of liberating children. He works with the International Labor Rights Forum which also works with child slaves in cocoa and third-generation slaves on the Firestone rubber plantation in Liberia.

I particularly like Shankar Singh and the Chariot of Scams, who uses satire to convey how representative democracy is divorced from people and their realities. He once popped up with a puppet that asked Ban Ki Moon if the UN would meet basic transparency norms in its expenses around the world.

And this is a great short video of Bhagwati Agrawal, a US entrepreneur whose Aakash Ganga, or River from the Sky, has brought drinking water to 10,000 people in rural Rajasthan through rainwater harvesting.

John Feffer, editor of Foreign Policy in Focus, is always a joy to read. This week he talks about South Korea and Seoul’s progressive mayor who has already cut energy use by the equivalent of one nuclear reactor and is now aiming for two more. He’s the head of the World Mayors Council on Climate Change, an interesting workaround to the UN stalemate. He’s also big on participatory democracy and working on a soccer tournament with North Korea, an investment in their railway to Russia, a joint tourism area in the Kumgang mountains and a cooperative remedy to overfishing.

You will love this! How Wolves Change Rivers. Through something called Trophic Cascade, introducing predators into Yellowstone changed the herd behavior of elk (called deer because it’s a Brit thing narrated by George Monbiot.) This restored the ecosystem where the elk no longer went and even changed the course of the river. Glorious photography, produced by Sustainable Human.

Almost lastly, since the consolidation of currency by the Euro which allowed banking scams to cross borders, Europe is a harbinger of things to come in the US . Greece, Spain, Ireland and Scotland have been severely impacted but the government in Poland still wants to join the party and is replacing jobs with junk-contracts of 2-3 months of temporary employment in order to look fiscally viable.

I’ve been reminded that the Mondragon Corporation is the antidote to this. Located in the Basque region of Spain, which adopted a declaration of self-determination this year and voted in 2/3rds of legislators on a secession platform, Mondragon is a federation of worker cooperatives that employs 75,000 people in over 250 companies. They’re part of the International Co-operative Alliance that represents 272 federations in 97 countries.

And really lastly, if Citizen Four is coming to a theater near you, go see it! I went with my 16-yr-old daughter and, although we thought we were well-informed about Edward Snowden, it was very touching to see him in the moments when he doesn’t know what will happen to him but acts out of conviction anyway. An important point made by Greenwald is that the foreign spying is more about corporate competitive advantage than terrorism. Likewise, those spied on in the US are more likely to be threats to corporations and banking than to people and government. Be forewarned!

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April 2012 Sovereignty News

This is what’s new for April 2012:

Food: An article by Joel Salatin debunks The Myth of Sustainable Meat, rebutting a NYT editorial that claimed that grass-fed cows emit more methane gas and other disingenuous nonsense. A new Food Justice Label is in process that would ensure that domestic products are fair trade. Since the organic label doesn’t look at labor practices, and “made in America” is no guarantee (especially when US territories like islands are included, which have no citizenship), this would be a welcome boon to consumers. The radio show Unwelcome Guests has an episode called “Incredible Edible” which follows Todmordon’s “plant everywhere” revolution, Seattle’s Beacon Food Forest, and a TED talk on window gardens. I’ve posted the video to the last one and another TED talk on a seed bank in a frozen mountain in Norway. The audio includes speakers on the corporate backing of major NGOs like Nature Conservancy and the World Wildlife Fund. There’s also a grim cartoon called A Cage is A Cage about the Rotten Egg Bill.

Community has a new illustrated video on Where Good Ideas Come From by Ted Johnson. It also has a post on the effects of gold mining, which includes several short videos, including the trailer for “All That Glitters Is Not Gold,” and “Gold or Life: Recolonization and Resistance in Central America.”

Politics has collected several good short videos of Ron Paul. Hopefully these links still work, even though YouTube has deleted Ron Paul’s channels despite their 300,000 subscribers. In addition, I’ve added several Democracy Now videos on sovereignty movements around the world: Taureg Rebels in Mali Declare Independence, Ousted Maldives President, Ang Sang Suu Kyi Wins Seat in Parliament, and a new film, Bahrain: Shouting in the Dark. Two exciting new posts on Iceland tell how they crowdsourced their proposed new constitution and quote the opening in the second post.

Economics continues this thread with an article by Iceland’s President, who chose to support democracy over the banks. I’ve also added videos on Bill Moyers interviewing the author of The Leaderless Revolution – a fascinating turnaround by a political insider. Another DN video is a telling report on Spain’s reactions to the austerity measures. There but for the “grace” of the IMF go we.

Finally, Energy has a video called “REDD Alert: A Darker Shade of Green.” It debunks this carbon credit scheme.

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Tools, Schools and Nobody’s Fools

Here is what we posted in the sovereignty news for March 2012:

Food – The sidebar has added two videos: Raj Patel on why capitalism is based on devaluing women and Joel Salatin on his new book, Folks, This Ain’t Normal. Joel Salatin has also come out with an endorsement of Ron Paul which can be found here.

The new posts include an article by SF Gate on our friends at the Living Seed Company talking about the drastic reduction in varieties since the demise of seed-saving. Another article is about the winners of Sunset magazine’s challenge for the ultimate block party, where all the food is produced in the neighborhood. Our own Morro Bay won, with oysters, meat chickens, goat cheese, salt, and beer made from homegrown hops. There are also a couple of older posts are about a “localist” movement in Oaxaca, Mexico and a town in West Yorkshire planting renegade veggies.

Community – videos in the sidebar show the Berkeley Tool Lending Library and three from Curitiba, Brazil: one on City of Dreams, mayor Jaime Lerner‘s TED talk, Sing a Song of Sustainable Cities, and one on their transportation system.

The posts are on Curitiba from Cities for People, and Gar Alperovitz on the movement for cities to take back their banking, land development, internet and wifi services.

Political sovereignty has one consistent spokesperson these days – Ron Paul. The videos include A 2012 Revolution, Paul vs. Santorum on Iran, and Bill Maher‘s new hero. The blog posts are from Glenn Greenwald‘s Salon article, “Progressives and the Ron Paul Fallacies,” an excerpt from “The Problem of Democracy” by Alain de Benoist, and If the World Could Vote on the Republican primary.

Economics has Matt Stoller (Naked Capitalism) on Why Ron Paul Challenges Liberals, cited in Greenwald’s article above and giving a concise history of US economic policy.

Energy – looks at Lightsail’s Grid-Scale Compressed Air Energy and an article showing that more than half of Germany‘s renewable energy is owned by citizens or farms. Another article links the UN’s “carbon offsets” to the coup and displacement of farmers in Honduras.

Education – posts a TED talk by Bunker Roy on India’s Barefoot College.


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Economics in the Hood

We had an excellent meeting last Sunday on local banking, local investing, and a neighborhood timeshare. Thank you to John Sears for presenting on how to switch your bank. Our next step is to interview banks and credit unions in our area and ask them questions. Some of the questions suggested were about their investments, derivatives trading, foreclosures, and fractional reserves. Others were about their fees and the availability of ATMs. We failed to deliver on our “hook” for how to avoid out-of-town or country fees now that people have switched to credit unions. But thanks to Phil McManus and his wife Betsy, we have a lead on a credit union that doesn’t charge out-of-country fees. Anyone who’s interested in helping us investigate or publish information on banks please let us know and we’ll keep you posted.

The Giving Seed Investment Club is off to a good start! Carmen Alicia Robles, a former Board member of the Santa Cruz Community Credit Union, has offered to help us do credit and reference checks, and Gary Schofield, whose background is in finance and banking, will help us evaluate business plans. We are looking for 3-4 ACTIVE investors who would like to do one-year loans to businesses promoting local sustainability, primarily in food. The target amount is $1000-$2000 per investor for a total of $6000-$8000 per investment. For our first investment we’re evaluating the Living Seed Company, to be followed by Early Bird Ranch or I-Rise Bread. All investments are at risk, as the lawyers remind us to say, but these would be collateralized, researched, and supported by a group of investors who want to help the businesses succeed. This follows the model of Islamic banking, which forbids usury because it concentrates wealth. Instead they do investments in people they believe in.

In lieu of interest, investors would receive gifts of product that can help raise funds for global charities. For instance, Living Seed Company has offered four seed collections which sell for $55 each for each $1000 loaned. Food in the Hood is offering these as a free gift for every $55 donation made to the West Bank Seed Bank – or other global seed banks. In addition Rina and I will be growing out the seeds in her greenhouse and offering them at a block party in the spring in return for donations to global seed banks. Starting in January we’re thinking to combine this with a Tuesday afternoon UniverseCity class on spirituality called A House for the Soul in the Land Beyond Faith. We would pot seedlings and help each other with our gardens while discussing readings taken from the Gnostics, Thich Nhat Hanh, the Dalai Lama, A Course in Miracles and others. If you’re interested in joining us, please send a note.

We also made progress on the neighborhood time barter network. In early February we’d like to do a combined block party with the California Street neighborhood, including Food Bin and Food Not Lawns (which includes much of the same people.) If you’d like to be involved in our core planning group, for this and the timeshare program, please let me know.

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