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Categories : Activism, Democracy, Environment, Occupy, People Power, Permaculture, Resistance 2.0
from Realizing The Future
by Steve Liptay
December 1, 2011
As 2012 approaches and movement strategies are being shaped within the 99% movement and the climate justice movement, we stand at a pivotal moment in history. The climate crisis is bearing down on us stronger than ever, the ecological crisis is deepening, and economic, social and environmental injustices are escalating. With our hijacked democracy in gridlock we’ve taken to the streets and sparked what many, including Dr. Cornel West, would describe as a ‘deep democratic awakening’. How do we yield the paradigm level changes that are needed to heal the earth and make our human world both just and sustainable? That’s the question of our time. None-the-less, solving the climate crisis will require us to rewire the globe with renewable energy and put an end to the tyranny of oil, gas and coal. To do this I propose that the 99% movement and the climate justice movement initiate a sustained civil disobedience campaign targeting climate deniers in the U.S. Congress to dramatize the need for their ouster.
To end the extraction and burning of fossil fuels it is necessary to put a rising price on carbon pollution. For Americans, this means that rewiring our country with renewable energy will require the U.S. Congress and our President pass a new law that taxes the most profitable industry in the history of the world. The revenue generated would then be distributed in its entirety on a per capita basis back to the American people to buffer rising energy costs. A monthly dividend check would give the 99% the ability to become more energy efficient and afford the transition to renewable energy. A highly centralized energy sector in which the 1% have become richer and richer would be transformed into a highly decentralized sector in which the 99% power their lives with rooftop solar panels and a host of other renewable energy technologies. This policy is called ‘fee-and-dividend’ – you can download a PDF of a legislative proposal at: www.citizensclimatelobby.org/. If enacted, the thriving fossil fuel industry could potentially be put to an end in the matter of a decade.
Electing a Congress to pass ‘fee-and-dividend’ would require a massive and sustained civil disobedience campaign to shine a light on the urgency of climate change. One of the central lessons we can take away from the Tar Sands Action campaign to oppose the Keystone XL pipeline is that civil disobedience gets the goods. A 2-week long sit-in at the White House led to 1,253 arrests and an explosion in media hits. During the sit-in and in the weeks to follow the American people were educated by our mass media and social media – they learned the who, what, where, when and why of the tar sands in Alberta, Canada. The media and the American people began to evaluate the costs and the benefits of the proposed pipeline and the events that unfolded were nothing short of remarkable. The big environmental groups came together against Keystone, Republicans and Democrats found common ground in opposition, the New York Times wrote a timely editorial and an in-depth investigation of pipeline safety, Nobel laureates a wrote letter to the President, and a State Department scandal broke (among other developments). The Obama administration responded by sending the pipeline proposal back to the drawing board, promising a thorough and independent review that will include climate change. If we had instead decided to pass around a petition, hold permitted protests, submit op-eds to the newspapers, and make phone calls to our elected officials this fight would very likely not have gained the momentum it needed. Of course I think we all wish it weren’t the case, but as history has proven over and over there comes a time when we have no other choice but to take a stand. As the Tar Sands Action and the Occupy movement have demonstrated, it is time for direct action.
If our movements were to get behind this line of reasoning, I believe that it would leads us into a sustained civil disobedience campaign targeting the U.S. House and Senate calling for 1. an immediate end to all fossil fuel subsidies and 2. a comprehensive renewable energy bill centered around ‘fee-and-dividend’. It would trigger a grassroots mobilization with all hands on deck and everyone playing to their strengths. On the ground it would likely mean occupying House and Senate offices and disrupting debate in Congress from the House gallery and the Senate gallery. In addition, mic checking and bird-dogging Congress’ climate deniers would help maintain pressure when Congress was not in session.
A few months ago I disrupted the House of Representatives with 8 others on the day that Power Shift 2011 began. (Here’s a video.) Our intent was to spark a conversation within Power Shift about the need for civil disobedience in the climate movement and to speak directly to our elected officials about the urgency that the climate crisis demands. We were handcuffed by the Capitol police and transported to a D.C. police station where they booked and held us for the afternoon and early evening. In the end, we all took a settlement offer, completed 32-hours of community service for a non-profit of our choosing, and waited out a 4-month stay away from the Capitol grounds. It was a minor sacrifice relative to the suffering endured today by our frontline communities and the suffering to come if we continue to extract and burn fossil fuels. As I look back, disrupting Congress with my fist raised and singing ‘We Shall Overcome’ was the possibly first time I felt fully engaged as an American citizen.
If we were to begin this campaign when Congress reconvened in January 2012 it could potentially put a proposal to end fossil fuel subsidies up for a vote during the 112th Congress and make ‘fee-and-dividend’ a key election issue in November. While ending fossil fuel subsidies would do little to curb carbon pollution and would only reduce the national debt by an estimated $122 billion over 10-years, it would be a small step in the right direction. Putting a significant price on carbon would get us on the path to a renewable energy future and put the fossil fuel industry in the grave where it belongs. Maybe we’d achieve one or both of these goals during the 112th and 113th Congresses, maybe we wouldn’t. What’s critical is that we start to wake up our elected officials and fellow Americans who are asleep at the wheel on climate change. Now is our hour. It’s up to us to end the tyranny of oil, gas, and coal.
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Categories : Activism, Environment, Occupy, People Power, Permaculture, Resistance 2.0
from Sustainable Tompkins
by Joe Marraffino and Gay Nicholson
Leaders in the sustainability movement believe that the most promising economic development strategy available may be a focus on economic justice. This would reduce poverty and increase tax revenues, strengthen democracy and the sense of a shared future, reduce the tax burden for social services, and increase support for investments in education and public infrastructure. All of these are part of a viable and sustainable local economy.
Worker cooperatives can be an important tool in this strategy. According to the Democracy Collaborative at the University of Maryland, cooperatives can create a green and just economy by building community wealth “in which ownership is broadly shared, locally rooted, and directed toward the common good. Worker cooperatives are businesses owned and democratically controlled by their workers. They have been organized since the dawn of the industrial revolution and have been successful in virtually every industry – from mining companies, to robotics firms, taxi drivers, health care providers, food processors, to creative and technology firms – anywhere where the workers and their community would benefit from having a stake in their workplace and the incentive of receiving an equitable share of the fruits of their labor.
While worker cooperatives have been a steady presence in modern history, they have surged during times of economic dislocation, and rapid cultural and technological change. During the massive movement of capital and jobs out of the upstate (New York) region in the 1970s and 1980s, a wave of efforts to create and save jobs through cooperatives and employee ownership rose up in Jamestown, Herkimer, Saratoga, the Mohawk Valley, Ithaca and elsewhere.
The wave was given technical assistance by the NYS School of Industrial and Labor Relations and supported by government loans. State workers, researchers and organizers in Central New York were considered authorities throughout the country, structuring buyouts and training workers. In the mid-1980s the New York State Legislature formalized their support by writing a new article into State Corporations law recognizing the benefits of the worker cooperative model.
Worker cooperatives can have profound social benefits in terms of job satisfaction and empowerment of citizens through the everyday practice of democratic participation. They have also been shown to have significant economic benefits, both at an individual and regional level. Participation in decision-making and an equitable share of profits increases worker productivity and creativity, and decreases the need for supervision. A broad base of employee ownership increases economic stability by increasing the incentive for firms and workers to stay in the region and via the multiplier effect of worker/resident’s local spending. Worker cooperatives also build and retain locally-rooted assets for workers who may have no other path to wealth creation or entry to the middle class.
In our current economic climate, worker cooperatives are increasingly being seen by governments, community groups, and workers as a valuable tactic to stabilize regional economies, create and retain local jobs, and create assets for residents, including those that may have no other path to enter the middle class. For example, Cooperative Home Care Associates, a NYC home health care business, has over 1,500 worker-owners and annual income of over $40 million. The cooperative has helped raise the base pay for the entire sector of workers in the region, and has created full-time work and career paths in an industry notorious for its instability and low pay. South of Rochester, one of the oldest worker cooperatives in the country, the 35-year-old, and $18 million per year food processor Once Again Nut Butter has grown and created jobs despite regional closures and layoffs.
The Finger Lakes and Southern Tier regions need a program to mobilize the creation of regional worker cooperatives. Worker cooperatives need technical assistance to get started. They need incubation services, connections with investments, and organizational development that is not available through existing business development agencies. This need exists in part because of the relative lack of familiarity that banks, attorneys, and workers have with the model, and also because of some unique aspects of the model itself.
Sustainable Tompkins is proposing a pilot project of an incubator and technical assistance center for worker coops. Let’s make sure that economic justice is at the heart of our economic development strategy. It’s good for business. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more and get involved.
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Categories : Democracy, People Power, Permaculture, Resistance 2.0, Workers
taken from OccupyWallSt.org
As Wall Street’s corrupt influence on the economy has grown, the corporate ownership of our food system has hurt the health and livelihood’s of some of our most vulnerable communities. This Sunday, December 4th food justice activists and occupiers will be traveling from as far as Colorado, Iowa, Maine and Upstate New York to join together for the Occupy Wall Street FARMERS’ MARCH.Through a day of dialogue, musical performances, and a march, farmers and their urban allies working for food justice in their communities will form alliances to fight and expose corporate control of the food supply.
Events throughout the day will call and inspire participants to fight against the corporate manipulation of the agriculture system. An industry that is responsible for using chemical toxins tied to soaring obesity rates, heart disease and diabetes and limiting access to affordable, wholesome food to the country’s poorest citizens.
The event will kick off at 2pm at La Plaza Cultural Community Garden with a musical performance followed by remarks from food justice activists and occupiers. They will share their stories and listen to their peers as they highlight the role of urban-rural solidarity in building a sustainable food system as well as challenges of family-scale farmers in a culture of corporate dominance.
At 4pm, musicians will be among those leading the Farmers’ March in a colorful parade from La Plaza to Zuccotti Park/Liberty Plaza, the site of a Solidarity Circle at 5pm. Stories of struggle, triumph and ruminations about the role OWS might assume in the food justice movement will help form the circle. The circle will close with a Seed Exchange.
Participants are encouraged to express their dissent creatively, donning fruits hats, wearing burlap sacks, carrying brightly colored signs and moving in time to the beat of the drums.
Please join us, farmers, ranchers, farm workers, urban gardeners, foodies and supporters of all kinds in the Occupy Wall Street FARMERS’ MARCH.
Speakers will include:
George Na ylor – Iowa farmer and president of the National Family Farm Coalition. Karen Washington – Founder of City Farms Market and board member at NYC based organization Just Food. Jim Gerritsen – Maine based farmer who was named one of 20 world visionaries by Utne Reader in 2011 and is the lead plaintiff in a class action lawsuit against Monsanto.
Severine von Tscharner – Food advocate and producer of the film “Green Horns”, profiling young farmer entrepreneurs. Jim Goodman – Wisconson Farmer, organizer of the tractorcade to Madison to speak out against Governer Walker’s union legislation. Jalal Sabur – Founding member of the Freedom Food Alliance and advocate working on the alliance of black urban communities with black rural farmers. Mike Callicrate – Colorado cattle rancher, entrepreneur and rural advocate . Andrew Faust – World renowned permaculture expert and educator.
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Categories : Activism, Democracy, Environment, News, Occupy, People Power, Permaculture, Workers
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Categories : Democracy, Environment, Permaculture