Growing in Community

This is a repost from Casaubon’s Book, a blog I perennially return to for inspiration and deep analysis of the nitty gritty reality of living at Peak Civ. She offers an analysis of the hard corner our society has backed itself into  It encoI really like this post for its encouraging words of DIY, just Do It, there is support in your community, you must only find itur, using the right search light, of course.

 

Growing in Community

Sharon November 5th, 2009

I think the question of land access may end up being the central political issue of the coming century.  In both the rich world and the poor world, we’ve systematically deprived people of easy access to land.  We have driven up the price of land in the rich world by encouraging sprawl, and thus forced out agrarian populations that previous fed cities.  We have pushed people into cities in the name of globalization and industrialization, and claimed their land for speculation.  The system is no longer working very well – there are now a billion hungry people, and the bust cycle is upon us – but land access remains constrained.  The poor sent to cities who can find no jobs can’t go home again in many cases.  The moderate income people who need land most to sustain their families no longer have access to the credit necessary since prices were artificially raised.

As time goes on and energy and resources are more constrained, the anger of people who cannot access land against those who can is likely to be an issue – it always has been through human history.  We have pretended over the decades that land was no longer wealth, that there could be such a thing as an information economy, but we are still caught in the old material economy, where the earth and its resources are the root source of our wealth – and they are increasingly controlled by fewer and fewer people, who care little about the future.  This makes those without access angry indeed.

But as yet, most people at least in the rich world, do not see these issues as political – whether you can afford to buy a small house with enough dirt under it to feed your family regardless of the state of the economy is deemed to be a purely personal question.

So we are brought to the question – how do you grow food if you don’t own land, or don’t own enough land?  How do we get access to land if we are poor, or if prices are out of our range?  I meet people by the dozens and hundreds who want to own land, who are saving for a day that may or may not come – and it is good that they are. But not owning land is not, for most of us, the end of the story – but the beginning.  If you want to grow and don’t own, there are places to begin.

Whatever you do, remember that allies are the key to success – you can do many of these things alone, but you don’t have to.  Chances are that if you care about the beauty and food security of your neighborhood, at least a few other people do too.  If you’d like a garden, a few other people may never have thought about it, but would be glad to see one and would like to help.  If you are struggling with landlessness, look around you and see who else needs access to land – poor college students, immigrants, the working poor – all people who may well want to grow, even need to, but can’t do it by owning land.  Seek allies among the powerful – sometimes they don’t care, but surprisingly often, they get it – they care about food security, they just haven’t had someone pushing them to put it on the priority list. It may not be as hard as you think to change the zoning laws, to get that land reallocated, to resist development, to start an easement program, etc…  Civic engagement counts.

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Honest reflections on Riot Porn, Goals, Strategy, Hope and The Better World

From Ryan Harvey with RiotFolk 

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By: Ryan Harvey – September 24, 2009

Original Link Here

My decision to release this writing took me some time to consider, but I think it’s for the best. If you disagree with this, that’s good. It means you are thinking critically at least. I want this to be taken seriously, it’s something that has been brewing in me for a very long time, and this is the first real attempt, besides my DNC/RNC writing last year, to convey my thoughts on this subject…

The G20 is upon us, and though BBC world news featured some of “the troubles” in Pittsburgh, on the ground reports hardly match up with the media-inflation, police-inflation, and activist-inflation of the actual thing.

As is often the case, the media makes things look a whole lot crazier than they actually are, if it’s in the interests of higher ratings. And though most Americans if surveyed would be against rioting, they love to watch it on TV. So the media is hyping the G20 protests up enough to get some extra points, but not enough to anger their parent companies.

The police of course have to inflate the threats posed by relatively small numbers of protestors to justify the gigantic amount of city, state and federal tax-payer money used to buy new weapons, vehicles, chemical munitions, and armor. They get to keep all these goodies to use against whomever crosses their path in the future. So little pebbles getting tossed at robo-cops become boulders and little marches becoming security threats.

To match these two forces, the protest groups, especially my own comrades in the anarchist groups, inflate their stories, numbers, and actions to try to gain support and build momentum, and to make them feel better. So a dumpster getting rolled down a street into an intersection will be heroized in well-designed pamphlets to come and talked about for years the way my generation still talks about the fence-chasing incident at A16, (World Bank/IMF protests on April 16, 2000 in DC).

What is so crazy about all of this, this inflation, is that it doesn’t seem to help. As an organizer with a decade of experience in all types of work, from anarchist organizations to peace groups to labor organizing, I don’t think over-hyping our actions does anything for us. In fact, I think it works to our disadvantage. It adds to a culture of dishonesty, of not addressing our short-comings, of not reflecting and refining our work.

Now Pittsburgh had a crowd of 4,000-10,000 people according to different reports. While this is a big number in general, it’s not so big compared to public opinions on such issues at the bailout, corporate executive bonuses, or the global economic order in general. Most folks in the U.S. are pretty angry, from the far left to the independent right/libertarians. Instead of congratulating ourselves on a “large turnout”, we should be asking why it wasn’t nearly size of most anti-war demonstrations that have happened. Continue reading

Update from Coal River Mountain Action

Coal River Valley Residents Declare State of Emergency, Meet with Governor Joe Manchin; Seven Sit-In at Governor’s Office

IMG_5632Coal River Valley residents and supporters associated with Mountain Justice and Climate Ground Zero delivered a letter to Governor’s Manchin’s office in the State Capitol building at 12:15 p.m. today. The statement from Coal River Valley residents calls on Manchin to use his executive powers to halt mountaintop removal mining operations on Coal River Mountain, one of the last intact mountains remaining in the Coal River Valley area.


Governor Manchin met the letter deliverers in the antechamber of his office and spoke with Lorelei Scarbro of Rock Creek and Chuck Nelson of Glen Daniel. As of 2:30 p.m. seven young people are sitting in the antechamber, refusing to leave until Manchin moves to halt MTR on Coal River Mountain or they are forcibly removed. Security guards conveyed to them that they have permission to remain until the close of normal business hours at 5 p.m..

“We are delivering this letter to our governor with residents of the Coal River Valley,” said Miranda Miller and Angela Wiley of Morgantown, W.Va., two of the seven sitters, “We are West Virginia citizens standing in solidarity with the people who submitted comments for this letter, voicing their concerns on the dangers of blasting on Coal River Mountain.
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For years, local residents have expressed their concerns over the long-term health effects of their proximity to coal mining and processing operations, while scientists have stated that it devastates local ecosystems and contaminates groundwater with carcinogens and heavy metals. One of the most imminent dangers associated with the proposed Coal River Mountain operation Continue reading

Coal River Valley Residents Demand Prevention of Blasting Coal River Mountain

save the kidsCoal River Valley Residents Demand Prevention of Blasting Coal River Mountain

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – At noon seven people will deliver a letter of concerns and personal statements regarding Massey Energy’s imminent mountaintop removal coal mining on Coal River Mountain to Joe Manchin at the West Virginia Governor’s Mansion. The deliverers have stated that they will refuse to leave until the letter is received and Manchin agrees to the community’s demands. The letter is signed by 13 residents of the Coal River Valley, at least four of whom will be present at today’s event.

The seven citizens to deliver the document are associated with Mountain Justice and Climate Ground Zero. In addition to Manchin, Coal River Valley residents are sending the document to the Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Surface Mining, Mining Safety and Health Administation, WV Department of Environmental Protection, Post-mine Land Use Committee of the W.Va. State Government, Representative Nick Rahall, Senator Jay Rockefeller, Senator Robert Byrd and President Obama. Continue reading

Dendron, Va chooses its own future.

Cross-posted from the CCAN Blog

Dendron, Virginia, has more than its share of challenges. The community of around 300, located in the southern corner of Surry County, struggles with an outdated municipal water system, crumbling sidewalks and no major businesses within the town.

Prior to the Great Depression, Dendron had been a company town of more than 3,000, fueled by the lumber industry’s presence there. Private business thrived in a town that revolved around the processing and export of timber across the country. Despite its character as an industrial one-trick-pony, the town of Dendron had something to stand for, and an industry to be proud of.

Today’s Dendron little resembles that historic vision of the 1900’s boomtown. Largely forgotten by the industry that once supported a thriving community, and facing serious municipal and community problems, such as an unexpected $10,000 water bill, you’d think the small town would take anything at this point to give it an economic boost.

The Old Dominion Electric Cooperative assumed this to be true when executives within the cooperative approached Dendronites with a plan for a new 1,500-megawatt coal-fired power plant, the second largest of its kind in Virginia. ODEC presented the Cypress Creek project with the promise of new jobs, tax revenue, and the idea that one major industry would bring others to the cash-strapped community. Despite local environmental effects and immediate hazards to human health, ODEC worked to assure Dendron residents that they stood to benefit from such a plant’s construction. ODEC also assumed that they’d buy into it without any major hiccups.

The cooperative, which has endlessly dispelled misinformation concerning the proposed plant (see Hope for Surry Shines through smog, 3 June), encountered a major hiccup Monday evening. As the Dendron Town Council met for its second meeting to deliberate the adoption of an ordinance that would allow the coal-friendly county board of supervisors to assume the community’s zoning rights, tensions – and temperatures – began to rise in the small side room of the Dendron Volunteer Fire Department, the only building large enough to host the crowd of more than 100. Fans reading, “NO COAL PLANT,” undulated throughout, filling the room as it quickly approached capacity, and Mayor Yvonne Pierce called the meeting to order.

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Activists Drape 25-Foot Banner On EPA Building, Call on EPA to Stop Mountaintop Removal Mining

Original Post and more pictures

BOSTON, MA – Activists with Rising Tide draped a 25-foot banner reading, “Mountain Top Removal Kills Communities: EPA No New Permits. MountainJustice.org” on 1 North Congress St., at the intersection of2a

New Chardon Street and Congress Street, at the downtown offices of the Environmental Protection Agency this morning. The group is urging the agency to block over 150 pending permits for mountaintop removal coal mining in West Virginia, Kentucky, and Virginia.

“Mountaintop removal is destroying our nation’s most diverse forests and historic communities,” said Alex Johnston, a Rising Tide activist. “President Obama and the EPA need to take immediate action to stop the bulldozers from destroying America’s oldest mountains and Appalachians homes.”

This act of peaceful protest comes just days after top NASA climate scientist, James Hansen, actress Darryl Hannah, and 29 others were arrested as they protested mountaintop removal mining in southern West Virginia.2 On June 18, 14 concerned citizens entered onto Massey Energy’s mountaintop removal mine site near Twilight, WV. Four of them scaled a 150-foot dragline and unfurled a 15×150 foot banner that said, “Stop Mountaintop Removal Mining”, while nine others deployed a 20×40 foot banner on the ground at the site which read,”Stop Mountaintop Removal: Clean Energy Now.”

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James Hansen, Darryl Hannah, Former Congressman Arrested Protesting Mountaintop Removal


Hundreds of anti-mountaintop removal activists gathered today at the Marsh Fork Elementary in Sundial, WV, deep in the Appalachian mountains. Hundreds of pro-coal counter protesters also turned out, resulting in constant interruption of speakers and musical performers and culminating in charges of battery against a local woman who struck Goldman Environmental Prize winner Judy Bonds in the face.

Check out Climate Ground Zero for pictures and updates, Jeff Biggers always excellent article for more info.

You can check the Charleston Gazette for more info — including a brief video.