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Jul. 14th, 2009 @ 10:08 am Taking Shorter Showers Doesn't Cut It: Why Personal Change Does Not Equal Political Change
Taking Shorter Showers Doesn't Cut It: Why Personal Change Does Not Equal Political Change | Take Action | AlterNet:
Taking Shorter Showers Doesn't Cut It: Why Personal Change Does Not Equal Political Change
By Derrick Jensen, Orion Magazine. Posted July 13, 2009.

Are we taking the easy route? Dumpster diving wouldn't have stopped Hitler, and composting wouldn't have ended slavery.

This article was first published in the July/August 2009 issue of Orion Magazine.

Would any sane person think dumpster diving would have stopped Hitler, or that composting would have ended slavery or brought about the eight-hour workday, or that chopping wood and carrying water would have gotten people out of Tsarist prisons, or that dancing naked around a fire would have helped put in place the Voting Rights Act of 1957 or the Civil Rights Act of 1964? Then why now, with all the world at stake, do so many people retreat into these entirely personal “solutions”?

Part of the problem is that we’ve been victims of a campaign of systematic misdirection. Consumer culture and the capitalist mindset have taught us to substitute acts of personal consumption (or enlightenment) for organized political resistance.
Forget Shorter Showers | Derrick Jensen | Orion Magazine:
Upping the Stakes
Forget Shorter Showers
Why personal change does not equal political change
by Derrick Jensen
Published in the July/August 2009 issue of Orion magazine

WOULD ANY SANE PERSON think dumpster diving would have stopped Hitler, or that composting would have ended slavery or brought about the eight-hour workday, or that chopping wood and carrying water would have gotten people out of Tsarist prisons, or that dancing naked around a fire would have helped put in place the Voting Rights Act of 1957 or the Civil Rights Act of 1964? Then why now, with all the world at stake, do so many people retreat into these entirely personal “solutions”?

Part of the problem is that we’ve been victims of a campaign of systematic misdirection. Consumer culture and the capitalist mindset have taught us to substitute acts of personal consumption (or enlightenment) for organized political resistance. An Inconvenient Truth helped raise consciousness about global warming. But did you notice that all of the solutions presented had to do with personal consumption—changing light bulbs, inflating tires, driving half as much—and had nothing to do with shifting power away from corporations, or stopping the growth economy that is destroying the planet? Even if every person in the United States did everything the movie suggested, U.S. carbon emissions would fall by only 22 percent. Scientific consensus is that emissions must be reduced by at least 75 percent worldwide.

Or let’s talk water. We so often hear that the world is running out of water. People are dying from lack of water. Rivers are dewatered from lack of water. Because of this we need to take shorter showers. See the disconnect? Because I take showers, I’m responsible for drawing down aquifers? Well, no. More than 90 percent of the water used by humans is used by agriculture and industry. The remaining 10 percent is split between municipalities and actual living breathing individual humans. Collectively, municipal golf courses use as much water as municipal human beings. People (both human people and fish people) aren’t dying because the world is running out of water. They’re dying because the water is being stolen.

Or let’s talk energy. Kirkpatrick Sale summarized it well: “For the past 15 years the story has been the same every year: individual consumption—residential, by private car, and so on—is never more than about a quarter of all consumption; the vast majority is commercial, industrial, corporate, by agribusiness and government [he forgot military]. So, even if we all took up cycling and wood stoves it would have a negligible impact on energy use, global warming and atmospheric pollution.”

Or let’s talk waste. In 2005, per-capita municipal waste production (basically everything that’s put out at the curb) in the U.S. was about 1,660 pounds. Let’s say you’re a die-hard simple-living activist, and you reduce this to zero. You recycle everything. You bring cloth bags shopping. You fix your toaster. Your toes poke out of old tennis shoes. You’re not done yet, though. Since municipal waste includes not just residential waste, but also waste from government offices and businesses, you march to those offices, waste reduction pamphlets in hand, and convince them to cut down on their waste enough to eliminate your share of it. Uh, I’ve got some bad news. Municipal waste accounts for only 3 percent of total waste production in the United States.

I want to be clear. I’m not saying we shouldn’t live simply. I live reasonably simply myself, but I don’t pretend that not buying much (or not driving much, or not having kids) is a powerful political act, or that it’s deeply revolutionary. It’s not. Personal change doesn’t equal social change.

So how, then, and especially with all the world at stake, have we come to accept these utterly insufficient responses? I think part of it is that we’re in a double bind. A double bind is where you’re given multiple options, but no matter what option you choose, you lose, and withdrawal is not an option. At this point, it should be pretty easy to recognize that every action involving the industrial economy is destructive (and we shouldn’t pretend that solar photovoltaics, for example, exempt us from this: they still require mining and transportation infrastructures at every point in the production processes; the same can be said for every other so-called green technology). So if we choose option one—if we avidly participate in the industrial economy—we may in the short term think we win because we may accumulate wealth, the marker of “success” in this culture. But we lose, because in doing so we give up our empathy, our animal humanity. And we really lose because industrial civilization is killing the planet, which means everyone loses. If we choose the “alternative” option of living more simply, thus causing less harm, but still not stopping the industrial economy from killing the planet, we may in the short term think we win because we get to feel pure, and we didn’t even have to give up all of our empathy (just enough to justify not stopping the horrors), but once again we really lose because industrial civilization is still killing the planet, which means everyone still loses. The third option, acting decisively to stop the industrial economy, is very scary for a number of reasons, including but not restricted to the fact that we’d lose some of the luxuries (like electricity) to which we’ve grown accustomed, and the fact that those in power might try to kill us if we seriously impede their ability to exploit the world—none of which alters the fact that it’s a better option than a dead planet. Any option is a better option than a dead planet.

Besides being ineffective at causing the sorts of changes necessary to stop this culture from killing the planet, there are at least four other problems with perceiving simple living as a political act (as opposed to living simply because that’s what you want to do). The first is that it’s predicated on the flawed notion that humans inevitably harm their landbase. Simple living as a political act consists solely of harm reduction, ignoring the fact that humans can help the Earth as well as harm it. We can rehabilitate streams, we can get rid of noxious invasives, we can remove dams, we can disrupt a political system tilted toward the rich as well as an extractive economic system, we can destroy the industrial economy that is destroying the real, physical world.

The second problem—and this is another big one—is that it incorrectly assigns blame to the individual (and most especially to individuals who are particularly powerless) instead of to those who actually wield power in this system and to the system itself. Kirkpatrick Sale again: “The whole individualist what-you-can-do-to-save-the-earth guilt trip is a myth. We, as individuals, are not creating the crises, and we can’t solve them.”

The third problem is that it accepts capitalism’s redefinition of us from citizens to consumers. By accepting this redefinition, we reduce our potential forms of resistance to consuming and not consuming. Citizens have a much wider range of available resistance tactics, including voting, not voting, running for office, pamphleting, boycotting, organizing, lobbying, protesting, and, when a government becomes destructive of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, we have the right to alter or abolish it.

The fourth problem is that the endpoint of the logic behind simple living as a political act is suicide. If every act within an industrial economy is destructive, and if we want to stop this destruction, and if we are unwilling (or unable) to question (much less destroy) the intellectual, moral, economic, and physical infrastructures that cause every act within an industrial economy to be destructive, then we can easily come to believe that we will cause the least destruction possible if we are dead.

The good news is that there are other options. We can follow the examples of brave activists who lived through the difficult times I mentioned—Nazi Germany, Tsarist Russia, antebellum United States—who did far more than manifest a form of moral purity; they actively opposed the injustices that surrounded them. We can follow the example of those who remembered that the role of an activist is not to navigate systems of oppressive power with as much integrity as possible, but rather to confront and take down those systems.
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Jun. 11th, 2009 @ 04:25 pm The Living Building
An excellent article introducing the concept of Biomimicry in ecological design

The Living Building:
The Living Building
Biomimicry in Architecture, Integrating Technology with Nature

by Bob Berkebile and Jason McLennan

"The best way to predict the future is to design it"
—Buckminister Fuller

In the future, the houses we live in and the offices we work in will be designed to function like living organisms, specifically adapted to place and able to draw all of their requirements for energy and water from the surrounding sun, wind and rain. The architecture of the future will draw inspiration, not from the machines of the 20th century, but from the beautiful flowers that grow in the landscape that surrounds them.
...
[Click on the link above to continue reading - PDF download]
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May. 19th, 2009 @ 02:29 pm Branding a Name
Since I began thinking of "Eco-Logos LLC" as the umbrella business name for the various activities that have evolved from my various avocations to full time vocation, I have tried to frame its vision through the name's etymology, or rather, derive the traditional business vision from a meditation on the etymological derivation.

I made accommodation  to convention by referring to "Eco-," the Latin version of the Greek "οικος" (oikos) which refers to a "house" "home" or "household" and that is in common usage in words relating to ecology and the environment. In my use of this term, though on the surface rather common, I mean something deeper. The connotation "household" comes closest to the idea of dwelling, an existential act of presence in the world as well as a material object. In the sense that dwelling is both the act and acted upon, I am inviting an idea of an integral process of design and building, and the personal act living in the world. In my opinion, there is no greater expression of this concept of being in the world and making your presence through the act of building than that expressed in the essay "Building Dwelling Thinking" in Poetry, Language, Thought by Martin Heidegger.

The Greek λόγος (Logos), meaning most simply "word", "reason" or "discourse", actually has a much more complex connotation as well, here defined in the Greek Dictionary for People Who Don't Speak Greek:
Logos -
The word "logos" in Greek has an extraordinary range of meanings -- the heart of which is both "meaning" and "reckoning". Hence, it may refer to a "word" or a "thought" or a spoken phrase or an idea or that which conveys something which, to the hearer, is meaningful and, thus, can move them. It can be an accounting or a story, a tale, narrative, or fable. It can refer to a theory, a rule of law or of conduct, a scientific hypothesis or lawful observation regarding reality or nature. Within the individual it can refer to a mental argument or a pondering of the reasons for/against. Thus, it also means thinking or the faculty of reason. More generally, it may refer to speech, talk, spoken stories or tales, and, even, rumors or everyday conversation. There is often a connotative sense of a deepened reality which is referenced by "logos". Hence, for example, the gospel of John in the Christian Bible begins with the phrase "in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God" -- and "logos" is the word used for "Word" in all three places ("en arche ein ho logos kai ho logos
ein pros ton theon kai theon ein ho logos").
And from a PBS website:
Logos -
The Greek word logos (traditionally meaning word, thought, principle, or speech) has been used among both philosophers and theologians. In most of its usages, logos is marked by two main distinctions - the first dealing with human reason (the rationality in the human mind which seeks to attain universal understanding and harmony), the second with universal intelligence (the universal ruling force governing and revealing through the cosmos to humankind, i.e., the Divine).

The Greek philosopher Heraclitus appears to be the first to have used the word logos to refer to a rational divine intelligence [and for establishing the term Logos (λόγος) in Western philosophy as meaning both the source and fundamental order of the Cosmos.] ... The early Greek philosophical tradition known as Stoicism, which held that every human participates in a universal and divinely ordained community, then used the Logos doctrine as a principle for human law and morality. The Stoics believed that to achieve freedom, happiness, and meaning one should attune one's life to the wisdom of God's will, manifest in the [universal intelligence] of Logos
And so to me, the name Eco-Logos is an expression of the profound sense of in-dwelling, of authentic being-in-the-world, made manifest when during the act of creating our own material presence, we conscientiously align ourselves with the emergent organization inherent in the natural systems of the world.
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Apr. 18th, 2009 @ 07:08 pm Great Article on the Transition Towns Movement
The Green Issue - The End Is Near! (Yay!) - NYTimes.com:
The Transition movement was started four years ago by Rob Hopkins, a young British instructor of ecological design. Transition shares certain principles with environmentalism, but its vision is deeper — and more radical — than mere greenness or sustainability. “Sustainability,” Hopkins recently told me, “is about reducing the impacts of what comes out of the tailpipe of industrial society.” But that assumes our industrial society will keep running. By contrast, Hopkins said, Transition is about “building resiliency” — putting new systems in place to make a given community as self-sufficient as possible, bracing it to withstand the shocks that will come as oil grows astronomically expensive, climate change intensifies and, maybe sooner than we think, industrial society frays or collapses entirely. For a generation, the environmental movement has told us to change our lifestyles to avoid catastrophic consequences. Transition tells us those consequences are now irreversibly switching on; we need to revolutionize our lives if we want to survive.

Transition Vermont can be found HERE
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Apr. 14th, 2009 @ 03:23 pm (no subject)
Garden Guide: Outdoor Planting Table - The Old Farmer's Almanac:

Outdoor Planting Table for 2009

Bennington, VT

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The best time to plant flowers and vegetables that bear crops above ground is during the light of the Moon; that is, from the day the Moon is new to the day it is full. Flowering bulbs and vegetables that bear crops below ground should be planted during the dark of the Moon; that is, from the day after it is full to the day before it is new again. The Moon Favorable column below gives these days, which are based on the Moon's phases for 2009 and the safe periods for planting in areas that receive frost. See the Moon Phase Calendar for the exact days of the new and full Moons.

NOTE: Above-Ground Crops Marked * -- (E) Means Early -- (L) Means Late

  Plant Time Planting Dates Moon Favorable
*Barley May 15-Jun 21May 24-Jun 7
*Beans(E)May 7-Jun 21May 7-9, May 24-Jun 7
  (L)Jun 15-Jul 15Jun 22-Jul 7
 Beets(E)May 1-15May 10-15
  (L)Jul 15-Aug 15Jul 15-20, Aug 6-15
*Broccoli plants(E)May 15-31May 24-31
  (L)Jun 15-Jul 7Jun 22-Jul 7
*Brussel sprouts May 15-31May 24-31
*Cabbage plants May 15-31May 24-31
 Carrots(E)May 15-31May 15-23
  (L)Jun 15-Jul 21Jun 15-21, Jul 8-20
*Cauliflower plants(E)May 15-31May 24-31
  (L)Jun 15-Jul 21Jun 22-Jul 7, Jul 21
*Celery plants(E)May 15-Jun 30May 24-Jun 7, Jun 22-30
  (L)Jul 15-Aug 15Jul 21-Aug 5
*Collards(E)May 15-31May 24-31
  (L)Jul 1-Aug 7Jul 1-7, Jul 21-Aug 5
*Corn, sweet(E)May 10-Jun 15May 24-Jun 7
  (L)Jun 15-30Jun 22-30
*Cucumbers May 7-Jun 20May 7-9, May 24-Jun 7
*Eggplant plants Jun 1-30Jun 1-7, Jun 22-30
*Endive(E)May 15-31May 24-31
  (L)Jun 7-30Jun 7, Jun 22-30
*Kale(E)May 15-31May 24-31
  (L)Jul 1-Aug 7Jul 1-7, Jul 21-Aug 5
 Leeks May 15-31May 15-23
*Lettuce May 15-Jun 30May 24-Jun 7, Jun 22-30
*Muskmelons May 15-Jun 30May 24-Jun 7, Jun 22-30
*Okra Jun 15-Jul 10Jun 22-Jul 7
 Onion sets May 15-Jun 7May 15-23
*Parsley May 15-31May 24-31
 Parnsips Apr 1-30Apr 10-23
*Peas(E)Apr 15-May 7Apr 24-May 7
  (L)Jul 15-31Jul 21-31
*Pepper plants May 15-Jun 30May 24-Jun 7, Jun 22-30
 Potatoes May 1-31May 10-23
*Pumpkins May 15-31May 24-31
 Radishes(E)Apr 15-30Apr 15-23
  (L)Aug 15-31Aug 15-19
*Spinach(E)May 15-31May 24-31
  (L)Jul 17-Sep 7Jul 21-Aug 5, Aug 20-Sep 4
*Squashes May 15-Jun 15May 24-Jun 7
 Sweet potatoes May 15-Jun 15May 15-23, Jun 8-15
*Swiss chard May 1-31May 1-9, May 24-31
*Tomato plants May 15-31May 24-31
 Turnips(E)Apr 7-30Apr 10-23
  (L)Jul 1-Aug 15Jul 8-20, Aug 6-15
*Watermelons May 15-Jun 30May 24-Jun 7, Jun 22-30
*Wheat, spring Apr 7-30Apr 7-9, Apr 24-30
*Wheat, winter Aug 11-Sep 15Aug 20-Sep 4
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May. 21st, 2008 @ 12:53 pm Architects and Draftspersons
Current Mood: frustratedfrustrated
I rant, therefore I am.

So here's why it's my problem that Architects (that's with a big "A") don't know how (for the most part) to use the software that produces the construction documents of their designs: BECAUSE I DO KNOW HOW. As long as they need someone for production drafting, and can not produce those drawings themselves, they need people like ME to do it for them. And as long as I am acting as a production draftsperson, I will be kept from the work of actual DESIGN. It keeps the minions in their place and the echelons of power in theirs. It is, as is typical in the field of Architecture, bass ackwards - through ignorance and lack of skill you can rise to the place where you may actually practice architectural design, because you can't actually produce the drawings that will get the thing built. I don't want to hear the old, "When I was drafting, I got it done in half the amount of time." Well, either put everyone back on the boards, or create a better piece of software, or better yet, get off your high horse, roll up your sleeves and show me how to do it on the tools we now use.

'nuf said ... it's lunch time!
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Feb. 8th, 2007 @ 10:41 am One Planet Budgeting: making sustainability real with the ecological footprint

One Planet Budgeting: making sustainability real with the ecological footprint
"One Planet Budgeting: making sustainability real with the ecological footprint" on Google Video
Google Tech Talks
December 6, 2006

ABSTRACT

Are we running out of planet? Was Malthus wrong? Do economies self-correct or self-destruct when operating as if resources are limitless? Can everyone on this planet live like a Chinese? A Costa Rican? A Canadian? Mathis Wackernagel, co-creator of the Ecological Footprint, explores these questions, and showcases applications from around the world with government agencies, NGOs, businesses, cities, highlighting how this tool helps make development sustainable.

Since the 1980s, humanity's demand on ecological resources has exceeded what the Earth can renew. We are in a state of ecological overshoot, on an unsustainable path. We can reverse this trend by managing both supply and demand. The Ecological Footprint is a practical, scientific tool designed to do just that. Developed over the last 15 years, this tool compares human demand on ecological resources with the planet's capacity to renew them and is being used by hundreds of governments, businesses, and NGOs around the globe.

Global Footprint Network's mission is to support a sustainable economy by advancing the Ecological Footprint and making the reality of planetary limits relevant to decision-makers throughout the world. Together with its over 50 partner organizations around the world, Global Footprint Network continuously strengthens and improves the Ecological Footprint by coordinating research, developing methodological standards, and providing robust national resource accounts. For more information visit www.footprintnetwork.org.
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Jan. 11th, 2007 @ 01:28 pm Biology, Resistance and Restoration: Sustainability as an Infinite Game

Biology, Resistance and Restoration: Sustainability as an Infinite Game
"Biology, Resistance and Restoration: Sustainability as an Infinite Game" on Google Video
The brilliant author/entrepreneur/change-maker Paul Hawken encourages us all to embrace a new type of "infinite game," one without losers that supports the future of life and a re-imagined world of growth without inequality, wealth without plunder and work without exploitation.
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Oct. 15th, 2006 @ 11:53 pm Ellsberg warnings
Current TV // Watch & Vote // Daniel Ellsberg Interviews by getreel:
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Oct. 15th, 2006 @ 10:16 pm (no subject)
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