The ProAction Cafe

TMVVWhen is the last time 20 people devoted 3 hours of their Saturday exclusively to you as a small business owner, and helping you achieve success?  In a nutshell, that was last Saturday’s ProAction Cafe at Transition Mar Vista/Venice.  And it was truly amazing.

Four local Transition-style businesses were “on the hot seat.”  After a brief intro to the format, the meeting broke into four small groups, Open Space-style, with one of the subject business owners at each of the four tables.

The Econ Puzzle’s Debut

Economic Solutions at Otis CollegeThis week marked the trimphant wrap-up of our Human Ecology class at Otis College of Art and Design.  It was a great group of students this semester, and their enthusiasm shone through in their final projects.

We celebrated with people from Transition Mar Vista/Venice as well as people from other departments at Otis.  As teacher Elektra Grant expained so well in her introduction, it seems approprate that the “Human Ecology” class has so many stakeholders.

Collapse? Maybe not.

The “new economy” demo

It’s all a matter of perspective.

In a previous post I argued that economic contraction is necessary and in fact underway.  Is this “Collapse” — that scary term that so many authors love to throw around?

I find the C word to be counterproductive.  Depending on where you are standing as the grand cascade of change ripples through, the ruthless C word might be how it all feels to you in the moment.  But the big scary C word disclaims all the brilliant aspects of the new, emerging economy.  It denies that there is anything positive going on.

Huh?

Economic Descent, hopefully with skillful means

This post is in response to one by Rob Hopkins, which was in response to one byDavid Holmgren.  

In case I don’t use sufficiently ‘skillful means,’ please let me begin with stating: I am not advocating for intentionally creating an economic crash.

Rob says about economics “once it starts getting even vaguely complicated, leaves me rather puzzled.” I don’t shy away from complicated, although I do strive to simplify things as I explain them, so that more people can understand.  I have waded through tons of what many people lay out as possibilities for new economic alternatives, hunting for how to successfully unwind the terminally-flawed system we’ve got (success=relatively peacefully), and ideas for how to build a wiser parallel system.

Powerdown: Let’s Talk About It

We’re caught in the squeeze right now.

Climate change is advancing at an incredible speed. We know we should do something, but we lack the political will to do what it takes to hold it to 2°C. UN committees are now being counseled to prepare for 4°C of warming. To keep it survivable, there’s got to be a powerdown — starting today.

Meanwhile green-tech enthusiasts cheer the rapid rate at which certain countries are installing renewable energy infrastructure. But reports are now surfacing of shortages in the rare earth ingredients needed to make that renewable infrastructure. We don’t have enough rare earth materials to replace the whole fossil infrastructure and continue on our current level of consumption. No one dares speak the little secret: Even with renewables, there’s got be a powerdown.

What do GMOs have to do with Resilience?

heirloom bean seedsIn so many ways, GMOs deplete any resilience in our food supply.

GMOs are perhaps the ultimate pinnacle of petroleum-dependent agriculture. These plants are laboratory-engineered specifically to work together with petro-chemicals: herbicides, insecticides, fertilizers. Headed into a world with increasingly less and less fossil resources, deepening the petro-dependence of our food supply is an absolutely disasterous course.

For thousands of years, humanity has fed itself “organically” — only your great-grandmother didn’t have a term for it. That was normal agriculture. This chemical-dependent stuff is very recent, widespread just since WWII. GMOs are the ultimate in UN-organic. The useage of farm chemicals with GMOs has vastly increased; it’s now producing SuperWeeds and SuperBugs which are resistant to chemicals, requiring stronger chemicals in greater and greater quantity.  And the chemical-centric agribusiness process is stripping out our topsoils, polluting our waterways, sickening our farm workers.

The long-term impacts of GMOs on human health are completely untested.  For many years the companies that produced GMOs refused to allow independent studies, and there has been no transparency of scientific findings.  The first independent, longer-term studies are just now beginning to emerge in Europe, and these studies suspect the GM process itself (not just the chemicals) is detrimental to those who consume it.  (YouTube) We can indeed have a better life than this.

Revolt and Change our lives

Sunflower at the Community Garden at Holy Nativity

Sunflower at the Community Garden at Holy Nativity

It’s a sign of a really good essay when bits of it linger with you for days after you’ve read it and it keeps popping up in your mind. Naomi Klein’s “Why Science is Telling All of Us to Revolt and Change Our Lives Before We Destroy the Planet” is one of those. Her theme? “Global capitalism has made the depletion of resources so rapid, convenient and barrier-free that ‘earth-human systems’ are becoming dangerously unstable in response.”

“Serious scientific gatherings don’t usually feature calls for mass political resistance, much less direct action and sabotage,” Klein writes. She describes UC San Diego geophysicist Brad Werner at a major scientific conference as “observing that mass uprisings of people — along the lines of the abolition movement, the civil rights movement or Occupy Wall Street — represent the likeliest source of ‘friction’ to slow down an economic machine that is careening out of control.”

The part that keeps itching at me, days after I read Klein’s article, is the presumption that “mass uprisings” are the only way out of this mess. 

Growing Strong in Los Angeles

photo (2)DATELINE SEPT 2020:  The last of my blackeyed peas are planted, the summer’s harvest of tomatoes is drying in the solar cooker, and I’ve gathered in the seeds of chard and cilantro.  Time to take a break from late summer’s heat, to take a little walk down memory lane.

I remember back in 2013, when mine was one of the few houses on the street with front yard food, and the only house in the neighborhood with backyard chickens.  Today it’s the rare house that still has a lawn, and a few progressives are now starting to remove those sacred backyard fences.  The triumphant call of laying hens is commonplace.  Figs and pomegranates are dripping from the trees we planted five years ago along many streets of the city.

(Photo at top:  a Transition Los Angeles city hub meeting, 2020)

Fear and Action

Fear.  It’s that chill that creeps up your spine.  That awful, churning hot knot, deep in the pit of your stomach.  The tremble that makes your hands feel powerless.  The freeze-up, that tempts you to inaction.  But you can’t give in to it.  You still need to DO SOMETHING.

I’m not a very public person by nature.  But right now life — my activist life, and life on the planet in general — demands that I do some very public things.  It’s terrifying.

My husband tells me fear and excitement have some of the same roots.  Maybe.  Sometimes it is excitement, disguised.  But sometimes, like a week ago Wednesday, like today, it is just plain wanting-to-crawl-in-a-hole rather than do what needs to be done.