Tag Archives: TATA

AASHE’s ‘Higher Education Occupation’ Project

The Occupy Movement should give true sustainability advocates reason for hope. Sustainability isn’t just about cleaning up our environmental act, but about building a new society that respects peopleand planet. Sustainability happens when Earth justice meets social justice. At the core of this new society must rest equal access to higher education for all, no matter what their background or wealth. Occupy the so-called ‘Ivory Tower!’ Demand publicly-funded, affordable education.

-Justin Mog

Occupy UC Santa Cruz

Read more and see pictures from the American Association for Sustainability in Higher Education’s blog post at “AASHE’s ‘Higher Education Occupation’ Project.”

Occupy UC Santa Cruz is planning the following:

What: Occupy Education UCSC Campus Shutdown
When: Thursday, March 1st – Rallies at 12pm and 5pm
Where: UCSC Main Campus Entrance, 1156 High Street, Santa Cruz 95064
What: Thousands of students, faculty, staff, and community members rallying in support of public education from K-UC.

The problems in California’s education system affect everyone, not just current students. The K-12 students of today are the UC students of the future, and the price tag for a college education is increasing, while vital services are simultaneously cut. We are asking for support of the Santa Cruz community, and hope you will join us in the activities planned over the course of the day. We are doing everything possible to ensure that this action will be safe for all participants, especially children. Aside from emergency vehicles, faculty and family student housing, health services, and psychological services, all other vehicles will be denied campus entry on that day.

On that same day, we will put forward a Tent University, an alternative vision of education to counter the agendas imposed by the UC Regents and other corporate elites. This alternative Free University will include outdoor classes, educational workshops, music, poetry, speeches, food, world cafe discussion, and a space to have conversations about ways forward. The Tent University will be an open setting at the base of campus for students, teachers, and community members to peacefully teach and learn together. All interested in teaching can contact organizers about scheduling a space by email (tentucsc@gmail.com) or on the strike website (http://march1strikeucsc.org/). Donations for food and materials are greatly appreciated and can be made through the website.

The events taking place on March 1st at UCSC will also serve as a stepping-stone towards a statewide mass mobilization to the state capitol in Sacramento on Monday, March 5th to shut down the political nervous system of the 8th largest economy in the world. On the 5th, students & teachers will travel to Sacramento to rally with more than 10,000 of our peers from other UC’s, CSU’s, community colleges, and K-12 schools. We encourage any interested parties to take advantage of free bus transportation (sponsored by the Re-Fund California Coalition) to Sacramento to participate in this historic action.

11 Holiday Gift Programs That Benefit Nonprofits and Make the World A Better Place :: 2011 Edition « Nonprofit Tech 2.0 Blog :: A Social Media Guide for Nonprofits

While my favorite shopping option is Buy Nothing Day (followed closely, in at least two senses, by Buy Local Day – I succeeded with both this year), there are often a few people that we wish to get gifts, but we don’t want to burden with ever-more meaningless stuff.

This list has a nice mix of stuff-less-ness and stuff that at least helps someone and means something:

11 Holiday Gift Programs That Benefit Nonprofits and Make the World A Better Place :: 2011 Edition « Nonprofit Tech 2.0 Blog :: A Social Media Guide for Nonprofits.

Occupied Lands

I’m mostly hopeful about the promise of the “Occupy” movement.   One of the oft-reported weaknesses of the movement is the lack of a unified message.  But this criticism overlooks the essence of the thing: all of these varied concerns have sprouted from the same root.  Where the less-thoughtful of the media see a bunch of different demands from a disorderly gathering of unkempt kids, I hear varied perspectives on the same core issue.

One unifying slogan – “Human Needs over Corporate Greed” – seems to encompass the bulk of the message.  But not everyone understands immediately that human needs include the long-term vitality of ecosystems (and as little climate destabilization as can be obtained at this late date), health maintenance and health care (not just treating the sick, but providing adequate nutrition, clean air and clean water to all), access to educational opportunities (without being tied into debt) and a commitment to justice and true democracy.

I think, I hope, that this movement is a demand for a NEW SYSTEM in which people can be assured opportunities to do all the work that so needs doing, and a system where their needs will be met while doing it.  It’s okay that we don’t know what this system will look like yet.  What’s clear, what’s being protested, are the things that are most actively blocking the chance for something new to grow.

And already, within the movement, are the critiques.  These are valuable.  These are distracting, yes, but we ignore them at our peril.  As Frank Herbert said, “A beginning is the time for taking the most delicate care that the balances are correct.”  One of the most important considerations has to do with indigenous perspectives on the name of the movement:

What “Wall Street” and the U.S. have become — an imperial-colonial power over the world’s economics and the laws that protect it — is a direct legacy of the fraud and violence committed against Native nations.

Perhaps those who now claim to OCCUPY WALL STREET in the name of reforming America’s economy could remember their history and call it something else (see Racialicious’ post for more discussion of the importance of language in opposition). Wall Street is, after all, already an occupied territory.

As are all of U.S. land “holdings” in northern America, the Pacific, and the Caribbean.

Decolonize the opposition!

(especially now that it is OCCUPYING L.A., Seattle, San Francisco, Chicago….)

via Tequila Sovereign: Manna-hata.

Perhaps the movement will find a new and better name as it develops.  I hope that the thoughtfulness, the questioning, is retained as essential to the movement’s well-being.  The importance of the core unifying principle should provide the coherence to prevent disagreements from becoming faultlines.

The people in power (and no, I don’t so much mean elected officials, I mean unaccountable power that comes from concentrated wealth, and the commercial-funded media mouthpieces for such power) want to ridicule what is happening.  They don’t perceive that this is the birth of something new; they only see it as opposing the status quo (which it is), and therefore they link it to older, more familiar terms that were seen as opposition to capitalism (e.g. communism or socialism).  But all of those bear the same underlying structure – the same genes as capitalism – for centralization, domination and short-term thinking.  My hope is that the new generation of activists is a movement away from those old systems of thought.   It hasn’t yet matured into an -ism, and with luck, foresight and courage it may never do so.

I won’t claim to know where this movement is going.  But just the choice speak out, to ask our civilization to change course at all from our headlong rush to ecological and cultural collapse is an improvement, a step away from the wrong direction that just might lead to steps in the right direction.

Mindful Recycling and Waste « The Imagined Worlds of Michelle Yvonne Merrill

As with energy, we should have practices that enhance our awareness that nothing is ever “thrown away.” It is especially important that we think about the disposition of each item, knowing where it is going and acknowledging the different impacts of “disposal.” While the exact words are not crucial, the different sentiments are.

If you are disposing of something that will go into a landfill or will be incinerated, ask forgiveness by raising a hand and saying “Hail Gaia, Full of Grace.” If you are disposing of paper, aluminum, glass, plastics or similar materials to be recycled in industrial processes, raise a hand and say “Go with Gaia.” If you are disposing of food or other wastes to be composted, raise a hand in the air, smile and say “Join Gaia with Joy.”

via Mindful Recycling and Waste « The Imagined Worlds of Michelle Yvonne Merrill, originally posted on Apegrrl’s Meme Garden (29-Aug-2002).

The Sound of a New Green Economy

From the Green for All team, a video that sums up the argument for the new Green Collar Economy:

Hygiene and Its Discontents

Up to my eyeballs in preparations for Monday’s start of the new semester, so I’m re-posting a bit I initially published on 6/22/04 at http://rattlebrain.com/~apegrrl/blog040622.htm

Hygiene and Its Discontents

While doing as Nature intended this morning, I began to think about a conversation I had in Indonesia a few years ago.  My Indonesian friend pointed out that Westerners are so wasteful they even throw paper away every time they take a crap.

You must understand that in Indonesia (and much of Asia, I believe), standard practice involves no toilet paper.

squatting vs. sitting - the changes to the rectum and puborectalis muscle

Instead of sitting on a throne, one squats over a hole (this has the benefit of being a bit more natural of a position for this task, supposedly improving the expelling function and
perhaps making things a bit more tidy – not to mention the extra muscle tone you develop in your legs as you incorporate such squatting in your daily routine).

Indonesian Kamar Mandi
Indonesian Kamar Mandi

To cleanse afterward, one scoops water out of the adjacent basin (or bucket in more rustic settings) with a dipper (holding the dipper in the right hand) and pours some water onto the left hand, which can then be used to clean oneself (this is why it’s considered rude to use the left hand for eating, touching others or passing items to others).   Then you wash your hands off (over the toilet, ideally, though in nicer places there’s another drain on the floor, or even an honest-ta-god sink), and use the remaining water in your dipper to flush your effluents down the hole.  Just like in Western plumbing, an S-curve just below the drain hole allows for water to make a barrier between your restroom and the raw sewage and its odors further down the line.  In fairly posh arrangements, there are hand holds to help you get in and out of position, little foot-rests to keep your feet above the potentially wet floor, flip-flops just for bathroom use located conveniently at the door, and everything is beautifully tiled up to about three feet high.

There are several advantages to this commode-use technique.  Unlike Western flush toilets, you determine exactly how much water is required to get everything flushed.  And of course, you don’t use toilet paper (also makes it less prone to irritation of your sensitive spots).  Having attempted similar procedures where there was a sit-down semi-Western toilet, but a basin and no TP, I can tell you that it doesn’t work as well in this arrangement.

kamar kecil in Padangbai (note soggy TP)

It seems that Asian-style restroom arrangements are actually much more efficient with water, and infinitely less wasteful when it comes to trees.  Even those of us who buy 100% recycled, unbleached, and otherwise innocuous TP are still throwing away paper pulp that might better be used for printing political screeds and bumper stickers.  The water and energy that goes into (even recycled) paper production is substantial, and then there’s the fuel cost of transporting all those rolls of fluffy, white tree pulp from the factory to your bum.  The lack of TP in the process could be a boon to those using septic tanks or composting toilets.

Could us decadent Westerners make the switch?  All the European and American researchers working where I was managed to get reasonably comfortable with it in a couple weeks, though most of us considered it a great luxury to go in a Western-style bathroom when we got back to town and stayed at a hotel.  Just like learning a language, or learning how to carry heavy loads on your head (something women in Central Africa do without any strain or wobbling), voiding one’s waste Asian-style is probably best learned in childhood, but you can develop some proficiency as an adult.  The biggest barrier (after overcoming irrational squeamishness at using a non-paper-protected hand to wipe your ass) is the architecture of all our bathrooms.  Oh, and just like with composting toilets and straw-bale houses, there might be some building and health codes to work around.  Of course, there’d be huge materials cost/waste issues in remodeling existing bathrooms, but if all new buildings and otherwise-planned remodels included making this switch, what a difference that could make.

Charging for Land

If you owned all the money in the world, and I owned all the land... How much do you think I'd charge you for the first night's rent?

The [Land Value Tax] strikes at the heart of the land monopoly. In a powerful speech, Winston Churchill said, “Land monopoly is not the only monopoly, but it is by far the greatest of monopolies — it is a perpetual monopoly, and it is the mother of all other forms of monopoly.” It is the essence of feudalism and for all of our supposed social progress we’ve yet to be free from it. Unless and until the land monopoly is destroyed, the positive effects of virtually all economic reforms and even philanthropy is largely nullified.   (Edward Miller, “The Only Economic Reform Worth Talking About“)

The Only Economic Reform Worth Talking About is, according to Miller, a shift to a Land Value Tax (a kind-of straight tax on the land itself, regardless of “property improvements” – also known as natural rent).  Another way to think about this is not so much as a tax on land owners, but we the people charging rent for use of the commons.

It’s an interesting notion.  I’m trying to reconcile it with the notions I’ve expressed before about taxing the bad stuff rather than the good stuff.  So I’m wondering, is land ownership bad stuff to be taxed, or good stuff to be incentivized?

I’ve heard the proposition that the best way to protect land is to have it owned by someone in perpetuity and pass it to their descendants, so that they have an incentive to steward it in ways compatible with its long-term viability.  The Nature Conservancy does most of its work by purchasing land in order to protect it, and it does seem to work in this system.  But I’m far from convinced that it’s the only way to protect land, or even the best option.

[Sam: ]”That’s the kind of thinking that got Manhattan sold for a box of beads.”

[Coyote:] “So they still tell that story? It was one of my best tricks. They gave us many beads for that island. They didn’t know that you can’t own land.”

(Christopher Moore,  Coyote Blue )

I confess, I’m largely with Coyote on this issue.  The idea that anyone owns the land is ludicrous.  This generation is using it now, future generations will use it later, but my gut reaction is that the land, any land, should not be “owned”; as humans, we should take care of it, perhaps take responsibility for it, but in no way can we actually take it.

I’m a little more comfortable with rent than ownership, I suppose.  So, how would charging rent to any and all land tenants help the cause of sustainability?  Could this facilitate both greater equity among people and better stewardship of all the land and all its denizens (especially the non-human ones and the generations not yet born)?  Can we up the rent on those whose stewardship neglects these considerations?

In the money culture, will a Land Value Tax encourage care and protection of the living world while providing equitably for the people (present and future) who depend on it?