Saturday, December 30, 2006

On Slowing Down

Introduction to Community Gardening

Friday, December 29, 2006

View from 2025

(I think that the tilters-at-windmills are also more important than the dinosaurs of nation-state governance, and better at preparing for the future too. Anyway, I love imaginary retrospectives from the future. As Eleanor Roosevelt said, "The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams." I wrote something similar to Solnit's piece back in July. -KW)

Here are excerpts from her essay at The Nation. For the full essay, follow the title link.

"In some strange way, it turned out that windmill-builders were more important than the US Senate. They were certainly better at preparing for the future, anyway...

If the twentieth century was the age of dinosaurs--of General Motors and the Soviet Union, of McDonald's, globalized entertainment networks and information superhighways--the twenty-first has increasingly turned out to be the age of the small.

You can see it in the countless local-economy projects--wind-power stations, farmers' markets, local enviro organizations, food co-ops--that were already proliferating, hardly noticed, by the time the Saudi Oil Wars swept the whole Middle East, damaging major oilfields and bringing on the Great Gasoline Crisis of 2009. That was the one that didn't just send prices skyrocketing but actually becalmed the globe-roaming container ships with their great steel-box-loads of bottled water, sweatshop garments and other gratuitous commodities.

The resulting food crisis of the early years of the second decade of the century, which laid big-petroleum-style farming low, suddenly elevated the status of peasant immigrants from what was then called "the undeveloped world," particularly Mexico and Southeast Asia. They taught the less agriculturally skilled, in suddenly greening North American cities, to cultivate the victory gardens that mitigated the widespread famines then beginning to sweep the planet...

2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl

I haven't read this book yet. What follows is a review from here. But I saw the author interviewed by Stephen Colbert recently, and find the ideas fit very closely with my own sense of hope for the future. -KW

Best book on 2012 I've read -- hands down

With a positive review from Sting on back, Daniel Pinchbeck pulls off an unlikely synthesis of views and visionaries relating to the approaching enigma of 2012. Setting the likes of William Irwin Thompson alongside Terence McKenna and Ken Wilber; Jose Arguelles and Carl Johan Calleman alongside John Major Jenkins; Rudolph Steiner and Julius Evola alongside Jean Gebser – and discussing everything from crop circles to alien abductions to contemporary psychedelics, Pinchbeck reveals a range that is at once playful, daring and instructive.

This book is a must for anyone wondering how to bring up this ungainly topic in public without being labeled another New Age casualty. Pinchbeck is at once erudite, passionate, and marvelously calm in his examination of what it means to live in the shadow of the possibility of time as we know it giving way to its cosmic renewal. Perhaps most exciting to me is Pinchbeck's call to a collective rush of moral responsibility as we approach this potential threshold of our collective cosmic transformation, in order to help usher it in with a shared and growing conscious intentionality that can meet the future head on.

In this regard, check out The Evolver Project and this snappy caption for its magazine, “Evolver”:

It’s no longer about knowing what’s wrong. It’s about becoming what’s right. It’s about integrating logic and heart, vision and will. It’s about making life juicier by making good ideas real. A new world is springing up around us – of visionary politics and liberating hackers, earthly communities and galactic highs. Evolver magazine & media and the EVO membership are portals into this world.

Evolver media will spread the “new news” of what’s possible, focusing on active solutions, helpful products, new social movements, and do-it-yourself designs. At once open-source group-mind and creative meta-media, the Evolver Project is designed to creatively and quickly respond to our rapidly changing times. Through our partnerships, cultural mixology, and creatively engaged membership, the Evolver Project will also serve as a model for a passionate planetary culture: one jacked up on collaboration, connection, and exuberant renewal.

Did you check out that last sentence??? Hell Yeah!

With this uniquely energizing strain of self-organizing funk-flavored visionary cosmic stewardship hitting the ground running, I'm starting to feel less like an isolated freak in my own musings of the near future and more like an early guest to perhaps the greatest party of all time.

Of course, it's not a perfect read – as Pinchbeck doesn't flinch from taking on way more than any author could chew in one book. In particular, his examination of our contemporary impoverished gender roles and superficial sexual trends is as daring as it is incomplete. Similarly, his analysis of what Kali actually signifies in this fabled time of Kali Yuga similarly seems less than fully thought through. Nevertheless, he goes there – and takes a hard, clear look based on his personal experience and his gut sense of truth – at both himself and the collective, in light of the even larger epic subject his book bravely confronts.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas Greetings

The children at our church did the annual Christmas pageant today. Part of it was a young man - of nearly draft age - reading the Christmas in the Trenches story.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Coming Up

Coming Up, by Ani DiFranco

our father who art in a penthouse
sits in his 37th floor suite
and swivels to gaze down
at the city he made me in
he allows me to stand and
solicit graffiti until
he needs the land i stand on

in my darkened threshold
am pawing through my pockets
the receipts, the bus schedules
the matchbook phone numbers
the urgent napkin poems
all of which laundering has rendered
pulpy and strange
loose change and a key

ask me
go ahead, ask me if i care
i got the answer here
i wrote it down somewhere
i just gotta find it
i just gotta find it

somebody and their spray paint got too close
somebody came on too heavy
now look at me made ugly
by the drooling letters
i was better off alone
ain't that the way it is
they don't know the first thing
but you don't know that
until they take the first swing

my fingers are red and swollen from the cold
i'm getting bold in my old age
so go ahead, try the door
it doesn't matter anymore
i know the weak hearted are strong willed
and we are being kept alive
until we're killed

he's up there the ice
is clinking in his glass
he sends me little pieces of paper
i don't ask
i just empty my pockets and wait
it's not fate
it's just circumstance
i don't fool myself with romance

i just live
phone number to phone number
dusting them against my thighs
in the warmth of my pockets
which whisper history incessantly
asking me
where were you

i lower my eyes
wishing i could cry more
and care less,
yes it's true,
i was trying to love someone again,
i was caught caring,
bearing weight
but i love this city, this state

this country is too large
and whoever's in charge up there
had better take the elevator down
and put more than change in our cup
or else we
are coming

I love Ani DiFranco

And Ani loves Dennis Kucinich.

Here are some other Ani lyrics:

they were digging a new foudation in Manhattan
and they discovered a slave cemetery there
may their souls rest easy
now that lynching is frowned upon
and we've moved on to the electric chair

and i wonder who's gonna be president,
tweedle dum or tweedle dummer?
and who's gonna have the big blockbuster box office this summer?
howabout we put up a wall between houses and the highway
and you can go your way , and i can go my way

except all the radios agree with all the tvs
and all the magazines agree with all the radios
and i keep hearing that same damn song everywhere i go
maybe i should put a bucket over my head
and a marshmallow in each ear
and stumble around for another dumb- dumb
waiting for another hit song to appear

people used to make recordsas in a record of an event
the event of people playing music in a room
now everything is cross-marketing
its about sunglasses and shoes
or guns and drugs
you choose

we got it rehashed
we got it half-assed
we're digging up all the graves
and we're spitting on the past
and you can choose between the colors
of the lipstick on the whores
cause we know the difference between
the font of 20% more
and the font of teriakiyi
you tell me
how does it...make you feel?
you tell mewhat's ...real?

and they say that alcoholics are always alcoholics
even when they're as dry as my lips for years
even when they're stranded on a small desert island
with no place within 2,000 miles to buy beer
and i wonder
is he different?
is he different?
has he changed?
what's he about?...
or is he just a liar with nothing to lie about?

Am i headed for the same brick wall
is there anything i can do aboutanything at all?
except go back to that corner in Manhattan
and dig deeper, dig deeper this time

down beneath the impossible pain of our history
beneath unknown bones
beneath the bedrock of the mystery
beneath the sewage systems and the path train
beneath the cobblestones and the water mains
beneath the traffic of friendships and street deals
beneath the screeching of kamikaze cab wheels
beneath everything i can think of to think about
beneath it all, beneath all get out

beneath the good and the kind and the stupid and the cruel

there's a fire just waiting for fuel
there's a fire just waiting for fuel
there's a fire just waiting for fuel
there's a fire just waiting for fuel
there's a fire just waiting for fuel
there's a fire just waiting for fuel
there's a fire just waiting for fuel
there's a fire just waiting for fuel
there's a fire just waiting for fuel
there's a fire just waiting for fuel
there's a fire just waiting for fuel
there's a fire just waiting for fuel
there's a fire just waiting for fuel
there's a fire just waiting for fuel

Kucinich for President

The Great Turning Continues...

Announcement of Candidacy for President of the United States

Dear Friend,

We are living in a time of great tests of our humanity, which also present great opportunities for transformation. The war in Iraq is a veil that shrouds our creativity and our potential for prosperity. It cuts us off from the world at a time when it is imperative that we acknowledge our interdependence and interconnectedness.

This is a moment with a profound feeling of destiny. America has been an extraordinary international power to manifest that which we focus our energies upon. This power is true of individuals as well as nations.

In a way, when we focus on terror, we bring to ourselves that which we fear. We focused on terror in Iraq and paradoxically helped to create the circumstances, which have propelled Iraq into civil war and chaos.
The prestigious Lancet report on excess casualties in Iraq estimates that the war in Iraq has caused 655,000 Iraqi deaths, and that 20% of those deaths are a direct result of the actions of coalition forces.

This war sacrifices the lives of innocent Iraqis, the lives of our troops, and the physical resources and good will of our nation. We are sacrificing our financial future, borrowing money from Beijing to occupy Baghdad in a war that military generals and the Iraqi Study Group have concluded is impossible to win militarily.

We are focusing our resources on the power of destruction rather than the vision of a world in which we want to live: A world of prosperity and peace, equity, beauty and justice. It is time for us to stand together to bring the troops home and stand by the people of Iraq through implementing a real policy for the security, recovery, reconciliation and restoration of their nation.

We as a nation have the opportunity to embrace the challenges of our time and take a new direction, starting with ending the war in Iraq. The leaders of my party have said that they will not stop funding the war, and are openly supporting a supplementary appropriations bill for an additional one hundred and sixty billion dollars ($160,000,000,000), on top of the $70,000,000,000 that was appropriated to Iraq for financial year 2007, back in October of this year. This would bring war expenditure for 2007 to $230 billion, double the expenditure of 2006, and by far the largest appropriation of the war so far.

Today, I announced my candidacy for President of the United States in a quest to call my party to courage and integrity on this issue. This is a journey upon which I hope you will join together with me to ensure that our country calls forth our great potential with the same courage of our forefathers and mothers who birthed the vision for our great nation.

Our campaign will change the direction of the Democratic Party, the war in Iraq and our nation.

Please join me to help make this great turning possible.

Thank you

Dennis Kucinich

Monday, December 11, 2006

Left Behind Goes Video

Because Jesus felt there just wasn't enough blood and gore, or spiritual rigor, in Streetfighter and Grand Theft Auto.

Real Voices from Iraq, via Dahr Jamail

I've run out of words. -KW

Sphinx in the Sands

"Military force is the new impotence, but we will flail away, preferring death to diplomacy. This course keeps us stuck in Iraq, while guaranteeing Iran's going nuclear."

Thursday, December 07, 2006


The Kucinich Exit Plan

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


Published on Monday, December 4, 2006 by the Boston Globe

Mourning the Hidden Tragedy in Iraq
by Beverly Beckham

Adam is my prism. I look at life through his eyes. He is 20 months old, and everything is new to him. And so far, everything is good. He's loved. He's healthy. He sees the world as a safe place. I know the world isn't safe. And it scares me sometimes, the difference between what he sees and what I know.

Life is fragile. It's why we swaddle infants, and put bumper pads in cribs and seat belts in cars and inoculate against disease. It's why parents don't sleep some nights, many nights, worrying about all that can go wrong.
Adam is my youngest daughter's child, a happy little boy. In 16 years, I wonder, will he be a soldier fighting a war in some far-off place most of us can't find on a map? Will he be ducking bullets and bombs in a town we can't pronounce? Will he lose the legs he runs on, the hands that build Lego towers, the arms he wraps around his mother's neck? I rock him to sleep some nights and tell him happy stories. Am I lying to him by weaving tales?

My best friend's son is fighting in Iraq. He is her baby. Another friend's two sons are in Iraq. They are her babies. Everyone is someone's baby. It takes a lifetime to grow them and only seconds to lose them. And we're losing them while we're shopping, while we're watching TV, while we're listening to the radio and planning our day.

Earl T. Hecker is a trauma surgeon who was stationed in Landstuhl, Germany. He's one of 29 American servicemen who speak about the war in a new book: "What Was Asked of Us -- An Oral History of the Iraq War by the Soldiers Who Fought It," compiled by Canadian journalist Trish Wood. Hecker talks about the 30,000 injured Americans. "I've been to Normandy. I've been to Flanders Fields. I've been to all these places. The soldiers are dead. They're dead. But this is an injury war. . . . Soldiers in Iraq are surviving horrific injuries. . . . Right now it's absolutely hidden. I don't think most people think about these kids at all. Out of sight, out of mind."

The Iraq war has been out of sight. It's like an art house movie. You have to make an effort to see it, and it's mainly been the participant s' families and friends who've been watching. America's preoccupation has not been the war. It's been the latest action-packed adventure -- James Bond this week, somebody else next week -- because war is grim, Sunnis and Shiites are confusing, and no one likes reading subtitles.

"Who's the prime minister of Iraq? Who's the president of Iraq? When did we assault Fallujah? A lot of people died during those times." People should know these things. This is what Benjamin Flanders, New Hampshire Army National Guard, says in this book that should be a bestseller but isn't because we're not lining up to read about the war, either.

The veterans who sat down and talked to Wood are only a handful of the roughly 1 million soldiers who've served in Iraq. They talked individually in "long, emotional interviews" about their lack of knowledge: "We were handed a book about as thick as a wallet, a little green book on Iraq, and that was our knowledge of the country we were about to enter."

They talked about trust gained and then lost: "November '03 was about the six-month period for us, and we hadn't yet provided adequate water, sewerage, and electricity to the Iraqis. So all of a sudden, we were no longer 'America the liberator.' Now we're the invaders who can't supply what we're supposed to be giving them."

They talked about shooting the enemy: "Normally we aim for an area called the triangle of death. It's an area around the mouth region in the chin where a shot is designed to separate your spine from your head, rendering the person completely paralyzed."

They talked about their lack of equipment: "We should have had way more armor on the Humvees." They talked about Iraq's dirt. If an explosion is close enough, "it cuts you off from the rest of your guys, so you don't know if they got hit or not because there's a big dust cloud." And they talked about the heat, the fear, the bureaucracy, the camaraderie, and how the war changed them. "When I got wounded, I was on my second tour of Iraq. I was hit by an IED" -- an improvised explosive device -- "and ended up losing both my legs."

Adam is my prism. I see him in every soldier. I wish I didn't.

"I think that the loss of life that we've had is tragic. The loss of the Iraqi people is tragic. But I'm going to look back to the good that we were able to do when we were there. . . . We had a program called Operation Adopt an Iraqi Village. We had thousands of boxes of stuff come over from all over the country. . . . We were able to make some people pretty happy, and some children very happy."

I watch Adam play and think about the man he will become. And I hope that war isn't in his future.

Beverly Beckham can be reached at bbeckham@globe.com.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Land Trusts

Friday, December 01, 2006

Nancy Pelosi's Priorities are Mixed Up. Call her.

This Nation piece by William Greider is further evidence that the post-election break is over for progressives.

I'm more convinced than ever that the major religion of America is not Christianity. It's Capitalism - just as much an unfounded matter of blind faith as any other religion, and with adherents just as convinced of its utter infallibility. Perhaps the appeal of Islam - a religion growing in these secular times - is that it's the only religion with any followers, though they are a tiny, violent fraction of a largely peaceful spiritual community, capable of even getting the attention of the Capitalist high priests and priestesses.

If you'd like to use a less violent means of getting some attention for those who believe there's more to life than profit share, Nancy Pelosi's phone number is (415) 556-4862 in San Francisco and (202) 225-4965 in Washington D.C. Please call and giver her an earful. Repeatedly. -KW

Same Old Same Old
by William Greider

House Speaker-to-be Nancy Pelosi ought to find a quiet place where she can sit down and recount the election. She was not chosen by her friends in Silicon Valley or by the friendly investment bankers on both coasts. They no doubt contributed generously to the party's candidates. But her House majority was made possible by millions of fed-up Americans ready to gamble that Democrats might try something new--on Iraq, on the soggy economy for working people and other grievances.

So why does Pelosi begin the education of her freshman members with a seminar on Rubinomics? Robert Rubin, the Citigroup executive and former Treasury secretary, will appear solo next week before the party caucus to explain the economy. Pelosi has scheduled another caucus briefing on Iraq, but that includes five expert voices of varying viewpoints. Rubin gets the stage to himself.

When labor officials heard about this, they asked to be included since they have very different ideas about what Democrats need to do in behalf of struggling workers and middle-class families. Pelosi decided against it. This session, her spokesman explains, is only about "fiscal responsibility," not globalization and trade, not the deterioration of wages and disappearing jobs. Yet those subjects are sure to come up for discussion. Rubin gets to preach his "free trade" dogma with no one present to rebut his facts and theories.

A fundamental debate is growing within the party around these economic issues and Pelosi knows this. It is seriously unwise for this new Speaker to leave an impression she has already chosen sides. The interpretation by Washington insiders will be: Pelosi is "safe;" she is not going to threaten Rubin's Wall Street orthodoxy. Far-flung voters will begin to conclude Democrats are the same-old, same-old money party. This is the sort of party "unity" that can earn Pelosi a very short honeymoon.

Young People For