Thursday, December 27, 2012

Occupy! Connect! Create!- Ethan Miller / Eurosolar +

Today I went on a trip to the local big city here in semi-arid Brazil and at one point met an enthusiastic Christian who had stopped to talk with my wife.  As I understood him, he mentioned that Jesus died for us, and that he is the true way to Heaven.  
       My wife is from this area, and has not shown the necessary signs for me to believe that she understands my Christian interfaith activist humanist orientation.  C'est la vie.  So, I told this guy that I like the CPT, the Comissao Pastoral da Terra (the Rural Land Commission) which is a post-Catholic liberation theology organization here that I understand works closely with the MST.
        This part of the whole interaction occurs to me as I want to introduce my return to Ethan Miller's fantastic piece published at the GEO site.  Certainly I have come across a lot of great thinkers in all of this: e.g. Herman Daly, David Ellerman, William Greider, Johnston Birchall, Margaret Kelly, and Jessica G. Nembhard to name a few.  Ethan Miller, perhaps more in long-time writers William Greider and Margaret Kellys' veins, has written a thoughtful manifesto for restoring people to their senses by demystifying the corporate-capitalist-consumer myths and discussing the basic, practical issues at stake.  Welcome to his piece, Occupy! Connect! Create!.....

        In reading Miller's piece, I researched the links to The Commoner, a UK journal.  I had the pleasure of finding a piece by the Dane Jane Kruse and a colleague.  I was reminded then of the Eurosolar Awards for renewable energy.  A look at the 2011 recipients brought the Danish Small Turbine Association to light, promoters of residential power and decentralized generation.  Well, coming from Denmark, at least, this is a revival more than anything.  See the second piece below.
        I then searched for the UK's Ashden Awards, and after having trouble navigating their site, I followed up with a search and found two interesting projects: Always on Solar- a Rotary Club project, and Power to the People- a California PV association doing good.  I wish I had known about them earlier!  I've included some posts and links about them below.....   Also, there's an item about Larry Hagman, who I remember best from I Dream of Jeannie with Barbara Eden from the 1960s, I guess.  He's one of at least several celebs who support RE, Leo DiCaprio, Jay Leno, no less, and years ago John Denver.

OCCUPY! CONNECT! CREATE! - Imagining Life Beyond "The Economy" (part one)

by Ethan Miller

"Fall in love with hard and patient work-we are the beginning, not the end."

-Zizek, at #OccupyWallStreet

"Lost my job, found an occupation!"

- sign at #OccupyWallStreet

An Introduction

#OccupyWallStreet has cracked open a little hole in history, creating a moment where some of the very core institutions of our economy are called into question. Along with indignation and outrage, there is a certain excitement in the air. Things that have been terrifyingly stuck seem to be moving. Something seems possible today that wasn't just a month ago. In this space, our conversations and our imaginations are buzzing. What are we doing? What should we do? What's coming next? In particular: as we condemn this economy built for the benefit of the 1%, what do we want in its place, and how will we build it?

This text, grounded in several years of collective thinking and writing, is meant to be a contribution to this vibrant conversation. My basic premise is this: if we want to effectively envision and create alternatives to the economy of Wall Street, we need to re-think the very concept of "the economy" itself. We have inherited an economics that stifles our imaginations and dampens our collective sense of power and possibility. Only by telling new stories about what economies are (and might yet be) can we most effectively kindle the fires of our creative, transformative work to build new forms of livelihood. I propose here a set of five core economic principles for "rethinking the economy" that might be helpful steps in this process, and may also usefully inform the direction of our concrete strategies. Our work can be strengthened by:

(1) shifting from a mind-numbing concept of "the economy" to more enabling concepts of diverse forms of livelihood;

(2) moving beyond the destructive tension between "economy" and "ecology" in conventional economics to an acknowledgement of our participation in a community of life;

(3) challenging our either/or thinking about "the market" and "the state" and opening up creative political space within and beyond these institutions;

(4) escaping the limiting logics of "economic laws" that tell us what we can and cannot do, and embracing the work of creating new possibilities through collective imagination and action; and, finally,

(5) reclaiming economics from the "experts" to become a practice of solidarity-building and democratic organizing in which it is "we the people" who can and must make our own economies.

These are not proposals for an alternative economic "system" to replace the current one. They are, rather, a set of tools to support our diverse, collective work of imagining new livelihoods together. This text is part theory, part strategy and part call-to-action for the immediate and long-term work of identifying and seizing spaces of democratic practice (occupy!), linking them together in networks of mutual support and recognition (connect!), and drawing on our collective strength to actively create new ways of meeting our needs and making our livings (create!).

The #Occupy Movement is a vital spark, already creating and demonstrating-in public experiments with democracy and solidarity across the U.S. and around the world-elements of the new economies we are working to build. This movement calls us toward long-term commitments, generations of work that we have only just begun. Everything is at stake.

I refer quite often, in these pages, to a "we." Who is this "we"? It is everyone who reads these words and finds some resonance with them; it is everyone who participates in the larger conversation (of which this text is one tiny part) about what it means to be alive at this moment in history, and about what it means to respond to the urgent call for occupation, connection and creation. The "we" is you, and you, and you, and I, who are ready to roll up our sleeves and get to work on building a different way of living together on this earth....

Local or regional associations/organisations
(c) KfW
Danish Small Wind Turbine Association / Denmark
ProjectPromoting small wind turbines for the decentralised energy turnaround

Danish Small Wind Turbine AssociationThe sector of small size wind turbines has attracted ever more public interest in recent years. That is why the Small Wind Turbine Association was set up in Denmark in 2009 - to promote small wind turbines with a capacity of up to 25 kW in order to supply energy to private homes, SMEs as well as farms.
The Small Wind Turbine Association played a leading role in the market launch of small wind turbines at a political and public level. More than 300 small windmills have been erected in Denmark since then. About 20 manufacturers and suppliers work in this sector. The tasks of this association include public awareness, the introduction of technical standards and the formation of networks with public amenities as well as planning and approval authorities. In addition, the association supported the establishment of a test wind station.
Small wind turbines enable citizens to generate their own power and also increase regional net value added. They are an important factor in the conversion of the energy system from centralised and fossil resources to decentralised and renewable sources of energy.
Small wind turbines are a sensible supplement to photovoltaic systems and other renewable energy technologies. The Danish Small Wind Turbine Association lobbies on behalf of manufacturers and suppliers and demands policies that create reliable incentives to promote small wind turbines in order to encourage the many private investors.


Access to clean water and electrical lighting has proved to greatly increase social, economic and health conditions in developing communities. This project provided a PV (Solar) powered electric system to six rural health clinics in Nicaragua. The solar electric system provides lighting for the clinic, AC power for charging communication devices, and a solar powered chlorine generating unit to disinfect contaminated drinking water for the community. The project also provided a solar powered, mobile, water quality testing laboratory.
This project was implemented in 6 communities with a total of 2,790 beneficiaries. Project partners also include the Nicaraguan based NGO AMOS, AlwaysOn Solar and the Rotary.
In July 2013, Power to the People volunteers will install solar panels on an elementary school and cafeteria in the town of Santa Ana, Nicaragua. Santa Ana is a small community with has approximately 50 families, located about five kilometers from the Panamerican Highway. The community is located inside a private, protected reserve called “Reserva Silvestre Privada Domitila” – the first private protected area in Nicaragua established in 2001 and comprises 300 hectares on land owned by Don Roberto Mejia. Santa Ana does not have access to conventional grid electricity because its remote location.

The Solar Industry Waves Goodbye To One of Its Biggest Advocates

By Jennifer Runyon
November 27, 2012 | 4 Comments

I was saddened to hear the news that Larry Hagman, the former star of the hit TV show “Dallas” had died over the weekend. Hagman, whom I interviewed in 2010 at Intersolar North America, was a great solar advocate. He told me that his decision to install solar on his ranch in California came shortly after the great blackout of 2003. Originating in Ohio, the outage caused half of the eastern seaboard to lose power for as many as 3 days. Hagman went solar after that event, reducing his utility bill from more than $37,000 a year to $13, he told me.
SolarWorld, the company for whom he made ten television commercials released a statement paying tribute to him for his work as an American solar energy advocate. "I have nothing more to do with oil. I am producing my own energy...Solar energy," Hagman proclaimed in one of the television spots he made for SolarWorld. With the slogan "Shine, Baby, Shine!" Hagman played off the oil industry’s rally call, “Drill, baby, drill,” to promote solar technology....

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Holidays 2012- The Spiritual Life, Modern Education, and Justice

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, 2012.  Unitarian-Universalism is an interfaith association created out of two previous Christian denominations.  Following my spiritual awakening years ago thanks to Huston Smith's description of Taoism, I have played with ways of describing my spirituality.  Unitarian-Universalism has been a long-time support, although fairly low intensity.  The Twelve Steps have also given me an extensive basis for appreciating spiritual practice.  My recent master's degree focused on international grassroots sustainability in theory and practice also confirmed for me the role of education maintained in books, seminars, and activism since my bachelor's in Bio Anthropology.   Now located in South America and having left my life in the New York City area behind for the foreseeable future, I can no longer rely on external sources so passively.
      While I like to keep focused on essential practical issues of social and environmental justice, I find that underlying power issues leave other basic issues unaddressed and unresolved.  For instance, an older student with some real estate properties played around by raising the subject of nuclear power, maybe or maybe not as a Devil's Advocate.  Others hold up Skol Beer  (a kind of local Budweiser....) as a rallying symbol in facebook postings.
       Fortunately, I have with me here a copy of O Tao da Fisica por Fritjof Capra, the portuguese version of Capra's The Tao of Physics, which gives me some additional support to raise topics for discussion.
      More generally, my many years of spiritual exploration have given me a basis to understand modern culture in terms of its Christian roots.  Moreover, I can link Unitarian-Universalist premises to a more dynamic interfaith Christianity.  Based on teachings of loving our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 5) and that "God will teach; who listens and learns will arrive in Jesus."  John 12:14, I can begin to articulate Christian semantics.  Also, Matt. 23:23 "(They clean the plate on the outside, while the inside remains dirty, full of greed and hate.  Clean the plate and cup on the inside first, and the outside will also become clean.)" 
       Unitarian-Universalism articulates seven principles of a civilized interfaith association, along with six essential sources of inspiration.  Since St. Thomas of Aquinas as a Dominican monk graduated from work with Albert Magnus in Cologne and moved to the University of Paris, he established a link from Jesus, the Apostles, and early Christians to modern education especially in the Universities.  Taoism and Tai Chi, Buddhist philosophy and meditation, and Yogic Hinduism all supported a Twelve Step process in which I can now understand life-affirming values as interconnected to modern education and justice activism. 
         The problem of peoples' economic beliefs and behaviors as a force behind religious attitudes then can be addressed with some deftness.  Gandhi shed some light on this process, as does Brazil's CPT, and the various denominations that participate in promoting Fair Trade Certification.
In pursuing understanding of diverse Christian efforts to promote this kind of awareness, I have been aware of the Quaker Religious Society of Friends, the declarations on evolution by the United Church of Christ, the Episcopalians, and even the Catholic Church, the efforts by Catholic priests like Padre Jose Maria Arizmendiarieta which began the Mondragon Co-operative in Spain, Padre Thomas Amistad which started the durable co-operative credit unions in Brazil, and the Danish Protestant minister who brought the UK's Rochdale co-operative model there.
       I haven't even mentioned the Reverend Billy and the Church of Earthlujah (formerly "Stop-Shopping" and "Life After Shopping")  Again, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, 2012.  More later.

There are seven principles which Unitarian Universalist congregations affirm and promote:

  • The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
  • Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
  • Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
  • A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
  • The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
  • The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
  • Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

Unitarian Universalism (UU) draws from many sources:

  • Direct experience of that transcending mystery and wonder, affirmed in all cultures, which moves us to a renewal of the spirit and an openness to the forces which create and uphold life;
  • Words and deeds of prophetic women and men which challenge us to confront powers and structures of evil with justice, compassion, and the transforming power of love;
  • Wisdom from the world's religions which inspires us in our ethical and spiritual life;
  • Jewish and Christian teachings which call us to respond to God's love by loving our neighbors as ourselves;
  • Humanist teachings which counsel us to heed the guidance of reason and the results of science, and warn us against idolatries of the mind and spirit;
  • Spiritual teachings of earth-centered traditions which celebrate the sacred circle of life and instruct us to live in harmony with the rhythms of nature.

These principles and sources of faith are the backbone of our religious community.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Green Party´s Jill Stein- The Gap fire - Ethical Ocean

A good bunch of articles and messages here.  Cheers and God bless interfaith activism....

mother-nature-climate-change_World_Bank_Photo_Collection.jpgBy Jill Stein. Distributed via OtherWords, a syndication service, this article is currently running in newspapers across the United States.
Throwing the nation over the climate cliff will make our current fiscal challenges look like a minor bump in the road.
As the highly scripted stagecraft of the presidential campaign fades from the headlines, there's a new show in Washington. ”Fiscal Cliff” stars President Barack Obama, who urges Republicans and Democrats to agree on a ”grand bargain” that would soften the economic shock of the impending across-the-board tax and spending cuts. But that bipartisan handshake would be nothing to celebrate.
Here's why: Both parties are intent on imposing an austerity budget bloated with military spending and private-industry health insurance waste. That would be a raw deal for the American people.
It's a sign of Washington's rightward drift that a Democratic president has offered to put Social Security on the chopping block, even though it hasn't contributed one dime to the deficit. And Obama has offered to cut Medicare rather than pursue an improved ”Medicare for All” insurance system that could save trillions over the next decade by eliminating the wasteful bureaucracy and medical inflation inherent in our private health insurance system.
Equally troubling, both parties are ignoring another problem that's truly critical: the climate cliff.
Our planet is rapidly approaching a geophysical tipping point at which the consequences of climate change, such as the disappearance of polar ice caps and the melting of frozen methane deposits, trigger an unstoppable acceleration of warming. Once that happens, it will render our climate incompatible with civilization as we know it.
Throwing the nation over the climate cliff will make our current fiscal challenges look like a minor bump in the road.
Mother Nature must also have a seat at the negotiating table as our leaders hash out their supposedly grand bargain. In a nation already reeling from droughts, wildfires, and superstorms, budget priorities must reconcile the climate and economic imperatives. After all, they're ultimately one and the same.
Our current drive to expand oil and gas drilling on U.S. soil is part of a bipartisan energy policy that's doing nothing to reduce unsustainably high carbon emissions. Showpiece programs to encourage renewable energy alternatives like solar and wind can't avert climate disaster unless they're going to replace fossil fuels.
The $15 billion a year that Obama wants to invest in renewable energy is a small fraction of what's being spent every month on the latest Wall Street bailout. Any boost the environment might get from his administration's showpiece renewable energy programs is more than cancelled by its promotion of dirty energy that runs from natural gas fracking to coal and nuclear reactors, and an expansion of oil drilling in our national parks, offshore, and in the Arctic.
We can avoid both the fiscal and climate crises only if we democratize our priorities and put the public interest ahead of the profiteering elite. One blueprint for this is the Green New Deal, which served as the mainstay of my presidential bid as the Green Party's nominee. Our plan would launch an emergency program to create 25 million jobs in green energy, sustainable agriculture, public transportation, and infrastructure improvements. It would also cut spending, making big tax hikes unnecessary.
Our Green New Deal would be funded by a combination of waste-cutting and targeted fair-tax reforms. These include scaling back the Pentagon's bloated budget to year 2000 levels.
A ”Medicare for All” health insurance system would provide health care to everyone, while eliminating the massive private health insurance bureaucracy and reducing the medical inflation that's straining federal, state, and household budgets alike.
Our proposed tax reforms would extend the Bush tax cuts for 90 percent of Americans. It would rein in Wall Street speculation with a small (0.5 percent) tax on financial transactions, generating $350 billion annually. Capital gains would be taxed as income, and income would be taxed more progressively, with multi-millionaires and billionaires paying in the 50-80 percent range, just as they did before the tax giveaways of recent decades.
If we are to have an economy that serves the people and creates a livable planet for the future, we must insist on nothing less than a grand bargain that is truly worthy of the name.

Jill Stein won half a million votes as the Green Party's presidential nominee in 2012.
Distributed via OtherWords, a syndication service, this article is currently running in newspapers across the United States.

As shoppers took to the malls and big-boxes on Black Friday (or to their virtual shopping carts on Cyber Monday) a true "Black Friday" worthy of the name occurred in Bangladesh, where more than 100 workers died in a fire in a garment factory with locked exits.
Since 2006, more than 600 garment-factory workers have died in sweatshop fires while sewing clothing for some of the biggest US retailers -- Walmart, H&M, JC Penney, Abercrombie & Fitch, Gap, and more.
These are the serious consequences of corporations' constant search to find the cheapest labor in the least regulated countries; your pressure on US corporations can improve conditions overseas. These deaths can be prevented by companies that institute meaningful fire-safety programs that include worker input, transparency, and binding commitments to protect workers.
Six months ago Gap publicly promised it would sign on to a worker safety program similar to the Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein agreement. But then, this month Gap changed course. Gap announced its own, corporate-controlled, fire-safety program – with legal commitments to workers, no oversight by worker organizations, and no transparency.  Gap's plan is not good enough to protect vulnerable workers. (Gap had other corporate-controlled programs already in place when 29 workers were killed at their Bangladeshi supplier in December 2010.)
Join Bangladeshi and international unions and labor groups that are calling on Gap to stop the public relations games and commit to a real fire-safety program that will save the lives of the company’s sweatshop workers.
Thanks for all you do,

Alisa (signature)
Alisa Gravitz
Green America
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These are products that are creating jobs and investment in communities where both are rare, that are reducing our environmental impact, and that have a story you’d be proud to tell.
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"Regenerative Leadership Institute

Monday, December 3, 2012

Zara Stores, Toxics, and Greenpeace

Talk about a fast response.  Look at this combination and sequence of emails from Greenpeace in their campaign to eliminate toxic chemicals from clothing production.

11/26/12 2:04 AM
Mark Jesus-
The world’s waterways are being polluted by the toxic chemicals used to produce clothing fashion companies like ZARA.

Donate today!

Help us protect global water resources by making an urgent contribution to our campaign today.

Donate today!
In less than a week, you’ve sent nearly 50,000 letters to the CEO of Zara, owned by the world’s largest fashion retailer, urging ZARA to clean up its fashion line and stop polluting the world’s waters. Thank you. But this is only the beginning.

Right now, fashion brands are writing a story for us on what the industry should look like — and it’s not a pretty one. It features public waterways that are being treated like private sewers. It features poisoned rivers and hazardous chemicals that can cause serious damage to ecosystems and livelihoods.

Help us change this story so it has a happy ending. Please make a gift to help detox fashion and protect global water sources today.

Those of us who have begun our holiday shopping this season may be buying clothes for loved ones or friends. But toxic pollution shouldn’t come with the bargains. We’ve been calling attention to the issue for over a year, but have seen little action. So now we’re shouting louder.

This past weekend, Greenpeace offices all over the world held a global day of action at ZARA stores to alert the company and its customers that fast fashion isn’t worth toxic water.

But we’re not stopping there. We identified more than 20 companies whose manufacturing process pollutes the world’s waters, and we’re keeping the pressure on until the companies commit to detox their fashion by 2020.

Contribute now to support our detox campaign, clean the world’s water sources and protect our planet.

With your help, we’ve already secured commitments from Puma, Adidas, H&M and most recently British retailer Marks and Spencer to eliminate toxics from the companies’ fashion lines last year. That’s huge.

These companies know they should be industry leaders creating innovative toxic-free fashion, and encouraging others to follow their lead. By exposing these brands in the media and working with their customers, we can help Zara and other retailers become part of the solution.

11/29/12 8:50 AM

Mark Jesus-

You did it! Zara has just announced a commitment to Detox! On behalf of the detox campaign teams around the world, I'd like to thank you sincerely for taking action. It worked.

After hearing from nearly 70,000 of you, the fashion giant made the right decision to commit to a zero discharge policy. This means the company is adopting measures that will lead to no discharge of hazardous chemicals through its production process by 2020.

And Zara is going to get rid of some of the most toxic chemicals even sooner. The company has pledged to eliminate a highly hazardous and persistent chemical compound by 2015.

Zara is one of the biggest fashion retailers in the world. And where the industry giant goes, the others are likely to follow.

The commitment is good news for the environment, but also a breakthrough for the public's right to know what is being released into our waterways.

This past week, we've shown the fashion industry what we're capable of achieving together. Thank you for taking action and making a difference in protecting water sources around the world. Together, we can make amazing things possible.

We couldn’t have done this without you.

John Deans
Greenpeace Detox Campaigner

PS: YOU made Zara detox. WATCH to find out what we’ve got in store for our Detox campaign.