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Solutions and Sustainability

Native wind

Jamais Cascio, WorldChanging
We’re accustomed to talk about leapfrogging as a process that happens elsewhere. But nearly every advanced industrialized country has pockets of poverty that are as damaging and as pervasive as you’d find in the developing world. They’re also opportunities for leapfrogging — and Native Wind may have the key.

In the United States, among the locations most in need of transformation are the Native American reservations. Native Wind wants to turn the reservations around by making them centers of wind power development. Most reservation areas in the western and mountain states have some amount of wind power potential. But it turns out that some of the richest areas for wind power can be found on reservation territories in the northern plains states: twenty reservation locations have a combined potential of around 300 gigawatts of wind power.
(9 November 2005)

Guinea pig; the other ‘other white meat’

ABC (Australia)
Would you eat guinea pigs or pigeons for dinner in your home?

Elisabeth and Frank Fekonia of Black Mountain on the Sunshine Coast live on six acres and have been growing and producing most of their own food for over a decade.

In fact, they haven’t visited the butchers in twelve years! Elisabeth milks her own cows, goats and sheep and makes cheese with the milk. She grows fruit and vegetables and makes sourdough bread and a variety of other fermented foods and drinks.

If you’re into permaculture, you’ll be impressed by this couples’ efforts to live a self-sufficient and sustainable lifestyle – but their latest venture to add guinea pigs and pigeons to their menu challenges the status quo.

So, is eating guinea pigs and pigeons taking permaculture to the extreme?

Elisabeth and Frank don’t think so. Through teaching their permaculture pursuits to others, they want to empower people to take responsibility for what goes into their mouths.

“When you actually kill your own meat, you know what they’ve eaten and where they’ve come from, especially with chooks and pork because there’s a lot of antibiotics and hormones used in the production of those animals.
(8 November 2005)

Reverend Billy and Savatri D interview: the politics of anti-consumerism

Jo Littler, Red Pepper
Bill Talen is the man behind the character ‘Reverend Billy’, evangelical leader of ‘the Church of Stop Shopping’. The preacher and his gospel-singing church are perhaps best known for their Situationist-inspired invasions of branches of Starbucks, in which they stage impromptu theatrics against the café chain’s bullying of smaller traders, its exploitation of coffee growers and the homogeneity of its consumer environments. Their US performances have also included choreographed mobile phone actions in Disney stores, blessings on sidewalks and anti-consumerist ‘conversions’.

In August, the Reverend came over to London, without his choir and with his partner Savitri D, where they met about thirty London activists of various stripes and paid a visit to two Starbucks branches on and near Oxford Street. This event involved all the participants becoming enamoured with an object within the Starbucks store – whether a bin, a packet of sugar or a cup of coffee – and then imagining the history of that object, right back through all the stages it had experienced, whilst describing this out loud and slowly raising the object above their head. Meanwhile, over the cacophony of incantations, the Reverend loudly preached against Starbucks in his camply evagelical style and fawn polyester suit. As confused and entertained crowds gathered, the police appeared (one of whom asked if it was a stunt for Channel 4) and a passing teenage boy jubilantly announced that he had the whole performance on his mobile and was sending it to all his friends right now. Jo Littler talked to the Reverend and Savitri D after the event to find out more about what was going on and to ask them about their red-green politics.

…Reverend Billy: We’re from the Church of Stop Shopping. Our main agenda is to slow down the pursuit of consumerism as the definition of joy. It’s always ecological. Consumerism is a fossil fuel supporting the economic system. So if you oppose consumerism, very quickly you find yourself thinking about ecological concerns.
(October 2005)

A disgraceful signal at Amtrak

NY Times
The sudden firing by the Amtrak board of David Gunn, the best president in years of the nation’s only passenger railroad, was a body blow to anybody who cares about long-range passenger trains.

Mr. Gunn has done a masterly job in the last three years of holding down costs without dismantling the railroad. That, apparently, was his problem. Mr. Gunn was trying to save Amtrak, but the Bush administration wants to privatize it, bit by bit.

The battle between Mr. Gunn and Amtrak board members – all of them appointed by President Bush – intensified in recent weeks when the board took steps to break off the more profitable Northeast Corridor, putting it into its own division and sharing its control and costs with the states. Senator Frank Lautenberg, Democrat of New Jersey, called it a “fire sale” intended to break up the nation’s railroad system.
(10 November 2005)
Another anti-solution. Just when you think the Bush administration can’t do anything more counter-productive for the energy crisis… Related editorial at Boston Globe (via Common Dreams) -BA

Two futures: the sustainable home

Ryan McGreal, Raise the Hammer
Wake up from the “American Dream” and start building a community worth living in.

…In fact, the biggest hurdle left to us – to our family and to our city – is the hurdle of car dependence. As long as we keep factoring cars into our future, we remain mired in the all-consuming logic of driving.

It’s the difference between scattered pieces of the sustainable future I described above and its full realization. It’s the difference between smog and fresh air, deadening sprawl and vibrant street life, isolation and community, congestion and green space, stress and active living, draw-down and sustainability.

This city should bend its every fibre of will toward producing the sustainable future mapped out by its own citizens and articulated in Vision 2020.

What on Earth are we waiting for?
(10 November 2005)
Related article by author McGreal No Two Ways About It on urban planning.