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Josh Ellis, WorldChanging
If you drive east out of Bogatá, Colombia into the eastern llanos of the Vichada province — and you manage to avoid the paramilitary government troops and the guerillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) who regularly battle in this empty place — you will come across a small village of roughly 200 people. They’ll give you a free meal, and if you ask they might show you their revolutionary designs for power-collecting windmills, solar heating systems, and even their hospital, which the Japanese Architectural Journal has designated one of the 40 most important buildings in the world. There is no mayor here, and no crime; no guns, and also (for some reason) no dogs.
Welcome to Gaviotas.
“They always put social experiments in the easiest, most fertile places,” Gaviotas founder Paolo Lugari is quoted as saying. “We wanted the hardest place. We figured if we could do it here, we could do it anywhere.”
(10 Sept 2006)
Other Economies are Possible!
Ethan Miller, Dollars and Sense via Znet
Organizing toward an economy of cooperation and solidarity
Can thousands of diverse, locally-rooted, grassroots economic projects form the basis for a viable democratic alternative to capitalism? It might seem unlikely that a motley array of initiatives such as worker, consumer, and housing cooperatives, community currencies, urban gardens, fair trade organizations, intentional communities, and neighborhood self-help associations could hold a candle to the pervasive and seemingly all-powerful capitalist economy. These “islands of alternatives in a capitalist sea” are often small in scale, low in resources, and sparsely networked. They are rarely able to connect with each other, much less to link their work with larger, coherent structural visions of an alternative economy.
Indeed, in the search for alternatives to capitalism, existing democratic economic projects are frequently painted as noble but marginal practices, doomed to be crushed or co-opted by the forces of the market. But is this inevitable? Is it possible that courageous and dedicated grassroots economic activists worldwide, forging paths that meet the basic needs of their communities while cultivating democracy and justice, are planting the seeds of another economy in our midst?
(9 Sept 2006)
Ditch the car? Don’t laugh, it works for some creative commuters
Peter Svensson, Associated Press via The State (S. Carolina)
Six years ago, Bruce Wilbur did what most Americans wouldn’t dream of: He got rid of his car. And his minivan, too.
He started taking the bus to work — not a common sight in Rochester, N.Y. — and loved the switch. More recently, he has been biking to work.
Getting rid of the car gave him his sanity back, the 49-year-old Web designer said, and saved him a lot of money too.
As a driver, “I tended to be prone to road rage,” Wilbur said. “It was nice to arrive at one’s destination without feeling all tense and angry.”
He’s not quite sure what to do in winter, which can be snowy and cold in Rochester. If slush makes biking unsafe, he might go back to riding the bus now and then.
Car-free commuting is common in large cities with extensive public transportation, or in famously bicycle-friendly cities like Portland, Ore., but the surge in gasoline prices is making people across the country wonder if they can get to work without a car.
In a survey by the Pew Research Center in June, 55 percent of drivers said they had cut back on driving in response to high gas prices.
However, making shorter trips or letting the car stand in the driveway isn’t a good way of saving money. The real savings come when you get rid of the car
(10 Sept 2006)
Canal dreaming: solving the energy crisis
Guy Kewney, The Register
For a future with computers
The canals of Great Britain. Falling into disuse. I mean, with an energy crisis looming, and a serious shortage of water in the South East, and a transport infrastructure geared to cheap oil, what possible purpose could an antiquated, Olde Worlde network of canals serve?
Apart from freeing up enough electricity to keep our computers alive, of course?
…To me, the time of peak oil – either last year, or by 2010, depending on which school you follow – is the last opportunity to do really major infrastructure work – investment in the future.
(11 Sept 2006)
Imagine if gas taxes had been increased 5 years ago
Jerome a Paris, Daily Kos
…let’s just stipulate that after 9/11, the President decided, in parallel to a massive effort to track and punish Al-Qaida and its support networks, has decided to bring the effort home by addressing head on the energy situation, including a gas tax.
(11 Sept 2006)