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10 Books on Solutions for Energy Descent You Must Read in 2007.

Rob Hopkins, Transition Culture
My name is Rob and I’m addicted to books. Yes, they lie around my house in piles several feet deep, and often loom perilously over my bed as I sleep nervously beneath. From the oceans of paper, staples and covers that surround me, every now and then a particular gem floats to the surface and does wonders inspiring new ideas and perspectives, and on occasion I like to share some of these with you in the hope that firstly you might find some similar worth in them, and also that you might write in and tell me about other gems that I have missed.

I did this last New Year and it went down rather well, so here it is again. The following are in no particular order, just books that have particularly helped to shape my thinking over the last year, or which I have found useful in their approach. Some are of more obvious relevance to energy descent work than others, but I hope you find it a useful list.
(8 Jan 2007)

Google going green at NASA Ames site
Environmentally friendly architect to do preliminary drawings for Web giant’s offices

Verne Kopytoff, SF Chronicle
Google Inc. has chosen William McDonough, an acclaimed architect whose projects feature grass roofs and recycled water, to make preliminary designs of its planned offices at the NASA Ames Research Center, according to two sources familiar with the deal.

The assignment signals Google’s intentions to go green at the facility, an ambitious complex that could encompass up to 1 million square feet of office space, the equivalent of nearly 17 footfall fields.

…Sylvia Kwan, founder of Kwan Henmi Architecture/Planning Inc. in San Francisco, called McDonough a visionary in green architecture. That he is working with Google may prompt other companies to consider the environment in planning offices.

“He is sort of the star of the whole sustainable movement,” said Kwan, who incorporates green architecture tenants in her building designs. “Already Google has an incredible reputation in being successful, and this will be another feather in their cap.”

Depending on the design, environmentally friendly architecture can cost more initially than typical corporate offices because of the special materials and extra planning, Kwan said. However, she said those extra costs can be more than offset over time by lower utility bills, among other things.

Google has already initiated some environmentally friendly initiatives, having recently disclosed plans to mount solar panels on the rooftops and parking lots of its Mountain View headquarters. When completed this spring, the project is expected to generate 1.6 megawatts of electricity, enough to light 1,200 homes.
(6 Jan 2007)

Online Activism 2.0: Movement Building

Aaron Kreider, Zmag
What has online activism really done to help activists or would-be activists? For most people, online activism equals an inbox full of email. Our participation is restricted and we generally act as passive consumers. For most groups, they struggle to make their small static website interesting (if they have one at all!) and to distribute an email newsletter – mastering the possibilities of the dynamic web lies far beyond their grasp.

These traditional methods of doing online activism are generally good and have increased our ability to communicate, however they are baby steps compared to how the internet could be used to empower activists and would-be activists. If we fail to democratize online activism, then we will have betrayed our progressive principles. The next wave of online activism should emphasize movement building. Instead of the practice of creating tools to try to help one organization fulfill its mission, a practice that has traditionally benefited the larger and better-funded ones, we should create tools for all movement organizations that encourage them to cooperate.

Right now the Left does not need a grand manifesto, a larger-than-the-last-one national demonstration, a charismatic leader, or a progressive presidential candidate. We need to take a step back and start at the grassroots. From there we should build a mass base of part and full time activists, developing the strength and skills of tens of thousands of community activist groups and interweaving them with each other. Strategically used, online activism can be a powerful tool in facilitating the essential off-line work to rebuild the Left from the ground up.

We need to develop a community of activists and web developers, create web sites that share, develop central repositories of information, increase our efficiency, and develop new forms of online activism that dramatically increase participation.

…We need to follow the example of CivicSpace/Drupal (a popular content management system used by many liberal non-profits) and build a community of developers and users around activist website technology. Note that this tech community requires the participation of non-techies who know absolutely zero about computer programming or website design, as we must know the needs of activists so we can fulfill them.
(8 Jan 2007)
The article is couched in terms of the U.S. liberal-left, but the ideas can be used for other forms of activism – for example, activism based on peak oil and sustainability. Interestingly, the article mentions Drupal, which seems to have emerged as the de facto platform for interactive peak oil websites (The Oil Drum, Post Carbon Institute, Portland Peak Oil, ASPO-Ireland, etc.). -BA