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We have some hot articles for you. Our last “roundup” took you to June 6. Out of all our daily stuff since then, I thought these would thrill EB readers.
– Culture Change editor Jan Lundberg

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(June 2009)

Bike Carts, Sailboats, Convergence, and the Naked (Bike Ride) Truth

Jan Lundberg, Culture Change
We’re glad to report that over 60% of the food for the 10-day Village Building Convergence in Portland, Oregon was bike-carted at least in part. The food was mostly from farmers markets where the farmers donated to the Convergence’s dinners. We also got the cooperation of Clever Cycles, a local business, plus creative volunteers. It all fit into an inspiring annual event.

The essence of the Village Building Convergence (VBC) can be glimpsed in the project-sharing. After our bike-cart/sailboat delivery of produce on Friday, when everyone had sat down to a splendid vegan dinner (on real plates and steel utensils), three urban ecovillage/co-housing projects in Portland shared their progress. The amount of energy saving, depaving, recycling, composting, gardening, natural building, tool-sharing, car-sharing, consensus decision-making, renewable energy, common meals, etc., were impressive and thus cheered.

Now that the new Oregon law allowing grey water and other re-coded sustainable practices has been passed, more changes of a positive nature will follow — and widely.

Robert Gilman was the main attraction of the evening. He is the former publisher of In Context magazine. Famous for his oft-quoted definition of the term “ecovillage,” he is now a city councilman in Langley, Washington. His presentation made the strong analogy that the dominant culture of empire is giving way to a planetary consciousness, just as pioneer species give way to succession species: the pioneer species are about short term expansion, and the succession species (or culture) is about diversity and longevity.
(15 June 2009)
Many photos at original.

Sailing Vegetables in Puget Sound” — STC on Deconstructing Dinner
Jon Steinman, Culture Change
Part VII of The Local Grain Revolution series featured a full episode on the sailing of locally-grown grains from the Creston Valley of British Columbia to the City of Nelson. A fleet of four boats transported 5,000 pounds of the grains. Shortly after the grains were unloaded in Nelson, sailor Jay Blackmore embarked on another journey, however, this time, on-line.

He was keen to find other intrepid communities who were too exploring the practice of sailing food. Sure enough, Jay came across Dave Reid of the Sail Transport Company in Seattle, Washington. For less than a year now, Dave has been in the early stages of creating a business around the idea of sailing vegetables from farms neighbouring Puget Sound and delivering them to customers in Seattle. Dave spoke to Deconstructing Dinner over the phone and shared his exciting business model of a fossil-fuel free distribution system for zucchinis, tomatoes, and many other fresh vegetables.
(17 June 2009)

Time to Take the Gloves off with Obama

Jan Lundberg and Jeff Gerritsen, Culture Change
The clock is ticking, and we are not building life boats. As the population’s options close and a harder ecological and socioeconomic fall is assured more each day, Barack Obama is leading the thumb twiddlers… , albeit with eloquence and charm. What passes for policy debate today seldom reckons with the life and death issues of climate extinction, petrocollapse, and the social chaos ahead.

Obama is dealing with a heck of a lot, granted. This alone is supposed to quiet the people quite a bit, and despite the Depression, ecocide and unending war, it has worked rather well. With his likability and intelligence – after the “Führer Bushler” — Obama is thus the perfect man for our times if you’re basically clinging to the status quo.

… Like all politicians, there are two sides to Barack Obama. He knows that driving cars is a lifestyle to question, as he said last December. But in his slick style this passes for action, while his pen-strokes squander the nation’s waning ability to convert industrial capacity to humane tools of sustainability. The longer this is delayed, in hopes of resumed car sales on the former scale, the less chance there is of any smoothness to a post-peak oil transition.

The “American People” have ceased to be productive. Rather, they have been turned into consumers whose buying power has floated an economy of tacky expansion. As we have seen, this came from “funny money” from ballooning debt and fleeting “home equity.” These mechanisms have nothing to do with forging a community with self-reliance. But that is our task.

Obama may agree with that, on some emotional level, but he cannot buck the corporate elite. The same old financial establishment surrounds him, Israel lobby to boot. He can have a hip First Lady who plants a “Victory Garden,” but unless action across the board deals with food security and the need to get off fossil fuels now, Obama serves to stall action for survival as he defends the status quo of exploitation both human and of nature.

When success is defined as one’s using the least possible amount of energy -– as hoped for by Republican Congressman Roscoe Bartlett –- our culture is based on the false security of materialism and destruction for profit. What Obama has by now figured out is, we have a Waste Economy. Why anyone wants to see the inequitable Waste Economy resume growth is exactly why anyone sells out future generations for short-term comfort.
(18 June 2009)

Germany at a More Real Climate Crossroads

Jan Lundberg, Culture Change
More vital news from Germany: besides the creation of a car free city (Vauban), Chancellor Merkel is holding Obama’s feet to the fire to do more to halt greenhouse-gas emissions — even as she faces domestic protest regarding sacrosanct coal power.

Germany’s entire society enjoys a better quality of life than the U.S. thanks to generous vacations while using half the energy per capita used by U.S. citizens. But all is not well in Germany due to economic and demographic stress combined with unsustainable energy dependence.

At the same time we in the U.S. often feel quite behind certain western European nations. So we can be fooled into thinking that taking modest measures to cut energy use is enough. Enough for what, and for whom?

Germany is still a capitalistic nation with powerful industrial forces catering to the good life of civilization: power consumption cannot be questioned below a certain comfort level. Sound familiar?

Press reports say Germany’s environmental groups take the position that renewable energy is the answer for climate protection. It must be as hard to tell what the grassroots are really up to there, as it is in the U.S., when, for example, the bicycling do-it-yourselfer in both countries doesn’t need much power — she or he just wants to save the planet and have some kicks in a healthy world. Little press attention is given to such folk.
(26 June 2009)