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New York Times writer talks climate change

Josephine Yurcaba, The Technician (NC student newspaper)
Andrew Revkin, prize-winning writer for The New York Times spoke at Tir Na Nog Irish pub and restaurant yesterday as a part of the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences’ “Science Talks.”

The topic for his speech and the discussion was, “Which comes first, peak everything or peak us?” Specifically, the discussion addressed global warming, climate change, alternative energy, resource scarcity and technological breakthroughs. According to Revkin, “We’re in a world where conventional science journalism is shrinking,” and thus he tries to compensate for this narrowing field.

… According to Revkin, global warming and resource allocation are problems that have needed attention for quite some time. “By looking at this issue over such a long period of time, I’ve gotten focused on the core reality of the story,” Revkin said. “How much is too much and how do you modulate behaviors that affect the environment over a longer length of time?”

People need to combat the “slow drips” and their resulting “hard knocks.” According to Revkin, slow drips are greenhouse gases, for example, while hard knocks are the long-term ramifications of these problems going unsolved. “We need to develop more robust design strategies, not just for [things such as] nuclear plants, but for life in general,” Revkin said. When humans do this, they can plan for environmentally threatening “low-probability, high consequence” events.

In order to protect the environment from destruction, people must be educated and work together. “Anyone working in physical sciences and not working with social sciences is not maximizing their communicability,” Revkin said. In other words, they are not planning for environmental catastrophes that could be prevented before it is too late.

… According to Revkin, people must start with grass roots by occupying a laboratory or classroom. “Occupy wherever you are to help us have a smarter relationship with energy. The idea of solving the climate crisis was deeply flawed because it’s not about that; it’s about a new relationship with energy.”
(17 January 2012)

You Got To Move: Stories of Change in the South
(Highlander Folk School)
Lucy Massie Phenix, Milestone Films

You Got To Move: Stories of Change in the South
Director: Lucy Massie Phenix
USA. 1985.
86. Color.

Milestone: Lucy Massie Phenix’s remarkable documentary You Got to Move: Stories of Change in the South celebrates individuals and communities who dared to change the world for the better. Inspired by the filmmaker’s experiences at Tennessee’s world-renowned Highlander Research and Education Center, the film captures the enthusiastic spirit of a place that has helped people unite at the grassroots level.

Highlander “grads” have long been active in some of the most significant movements for justice — leading the fights for Civil and Labor rights and working to protect communities from the ravages of strip mining and toxic waste dumping. Rich in the language and music of the South, You Got to Move tells their stories — chronicling how “ordinary” people discovered the courage and ability to confront reality, and change it. It is a film that champions civil action and makes you want to move!

The DVD release commemorates the upcoming 80th anniversary of Highlander, whose attendees included Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King and was the source of the song “We Shall Overcome.” The premiere also memorializes the 50th anniversary of the Albany Movement — a landmark in the history of American civil rights activism — which was led by students, including Bernice Johnson Reagon (founder of the a cappella group Sweet Honey In the Rock and a nationwide leader for human rights) who appears in the film.

Lucy Massie Phenix (director):

“What is it that makes people stop feeling powerless, and makes them want to change? As a result of a 1980 conference given by Physicians for Social Responsibility on the Medical Consequences of Nuclear Weapons and Nuclear War, it was this question that became the focus for my next film. I went home to the South to make it because there I had seen the clues to the answers. Some of the people in YOU GOT TO MOVE I had known for twenty years.

“I had seen their process, I had seen the changes they helped to bring about, the obstacles they were up against, and their commitment for working for “the long haul.” It was the process of the people in the film beginning to trust what their own experiences taught them, and their growing refusal to take the judgments of “experts” on matters in their own lives, that shaped the form and meaning of the film, and which makes it universally relevant in a time when this process is taking place all over the world.”
(January 2012)
Highlander Folk School is part of the hidden history of the United States. If you’ve ever heard “We Shall Overcome” or Rosa Parks deciding not to step to the rear of the bus, then you’ve feeling the effects of this place where people got together to talk in the mountains of Tennessee.

I saw this moving film last night at the home of Cecile Andrews, the developer of “Simplicity Circles.” She had visited Highlander in the 60s and the experience shaped her life.

Also at YouTube: A second trailer for the film. -BA

My Path To Transition Organizing

Steve Chase, The Well-Trained Activist
My becoming a local Transition organizer, on top of my work as a professor of Advocacy for Social Justice and Sustainability, was not at all a surprise to my family, my closest friends, or my colleagues in the Department of Environmental Studies at Antioch University New England. They all saw my new volunteer work as consistent with my previous efforts over the years as both an activist and an activist educator. While the Transition movement often attracts people who have not been social movement activists before, some of us are fairly old hands. I am one of those old hands.

Organizing Activist Study Groups in The 1970s

Back in the mid-1970s, for example, when I was relatively new to grassroots activism, I helped organize a series of weekly study circles for environmental, peace, and social justice activists in Minneapolis and Saint Paul. Our aim was to help each other see beyond the next demonstration, the next hot-button issue, or even the next volunteer shift at the food coop or community garden. Several of us sensed that we needed to go beyond our urgent, but largely unreflective activism. We wanted to create a more thoughtful politics than our heart-felt, but somewhat knee-jerk responses to date. The assembled participants in this series of study circles had decided to work together in order to construct a deeper, more mature analysis, vision, and strategy to guide our activist work in an emerging age of global ecological crisis.

I loved our living room gatherings in Twin Cities. Each week, after a potluck supper, we would settle-in for two and a half hours of reports and discussions based on our readings and our experiences. The learning process was participatory and lively–consciously rooted in the popular education theories of Paulo Freire and Myles Horton. Topics of the study circles included the environmental crisis, ecological limits to growth, North-South relations, US social justice issues, militarism, alternative social and economic visions, Gandhian nonviolence, and other organizing strategies. The curriculum for these “Macro-Analysis Seminars” was developed as a program of activist self-study designed by a Philadelphia group that was part of a national activist network called Movement for a New Society.

Rethinking Economic Growth

Looking back, I see now that we were working together to systematically construct and refine a collective action framework that was similar to the emerging “Transition Model” of today in many, many ways. I especially remember reading and discussing Bill Moyer’s groundbreaking 1972 essay, “De-Developing the United States Through Nonviolence.” Echoing central themes from Rob Hopkins’ The Transition Handbook, Moyer explained how modern industrialized societies would at some point need to make a significant break from the dominant development model of ever-escalating economic growth and ever-expanding energy use and pollution. In light of emerging research, such as the Limits to Growth report put together by a team of MIT scientists, Moyer argued that there is increasing evidence that “there are not enough resources (including minerals, fossil fuels, water), and the environment’s pollution-absorption capacity is not great enough” to sustain the dominant pattern of industrial development for too many more decades.

Anticipating the problems of peak oil, climate change, and the unsustainability and injustice of the global economy, which are all highlighted by the Transition movement today, Moyer argued that “complete world development” along the lines of the dominant industrial growth model is impossible
(April 01, 2011)
Recommended by EB contributor Jim Barton.

Also by Steve Chase: Is The Transition Movement A Yuppie Diversion? .

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

Susan Cain, book website

At least one-third of the people we know are introverts. They are the ones who prefer listening to speaking, reading to partying; who innovate and create but dislike self-promotion; who favor working on their own over brainstorming in teams. Although they are often labeled “quiet,” it is to introverts that we owe many of the great contributions to society–from van Gogh’s sunflowers to the invention of the personal computer.

Passionately argued, impressively researched, and filled with indelible stories of real people, Quiet shows how dramatically we undervalue introverts, and how much we lose in doing so. Taking the reader on a journey from Dale Carnegie’s birthplace to Harvard Business School, from a Tony Robbins seminar to an evangelical megachurch, Susan Cain charts the rise of the Extrovert Ideal in the twentieth century and explores its far-reaching effects. She talks to Asian-American students who feel alienated from the brash, backslapping atmosphere of American schools. She questions the dominant values of American business culture, where forced collaboration can stand in the way of innovation, and where the leadership potential of introverts is often overlooked. And she draws on cutting-edge research in psychology and neuroscience to reveal the surprising differences between extroverts and introverts.

Perhaps most inspiring, she introduces us to successful introverts–from a witty, high-octane public speaker who recharges in solitude after his talks, to a record-breaking salesman who quietly taps into the power of questions. Finally, she offers invaluable advice on everything from how to better negotiate differences in introvert-extrovert relationships to how to empower an introverted child to when it makes sense to be a “pretend extrovert.”

This extraordinary book has the power to permanently change how we see introverts and, equally important, how introverts see themselves.
(January 2012)