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Archive for the ‘political action’ Category

We’re hearing a lot about the end of suburbia right now.  Take this item in yesterday’s New York Times.   It leads with ideas that jibe with the return of survivalism that we recently noted.

But, as Alison Arieff goes on to say in her Times piece, plenty of positive re-imaginings of the suburbs are appearing to counterbalance these dystopian visions.

We EarthQuakers are particularly interested reinventing neighborliness — and how supposedly isolating information technology enables new levels of real-world social interaction on street-by-street level.

The cul-de-sac Commune group that Arieff mentions is doing that, but so is the Vermont-based Front Porch Forum and the Bay Area’s Playborhood, among others.

The San Francisco Chronicle ran a fascinating article on Monday about urban foraging — where people pick the fruit from city-owned trees that would otherwise be left to rot.   It mentions the wonderful Village Harvest, whose volunteers pick unwanted fruit from homeowners’ yards and give it to local food banks.

As the Chronicle headline puts it, efforts like these help us imagine that we can change “the way we live and eat, one fig at a time.”

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Lots to share all of a sudden:

Need a little perspective on ‘the new frugality‘?

Everyone has high hopes for Obama’s ‘green team.’

Also from the NY Times, a spotlight on a cult eco-novel that predicted the ‘locavore‘ movement — as well as the succession of the Pacific states from the Union!

Sign a petition to persuade President-elect Obama that we need a sustainable agricultural policy.

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We managed to avoid shopping for the last two days.  But then we also missed the fact that yesterday was officially Buy Nothing Day.  It’s a much bigger day in the UK, it seems.

The American campaign runs the day before — the so called ‘Black Friday’ after Thanksgiving.  Even if there’s a reason for this classic case of American exceptionalism, we’re not sure it’s such a good idea.  There’s overwhelming pressure in the US media on the day after Thanksgiving to talk positively about retail that day.  Would the Buy Nothing message win more converts, perhaps, if it hit the day after?  In the calm after the shopping frenzy, after all, people might be ready to reflecting on the real value of their day of binge shopping.

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A great story about the accidental birth of a grass roots environmental activist and a great new coinage — culdesactivism — from James Glave today in Salon.

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It’s a busy life being an EarthQuaker — especially if you aspire to live it slow, to some degree.  So we’re just now reading last month’s New Yorkers and found this fascinating but depressing insiders look at the growing trade in illegally-logged timber.  It’s essential reading.

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. . . and we’re clearly to blame.

So says a new report by the WWF, the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and the Global Footprint Network. The finds, the Independent reports today, that land species have declined by 25 per cent, marine life by 28 per cent, and freshwater species by 29 per cent.

“You’d have to go back to the extinction of the dinosaurs to see a decline as rapid as this,” says Jonathan Loh, the report’s editor.

It’s shocking and saddening reading. Let’s hope it will also help galvanize action on a global level — what’s needed for there to be any hope for the thousands more species threatened by pollution, invasive species, habitat loss and climate change, all but the last of which are unarguably the result of human actions.

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Reuters journalist Kate Kelland gets excited this week about guerrilla gardening, writing a way-over-the-top article about the phenomenon keyed to a new book on the subject.

“They work under the cover of night, armed with seed bombs, chemical weapons and pitchforks. Their tactics are anarchistic, their attitude revolutionary.”

And that’s just the start in a story full of ‘enemies,’ ‘attacks,’ ‘troops’ and ‘a win-win war.’

Partly, Kelland just gets stuck belaboring her (already hokey) metaphor. And she’s trying to be funny — reflecting a common journalistic inclination to belittle anything to do with gardening.

But is something else going on, too? In the eyes of mainstream journalists, does gardening — or anything else for that matter — need to be so conflict-ridden that it actually becomes warfare for it to be deemed interesting to their readers?

Maybe the people acting as guerrilla gardeners really see themselves in martial terms. If they did, that might be interesting. But there’s no evidence of that in Kelland’s piece. She certainly doesn’t question them about the need to see gardening as fighting. Instead, the need seems to be hers.

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