Thursday, February 22, 2007

for those of us drinking bottled water


BOTTLED WATER ISN'T NECESSARILY CLEANER: According to the San Francisco Chronicle and lawsuits from the Environmental Law Foundation, 40% of bottled water is really just repackaged tap water. Maybe that's a good thing, considering federal standards for tap water are actually higher than those for bottled water.

BOTTLED WATER AND OIL: Supplying Americans with plastic water bottles for one year consumes more than 47 million gallons of oil, according to the Container Recycling Institute. That's enough to take 100,000 cars off the road and 1 billion pounds of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. Add in the additional amount of oil it takes to ship the bottles thousands of miles from extraction source to recipient, and your drink of H2O could be categorized with the "Hummers" of the world.

BOTTLED WATER AND BIODEGRADABILITY: Buddha's bones turned to dust a long time ago. But if he had been a bottled water drinker, that plastic would still be laying around. It takes two minutes to drink a bottle of water, but it takes thousands of years for that piece of plastic garbage to go away.

SOLUTION: Buy a water filter and a non-plastic water container of your preferred size. Fill it up in the morning before you go to work or school. Do a quick online search, and you can also find affordable portable water filters for when you are traveling. You'll save yourself and the environment a lot of expense.

Reprinted from Organic Bytes, newsletter of the Organic Consumers Association - February 22, 2007

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

My name is Krista & I am afraid of quicksand, OR How facts can save you a lot of worrying!

When I was a child, I experienced a dark & terrible period of walking fearfully through the outdoors never knowing when I might chance upon the most insidious of nature's devices of death, quicksand. A horrifying scene from the equally horrifying action/comedy TV series Lobo started my teeth a-chatterin' & my skin a-jumpin'. In the scene, one of Sheriff Lobo's bumbling deputies & then another one both get "sucked into" a patch of quicksand. Somehow those dipshits got out but, in my estimation, just barely.

Being the independent child that I was, I hid my paranoia for days until I finally admitted it to my mother who gently pulled out the encyclopedia to quell my fears with facts. So for those of you that might still be afraid of randomly falling into quicksand (I don't know anyone who has actually fallen in it but you never know...?), here's how to escape.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Something's rotten in Iraq & it's called Operation Iraqi Freedom

Wilbur has prompted me to take do something to remind people that the Iraq War should end. Unfortunately, I doubt there is anyone reading this blog who still supports the war. Nevertheless, I thought I'd provide a link to some eye-popping statistics.

I've been reading about Gandhi today & his example for a higher standard of leadership - being & acting according to the principles of truth & nonviolence. When we consider these principles even in their most obvious interpretations, we can do nothing but oppose this war & all wars as they are rife with precisely the opposite
of what we truly want (lies, destruction, intolerance, ignorance, greed, etc.). The Buddhists say that hatred, lust & ignorance are the basis for all human suffering. Clearly, everyone affected by this war has suffered enough.

History of Resistance & Alternative Movements: Annotated Bibliography #1

These readings are from my first class, History of Resistance & Alternative Movements, & are divided into three sections. I've pointed out some favorites as you shall see. Enjoy!

History & Frameworks

Edwards, Andres. The Sustainability Revolution: Portrait of a Paradigm Shift. Gabriola Island, BC, Canada: New Society Publishers, 2005. (Intro, Chapters 1, 2, 7).

These chapters cover the roots & evolution of what Edwards (a New College graduate) calls “the Sustainability Revolution.” Also included is a listing & analysis of a wide selection of sustainability principles, which shows the shared values of the movement across organizations of different types, sizes & focuses.
Flinders, Timothy. “How Nonviolence Works.” In Gandhi the Man, edited by Eknath Easwaran, 149-172, Petaluma, CA: Nilgiri Press, 1978.
The author gives explanation & examples for Gandhi’s practice of satyagraha (obstinate clinging to truth) & ahimsa (lacking any desire to kill). Both are ways of being, more than mere tactics, for resolving social issues. They are to be practiced (to the best ability of the individual) throughout one’s life – personally, professionally, as an activist, etc. They work because they come from a place of love & the practitioner is unfaltering in his/her adherence to the principles. Given time, the adversary has no choice but to sympathize with the vision offered by the satyagrahi because the adversary comes to recognize the untenable nature of their position in the face of the satyagrahi’s chivalry, courtesy & compassion.
Holloway, John & Alex Callinicos. “Can We Change the World without Taking Power?” A Debate at the World Social Forum, January 2005.
Holloway asserts that taking power of the inherently exclusionary state (pro-capitalist by design) will not work, that creating the alternative that we want in the spaces & cracks of the capitalist state is the most direct route to the world we want. Callinicos presents the opposite argument saying that we must take power, that the state with its military & market forces & divide-&-conquer strategies cannot be ignored because it will not leave us alone.
McNally, David. “Freedom Song: Liberation & Anti-Capitalism.” Another World is Possible. Winnipeg, Manitoba: Arbeiter Ring Publishing, 2002. (Chapter 7, 229-267).
McNally provides history & analysis of anti-capitalist movements & strategies.
Shi, David E. The Simple Life: Plain Living and High Thinking in American Culture. New York: Oxford University Press, 1985: Introduction (3-7); The Puritan Way (Chapter 1, 8-27); Republican Simplicity (Chapter 3, 50-73); Transcendental Simplicity (Chapter 6, 125-153); Prosperity, Depression and Simplicity (Chapter 9, 215-247); Affluence and Anxiety (Chapter 10, 248-276); Epilogue (277-282).
In my & others' opinions, the most memorable reading for this class. The author covers the history of the American quest for & cultural relationship with the simple life. From the Puritans’ enforced social hierarchy in which the lower classes are admonished to maintain pious lives without luxury to the “trickle down” gluttony of the 1980s, Americans have had a pendulous relationship to simplicity. A great majority of experiments in practicing simplicity have failed. It is clearly much easier to talk about living simply than to actually do. The author concludes that the simple life will remain both a mythic & attainable ideal (though only for the few).
Shiva, Vandana. “Reversing Globalisation: What Gandhi Can Teach Us.” The Ecologist, Vol. 29, No. 2 (May/June 1999): 224-225.
Shiva explains & makes relevant to current events the themes of Gandhi’s activism: Swadeshi, Swaraj & Satyagraha. Swadeshi is the spirit of regeneration, economic freedom. Swaraj is self-rule. Satyagraha is peaceful non-cooperation.
Models & Practices

Kohn, Alfie. “How to Prevent Social Change.” No Contest: The Case Against Competition. 189-192. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1986.
In a deeply sarcastic tone, the author offers “five simple ways to perpetuate the status quo.”
Macy, Joanna. “Dimensions of the Great Turning.” 1999.
The author talks of “the great turning” in a similar sense as “the sustainability revolution” (Andres Edwards) or “the ecological revolution” (Lester Brown). She offers a “list of the [five] attitudes than can help us” as we go through it.
Moyer, Bill. “The Four Roles of Social Activism.” Doing Democracy: The MAP Model for Organizing Social Movements. 21-41. Gabriela Island, BC, Canada: New Society Publishers, 2001.
Moyer outlines the four roles of social activists: the citizen, rebel, change agent and reformer. The citizen’s purpose is to present a normalized image to the mainstream so that they see the movement as representative of them & not as a threat. The rebel’s role is to vehemently oppose that which is wrong & to bring it into the public spotlight. Change agents work to create alternatives & promote the need for a paradigm shift. Reformers work within the system to support the other role players & to make incremental changes via traditional channels. These roles each have effective & ineffective way of being played & can all be played by the same individuals though each of us have a preference for one.

The author spends extra time on the ineffective version of the rebel, which he calls the “negative rebel,” as this particular activist can be highly detrimental to a movement. Violence, tactics over strategy, lack of responsibility to the larger group, & “do your own thing” mentality are some characteristics of the negative rebel, which can lead to alienation of the public, movement dissipation, legitimization of violence, etc.
Singing Our Way to Liberation

Seeger, Pete & Bob Reiser. “Highlander/Prologue.” & “The Freedom Rides.” 3-12 & 43-69. Everybody Says Freedom: A History of the Civil Rights Movement in Songs & Pictures. New York: W.W. Norton. 1989.
A moving collection of songs & their stories, these chapters of Everybody Says Freedom profile two specific types of activism in the civil rights movement – the change agency of the Highlander Folk School & the rebellion of the Freedom Rides. Both stories offer an intimate & inspiring account of the people involved & the passion that drove them to succeed in the face of hatred & at the risk of death.