Category Archives: community

Intimate Music Making by Aleo Blacc

I came across this while surfing the Web; filmed as a “Take-Away Show,” it’s a fantastic, intimate moment of music making.

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Newsweek Gets Wet

The cover image on the October 18 Newsweek is very splashy body of water and the words: LIQUID ASSET: Big Business and the Race to Control the World’s Water. I am a little afraid that by the time Newsweek considers something like this front page news, the takeover of water has already taken place. In some sense that’s true, the author notes: trends toward privatization are up and people in the industry see it is inevitable. Newsweek appears to agree with the UN that water  is a human right, concedes that it’s running out, and calls on business and governments  to work together to solve the multiple, interlocking problems of infrastructure, equity, and a clean environment.

The article skirts the ownership issue, which would have a huge impact on the kinds of businesses that would be involved in water issues. If, for example, water belongs to “us all” or “the government” then businesses have opportunities to create efficient systems for delivering water, safely, to all people. If, on the other hand, water can be owned, and purchased and packaged in the name of making a profit, then we are in very deep shit indeed.

It does not seem rational to entrust a necessity of life to a legal fiction dedicated to making a profit above all else.

 

 

 

Green Movies

Good response to the poster and flyer for the Green Movies: Sustainable Futures series. The poster is truncated because I couldn’t confirm two of the sponsors and at the last minute cut off the bottom sixth of the poster. The original looks better.

Walkability and Social Capital

A friend gave a presentation last week on her doctoral project: studying ten neighborhoods in each of two New Hampshire cities (Manchester and Portsmouth) to tease out the relationship between walkability–the number of places you can (and do) walk to–and social capital–a measure of community trust, engagement, and a sense of agency. (You can learn more about measuring social capital at Robert Putnam’s Saguaro Seminar.)

The bottom line is a linear correlation between walkability and–lots of things, chief among them, social capital, environmental sustainability, and personal health. Some interesting statistics: (1) 40% of greenhouse gas emissions are attributable to transportation, (2) for every 10 minutes you commute, you are 10% less likely to get involved in your community, and (3) two-thirds of the buildings that will exist in 2050 have not been built yet. Now is the time to design and construct the kinds of places we want–sustainable towns and cities with lively “village” centers within them with places worth walking to for shopping, for socializing, and fresh air.

Fired Up!

Can it be that Obama has found his voice again and is prepared to do some radical social capitalism by putting people to work and harnessing all this energy we Americans have? The disparities in wealth are so huge that it seems only a matter of months before we have a revolution on our hands. He face the same situation FDR did: act, or face revolt. The Tea Party is certainly revolting but not in the way I mean. They are dupes of the wealthy.

August 28, 1963–Sullied

The incredible, offensive, hubristic disrepect  of Teabaggers’ appropriating the anniversary of “the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation” in order to spill their inane hatred is best answered by Dr. King’s speech itself:  MLK_-_Aug

House Afire

I got a call from a friend this evening. “Do you have a minute?” She was calling from her cellphone, on her way home; her husband had just called to say their house was on fire. It is, now was, a beautiful Queen Anne style three-story house, built in 1900 with a turret and a big curved west-facing porch, which was apparently where the fire started. Fortunately, the two of them were at work and their two youngest children, college students, had left the house to go canoeing. Even the cats were outside. Still, the enormity of fire, its erasure of their material past, the blackened clapboards dripping with water, was startling and a bit other-worldly.

The family has lived in their small New England town for at least three generations and the father was recently elected mayor. A huge crowd turned out and watched from the schoolyard across the street. The couple who own the house were stunned into a kind of gaiety, making jokes and soldiering on while people around them were in tears. Firemen came from all the nearby towns and from towns 20 miles away. A firefighter explained that the firemen get so hot and tired from putting out fires they need other firefighters to spell them while they recover. They had a big board on an easel to keep track of which group of firemen were in the house at any given time.

The evening was windy and fresh breezes periodically fanned new flames into being and the fire–which had apparently started around 4:45 p.m.–was still being confirmed as out as night came. People were exchanging phone numbers and figuring out a place to drop off food and clothing, offering the family to stay. One neighbor bought take-out submarine sandwiches for the family; another brought the parents a really stiff drink.

It was sobering; we have so much stuff that we count on staying still for us when, of course, it’s as subject to physics as anything else. There’s a Zen poem about a  hut burning down and how clearly the poet can see the stars now. I have heard someone say that having her house burn down was a kind of blessing, because other people were so extraordinary, so generous and good-hearted.