Friday, November 29, 2013

The Myth of Thanksgiving

I received this "e-card". Be sure to open it in a new tab, and then come back here to read my comments.

If I suppose that this is a colonial-era scene, the family gathering is set against the slaughter of Indians and the expropriation of land. So I live outside of the myth. If I bring myself into this scene, I am the laborer, bedding in the barn, the vagrant still tramping the road looking for a place to live and prosper, I am the slave who brought the grain the previous spring for the farmer to plant.

Do I yearn for such a home? Of course! If the Earth were infinite, growing as we grow, if I could have had ten children and fed them all on the bounteous landscape? Of course! As I live today, I take advantage of unsustainable systems such as gasoline fueled transportation, electricity on demand, and food shipped in to central locations where I harvest my international dinner with minimal labor at minimal expense. Do I wish it were so? Do I wish I could unwind the illogic, the wastefulness, the violence? Yes, of course. What do I really want?

Monday, November 18, 2013

Personal Philosophy, with Emphasis on Employment.

I am not more important, and not less important than anyone else. If I
want to be safe in the world, I must work for the safety of all. I
choose to respect others with the hope that I will be respected. I can
maintain my dignity only where the dignity of others can be maintained. My
prosperity depends upon the health and prosperity of all and the whole
of all, including the Earth.

My well-being depends upon the well-being of the community. The well
being of the Community depends upon the well-being of its members,
including my own. When the community makes the well-being of its members
its highest priority, and we each pursue our private well-being in ways
to support and not hurt the collective well-being or of other
individuals, we have created the most healthy community that is
possible. (The purpose of law is to facilitate the expression of these
truths, but is a sub-optimal mechanism. The most effective and healthy
arrangement is for the values of mutual accountability and mutual
well-being to be internalized in every person and every relationship.)
When the community takes care of its members, the members individually
have a vested interest in the well-being of the community, and
enlightened members will reciprocate with the care of others and the

The workplace is a structured community in which resources and
productivity follow mutually agreed expectations. Its contract specifies
what work needs to be done, and the terms of exchange. When I sign up for a position, in exchange for respect and pay I want to do the best I can for my employer. Performing well the duties assigned to me is how I affirm the relationship I have with my employer. I want my work to satisfy my employer and I am willing to work to improve my work to meet the hopes and expectations of my employer. I will do everything needed and possible to take care of the needs of my employer in exchange for the compensation and dignity afforded to me as the employee.

The work I do has several dimensions: to communicate information between
persons, to assist in the resolution of conflict between persons, and to
guide or foster the development of persons and-or the community. Clearly
from this formulation, I am very focused on people, and their collective
and individual condition. As a technologist (I am a carpenter), the
supervisor becomes the primary person I need to satisfy. As a writer I am
often left to imagine the persons I am interacting with. As a researcher
the audience is usually defined by the supervisor. As a member of a
collective, I frequently interact with the other members and we are able
to discuss and agree on a course of action. The synthesis and
articulation of information, in ways to assist and move other persons,
and the community, is the essential component of my work.

From what I have said, my work can be important on multiple levels. As a
homeless persons outreach worker, the possible value is in the
improvement of individual lives, and the health of the community which
results from that personal improvement. As a policy analyst, the value
could be seen in the possibility of improving other peoples' lives and
the sustainability of the community. As a teacher, the value of my work
would be to help my students understand the world better and enhance
their ability to survive and prosper, and contribute to a healthy
community. As a carpenter the value of my work is in providing a quality
product for the enjoyment of my client or my employer's client.

As a professional in any of the fields I might pursue, accomplishment
for me follows from having a positive impact on other people's lives.
The largest organizing principle of my life is pursuit of a healthy
planet, to benefit everyone and every form of life. I make the
difference I make by facilitating social process, whether this is in the
form of communicating information, leading a meeting, or contributing a
new vision of what is possible. The apex of my art is in synthesis of
ideas, the coherent and evocative expression of those ideas, and the
grounding of those ideas in the ultimate drive of life, health and

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Re: [OCV Core] Re: What's OCV?

On 11/12/2013 8:31 AM, Brian wrote:
> I agree. There are always too many issues for any one group to deal with.
> We try to bring a unique perspective to all these activities, and
> sometimes succeed at that, but a more proactive focus would make it
> all more coherent. What might that look like (given limited energies)?
> I also agree w/ Steve re: OCV's positive role as a community of support for
> what we all try to do individually. I've not been able to make it to >
everything lately, due to many other commitments, but it's important >
to know we're still doing what we do.
> B.

Thanks Brian for commenting on my answer to Sue's question.

I'd like to emphasize that (I feel that) "as a community of support for
what we all try to do individually", our individuality is enhanced by
our community, just as our community is enhanced by our individuality.
It's important to me that I feel less alone in the world because I have
a community in which I can act on my values as much as on my concerns,
that there is this clutch of human beings who remain engaged with each
other as much as with the issues we share, that when I show up I feel
like people are happy to see ME. Our active dialog and the continuing
willingness to show up is really special and important to me. I didn't
have that before Occupy. Before Occupy we could all volunteer for
organizations, but they all had that hierarchy thing going and I felt
like an object, like only the labor part of me was important. Through
Occupy we are able to act, together, as an expression of our values and
of who we are individually.

(I want to multiply the number of Occupys, to conceive and birth them
across Vermont.)

I don't want to separate what we do (our activism) from how we do it
(the culture and community of Occupy). To me they are entwined. I guess
my point is that, if the actions we execute are the extroverted part of
who we are, and the community is the introverted part, it's all part of
one thing and that the inside is as important as the outside. Doing
things the way we do them, the commitment we have to the cultural
values, is as important as the things we do. It is the inside of what we

How can we be more coherent? I would like to avoid the pitfall of
defining ourselves, in specific terms - The wisdom of the original
Occupy still holds. We stand for justice and democracy, for the
participation of all with equal opportunity. We fight the battles that
come to us, or we choose battles and go to them. Here is what I think:

The world is sick and getting sicker fast. The disease is a cancer often
called capitalism, alternately consumerism, materialism, selfishness.
But the defenses of the organism, people seeing what they are doing
wrong and acting to do things better, are activating. In the real world,
we are no longer asking "How long can things keep getting worse?". We
are asking "Can we make things better fast enough?" The tide is turning,
the forces of salvation are rousing from their natal slumber, but they
are stimulated by the crises, which means that the bad must be very bad
before the good will be activated. We may not have enough time. But we
don't know and we must plan, reach out, join our brethren, be strategic,
keep our eyes focused on the long-term goal: Survival.

There are many groups already functioning in the state of Vermont to
promote a sustainable and just society. Why are we not linking up with
them and building solidarity? Attending their meetings and discussing
our mutual goals? Here is my vision: A Vermont that is dedicated to
building the first Steady State economy in the United States. The First
Steady State Republic of Vermont!

Let us devote ourselves to visioning that community of Vermont, and
finding our partners, and engaging with them on how to create the First
Steady State Republic of Vermont, and then do that work. Let us build
the world we would like to see and live in, rather than spend all of our
time resisting the evils of the world we live in. Let us go to the
battle we wish to fight! (decrescendo on "Republic")



Monday, November 11, 2013

Re: [OCV Core] What's OCV?

On 11/11/2013 2:31 PM, Sue Morris wrote:
> Can we clearly define our mission and describe how it applies to Vermont? Can we zero in on a particular aspect of our mission that can inform our activities? In addition to addressing issues that come up, such as supporting Gwen, can we focus our activities in a particular direction? I feel that presently we are meeting a lot, which is fine—I don't mind meetings—but I don't have the sense that we have a particular direction for activities and I would like to do so. Should we focus on workers' rights (low wages, corporate policies, Mcdonald's, WalMart, food stamps, etc.)? Should we focus on increasing Vermont's ability to move toward a truly democratic state? Should we withdraw from the state and form our own truly democratic society? As an umbrella group, we have been a diverse crowd with diverse interests. I believe we no longer have the staffing to be content with our diversity and I would like to see us focus on a particular aspect and make a difference.
> Sue

I would like to argue that Occupy is an assembly of persons with a
culture which is committed to democracy and justice, and which functions
as a community. We are not an organization, and we function as much
through our bonds with each other as by our commitment to change, thus
we are a community. The message or meaning of that assembly continues to
evolve and respond to our shared and private growth. None of which
interferes with choosing a focus. To me, we are living the world we want
to see, demonstrating how egalitarian is done. To me, Our mission is to
challenge power where ever it crops up and where ever it undermines

Brian said something about widening our base. I would like to talk about
giving other people an opportunity to enjoy our community and to be
active with us. I think there are nascent Occupy groups all over
Vermont, and we could be growing them in our bellies and birthing them
into the wild, just by showing up in different towns and giving people a
chance to be part of a community of solidarity.

The fate of OCV since the inception of Occupy is an example of a
necessary process - groups which are too large cannot contain all of the
energy available from all of the members. They will shrink to some most
effective size, a size at which people can see their own contribution
having an impact, which depends on some externalities like the distance
people have to travel to participate. Thus I do not believe we want to
be big, I believe we want to empower people. Help people to see they are
part of a community of solidarity, and that as members they can have an
impact in the world. Thus we help people learn the true meaning of
democracy and help them to reclaim their power in the world. Then, as
our numbers increase, our impact will increase. Because we are working


Friday, November 8, 2013

GMOs and enslavement by Technology

> GMO Food-labeling supporters say fight is moving to statehouses

Initiative 522's defeat in Washington won't stop the fight to require
labeling of genetically engineered foods, proponents say, and even foes
predict more success with legislators than voters.

More than 20 states are expected to consider legislation in 2014 to
require labeling, and some of those bills are likely to pass, said
Scott Faber, executive director of the national group Just Label It!

"Regardless of the outcome in Washington, the long-term trend is
consumers demanding to know more about what's in their food, how food
was made and where food was made — and GE labeling is part and parcel
of that," he said.

But as in California, the "Yes" campaign was heavily outspent.
Opponents, including Monsanto, Coca-Cola, Nestle and other food
companies and agribusinesses, raised a record-setting $22 million —
compared with 8 million donated by labeling supporters.

"When you're outspent 3-to-1 — or 5-to-1 as we were in California — you
cannot win the media war," said Rebecca Spector, West Coast director of
the Center for Food Safety, and a member of the I-522 steering committee.

Matthew wrote:>
I'm disappointed that corporate advertising can turn public opinion on a
popular referendum question like this. It demonstrates that most people
are not savvy media consumers. They don't ask the most basic questions,
"Who is paying for this ad and why? Do they share my interests?" Yet
what do campaigners hope to accomplish with labels? Do we expect voters
to be any more savvy when they shop? There are already extensive food
labeling laws to tell people about calories, cholesterol, fat,
trans-fat, sodium, etc. Yet walk into any major grocery store (or
worse, gas stations and convenience stores where many poor and working
people must shop) and you'll find few healthy options, if any! One of
the myths of capitalism is that we have free choice. It would be much
more accurate to say that people eat what the system feeds them. They
give us lots of brands, but under the packaging it's all the same crap.
So long as we have poverty and food is distributed with markets, lots of
people will eat GMO foods. My concern is less about unforeseen health
effects than what we are doing to the genetic diversity of agricultural
products. The food diversity we have inherited from small farms around
the world makes us rich, but it cannot be easily commodified so
agribusiness is destroying it. GMOs are destroying sustainable
agricultural practices, setting us up for environmental catastrophes and
crashes in food production. The stuff doesn't need to be labeled, it
needs to be banned! ~Matt A.

Steve Marshall wrote:>

The ironic twist in this analysis - which I agree with - is that
advocates of labeling are counting on the ignorance of the American
consumer to substitute for knowledgeable purchasing. Why are the food
giants fighting labeling so hard? because they reason that uninformed
buyers will look at the label and see a warning. We don't need a ban if
people don't buy the food, but what kind of strategy depends upon ignorance?

There may be problematic health effects associated with GMOs. I haven't
seen the science. But what worries me is - like you Matt - the ecology
of technology which is being built and promises to further entrench the
privileges of capital. We need the natural ecology of our planet to be
healed and nurtured, and the diversity of food plants with it.

I was trying to understand how technology interconnects with capital and
wealth accumulation, when it struck me that technology constitutes an
entire new category of economic forces. Until recently, technology was a
form of capital: those who could afford it could produce goods and
services and earn income from ownership. However, with the cost of
technology declining with every new generation of computing power, cost,
and therefore capital, is less of a factor. Much more important will be
what the technology does. For example, 3D printers, DNA analysis, and
livestreaming. What matters more is access to the knowledge of that
technology and how to use it. This is a nascent idea and I wonder what
others think.

In the case of GMOs, the point is that the seed companies don't have
monopoly control relative to each other, but they create a monopoly
class whose interests drive them to construct an entirely new ecology of
technologies. If they can displace the natural ecologies with their own,
they have found a way to tax sunlight. To say it another way, When
farmers can save their seeds, Those seeds are not entirely free, but the
cost is merely that the farmer doesn't get to sell them. When farmers
cannot save their seeds, and must buy from technology companies, the
farmers are paying much more for their seed, and the profit goes to the
owners of the technology. "No", they are saying to the farmers "You
can't use that storehouse of knowledge and energy which is the seed you
have produced. Only ours can be used, and you will pay extra for the
privilege!" Somewhere along the line, such as when the air is too dirty
and everyone is compelled to live in houses with filtered air and can
transit from one place to another only by wearing gas masks, they will
have commodified air.

It isn't true that nothing is free. Sunlight is free. Sunlight is the
source of all of the energy we use and the power which drives the
anti-entropic engine of life. Only water, that ubiquitous solvent, and
the Earth (the substrate on which all life roots) itself, is as
important. And as long as the ecologies of the Earth are operating, the
air is free and many of the services we depend upon are free or cheap.
The cost of water is climbing, but is still fairly cheap.

But we are contemplating technology which can commodify these services
and convert them into wealth diversions. In simple terms, technology
such as GMOs can enslave us. Technology will put a price on all of these
ecological services.

When the American pioneers were fighting off the indians, even the land
seemed free, and to European eyes equality (the opposite of slavery)
between people (those sharing the settler culture) was the natural and
necessary relationship. But the land got filled, and stopped being free.
When land is not free, open to all, we are domesticated, and if we do
not have the power of capital, we learn to live within fences and barns,
we are simply forced into any economic slot that happens to be nearby -
for aboriginal Americans it became genocide - for whites it was
destitution, poverty or, for the lucky, labor, factory work, the
merchant class or the professions. (African Americans began as property,
remained oppressed, so not to belittle their plight, do provide insight
into the complexity but not the nature of this trajectory.) The point is
that what is given to us by the cosmos can be taken away; an ecology of
forces is set upon us as we struggle to live and thrive and to control
and manage our lives, and we are already familiar with the effects of
the first great theft, the theft of place and soil. With technology and
GMOs in particular, we begin the final great theft, that of a great
self-perpetuating engine of life.

What I still wonder is whether the human-managed ecology can in any way
replace nature's. With any comprehension of Earth's ecological
complexity, we would need to think "NO, we are too uttterly inept and
ignorant." More important, I think, is that when we let nature manage
nature, it does not require our attention. No maintenance is required
(just not overburdening it with waste). In every instance where we
insert ourselves into the ecological system (by producing GMO seeds
which allow herbicides to be used, replacing ecological solutions to
pest control) we acquire a new burden which requires the expenditure of
energy and resources to maintain, with all of their consequent effects.
Imagine a technological ecology which is responsible for clean air and
the production of oxygen for the entire planet! Consider the existing
problems of producing enough clean water for all of the people and
creatures of the planet!

This perhaps is the deep ecology definition of unsustainable. The use of
technology and energy to solve problems which nature alone has already
worked out. These solutions - being created and managed by people -
define our relations with each other, and enslave us first, and then
extinguish us.

We won't need to prevent this from happening. It is after all
unsustainable. But if we love life and want to heal the planet, we do
face an epochal struggle.

On 11/8/2013 9:07 AM, Brian Tokar wrote:
> This was a big debate 10 years ago: would labeling spell the end of GMOs? Many of us argued in the negative, saying that it could mainly just solidify a GMO-free niche market, and likely an elite one. We argued for a more holistic movement vs. GMOs, focusing on the core issues, including protecting farmers, both in the global North and South from the increasing dominance of agribusiness -- especially Monsanto and other chemical companies' now virtual monopoly over commercial seed sales.
> We passed 120 town resolutions in New England and demonstrated agst. the biotech industry wherever they had their then-huge annual conventions. Several Calif. counties and some ME towns banned them outright, something our towns were legally prohibited from doing. Because of that, most activists here in VT shifted focus toward the legislature, and after a couple of symbolic victories and a gubernatorial veto, that movement fizzled out, both in VT and nationally.
> So now interest in GMOs is growing again, and those who've taken the initiative (mainly natural food companies and groups funded by them) have chosen to focus on labeling and the right to know. At first, it seemed like they might succeed where we didn't in getting some legal restrictions on the books. But now that the power of corporate lobbying and disinformation to defeat labeling has been clearly demonstrated (to the tune of almost $65 million in just CA and WA), I think we need to think about more holistic strategies again.
> That's my rant for this morning…
> Brian.

Monday, November 4, 2013

diane's blog

Diane, I loved your essay. Thank you for voicing so much that is so
important to Occupiers.


Cultural Value 5: Greed is bad. At the heart of Occupy culture is a
rejection of the worship of wealth. When Occupy talks about CEOs making
billions of dollars, they aren't talking about the need for a new law
that takes away rich people's money and gives it to poor people as some
sort of convenient way to move money around and solve the problem of
poverty. They are talking about morality, that people who make that much
money should be ashamed, that this is a kind of pathological hoarding
behavior and that people who have this problem don't need a new law,
they need an intervention. Real humans care about other humans, feel
empathy and realize we are all in this together.

[Occupiers] are team players. Occupy groups, though they themselves have
little resources, are involved in a lot of activities at the community
level that involve giving things away---free food, free stuff, free
services. This isn't because they think that people shouldn't have to
work for things, it's an educational and spiritual exercise in letting
go of materialism and valuing people over profit. Occupy groups are
working hard to educate people that life is just not all about money.

Go there:

Saturday, November 2, 2013


I think of you and feel of you
an adolescent obsession,
a gleeful retreat,
to something near forgotten.
Lovely woman, make it last so long
it is ne'er ever forgotten again.

What then the hooks what then the snags,
What then the truths of life,
the money the house the friends and not-friends,
the families the sons,
the aging and looming horizon,
the slow numbing of sensation,
the pains and ills,
the plans unfulfilled,
the intentions unwaxed?
Am I so flawed somewhere inside,
you will someday despair of me,
Are we so wrong in the interweaving of wants,
that the day shall come we look at each other and breathe,
"No, this is not what I want"?

Slowly we circle, looking in to each other,
ignoring sub-orbits and calls from afar,
stepping lightly over or even tripping at rocks and roots,
As closer we come, as quicker we spin,
Finally we embrace,
In oneness again.

I'm In Love With You

suppose for a moment there are no words
and we listen with our eyes
suppose for a moment our speech is made of motion
and being is in our skin
would truth be easier to know or more intractable yet?

Did I listen well enough when you leaned into me,
touched my hand and entwined your fingers in mine?
Echoing throughout that touch "I'm in love with you."

Oh Yes
Oh yes.

To what shall I aim,
Of what shall I seek,
to whom shall I devote,
The energy of life,
The gift of my time?

There is fruit grown in richly humused soil,
and fruit grown with chemicals in dirt, not soil not fertile;
There is fruit yielding flavor and nourishing,
and fruit making us poorer by the eating;
which is I to you what we feel?

Come and sleep with me,
secure our bond,
love me in waking,
give to me yourself,
in the morning the giving,
before claims else take you away,
come sleep with me,
give me your love,
make me one with you,
and you with me.

From Her to me

I would love to see you tomorrow; I could meet you sometime after 7.
What time do you want to leave on Sat? I'm meeting a friend in the
early am but free after that.
I'm wild about you.

What She Read In The Personals

Remember this? Today It is removed from the internet.
4/4/2013 7:36 pm

Sun and Rain

So what is life about? Smelling of smoke from a woodfire, shoveling
snow, laughing with friends, washing dishes, seeing the milky way and
chasing yellow jackets. At 57 I'm not looking to have a family (with
children), so I can afford to just live. Well, I can afford the time. So
yea, I have a busy life and I am not unhappy. I like my life.

Some people describe me as intense, but actually I love to laugh. I like
to play, have intense intellectual conversation, go out once in a while,
share books, movies, other interests. I tend to be very in-the-moment,
yet ground myself in shared humanity, which means I value eye-level
sharing. I am a good friend (my friends tell me so). I occasionally
write poetry, like to make things work, have research and writing
interests. I divide humanity into those who care about others and want
the world to be safe for everyone, and those who think someone has got
to be top dog. Sorry, I have an issue with selfishness. Not that I never
am. A taste of my work! Shall I go on? Let me know....

I believe that serendipity is the blood of life, and I will enjoy
talking to and getting to know everyone I meet, I will accept you for
who you are. So relax… No Stress. Have fun. Be yourself.

I am for real. I want new friends who bring humor and gentleness to
their relationships, who bring empathy with strength, have found the
light in the darkness that comes with the hurts in life. If your
aspirations comport with these, please introduce yourself!


4/3/2013 1:12 pm
My dearest

You are to me a stranger, and I to you am a stranger, yet I love you and
you love me. How is this possible? Two souls transiting the physical
plane, living and loving as much as possible, after the nature of being
human, with only this one choice: to be, richly or else poorly; taking
the risk of poverty over wealth; in love, or in loneliness. We are both
solitary lonely souls whose lives are concluding, wishing with profound
sincerity to BE, to be in connection, to be in holdingness, to be, in
each other, holding, loving, feeling, real, true.

I may yet refuse you, I cannot predict myself. But I know this: we are
together on this path which is our fate, not mine, not yours, but ours.
I am so glad to discover another, a woman, whose being complements my
own, a man, in the striving for complete humanity. I love you.

We have so much attending our intercourse. There is bonding and being,
the last, possibly, lusting relationship which reminds us of our human
beingness. (I am in love with you.) There is the bonding of two people
who have hoped for love their entire lives, whose restless wanting has
broken bond after bond (I should speak for myself). Are you the love I
have ever wanted? Am I the love you have craved for these many decades?
I am not 27 and I do not want a woman whose cravings remind me I am not
27. I want you, 52, to love me for who I am, to grow with me to the END!

What if I am not the love you have wanted? Then the temple of being is
burned to the ground and we die not satisfied but despaired. Oh sadness.
Profound sadness. Would I know I am broken if the world proceeds
unaffected? (Yes!) I love you now and if you will love me totally I will
not abandon you. Let us be in love, let us love totally, and forget
totally youthful ambitions of perfect love.

I give you leave to think I am crazy and without substance. In that case
just tell me. But if my being in these words is your being, and you are
in these words, love me now, and my love you need never doubt.

Stephen .


After such a day I am not afraid
but torn between loving you and not
Would that I could give you love uncomplicated by these doubts But
I don't want to be loved half way, Uncertainly,
nor loved in any particular way, just entirely.
Is this just another almost moment, that became not?

I am so flawed if you persist with me
I won't always be so generous,
but what do we join for?
If you love me, if you make love with me,
will I know the secrets you have withheld from me?
Will you know secrets of myself I have yet to tell you?
I am so crazy. I want nothing I want everything.

The Great Pioneer Culture

           Being selfless means tolerating frustration and absence, accepting that time is
           limited, and recognizing that life goes on without us. I don't think these ideas are
           valued in the USA, and I wonder how this could change. [her words]

In the terms of this conversation, I imagine the great pioneer culture, built up over four centuries, having in its possession a great mass of humanity which was formed by that culture and which cannot be separated from that culture. We are the people for whom patience has not been a virtue, for whom immortality seemed possible, for whom absence could be traded for candy or whiskey. Slow grinding poverty is the fate of humanity almost everywhere else, and it is to America that people come to escape - to try to escape - hopelessness. Americans will not accept hopelessness, and the dark side of their determined optimism is their inability accept modest conditions. That is my thought! To install change in the great American Enterprise, to install deference, thoughtfulness, care, empathy, would seem a reversal of that character. Woe is to the world if we cannot be constrained. And retrained.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Links to Perigrinations

More links, to another blog, Peregrinations.

On the connection between government, community, and the police power:

Conversation with a compassionate christian

Sustainability is a moving target, cross posted with Sustainability Awakening

About relationships

The idea (though not the execution) of this blog

Bridge to Blog "Sustainability Awakening"