Category Archives: Economics

Iceland Helps Icelanders Not Banks

I am often wondering about how we here in the US, and the world over, can recover and thrive in the wake of the recent financial crash. I have been following the story of Iceland from the beginning and it seems to consistently be one of resilient recovery. Would this work on a global scale?

When Iceland’s banks went under, and the economy with it, many homeowners were put under water over night. Instead of foreclosure deserts like Americans saw, the government stepped in to prevent Icelanders from losing their homes.

The banks’ first task was restructuring the loans of companies and households that could no longer pay them. The government passed a law mandating that loans had to be reduced to no more than 110 percent of the underlying property — helping homeowners who had ended up underwater. source

This kept people afloat while they restructured their mortgage and found new jobs in the recovering economy. Without the government intervention, many Icelanders would have been reduced to poverty and potential homelessness.

More here

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Fast or Slow, Which is Healthier?

Urban Agriculture Addresses Many Needs

DIY Open Source Village

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/30171620″>Global Village Construction Set – TED Talk</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/opensourceecology”>Open Source Ecology</a> on <a href=”http://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

TED Talk on the Global Village Construction Set (GVCS), presented by TED Fellow, Marcin Jakubowski, in Long Beach, California, February 28, 2011. Discusses the potential of open source, distributive economics – as embodied in the GVCS civilization starter kit.

Health Reform and New Mexico

“BluePrint for Health New Mexico is a collaborative planning and design effort to develop a statewide work plan to successfully implement the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) to improve the health of New Mexico’s children and families.”

Strategic Planning

Check out these strategic planning materials. I am posting these particular examples due to their unique, timely, and relevant content:

From Transition US: http://transitionus.org/our-story

Our Story

Our vision is that every community in the United States has engaged its collective creativity to unleash an extraordinary and historic transition to a future beyond fossil fuels; a future that is more vibrant, abundant and resilient; one that is ultimately preferable to the present.

Mission

Transition US is a resource and catalyst for building resilient communities across the United States that are able to withstand severe energy, climate or economic shocks while creating a better quality of life in the process. We will accomplish our mission by inspiring, encouraging, supporting, networking and training individuals and their communities as they consider, adopt, adapt, and implement the Transition approach to community empowerment and change.

The Transition approach is based on four key assumptions:

  1. That life with dramatically lower energy consumption is inevitable, and that it’s better to plan for it than to be taken by surprise.
  2. That our communities currently lack resilience.
  3. That we have to act collectively, and we have to act now to build community resilience and prepare for life without fossil fuels.
  4. That by unleashing the collective genius of our communities it is possible to design new ways of living that are more nourishing, fulfilling and ecologically sustainable.

Strategic Action Goals

  1. To raise awareness of the need to work together to build resilience in the face of fossil fuel depletion, climate change and economic crises.
  2. To support the emergence and growth of Transition Initiatives and leaders in all regions of the United States.
  3. To mirror the diversity of the United States in Transition Initiatives by supporting Initiatives’ efforts to include all major cultural and demographic segments of their local communities.
  4. To support the continued development and delivery of high quality education, training and consulting in support of the advancement of the Transition Movement in the United States.
  5. To achieve financial sustainability for Transition US and Transition Initiatives in the United States.

History

The Transition movement emerged from the work of Permaculture educator, Rob Hopkins, and his students at the Kinsale Further Education College in Ireland. In early 2005 they created the Kinsale Energy Descent Action Plan, which was later adopted as policy by the Town Council. It was the first strategic community planning document of its kind, and went beyond the issues of energy supply, to look at across-the-board creative adaptations in the realms of food, farming, education, economy, health, and much more.

After moving back to the UK to complete his doctorate, Rob decided to take the Peak Oil preparation process beyond the classroom and into the community. He started Transition Towns Totnes in early 2006, and it took off like a rocket. It has since spread virally across the world as groups in other communities quickly copied the model and initiated the Transition process in their own locale.

The Transition Network was established in the UK in late 2006, to support the rapid international growth of the movement. In 2007, increasing high levels of interest in the States led to the launch of Transition US. We were established as a national support network, in partnership with the Transition Network so that we could take on the role of providing co-ordination, support and training to Transition Initiatives as they emerged across the States. The process of “officiating” Transition Initiatives in the States was also handed over to Transition US.

In December 2008, Transition US invited the UK founders of Transition Training, Naresh Giangrande and Sophy Banks, over to the States to give a series of training courses and talks. All courses were sold out events. One of these was the inaugural 4-day “Train the Trainers” course, in which we selected and trained a team of 21 people who are now facilitating 2-day “Training for Transition” courses around the country.

In January 2008 we received initial funding from Post Carbon Institute supplemented by a donation from a private investor. This has enabled Transition US to become a non-profit, open an office, hire staff, and develop a new website. Ultimately our funds will be used to continue our core function of acting as a catalyst for the Transition Movement here in the States.

Structure

structure

Transition US is modeled on the Transition Network, visually represented by the image on the left. It is based on a living cell, a biological system, in keeping with the organic emergence of the Transition movement.

Various scales of initiative emerge organically (black circles in the center) at scales that feel most appropriate to them, guided by the Purpose and Principles of Transition. Regional groups may network together creating “hubs” of Transition Initiatives that work to common purpose.

In the diagram Transition US is represented by the white encircling ring that surrounds the individual initiatives and hubs. It functions like a cell membrane, enshrining the Purpose and Principles common to the wider Transition Movement and acts as a catalyst to keep the circle expanding as the number of initiatives it contains grows.

Transition US facilitates smooth and efficient networking between the various levels of initiatives and hubs, as well as between different interest groups, for example enabling various food, energy or economics groups to communicate, share good practice and organize national events. It also enables networking by geographical area, by culture and by size of project.

The role of Transition US is to continually review and collaboratively refine what Transition means, enabling the maximum amount of networking between Transition Initiatives and external partners and collaborators (represented by the white circles outside the encircling ring). The circles inside the outer ring represent emerging new strands to Transition, for example, Transition Consulting / Transition Local Government / Transition Universities

From La Boca Center for Sustainability:

http://www.labocacenter.org/Planning/StrategicPlan.aspx

See also: http://www.labocacenter.org/Projects/PermacultureDesign/PlanOverview.aspx

Vision – a global perspective:
A world where cultural and biological diversity are sustained and enhanced, communication between individuals and nations is non-violent, pollution is minimal and waste is transformed; where the needs of people are met without compromising future generations or the integrity of ecosystems.

Mission:

Our mission is to develop, demonstrate, and teach sustainable agricultural practices that improve quality of life, local production, and environmental stewardship.

From the Executive Director, Chester Anderson

The basis of a local food system is the capacity to grow crops that store easily and consistently produce from one year to the next. I call these foundational crops. Our challenge at La Boca is to grow foundational crops with minimal imports and costs while concurrently growing the soil. Foundational crops traditionally found in the 4-Corners Region include grass, grains, beans, squash and the animals that convert grass to meat and milk. At La Boca will also grow non-traditional crops to supplement food production and experiment with development of other varieties that could become foundational crops.To rebuild local agricultural systems requires attention to redeveloping and developing traditional technologies, traditional knowledge, modern technologies, and current knowledge. At La Boca, we are developing an integrated, sustainable farm with instructors, tools and curriculum necessary to teach and train farm managers and rebuild that knowledge base that is critical to rebuilding local agriculture. We are also exposing hundreds of children, teachers and community members to sustainable farming as well as creating a model that can be used throughout the world to rebuild local food production.Development of LBCS over the last 5 years has been accomplished on a thread of a budget. When we started we had land, water, some infrastructure and the mission of developing a working, integrated, sustainable farm, to serve as a hub for research and education. We have learned a great deal over the last 5 years and with the staff that we currently have we are poised to start teaching. What is needed is an infusion of capitol. We have the talent and knowledge to spend the capitol wisely and with this infusion we can begin the process of disseminating the knowledge and capacity that is necessary to grow food locally and in large enough quantities to contribute substantially to the regional population – the very foundation of a local food system. As Woody Tasch says in his book Slow Money –

If we want to restore and preserve soil fertility, if we want to preserve and restore small and midsize farms and promote organic agriculture, if we want to diversify and decentralize our food supply and revitalize local communities, if we want to preserve biodiversity , if we want to remediate polluted and depleted aquifers, if we want to promote human health and childhood nutrition – if we want these and many other related benefits, or even if we merely wish to defensively invest a portion of our assets in a food-system safety net, then we are going to have to figure out how to deploy capital appropriately, in new ways, and in meaningful quantities for the long run.

Over the last 5 years I came to understand that I had to get into the thick of farming myself, to get my hands into every aspect in one way or another, to get a feel for how each component of the farm worked. I also had to learn how to do business, how to run a non-profit, manage employees and subcontractors, to stay sane, to not micromanage and to let others try and fail and learn and thus build the depth of knowledge necessary to make La Boca resilient and not dependent on any one person for its success.

This strategic plan outlines the history and background of LBCS, our current status and the components required to continue development and operation of LBCS. We have 2 major areas of focus: education and sustainable farming and under those 2 areas we have the strategic goals of development of staff, instructors, physical and administrative infrastructure and funding. The instructors are our farmers and the core of LBCS. They are integrated in this way to provide real-time, real-life instruction in sustainable agriculture.

Ultimately support sustainability as defined by La Boca: the ability of people to meet their needs without compromising the needs of future generations or planetary ecosystems; leading to sustained or enhanced bio-diversity and minimal and transformed pollution and waste.

Premises:

  • The increasing costs of oil and natural gas will make it prohibitive to continue with the current, global scale of agriculture
  • Regional, intensive agriculture will become more and more critical for our food source and will depend on a larger number of trained, knowledgeable and skilled farm managers
  • We need to be proactive in the training of these farm managers

Goals:

Short Term (1-5 years)
·        Operate seasonal internship program
·        Develop accredited apprenticeship program curriculum
·        Produce a diverse variety of vegetables using innovative sustainable agricultural practices.
·        Develop and execute a successful 20 share Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program
·        Breed pigs and expand pork markets
·        Build and develop infrastructure for rotational grazing with cattle, sheep and chickens
·        Facilitate seasonal field trips with Durango Nature Studies, Open Sky, Fort Lewis College and other educational entities.
·        Host a variety of educational workshops including butcher, blacksmith, horse shoeing, timber-framing and gardening.
·        Develop and execute an effective fund-raising plan to carry out all farm operations, wages, and capital improvements (via grants, events, product marketing, membership, donations)  

Intermediate (5-10)

·        Train 10 to 20 apprentices each year on how to manage and operate a sustainable, integrated farm.
·        Increase acreage and production to include fruit such as apples, stone fruit and berries
·        Expand CSA operations to 50-100 shares
·        Obtain financial viability with above projects
 

Long-term (10+ years)

·        Develop, demonstrate and teach others a replicable model of sustainable agriculture, educational and living practices. (i.e. consulting services)
·        To enhance and support a vibrant sustainable local economy
·        Enjoy a life that is community-supported, environmentally sound and economically productive.
·        To last 10+ years without burn out
 

If You Love Peace, Become a “Blue Republican” (Just for a Year)

Interesting idea: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robin-koerner/blue-republican_b_886650.html?page=2

I am aware that the main objection to Ron Paul from the left concerns his belief that private charities and individuals are more effective in maintaining social welfare than the government. To this I ask one question. Do you believe so much in the effectiveness of our current centralized delivery of social welfare that it is worth the war making and the abrogation of civil rights supported by both Bush and Obama’s administrations? Moreover, while Ron Paul would look to transition out of the huge federally run welfare programs in the long-run, that’s not where he wants to start: his immediate fight would be to bring our forces back to the USA and to re-implement the Bill of Rights.

Koerner hit it right on here. This is one of my main concerns with Ron Paul. Another huge and far reaching concern is that he would deregulate like there is no tomorrow, which will end in an ugly corporate rule. I don’t see how he is all that different in the end. I see the same results as any other candidate, just a different road to get there.

Or am I mistaken?

~~~

 Related Links

 http://peoplesworld.org/why-progressives-should-not-support-ron-paul/?commentStart=40

http://fitnessfortheoccasion.wordpress.com/2007/06/26/why-ron-paul-is-a-corporate-candidate/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

we’ve got to think seriously of third-party candidates, third formations, third parties.

We all are likely familiar with the popular dissatisfaction with Big Government of the right-wing tea party movement. I have been watching for some time, and with great interest, the left coming to the same point:

“We have got to attempt to tell the truth, and that truth is painful,” he says. “It is a truth that is against the thick lies of the mainstream. In telling that truth we become so maladjusted to the prevailing injustice that the Democratic Party, more and more, is not just milquetoast and spineless, as it was before, but thoroughly complicitous with some of the worst things in the American empire. I don’t think in good conscience I could tell anybody to vote for Obama. If it turns out in the end that we have a crypto-fascist movement and the only thing standing between us and fascism is Barack Obama, then we have to put our foot on the brake. But we’ve got to think seriously of third-party candidates, third formations, third parties. (http://www.truthdig.com/report/print/the_obama_deception_why_cornel_west_went_ballistic_20110516/)

The mainstream Republican/Democrat, Left-Wing/Right-Wing Hegelian Dialectic, that we are all too familiar with, will soon find some interesting competition.

It would appear that the populace on both sides are beginning to wake up and see the corruption in Big Government. It looks like each side has many of the same issues with Big Government. It will be interesting to see if the two sides of this awakening populace will be able to work together to address these issues in a productive and effective manner.

What thinkest ye?

Storyboard: Inside the Battle to Define Mental Illness

Stick a fork in it: In the long term, the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is done for.

That’s according to Gary Greenberg, a practicing psychotherapist and author of “Inside the Battle to Define Mental Illness,” a feature story in Wired magazine’s January issue about the controversy surrounding the upcoming fifth edition of the DSM, which has been called psychiatry’s bible.

The DSM has been the definitive almanac of psychiatric disease for decades. But the effort to update the book has highlighted the challenge of categorizing slippery, subjective mental states with the same certainty as, say, high blood pressure.

In this edition of the Storyboard podcast, Greenberg and Wired senior editor Bill Wasik join regular host Adam Rogers for a mind-bending conversation about the drama behind the DSM-V and the quest to name our pain.

click to listen