About Green Mass Group
Green Mass Group is an online forum for Green thought and collective action in Massachusetts. It is a community forum for ecological wisdom, justice, sustainability, democracy and health in the Commonwealth and beyond, intended for the thousands of people in Massachusetts who understand the ecological crisis we face and seek a paradigm shift away from economic growth and towards justice and sustainability.
In the spirit of Blue Mass Group and Red Mass Group, and now Purple Mass Group and Gold Mass Group, we are friendly towards the Green-Rainbow Party of Massachusetts and the Green Party nationally and internationally. We are completely open-minded and open-hearted, and feel strongly that the political discourse in Massachusetts and beyond needs a strong dose of reality and compassion. We feel the challenges faced by the people of the Commonwealth will never be solved until we can have honest analysis, thoughtful dialogue, and participatory problem-solving. We hope that Green Mass Group will begin to move the political discussion beyond the sniping and mudslinging that characterize too many blogs, and beyond the stranglehold of corporate two-party politics.
The GMG editorial board consists of Eli Beckerman, Suzanne Bowles, and Peter Vickery. Here’s a little bit about them:
Eli Beckerman is a Project Coordinator for the Massachusetts Coalition for Healthy Communities. He organized the 2009 Massachusetts Relocalization Conference which brought together about 250 people to learn about, share, and celebrate the grassroots endeavors underway that are transforming the physical, political, and economic landscape of Massachusetts. In his spare time, Eli is the Fundraising Director for the Green-Rainbow Party, and the coordinator of the Greater Boston Peak Oil & Climate Change Meetup. Eli graduated from Bronx Science in 1995 and Wesleyan University in 1999, with degrees in Physics and Astronomy, and worked on the Chandra X-ray Observatory calibration team at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics for over 6 years.
Suzanne Bowles is a Pioneer Valley Development Consultant who works with small businesses and non profits with environmental and social justice missions. Suzanne has been working in non profit development for 5 years and holds a degree in Politics and International Relations from Mount Holyoke College. Suzanne is the Secretary for the Western Mass Green Consortium, a green business association with a mission of improving the environmental profile of economic activity in Western Massachusetts. (www.WesternMassGreenConsortium.org) She aims to help integrate social justice and environmental movements by organizing for collaboration and reduced duplication of efforts. We have bountiful resources, let’s make the most of them!
Michael Horan is a blogger, activist, and father of three who hails from New Jersey and now lives in Stoughton with his wife Ann. A former Renaissance literature scholar, he’s swapped Shakespeare for soil and is now studying organic agriculture at the Institute for Sustainability and Post-carbon Education at Bristol Community College. He runs the blog NoSupperTonight.com, and currently serves as Co-chair of the Green-Rainbow Party of Massachusetts.
Peter Vickery was born in Swansea, South Wales. He is a graduate of Oxford University (Jesus College) and of the University of the West of England where he earned his post-graduate Diploma in Law. Peter obtained his J.D. from Boston University School of Law in 1998. Since 1999, Peter has been practicing law in Amherst, Western Massachusetts. In 2002 Business West named Peter as one of the “Top 10 Lawyers Under 40” and in 2005 the magazine Super Lawyers featured him as a “Rising Star.” Peter served a term (2005-07) as Governor’s Councillor for the 8th District, representing Western Massachusetts on the body that reviews the Governor’s judicial nominations. In addition to his work as an attorney, Peter teaches at several local colleges where his courses have included Legislative Drafting; Elections Laws; U.S. History; and Lawyering Process. Peter left the Democratic Party and joined the Greens in 2008.
I am a user and an advocate of the public transportation system in Berkshire County. I have posted on this subject in a prior blog, too.
The board of the Berkshire Regional Transit Authority consists of appointees from the towns and cities in the network. I represent the town of Lenox and have provided the following report to the Board of Selectmen and citizens. It will be incorporated into the Town of Lenox 2011 report, published prior to town meeting and town elections.
The number one request of both employers and users is that the system operate later into the evenings and on Sundays. The legislature currently does not provide the funding that would allow a public transportation service that would better serve the local economy. I will work hard to change budget priorities to that the funding is there.
There’s More… :: (0 Comments, 496 words in story)
The president who fueled the fire of climate disaster
Thu Feb 02, 2012 at 16:40:24 PM EST
(Obama’s rabid support of fossil fuels in his speech was a shameful moment in American history. The progressive movements and environmental movements are utterly worthless if they do not respond in force. – promoted by eli_beckerman)
If President Barack Obama gets his way with his new energy policy, he may go down in history as “the president who fueled the fire of climate disaster,” according to the still stunned Green Party presidential frontrunner, medical doctor Jill Stein. Stein’s remarks were a delayed reaction to the President’s State of the Union Address in which the President proposed opening 75% of public lands to oil exploration, massively expanding drilling for natural gas, removing “red tape” that stands in the way of construction projects, and delaying any comprehensive approach to global warming.
“With his State of the Union speech, President Obama adopted the apocalyptic ‘Drill, Baby, Drill’ platform of the most rabid Republicans. He is parroting the fossil fuel lobbyists in saying that our public lands and our environment should be sacrificed for the goal of increasing domestic oil production.”
“The President’s spin ignores the fact that our most pressing problem isn’t foreign oil, it’s what fossil fuels, both foreign and domestic, are doing to our planet. The President’s ‘all of the above’ approach to polluting energy is an alarming denial of the climate emergency we face and the urgent need to substantially reduce the amount of carbon we exhaust into the atmosphere. Our nation and human society around the world are already experiencing serious climate disruption. The President has given up the fight against climate change just when we most need to expand our efforts.”
Scientists are finding it difficult to persuade the public of the urgency to reduce fossil fuel CO2 emissions. This is in part because people profiting from fossil fuel business-as-usual support disinformation about the science, so that they can expand extraction of fossil fuels despite the evidence that such expansion will push the climate system beyond tipping points, assuring further climate change with impacts that are practically out of humanity’s control.
Scientists attempt to communicate, but are flummoxed by the ability of the profiteers to manipulate democracies. The scientific method (objective analysis of all facts) is pitted against the talk-show method (selective citation of anecdotal bits supporting a predetermined position).
The tragedy is that a common sense pathway exists that would solve our energy needs, stimulate our economy and protect the future of young people. Yet people benefiting from business-as-usual are able to block adoption of policies in the public’s interest, via the corrosive influence of money in politics and aided by corporate-dominated media.
Should scientists connect the dots all the way to policy implications? Profiteers strongly oppose that, because scientists are trained to be objective, and profiteers want no interference with their functioning profit pathways. Let’s consider that issue after summarizing the situation.
The Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy was in the news last week on three bills that I am following: the Expanded Bottle Bill, the Wind Energy Siting Reform Act, and the Muni Choice bill for municipal power choice.
The threat of human-made climate change and the urgency of reducing fossil fuel emissions have become increasingly clear to the scientific community during the past few years. Yet, at the same time, the public seems to have become less certain about the situation. Indeed, many people have begun to wonder whether the climate threat has been concocted or exaggerated.
Public doubt about the science is not an accident. People profiting from business-as-usual fossil fuel use are waging a campaign to discredit the science. Their campaign is effective because the profiteers have learned how to manipulate democracies for their advantage.
The scientific method requires objective analysis of all data, stating evidence pro and con, before reaching conclusions. This works well, indeed is necessary, for achieving success in science. But science is now pitted in public debate against the talk-show method, which consists of selective citation of anecdotal bits that support a predetermined position.
Good evening and thank you for this opportunity to talk with you tonight. We’re here to talk about the actual state of our nation, and how we can reclaim the promise of our democracy and the peaceful, just green future we deserve. We have heard President Obama deliver his State of the Union Address. And we heard the Republican response. Each claims to have the answer, and that the other was an obstacle to progress.
Time marches on, in the constant madness that is Occupy Wall Street, within the constant madness that is New York City, within the constant madness that is the earth in 2012.
I’ve made a point of attending more marches lately, realizing that this is one of the best ways to let people know that we’re still here even though we’re not in the park. One was a march against the NDAA. For those who don’t know, the National Defense Authorization Act allows the government to detain any US citizen and hold him or her indefinitely without trial if they suspect them of aiding an organization which aids al Qaeda or the Taliban. The problem is that they don’t have to prove to anyone this connection, so anyone who criticizes the US government might conceivably fall into this category. There would be no judge or jury to say otherwise.
It’s especially ironic because the US government has given billions of dollars in assistance to the Pakistani government and military, which has aided al Qaeda and the Taliban with millions if not billions of dollars worth of assistance in the form of weapons, trucks, food and cash. So according to the NDAA, anyone connected with the US government, military or weapons industry could technically be held indefinitely without trial. This would include the president and any members of congress who voted for any of these military assistance bills.
Big [Bad] Ag will be pouring lotsa money into the 2012 races. Those of you who support organic farming, sustainable agriculture, and relocalized economies can fight back by supporting candidates who support the same. Case in point: The Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act has been introduced as part of the 2012 Farm Bill.
It’s a good Act-a step in the right direction–and it’s endorsed by MA Senate candidate Marisa DeFranco (the only candidate for Senate in MA who talks about sustainable agriculture and cutting subsidies to Big Ag). If this is on your radar, please consider making a donation to the one candidate who addresses these critical issues and stands up for local, organic, sustainable food networks. You can contribute to Marisa DeFranco here:
The other candidate in this race is raking in big money from some very suspect sources (more on that later). The only way to get OUR concerns promoted and talked about in these races is to put our money where our mouths are. $25 will help ensure that a genuine people’s candidate has the ability to make your voice heard contributing (more will ensure that it’s amplified!). And when you DO contribute, pass along a note explaining that you expect to hear more on whatever issue it is that matters most you-especially if it’s the relocalized, sustainability realm!
BTW, this Act is also endorsed by the Northeast Organic Framing Association. As noted in a post below, I’ll be at their always entertaining, eye-opening all-day conference in Worcester on January 14. If you’re going-and you can walk-in register-and want to learn more about the Farm Bill, there’s a workshop on the Farm Bill, 3:30-5pm.
It’s been a really long time since I last wrote. I left New York for a few weeks in early December, and returned later in the month. The timing wasn’t too good, since very little happened around here during the holidays, and there was a lot of frustrating, idle time. One positive thing that did happen during that time, though, was that a lot of people worked on creating a sense of community among us who are staying at one of the churches in the upper west side. I’d originally thought of it as simply a place to sleep, and to simply leave in the morning and start my real day downtown at OWS. But some more insightful people saw it as more than that, as a chance to develop our identity as a group, a subsection of OWS. The original motivation for this might have been simple necessity– to reduce thefts and conflicts, but in any case, it’s turned into an actual community, an opportunity to meet new people and work together constructively.
Otherwise, things were scattered and thin through late December, until New Year’s eve. Earlier in the evening a few of us went around town, happy to get away from the uninspired atmosphere, but came back to the area and walked into Zuccotti Park around 10 pm. Several hundred people were there, a low-level party. More people arrived steadily, and the absurdity of the situation became embarrassingly apparent. Here we are, 300, 400, 500 of us, in a park we lived in, a park from which we changed world history, until a mere six ago. And now we’re surrounded by standing metal barricades which enforce arbitrary, stupid rules which are arguably illegal. Say, what about these standing metal barricades, anyway?
My second testimony in 2011 to the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing takes place December 15 at the public hearing on the Medicare For All bill.
It has been proven throughout the world that that comprehensive health insurance will cost less and be of better quality when it is financed through public progressive taxes rather than through private regressive premiums.
…the barriers to implementing Medicare For All in Massachusetts are not based on economics, on health & medicine, or in public support. The hurdles are political.
There has been a decrease in the number of co-sponsors of the bill … and lackluster advocacy for Medicare For All.
Beacon Hill will respond more favorably when confronted with an occupation against big-money business as usual.
The complete testimony follows.
It’s been slow around here since my last post. Strange to say this, since up to recently things have been frantic.
We’re still hanging in, securing housing for ourselves and running meetings again. I went to a spokes council meeting the other night. It was kind of nice to see the process functioning. Spokes council is a cumbersome process, but it’s quite democratic. Of course, it’s a messy process, lots of arguments, and then the next day everyone else yells about the decisions made. Once you explain the reasons, they lower the volume of their yelling a bit. I suppose groups making decisions about how to conduct themselves is by nature complicated and controversial and always will be.
The past few days in particular have been difficult. A lot of people arguing, about all kinds of things. I think this is partly because we’re all stressed about not having a home, and partly because we’re confused about our mission at this point. With Thanksgiving coming up it’s unlikely much will be done about this in the next few days.
She stands for your values. She could use your support.
(It is frightening, but not surprising, that the response has been so brutal. The good news is that it shows that the protectors of the status quo are themselves scared. – promoted by eli_beckerman)
[In this press release, Jill Stein (Green Party candidate for president) expresses serious concern about the federal role in the Occupy Wall Street crackdowns.]
Stein calls for Investigation of Federal Role in Brutal Occupy Wall Street Crackdowns
Responding to reports that security officials within the Obama Administration held meetings with local authorities that led to a brutal national police crackdown on the Occupy Wall Street protests – including flagrant violations of freedom of the press – the Green Party’s Jill Stein called for a full investigation of the federal role. She urged that new federal guidelines be established to “prevent the lethal power of post-9/11 militarized security from being turned against the American people.”
According to news reports, officials of the FBI and Homeland Security Agency advised mayors and other municipal officials regarding the use of harsh, military-style techniques against people in the OWS encampments. The Federal officials reportedly tutored the municipal officials on ways to find legal excuses for closing down the encampments, on the use of riot police and advanced weaponry, and on techniques for interfering with press coverage of the evictions.
This idea may be moot after all the forced evictions of the Occupations from public spaces but I thought I’d share it anyway.
I’ve visited the Occupations in Wall Street, Boston, and Providence, RI. Every time I go to one of them, I try to connect with somebody about making the Occupation green with, as yet, little success. In New York, I saw the greywater treatment system Mobile Research Labs set up and talked to a couple of people about using some simple solar techniques. In Boston, I’ve tried to connect the winterization team with the student Energy Clubs at some of the local colleges and universities and alerted my own network of solar enthusiasts to Occupy Boston’s efforts. I’ve also tried to do the same by contacting OWS’s Sustainability Group. In Providence, I talked with the only occupier I saw up and around early on a Sunday morning. He was picking up trash around the park and was disappointed that the group hadn’t organized themselves enough to do recycling. I gave him my card and my elevator pitch for a green occupation and he said he’d pass it on.
I look at the Occupations and see economic refugee camps and a possible test-bed for emergency response and sustainable economic development around the world. Some may say that’s crazy but the links are there if you look.