(Not sure I'd be so critical of a "lack of confidence in future democracy." Interesting stuff, though. - promoted by eli_beckerman)
A quorum of Lenox Green Rainbow Party committee members joined individual Lenox Dept of Public employees and others in opposition to a Conservation Restriction on Yokun Ridge, which was voted on and narrowly passed the required 2/3 vote vote at Lenox Town Meeting on May 2, 2013.
By having adopted the ill-conceived Consrvation Restriction, a super-majority in Lenox today has removed opportunity for the super-majority of tomorrow to make their own decisions on what to do on their land. Not only is the vote an arrogant lack of trust it may also be harmful.
Because the land is owned by the Town of Lenox, a 2/3 super-majority would always have been needed for any project. This fact, along with existing environmental laws, was strong and sufficient protection.
The opportunity costs of this vote will be revealed in the future and the next generations will resent this year's town meeting action. There will be missed opportunities resulting from future technologies and future needs that we have removed from future generations' town meeting supermajorities.
The momentum for adopting of the conservation restriction was fueled by those who last year opposed the development of any wind energy proposal whatsoever. With classic fear-mongering, it offered as examples many projects around the country that were harmful or had been approved by small boards. None of the 'bad' projects the group offered as evidence, though, had required the approval of a supermajority of a town meeting. They were private projects, not public ones, and not subject to the rigors and public vetting of a town meeting. None of the 'bad' projects that were included in the propaganda would have been accepted by a town meeting supermajority.
A two-third majority today effectively took away the rights of the next generations' two-thirds majorities. What a travesty this is for grass-roots democracy.
The conservation restriction was unnecessary.
What follows is the prepared text of the speech I gave at Lenox Town Meeting. (It must be noted that some Green-Rainbow Party members whose opinion and activism I respect voted in favor of the restriction.)
(Scott Laugenour -- continuing to model how government should serve we, the people. - promoted by eli_beckerman)
At Lenox Town Meeting on May 2, 2013 article 19 on the Town Meeting warrant invited public discussion on the legal costs of defending a Scenic Mountain Act appeal that a Lenox citizens group has filed. I am not a party to this particular appeal but I spoke in support of the right of citizens and businesses to appeal to a higher authority when they believe that basic practices of openness, transparency, and integrity have been violated. I voted NO on the article, which passed by a voice vote.
Here is the prepared text that I prepared for the town meeting. The actual speech delivered may be slightly different by a few words or clause changes made during verbal delivery but the message is the same.
If you were registered in Green-Rainbow Party in 2012 you received a postcard recently that said that 'your voter registration has been updated' because the Green-Rainbow Party is no longer a 'political party.' It sounds rather ominous, but it is meaningless from a practical point. What a waste of taxpayer money! One Green-Rainbow Party member called the postcard a 'rude intrusion.'
I suggest ignoring the postcard. Despite the obtuse wording there is no change at all for how Green-Rainbow Party members will vote in elections. We just won't have our own primaries, as we did in 2011 and 2012 until we grow more. We're still here and you are still registered to vote in the Green-Rainbow Party!
So let's grow rather than be intimidated.
The post card is misleading. It was mailed to you by the Massachusetts Elections Division, which is under the control of a partisan Democrat.
The failures of the environmental community have been
(a) giving up on a "no regrets" strategy that concentrates on all the things the majority can agree on whether or not they believe in "global warming"
(b) concentrating on legislative and regulatory action to the exclusion of grassroots empowerment through practical demonstrations of individual and community solutions
(c) not building a united front of organizations all pushing in the same direction at the same time and actually executing a common strategy long-term through a battery of complementary tactics short-term (the environmental community is notorious for not knowing the difference between strategy and tactics)
(d) motivating almost exclusively by fear and thereby building learned helplessness and despair rather than fostering individual and community competence
(e) focusing almost totally on a problem orientation rather than a solutions orientation
We tax sales at the state level, yet we haven't taxed real estate sales statewide. It's only fair that we tax purchases of the rich as well as purchases of the poor, if we are to tax purchases at all.
Together we, the people of Massachusetts, have made our home state a nice place. So most people moving or living here really want to buy land here. 'Location, location, location' they say, controls real estate value. That location is in relation to the rest of us, and in relation to the communities we've built together. It is that location that gives most market value to land, and it is that location which our communities made valuable in the first place. Returning a portion of the market value we created through our communities to maintain our communities makes sense. A state tax on land purchases would return a portion of the value we created as we built these fine communities.
Where are we going, why, and for what? This, in re-designing transport systems, while seeming frivolous, actually gets to the heart of the matter: The opportunities for our region in understanding and re-devising transport are enormous. We can spend less time in traffic, less money on fuel, insurance, repair, etc. and spend less of our lives suffering from car accidents, asthma, bronchitis, etc. Additionally, with less of our earnings leaving the region for fuel and car expenditures, we'll have more to spend on each other.
When public transportation expands, many gain, but few gain more or more directly than the landowners near new stops. Reportedly the land value increase yielded to them is often about the same as the cost of the expansion. One way to afford such public transport expansion is taxing those of us who stand to gain the most; the land-owners near new subway stations and facilities, as reported on here.
It's good to see more and more people bicycling.. Bicycling is very energy-efficient transport, the exercise promotes physical health, and it leaves the nation less reliant on imports, while polluting much less as well.
Outer space, where there is not air enough to breath, is closer to us on earth than Dorchester is to Medford. With only about 7.5 miles of air above us, and 400 ppm of CO2 now in our air, there is no longer airspace above earth for all the carbon in the fuels we could burn. We need to encourage each other to burn less, in order to maintain the climate, the agricultural systems and thus the food we all rely on. Nothing says 'Slow down' like taxes. A carbon tax will encourage all of us to develop the methods and the equipment all the world will need tomorrow, for our food system to continue to yield our meals.
Those before us, to eliminate scarce labor, substituted plentiful energy resource use via technology, which was brilliant in a world empty of people and full of resources,, but now we're running out of resources and have plenty of labor. We can now afford, in creating new methods and technology, to use more labor and less rare resources, which will yield less pollution and more jobs. Resource taxes like carbon taxes inspire this needed change in technology to proceed faster.
With the current five plus percent sales tax applied to real estate sales, and a carbon tax inspiring development of lasting infrastructure, we can assure each of us, when young, of a fair chance at life, and when old, of the help we all deserve. We can build the strength of our bridges and our schools. We can insure each of us access to the jobs we need to survive, and we can aid and guide those building the businesses that address the challenges before us.
Reversing Global Warming while Meeting Human Needs: An Urgently Needed Land-Based Option
Friday, January 25, 2013
2:00 - 4:00 PM, ASEAN Auditorium
The Fletcher School, 160 Packard Avenue, Medford, MA
Reception to follow
RSVP at http://allansavory.eventbrite.com
Allan Savory, Rancher and Restoration Ecologist, Founder of the Savory Institute and originator of the Holistic Management approach to restoring grasslands, winner of the Buckminster Fuller Challenge Award, and finalist in the Virgin Earth Challenge
Presented by CIERP's Agriculture, Forests, and Biodiversity Program with the Friedman School's Agriculture, Food, and Environment Program and Planet-TECH Associates
Free and open to the public. Convened by the Agriculture, Forests, and Biodiversity Program of the Center for International Environment and Resource Policy at Fletcher;
the Agriculture, Food, and Environment Program of Tufts' Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy; and Planet-TECH Associates.
First in a Series of "Creating the Future We Want" Events.
While governments posture and dither, a pragmatic practitioner and intellectual entrepreneur, Allan Savory,has been developing and demonstrating a powerful technique that can reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere immediately while reversing desertification and providing livelihoods and food for millions of people. His applied research based in Zimbabwe on the restoration of grasslands has now been replicated on millions of acres worldwide. The application of his methods has the potential to significantly reduce atmospheric carbon through an increase in plant growth and soil formation. This process begins immediately and involves no new technologies, only a shift to the Holistic Management practices for livestock that he has pioneered. Major organizations and institutions are now recognizing his work, but climate scientists and governments have yet to incorporate it into their analyses and policy prescriptions.
A group of people from the Occupy Wall Street movement is collaborating with the climate change advocacy group 350.org and a new online toolkit for disaster recovery, recovers.org, to organize a grassroots relief effort in New York City.
The combination of the jobs and economic focus of Occupy with the climate change and energy transition ideas of 350.org along with the disaster recovery systems of Recovers.org is a model that can build resilience and preparedness quickly if continued. Add Solar IS Civil Defense, set the Maker Culture loose, and it just might shade over into Solar Swadeshi, Gandhian economics, a non-violent and restorative open source peer-to-peer economic system where we plan for 100% success for all humanity, to paraphrase R Buckminster Fuller.
John Robb is a strategist and theorist of modern warfare. His book, Brave New War, is the best introduction I know of to small group warfare, the way technology has enabled ad hoc groups like Al Quaeda and others to wage war against superpowers like the USA.
In the last few years, Robb has changed his focus to the concept of resilience. Looking at the failure of international, national, and regional governmental, economic, and social systems to confront the challenges of climate change and institutionalized as well as ad hoc criminality, he has started an initiative to relocalize our basic systems of survival as we watch the slow decline and collapse of the overarching social machinery that currently exists.
The solution is to build resilience, is to build resilience at the local level... You take control of the things you can have influence over, the things in front of you, the things that are human scale.... and strangely, when you start looking at building resilience, building local viable communities, it solves all the problems at the global level, economically, environmentally, and in terms of quality of life...
Here is his lecture at the recent NYC Maker Faire. The video starts about 8 minutes in and his description of a resilient community ends around 15:40 when he begins to take questions. These seven or eight minutes are a useful introduction to a reasonable way forward.
You can now estimate with great detail the solar electric potential of any roof in Cambridge, MA by just typing in an address on a webpage, the Cambridge Solar Tool
(http://cambridgema.gov/solar). For instance, the double triple decker in which I live has six apartments and a total roof area of 2,781 square feet. 1,136 of those sq ft have high PV (photovoltaic) potential. This could support an 18kW solar electric system providing 22,945 kWh per year, enough to power about a third of the electricity used by those six apartments, if each apartment uses the rough US average of around 11,000 kWh per year (my own annual electric use is around 1,600 kWh/yr).
The estimated savings per year for such a PV system are $9,081. The total cost is $101,720. With the Federal tax credit of $30,516 and a MA state tax credit of $1,000, the final cost to the owner would be $70,204. In addition, the Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs) of 27¢/kWh could produce $6,212 per year (at least that's my reading of the MA SREC program, but I could be wrong). Such an investment would pay for itself in about 8 years with a return on investment (ROI) of 12.93%, a better return than gold (10.19%) or the stock market (Dow Jones average: 5.50%). The solar electricity would replace other fuels that now spew 12 tons per year of carbon into the atmosphere.
If the owner did not want to put any money down, they could opt for a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA), buying electricity from a third party which owns, installs, maintains, insures, and monitors a PV system on the roof of our double triple decker at a long term, generally 20 years, fixed and lower cost than what is paid now for power.
MassDOT (Dept of Transportation) is holding 15 public meetings around the Commonwealth. One of them was held on October 4, 2012 in Pittsfield,which I attended and followed up with written testimony which is presented below.
Andy McKeever of iBerkshires gave a very good report the next day.
While my fellow Berkshire Regional Transit Authority board members were testifying strongly about the unmet needs and the unfair funding mechanisms that create injustice and inequality I couldn't help but take a brief moment to tweet with my smart phone how proud I was to be serving the community with them.
My own testimony was sent via e-mail on October 5, 2012, after having listened to my fellow board members and public the night before.
There are clear and compelling economic justice, economic development, and environmental reasons to invest our tax dollars into quality public transportation, even in the Berkshires.
My testimony follows. I encourage others from the Berkshires to submit their own testimony on our transportation infrastructure needs and to share it with me.
Ever since the selection of 2000, the rudiments of US democracy have been under attack. We still haven't dealt with the multitudinous problems of electronic voting machines and now we have a concerted attack on registration and voting by the Republican Party and their affiliated organizations. Those who have built the engines for stealing elections, from registration to vote counts, will use them, this year and every Election Day from this time forward, if they can.
Here are some resources to stop them in their tracks and rebuild our ability to vote for every single citizen. It is not an exhaustive list but it is a start.
Protect your own vote and those of all your fellow citizens.
A few months ago, some people in Cambridge, MA were inspired by the example of Todmorden in the UK between Leeds and Manchester, a town that decided to grow as much of its food as possible within the town limits.
Since we started meeting, some of us have begun mapping the Cambridge local food system which already exists. It includes farmers' markets every day of the week from Memorial Day to Thanksgiving, the local growing season, and one winter market on Saturday mornings. There are City Sprouts (http://www.citysprouts.org/) gardens in every one of the 12 public middle schools, 15 community gardens including those at Harvard and Leslie Universities, and at least three restaurants with rooftop or container gardens. Local organizations include Pick a Pocket Garden (http://pickapocketgarden.org/) which is planting and maintaining public plantings of ornamentals, a yogurt-making coop, and the League of Urban Canners who will harvest and process fruit from neighborhood trees and bushes into preserves, with the owners getting 10% of the product.
The Cambridge Todmorden group may have access to three different sites for public gardens but we haven't turned any soil over yet, although we certainly plan to in the near future.
A few schools, community plots, and restaurants will not grow any appreciable percentage of the food in Cambridge, MA but it is a start. There is a local food system. We are learning how to grow it.
I sent the following message to Berkshire Greens on the occasion of today's (Sep 6, 2012) state primary election. The write-in votes that I cast were consistent with my June 25 endorsement of Patsy Harris and Bill Shein.
Today the Commonwealth runs primary elections for all parties in Massachusetts for a number of offices. Polls opened at 7am and stay open until 8pm.
If you are given the Green-Rainbow Party primary ballot today you will see that only write-in votes are possible with the exception of State Representative in the 4th Berkshire District, where I am a ballot-qualified candidate.
If you reside in the 4th Berkshire District please consider voting for me. The winner will appear on the general election ballot on the Green-Rainbow Party line. In other districts and for other offices please use the write-in spaces available on the ballot to send a message.
After that I learned to appreciate Obama in a different way. I appreciated that he inhabited a world in which idealism-and ideology-could never by sheer force of will overcome objective reality, and the hard compromises, uneasy truces, and constant errors that must be made to live in that world. I especially felt better about this position when I learned that John McCain carried an indian feather around FOR LUCK. This was not how I wanted my country run. By myth and superstition and magic tokens.
And, in that real world, I began to appreciate, winning matters. And not just that election. Those who hate how far the legislative Frankenstein's monster called the Affordable Care Act lurched away from the promethean ideal of what it could have been are not wrong. Those who, for this reason, cheered for its failure were dumb. Whether the fight should have been joined just then is a discussion that countless armchair quarterbacks and alternate history novelists can debate, sterilely, forever. Once it WAS joined, that win was galvanizing...
What I'm missing, in the Stein/Honkala account, is a recognition that half the country adamantly does not share our views on most anything. Like the author of this piece suggests, that doesn't make 'em bad people; but it does mean that, willy nilly, their voices, too, count (nor are they simply dumb-asses misled by their corporate whoremasters--they have their own traditions and values, and simply identifying those with whom we disagree as simply brainwashed by FOX agitprop (which isn't suggest that it's negligible, either, is the highest form of condescension).
And they have representation, and lots of it. And a Green President, like any other, would be forced to compromise at every turn, from the moment she takes the Oath. After a year in office, a Green President will look remarkably unlike a Green candidate and probaby find herself with a back full of arrows aimed by her disgruntled supporters).
That is, if she wants to get anything whatsoever done. But of Greens really wanted to get something done, they'd actually be running for offices that they might win, thereby giving them that opportunity.
[This op-ed appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer on 8/15/12.]
by Jill Stein
When I decided to run for president of the United States, spending the night in a Philadelphia jail cell was not part of my strategy. But I and my running mate on the Green Party ticket, Cheri Honkala, found ourselves in handcuffs this month after we refused to leave the Philadelphia building housing the regional headquarters of the mortgage giant Fannie Mae.
We were there to support two women whose families faced unjust evictions by Fannie Mae, as well as the eight million other families who have faced foreclosure at the hands of Wall Street.
The SAGE Alliance is sponsoring a creative, fun action coming up on Sat. September 8th that we want you to know about. People are gathering that day in a flotilla on the Connecticut River and the shore across from the Vermont Yankee Nulcear Reactor - which continues to put overheated and radioactive water into the river.
Green Mass Group is an online forum for Green thought and collective action in Massachusetts. It is a community forum for justice, sustainability, democracy and health in the Commonwealth and beyond.
"Memorial Day should be a day for putting flowers on graves and planting trees. Also, for destroying the weapons of death that endanger us more than they protect us, that waste our resources and threaten our children and grandchildren."