Clifton Ware, Editor
CFS RECENT AND UPCOMING EVENTS
CFS JULY 12th FORUM: PROMOTING HEALTHY LOCAL FOOD SOURCES. Sat., July 12, 3-5 p.m., SAV Council Chambers. Speaker—Amy Fields, Manager of Eastside Food Co-op. Learn about our local food co-op and its expansion plans, also about the local food movement in the T.C. area and nationally.
CFS—SAV VILLAGEFEST ACTIVITIES: Parade–Fri., Aug. 1, 7 p.m., SAV, coordinated by CFS Bike-Walk SAV. Exhibits—Sat., Aug. 2, 11 a.m.-4 p.m., CFS-related groups participate. More info: http://www.stanthonyvillagefest.org/
CFS AUGUST FORUM: SUSTAINABILTY BOOK CLUB–Decline and Fall: The End of Empire (John Michael Greer), and The Five Stages of Collapse: Survivor’s Toolkit (Dmitry Orlov), Sat. Aug. 23, 3-5 p.m., Place TBD.
EDITOR —From Shadows to Light
As an undergraduate philosophy major—prior to majoring in vocal music and pursuing it as a career—I was fascinated with the many ideas expressed by philosophers through the ages, beginning with Plato. I particularly recall discussions in class about his “Allegory of the Cave”, a parable format Plato used to illustrate how mental deceptions can distort interpretations of reality.
The story is about some cave dwellers who have been shackled their entire lives, with their backs turned toward the cave entrance and their faces toward an interior wall. A fire behind them casts shadows onto the wall that the prisoners interpret as reality.
Eventually, a prisoner is freed, so he turns around and discovers the fire, which he cannot accept as the source of the shadows seen on the wall. Only when dragged to the cave opening to experience the bright daylight does he begin to accept the fact that the visions on the wall were only shadows of reality (which may be interpreted as false or misrepresented belief, concepts, things).
Plato used this parable to emphasize his belief that the freed individual (who has seen the light) has a moral obligation to return to his fellow prisoners in the cave, with the intent of helping them change their minds about what constitutes reality. Presumably, all they need to do is to turn around, see the source of the shadows, and move into the light (of truth or reality).
And here I direct you to the first article below—“The Rich and the Gilded Cage” by Roger Boyd (BSc, MBA, MA), a member of the B.C. Alberta Social Economy Research Alliance (BALTA), which studies the linkages between issues of sustainability and models of ownership and finance. His most recent book—Energy and the Financial System—is soon to be released by Springer.
In brief, Boyd sees parallels between the prisoners in Plato’s cave and the ultra wealthy of this world, those who are largely isolated from the unpleasant realities most people experience. [Note: The cage metaphor may also apply to anyone whose worldview is narrowly focused, as found with fundamentalists of all types, including conservatives and liberals.] Cocooned in their figurative gilded cages, where they move about in the safety and security of their pampered lives, the ultra wealthy are simply incapable of empathizing with the problems experienced by a majority of world citizens, especially the poor. Consequently, because their self worth is associated primarily with their material wealth, which includes great economic and political power, they have little understanding about the undergirding principles and values that provide meaning and purpose in living a good life. Thus, their ability to change is constrained by a superficial ideology that supports their elitism. Boyd quotes Charles Redman: “Humans react not to the real world in real time, but to a cognized environment filtered through traditional expectations and a worldview which may or may not value close tracking of local environmental indicators. Humans are also not always willing or able to forego short-term personal advantage for long-term common benefit.”
I am compelled to insert here that those of us who enjoy middleclass lifestyles may also be leading sheltered lives, illustrated in part by the steps some of us take in avoiding contact with poorer citizens and their neighborhoods. Can we empathize with the poor, the disenfranchised, the persecuted, and the incapacitated—if we ourselves have not experienced poverty, persecution, or mind-body incapacity? For certain, empathy isn’t an easy skill to acquire, as it requires making extra efforts to gain insight and understanding, possibly by walking in another’s shoes for a while.
Please continue this line of thought by reading the following article by Roger Boyd.
Humanity’s Test: The Rich And The Gilded Cage (Roger Boyd) The majority of First World citizens are able to separate themselves, both spatially and temporally, from the consequences of their way of life. The gilded cages they live in, both shield them from consequences and imprison their minds.
Peak Prosperity: Reality-Optional Economics—Cockamamie Stories Infecting the Body Politic (James H. Kunstler). The total tonnage of economic malarkey being shoveled over the American public these days would make the late Dr. Joseph Goebbels (Nazi Minister of “Public Enlightenment and Propaganda”) turn green in his grave with envy.
USA TODAY: What It Costs To Live the American Dream. Would you believe it takes $130K? http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/2014/07/04/american-dream/11122015/
Weathering The Storm: The Perfect Storm Countdown: 1st Half 2014. The biggest game-changers have occurred on the economic and geopolitical fronts, and they’ve exploded in rapid-fire order – almost too fast to digest. Interconnected, these events have accelerated the timeframes and escalated the potential fury of the storm. The spillover has also sharpened the energy and climate change trajectories.
Peak Prosperity: Exponential Growth: Crash Course Chapter 3. This video lesson explains the exponential function, which most people don’t understand. In sum, amounts of anything (population for example) speed up over time when increasing at a steady percentage annually. We see this in the history of population growth, where, at 1% annual growth, each million of additional people occur in increasingly shorter time spans, and the same goes for debt, resource extractions, etc.
Peak Prosperity: The Approaching Inevitable Market Reversal. Though financial pundits and the Federal Reserve constantly reassure us that the stock market is not a bubble, and that valuations are fair, there is substantial evidence that suggests the contrary. The market is dangerously stretched in terms of valuation and sentiment, and it does not accurately reflect fundamentals such as earnings and sales growth.
Our Finite World: Debt: Eight Reasons This Time is Different. We live in a much more tightly networked economy now, so the situation is very far worse than what happened in the past. This time, our problems are tied to the need for cheap, high quality energy products. We experience as sense of false comfort from the economy having worked out problems in the past.
Yes! Gar Alperovitz on Why the New Economy Movement Needs to Think Big. His new book, “What Then Must We Do?” imagines how a new economic system might actually emerge, from the bottom up, in the next few decades. READ MORE ».
CLIMATE, ENERGY, AND ENVIRONMENTAL NEWS-VIEWS
The Guardian: What Really Annoys Scientists About The State Of The Climate Change Debate? From misinformed politicians who should ‘shut up’, to a failure of large parts of society to grasp reality, climate scientists reveal their bugbears.
Twin Cities Daily Planet: Community Voices: Polymet Supporters Spread Misinformation Concerning Efficacy Of Iron Amendment For Minnesota Waters. If the grossly underestimated calculations for water flowage, water seepage, and mercury levels discovered in PolyMet’s SDEIS are any indication; the sulfide mining industry is planning to do the same. While PolyMet supporters are busy spreading misinformation.
Environmental Leader: Water Industry Outlook Reveals Major Challenges. Infrastructure and capital needs are the most significant challenges facing the water industry, according to WeiserMazars’ 2014 US Water Industry Outlook.
ENSIA: Endangered Elements. It’s time we conserve the building blocks of life. Achieving sustainable use of elements will require re-visioning our interaction with rural and urban environments, our concept of mining, and our attitudes toward waste. Consumption will need to be seen as a continuous cycle: a cycle with no off ramps for trash, junk or waste.
Star Tribune: Nature’s Dying Migrant Workers. Bees at the Brink is a Star Tribune occasional series examining the mysterious decline of the honeybee and its consequences for the American consumer. Explore the online report at: http://www.startribune.com/local/264929101.html
Environmental Leader: Plastic Holds Recognizable Value. We need to use plastic in an environmentally sustainable way, rather than as a disposable material. We need to treat plastic as a valuable resource, which is kept in use, benefiting us all, rather than being wasted and letting nature pick up the bill.
LOCAL, STATE, AND REGIONAL NEWS-VIEWS
Star Tribune: Waterlogged Fields Wash Out Minnesota Corn, Soybean Crops. Minnesota farm fields have a serious water problem, and it’s not drought. More than half of the state’s farm fields — 53 percent — have surplus topsoil moisture, and 49 percent have surplus subsoil moisture, according to a weekly U.S. Department of Agriculture report on Minnesota crop conditions released Monday.
MPR: Flood Damage Tally For Minnesota So Far: $32 Million And Rising. Flood damage from last month’s storms affected nearly half of Minnesota’s 87 counties and initial estimates indicate $32 million in damages to public roads, bridges and other structures, state emergency managers report.
Pioneer Press: As Oil Shipments Soar On Rails, New Minnesota Regulations Take Effect. On average, nine trains pulling crude oil pass through Minnesota cities every day. The number of trains is estimated to double within the next year.
Minn Post: Minnesota’s New Recycling Law Means Business. In May, Gov. Mark Dayton signed the first major overhaul of the state’s recycling rules in 25 years: a law that will raise goals, expand funding, and — most significantly — require businesses to follow similar recycling rules as homeowners.
Star Tribune: Editorial: A New Threat To Twin Cities Water Quality. Add all of that together, and you get sewage overflows, filthy lakes and unsafe beaches. If, as climate experts predict, extreme rainstorms are to become a more normal occurrence, then it’s time to fix the storm water intrusion problem.
SUSTAINABLE IDEAS AND PRACTICES
Carbon Nation: Soil-Carbon Cowboys. North Dakota, Mississippi, and Saskatchewan, home to hundreds of thousands of cows. A few bold ranchers are using rotational grazing to raise hormone- and antibiotic-free cattle, to protect pollinators, to reduce pollution from herbicides and to combat global warming. Watch the official trailer>
Duluth News Tribune: Saginaw Organic Farm Sows Seeds On Other People’s Property. Most people would assume the first thing a farmer needs is land. But a visit to Rising Phoenix Community Farm near Saginaw and a conversation with its founder, Heather-Marie Bloom, a “gypsy farmer”, quickly turns that notion on its head.
Duluth News Tribune: Ideas For Getting Kids Outside To Explore The Outdoors. Sometimes, the simplest interaction with the natural world can unlock a child’s curiosity and unleash a lifetime of outside exploration.
On The Commons: How to Inspire Millions More People to Bike. Bike lanes of the future can be seen on the streets right now across North America, as communities from Fairbanks to St. Petersburg transform their streets into appealing places for people, not just cars and trucks.
Shareable: 11 Affordable Housing Alternatives For City Dwellers. After World War II, white, middle-class Americans flocked to the suburbs from the city. Today, that trend is reversing. As post-suburbanites move back into cities, escalating housing costs are forcing low and middle income folks and people of color out to the suburbs.
CERT-MN Dept. of Commerce: Five Tips For Saving Energy At Home When On Summer Vacation. Before leaving town, there are several simple steps you can take to save energy in your home—and save money.
NOTABLE UPCOMING LOCAL EVENTS
MN350: Fossil Fuel Divestment Movement. Wed., July 16, 6:30-8:30 p.m., Bryant Square Park, 3101 Bryant Ave. S., Mpls. Information: Patty@MN350.org.
Citizens for a Safe Railroad and Climate. Wed.,July 30, 2014, 12:00 p.m., St. Anthony Bridge, 201 St. Anthony Pkwy, Mpls. Info (Matthew0tt@yahoo.com/)
> REDUCE > REUSE > RECYCLE!
To unsubscribe, reply with UNSUBSCRIBE in the subject title.
Thanks! Clif Ware http://www.clifware.com/
CFS News-Views Digest is published weekly (with some exceptions)