Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Another victory for Environmental Justice

Or alternately titled "Two Sides of the Same Coin: Economic Justice and Opportunity and Protection from Bad and Access to Good"

The appointment of Van Jones as special adviser to the president on green jobs and the environment is yet another victory in a long list of victories for the Environmental Justice movement. Who would have thought even just a few years ago that an activist of color would have the ear of America's first black President on issues of the environment, the economy and climate chage? It's truly an exciting time.

A recent New York Times article chronicled how communities of color have come to care more and more about the environment and have been at the forefront of change in the environmental movement for quite some time.

In that same article Jones, always on his message, opened up some space to continue to expand the frame around the environment and the economy (you know, those buzzy green jobs), and ultimately our health and truly sustainable communities (you know, protection from those pesky, nasty chemicals to which we're all exposed, and participatory community planning with a racial, economic and environmental justice lens).

NY Times: Van Jones...[of] Green for All...said that while environmental justice groups were focused on “equal protection from bad stuff,” groups like his wanted “equal access to good stuff” and to use green jobs to lift urban youths and others out of poverty.

“The more the green movement transforms into a movement for economic opportunity,” Mr. Jones said, “the more it will look like America.
Yet, ultimately, "equal protection from bad stuff" and "equal access to good stuff" are but two sides of the same coin - as many in the EJ movement who define the environment as where we live, WORK, and play have known for quite some time.

The same goes for economic opportunity and economic justice – in fact, the more this 'green' stimulus is focused on communities hit hardest in the current economic climate (and those industrial toxins), the more it will look like the America that elected Obama last November.

Stimulating equality, justice and transparency will stimulate this economy.

These expanded frames can only help to build the audience for our collective vision for a transformational green movement. And we need to flip the coin and keep the pressure on Jones (and Obama) to represent not only economic opportunity, but economic and environmental justice. Our lives depend on it.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Defintion of the week: Brand

Note to self: you don't brand... get branded. tssssst.

From Webster

Etymology: Middle English, torch, sword, from Old English; akin to Old English bærnan to burn
Date: before 12th century

brand. noun. a mark made by burning with a hot iron to attest manufacture or quality or to designate ownership (2): a printed mark made for similar purposes : trademark b (1): a mark put on criminals with a hot iron (2): a mark of disgrace : stigma <the brand of poverty>
also Webster:
to brand. transitive verb. to mark with a brand.
From AnotherPundit
branding. active verb. the 21st century process through which corporations designate ownership over human beings and their labor, public space, art, culture and the production of knowledge.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Another Pundit is Necessary.2


Click the link above for a high quality version for your desktop...

Monday, December 8, 2008

A brief wondrous blurb review of Oscar Wao

Wao. Each word in the first 40 pages of "the brief wondrous life of oscar wao" is a subversive improvised explosive device (IED) in the culture wars. Each sentence strikes back at the empire. Each paragraph changes our social schema and forever alters the narrative of the Americas. And each footnote exposes more lies and omissions from history books. Required Reading.

Prepared remarks for SWU's 20th...and the Jeanne Gauna Liberation Award

The Jeanne Gauna Liberation Award: for those who hear the sounds of liberation and feel the heartbeat of change.


SouthWest Organizing Project
Southern Echo
Project South
Esperanza Peace and Justice Center
Community Voices Heard
Fuerza Unida
Southwest Network for Environmental and Economic Justice
Grassroots Global Justice
Prepared remarks (sorry, no teleprompter at the event so I had to wing it :)
...It’s an honor to be here this evening to celebrate 20 years of grassroots victory. Congratulations Southwest Workers Union leadership, members and family.

What can I say about SWU? I’m always inspired by SWU’s dedication and commitment. And I’m always inspired by their unabashed, unashamed politics. Yes they wear their politics, sometimes literally, on their sleeves. It’s a politics of strategy and vision. It’s a working class intellectual politics. It’s a politics grounded in the community. But that’s not all, SWU doesn’t just wear their politics on their sleeves, they also wear their heart on their sleeves.

And one thing’s for sure, they’re always timely and relevant. They pushed us to join them at the Border Social Forum. They challenged us to step up and go down on the Gulf Coast Solidarity and Justice Tour. They put their blood, sweat, tears and brains into the US Social Forum and the Peoples Freedom Caravan, and they represent our movement all around the world.

And now they bring us all here tonight.

We live in an unprecedented defining moment in history. We are experiencing a generational and demographic change/transition at a scale here to before unseen in the United States. We are becoming a younger, darker country…and world.

A man named Barack Obama is President of the United States.

Yet we’ve been left with climate, moral and economic crises of epic proportions.

Our challenge at this particular time is not only to hold those in power accountable to the people. But rather, it’s to set the agenda, take power and govern for ourselves.

I have no doubt in our potential.

We’ve had enough.

We CAN do it.

Another Americas, another world, is possible.

Thank you.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Guest Blogger: Ruben Solis on Elections, USSF and Community Governance

The following pieces are from Ruben Solis, a founder of Southwest Workers Union and long time community organizer, political strategist and a true working class intellectual and historian. Southwest Workers Union is celebrating it's 20th Anniversary this coming weekend.

Presidential elections
Ruben Solis

It was a people’s victory in the November 4, 2008 presidential elections. The huge record voter turn out reflected a growing ‘revolt’ by the grassroots movements. The new grassroots power base and movement force is Youth, African Americans, Women, Indigenous and Latinos as counterweight to the usual conservative (WASP) right wing national agenda under the neo-liberal Reagan-Bush dynasty.

The immediate impact of the outcome of the Presidential elections was change in the political power base that has dominated the White House for nearly three decades. The outgoing DC powers moved the government and state to be a sort of ‘military governance’. The whole of the national agenda, budget and policies became dominated by the strategic-political game plan of war.

The new administration headed by President Obama, the first African American President in the entire history of the United States, has begun by organizing the transition teams developing plans for a multitude of areas of governance, administration and policy directions for the new administration. Some of the work is to map out how to implement campaign promises; the other work is to establish the infrastructure to push through the whole of the four year Obama plan, Party plan and vision.

The ideological-political framework set out by President Obama seems to reflect an approach that is ‘center governance’ or attempts to govern from a centrist position to unite the country under his new plan and platform. His plan to end the war on Iraq is a campaign promise and is planned to happen in the first two years of his administration.

However, his plans to expand the war on Afghanistan and surrounding countries in the Middle East seems to point to his supporting the ‘age-old’ U.S. foreign policy of ‘peace through war’ and not ‘peace through diplomacy’. President Obama’s role as President as the first African American to hold the office can also be the first President and Commander in Chief to establish a new U.S. policy of diplomacy, negotiations, and peace. President Obama can be reduced to a ‘neo-colonial’ President, meaning one that serves the interests of the ruling group that cannot be in power for the interim while the economy and country is in shambles after the Republican Party, W’s string of failures and the failures of the capitalist system.

The two headed party system that has ruled the United States politic and government forever has been by-passed by the grassroots social movement as was seen in this last election. More people voted outside the political party box and more from the demand for a new national agenda politic and national direction. Communities across the country organized voter education and mobilizing projects and campaigns impacting millions of youth and new voters. In most of the states that went from red to blue the determining factor in the turn around in political party was the Black, Women, Latino and youth vote. New Jersey, Florida, New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon, California, to name a few were overturned because of the new grassroots voter power base.

The new power base has been developing for some time now in movements like ‘Push Back’ and the ‘South X Southwest’ as two examples. It is an example of the newest political devilment in the US and it is called ‘community governance’. The new voter base is not running over to the Republican or Democratic Party or third party movements to give away their new found power. Community governance is keeping the power at the community level organized independently of political parties and working for ‘accountability’ at all levels. The grassroots movement is expanding and deepening their efforts to organize and educate the ‘community governance’ movement to be a part of developing the new national agenda in a change we can believe in. This work starts by taking over politically community institutions like the school board of education, the city council and the state legislature. It also involves developing a ‘blueprint’ for change in each state and local community.


United States Social Forum reloaded
Jan. 20, 2008
Ruben solis

The first ever United States Social Forum took place in June-July 2007 in Atlanta, Georgia. It brought together 20,000 organizers and activists of the US Social movement. 12,000 delegates registered and participated in the march, proceedings, sessions, assemblies, etc, in the USSF.

The USSF looked at six intersecting thematic axes in hundreds of self organized workshops and plenary sessions and deliberated in the Peoples Movement Assembly and came out agreeing ‘Another United States is Necessary for another world to be possible’. People at the USSF, nor the organizing committee, made it a central point to discuss the upcoming presidential elections. Yet, the historical juncture and the coming change were in the air of the USSF. The very essence of the USSF was about the self-realization of ‘change we can believe in’.

The USSF was filled with the sense and power, meaning and spirit of ‘community governance’ it was thick in the air at the USSF. The sense of ‘yes we can’ and the power to believe another United States is possible was a powerful wave brought on by the grassroots social movement at this stage of development. This wave of ‘change we can believe in’ preceded the Obama campaign and his campaign slogan. It reflects how real the USSF was and Obama’s recognizing the ‘political and historical’ importance of the moment.

With the Obama victory in the Presidential elections, the first African American President in the history of the US, the slogan of the USSF comes more to life. The Obama victory affirmed the vision, thinking and actions of the delegates at the USSF that saw “another US is possible”. With the Obama victory as a people’s victory we can say “what we said was not possible yesterday, today we say yes we can! “.

To make another US possible it was necessary to remove the entrenched neo-con administration of W. It was not easy to get rid of the W. Bush administration with its ‘bunker’ entrenchment mentality. People felt it was immediately necessary to change the W administration’s ‘military governance’ style that made all government policies, funding and programs predicated on accepting its military ideology. The immediate change is that the Obama administration seems to have established a policy of ‘governance from the center’ which makes his plan and administration more inclusive than the last and therefore more unifying for the country.

The most important outcome of the process starting with the organizing process of the US Social Forum starting in April 2004, and the victory of Obama in 08 was the growth and development of a mass movement both civic and social movement that believes in ‘community governance’. This means not just voting or marching but being part of the decision making processes, locally, regionally and nationally. It is a sense that you own the vote you do not give it away to the candidate therefore you retain a responsibility to get involved. It is this growing mass movement capable of moving millions of immigrants in the May 1 2006 march and general strike, moving hundred thousand in the Jena Six mass protest rally and the millions of voters who turned out and mobilized for the defeat of the military governance administration that dragged the country through at least two recent wars and debt.

Looking back at the United States Social Forum the participants were majority young, People of Color, Indigenous, women and LGBT. The diverse make up of the USSF was the best example of the new society of a world where everyone fits, where everyone is equal. The diverse thinking, organization, ideology, and life styles were an important characteristic of the US Social Forum. The Peoples Movement Assembly after the end of the USSF served as a proto type for how to come together as equals in the civic and social movements in the United States.

Hit the following link to reach Ruben.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Society's opportunity of a lifetime: People. Planet. Public.

Message to Obama, Bill Gates, his fellow "philanthropists," (yeah, I put quotes) and all sectors of society...phfff, everyone on the planet:

Double down.

Go all in.

Invest in people.

Invest in the planet.

Invest in public services, education, health care and infrastructure.

Out with the old shit and in with the new...