Progressive Action for the Common Good
2012 Earth Charter Summit on Economic Justice
Quad Cities 5th Annual 2012 Earth Charter Summit:
Saturday, September 15, 2012
9:00am – 3:00pm
Western Illinois University
3300 River Drive, Moline, IL
Ellen Augustine, M.A., notmypriorities.org
Ellen is a speaker and author on creating a just, peaceful, and sustainable world. She founded/co-founded four nonprofits on environmental regeneration, media violence, international citizen diplomacy, and mentoring at-risk youth. She is a contributing author to A Game As Old As Empire: The Secret World of Economic Hit Men and the Web of Global Corruption. She is co-author of Taking Back Our Lives in the Age of Corporate Dominance (as Ellen Schwartz). She has presented “Stories of Hope” at universities and associations-profiles of people who are creating businesses which increase profits by incorporating eco-initiatives, and communities and schools which truly nurture and renew us. Ellen has been featured in Utne Reader and Hope Magazine, received the Women of Achievement and Thread of Hope Awards, and was named one of 21 Visionaries for the 21st Century. She serves on the board of the National Women’s Political Caucus of Northern Alameda County. She holds a Masters Degree in Speech Communication.
The Pentagon, the Economy, and the 99%
Most Americans do not know that the Pentagon consumes more than 60% of our discretionary budget, which equals the military spending of all the other countries of the world combined! This takes an enormous toll on quality of life for the 99%: there is insufficient money for health care, education, affordable housing, environmental restoration, and green job creation, to name but few. Ellen will reveal why the military is a poor jobs program, where cuts can be made, what true security looks like, and why science is on our side for the triumph of the Common Good! You will leave with a plethora of ideas for actions.
Passion in Action: Enhancing YOUR Idea for a World That Works for All
In Eastern philosophy, each person is here for a unique purpose, and if you do not do what is yours to do, there is a hole in the universe. Do you have a vision for the common good that just won’t let go of you? Ellen will support participants in coalescing ideas for a more vibrant, joyful, and sustainable world. This workshop is both for people who already have a project in motion as well as for those with a new idea. In this workshop participants will learn to:
- Brainstorm initial steps and prioritize actions
- Write clear and compelling copy for promotional flyers
- Stimulate thinking on generating revenues from fundraising
- Organize a public outreach campaign
- Craft timely and engaging press releases
- Liaison with other stakeholders
- Overcome potential objections
- Develop one-page fact & action sheets
- Lunch provided at 12 noon -
Cost is only $10, $5 for students
(Goodwill donations will be accepted based on ability to pay; full stipends are also available)
Tabling is available to organizations interested in participating at this event
Please share this with your friends, family members, coworkers, civic groups, rotary clubs, etc, to help us reach as many citizens as possible in our effort to promote this event!
To Register, Print/Complete the – REGISTRATION FORM HERE. Space is limited and we expect to fill every seat so register today! Make checks payable to PACG and mail to:
c/o Earth Charter Summit
1212 W. 3rd St, Suite 3D
Davenport, IA 52804
If you would like to volunteer to help with this event or to reserve a table for your organization, please contact Caroline at Progressive Action for the Common Good:
Glenn Beck's Attacks On Progressives Don't Belong On Iowa Public Airwaves
By Alta Price, M.D.
Glenn Beck attacks “progressives” by lying about us and our vision for the country. And he does it by emotionally spouting paranoid conspiracy theories that incite those so consumed by anger and fear, or so out of touch with reality they believe his calumny, to commit acts of domestic terrorism against progressive individuals or groups.
These are not theoretical concerns. There have been specific acts of domestic terrorism directly linked to Glenn Beck. One example is the attempted murder of staff at the ACLU and Tides Foundation, foiled when the gunman was stopped for a traffic violation. A volunteer Illinois League of Women Voters moderator received death threats after Beck claimed she would not allow recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance at a legislative forum.
Other specific progressive individuals or groups Beck is endangering include George Soros, Credo Mobile, Richard Trumka, Frances Fox Piven (a woman in her late 70’s), and Van Jones.
Does YOUR organization have the word “progressive” in its title or mission statement?
I believe those of us who proudly claim the progressive label should stand up and defend ourselves against the likes of Glenn Beck. Anyone who uses violent eliminationist rhetoric does not deserve access to the public airwaves in Iowa, no matter who they are attacking.
This is the letter I sent to our local right-wing talk radio station in reaction to the shootings in Tucson, Arizona:
3535 E. Kimberly Road
Davenport, IA 52807
Dear Mr. Kennedy,
I called you last week to discuss your decision to air Glenn Beck rather than Stephanie Miller. I heard that Stephanie Miller received more votes to replace Dr. Laura than any other host.
Last week I wanted to make the point that half of the people in your listening area come from the other side of the political spectrum. Stephanie Miller has a great show, and one that does very well in many media markets. I discovered her show during the brief period we had progressive radio in the Quad Cities. But then Clear Channel decided what we really needed was another Christian station, and we lost Stephanie and other talk show hosts that I enjoyed. I bought an iPod specifically to get the Stephanie Miller show. I love talk radio, but I don’t listen to any local stations anymore, because they don’t have any shows that interest me. I listen to the Stephanie Miller podcast every time I’m in my car (unless my 20 year old daughter makes me listen to her music).
But in light of what happened in Tucson on Saturday, I am more concerned about the unintended consequences that could happen even here if the airwaves are filled with the hateful, violence-inciting rhetoric of someone like Glenn Beck.
Since I don’t watch Fox News, normally I would not be that familiar with Beck. But my book club (mostly Republican women … and me) read his book Common Sense last year. (I must admit, I read the whole thing at Borders so I wouldn’t contribute to his cause.) That was where I discovered his disturbing anti-Progressive views.
Since I was instrumental in founding Progressive Action for the Common Good in 2005, I know something about progressives. Believe me, we are nothing like what Glenn Beck rails against. But it disturbed me that he would lie about progressives to his readers, many of whom no doubt believe everything he says.
The enclosed article gives you some idea about the kinds of things he tells his viewers and listeners about progressives like me:
He says progressives are
“slowly but surely robbing Americans of individual choices and liberties and quite honestly, robbing the bank as well.”
“The enemy to our Constitution is the progressive movement.”
“Progressives have been patient for decades, creeping their way into the system in the cover of darkness. And this is their opportunity. They’re going to deal a final death blow to the Constitution if they can.”
Beck claims progressives are responsible for the income tax, Federal Reserve, Prohibition, the League of Nations, and eugenics (leading to the Holocaust).
“Progressives realized victory required changing history. To defeat them, we have to correct that. Progressives know how powerful history is. When these truths get told and the lies get corrected, the game is going to be on. It’s pulling the mask off the monster.”
“…what does a fight mean to the uber left progressive? All bets are off. They will cheat. They will lie. They will steal. And they have, in the past, blown things up if it helps them win.”
As I am sure you are aware, we have unstable people in the Quad Cities. I read some of what the Tucson shooter wrote on YouTube. Parts of it sounded like things Glenn Beck would say (Beck sometimes sounds semi-deranged himself).
Some paranoid, anti-government person in the Quad Cities listening to Glenn Beck might just decide to do something about the evil Progressives destroying our country. Ironically, it has just become a whole lot easier for such a person living in Iowa to get and carry a gun.
As it happens, right now I am President of the Board of Progressive Action for the Common Good. We have public events all the time, sometimes about controversial issues like health care reform. I could be readily identified as a Progressive leader at such an event.
Will the next bullet go through my head?
Please do not put this man on the radio.
Alta L Price, MD
Price is a physician practicing Pathology in Davenport, Iowa. One of
the original Deaniacs, she stays involved with Democracy for America,
Iowa, and the Quad Cities. She advocates for quality, affordable health
care for all, primarily as a volunteer with Progressive Action for the
Common Good (Health Care Reform Issue Forum). E-Mail Alta Price
These are the six Glenn Beck carrying stations in Iowa. Call the one in your town and ask them to explain themselves.
Reflections On A Community Garden
by Jade Kai
My next trip to the PACG Progressive Action for the Common Good Community Garden at 13th and Grand will be bittersweet. I won’t be going home with bowls of tomatoes, green beans, or zucchini. I will be pulling up my tomato cages and plant stakes. I’ll be chopping up my dead plants for compost. And I’ll be picking up the little pieces of glass and plastic that I found during my time digging around in my 10×10 plot.
These little fragments were a nuisance, but also a reminder of the formerly vacant lot’s past. Whenever I would uncover some new treasure in the dirt, I would think about how a grocery store once stood here. I would think about the lives circulating and interacting in the store, perhaps in the very spot where my squash was now growing. I was thankful that a new and different life was continuing to sprout in the same spot now. And I am hopeful for the life that will circulate there in the future. During the course of the growing season, I met many people – neighbors, fellow gardeners, and a cat. I shared the fruits of my plot with friends, my family, complete strangers, and an animal that always got to the kale before I could.
I have been a gardening girl ever since my mom helped me plant my own little 3×4 section of earth when I was too young to understand that I would not get an ear of corn in a week even if I watered the not-yet-sprouted seeds every day. But gardening in a public space was coming out of my comfort zone. Strangers would be able to see all the things I was doing wrong. They would see if I neglected to weed or if I failed to pick the beans before they were overripe. People driving by would see me in my sweaty, dirty glory while I posed in unflattering, and unladylike body contortions so I could reach the ripe tomatoes while not crushing the cucumber vines. But my desire to facilitate positive change is more important than my desire to be comfortable.
The garden’s purpose is to promote more than just gardening. Imagine my horror when I read Barbara Kingsolver’s anecdote about a friend who never realized that potatoes were the roots of the potato plant in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. The garden is here so that kids can walk by see a tomato ripening in the sun and make a connection to the shrink wrapped tomatoes that they see in the grocery store. It’s here to serve as a place for community members to gather. It’s here to promote local, healthy food-growing practices. It’s here to make a vacant lot more beautiful, and provide a space for good, clean, outdoor fun and exercise. It’s here to feed ourselves, our friends, a few strangers, and, to a lesser degree, the rabbits and the groundhogs. With time and care, this community garden will be around for years to inspire people to learn how to garden, try a new vegetable, or even just wave to the neighbors as they drive by.
The garden is also here for some reasons that are harder to articulate, but maybe the most important reason for the garden’s existence is because a small group of optimistic people are committed to positive change. Like society, our garden isn’t perfect. We need more gardeners and less weeds. But what is a gardener if not an optimist who believes in the spirit of new life and positive change and creation?
Next year I believe the garden will be even more successful, thanks to gardener spirit. Maybe our legislative leaders at all levels could take a little inspiration from gardeners the next time they want to slander an opponent. After all, gardeners know mud isn’t for slinging – it’s for growing things. And change isn’t something to be scared of – with a little care and good weather something delicious is bound to sprout up.
If you live in Davenport and would like to become part of our gardening community by reserving a plot for next spring, call Caroline on the PACG cell at: 563-676-7580 or email email@example.com.
4th Annual Earth Charter Summit Will Take Place In Davenport, Iowa
4th Annual Earth Charter Summit
Saturday, October 16, 2010
Twelve days from now the 4th Annual Earth Charter Summit will take place in the Quad Cities. The mission of the Earth Charter is to promote the transition to sustainable ways of living, a global society founded on a shared ethical framework that includes respect and care for the community of life, ecological integrity, universal human rights, respect for diversity, economic justice, democracy, and a culture of peace.
This year’s theme of Economic Justice will explore these questions:
- How does the quest for ever-increasing profits lead to ecological disasters like the BP oil spill?
- How does our economic system reward unsustainable farming practices and create impossible bureaucracies for sustainable agricultural practices?
- What are the monetary incentives for companies to reduce wages and benefits for workers?
- How corporate greed is trying to steal your retirement and force you to work until your 72+ years old?
- Presented by QC Progressive Action for the Common Good, Congregation of the Humility of Mary and the Quad City Federation of Labor,
The 4th annual QC Earth Charter Summit on Economic Justice will be held in the Rogalski Center at St. Ambrose University, Davenport, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, October 16th.
Registration form is available here
Midge Slater of the Iowa Alliance for Retired Americans
Slater will speak about Economic Justice for seniors, including the future of Social Security and proposals to raise the Social Security retirement age. Despite the fact that this program reduces elderly poverty rate from 50% to a little over 13%, Obama’s Debt Commission will release a report in December, and many are worried about a proposal to raise the full retirement age from 67 to 72. ARA will provide vital information on these issues and instruct on how to get involved in state and national initiatives. Social Security celebrates its 75th Anniversary and we need to ensure that it will be around and viable 75 years from now!
David Osterberg of the Iowa Policy Project
Osterberg will discuss the size of state government, regulation and direction of the economy to ensure economic justice for all. Read his recent column Either we help most Americans or make grants to the rich
Francis Thicke, an agronomist/organic farmer currently running for Iowa Secretary of Agriculture.
Thicke will address current agricultural policies that favor multinational agri-business corporations and how we can and must move towards a local, sustainable agricultural system. Thicke is a scientist and successful farmer and businessman. He is a nationally recognized expert on sustainable agriculture who is widely consulted for his clear explanations of the economic and ecological forces that are changing the way produce food. Every day, he proves that sustainable agriculture can be both profitable and good for the environment on his own farm, a 450-acre, 80-head organic dairy milking and processing operation that he and his wife, Susan, operate near Fairfield.
A special lunch session will explore ways for workers, seniors, environmentalists, farmers and all citizens to form regional coalitions that work together.
Registration for the event includes a delicious local lunch and costs $10, with a $5 discount for students.
Scholarships available for the unemployed and underemdployed. No one will be turned away for inability to pay.
Date: Saturday, October 16, 2010
Location: St. Ambrose University, Rogalski Center, 518 W. Locust St., Davenport
Time: Registration 8-9am Summit 9am-2pm
For more information, contact Caroline Vernon of QC Progressive Action for the Common Good
Consult your county auditor for details or
Go to IowaDemocrats.org to find out where and how to vote early in your county.
Then head down to your county Dem HQ and volunteer some time to help elect Democrats. You can find contact information for your Democratic county chair here.
Care Reform Update: Covering the Uninsured in Iowa (and Illinois) is a Moral Issue
by Alta Price, M.D.
Spring brings Cover the Uninsured Week, March 14 – 20, sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. I wrote about it last year, and you can read my post with more details here.
Check out the state-specific information for Iowa here. About 92 percent of Iowans can get health care when they need it, although if you scroll down the page for details you’ll see this is based on data collected in 2005-2006. With the poor economy, I assume more than 8 percent of Iowans today can not get health care when they need it. (The number of Illinois residents that can get health care when they need it is about 88 percent.)
For those of us on the left, health care is a right, and making sure everyone in the richest country in the world has access to health care is a moral issue. Since Americans share values of fairness, equity, and compassion for the less fortunate, our leaders should be making a stronger argument from a moral framework. I’ll quote this David Ignatius column from the Washington Post How Obama can shift the health-care debate:
Both the Senate and House health care reform bills that have passed Congress extend coverage to millions who are currently uninsured – a major step towards a more just society.
If you look at polls, like this Pew Research Center poll from January, you will see that only 26% of self-identified Republicans, versus 75% of Democrats and 41% of Independents, think providing health insurance to the uninsured is a “top priority.” Of course there is much more to the bill that Republicans and Independents will like, but they really don’t care about the 30 million people who will finally get health insurance if this bill passes.
Tell your Republican friends that health care security is a major benefit of the health care reform bills for those currently insured. Just because you have insurance today does not mean you will have it tomorrow.
Without reform more employers will drop coverage.
Without reform if you lose your job because of a serious illness, you may not be able to afford to keep your insurance even for the limited period of time you are entitled to continue participating in your employer’s plan under COBRA.
Without reform people who get sick, or have a seriously ill family member, will continue to be dropped by their insurer.
Without reform people with pre-existing conditions will not be able to get health insurance if they want to start a small business or work for an employer who doesn’t provide insurance. Most of the people who go bankrupt because of health care expenses actually have health insurance.
Without reform, people with health insurance will continue to face financial ruin when they use up the annual or lifetime limits of their policy, or discover their insurance is junk insurance when they try to get the care they need. (See also this excellent editorial from the New York Times – If Reform Fails).
So even if your Republican friends don’t care about the 22,000 – 45,000 Americans who die every year due to lack of insurance, this bill may save their life some day should they have the misfortune of becoming ill or losing their job when they already have a pre-existing condition. (Note: The number of deaths varies depending upon the study/methodology.)
For those who do care, the Health Care Reform Issue Forum of Progressive Action for the Common Good, together with the Illinois Campaign for Better Health Care, will be having a “die-in” on Thursday, March 11, 2010, at noon. We are having the event in Rock Island, Illinois (we are a bi-state progressive community) at St. John’s Lutheran Church, 4501 7th Ave.
We will be using some of our Handprints for Health Care panels to depict the number of people who die every day from lack of insurance. Some participants will further dramatize the plight of the uninsured by “dying” – crumpling to the ground. The “die-in” will be videotaped and put up at YouTube. (If you want to come and be in the video, arrive at 11:30 am, dressed in black, for the rehearsal!)
Next week I’ll bring the link to the YouTube video along!
Price is a physician practicing Pathology in Davenport, Iowa. One of
the original Deaniacs, she stays involved with Democracy for America,
Iowa, and the Quad Cities. She advocates for quality, affordable health
care for all, primarily as a volunteer with Progressive Action for the
Common Good (Health Care Reform Issue Forum). Watch for Dr. Price's Health Care Reform Update every Tuesday here on Blog for Iowa. E-Mail Alta Price
Calling All Iowans! Corporations are Not People! – PUBLIC PROTEST
By Caroline Vernon
The Corporate Reform forum of Progressive Action for the Common Good and other partner organizations invite you to attend a PUBLIC RALLY in PROTEST of the recent Supreme Court decision that money = free speech.
For More Information Call
Citizens will address, and demand justice, from our nine Supreme Court justices…
Abraham Lincoln will be there, reciting his prophetic quote about an impending future crisis that caused him to tremble for the safety of our country…
You will see the US Constitution, laying in rest, as a member of our faith community gives the eulogy and speaks to our inalienable rights as endowed by our Creator – if you listen carefully I believe you'll hear a trumpet in the distance, playing TAPS on the wind…
Will it mark the death of our constitution or the death of a political system mired in corruption?
Will our citizens recoil, overwhelmed by the weight of power corrupted, or will they organize, join forces, and magnify each others voices?
Does it not fall upon us to set things right? Will you join me in speaking truth to power in this fight? We're all in this together – you know that to be true… you stand with me and I'll stand with you.
So just in case you're feeling weary and tired, we really need your help to get our Supreme Court fired!
Oh wait.. that's not all… I'm not done yet… to right this wrong we must never forget… democracy requires vigilance and toil… if we don't pay attention, we'll be owned by big oil.
As if that's not already the case, we now can be certain who will win the next race… it won't be Obama or even Joe Biden, it will be Exxon, Monsanto and Pfizer, I'm certain – 'cuz some Supreme Court judges say they are a person.
Now, if you agree with that assessment, with all due respect, I cannot understand, how a corporation can be equal to man.
Does it eat? Does it breathe? Does it live? Does it love? Does it laugh? Does it Cry? Is it blessed from above? Does it recognize, or even see, the inalienable rights of humanity?
How can they say corporations are persons when in spite of their profits, our plight only worsens.
They only care about profit & loss… and giving huge bonuses to the corporate boss.
Do they have a mother who taught them to share, with the workers that they must entrust to their care?
Or does the corporate ladder only provide for those who are willing to tread upon others, instead of treating them as sisters and brothers?
Do we as a culture really want to see, the end of our democracy?
If not, I suggest we all do what we can, to reinforce the brotherhood of man. To stand with each other against corporate might, to say “hell no, you won't win this fight!”
And lo and behold, we'll begin to see, a rising consensus upon the land that a corporation does not equal a man.
So now, once again, I beseech you all, to push past the comfort zones we experience, and take to the streets because this is serious!
After all, if we don't do it, who will? I shudder to think about my children's future… and that's why I know we must do all we can to ensure democracy is safeguarded again.
“We the People” call on our elected representatives to support 6 2 3 5 4 2 8 4;
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Congresswoman Donna Edwards Constitutional Amendment to Undo SCOTUS Ruling:
Sign the petition at: www.freespeechforpeople.org
Please RSVP and share this event with everyone you know. Attached is a flyer (or click here) – please print it and post it at your neighborhood book store, coffee shop, library, YMCA, union hall, community center, university, store windows, and anywhere else you can think of that will reach as many people as possible!
We're all in this together. It's time to rock… for those about to rock, I SA-LUTE you!
When the Paycheck Stops: A Forum on the Economic Crisis to be Held in the Quad Cities
5:30-7:30pm each night
The Laborer’s Hall
2835 7th Ave, RI, IL
* A meal will be provided each night from 5:30pm-6pm
* Speakers will address the economic crisis and potential legislative and community based actions
* Health & human service agency representatives will direct people to assistance programs
* A resource packet will be available each evening
Due to the large numbers of layoffs and plant shutdowns in the Quad City Area, the Quad City Federation of Labor, Progressive Action for the Common Good, and United Way of the Quad City Area are holding a three-day forum on the economic crisis, When the Paycheck Stops.
Locally, many of the plant shutdowns have resulted in permanent losses of unionized jobs – jobs with benefits like health insurance and pensions. Also, Quad Cities largest employers like Alcoa, John Deere still have hundreds on layoff. For those who have found new jobs, the jobs tend to be part-time positions without benefits like health insurance. For many, replacement jobs are at a lower rate of pay. And yet, despite this reality on Main Street, Wall Street and the banking sector continue to operate unabated.
Legislation to reform the financial sector that caused the economic crisis has yet to be passed, and ten years after the Battle in Seattle – in which tens of thousands of union members, environmentalists and progressive activists fought against the expansion of WTO policies detrimental to labor and the environment – real wages for American workers continue to decline.
For laid-off workers without a union or seniority, the loss of health insurance is another casualty in addition to losing a paycheck. Senate Republicans and a handful of conservative Democrats are blocking passage of meaningful health care reform; meanwhile, Americans continue to suffer at the mercy of health insurance companies. Since we held our rally in support of the public option in front of Senator Grassley’s Davenport office on October 6th, another 5,000 Americans have died for lack of access to health care. This is inexcusable.
Altogether, the Quad Cities labor force shrank by 3,000 jobs since September 2008. Rock Island County ’s unemployment rate is a staggering 9.5 % (up from 5.6% this time last year); Scott County has a rate of 7.3 % (up from 4.4 % last year); and the City of Rock Island has it worst in our area with a 10.8% unemployment rate (up from 6.2% this time last year).
In recognition that for many Americans, the recession is far from over, the Quad City Federation of Labor, Progressive Action for the Common Good, and United Way of the Quad City Area are holding this three-day forum. On December 1, 2, and 3, speakers from health and human service agencies will talk about available assistance from 5:30 – 7:30 each evening. And to get the dialogue started about the larger economic issues, policy speakers will present each night on a different topic.
Tuesday, December 1st will focus on the Home Front: foreclosures, mitigation and rapid re-housing programs, landlord/tenant issues, utility and rent assistance, weatherization programs. Jen Hall DeKock from Citizen Action Illinois will talk about the Consumer Financial Protection Act and legislation curbing the excesses of pay day lenders.
On Wednesday, December 2nd, Money Matters is the topic: Job training and education opportunities, resume building classes, crisis intervention. Ralph Martire from Center for Tax and Budget Accountability will examine the Illinois budget deficit while Iowa Policy Project will have a speaker present on Iowa ’s budget cuts.
Finally, on Thursday December 3rd, Affordable Health Care Options will be discussed: Food vouchers, eating health on a budget, affordable and sliding scale health care options and dealing with unemployment stress. Dr. Alta Price and Karen Metcalf from Progressive Action for the Common Good will give a presentation on the status of the health care legislation passed in the House and pending in the Senate.
Agencies presenting include Salvation Army, Community Health Care, Edgerton Women’s Health Center , Project Now, United Neighbors, Friendly House, Neighborhood Housing, HELP Legal Assistance, Prairie State Legal Aid, Iowa @ Work, Success Network, Angel Food Network, Churches United, and United Way 211.
Dinner will be served each night and a door prize given away at the end of each night. Call Tracy Kurowski for more information 309-738-3196.
Kurowski is currently AFL-CIO Community Services Liaison at the United
Way of the Quad City Area. She has been active in the labor movement
for ten years, first as a member of AFSCME 3506, when she taught adult
education classes at the City Colleges of Chicago. She moved to the
Quad Cities in 2007 where she worked as political coordinator with the
Quad City Federation of Labor, and as a caseworker for Congressman
Bruce Braley from 2007 – 2009.
Tracy Kurowski writes a labor update every Monday on Blog for Iowa
2009 QC Earth Charter Summit
Building a Local Foods Movement
By Caroline Vernon
You’re invited to attend!
The 2009 Quad Cities Earth Charter Summit
“Building a Local Foods Movement”
Saturday, September 26, 2009, 9am-3pm
Augustana College – Wallenberg Hall
Local Food is the theme of the 2009 Earth Charter Summit, focusing on PACG’s Local Foods Initiative – Our goal is to promote and assist in the development of a healthy, sustainable, local food supply for our region, emphasizing sustainable agricultural practices.
The summit will include local and regional speakers and informative workshops focusing on our effort to develop a working partnership between individual citizens and those working within an institutional framework. There are opportunities for everyone on every level to become involved in the Healthy, Local Foods movement. People in communities all across our country, and in the world, are mobilizing around this effort.
· Community Gardens
· Local Food Coop
· Farm to Cafeteria
· The Economics of a Local Food Supply
· Information for Food Services, Municipalities, & Legislators
· Reducing the Carbon Footprint of our Diet
· The Importance of SEEDS in a local Foods movement
Director, University of Northern Iowa Center of Energy and Environmental Education
Enshayan launched Buy Fresh, Buy Local in Iowa and worked with Iowa communities to start chapters.
Recipient of the 2008 Sustainable Agriculture Achievement Award from Practical farmers of Iowa.
Augustana’s Food Service will be providing a delicious, healthy, local foods lunch!
Cost to attend the Summit is only $10 /$5 for students—scholarships are available
REGISTER TODAY!—Through our website: qcprogressiveaction.org or Call PACG at 563-676-7580, or REGISTER at the door!
Standard economic theory states that people are interested only in their own material gain. But new insights from behavioral economics show that altruism rather than avarice is our primary motivation.
Jeremy Mercer - http://www.dailygood.org/more.php?n=3716
It was evolutionary biologists, with their penchant for field observation, who started to explore the question in an empirical manner. It began with Charles Darwin, who was amazed by the cooperation among bees; moved to William Hamilton, who studied altruism among rabbits; and went on to include Robert Trivers’ work on sharing among vampire bats. Once altruism was established in the natural world, the same analytical eye inevitably turned toward the human sphere.
In 1973, a landmark experiment was conducted at blood banks in Kansas City and Denver. It was inspired by the “crowding out” theory of British social researcher Richard Titmuss, the idea that people perform certain tasks, such as donating blood, for the common good, but that their motivation would be “crowded out” if they were offered a financial reward. The two blood banks were ideal testing grounds because both had “willing” files bearing the names of previous donors. For the experiment, a control group was sent the typical letter ... Read the rest of this entry »
Happy New Year progressive family!
I wanted to share with you all the details of the upcoming Inaugural Ball here in the Quad Cities at the Davenport River Center on January 20th… but that will have to be the subject of my next post as I am deeply moved to share this excerpt with all of you from Stephanie Kaza's new book, “Mindfully Green: A Personal & Spiritual Guide to Whole Earth Thinking.” Great “food for thought” to live by in 2009 and beyond!
Peace and Love,
Mindfully Green: A Personal and Spiritual Guide to Whole Earth Thinking
by Stephanie Kaza
Posted by: DailyOM at www.dailyom.com
With all the attention on living sustainably, the one thing missing from the conversation is how to find a personal connection with green living that will sustain us on our green path. While practical approaches to an eco-responsible lifestyle offer important first steps, it is critical that we ground these actions in broader understanding so that we can effect real change in the world.
In this book, Stephanie Kaza describes what she calls the “green practice path.” She offers a simple, Buddhist-inspired philosophy for taking up environmental action in real, practical, and effective ways. Discover new ways to think more deeply about your impact on the natural world, engage in environmental change, and make green living a personal practice based in compassion and true conviction.
Chapter One: Reducing Harm
To get our bearings on the path, it is helpful to have some compass points for orientation. The first three chapters of this book consider principles that provide an ethical foundation and a pragmatic direction for the green path. Foremost of these is the commitment to reduce harm wherever possible.We begin by looking at the nature of environmental harm and exploring choices to reduce that harm. Offering kindness becomes a core practice of non-harming, a way to be with the suffering of the natural world, hard as this may seem. To gain a wisdom perspective on harm and suffering, the third chapter takes up the deep view based on interdependence. With ethical principles and systems thinking to guide us, we can have a certain measure of confidence in setting out on the path.
The Dalai Lama often opens his speeches by saying, “Everyone wants to be happy. No one wants to be unhappy.” Stemming from this statement is much of the world’s moral and religious philosophy. Another way to put this is, “Everyone wants to be unharmed. No one wants to be harmed.” All beings, from baby grasshoppers to giant redwood trees and people the world over, would prefer to be safe, to be free from harm, injury, violence, and suffering, to be allowed to live their lives in peace. Nobody really wants to be hurt, abused, or threatened in any way.
The Christian principle of reducing harm is contained in the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” In 1993 the Parliament of the World’s Religions proclaimed this moral code of reciprocity or mutual respect to be the common basis for a global human ethic. For Hindus, this is expressed as the practice of ahimsa, or non-harming—that is, taking up the path of not causing harm. In Buddhism, monks and laypeople take vows to “save all sentient beings from suffering.” Reducing harm through mutual respect is a central ethical principle in all religious and ethical traditions because it is fundamental to keeping human societies functional and not self-destructive. It is difficult for people and their support systems to thrive if everyone is hurting each other all the time.
This same logic can be extended to human relations with ecological systems. It is difficult for ecosystems to thrive and for people to thrive in them if plants and animals, groundwater, streams, mountains, oceans, and air are constantly under assault. Damaged support systems don’t work as effectively as healthy systems. They are less resilient, less capable, and less functional overall. Human beings trying to live in damaged or ailing ecosystems don’t do well either. They pick up waterborne disease from polluted streams. They struggle with asthma from poor air quality. They are vulnerable to extreme weather events from climate change.
So what does it mean to reduce harm? How can such a principle work when applied in a practical situation? How would one use such a guideline to be a good ecological citizen? As you would imagine, most environmental questions do not have simple answers. We don’t always know when harm is being done, and even when we can see there is harm, we don’t always know what the cause is. And further, there may be many reasons why it is difficult to reduce the harm that is happening. Choosing the ethical path of reducing harm turns out to be a complex and demanding practice. But that should not discourage us. Many wisdom traditions have prepared the way for this practice, and we can work with well-proven methods to help us along the path.
Degrees of Harm
In any given situation, people try to work out a way to get what they need without causing too many repercussions. We are constantly evaluating trade-offs and potential risks to minimize harm to ourselves as well as others with whom we have ongoing relations.We learn to do this in our family settings as we cope with household stress while keeping our safety intact. We maintain polite protocols to be good neighbors even if we disagree on politics. This balancing act reflects our evolutionary development as social animals; there are many good sociobiological reasons for being well-practiced at evaluating the potential for harm. Those who do this well assure both their own well-being and the well-being of their kin. Since this process of discrimination is already well developed, we can use it to help us on the green practice path. In order to reduce environmental harm, we must be able to identify it and then evaluate our own contribution to that harm.
Everyone has to eat, so this is a good place to practice looking for environmental harm and checking our participation in that harm. By “practice,” I mean engaging the questions around harming for a period of time and asking them over and over in different contexts. It is a form of discipline, remembering that this is what you are trying to do, bringing your attention back to the questions with a fresh mind again and again. Practicing with food presents an opportunity for mindfulness because so much of our time is spent in obtaining, preparing, and consuming food. When we stop to consider how much harm is involved in growing or making our food, we can make more informed choices about what we eat and what degrees of harm we will embrace.
Let’s explore several ways of evaluating degrees of harm in food. Looking at the broad picture, we can measure the various environmental impacts generated by the growing and processing the major food groups. Fortunately for us, the Union of Concerned Scientists has already done this research, laying down reliable benchmarks based on scientific analysis. These are outlined in their book The Consumer’s Guide to Effective Environmental Choices.
The authors considered 120 types of environmental impacts and then consolidated this list to six primary concerns: air and water pollution, land use, solid and hazardous waste, and climate change. They then examined U.S. national data for producing all of our food sources—fruits, vegetables, grains, meat. They were able to show which impacts were associated with each type of food production. Their study indicates that meat production is the leading cause of agricultural water pollution. This is because cows and hogs are fattened for slaughter in large feedlots and their manure runs off into the groundwater, polluting nearby streams and lakes. Production of grains and vegetables takes its toll on soil health and habitat biodiversity. So we can use factual data to measure the types and degrees of harming—in the arena of food production and other areas as well.
Another way to evaluate harm is to examine the impacts on individual plants and animals that we choose to consume. Many people are concerned about the treatment of animals in the industrial food system, which causes distress and suffering for the animals. Classic philosophical arguments for vegetarianism point out that animals have awareness and intelligence, that they experience physical and emotional suffering as we do.The infliction of cruelty and suffering—such as clipping hogs’ tails, cutting chicks’ beaks, or branding the hides of cattle—are standard operations in domestic meat production.
Animals experience further anxiety and stress from being crowded in small cages or packed into trucks for long-distance transport. Calves and piglets are often traumatically separated from their mothers before weaning. If you eat meat, you can evaluate which of these types of harming is acceptable to you. If you want to reduce harm to the soil and groundwater as well as to individual animals, you can reduce the amount of meat you eat. The Union of Concerned Scientists strongly recommends cutting back on meat consumption to directly reduce both animal suffering and environmental degradation.
Evaluating harm to plants is more difficult because we don’t understand how plants experience harm. We know that poor soil, lack of water, and over harvesting can leave plants weak and nutrient deficient. But do plants suffer in the same way if their evolutionary integrity is altered through genetic engineering? Does mono-cropping harm plants or soils or both? With the rise of the organic farming movement, green consumers looking to reduce harm choose organic over conventional produce options. They reason that organic plants have been better nourished by the soil and perhaps also more lovingly cared for by the farmer, at least in small-scale operations. Workers on industrial-scale organic farms, however, may not hold such intimate relations with their crops.
Another way to evaluate degree of harm is in terms of the eater, rather than the eaten. Meat-intensive diets have been correlated with high rates of human heart disease and cancers of the digestive tract. Some vegetarians have turned away from meat to protect their health and avoid meat-associated medical risks. Studies now show that hormones used in beef production can affect human reproductive development, causing early puberty and male infertility. The heavy use of antibiotics in conventional meat and dairy operations is a human health concern as well, undercutting the effectiveness of these valuable drugs in treating human infection. Reducing harm to ourselves is a viable and important aspect of reducing environmental impact, reflecting the recognition that we too are part of the environment that is under siege.
We can also consider degrees of harm relative to spiritual well-being. In many world and indigenous religious traditions, abstaining from meat is a common practice in cultural ceremonies or as training in self-discipline. Practicing restraint requires constant vigilance and the tempering of deeply conditioned appetites. Buddhists and Hindus emphasize the merit gained from cumulative acts of compassion in relation to animals. They further believe that a meat-free diet generates a calmer mind, more disposed toward equanimity and patience and therefore less likely to harm others.
In the last few years a new criterion has arisen for evaluating harm: the distance a food has traveled from production to market. The harm, in this case, is to our climate, since long shipping distances contribute significantly to the carbon emissions impact of food products. Farmers’ markets across the nation have been promoting “locavore” campaigns, challenging people to eat 10 or 20 percent of their diet from local foods only. Authors Barbara Kingsolver and Gary Nabhan have taken on the experiment of eating 100 percent locally in their Midwest and desert regions, inspiring others with their stories. In this measure, degree of harm reflects the number of food miles associated with a specific food. We can choose to reduce our diet-related greenhouse gas emissions by eating locally and cutting down on food miles.