Glocalisation: a climate of change in Manhattan
Sitting in the Rose Room in the New York Public Library, chilled by over-powered air-conditioning. Arrived via the underground and walked from Times Square, where people have reclaimed the streets from cars, but not the future from mass-consumption, witness mile-high advertisements.
The underground is hot and dirty, the streets are noisy, dusty and distracting. The reading and wifi Rose Room is the largest room in the USA and the head-space, if not the Arctic air-con is a welcome respite.
Climate Change Industry
It seems there is so much going on and its hard to know where to place ones energies, time, and debts. There is a climate of change, and climate change, and a climate change industry. Or is it all noise, glimmer and glamour? Full of sound and fury, but signifying nothing? Or is the climate justice movement really having an effect in the USA and elsewhere? Can Gaia Permaculture Carbon Farming sequester the C02 and save us ? Or will be get more military-industrial sustainability (sustainment) via Bio-Char International and McGaia?
We landed at JFK sad to leave the UK after the friendships and sense of achievement after Camps for Climate Action Scotland and London (UK). Especially important was the work on the Coal Health Study and the media work. We have met cooperators and permaculturalists and all kinds of interesting people this past month at and through the Climate Camps, especially the good folks of the village of Douglas and the Mainshill Solidarity Camp Earth Firster's and leads into the Radical Routes and Permaculture Association of Britain.
At Climate Camp UK, in London, we kept getting asked "where we going to Copenhagen (for COP15 and to get involved in the network of Climate Justice Action ?". The answer eventually was "we would like to, if we could afford it and had something serious to do!". We developed a couple of ideas, one was a Climate Social Forum, in the World Social Forum principles and process.
After a little enquiry was informed there is government funded civil-society forum: Klimaforum09, which sounds rather like the European Social Forum, Malmo 2008 in its left-establishment (vertical-left) support. On the surface its structured like a World Social Forum, but under-the-hood, its a government funded conference for NGO's, an extension of Nordic soft-power public-diplomacy.
However the Kilmaforum2009's 9 themes and the attending organisations are right-on and would love to work-out how to go and work on Gaia Permaculture and the Permaculture Worker Cooperative Movement projects. The Klimaforum2009 creator is a Danish permaculturalist: Tony Anderson. So, its an amazing opportunity, will try to reconnect with Malmo solidarity accommodation types and contact the Nordic permaculture contingent, and the Klimaforum online forum.
Glocalisation of climate
My major unresolved question with solutions, revolves on this reflexive obsession with localisation. It's a kind of allergic reaction to the Washington Consensus modality of globalisation. Pure localisation just wont work. Globalisation is real; climate, weather, migration of organisms including people, trade etc. We live on a planet with a global climate.
Are we going to localise climate? It's a nonsense.
The mindless business mantra of "Think Globally, Act Locally" is largely to blame. Corporations and the rich don't limit themselves to this, they Think Globally and Act Globally. They Think Locally and Act Locally. Everyone knows the edge between the global and local is the most corrupt level of government, its the place where organised crime operates, dodgy planning occurs, corporations do things, see The Power Elite. Indeed there is a term; Glocalisation
Organisation needs to come from below but continue to the global level. We saw very large worker cooperative industrial democracy at Mondragon: from team to very large groups of 100 000s. It is possible to organise modern, industrial society with democratic decision-making and ownership. We need more highly organised social and economic arrangements. The anarcho-syndicalists also did it in Spain before betrayal by the liberal democracies, Socialists and Communists.
Democracy is a fractal. It can work on all scales and all systems.
One very promising discovery, which could be a lead-in to Gaia Permaculture is the plan developed by Tony Anderson and the Scandanavian Permaculture network for the Øresund Bioregion and the global plan for 10 000 trees.
Animals migrate yearly, organisms move. So do people. We need technology, transport, communications etc. While COP15 progresses inside, Kilmaforum09 runs outside. COP15 is top-down, and Kilmaforum09 is bottom-up. But where do they meet ? The place where globalisation meets localisation is where corporations, the rich and the powerful control the present and the future. One of the reasons localisation is so popular is that its is so harmless and diffuses energies away from real political economic change into gardening. As Mollison said, ad nauseum, permaculture is more than a gardening system. Again, keep coming back to Gaia Permaculture wiki project. Me thinks the Rose Room will be good for developing the wiki.
A Glen Beck fascist Fox News green-scare/red-scare (green is the new red) made green jobs czar Van Jones resign. He said in 1994 he is a communist. I wouldn't have believed Jones in '94, I don't believe him now. If he really was an anarchist communist, or even an ecologist, he might be interesting and important. But the Obama-lovers are in a tizz as he loses battles and their man's popularity has dived, and he ducks and covers further to the right. The Black Agenda Report's editor Glen Ford says that Obama fired Jones, not Glen Beck. Both Jones and Obama are media-leaders (like Tony Blair) and that the President is acting like progressives are the only thing stop a grand non-partisan alliance.
I agree with John Pilger "the Obama lovers need to grow-up" and Alexander Cockburn that this is Obama's last chance. Chomsky spoke, was interviewed by The Real News and Democracy Now, and wrote at ZNET after the election at length about Brand Obama and Obama's Army needing to mutiny and organise from below, to free themselves from the top-down social-network soft-power dicastorship. Obama is and has always been a conservative, at best a liberal Republicrat from his earliest days as a community organiser for the Catholic Church in Chicago, through Harvard Law School, as a Senator and campaigning netroots presidential candidate to now a perpetual-war imperial President, a kind of Pharoah to the world.
The Nation has caused a splash, with a feature issue called "Food For All" about food activism from US coast to coast. A decent, if shallow and unimaginative critique "Cornucopia Blues" in that edition, calls for food activists to go beyond evangalism, for enduring institutional arrangements that go beyond informal volunteer driven local community efforts. Our focus has been worker cooperative organisations: Mondragon, Radical Routes etc.
These networks are forming, In Oakland, the Network of Bay Area Workers Cooperatives and other groups have formed JASecon for Just Alternative Sustainable Economy and hosting a Grassroots Economy Festival at the Humanist Hall. We visited some of these organisations earlier this year, and like Radical Routes in the UK and Mondragon in Basque Country the resilience comes from a network or group of cooperation.
New York For Sale
"If you live in an unrealistic world then you can say everything should be a community garden." Rudolph Giuliani, quoted in The New York Times, 16 February 2000.
In New York City, my goals are to do an film/blog on Co-op City in the Bronx (the largest co-op housing project in the world), the Green Workers Cooperative in the South Bronx, and take some good stock footage of the institutions of global capital: media corporations, finance houses, etc.
We are staying in the Upper West Side in Manhattan, with a friend whose work is on energy efficiency, he is an industry expert and maverick, from the boiler-room, the Wes Jackson of building energy efficiency. He is running a similar battle with the Big Green Establishment. He has a very solid critique of the cosy world of LEED which is largely an exercise in greenwash. Similar to the dodgy corporate organics, whole and natural foods markets, with dubious schemes and consolidated industry networks. But where is the Food Inc or Omnivores Dilemna for building efficiences? Considering the realities of energy consumption in existing housing stock, its needed. Siemens corporation is developing service lines.
Trying also to make time for the radical, anarchist, labour and other bookstores etc.
On a technical level, hoping to focus on the OpenCore, OpenGeo and TRAC ecosystems and work-out how we can develop further the technology cooperative aspect of our project. In my mind, MediaWiki, OpenCore, OpenGeo, TRAC are key tools. We also need accounting, CRM and design tools (video, audio, graphics, image, page etc).
Also want to research a New York City Food Justice Cooperative project, we had while staying at the Chelsea Hotel (getting the flu and further debt). The Office of Mayor and the Metro transport system support Greenmarket, the largest urban local food network in the world. However, the Indypendent newspaper has a story about the Bed-Stuy garden that is danger of closing. Is it outside of the Greenmarket system? Who else is ? Also, the first recorded guerilla gardening was in NYC, the cities first community garden: The Lizy Christy Community Garden.The strange neocon mayor Guiliani closed hundreds of community gardens, what was Greenmarket doing then ? A Google Timeline: History of Gardens in New York City 1920-2009 | GreenGuerillas
1965-1970: "race riots" break out in Los Angeles, Detroit, Newark, New York and dozens of other poor and over-populated American cities. Various think-tanks, commissions and institutes (some publicly announced, others top secret) study "the problem" and come up with ideas for suppressing the symptoms.
1970-1972: NYC government begins "spatial deconcentration" of over-populated neighborhoods by acting with "benign neglect" : closing firehouses and police stations, refusing to discourage or prosecute banks/insurance companies that "redline" poor neighborhoods or building-owners who torch their own properties for the insurance money, letting ruined buildings collapse and/or become centers of criminal activity, etc.
With the far-right libertarian CEO and owner of Whole Foods calling against more comprehensive healthcare insurance for the poor, and Omnivore Dilemnas Micheal Pollan calling for him to resign but not for a a boycott of Whole Foods, deeper questions need to be asked about the social relations of production.
In other words, how do we organise a democratic economy ?
Especially in the capital of global capital, a place that Mayor Bloomberg (the richest man in NYC) declares "loves rich people", with New York For Sale, a city with the Highline for "human humans" of the Power Elite and the dusty, dirty streets for everyone else.