self-sufficiency and local autonomy
September 26, 2005
who's really doing “Science for the People”!
Subject: Community ... from Graham, WA
From: Wayne Cooke <email@example.com>
Date: Sat, 24 Sep 2005 00:59:26 EDT
To: George Salzman <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I still remember looking up the word “serendipity” in the Pacific Lutheran University (PLU) Library. Serendipity brought me to your website and I want to thank you.
An old copy of Science For the People (SftP), 100th issue, July, 1985 was in my garage. I was a subscriber. Admiring it again, I wondered if it still existed, and a google search led me to an obituary essay in praise of your wife, Freda, which led me to your own website. Before exploring further, your folders seemed to key in on what I have been doing here in Graham, south of Tacoma.
Before 2004, I was dismayed at the Bush government initiatives to strip away the progress of the past 70 years and worked to defeat him. I read a dozen books trying to understand “why” and wrote my “Book Reports” to educate others. They were received well and appreciated. After 2004, I was aghast at the obvious vote fraud and then started our local Democracy For America chapter. However, I also read Hubbert's Peak and began to understand how the coming decline of cheap oil plus our military might was leading the PNAC group behind Bush to start their manipulations for control of world oil, beginning with Iraq.
I hold little hope for the continuance of our democracy. Perhaps some secret group somewhere is plotting an overthrow of this anti-people government, but the effects of an economic collapse caused by the permanent petroleum decline and the stupid economic policies of this government will trump any political change.
So I've read the books of Thom Hartmann, Heinberg, Kunstler, and soon the new book by Matt Simmons. A common thread in their last chapters suggesting what to do is the deliberate pre-planning for more cohesive local community along with learning to grow a lot of your own food, just like the great-grandparents did.
As a retired teacher, my farming skills were nil, but still I planted a tiny “community garden” in the middle of our 86th Street community, to catch neighbor's curiosity. I've now finished a letter to over 100 neighbors, to be hand delivered at the end of the month, explaining the purpose of the garden as an example of a coming need, and suggesting a study group at the library to read and discuss these “peak oil" books and how our little local community can begin now to think about what plans might become necessary to help us help each other's security, health, and survival when this valuable petroleum is no longer around to give us plentiful energy and warmth.
Dr. Penny Rowe, an atmospheric scientist in Tacoma, also started a small group to advocate local food growing and peak oil preparation. Prof. Mark Jensen, of PLU, also has a group studying this. Washington State University is hosting a two-day conference on Global Oil Decline Oct. 4th and 5th in Spokane, at which Matt Simmons will be a principal speaker.
I have written an essay, “Planning for 2010”, as a way of trying to get the message out to people, summarizing Heinberg's suggestions.
Dr. Lois Gustanksi is in Gig Harbor near Tacoma, writing and being a consultant on the idea of community. Others, too, are beginning to see the future as Kunstler's End of Surburbia sees it.
I lived on Mass. Ave. in 1950, and became quite familiar with M.I.T. then, as part of the World Federalist's chapter on campus.
I'd appreciate any reply or suggestions you might make. Looks to me like we are going to be pushed into “community sharing” like it or not! Thank you. I want to become more acquainted with what you are doing.
Oaxaca, Mexico, Monday, September 26, 2005
Thank you very much for writing me about your activities as well as efforts of others in the Tacoma area to try to anticipate and prepare for threats to our (and our children's and grandchildren's) future well being. I want to offer you as much encouragement and help as I can for your vitally important work.
I'm taking the liberty of posting your letter and my response on my website, because I think it can inspire other folks to get involved, as you are. I will also post it on the Science for the People (SftP) discussion list, where it will be mailed to all the members of the group and archived for future access. The original SftP organization that published the bi-monthly magazine Science for the People dissolved some time in the 1980's (I don't recall exactly when). Then, in 1998 Steve Cavrak and I started the current SftP discussion group, an open listserv that anyone is free to join and post items to. To join (or quit) just go to http://list.uvm.edu/archives/science-for-the-people.html and click on the third link from the top of the page.
Your letter came as “a bolt out of the blue”, possibly but not obviously in response to my posting less than two days earlier, “We don't need a hurricane; the time for revolution is now!”, at http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/Strate/Notz/2005-09-22.htm. That essay, also sent out to my e-mail distribution list (currently over 1,200) led to a number of responses with information of great interest to me, and probably to you. One in particular, of which I had been unaware, and from which I learned a lot, came from Bill Templer, alerting me to an article of his which begins “Harry Cleaver's extraordinary piece “The Uses of an Earthquake” (Midnight Notes 1988) on the response by Tepito (a barrio in Mexico City) to the 1985 earthquake and its aftermath — and the building of grassroots autonomous self-organization and militancy by the Tepiteños — is especially relevant in the wake of Katrina”. Templer's article is at http://info.interactivist.net/article.pl?sid=05/09/16/1519233.
Written in 1988, Cleaver's essay, deservedly termed by Templer a “classic piece” is at http://www.eco.utexas.edu/facstaff/Cleaver/earthquake.html. It tells about the development of true community in Tepito, a relatively small barrio (section) of Mexico City. Perhaps its main theoretical importance is in its depiction of the strong ― probably critical ― interdependence of communality and communal autonomy that it explores ― the need of each for the other, if either is to be achieved and maintained. I think it's a “must read”.
Another essay of great interest to me came from James Herod <email@example.com>, who sent me George Caffentzis's article, “The Petroleum Commons: Local, Islamic and Global”. It's full of historical information that I knew nothing about, and which is highly relevant to our shared concerns. I'll soon post it on my website at http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/Strate/Discus/2004-12-10.htm, where you'll be able to read it. James also sent me a bibliography of his, which I'll post before long and announce on one of my e-mail distributions.
That's enough for the moment. My activities, about which you asked, are concentrated on trying to build these grassroots-based communications networks. It's an integral part of my website postings. Let's keep in touch.
All best wishes,
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