An open space for global conversation
CLICK HERE FOR COLLABORATIVE TABLECLOTH (Google Document). Note: this Google Doc is a record of our conversation during the call. If you want to make further comments, please do so using this forum thread on OccupyCafe.org by posting in the "reply" box below. Otherwise, most people will not see your comment!
Guest conversation starter Jim Barton, one of the original members of Occupy Asheville, Occupy Cafe Steward and long-time political activist, brings a global perspective to the Occupy conversation for our regular Monday Cafe Call on 2/13 from 8-10am Pacific/11am-1pm Eastern. Click here to register or simply reuse your PIN from previous Monday calls.
Our conversation will be seeded by a presentation from Jim that examines the need for a "United Nations 2.0." Jim will focus on the questions of how humanity has evolved in the last 50,000 years and how the combined force of social media and the United Nations might help it to evolve further.
To mark the 20th anniversary of the first Earth Summit, the UN is sponsoring a conference on global sustainability in Rio this June. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, speaking in Davos last month and sounding a lot like an Occupy anarchist, called our current economic system "a global suicide pact" and issued this challenge:
How do we create growth in a resource constrained environment?
How do we lift people out of poverty while protecting the planet and ecosystems that support economic growth?
How do we regain the balance?
All of this requires rethinking.
Here at Davos – this meeting of the mighty and the powerful, represented by some key countries – it may sound strange to speak of revolution.
But that is what we need at this time.
We need a revolution. Revolutionary thinking. Revolutionary action.
A free market revolution for global sustainability.
Do you believe the UN can be a vehicle for change? How do we address the global nature of the challenges we face? For those of us drawn most powerfully to local action, can we find ways for this work to not only lead to stronger and more resilient communities but also achieve global impact? Can we "Go Glocal?"
The UN can be a vehicle of change; but it needs to change some of its decision making processes and become much more ambitious. For example, the UN General Assembly could pass a resolution stipulating that its decisions will be binding and enforceable and that it will adopt outcome based processes where the orientation in on taking sufficient action and putting in place sufficient funding and means of implementation to achieve all of the commitments that it has and does make. Civil society ought to launch a campaign to insist that it do so.
I have represented the Global Ecovillage Network at the UN for the past 12 years. We are proposing that the UN establish a global program and network of resource and learning centers and training programs to support villages and local communities around the world in adopting and implementing an integrated, multi-sectoral community based approach to sustainable rural and impoverished urban development that is sufficient to ensure that all peoples basic human rights and needs are met. This is the type of Glocal program that we need.
We should also be shifting our tax policies so that we tax land and natural resources and the benefits are then used for the well-being of the people as a whole.
I am looking forward to the call on Monday.
The UN can be a vehicle of change; but it needs to change...
The cafe is full of paradoxes;-)!
More seriously: As far as now I am the only active member representing global perspective. Although it is impractical to join the call overseas I would like to know what will be said and presented. Is it possible, Ben?
We record each of our calls, but have not made the time to get them posted to this website (the files are huge and the Ning player isn't very good, so that presents a modest though not insoluble challenge--any volunteers out there to help us get these files posted?!). There are also Google Docs associated with each call where some interesting notes are often scribed, with links in these forum threads once they are up.
Are you sure you can't call in and join us live, Pawel? MaestroConference works pretty well with Google Voice, which I believe isn't too costly for overseas calling. Skype Out also works, but the sound quality can be poor.
As for other people with a global perspective, I take exception to the notion that we're not capable of that in the US, although it's certainly more the exception than the norm. We have at least a few active Canadians these days as well, and there are plenty of Europeans registered as OC.org members even though their participation level is currently nominal. Our Connect 2012 Initiative is designed to create a higher level of engagement among our members--would you be interested in participating?
You can connect to a long thread of discussion on this topic on Linked In at the Systems Thinking World UN topic.
One of the commentors put up a link to a cartoon with a boat loaded in the front with suits talking among themselves while a woman in the back of the boat is trying to alert them to the waterfall they are just a short distance from.
So far, the UN has not been able to do very much with their own research on agroecology, while U.S. corporations have broken rules to take dangerous seeds and faulty single-wides to Haiti, to accompany the cholera organisms imported from Nepal by troops.
Then there are troops from Brazil, which has a higher murder rate than Haiti.
The UN needs to let women in to explain that obstacles to empowering women and other marginalized people have got to come down if we are to get all the brains we need to first base.
Supporting SOIL Haiti with properly-scaled, above-ground sewage treatment would be a nice start.
One of the things that came up in our conversation yesterday was the degree of anti-UN sentiment, much of it related to New World Order conspiracy theories. And these views have now made it into the GOP "mainstream," as well as some elements of the Left. Grist has a piece up this morning on GOP efforts to oppose Agenda 21 and ICLEI, two long-standing initiatives for sustainability, have come under particular attack. From Grist:
The Republican National Committee — the group that shapes the national GOP political platform, devises campaign strategies, promotes candidates, and bashes all things Obama — passed a resolution in January warning Americans of a sinister plot hidden in a United Nations report called Agenda 21. Short of suggesting that we all wear tinfoil hats and keep an eye out for contrails, the RNC would have been hard-pressed to put itself further on the wacko fringe.
Here’s the windup to the resolution, unearthed by the New York Times on Feb. 3:
WHEREAS, the United Nations Agenda 21 is a comprehensive plan of extreme environmentalism, social engineering, and global political control … and,
WHEREAS, the United Nations Agenda 21 is being covertly pushed into local communities throughout the United States of America through the International Council of Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) through local “sustainable development” policies such as Smart Growth, Wildlands Project, Resilient Cities, Regional Visioning Projects, and other “Green” or “Alternative” projects; and,
WHEREAS, this United Nations Agenda 21 plan of radical so-called “sustainable development” views the American way of life of private property ownership, single family homes, private car ownership and individual travel choices, and privately owned farms; all as destructive to the environment …
Given that there are also many on the Left that embrace New World Order conspiracy theories (e.g the Thrive movie), I am concerned that we are getting to a point where any institutionally based solutions that have global reach will face insurmountable uphill battles, at least within the US.
Ben and friends,
This right wing extremism in the US is a huge problem that is unfortunately destroying many good and much needed opportunities for local to global change and improvements in how we live together on the planet. And unfortunately, many moderate and conservative Democrats are going along with the Republican swing to the right rather than challenge the idiocy of many of their positions. The US has the worst record of any country in the world in regards to signing and more particularly ratifying global treaties - specifically because it takes a 2/3rds vote in the US senate to do so; and the GOP blocks anything that would require more effective approaches to global governance and solving our primary local to global problems.
It does not matter whether programs, policies, and legislation have global reach or not. These same conservative forces block things at all levels of government - from local to global. I organized a local sustainable community campaign in the 1990s that a few right wing conservatives found out about and then began to rail against Agenda 21. They have been attacking local sustainable organizing efforts in the US both before and since.
The question of private property rights vs community well being is a huge issue that really needs to be grappled with in a much more constructive manner. Love Canal and other such environmental catastrophes are a primary case in point. Can individuals and companies do whatever they want, regardless of how the consequences effect others in the community, or is community well being more important? Additionally it can go the other way around. In some neighborhoods it is illegal to hang clothes out on the line, similar to this issue of windmills supposedly destroying the viewshed, because they are considered an unsightly mess by some.
So, somehow we have to do much better at reconciling individual and corporate rights vs well being of community and society as a whole. At the same time we can recognize that many more Americans continue to support the UN, proactive responses to global challenges, etc. One of my concerns with the Occupy Movement is that the notion of needing to achieve consensus can result in the failure to act, if the group is not careful, when action is felt by most to be urgently needed.
So my concern is less that "institutionally based solutions that have global reach will face insurmountable uphill battles" and more that institutionally based solutions of any and all types are increasingly facing insurmountable uphill battles in the US; and unfortunately most of our institutions are controlled by a very powerful, influential, and privileged elite that often do not want to do what is best for the people, nature and/or society.
Still, more and more people get it all of the time. And fortunately there are many enlightened souls on the planet right now. So let us remain optimistic and have hope.
What UN proactive response would that be exactly? Sending Nepalese troops to Haiti with a novel vibrio organism that has triggered a cholera epidemic? Sending Brazilian troops, when Brazil has a higher murder rate than Haiti? Allowing in god-forsaken pink, contaminated corn seeds that should be locked up at all times, but were not? Letting in formaldehyded trailers that are insufferable in Haiti's heat and allowing those to be used as schools?
The UN could have supported SOIL Haiti, a low-tech operation that teaches people how to compost waste, above ground, to pasteurization temperature, so it does not foul drinking sources, and maybe the UN will support SOIL if and when they get a clue. Nicholas Kristof reported on them in the New York Times, so it's not as if the Neo-whatevers couldn't have read about it in an organ they refer to quite a bit.
We need anthems that call out corruption and play on the top 40. We did this in the 70's. How about Anne Feeney's "Have You Been to Jail for Justice" and her corporate welfare song. Our class musicians and comedians need to step up. Can someone channel George Carlin? We're hurting down here, or even just quote him.
What has been done to Haiti is being done to US. To the French and Germans, we are consumers and low-cost labor. French and German red tape is worse than ours. Our economy will go underground, giving the 1% more fine print to lock us up with, when we already win the lock-up competition.
Right/left and all that jazz does not tell anyone much these days. We are beyond mission creep and into the mission-flip zone. Lots of US people don't believe anything said by anybody with two dimes much any more. Getting trust back is not going to be easy.
So, Mary, do you see no value to be gleaned from any UN-related processes or initiatives? And what is the alternative for things that require Global-scale cooperation, or do we give up on that idea altogether? Here's one option, perhaps: http://www.simpol.org/ It still relies on national governments though,and their record is arguably worse than the UN's.
I've contributed a huge amount of links and text to a UN thread on Linked In, even knowing the UN does not listen to reports it has paid money to commission, in the sense of then substantially supporting the outcome of those reports (DeSchutter's report on agroecology, easily searched).
I have some empathy for UN officials because wealthy people have the resources to dump on places like Haiti and disregard UN rules.
UN officials are caught in the middle, but at least they will get access to people like the Big-Ag axis of evil.
Lay people do not have access to those people, except indirectly. Possibly UN officials sympathize with lay people but are at a loss as to how to keep the bad boys from their legacy bad behaviors.
"A free market revolution for global sustainability."
hahahhaa....oh, was he serious? what makes anyone think that the free market is not what is preventing global sustainability in the first place? capitalism as it is conceived of is based on the rapacious accumulation of resources, and processing those into commodities to be sold for profit and reinvested to start the cycle all over again. if that doesn't happen, the company can no longer be competitive and is rendered irrelevant in the global market.
abolish the market, which inevitably creates classism, poverty, and general despair. there is a better way to distribute goods and services than giving it to whoever can pay the most for them.
My first experience with the Occupy Cafe conference call system was a pretty good one, but I was on Skype, and my satellite internet connection here at the Farm Ecovillage Training Center was not up to the task of keeping me connected. For next week's call, I'll go to a place where I can get a good cell phone signal and join the call that way.
As Jim Barton mentioned on the call, I am the host of the C-Realm Podcast, and while I have no experience working with the United Nations, Albert K. Bates, the founder of the Ecovillage Training Center does. I spoke with him about the possibilities of working through the U.N. to address anthropogenic climate chaos inepisode 241: Recognizing the Box We're In.
Hi KMO and friends,
I am listening now to this excellent interview with Albert Bates right now. Its a great interview but we should tell folks that it goes on for about an hour and it starts a bit slow - but hang in there because there is great stuff about how to deal with our climate challenge - through the UN and otherwise.
By the way, Albert is a friend of mine as I also represent the Global Ecovillage Network, along with him, at the UN. Check out the Ecovillage Training Center folks if you do not know about it yet. A great place to be or visit. Good to know you are doing these podcasts. Thanks,