VICTORY for the Old Growth Campaign!

28 02 2008

Yesterday our Old Growth Campaign won a major victory! We have been supporting the Indigenous community of Grassy Narrows in their struggle to protect their traditional territory. As the result of mounting pressure – including pressure from our recent day of action targeting Office Max, and actions like the sit-in at Ohio State University (which you can keep up with here, here, here, and here), Boise announced yesterday that they are refusing to purchase stolen wood that comes from Grassy. This is big. Millions of dollars big.

Annie Sartor explains what all this means below:

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Off the Page and Into the Streets: A Graphic History of SDS

21 02 2008

My friend Dan recently wrote a review for Toward Freedom of Paul Buhle’s new Graphic novel Students for a Democratic Society: A Graphic History.

Off the Page and Into the Streets: A Graphic History of SDS
Dan Berger

From Art Spiegelman’s Maus to Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home, the graphic form has proved a powerful narrative tool. Combining memoir and social commentary in a visually appealing package, such illustrated stories blur the boundaries of art and history, reality and fantasy. It should be no surprise, then, that social movements—those rare hybrids of reality and fantasy—are finding themselves increasingly illustrated. Walter Benjamin’s
argument that radicalism politicizes art
seems more relevant now than ever.

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Environmental Justice Movement says NO to Carbon Trading!

20 02 2008

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Hot on the heels of an amazing speaking tour by members of the Durban Group for Climate Justice – a coalition of mostly California-based groups spoke out today opposing carbon-trading schemes. Issuing The California Environmental Justice Movement’s Declaration Against Use of Carbon Trading Schemes to Address Climate Change – the groups argued that such systems are inadequate to confront the climate crisis; marginalize front-lines communities fighting environmental justice battles; and are designed to benefit corporate interests – not communities or the climate.

Endorsing organizations include California Communities Against Toxics, California Environmental Rights Alliance, Carbon Trade Watch, Communities for a Better Environment, GreenAction, Rainforest Action Network, West County Toxics Coalition and many more.

Interesting factoid – Does anyone know what organization had the largest delegation in Bali? It wasn’t the usual suspects of Greenpeace, or Friends of the Earth – it was the pro-carbon trading lobbing group – the International Emissions Trading Association. Why? Because the idea of creating a trade-able commodity of our atmosphere means trillions of dollars – in a market that working-class people have no access to – but multi-national corporations, banks, brokers, and investors are giddy over.

In addition to the myriad reasons to oppose carbon trading – here’s a big unintended, but very real consequence. We have a hard enough battle in the climate movement already fighting the lobbying interests of Big Oil, King Coal, and the Big 6. But a carbon trading scheme entails a whole new cadre of lobbyists – the brokers and traders and middle-men who have a vested interest in trading away our atmosphere and our future. A zero-carbon economy doesn’t leave many carbon credits to play and profit with – and they will help further delay our transition to a clean energy future.

  • Press ReleaseDownload PDF
  • California Environmental Justice Movement’s Declaration Against Use of Carbon Trading Schemes to Address Climate ChangeDownload PDF
  • Signatories Download PDF
  • Factsheet: The Cap and Trade Charade for Climate Change Download PDF
  • Article “Cap and Charade: The political and business self-interest behind carbon limits,” Wall Street Journal, March 2007. – Link to article.

See the entire press release below – or visit www.ejmatters.org to learn more or sign the declaration!

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Z was my Mentor and it’s 4 Years Younger Than Me!

19 02 2008

I wrote this piece for Znet to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Z communications.

Z was my Mentor and it’s 4 Years Younger Than Me!
Joshua Kahn Russell

I first started “reading” Z magazine in middle school. I was around 14 years old, so Z must have been about 10. I guess I didn’t have many friends my own age. Growing up I had nearly zero access to Left political analysis, save for a couple magazine subscriptions and as many book orders as I could afford. Zmag’s hook for me was its comics; Z was my first experience with political cartoons. I didn’t even know Left political cartoons existed elsewhere. To confess – I actually pretty much only read the cartoons for a couple years. Oh sure I pretended to read the articles…but the “I read it for the articles” excuse is traditionally saved for less refined magazines.

On the topic of lack of refinement, that same year I started to write poorly-xeroxed political-punk zines in my small town, and even though I didn’t know any other “real activists,” those zines eventually went on to be distributed internationally. I would get letters from Sweden and Brazil, from other kids my age, often commenting on the cartoons…that I had cut and pasted directly from copies of Z. Busted. I’m coming clean. I stole the cartoons. I didn’t know any better! I was in 7th grade! Although it didn’t even occur to get in touch with Z (or the artists) for permission, I always gave credit, and never charged money. My analysis in my zines was mostly variations on you-can’t-tell-me-what-to-do politics with such groundbreaking insights as: “corporations suck,” “mass media lies,” and “conformity is for assholes.” There were lots of four letter words involved. I didn’t need to actually have a political analysis (or facts) – I was self-righteous and angry enough to know I was right; owning copies of Z magazine were enough to reassure me that there was indeed a deep analysis out there, were I ever to need to engage it.

In high school, I was still politically alone (but with international pen pals!), and with no radicals in sight, I started organizing. Throughout my first crude attempts to organize my peers – starting a high school Gay / Straight Alliance, a Food Not Bombs chapter that didn’t serve anyone besides other kids, and scattered Global Justice protests – I started to read beyond the cartoon Left. Noam Chomsky and bell hooks came to the rescue, riding the wild stallions of Zmag and books emblazoned with a South End Press logo.

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McCain: Like Hope, But Different

17 02 2008

I posted Barack Obama’s Yes We Can Black Eyed Peas video, I felt like it was only fair and balanced to post John McCain’s video too.





What the Right has to say

16 02 2008

Everyone I talk to agrees. There is new political space opening in the U.S. We’re helping build a critical moment where we can make a lot of change a lot faster than in perhaps four decades. And it’s not just us who are saying it. My friend Max recently shared this article with me – written by right wing ideologue David Frum.

Beware the coming Democratic sea-change
Financial Times – February 7, 2008
By David Frum

The conservative ascendancy in American politics is coming to an end.
For three decades, the right has dominated, with the Republicans
winning five of the seven presidential elections since 1980.
Conservatives did more than just win elections: even when liberals
gained power, they governed on conservative terms.

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Obamarama!

4 02 2008

Will.I.Am from Black Eyed Peas did a song over Barack Obama’s “Yes We Can” (si se puede!) speech that he made after the New Hampshire primaries.

My opinions on Obama’s platform and actual policies aside, organizers and activists of all stripes should be playing close attention. The way Obama is raising expectations, involving new people, and constantly referencing social movements creates a lot of space for us to build on that momentum and involve people in movement building well past this presidential election. Not only can organizers learn from the way Obama has been able to speak a language of social movements and relate it to people’s preexisting values and narratives for change, but we can also think strategically about how the electoral world and the social movement world affect and shape one another – or could – in the coming years.

When a politician is winning a presidential race based on rhetoric like this:

It reveals something important about where the public is at. Will Left organizers make the most of it?