Why Are Presidential Candidates Silent re Industrial Food System’s Devolutionary Implications?

Perhaps 100 e-mails to Bill Moyers around this theme might make a difference.
Moyers probably understands what the local organic food movements is all about.

moyersonpbs@thirteen.org)

Dear All,

Does anyone have any thoughts that would help explain to a simple roofer
And apprentice city micro-farmer and edible schoolyard activist…

The silence of our presidential candidates regarding the
Idiocy of industrial commercial agriculture
And its de-volutionary implications?

There have been New York Times article about every week
These past few years that support to dire warnings of
Michael Pollan and Barbara Kingsolver,
And Grace Lee Boggs’ visions of community garden’s central role
In “re-spiriting” our cities and building beloved communities…

But, to my knowledge, not one of the democratic or republican candidates
Has given any attention to the promise of local, organic agriculture,
Urban farming, and edible schoolyards.

Why not?

Why don’t we entertain a vision of 100 “urban agrarians”
Sending a request to Bill Moyers to use his wonderful show
And national standing to

Win attention to what we are about in the
Real food movements?

If you would like to be on record as having been one of the 100
Who might do this, send an e-mail to
Moyersalert@milwaukeerenaissance.com.

Viva, urban agrarians!

Cold spring day in Milwaukee, 2008
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Obama’s Youtube Basketball Film

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mimaNFEbg6U
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Youth & Elder Summer Hostels in the Holy City of the Sweet Water Seas

Dear All,

Might any of you know sweet ones of the Holy City
Who would make a room at their home available
To a worthy and pleasing elder or youth
Who would barter gardening, fix-up,
Child care, cooking, boy/girl friday, or movement labor
For room and board?

Six Months of Glorious Weather Awaiting Us!
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The Agora and Green Weekly Web Platforms at the Renaissance Are Your On Line Bulletin Boards & Kiosks

Dear All,

If you would like to offer information, visions, research, articles, poems, whatever, to the Agora, Green Weekly, and Growing Power web platforms of the Renaissance please send your offering to “Tyler Schuster” <catofmanyfaces@gmail.com> and cc myself at “James Godsil” <godsil.james@gmail.com>.

There are 200 unique visitors to the Renaissance each day these days, the largest number of whom stop at the Agora, Growing Power, and/or Green Weekly sites.

They are for you to advance your/the cause(s).

And your friends too!

Invite them to take advance of the incredibly democratizing power of wiki, e-mail, and google.

Viva Wiki!
Viva E-Mail!
Viva Google!

Olde
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Making Green the New Black - Video of Talk by South Bronx Activist, Majora Carter…

about fighting for environmental justice, creating a green ghetto, and creating green jobs in under-served communities; a good “case study” for Milwaukee’s Inner Core.

http://www.ted.com/talks/view/id/53

Howard
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Green Collar Jobs: An Analysis

Please send an e-mail to Godsil.james@gmail.com if you would like the full report.

Green job corps case study online
Posted November 29th, 2007 by Tom
in

  • Innovative Solutions

San Francisco State University Prof. Raquel Pinderhughes has completed a case study of implementing a green job corps in Berkeley, CA - GREEN COLLAR JOBS: An Analysis of the Capacity of Green Businesses to Provide High Quality Jobs for Men and Women with Barriers to Employment. The study can be used as a guide for developing Green Job Corps programs in other cities across the countries.

Dr. Pinderhughes had spoken with me earlier this year about this research as part of her work developing a green collar job corps with the Ella Baker Center’s Reclaim the Future initiative. Green collar jobs are “blue collar jobs in green businesses, manual labor jobs in businesses whose products and services directly improve environmental quality.”

This report shows that “preparing men and women with barriers to employment for entry level green collar jobs, and ensuring that these jobs are consistently made available to them, are very effective ways to bring the opportunities and benefits associated with green economic development to low-income residents and communities in the Bay Area.”

The study addresses seven major questions:

1.To what extent are green collar jobs good jobs?
2.To what extent are green collar jobs suitable for people with barriers to employment?
3.To what extent are people with barriers to employment interested in green collar jobs?
4.Are green business owners willing to hire workers with barriers to employment for green collar jobs?
5.To what extent are the green collar job business sectors growing?
6.What strategies are needed to grow the number of green collar jobs?
7.What strategies are needed to ensure that workers with barriers to employment can gain access to green collar jobs?

The study is a great example of collaboration between city planners, academics and local environmental justice advocates and can serve as a planning tool for extending green collar workforce development to other communities across the country.

-
Do not think that love, in order to be genuine, has to be extraordinary. What we need is to love without getting tired. ~Mother Teresa
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Great Lakes WATER Institute,

Growing Power, and the Urban Aquaculture Center Partnership Will Provide the Foundation for Urban Aquaculture Industry.

GROWING POWER
5500 W. Silver Spring Drive
Milwaukee, WI 53216

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Howard Hinterthuer
Growing Power (414) 527–1546
or (262) 573–0325

Here is reassuring news for all of us who are fans of the Wisconsin fish fry in general and the gloriously
delicious yellow perch in particular. Growing Power (55th and Silver Spring), with assistance from the Great Lakes Water Institute, is raising yellow perch in an aquaponic system that mimics nature. As a follow-up to a successful 2007 90-day trial at Growing Power that produced 800 plate size perch, the group will release 10,000 fish into Growing Power’s system on Friday, April 18th between 8:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. to begin a more aggressive 90-day trial.

To keep the fish happy and healthy, Growing Power’s enclosed system circulates the water through aquatic plants, edible garden plants, and other living filter materials that extract and use the nitrates and solid wastes from the fish.

“It’s a system that closely replicates nature,” says Will Allen, CEO and founder of Growing Power. “In this instance there is a symbiotic relationship between the fish and the plants. The plants function in much the same way as a wetland, filtering the water and making the nutrients available to plants. We have been able to build a functioning system inside of our greenhouses, and effectively increase our overall production of food. We’ve been raising tilapia (Nile tilapia, O. niloticus) using this method for twelve years. The only difference is the perch like cooler water.”

The system is of great interest to other potential perch producers. According to Leon Todd, who with Jon Bales, is striving to launch an urban aquaculture center in Milwaukee , “Such business venture systems can replenish lake perch for the dinner table… and fill up empty buildings, providing employment in Milwaukee and elsewhere.”

Based upon the Growing Power model, the Urban Aquaculture Center hopes to offer aquaculture training to entrepreneurs who wish to produce fish, and educational opportunities to school groups and others with regard to natural systems, working with nature, and sustainable strategies. Todd, Bales, the Great Lakes Water Institute and others are interested in the work at Growing Power because it is providing “proof of concept” data.

Says Bales of the first Growing Power trial, “Not only did the perch survive this ecologically designed system but, from one who knows, the fish tasted just great!”

Here is some background from Fred Binkowski of the Great Lakes Water Institute:

Aquaculture related commerce within the US Great Lakes locality continues to be an emerging industry. This region is home to approximately 29% of the US population that consumes more than one billion pounds of seafood products per year. However, the commercial aquaculture industry in this region generates less than 4% of all US production. This raises the obvious question: What are the constraints that are limiting aquaculture production within the US Great Lakes locality, and what action is required to address this problem?

The Great Lakes Aquaculture Center (GLAC) at the UW Great Lakes WATER Institute has been conducting fundamental and applied research as a function of improving aquaculture technology for Great Lakes species production. This research encompasses a broad spectrum of scientific disciplines including reproduction, engineering, nutrition, fish health, genetics, and animal husbandry principles. In addition, the GLAC has been a leader in an aquaculture Training/Outreach/Education program relative to workshops, providing resource information, on-site assistance, technology transfer, etc.

In cooperation with Growing Power Inc, we propose to demonstrate the potential of utilizing the existing and current urban greenhouse aquaponic systems to allow for year-round and cost-effective fish production for human consumption in a northern climate in conjunction with herb and vegetable production in a bio-secured system. This technological approach can be applied to a rural location and within an urban community. Urban aquaculture can reduce shipping costs, place the product at the center of consumer demand, and create jobs in economically deprived urban areas. We are confident that the cooperative effort between the Great Lakes WATER Institute, Growing Power, and the Urban Aquaculture Center will provide the foundation for the establishment of an urban aquaculture industry.

Specific Study Parameters

  • The “Growing Power” approach to aquaponics intentionally minimizes its reliance on the mechanically complex and higher cost system components used for indoor and year-round production

  • Measure water quality parameters to establish the baseline environmental conditions

  • Introduce about 10,000 young yellow perch (fingerlings) into the “Greenhouse System”

  • Monitor the biological, physical, and chemical elements during the 7–10 day acclimation period

  • Daily monitor: fish behavior, feeding, and water temperature

  • Weekly measure: water quality parameters (oxygen, total ammonia nitrogen, nitrite, pH, etc.).

  • Monthly measure and evaluate: growth performance, condition factor (plumpness), survival, and estimate food conversion

  • Critical study parameters are: fish growth and survival, maintaining optimal environmental conditions, and production cost

We believe our efforts will result in Milwaukee being recognized as “The” urban aquaculture city in America.
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Toward A Planetary Real Food Movement

From: James Godsil
Date: Apr 14, 2008 9:08 AM
Subject: Toward A Planetary Real Food Movement
To: blueberrypancakemoments@googlegroups.com

Dear All,

The American Community Garden Association List Serve may well find
Its members thrilled to serve as one on-line conversation
Among the urban agrarians of Mother Earth!

Why not?

Sunny Spring Day in Milwaukee

From: Ellen Kirby
Sent: Tuesday, January 01, 2008 1:31 PM
To: community_garden@list.communitygarden.org
Subject: Re: [Community_garden] Community_garden Digest, Vol 329, Issue 1

Dear Friends,

I like Amy’s suggestion that we be reminded of listserve etiquette. I also
like reading all the responses. It reminds me that I forget sometimes that
the listserve purpose is to expand the base of people and issues engaged by
all of us. It’s probably a challenge for new people to just jump into some
of these conversations. In addition to the “etiquette”, here’s my list of
guidelines. Maybe we can all add our own and see where we come out,
remembering the purpose of this list serve. I’m sure there are other
gardening list serves but this one helps me the most in looking at the
social dimensions of gardening as well as public policies, etc. At the same
time, the horticulture aspects are central to my interest.

Perhaps a good New Year’s resolution if for all of us to try to make the
site more helpful and substantive for our common cause, to advance community
gardening around the world. I also wonder sometimes if our commentaries are
US-centric. I would like to hear more from folks in other parts of the
world. I know you are out there. Let us know what you are doing.

Here are my personal guidelins to supplement what has already been
suggested:

1. Keep on community garden topics (with a very wide concept of community
gardening) as much as possible; any question is appropriate and participants
will continue to be as generous as possible in helping others. Usually if
the topic goes too far out, someone will shift the discussion and move to
another topic.

2. Find ways to be supportive, just by listening, suggesting, writing
letters, etc. Use the site to build the network and show that we have clout.
Find ways to keep folks on the list serve from feeling isolated. This seems
to really work with the listserve.

2. Know that community gardening includes as vast array of related topics
INCLUDING public policy, politics, human relations, etc.

4. Use the delete button when you aren’t interested or don’t care about a
particular topic.

5. Try to keep expanding the base

6. Give good info about horticulture

6. Support ACGA by joining the organization that makes the listserve and
lots of other services available. Go to http://www.communitygardening.org to sign up

7. Give us a chance to laugh.

Happy New Year. Ellen Kirby

The American Community Gardening Association listserve is only one of ACGA's
services to community gardeners. To learn more about the ACGA and to find
out how to join, please go to http://www.communitygarden.org
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Obama and Palestinian Cause

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-obamamideast10apr10,1,128034,full.story

Allies of Palestinians see a friend in Obama
They consider him receptive despite his clear support of Israel.
By Peter Wallsten
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

April 10, 2008

CHICAGO — It was a celebration of Palestinian culture -- a night of music, dancing and a dash of politics. Local Arab Americans were bidding farewell to Rashid Khalidi, an internationally known scholar, critic of Israel and advocate for Palestinian rights, who was leaving town for a job in New York.

A special tribute came from Khalidi’s friend and frequent dinner companion, the young state Sen. Barack Obama. Speaking to the crowd, Obama reminisced about meals prepared by Khalidi’s wife, Mona, and conversations that had challenged his thinking.

His many talks with the Khalidis, Obama said, had been “consistent reminders to me of my own blind spots and my own biases… It’s for that reason that I’m hoping that, for many years to come, we continue that conversation -- a conversation that is necessary not just around Mona and Rashid’s dinner table,” but around “this entire world.”

Today, five years later, Obama is a U.S. senator from Illinois who expresses a firmly pro-Israel view of Middle East politics, pleasing many of the Jewish leaders and advocates for Israel whom he is courting in his presidential campaign. The dinner conversations he had envisioned with his Palestinian American friend have ended. He and Khalidi have seen each other only fleetingly in recent years.

And yet the warm embrace Obama gave to Khalidi, and words like those at the professor’s going-away party, have left some Palestinian American leaders believing that Obama is more receptive to their viewpoint than he is willing to say.

Their belief is not drawn from Obama’s speeches or campaign literature, but from comments that some say Obama made in private and from his association with the Palestinian American community in his hometown of Chicago, including his presence at events where anger at Israeli and U.S. Middle East policy was freely expressed.

At Khalidi’s 2003 farewell party, for example, a young Palestinian American recited a poem accusing the Israeli government of terrorism in its treatment of Palestinians and sharply criticizing U.S. support of Israel. If Palestinians cannot secure their own land, she said, “then you will never see a day of peace.”

One speaker likened “Zionist settlers on the West Bank” to Osama bin Laden, saying both had been “blinded by ideology.”

Obama adopted a different tone in his comments and called for finding common ground. But his presence at such events, as he worked to build a political base in Chicago, has led some Palestinian leaders to believe that he might deal differently with the Middle East than either of his opponents for the White House.

“I am confident that Barack Obama is more sympathetic to the position of ending the occupation than either of the other candidates,” said Hussein Ibish, a senior fellow for the American Task Force on Palestine, referring to the Israeli presence in the West Bank and Gaza Strip that began after the 1967 war. More than his rivals for the White House, Ibish said, Obama sees a “moral imperative” in resolving the conflict and is most likely to apply pressure to both sides to make concessions.

“That’s my personal opinion,” Ibish said, “and I think it for a very large number of circumstantial reasons, and what he’s said.”

Aides say that Obama’s friendships with Palestinian Americans reflect only his ability to interact with a wide diversity of people, and that his views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have been consistent. Obama has called himself a “stalwart” supporter of the Jewish state and its security needs. He believes in an eventual two-state solution in which Jewish and Palestinian nations exist in peace, which is consistent with current U.S. policy.

Obama also calls for the U.S. to talk to such declared enemies as Iran, Syria and Cuba. But he argues that the Palestinian militant organization Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip, is an exception, calling it a terrorist group that should renounce violence and recognize Israel’s right to exist before dialogue begins. That viewpoint, which also matches current U.S. policy, clashes with that of many Palestinian advocates who urge the United States and Israel to treat Hamas as a partner in negotiations.

“Barack’s belief is that it’s important to understand other points of view, even if you can’t agree with them,” said his longtime political strategist, David Axelrod.

Obama “can disagree without shunning or demonizing those with other views,” he said. “That’s far different than the suggestion that he somehow tailors his view.”

Looking for clues

But because Obama is relatively new on the national political scene, and new to foreign policy questions such as the long-simmering Israeli-Palestinian conflict, both sides have been looking closely for clues to what role he would play in that dispute.

And both sides, on certain issues, have interpreted Obama’s remarks as supporting their point of view.

Last year, for example, Obama was quoted saying that “nobody’s suffering more than the Palestinian people.” The candidate later said the remark had been taken out of context, and that he meant that the Palestinians were suffering “from the failure of the Palestinian leadership [in Gaza] to recognize Israel” and to renounce violence.

Jewish leaders were satisfied with Obama’s explanation, but some Palestinian leaders, including Ibish, took the original quotation as a sign of the candidate’s empathy for their plight.

Obama’s willingness to befriend Palestinian Americans and to hear their views also impressed, and even excited, a community that says it does not often have the ear of the political establishment.

Among other community events, Obama in 1998 attended a speech by Edward Said, the late Columbia University professor and a leading intellectual in the Palestinian movement. According to a news account of the speech, Said called that day for a nonviolent campaign “against settlements, against Israeli apartheid.”

The use of such language to describe Israel’s policies has drawn vehement objection from Israel’s defenders in the United States. A photo on the pro-Palestinian website the Electronic Intifada shows Obama and his wife, Michelle, engaged in conversation at the dinner table with Said, and later listening to Said’s keynote address. Obama had taken an English class from Said as an undergraduate at Columbia University.

Ali Abunimah, a Palestinian rights activist in Chicago who helps run Electronic Intifada, said that he met Obama several times at Palestinian and Arab American community events. At one, a 2000 fundraiser at a private home, Obama called for the U.S. to take an “even-handed” approach toward Israel, Abunimah wrote in an article on the website last year. He did not cite Obama’s specific criticisms.

Abunimah, in a Times interview and on his website, said Obama seemed sympathetic to the Palestinian cause but more circumspect as he ran for the U.S. Senate in 2004. At a dinner gathering that year, Abunimah said, Obama greeted him warmly and said privately that he needed to speak cautiously about the Middle East.

Abunimah quoted Obama as saying that he was sorry he wasn’t talking more about the Palestinian cause, but that his primary campaign had constrained what he could say.

Obama, through his aide Axelrod, denied he ever said those words, and Abunimah’s account could not be independently verified.

“In no way did he take a position privately that he hasn’t taken publicly and consistently,” Axelrod said of Obama. “He always had expressed solicitude for the Palestinian people, who have been ill-served and have suffered greatly from the refusal of their leaders to renounce violence and recognize Israel’s right to exist.”

In Chicago, one of Obama’s friends was Khalidi, a highly visible figure in the Arab American community.

In the 1970s, when Khalidi taught at a university in Beirut, he often spoke to reporters on behalf of Yasser Arafat’s Palestine Liberation Organization. In the early 1990s, he advised the Palestinian delegation during peace negotiations. Khalidi now occupies a prestigious professorship of Arab studies at Columbia.

He is seen as a moderate in Palestinian circles, having decried suicide bombings against civilians as a “war crime” and criticized the conduct of Hamas and other Palestinian leaders. Still, many of Khalidi’s opinions are troubling to pro-Israel activists, such as his defense of Palestinians’ right to resist Israeli occupation and his critique of U.S. policy as biased toward Israel.

While teaching at the University of Chicago, Khalidi and his wife lived in the Hyde Park neighborhood near the Obamas. The families became friends and dinner companions.

In 2000, the Khalidis held a fundraiser for Obama’s unsuccessful congressional bid. The next year, a social service group whose board was headed by Mona Khalidi received a $40,000 grant from a local charity, the Woods Fund of Chicago, when Obama served on the fund’s board of directors.

At Khalidi’s going-away party in 2003, the scholar lavished praise on Obama, telling the mostly Palestinian American crowd that the state senator deserved their help in winning a U.S. Senate seat. “You will not have a better senator under any circumstances,” Khalidi said.

The event was videotaped, and a copy of the tape was obtained by The Times.

Though Khalidi has seen little of Sen. Obama in recent years, Michelle Obama attended a party several months ago celebrating the marriage of the Khalidis’ daughter.

In interviews with The Times, Khalidi declined to discuss specifics of private talks over the years with Obama. He did not begrudge his friend for being out of touch, or for focusing more these days on his support for Israel -- a stance that Khalidi calls a requirement to win a national election in the U.S., just as wooing Chicago’s large Arab American community was important for winning local elections.

Khalidi added that he strongly disagrees with Obama’s current views on Israel, and often disagreed with him during their talks over the years. But he added that Obama, because of his unusual background, with family ties to Kenya and Indonesia, would be more understanding of the Palestinian experience than typical American politicians.

“He has family literally all over the world,” Khalidi said. “I feel a kindred spirit from that.”

Ties with Israel

Even as he won support in Chicago’s Palestinian community, Obama tried to forge ties with advocates for Israel.

In 2000, he submitted a policy paper to CityPAC, a pro-Israel political action committee, that among other things supported a unified Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a position far out of step from that of his Palestinian friends. The PAC concluded that Obama’s position paper “suggests he is strongly pro-Israel on all of the major issues.”

In 2002, as a rash of suicide bombings struck Israel, Obama sought out a Jewish colleague in the state Senate and asked whether he could sign onto a measure calling on Palestinian leaders to denounce violence. “He came to me and said, ‘I want to have my name next to yours,’ “said his former state Senate colleague Ira Silverstein, an observant Jew.

As a presidential candidate, Obama has won support from such prominent Chicago Jewish leaders as Penny Pritzker, a member of the family that owns the Hyatt hotel chain, and who is now his campaign finance chair, and from Lee Rosenberg, a board member of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

Nationally, Obama continues to face skepticism from some Jewish leaders who are wary of his long association with his pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., who had made racially incendiary comments during several sermons that recently became widely known. Questions have persisted about Wright in part because of the recent revelation that his church bulletin reprinted a Times op-ed written by a leader of Hamas.

One Jewish leader said he viewed Obama’s outreach to Palestinian activists, such as Said, in the light of his relationship to Wright.

“In the context of spending 20 years in a church where now it is clear the anti-Israel rhetoric was there, was repeated, …that’s what makes his presence at an Arab American event with a Said a greater concern,” said Abraham H. Foxman, national director for the Anti-Defamation League.

peter.wallsten@latimes.com
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Obama Talks All Things LGBT With The Advocate

In an exclusive Chicago sit-down with The Advocate’s Kerry Eleveld, Democratic front-runner Barack Obama discusses “don’t ask, don’t tell,” the Reverend Wright, and what he would do for LGBT Americans if he becomes president.
By Kerry Eleveld

Democratic presidential front-runner Barack Obama has been weathering a small storm lately in the LGBT community for being too tight-lipped with gay and lesbian news media.

Unlike his rival Hillary Clinton, who’s given interviews to Logo and several local papers since appearing on the cover of The Advocate last fall, the Illinois senator has talked only once, to The Advocate, to address the Donnie McClurkin controversy. But last week his campaign offered our magazine an exclusive sit-down in Chicago with the man who may well become the next president of the United States.

To some extent, it symbolizes the brilliance of a protracted primary contest where candidates continually pivot and adjust in order to engage ever more voters. Had the race stopped cold in the snows of New Hampshire, gays and lesbians would have been left with one interview of record for each Democratic candidate in total.

But in a wide-ranging interview this Monday, Obama discussed “don’t ask, don’t tell,” the Reverend Wright, and why LGBT folks should lead on marriage equality, not politicians. Some may call the chat a shrewd political move by the Obama camp ahead of the April 22 Pennsylvania primary. We call it access.

Kerry Eleveld and Barack Obama (provided by Kerry) | Advocate.com

The Advocate: Let’s start with what’s hot -- why the silence on gay issues? You’ve done only one other interview with the LGBT press. I know people wish they were hearing more from you.

Senator Obama: I don’t think it’s fair to say “silence” on gay issues. The gay press may feel like I’m not giving them enough love. But basically, all press feels that way at all times. Obviously, when you’ve got a limited amount of time, you’ve got so many outlets. We tend not to do a whole bunch of specialized press. We try to do general press for a general readership.

But I haven’t been silent on gay issues. What’s happened is, I speak oftentimes to gay issues to a public general audience. When I spoke at Ebenezer Church for King Day, I talked about the need to get over the homophobia in the African-American community; when I deliver my stump speeches routinely I talk about the way that antigay sentiment is used to divide the country and distract us from issues that we need to be working on, and I include gay constituencies as people that should be treated with full honor and respect as part of the American family.

So I actually have been much more vocal on gay issues to general audiences than any other presidential candidate probably in history. What I probably haven’t done as much as the press would like is to put out as many specialized interviews. But that has more to do with our focus on general press than it does on… I promise you, the African-American press says the same thing.

And Spanish-language?

And Spanish-language had the same gripe. Just generally, we have generally tried to speak to broader audiences. That’s all that is.

I think the underlying fear of the gay community is that if you get into office, will LGBT folks be last on the priority list?

I guess my point would be that the fact that I’m raising issues accordant to the LGBT community in a general audience rather than just treating you like a special interest that is sort of off in its own little box -- that, I think, is more indicative of my commitment. Because ultimately what that shows is that I’m not afraid to advocate on your behalf outside of church, so to speak. It’s easy to preach to the choir; what I think is harder is to speak to a broader audience about why these issues are important to all Americans.

If you were elected, what do you plan to do for the LGBT community -- what can you reasonably get done?

I reasonably can see “don’t ask, don’t tell” eliminated. I think that I can help usher through an Employment Non-Discrimination Act and sign it into law.

You think it’s transgender-inclusive?

I think that’s going to be tough, and I’ve said this before. I have been clear about my interest in including gender identity in legislation, but I’ve also been honest with the groups that I’ve met with that it is a heavy lift through Congress. We’ve got some Democrats who are willing to vote for a noninclusive bill, but we lose them on an inclusive bill, and we just may not be able to generate the votes. I don’t know. And obviously, my goal would be to get the strongest possible bill -- that’s what I’ll be working for.

The third thing I believe I can get done is in dealing with federal employees, making sure that their benefits, that their ability to transfer health or pension benefits the same way that opposite-sex couples do, is something that I’m interested in making happen and I think can be done with some opposition, some turbulence, but I think we can get that done.

And finally, an area that I’m very interested in is making sure that federal benefits are available to same-sex couples who have a civil union. I think as more states sign civil union bills into law the federal government should be helping to usher in a time when there’s full equality in terms of what that means for federal benefits.

I assume you’re talking about the Defense of Marriage Act.

Absolutely, and I for a very long time have been interested in repeal of DOMA.

Do you think it’s possible to get full repeal of DOMA? As you know, Senator Clinton is only looking at repealing the plank of DOMA that prohibits the federal government from recognizing state-sanctioned unions.

I don’t know. But my commitment is to try to make sure that we are moving in the direction of full equality, and I think the federal government historically has led on civil rights -- I’d like to see us lead here too.

Back to “don’t ask, don’t tell” real quick -- you’ve said before you don’t think that’s a heavy lift. Of course, it would be if you had Joint Chiefs who were against repeal. Is that something you’ll look at?

I would never make this a litmus test for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Obviously, there are so many issues that a member of the Joint Chiefs has to deal with, and my paramount obligation is to get the best possible people to keep America safe. But I think there’s increasing recognition within the Armed Forces that this is a counterproductive strategy -- ya know, we’re spending large sums of money to kick highly qualified gays or lesbians out of our military, some of whom possess specialties like Arab-language capabilities that we desperately need. That doesn’t make us more safe, and what I want are members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who are making decisions based on what strengthens our military and what is going to make us safer, not ideology.

Both you and your wife speak eloquently about being told to wait your turn and how if you had done that, you might not have gone to law school or run for Senate or even president. To some extent, isn’t that what you’re asking same-sex couples to do by favoring civil unions over marriage -- to wait their turn?

I don’t ask them that. Anybody who’s been at an LGBT event with me can testify that my message is very explicit -- I don’t think that the gay and lesbian community, the LGBT community, should take its cues from me or some political leader in terms of what they think is right for them. It’s not my place to tell the LGBT community, “Wait your turn.” I’m very mindful of Dr. King’s “Letter From Birmingham Jail,” where he says to the white clergy, “Don’t tell me to wait for my freedom.”

So I strongly respect the right of same-sex couples to insist that even if we got complete equality in benefits, it still wouldn’t be equal because there’s a stigma associated with not having the same word, marriage, assigned to it. I understand that, but my perspective is also shaped by the broader political and historical context in which I’m operating. And I’ve said this before -- I’m the product of a mixed marriage that would have been illegal in 12 states when I was born. That doesn’t mean that had I been an adviser to Dr. King back then, I would have told him to lead with repealing an antimiscegenation law, because it just might not have been the best strategy in terms of moving broader equality forward.

That’s a decision that the LGBT community has to make. That’s not a decision for me to make.

Is it fair for the LGBT community to ask for leadership? In 1963, President Kennedy made civil rights a moral issue for the country.

But he didn’t overturn antimiscegenation. Right?

True enough.

As I said, I think the LGBT community has every right to push for what it thinks is right. And I think that it’s absolutely fair to ask me for leadership, and my argument would be that I’m ahead of the curve on these issues compared to 99% of most elected officials around the country on this issue. So I think I’ve shown leadership.

What event or person has most affected your perceptions of or relationship to the LGBT community?

Well, it starts with my mom, who just always instilled in me a belief that everybody’s of equal worth and a strong sense of empathy — that you try to see people through their eyes, stand in their shoes. So I think that applies to how I see all people.

Somebody else who influenced me, I actually had a professor at Occidental — now, this is embarrassing because I might screw up his last name — Lawrence Golden, I think it was. He was a wonderful guy. He was the first openly gay professor that I had ever come in contact with, or openly gay person of authority that I had come in contact with. And he was just a terrific guy. He wasn’t proselytizing all the time, but just his comfort in his own skin and the friendship we developed helped to educate me on a number of these issues.

Did you have a chance to ask him about being gay?

I’m sure we did, but as I said, he was really comfortable in his own skin, and the relationship was a strong friendship and I never felt as if I had to get over any mental hurdles to be close to him or to learn from him. He’s probably somebody who had a strong influence.

How old were you then?

Eighteen … 19. It does remind me, though, I remember in my first two years of college that was when I first saw students who were self-identified as gay and lesbian come out and start organizing around gay issues, so that would have been in 1979 and ‘80. I think what’s encouraging is just to see how much progress has been made in such a relatively short period of time.

Just draw that thought out a little bit in terms of comparing it to the African-American civil rights movement.

You always want to be careful comparing groups that have been discriminated against because each group’s experiences are different. I think that the transition toward fuller acceptance of the LGBT community has happened without some of the tumult and violence that accompanied the civil rights movement. But we still have a long ways to go, and I think that it also obviously varies geographically. I think in urban communities, you can’t say there’s full equality, but in terms of the LGBT community daily round they’re not as likely to experience certainly the discrimination that they experienced 25 years ago.

Whereas, in the African-American community, you can still see some fairly overt racism. On the other hand, in rural communities, I think attitudes are slower to change.

There’s plenty of homophobia to go around, but you have a unique perspective into the African-American community. Is there a…

I don’t think it’s worse than in the white community. I think that the difference has to do with the fact that the African-American community is more churched and most African-American churches are still fairly traditional in their interpretations of Scripture. And so from the pulpit or in sermons you still hear homophobic attitudes expressed. And since African-American ministers are often the most prominent figures in the African-American community those attitudes get magnified or amplified a little bit more than in other communities.

Do you think there’s a specific prescriptive, which is not to say that there’s more homophobia in the African-American community. But is there a different answer to…

Well, I think what’s important is to have some of that church leadership speak up and change its attitudes, because I think a lot of its members are taking cues from that leadership.

Do you have any regrets about the South Carolina tour? People there are still sort of mystified that you gave Donnie McClurkin the chance to get up onstage and do this, and he did go on sort of an antigay rant there.

I tell you what -- my campaign is premised on trying to reach as many constituencies as possible and to go into as many places as possible, and sometimes that creates discomfort or turbulence. This goes back to your first question. If you’re segmenting your base into neat categories and constituency groups and you never try to bring them together and you just speak to them individually -- so I keep the African-Americans neatly over here and the church folks neatly over there and the LGBT community neatly over there -- then these kinds of issues don’t arise.

The flip side of it is, you never create the opportunity for people to have a conversation and to lift some of these issues up and to talk about them and to struggle with them, and our campaign is built around the idea that we should all be talking. And that creates some discomfort because people discover, gosh, within the Democratic Party or within Barack Obama’s campaign or within whatever sets of constituencies there are going to be some different points of view that might even be offensive to some folks. That’s not unique to this issue. I mean, ironically, my biggest … the biggest political news surrounding me over the last three weeks has been Reverend Wright, who offended a whole huge constituency with some of his statements but has been very good on gay and lesbian issues. I mean he’s one of the leaders in the African-American community of embracing, speaking out against homophobia, and talking about the importance of AIDS.

And so nobody is going to be perfectly aligned with my views. So what I hope is that people take me for who I am, for what I’ve said, and for what I’ve displayed in terms of my commitment to these issues, but understanding that there’s going to be a range of constituencies that I’m reaching out to and working on issues that we have in common, even though I may differ with them on other issues. And that’s true, also, by the way … well, I think that’s going to be true so long as I’m reaching out beyond the traditional Democratic base.
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20TH ANNIVERSARY PERFORMANCES of the EARTH POETS and MUSICIANS, April 18 and 19th

20TH ANNIVERSARY PERFORMANCES of the EARTH POETS and MUSICIANS, April 18 and 19th

For their 20th Anniversary Performances, four of the original poets, Jeff Poniewaz, Louisa Loveridge-Gallas, Suzanne Rosenblatt, and Harvey Taylor, and the two musician members of the group, Jahmes Finlayson and Holly Haebig, will continue to transform inconvenient truths into conscientious action.
The performances will also feature a special guest, activist and poet James Godsil (www.milwaukeerenaissance.com).

FRIDAY, APRIL 18, 2008
7 P.M. Interactive Poetry and Music for the Whole Family
8 P.M. Earth Poets and Musicians
Jahmes Finlayson, Louisa Loveridge-Gallas, Holly Haebig, Jeff Poniewaz, Suzanne Rosenblatt, Harvey Taylor, and SPECIAL GUEST: James Godsil
URBAN ECOLOGY CENTER
1500 E. Park Place
$5.00 Per Person, $10.00 Per Family, UEC Members Free
www.urbanecologycenter.org/

SATURDAY, APRIL 19, 2008
8 P.M. (same performers)
THE COFFEE HOUSE
631 N. 19th Street (Just South of Wisconsin Ave)
www.the-coffee-house.com/
Donation: $5.00: Proceeds to benefit the Earth Poets and Musicians Outreach Project and website on milwaukeerenaissance.com
Click here for more info and to visit the Earth Poets home page.
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The Death of Dr. King In The Words of Robert Kennedy

Robert Kennedy’s speech the night Martin Luther King was killed. As you watch it is easy to discern that he was not working from notes, but from his heart. Some say, this is one of the most important political speeches of our times. The last two minutes of this Video is sound track from Kennedy’s own assassination 2 months later.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jPYNb4ex6Ko
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David Luce Race Stories from 1940s to 21st Century USA

This is from a highly respected Milwaukee professor(retired).

The “Al” I’m writing to is a retired professor living in Oregon. He and Maria had been classmates at the Hollabunner Gymnasium, in Austria.

Al was distressed by the highly publicized statements made by Senator Obama’s pastor, Jeremiah Wright, and I wrote the letter you see, below, as a way of expressing my own view of the matter.

It turned out to be a rather personal narrative, including some rough language. I hope no one is offended

Dear Al,

I promised to write you to explain how racism and racial segregation and dis crimination in the United States have touched my life -- indeed, have in some measure shaped my life. I have thereby acquired attitudes, different from yours, relating to the recently publicized statements about race by the Reverend Jeremiah Wright.

I can agree that those statements were badly phrased and impolitic. But they hardly deserve the blast of negative publicity they have been receiving. The statements point to important truths about Americans and American history -- and beyond that, to truths about democracy and the human condition, and to a truth that Calvinist and other Christian traditions call “Original Sin.” (Wright’s denomination has Calvinist roots.)

The thesis I would urge is this:

A good many well-meaning white Americans can honestly say that as far as they themselves, personally, are concerned, they have good intentions (or are indifferent) on matters of race. But they also think that as good neighbors (or as good citizens, or as legitimately concerned businessmen, etc.), they have to recognize, and defer to, the strong negative feelings about race that “others” have. And it is that deference that determines their conduct.

Let me explain my personal connections with the matter.

I could begin with my parents -- good people, if not better than average. But when I brought one of my high school buddies home with me on the school bus, so that we could listen to 78 rpm records and continue our never-ending argument as to who was the greater, Gene Krupa or Duke Ellington -- my parents were concerned. He was black. Their worry was, “What if his parents should invite *us* to *their* house?

While still in high school I enlisted in the U.S. Navy. I was called to active duty in August, 1944. It was there, at the Great Lakes Naval Training Station, that I had my first encounter with official government-enforced segregation: an all-black unit in training -- “hup, two, hup two” -- right across the street from the main entrance.

A year and a half later I was stationed in Key West. On my way back to Key West after a holiday leave, I had another disturbing encounter with segregation. The train from New York made its first Florida stop in St. Augustine. Almost everyone in the car I had been traveling in went out on the platform for the fresh balmy air. But a lady who had been quietly sitting across the aisle from me all the way from New York was not allowed to return. The conductor stopped her and told her to get her things and move to “the car for colored people,” newly attached to the end of the train.

I really felt bad. I wanted to do something. But I felt so helpless! It was clear that no one on the platform was at all inclined to intervene. No one rebuked the conductor. No one demanded that the woman be allowed to return to her seat.

I had another encounter with segregation on my very last day in Key West. It had a happier resolution.

I and a buddy were on our way to our respective discharge centers: mine in Boston, his in Baltimore. The first leg of the journey for both of us was the bus trip to Miami. Our conversation in the waiting room was disrupted by a sharp command addressed to my buddy, “Boy, the waiting room for coloreds is over there.” Well, at that point we didn’t want to challenge The System by attempting to integrate the Colored Waiting Room. (In uniform or not, we might get arrested.) So I said to my buddy, “Let’s wait outside,” which we did. No further problem. It was not too long a wait.

Hanover, New Hampshire, two or three years later. Dartmouth. I’m taking a sociology course on race relations in the United States. Our assigned readings are the various studies that entered into Gunnar Myrdal’s great work, *The Negro in America*, then fresh off the press. There is one student (not a member of the class) whom I enjoy teasing. He’s from the deep south: a nice guy, but a staunch supporter of the segregation he was brought up in -- and not very well informed about it. I put a question about voting rights to him, but I can predict his answer. Yes, that very response is forthcoming: “But they’re not ready for it.”

Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1955. A nice liberal college town, right? Well, not according to the long-time black residents. And I have two stories.

One is a grim story of finding an apartment for myself and a black roommate. I had been evicted from my apartment downtown when my black friend moved in. But it was summer, and there were many “Apartments for Rent” notices. I didn’t think there would be a problem. Each time I checked out a notice, though, I would ask the landlord or landlady -- before concluding the deal -- whether the fact that my roommate was a Black American made any difference. And time and time again I would get the response:

“Oh! I’m afraid that does make a difference. I’m not prejudiced, you understand. I love people of all races and colors. But I have to think of my neighbors and how they might react. I’m afraid I cannot rent you these rooms.”

(One lawyer with an apartment to rent behind his office told me, “The clients visiting my office might see him!”)

All this, of course, was several decades before “Fair Housing” rules became routine in many localities. (I’m pleased to think that here in Milwaukee, my marching with Father Groppi had made a difference. I remember the great time when I and my two boys celebrated communion around the altar at St. Boniface with Father Groppi officiating. He was celebrating his release from jail -- he had disrupted a session of the State Legislature. It had been an act of civil disobedience and he had been duly punished.)

The fun story from my Ann Arbor days involves a factory on the edge of town. (Small towns in Michigan often have their auto parts factories. Many of the workers come from the Appalachian regions, where factory work is scarce. The migrants I came to know were all white; it could be that the factories just didn’t hire black workers.)

It sounds hard to believe, now, but I was almost thirty years of age, working in one of those auto-parts factories, when I heard, for the first time, a woman use the word “shit.” She was from Tennessee, and she stretched the word into a full three syllables: “Oh, shee-yit!”

(I’m sorry, but at this point my story, to be rightly told, has to include some even rougher language.)

The guy sharing my work-station, on the left, was from Kentucky. We didn’t have many common interests. But at one point he turned to me and asked, “Didja ever fuck a nigger?” The question startled me but I allowed that I had not. He assured me that he could make the arrangements, if I’d like to try it. I just let it all pass. But it occurred to me how utterly shocked that fellow from Kentucky would be, if I told him something that was in fact true: that at that very time I was dating a young black woman, a student studying Art at the University.

This nasty talk makes me think of one of my drinking companions in Key West -- Leroy Sims, as he would proudly introduce himself -- Leroy Sims, from Anniston, Alabama. “I’m from the South,” he would add.

One time the conversation around the beer table turned to sex. (Surprise!)
Someone asked Leroy if he’d ever had sex with a Negro.

“What!” said Leroy. “I’m from the South, and you ask me if I’ve ever had sex with a Negro!” (Actually, the words used were the common vulgar verb and the equally vulgar noun.)

Leroy went on to describe the time he was left at home alone with the housemaid -- the rest of the family was out shopping -- and he took the housemaid upstairs and raped her.

“Rape” was not the word Leroy used, but rape it surely was: resistance, or any complaint from her, and she loses her job. If she goes to the police, the police will hear Leroy’s denial and she -- if she persists -- will be accused of bringing false charges against an upright young man.

So here you have something of my background, Al. But stay with me: racial segregation Southern style was to hit me even harder. The account of my Arkansas adventure that follows is from a letter I wrote to the Philosophy Department at the University of Michigan on December 9, 2004.

In 1957 I received my degree and happily went off to my first job, at the University of Arkansas -- in Fayetteville, northwest corner of the state, some 250 miles from Little Rock.

But I found that all the talk there, in Fayetteville, was about Little Rock. The Arkansas NAACP won a lawsuit asking for the de-segregation of the public schools in Little Rock. The de-segregation of Central High School was the first step. A small group of black students were to be admitted in September. Community groups all over the city had been working hard to ease the strains and the tensions of de-segregation. The prevailing view was that it would be accomplished without violence.

But Orval Faubus was Governor, and he was of a different mind. As you probably know, he called out Arkansas’ National Guard to *prevent* the de-segregation of Central High. The segregationists discovered they had a friend in a very high place, and the political situation wholly unraveled.

In the course of the year that followed, the Arkansas Legislature investigated the NAACP and officially declared it to be a subversive organization. It implemented its finding with a statute prohibiting any agency receiving State funds from employing any member of the NAACP. The statute had teeth: the head of the agency would have to reimburse the state out of his or her own pocket if any salary money went to members of the NAACP.

But how do you recognize members of the NAACP? The legislature solved that problem easily. It enacted another statute (“Act 10″) requiring all public school teachers (the language included university professors) to file affidavits listing all the organizations that they were members of, or contributed to, or had belonged to or contributed to within the past five years.

(Act 10 had one loop-hole: it said nothing about the organizations that one’s *spouse* belonged to. In fact many faculty wives at the University of Arkansas belonged to the NAACP.)

The U. of A. Chapter of the AAUP led the battle against Act 10, and the national AAUP carried the case to the U.S. Supreme Court. The AAUP won: “Shelton v. Tucker”, 364 U.S. 479(1960). (See AAUP Bulletin for September 1959, March 1960, December 1963.)

But to us in the U. of A. Philosophy Department in 1958, that ultimate Supreme Court victory was of no avail. Two of the three senior professors in the Department had mortgages on their homes and kids they were sending to college. They would sign the affidavits. The third senior professor was planning to retire in two years, and had just purchased a farmhouse on a hill-top as the place where he and his wife could spend their final years. But Fritz Friedman knew oppression. He was a German Jew. When Hitler came to power he moved to Italy. He found some degree of security there — one of his students was the son of the head of Mussolini’s secret police. (Fritz enjoyed telling that story.) But then the Anti-Semitic laws were passed, and Fritz had to get out his student’s connections made it possible. When he arrived in England, however, World War II had already begun; he carried a German passport; and he and his family were thrown into a concentration camp as enemy aliens.

Well, he and his family did manage to make it to the United States. He found the security he wanted at the University of Arkansas. But he was not going to sign that Act 10 affidavit!

So we three younger persons in the Philosophy Department had a model to follow. If Fritz was willing to put at risk his job, his pension, and that farm, what excuse could we have, with so much less at stake!

In the summer of 1959 there were dismissals and the six-person Philosophy Department was reduced to two.

I had it easy, however. Through correspondence with Herbert Feigl I managed to get a temporary 1-year appointment at the University of Minnesota. So I was able to resign my position at Arkansas “before push came to shove.”

(This ends the excerpt from my letter of 12/9/04)

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

And in the actions of the Arkansas legislature one sees democracy rampant: majority rule unchecked by law, majority rule unchecked by concerns about human rights, majority rule unchecked by the sense of outrage felt by the rest of the world. Isn’t this the occasion for speaking of Original Sin? (Is it the temptations of the flesh that are so dangerous? The glorification of Race and Nation seem much more dangerous.)

One point to make is that Democracy is not a self-correcting enterprise. If the great mass of the citizenry become obsessed by some passion -- be it a fear of witches or a lust for war, the maintenance of a slave system or a hatred of foreigners -- one cannot rely upon the system itself to curb the passion. The officials who occupy the high places are popularly elected. Their power, their authority, and their influence depend precisely upon the popular support they can muster -- and the ability to win an election is a significant measure of that support. So even “the good guys” have to be politicians. They have to be willing to compromise their positions, to make the necessary trade-offs, to do the wheeling and dealing.

(Who are the good guys? Well, we might be able to agree on Lincoln and FDR, we might be able to agree on Jefferson and others among the Founding Fathers -- but I think of the late Senator William J. Fullbright, from Arkansas. He did so much in his time to ease the strains of the Cold War -- but had to sit on his hands on civil rights issues, if he was to accomplish anything at all.

Of course, the American system is not a straight majority-rule democracy. The Constitution puts constraints on what majorities can do; there is a recognized concept of Law; and there is, especially, the principle of an independent judiciary -- a system of courts that is not the tool of any transient majority, a system of courts where Reason has some chance of prevailing.

But how secure is tnat “independent judiciary?” The people hate it: it thwarts their will. We have evidence of this in the resistance to the school desegregation decisions that we saw in the 1950s, we have evidence of this in the angry howls of “judicial activism!” that we heard when state courts (Vermont, Massachusetts, New Jersey) ruled that the equal-treatment-under-the-law principles embedded in their respective constitutions trump both tradition and the popular will with respect to gay rights and same-sex unions. So there is a real question about the courts’ ability to enforce their rulings when wide-spread hostility exists. In the federal sysem, the Supreme Court has neither the power of the purse (which belongs to Congress) nor the power of the sword (which belongs to the Executive Branch). How then can the rule of law prevail?)

The only long-run solution that I can think of is for persons of good-will everywhere, in all walks of life, to recognize everyone’s obligation to reach out to their neighbors, to resist hurtful passions, and to insist always on sound principles of Justice and Fair Play.

To put on a mask of neutrality or indifference is to walk away from the duties of citizenship.

Thanks for reading this far, Al.

Dave Luce
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Alice Walker on Obama

March 27, 2008

I HAVE COME home from a long stay in Mexico to find – because of the presidential campaign, and especially because of the Obama/Clinton race for the Democratic nomination - a new country existing alongside the old. On any given day we, collectively, become the Goddess of the Three Directions and can look back into the past, look at ourselves just where we are, and take a glance, as well, into the future. It is a space with which I am familiar.

When I was born in 1944 my parents lived on a middle Georgia plantation that was owned by a white distant relative, Miss May Montgomery. (During my childhood it was necessary to address all white girls as ‘Miss’ when they reached the age of twelve.) She would never admit to this relationship, of course, except to mock it. Told by my parents that several of their children would not eat chicken skin she responded that of course they would not. No Montgomerys would.

My parents and older siblings did everything imaginable for Miss May. They planted and raised her cotton and corn, fed and killed and processed her cattle and hogs, painted her house, patched her roof, ran her dairy, and, among countless other duties and responsibilities my father was her chauffeur, taking her anywhere she wanted to go at any hour of the day or night. She lived in a large white house with green shutters and a green, luxuriant lawn: not quite as large as Tara of Gone With the Wind fame, but in the same style.

We lived in a shack without electricity or running water, under a rusty tin roof that let in wind and rain. Miss May went to school as a girl. The school my parents and their neighbors built for us was burned to the ground by local racists who wanted to keep ignorant their competitors in tenant farming. During the Depression, desperate to feed his hardworking family, my father asked for a raise from ten dollars a month to twelve. Miss May responded that she would not pay that amount to a white man and she certainly wouldn’t pay it to a nigger. That before she’d pay a nigger that much money she’d milk the dairy cows herself.

When I look back, this is part of what I see. I see the school bus carrying white children, boys and girls, right past me, and my brothers, as we trudge on foot five miles to school. Later, I see my parents struggling to build a school out of discarded army barracks while white students, girls and boys, enjoy a building made of brick. We had no books; we inherited the cast off books that ‘Jane’ and ‘Dick’ had previously used in the all-white school that we were not, as black children, permitted to enter.

The year I turned fifty, one of my relatives told me she had started reading my books for children in the library in my home town. I had had no idea – so kept from black people it had been – that such a place existed. To this day knowing my presence was not wanted in the public library when I was a child I am highly uncomfortable in libraries and will rarely, unless I am there to help build, repair, refurbish or raise money to keep them open, enter their doors.

When I joined the freedom movement in Mississippi in my early twenties it was to come to the aid of sharecroppers, like my parents, who had been thrown off the land they’d always known, the plantations, because they attempted to exercise their ‘democratic’ right to vote. I wish I could say white women treated me and other black people a lot better than the men did, but I cannot. It seemed to me then and it seems to me now that white women have copied, all too often, the behavior of their fathers and their brothers, and in the South, especially in Mississippi, and before that, when I worked to register voters in Georgia, the broken bottles thrown at my head were gender free.

I made my first white women friends in college; they were women who loved me and were loyal to our friendship, but I understood, as they did, that they were white women and that whiteness mattered. That, for instance, at Sarah Lawrence, where I was speedily inducted into the Board of Trustees practically as soon as I graduated, I made my way to the campus for meetings by train, subway and foot, while the other trustees, women and men, all white, made their way by limo. Because, in our country, with its painful history of unspeakable inequality, this is part of what whiteness means. I loved my school for trying to make me feel I mattered to it, but because of my relative poverty I knew I could not.

I am a supporter of Obama because I believe he is the right person to lead the country at this time. He offers a rare opportunity for the country and the world to start over, and to do better. It is a deep sadness to me that many of my feminist white women friends cannot see him. Cannot see what he carries in his being. Cannot hear the fresh choices toward Movement he offers. That they can believe that millions of Americans –black, white, yellow, red and brown - choose Obama over Clinton only because he is a man, and black, feels tragic to me.

When I have supported white people, men and women, it was because I thought them the best possible people to do whatever the job required. Nothing else would have occurred to me. If Obama were in any sense mediocre, he would be forgotten by now. He is, in fact, a remarkable human being, not perfect but humanly stunning, like King was and like Mandela is. We look at him, as we looked at them, and are glad to be of our species. He is the change America has been trying desperately and for centuries to hide, ignore, kill. The change America must have if we are to convince the rest of the world that we care about people other than our (white) selves.

True to my inner Goddess of the Three Directions however, this does not mean I agree with everything Obama stands for. We differ on important points probably because I am older than he is, I am a woman and person of three colors, (African, Native American, European), I was born and raised in the American South, and when I look at the earth’s people, after sixty-four years of life, there is not one person I wish to see suffer, no matter what they have done to me or to anyone else; though I understand quite well the place of suffering, often, in human growth.

I want a grown-up attitude toward Cuba, for instance, a country and a people I love; I want an end to the embargo that has harmed my friends and their children, children who, when I visit Cuba, trustingly turn their faces up for me to kiss. I agree with a teacher of mine, Howard Zinn, that war is as objectionable as cannibalism and slavery; it is beyond obsolete as a means of improving life. I want an end to the on-going war immediately and I want the soldiers to be encouraged to destroy their weapons and to drive themselves out of Iraq.

I want the Israeli government to be made accountable for its behavior towards the Palestinians, and I want the people of the United States to cease acting like they don’t understand what is going on. All colonization, all occupation, all repression basically looks the same, whoever is doing it. Here our heads cannot remain stuck in the sand; our future depends of our ability to study, to learn, to understand what is in the records and what is before our eyes. But most of all I want someone with the self-confidence to talk to anyone, ‘enemy’ or ‘friend,’ and this Obama has shown he can do. It is difficult to understand how one could vote for a person who is afraid to sit and talk to another human being. When you vote you are making someone a proxy for yourself; they are to speak when, and in places, you cannot. But if they find talking to someone else, who looks just like them, human, impossible, then what good is your vote?

It is hard to relate what it feels like to see Mrs. Clinton (I wish she felt self-assured enough to use her own name) referred to as ‘a woman’ while Barack Obama is always referred to as ‘a black man.’ One would think she is just any woman, colorless, race-less, past-less, but she is not. She carries all the history of white womanhood in America in her person; it would be a miracle if we, and the world, did not react to this fact. How dishonest it is, to attempt to make her innocent of her racial inheritance.

I can easily imagine Obama sitting down and talking, person to person, with any leader, woman, man, child or common person, in the world, with no baggage of past servitude or race supremacy to mar their talks. I cannot see the same scenario with Mrs. Clinton who would drag into Twenty-First Century American leadership the same image of white privilege and distance from the reality of others’ lives that has so marred our country’s contacts with the rest of the world.

And yes, I would adore having a woman president of the United States. My choice would be Representative Barbara Lee, who alone voted in Congress five years ago not to make war on Iraq. That to me is leadership, morality, and courage; if she had been white I would have cheered just as hard.

But she is not running for the highest office in the land, Mrs. Clinton is. And because Mrs. Clinton is a woman and because she may be very good at what she does, many people, including some younger women in my own family, originally favored her over Obama. I understand this, almost. It is because, in my own nieces’ case, there is little memory, apparently, of the foundational inequities that still plague people of color and poor whites in this country. Why, even though our family has been here longer than most North American families – and only partly due to the fact that we have Native American genes – we very recently, in my lifetime, secured the right to vote, and only after numbers of people suffered and died for it.

When I offered the word ‘Womanism’ many years ago, it was to give us a tool to use, as feminist women of color, in times like these. These are the moments we can see clearly, and must honor devotedly, our singular path as women of color in the United States. We are not white women and this truth has been ground into us for centuries, often in brutal ways. But neither are we inclined to follow a black person, man or woman, unless they demonstrate considerable courage, intelligence, compassion and substance. I am delighted that so many women of color support Barack Obama -and genuinely proud of the many young and old white women and men who do.

Imagine, if he wins the presidency we will have not one but three black women in the White House; one tall, two somewhat shorter; none of them carrying the washing in and out of the back door. The bottom line for most of us is: With whom do we have a better chance of surviving the madness and fear we are presently enduring, and with whom do we wish to set off on a journey of new possibility? In other words, as the Hopi elders would say: Who do we want in the boat with us as we head for the rapids? Who is likely to know how best to share the meager garden produce and water? We are advised by the Hopi elders to celebrate this time, whatever its adversities.

We have come a long way, Sisters, and we are up to the challenges of our time. One of which is to build alliances based not on race, ethnicity, color, nationality, sexual preference or gender, but on Truth. Celebrate our journey. Enjoy the miracle we are witnessing. Do not stress over its outcome. Even if Obama becomes president, our country is in such ruin it may well be beyond his power to lead us toward rehabilitation. If he is elected however, we must, individually and collectively, as citizens of the planet, insist on helping him do the best job that can be done; more, we must insist that he demand this of us.
It is a blessing that our mothers taught us not to fear hard work. Know, as the Hopi elders declare: The river has its destination. And remember, as poet June Jordan and Sweet Honey in the Rock never tired of telling us: We are the ones we have been waiting for.

Namaste;

And with all my love,

Alice Walker
Cazul

Northern California
First Day of Spring
March 21, 2008

Tom Hayden, Bill Fletcher, Barbara Ehrenreich, and Danny Glover Back Obama

http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2008/03/26/7893/

Wednesday, March 26, 2008 by Progressive Democrats of America
Progressives for Obama
by Tom Hayden, Bill Fletcher, Barbara Ehrenreich, and Danny Glover

All American progressives should unite for Barack Obama. We descend from the proud tradition of independent social movements that have made America a more just and democratic country. We believe that the movement today supporting Barack Obama continues this great tradition of grass-roots participation drawing millions of people out of apathy and into participation in the decisions that affect all our lives. We believe that Barack Obama’s very biography reflects the positive potential of the globalization process that also contains such grave threats to our democracy when shaped only by the narrow interests of private corporations in an unregulated global marketplace. We should instead be globalizing the values of equality, a living wage and environmental sustainability in the new world order, not hoping our deepest concerns will be protected by trickle down economics or charitable billionaires. By its very existence, the Obama campaign will stimulate a vision of globalization from below.

As progressives we believe this sudden and unexpected new movement is just what America needs. The future has arrived. The alternative would mean a return to the dismal status quo party politics that have failed so far to deliver peace, health care, full employment and effective answers to crises like global warming.

During past progressive peaks in our political history-the late Thirties, the early Sixties-social movements have provided the relentless pressure and innovative ideas that allowed centrist leaders to embrace visionary solutions. We find ourselves in just such a situation today.

We intend to join and engage with our brothers and sisters in the vast rainbow of social movements to come together in support of Obama’s unprecedented campaign and candidacy. Even though it is candidate-centered, there is no doubt that the campaign is a social movement, one greater than the candidate himself ever imagined.

Progressives can make a difference in close primary races like Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Oregon, Puerto Rico, and in the November general election. We can contribute our dollars. We have the proven online capacity to reach millions of swing voters in the primary and general election. We can and will defend Obama against negative attacks from any quarter. We will seek Green support against the claim of some that there are no real differences between Obama and McCain. We will criticize any efforts by Democratic super-delegates to suppress the winner of the popular and delegate votes, or to legitimize the flawed elections in Michigan and Florida. We will make our agenda known at the Democratic national convention and fight for a platform emphasizing progressive priorities as the path to victory.

Obama’s March 17 speech on racism was as great a speech as ever given by a presidential candidate, revealing a philosophical depth, personal authenticity, and political intelligence that should convince any but the hardest of ideologues that he carries unmatched leadership potentials for overcoming the divide-and-conquer tactics which have sundered Americans since the first slaves arrived here in chains.

Only words? What words they were.

However, the fact that Barack Obama openly defines himself as a centrist invites the formation of this progressive force within his coalition. Anything less could allow his eventual drift towards the right as the general election approaches. It was the industrial strikes and radical organizers in the 1930s who pushed Roosevelt to support the New Deal. It was the civil rights and student movements that brought about voting rights legislation under Lyndon Johnson and propelled Eugene McCarthy and Bobby Kennedy’s anti-war campaigns. It was the original Earth Day that led Richard Nixon to sign environmental laws. And it will be the Obama movement that makes it necessary and possible to end the war in Iraq, renew our economy with a populist emphasis, and confront the challenge of global warming.

We should not only keep the pressure on, but we also should connect the issues that Barack Obama has made central to his campaign into an overarching progressive vision.

- The Iraq War must end as rapidly as possible, not in five years. All our troops must be withdrawn. Diplomacy and trade must replace further military occupation or military escalation into Iran and Pakistan. We should not stop urging Barack Obama to avoid leaving American advisers behind in Iraq in a counterinsurgency quagmire like Afghanistan today or Central America in the 1970s and 1980s. Nor should he simply transfer American combat troops from the quagmire in Iraq to the quagmire in Afghanistan.

- Iraq cannot be separated from our economic crisis. Iraq is costing trillions of dollars that should be invested in jobs, universal health care, education, housing and public works here at home. Our own Gulf Coast requires the attention and funds now spent on Gulf oil.

- Iraq cannot be separated from our energy crisis. We are spending an unheard-of $100/barrel for oil. We are officially committed to wars over oil supplies far into the future. We instead need a war against global warming and for energy independence from Middle Eastern police states and multinational corporations.

Progressives should support Obama’s 16-month combat troop withdrawal plan in comparison to Clinton’s open-ended one, and demand that both candidates avoid a slide into four more years of low-visibility counterinsurgency.

The Democratic candidates should listen more to the blunt advice of the voters instead of the timid talk of their national security advisers. Two-thirds of American voters, and a much higher percentage of Democrats, oppose this war and favor withdrawal in less than two years, nearly half of them in less than one year. The same percentage believe the war has had a negative effect on life in the United States, while only 15 percent believe the war has been positive. Without this solid peace sentiment, neither Obama nor Clinton would be taking the stands they do today.

Further, the battered and abused people of Iraq favor an American withdrawal by a 70 percent margin.

The American government’s arrogant defiance of these strong popular majorities in both America and Iraq should be ended this November by a powerful peace mandate.

The profound transition from the policies of the past will not be easy, and fortunately the Obama campaign is lifted by the fresh wind of change. We seek not only to change the faces in high places, however, but to save our country from slow death by greed, status quo politics, and loss of vision. The status quo cannot stand much longer, neither that of politics-as-usual nor that of our security, energy and economic policies. We are stealing from the next generation’s future, and living on borrowed time.

The Bush Administration has replaced the Cold War with the War on Terrorism led by the same military-industrial complex that President Eisenhower warned against. The reality and public fear of terrorism today is no less real than fear of communism and nuclear annihilation a generation ago. But we simply cannot continue multiple military interventions in many Muslim countries without increasing the vast number of violent jihadists against us, bleeding our military and our economy, becoming more dependent on Middle East oil, creating unsavory alliances with police states, shrinking our own civil liberties and putting ourselves at permanent risk of another 9/11 attack.

We need a brave turn towards peace and conflict resolution in the Middle East and the Muslim world. Getting out of Iraq, sponsoring a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians, ending alliances with police states in the Arab world, unilaterally initiating real energy independence and moving the world away from the global warming crises are the steps that must be taken.

Nor can we impose NAFTA-style trade agreements on so many nations that seek only to control their own national resources and economic destinies. We cannot globalize corporate and financial power over democratic values and institutions. Since the Clinton Administration pushed through NAFTA against the Democratic majority in Congress, one Latin American nation after another has elected progressive governments that reject US trade deals and hegemony. We are isolated in Latin America by our Cold War and drug war crusades, by the $500 million counter-insurgency in Columbia, support for the 2002 coup attempt in Venezuela, and the ineffectual blockade of Cuba. We need to return to the Good Neighbor policies of Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1930s, which rejected Yankee military intervention and accepted Mexico’s right to nationalize its oil in the face of industry opposition. The pursuit of NAFTA-style trade policies inflames our immigration crisis as well, by uprooting countless campesinos who inevitably seek low-wage jobs north of the border in order to survive. We need balanced and democratically-approved trade agreements that focus on the needs of workers, consumers and the environment. The Banana Republic is a retail chain, not an American colony protected by the Monroe Doctrine.

We are pleased that Hillary Clinton has been responsive to the tide of voter opinion this year, and we applaud the possibility of at last electing an American woman president. But progressives should be disturbed at her duplicitous positions on Iraq and NAFTA. She still denies that her 2002 vote for legislation which was called the war authorization bill was a vote for war authorization. She now promises to “end the war” but will not set a timeline for combat troop withdrawal, and remains committed to leaving tens of thousands of counter-terrorism troops and trainers in Iraq amidst a sectarian conflict. While Obama needs to clarify his own position on counterinsurgency, Clinton’s “end the war” rhetoric conceals an open commitment to keep American troops in Iraq until all our ill-defined enemies are defeated-a treadmill which guarantees only the spawning of more enemies. On NAFTA, she claims to have opposed the trade deal behind closed doors when she was First Lady. But the public record, and documents recently disclosed in response to litigation, proves that she was a cheerleader for NAFTA against the strong opposition of rank-and-file Democrats. The Clintons ushered in the Wall Street Democrats whose deregulation ethos has widened inequality while leaving millions of Americans without their rightful protections against market shocks.

Clinton’s most bizarre claim is that Obama is unqualified to be commander-in-chief. Clinton herself never served in the military, and has no experience in the armed services apart from the Senate armed services committee. Her husband had no military experience before becoming president. In fact he was a draft opponent during Vietnam, a stance we respected. She was the first lady, and he the governor, of one of our smallest states. They brought no more experience, and arguably less, to the White House than Obama would in 2009.

We take very seriously the argument that Americans should elect a first woman president, and we abhor the surfacing of sexism in this supposedly post-feminist era. But none of us would vote for Condoleeza Rice as either the first woman or first African-American president. We regret that the choice divides so many progressive friends and allies, but believe that a Clinton presidency would be a Clinton presidency all over again, not a triumph of feminism but a restoration of the aging, power-driven Wall Street Democratic Hawks at a moment when so much more fresh imagination is possible and needed. A Clinton victory could only be achieved by the dashing of hope among millions of young people on whom a better future depends. The style of the Clintons’ attacks on Obama, which are likely to escalate as her chances of winning decline, already risks losing too many Democratic and independent voters in November. We believe that the Hillary Clinton of 1968 would be an Obama volunteer today, just as she once marched in the snows of New Hampshire for Eugene McCarthy against the Democratic establishment.

We did not foresee the exciting social movement that is the Obama campaign. Many of us supported other candidates, or waited skeptically as weeks and months passed. But the closeness of the race makes it imperative that everyone on the sidelines, everyone in doubt, everyone vacillating, everyone fearing betrayals and the blasting of hope, everyone quarreling over political correctness, must join this fight to the finish. Not since Robert Kennedy’s 1968 campaign has there been a passion to imagine the world anew like the passion and unprecedented numbers of people mobilized in this campaign.

Tom Hayden is author of Ending the War in Iraq, a five-time Democratic convention delegate, former state senator, and board member of the Progressive Democrats of America. Bill Fletcher, Jr., who originated the call for founding “Progressives for Obama,” is the executive editor of Black Commentator, and founder of the Center for Labor Renewal; Barbara Ehrenreich is the author of Dancing in the Streets[2007] and other popular works and, with Hayden, a member of The Nation’s editorial board. Danny Glover is the respected actor, activist, and chairman of the board of TransAfrica.

For more information see: http://progressivesforobama.blogspot.com/

Extensive Article on Obama’s Mom

Stanley Ann Dunham Soetoro: ‘A Very, Very Big Thinker’

The Long Run
A Free-Spirited Wanderer Who Set Obama’s Path
By JANNY SCOTT
Published: March 14, 2008

In the capsule version of the Barack Obama story, his mother is simply the white woman from Kansas. The phrase comes coupled alliteratively to its counterpart, the black father from Kenya. On the campaign trail, he has called her his “single mom.” But neither description begins to capture the unconventional life of Stanley Ann Dunham Soetoro, the parent who most shaped Mr. Obama.

Kansas was merely a way station in her childhood, wheeling westward in the slipstream of her furniture-salesman father. In Hawaii, she married an African student at age 18. Then she married an Indonesian, moved to Jakarta, became an anthropologist, wrote an 800-page dissertation on peasant blacksmithing in Java, worked for the Ford Foundation, championed women’s work and helped bring microcredit to the world’s poor.

She had high expectations for her children. In Indonesia, she would wake her son at 4 a.m. for correspondence courses in English before school; she brought home recordings of Mahalia Jackson, speeches by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. And when Mr. Obama asked to stay in Hawaii for high school rather than return to Asia, she accepted living apart — a decision her daughter says was one of the hardest in Ms. Soetoro’s life.

“She felt that somehow, wandering through uncharted territory, we might stumble upon something that will, in an instant, seem to represent who we are at the core,” said Maya Soetoro-Ng, Mr. Obama’s half-sister. “That was very much her philosophy of life — to not be limited by fear or narrow definitions, to not build walls around ourselves and to do our best to find kinship and beauty in unexpected places.”

Ms. Soetoro, who died of ovarian cancer in 1995, was the parent who raised Mr. Obama, the Illinois senator running for the Democratic presidential nomination. He barely saw his father after the age of 2. Though it is impossible to pinpoint the imprint of a parent on the life of a grown child, people who knew Ms. Soetoro well say they see her influence unmistakably in Mr. Obama.

They were close, her friends and his half-sister say, though they spent much of their lives with oceans or continents between them. He would not be where he is today, he has said, had it not been for her. Yet he has also made some different choices — marrying into a tightly knit African-American family rooted in the South Side of Chicago, becoming a churchgoing Christian, publicly recounting his search for his identity as a black man.

Some of what he has said about his mother seems tinged with a mix of love and regret. He has said his biggest mistake was not being at her bedside when she died. And when The Associated Press asked the candidates about “prized keepsakes” — others mentioned signed baseballs, a pocket watch, a “trophy wife” — Mr. Obama said his was a photograph of the cliffs of the South Shore of Oahu in Hawaii where his mother’s ashes were scattered.

“I think sometimes that had I known she would not survive her illness, I might have written a different book, less a meditation on the absent parent, more a celebration of the one who was the single constant in my life,” he wrote in the preface to his memoir, “Dreams From My Father.” He added, “I know that she was the kindest, most generous spirit I have ever known, and that what is best in me I owe to her.”

In a campaign in which Senator John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, has made liberal use of his globe-trotting 96-year-old mother to answer suspicions that he might be an antique at 71, Mr. Obama, who declined to be interviewed for this article, invokes his mother’s memory sparingly. In one television advertisement, she appears fleetingly — porcelain-skinned, raven-haired and holding her toddler son. “My mother died of cancer at 53,” he says in the ad, which focuses on health care. “In those last painful months, she was more worried about paying her medical bills than getting well.”

‘A Very, Very Big Thinker’

He has described her as a teenage mother, a single mother, a mother who worked, went to school and raised children at the same time. He has credited her with giving him a great education and confidence in his ability to do the right thing. But, in interviews, friends and colleagues of Ms. Soetoro shed light on a side of her that is less well known.

“She was a very, very big thinker,” said Nancy Barry, a former president of Women’s World Banking, an international network of microfinance providers, where Ms. Soetoro worked in New York City in the early 1990s. “I think she was not at all personally ambitious, I think she cared about the core issues, and I think she was not afraid to speak truth to power.”

Her parents were from Kansas — her mother from Augusta, her father from El Dorado, a place Mr. Obama first visited in a campaign stop in January. Stanley Ann (her father wanted a boy so he gave her his name) was born on an Army base during World War II. The family moved to California, Kansas, Texas and Washington in restless pursuit of opportunity before landing in Honolulu in 1960.

In a Russian class at the University of Hawaii, she met the college’s first African student, Barack Obama. They married and had a son in August 1961, in an era when interracial marriage was rare in the United States. Her parents were upset, Senator Obama learned years later from his mother, but they adapted. “I am a little dubious of the things that people from foreign countries tell me,” the senator’s grandmother told an interviewer several years ago.

The marriage was brief. In 1963, Mr. Obama left for Harvard, leaving his wife and child. She then married Lolo Soetoro, an Indonesian student. When he was summoned home in 1966 after the turmoil surrounding the rise of Suharto, Ms. Soetoro and Barack followed.

Those choices were not entirely surprising, said several high school friends of Ms. Soetoro, whom they remembered as unusually intelligent, curious and open. She never dated “the crew-cut white boys,” said one friend, Susan Blake: “She had a world view, even as a young girl. It was embracing the different, rather than that ethnocentric thing of shunning the different. That was where her mind took her.”

Her second marriage faded, too, in the 1970s. Ms. Soetoro wanted to work, one friend said, and Mr. Soetoro wanted more children. He became more American, she once said, as she became more Javanese. “There’s a Javanese belief that if you’re married to someone and it doesn’t work, it will make you sick,” said Alice G. Dewey, an anthropologist and friend. “It’s just stupid to stay married.”

That both unions ended is beside the point, some friends suggested. Ms. Soetoro remained loyal to both husbands and encouraged her children to feel connected to their fathers. (In reading drafts of her son’s memoir, Mr. Obama has said, she did not comment upon his depiction of her but was “quick to explain or defend the less flattering aspects of my father’s character.”)

“She always felt that marriage as an institution was not particularly essential or important,” said Nina Nayar, who later became a close friend of Ms. Soetoro. What mattered to her, Ms. Nayar said, was to have loved deeply.

By 1974, Ms. Soetoro was back in Honolulu, a graduate student and raising Barack and Maya, nine years younger. Barack was on scholarship at a prestigious prep school, Punahou. When Ms. Soetoro decided to return to Indonesia three years later for her field work, Barack chose not to go.

“I doubted what Indonesia now had to offer and wearied of being new all over again,” he wrote in his memoir. “More than that, I’d arrived at an unspoken pact with my grandparents: I could live with them and they’d leave me alone so long as I kept my trouble out of sight.” During those years, he was “engaged in a fitful interior struggle. I was trying to raise myself to be a black man in America.” Ms. Soetoro-Ng recalled her mother’s quandary. “She wanted him to be with her,” Ms. Soetoro-Ng said. But she added: “Although it was painful to be separated from him for his last four years of high school, she recognized that it was perhaps the best thing for him. And she had to go to Indonesia at that time.”

That time apart was hard for both mother and son.

“She longed for him,” said Georgia McCauley, who became a friend of Ms. Soetoro in Jakarta. Barack spent summers and Christmas vacations with his mother; they communicated by letters, his illustrated with cartoons. Her first topic of conversation was always her son, her female friends said. As for him, he was grappling with questions of racial identity, alienation and belonging.

“There were certainly times in his life in those four years when he could have used her presence on a more daily basis,” Ms. Soetoro-Ng said. “But I think he did all right for Fluent in Indonesian, Ms. Soetoro moved with Maya first to Yogyakarta, the center of Javanese handicrafts. A weaver in college, she was fascinated with what Ms. Soetoro-Ng calls “life’s gorgeous minutiae.” That interest inspired her study of village industries, which became the basis of her 1992 doctoral dissertation.

“She loved living in Java,” said Dr. Dewey, who recalled accompanying Ms. Soetoro to a metalworking village. “People said: ‘Hi! How are you?’ She said: ‘How’s your wife? Did your daughter have the baby?’ They were friends. Then she’d whip out her notebook and she’d say: ‘How many of you have electricity? Are you having trouble getting iron?’ ”

She became a consultant for the United States Agency for International Development on setting up a village credit program, then a Ford Foundation program officer in Jakarta specializing in women’s work. Later, she was a consultant in Pakistan, then joined Indonesia’s oldest bank to work on what is described as the world’s largest sustainable microfinance program, creating services like credit and savings for the poor.

Visitors flowed constantly through her Ford Foundation office in downtown Jakarta and through her house in a neighborhood to the south, where papaya and banana trees grew in the front yard and Javanese dishes like opor ayam were served for dinner. Her guests were leaders in the Indonesian human rights movement, people from women’s organizations, representatives of community groups doing grass-roots development.

“I didn’t know a lot of them and would often ask after, ‘Who was that?’ ” said David S. McCauley, now an environmental economist at the Asian Development Bank in Manila, who had the office next door. “You’d find out it was the head of some big organization in with thousands of members from central Java or someplace, somebody that she had met some time ago, and they would make a point of coming to see her when they came to Jakarta.”

An Exacting Idealist

As a mother, Ms. Soetoro was both idealistic and exacting. Friends describe her as variously informal and intense, humorous and hardheaded. She preached to her young son the importance of honesty, straight talk, independent judgment. When he balked at her early-morning home schooling, she retorted, “This is no picnic for me either, buster.”

When Barack was in high school, she confronted him about his seeming lack of ambition, Mr. Obama wrote. He could get into any college in the country, she told him, with just a little effort. (“Remember what that’s like? Effort?”) He says he looked at her, so earnest and sure of his destiny: “I suddenly felt like puncturing that certainty of hers, letting her know that her experiment with me had failed.”

Ms. Soetoro-Ng, who herself became an anthropologist, remembers conversations with her mother about philosophy or politics, books, esoteric Indonesian woodworking motifs. One Christmas in Indonesia, Ms. Soetoro found a scrawny tree and decorated it with red and green chili peppers and popcorn balls.

“She gave us a very broad understanding of the world,” her daughter said. “She hated bigotry. She was very determined to be remembered for a life of service and thought that service was really the true measure of a life.” Many of her friends see her legacy in Mr. Obama — in his self-assurance and drive, his boundary bridging, even his apparent comfort with strong women. Some say she changed them, too.

“I feel she taught me how to live,” said Ms. Nayar, who was in her 20s when she met Ms. Soetoro at Women’s World Banking. “She was not particularly concerned about what society would say about working women, single women, women marrying outside their culture, women who were fearless and who dreamed big.”

The Final Months

After her diagnosis, Ms. Soetoro spent the last months of her life in Hawaii, near her mother. (Her father had died.) Mr. Obama has recalled talking with her in her hospital bed about her fears of ending up broke. She was not ready to die, he has said. Even so, she helped him and Maya “push on with our lives, despite our dread, our denials, our sudden constrictions of the heart.”

She died in November 1995, as Mr. Obama was starting his first campaign for public office. After a memorial service at the University of Hawaii, one friend said, a small group of friends drove to the South Shore in Oahu. With the wind whipping the waves onto the rocks, Mr. Obama and Ms. Soetoro-Ng placed their mother’s ashes in the Pacific, sending them off in the direction of Indonesia.

Michelle Obama: Child’s obesity challenge, “high-fructose corn syrup…, “everything in a bottle or a package is like poison”

From a “New Yorker” article on Michelle Obama
http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2008/03/10/080310fa_fact_collins?currentPage=6

When Barack was elected to the United States Senate, the Obamas decided that Michelle and the girls would remain in Chicago rather than leave behind what she refers to as her “support base.” A local mother told the Tribune, of their chore-swapping, “This weekend was Hannah Montana, next weekend Michelle has soccer-skills practice.”

One morning, during a roundtable at Ma Fischer’s, a diner in Milwaukee, Elizabeth Crawford, a recently divorced caterer with two children, brought up the subject of the eating habits of American families. “I really, really hope that Barack will jump on that,” she said.

Then, having given thoughtful but boilerplate responses most of the morning, Obama suddenly departed from her script. It was the most animated I saw her on the campaign trail. “You know,” she said, “in my household, over the last year we have just shifted to organic for this very reason. I mean, I saw just a moment in my nine-year-old’s life—we have a good pediatrician, who is very focussed on childhood obesity, and there was a period where he was, like, ‘Mmm, she’s tipping the scale.’ So we started looking through our cabinets. . . . You know, you’ve got fast food on Saturday, a couple days a week you don’t get home. The leftovers, good, not the third day! . . . So that whole notion of cooking on Sunday is out. . . . And the notion of trying to think about a lunch every day! . . . So you grab the Lunchables, right? And the fruit-juice-box thing, and we think—we think—that’s juice. And you start reading the labels and you realize there’s high-fructose corn syrup in everything we’re eating. Every jelly, every juice. Everything that’s in a bottle or a package is like poison in a way that most people don’t even know. . . . Now we’re keeping, like, a bowl of fresh fruit in the house. But you have to go to the fruit stand a couple of times a week to keep that fruit fresh enough that a six-year-old—she’s not gonna eat the pruney grape, you know. At that point it’s, like, ‘Eww!’ She’s not gonna eat the brown banana or the shrivelledy-up things. It’s got to be fresh for them to want it. Who’s got time to go to the fruit stand? Who can afford it, first of all?”

If you would like to help the presidential candidates discover the possibilities of the locally produced, organic food movement, send an e-mail to locavores@milwaukeerenaissance.com.

Presidential Candidates Propounding Myth of College As “The Way”

I think the nation would be better served were we to face up to a basic fact:

College education for some, for many, is not the way to the good life.

In fact, the myth of college education as the way to the good life
Considerably contributes to “surplus suffering.”

Many parents chain themselves to dehumanizing work situations
To pay for college education for their children, many of whom
Profit little or nothing from the experience.

Many parents torture those of their children who are not college inclined
And pressure them into spending big bucks, lots of time,
On an “educational experience” the children don’t want and
Often, can’t use.

How many of us know of friends who majored in a hot subject
Only to find upon graduation and big loans that the hot subject
Was now overpopulated and next to worthless in the job market.

How many of us know friends who got generalist degrees
Conferring insights and a sensibility they could have picked up by an experience of self-education
With street/pub/work/google mentors without enduring the costs of a college degree.

Why not recognize that certain young people’s personality or life-situation
Precludes college but not on-the-job education and self-teaching
Of the kind that marked much of humanity over the centuries.

Apprenticeships with artists, artisans, knowledge workers, small business owners
And the like is, for certain young and older people, a much more likely
Source of career and life “success” than the college route.

We do ourselves a disservice assuming there is only one road to Rome.

An apprentice Milwaukee urban farmer
http://www.milwaukeerenaissance.com/Main/HomePage

Live Locally Concepts for Obama Team/Movement Consideration

http://www.livelocalmilwakee.org is the heart of Milwaukee’s hope, and I hope Obamma’s campaigns in the cities of the USA .

Why Live Local?

EAT LOCAL: 7 Reasons

  1. Keeps money in the local economy.

  2. Locally grown produce is fresher.

  3. Locally grown fruits and vegetables can be grown for flavor, rather than ability to be shipped.

  4. Less distance from farm to plate means less pollution.

  5. Buying local food keeps us in touch with the seasons.

  6. Local food translates into more variety.

  7. Supports responsible land use, including the preservation of farm land.

GROW LOCAL

“To plant a garden is to believe in the future.”

BUY LOCAL

  • money spent at local independent businesses is 2 to 3 times more likely to stay in the local economy…

Local businesses are..stable source of jobs ….

LOCAL ENERGY

  • support for renewable energy result in greater energy independence for our region.

LOCAL TRANSPORT

  • moving away from the “car culture”….Walking, biking, ridesharing, …

LOCAL CULTURE

  • media reinforces patterns of consumption and “homogenizes”….our culture, local arts, entertainment… retain the unique character of our communities …

Link to Information About Clinton’s and Obama’s Legislative Activities

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2008/2/20/201332/807/36/458633

Question re Industrial Food System vs Organic Local Agriculture for U. of Penn Debate

“Oil prices are soaring, transportation costs are getting out of sight, food scares and recalls are a daily occurrence on the news, and our industrialized agricultural system is failing us while driving small farmers into bankruptcy. Isn’t it time to support efforts to develop regional and local strategies like urban agriculture to address these issues? There is no down-side to local production, and there is huge potential to impact the above listed problems plus a number of seemingly intractable social and environmental issues as well.”

Howard Hinterthuer

Urban Agriculture/Edible Playgrounds Conference Next Door to Chris Matthews Moderated U. of Penn Debate

Is it not time for the issues raised by critics of our oil-based, industrial agriculture industry, including best selling authors Michael Pollan and Barbara Kingsolver, to be the subject of public discussion as we choose the next president?

Are not the projects and visions shared at the First International Urban Agriculture Conference: “Pollinating Our Future,” in Milwaukee this past Feb. 28 through March 1, worthy of a question to the candidates at the debate proposed by Chris Matthews for the Pennsylvania primary to be held at the University of Pennsylvania.

We are in contact with three University of Pennsylvania students who might know enough about these matters as to frame a rich question that will serve to bring organic urban agriculture and edible playgrounds into the nation’s conversation this presidential year.

Lend a hand inspiring our candidates and the members of their teams and movements to have an international conversation about food.

Jerry Kaufman has an idea to propose.

Jac Smits expressed interest in contributing to a dialog about our food systems, their shortcomings, new possibilities, with particular attention to organic and urban agriculture, ornamental food gardens, community gardens, edible playgrounds, and many more projects being developed by the urban agrarians and organic farmers of all continents and civilizations, increasingly connecting with one another, across the boundaries of nation states, planting seeds of something pure, new, and…natural.

In the way that I pray, I pray some of us will find ways of introducing our presidential candidates to these matters.

Introduction to Successful Philadelphia Area Organic Urban Farms and Edible Playgrounds

From: http://www.cityfarmer.org/phillyFarm.html

Published by City Farmer, Canada’s Office of Urban Agriculture

Farm Experiment Thrives In The City
By Natalie Pompilio
Posted on Tue, Sep. 30, 2003
Philadelphia Inquirer Staff Writer

Somerton Tanks Farm, 200 block of Tomlinson Road

Farmers Lori Albright (left), 32, and Nicole Shelly, 28, have worked since March on the farm, which is expected to gross $25,000 this year. The pair usually work 45-hour weeks for $7 an hour.

It’s a real farm, all right, except there are no endless acres of green, no silo, no hardworking family rising with the rooster.

Instead, this pastoral patch is a half-acre plot in the midst of the city, with nearby strip malls, busy streets, and farmers who travel to work on a SEPTA train.

Somerton Tanks Farm, on Philadelphia Water Department land in the 200 block of Tomlinson Road in the Far Northeast, is an experiment in urban farming. Less than six months old, the farm, in the shadow of two red-and-white-checked water tanks (the farm’s namesake), is flourishing, with two full-time workers churning out everything from tomatoes to cilantro - and a salad mix that has already become legendary among its devotees.

“We wanted to prove that a city person who didn’t have a lot of resources could, in fact, practice urban agriculture and be successful at it,” said Roxanne Christensen, a volunteer accountant for the operation.

“It’s just not economical for farmers to farm on a huge scale anymore. The taxes on their land is going up, and they’re selling out to developers who can get more out of the land by building houses and selling them. We’re going to have to farm closer to cities and on a smaller scale.”

Scattered efforts in urban farming are already under way in Philadelphia, but Somerton Tanks is a model that can be replicated by anyone with farming dreams, some land, and as little as $20,000 seed money. The farm is expected to gross $25,000 this year and, if statistics prove true, could double that next year.

“This project has a lot of potential for the city as a whole - for tax revenues, for job creation, for more environmentally sound uses of land,” said Nancy Weissman, economic-development director for the Water Department, one of the farm’s main sponsors.

If Somerton Tanks proves a success, Weissman said, she could see the Water Department supporting other urban farms on its property.

“The department has become so enthusiastic about this,” she said.

Unlike a community garden, where a recreational gardener can spend a few hours a day pulling weeds and plucking flowers, this is “stoop labor,” with long hours, low pay, and lots of frustration.

“Farming is a job. It’s a business. It’s working in the dirt, getting rained on, getting bit by mosquitoes,” said Joseph Griffin, an organic farmer and president of the nonprofit Oley Institute, another Somerton Tanks sponsor. “But the people who do this work love it… . This is what they want to do.”

It’s exactly what “farming fellows” Nicole Shelly, 28, and Lori Albright, 32, say they want. Shelly, of Bella Vista, was an architect until she ditched the job because she “just couldn’t be in an office anymore. I had to be outside, working with my hands, growing things.”

Albright, who lives in Northern Liberties, worked for a nonprofit that promoted greenery in urban areas before she decided she wanted to try her hand at farming.

The pair generally work 45-hour weeks for $7 an hour, a stipend provided by the Philadelphia Workforce Development Corp.

“It’s hard physical labor and your back hurts a lot, but it’s fun,” Shelly said.

“My back’s fine,” Albright said. “It’s my shoulder that’s messed up.”

The farmers practice intensive relay farming. The half-acre is divided into 200 2-by-25-foot beds, and most are planted with high-value crops - like lettuce and spinach - that grow quickly and sell for a good price.

“What this garden is all about is organization,” Griffin said. “It’s not only about having a green thumb, although that plays a part.”

After the crops are harvested, they are replanted with a different vegetable to be gentler on the soil. In a good year, the cycle of planting, harvesting and replanting can be repeated four times. Somerton Tanks markets its products as organic, meaning no chemically formulated fertilizers or artificial pesticides or herbicides are used.

That can be a problem.

“We’re both vegetarians and we don’t like to kill anything,” Shelly said after plucking a fat, fuzzy brown caterpillar from the wall of the packing shed.

She passed the insect to Albright, who wasn’t sure what type of caterpillar it was but authoritatively announced that “it eats green things.”

That meant it had to be destroyed. Both farmers looked uncomfortable as Albright walked outside to do the deed.

“We’re learning we have to kill some things,” Shelly said with a sigh.

The long winter and the rainy spring made this a challenging year for many area farms, Somerton Tanks included. The farm has also been plagued by lamb’s-quarter, considered a weed by many, an herb by others. At Somerton Tanks, it’s a weed.

“We have to pull it out and pull it out and pull it out,” Albright said as she grabbed madly at the tall stalks intermingling with her spinach.

But their efforts pay off when the farmers get to show off their wares to buyers. Besides doing a brisk business with local restaurants, such as Blue Bell’s Normandy Farms, the farmers also appear at local farmers’ markets, including those in Rittenhouse Square and near South Street.

Somerton Tanks Farm produce has already developed a loyal fan base, Shelly and Albright said.

There are the so-called Osaka Purple Ladies, who follow them from market to market in search of the spicy mustard greens; a virtual cult of turnip addicts, many of whom first tried small, white Japanese turnips when the farmers gave them away for free; and salad aficionados, who show up 45 minutes before the market opens and start begging for the godly greens.

“If you come between 10 and 11 a.m., bring your boxing gloves,” Shelly advised.

Some shoppers complain the produce prices are prohibitive: $2 for a pound of new potatoes, $8 for a pound of salad mix. The farmers disagree.

“We don’t think it’s expensive because we know the work that goes into it,” Albright said.

Added Shelly: “Once they taste it, they’re willing to pay for it.”

One of the best parts of farming, the pair said, is meeting the people who enjoy the vegetables of their labor.

“People don’t know where the food comes from,” Albright said. “They’ll say, ‘That comes from out of the ground? In Northeast Philadelphia?’ “

Philadelphia Green City Strategy

From: City Paper’s GROW Magazine

The Green City Strategy, Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s program for reclaiming land, greening blighted areas and maintaining clean city space, was adopted by the city of Philadelphia in 2001 as a component of Mayor Street’s Neighborhood Transformation Initiative. PHS was awarded a $4 million contract in 2003 to implement its campaign. The following is the program’s progress to date.

VACANT LAND STABILIZATION
Goal: Clean and green 1,000 empty lots between June 2003 and June 2004.
Progress: As of January 2004, 60 percent of the goal has been reached.

SIGNATURE GREENING PROJECTS
Goal: Create one high-profile greening project in each of six target neighborhoods.
Progress: The “Ridge on the Rise” area of four blocks in Strawberry Mansion was completed in September 2003.

COMMUNITY-BASED VACANT LAND MAINTENANCE
Goal: Hire community-based organizations, such as civic and business associations and community development corporations to maintain 1,760 lots.
Progress: Eight organizations have been hired with 1,900 lots maintained.

COMMERCIAL CORRIDORS
Goal: Clean and green six sites.
Progress: Planning is under way for five sites, including Baltimore Avenue in University City, Germantown Avenue in Mt. Airy, Ogontz Avenue in West Oak Lane, Girard Avenue in Brewerytown and Frankford and Cottman avenues in Mayfair.
PARKS
Goal: Enhance 23 neighborhood parks.
Progress: Project support has been obtained for 31 parks.

GARDENS
Goal: Create 20 new gardens and improve six Keystone Gardens (longstanding, large-scale community gardens).
Progress: Ten new garden sites have been identified.

GARDEN BLOCKS
Goal: Beautify 30 residential streets with planters.
Progress: More than 300 planters have been set up on 16 blocks.

EDUCATION AND TRAINING
Goal: Conduct 12 public garden workshops.
Progress: Six workshops have already taken place.

Will Anyone Brief Obama on Urban Agriculture/Edible Playground for U. of Penn Student Questions

Dear All,

I have a terrible vision of Hillary’s staff having taught Hillary some of the basics of urban agriculture and edible playgrounds for the possible U. of Penn. Student Attended debate Chris Matthews if trying to set up. The question is posed:

Do any of you have any thoughts as to the dangers of our oil based industrial monoculture agriculture model(as spelled out by best selling books by Michael Pollan and Barbara Kingsolver), and the possibilities of organic urban farming, edible gardens and playgrounds, pioneered in Asia and Europe and just getting off the ground in Milwaukee, which recently hosted the first ever International Urban Agriculture Conference: Pollinating Our Future?

Hillary has been briefed. Obamma has not been briefed.

Many thousands of “locavore votes” are lost. And garden societies whose members now support McCain see no reason to check out this young man who knows not much about organic edible and ornamental gardens and their value for our future.

Will U. of Penn. Students Introduce Urban Ag/Edible Playgrounds in an Obama/Clinton Debate?

Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager and Chris Matthews of “Hardball” seemed to agree to a debate, assuming Obama signed on, at the University of Pennsylvania in that state’s primary. If this were to come to pass, would it not be worth hoping that a student from that fine school ask a question about the downside of industrial agriculture and the possibilities of local, organic agriculture and edible playgrounds?

Community Appropriate Industry

Introducing the E.F. Schumacher Society’s Newsletter

Building Local Economies:Newsletters
http://www.schumachersociety.org/newsletters.html

“Community Appropriate Industry”

Dear Friend,

Instead of a nation that manufactures its own goods, the United States has
become a nation of service providers, moving production “off shore” and
relying on fossil fuel to transport its goods over long distances—an
increasingly fragile supply line whether judged from an ecological, social,
economic, or political point of view. While exporting jobs, we have also
exported the skills and technologies for making the very products we depend
on daily.

E. F. Schumacher defines a sustainable economy (economy of permanence, in
his words) as one in which the goods consumed in a region are produced in
the region. In keeping with this, Jane Jacobs argued for “import
replacement” as a sound strategy for economic development.

Accepting the urgency of this strategy, we must then ask the question, How
do we re-integrate manufacturing into a service economy and into the work
force of a service economy? The old industrial model of large workplaces,
repetitive tasks, and low hourly wages fails to inspire the necessary
adaptation.

During his presentation to the attendees of the E. F. Schumacher Society’s
2007 Building Sustainable Local Economies Seminar Charles Turner maintained
that workers need decision-making capacity to create institutions
appropriate to their skills, needs, and desires. Giving people the
potential to create businesses through their inputs —meaningful work,
capital investment, community interaction—instead of only extracting value
from their labor will drive new industry appropriate and responsive to its
regional community.

The city of Mondragon in the Basque region of Spain offers a successful
vision of how collaborative enterprises can positively affect the entire
community. Under the direction of Father José María Arizmendiarrieta,
Mondragon began educating its youth in industrial trades and then helped the
graduates build worker-owned cooperatives that apply these skills according
to the desires of the workers themselves. Most of these are industrial
cooperatives making stoves, refrigerators, auto parts, wind generation
parts, and products for daily life.

Recognizing the role of the community in creating the climate for such
production, the cooperatives return 10 percent of all profits as gifts to
the community. Today the Mondragon Cooperative Corporation
(http://www.mcc.es/), representing 104 cooperatives and 100,000
worker-owners, is able to fund free education, Basque cultural activities,
and member health care. Mondragon is an example of how workers, given a
stake in the means of production, can provide the basis for a vibrant city
that meets the needs of its people.

Charles Turner has been working in the Boston area for 40 years to build the
relationships that Mondragon exemplifies. He collaborated with the Dudley
Street Neighborhood Initiative (http://www.dsni.org) to create a vital and
diverse urban village informed and directed by the residents. By securing
eminent domain over the vacant lots scattered throughout the neighborhood
and applying the community land trust model, the committee of local
residents was able to direct the development of the community to reflect
their needs, including permanently affordable housing, new schools,
community parks and gardens, and space for local business development.

Charles Turner served as the education director for the Industrial
Cooperative Association, now the ICA Group (http://www.ica-group.org). The
organization seeks to create and save jobs through the development and
strengthening of employee-owned cooperative and community based projects.
The businesses developed by this organization have become anchors for the
development of other worker-owned enterprises. ICA Group also helps
businesses design Employee Stock Ownership Plans that help employees buy
their company from a retiring or corporate owner.

Since 1999 Turner has been a Boston City Councilman representing Roxbury,
Dorchester, the South End, and parts of Fenway. Before he took office he
organized an advisory committee to help develop legislative and organizing
strategies as well as coordinate monthly meetings, called the District 7
Roundtables. Out of these meetings came the “More than a Paycheck” campaign
with the goal of pulling together the unemployed and underemployed to create
policy for economic development that would benefit the workers. The best
way to assure that the jobs created through their policy continue to benefit
the worker is to promote worker ownership in new firms.

Charles Turner is a powerful advocate for a racially, socially, and
economically just society. He believes that no one should suffer an unfair
burden, be confronted with a limited number of options, or be shut out of
the decisions that most directly affect his or her own life.

Charles Turner, Majora Carter, and Michael Shuman will be speaking at the
Annual E. F. Schumacher Lectures on October 27, 2007, at the Mahaiwe
Performing Arts Center (http://www.mahaiwe.org) in Great Barrington,
Massachusetts. Tickets are 20 BerkShares or 20 dollars and 15 BerkShares/15
dollars for members/students/seniors. Register online at
http://www.smallisbeautiful.org by calling 413.528.1737 or by calling the
Mahaiwe Theater Box Office.

Sincerely,

Michael Gordon, Susan Witt
Chris Lindstrom, and Kristen Fix
E. F. Schumacher Society
140 Jug End Road
Great Barrington, MA 01230
(413) 528–1737
efssociety@smallisbeautiful.org
http://www.smallisbeautiful.org

Board of Directors: Jessica Brackman, Starling Childs, Merrian Fuller,
Hildegarde Hannum, Eric Harris-Braun, Constance Packard, Joseph Stanislaw,
Nancy Jack Todd, and Charles Turner.

Board of Founders: Ian Baldwin, David Ehrenfeld, Satish Kumar, John
McClaughry, and Kirkpatrick Sale.

Advisory Board: Tanya Berry, Thomas Berry, Wendell Berry, Lisa Byers, Olivia
Dreier, Hazel Henderson, Wes Jackson, Amory Lovins, John McKnight, David
Orr, Michael Shuman, Cathrine Sneed, Lewis Solomon, John Todd, Greg Watson,
and Arthur Zajonc.

Obama Is a Child of Global Urban Villages Like Riverwest, Milwaukee

Obama is a very bright and complex child
Of global urban villages like Riverwest, Milwaukee…

Where graduate students from all over the planet
Meet “Amerians” with open minds and stout hearts…

At crossroads of many cultures, even civilizations,
Where all of God’s children are learning…

Sometimes in tragedy, sometimes in joyful abandon,
To live with and love one another…

Challenging us, as Julie Rosier, Obama inspired, explains,
To “each become the change.”

Yearning for “the vast and endless sea”(Antoine de Saint Exupéry),
Blessed with “the audacity to hope…the audacity to build a
campaign to run for president…to see change in America’s
electoral politics and [deciding]… to become that change.

“As we hear his story and witness the success of his efforts, a yearning
develops in each of us. Initially, it sounds like a babbling brook
right in our own backyard. “I must be the change,” the trickle of hope
tells us. “We must each build a boat to take us to the beloved sea of
community.

Obama is a child of global urban villages like Riverwest, Milwaukee,
Where diversity is strength and seeds are germinating
To bring forth 10,000 city farms, gardens, and edible playgrounds,
And voyages across vast vistas of possibility.

Godsil Drawing Upon Julie Rosier Inspired by Obama and Grace Lee Boggs

David Brooks’ “The Defining Moment”: Obama as a “Nonhierarchical Collaborative Leader”

Published: March 4, 2008
NYT

Obama sketched out a different theory of social change than the one Clinton had implied earlier in the evening. Instead of relying on a president who fights for those who feel invisible, Obama, in the climactic passage of his speech, described how change bubbles from the bottom-up: “And because that somebody stood up, a few more stood up. And then a few thousand stood up. And then a few million stood up. And standing up, with courage and clear purpose, they somehow managed to change the world!”

For people raised on Jane Jacobs, who emphasized how a spontaneous dynamic order could emerge from thousands of individual decisions, this is a persuasive way of seeing the world. For young people who have grown up on Facebook, YouTube, open-source software and an array of decentralized networks, this is a compelling theory of how change happens.

Clinton had sounded like a traditional executive, as someone who gathers the experts, forges a policy, fights the opposition, bears the burdens of power, negotiates the deal and, in crisis, makes the decision at 3 o’clock in the morning.

But Obama sounded like a cross between a social activist and a flannel-shirted software C.E.O. — as a nonhierarchical, collaborative leader who can inspire autonomous individuals to cooperate for the sake of common concerns.

Here is the entire piece:

The Democratic presidential primary campaign began around Christmas 2006, and it may end Tuesday night. But of all the days between then and now, the most important was Nov. 10, 2007.

On that day, the Democratic Party of Iowa held its Jefferson-Jackson dinner and invited the candidates to speak. There were thousands of Democrats sitting around tables on the floor of the Veterans Memorial Auditorium in Des Moines, and rowdy thousands more up in the stands.

Hillary Clinton gave a rousing partisan speech. Standing on a stage in the middle of the arena with her arms spread and her voice rising, she welcomed the next president and declared: “We are here tonight to make sure that next president is a Democrat!”

She described how change was going to come about in this country: through fighting. She used the word “fight” or “fought” 15 times in one passage of the speech, fighting for health care, fighting for education and women’s rights. Then she vowed to “turn up the heat” on Republicans. “They deserve all the heat we can give them!” she roared.

Finally, she described the presidency. It’s a demanding job, she suggested, that requires fortitude, experience and mettle. The next president will bear enormous burdens, she continued. The president’s job is to fight for people who feel invisible and can’t help themselves.

Clinton rode the passion of the crowd and delivered an energetic battle cry. And in many elections that sort of speech, delivered around the country, would clinch the nomination.

But this is a country in the midst of a crisis of authority, a country that has become disillusioned not only with one president, but with a whole system of politics. It’s a country that has lost faith not only with one institution, but with the entire set of leadership institutions. The cultural context, in other words, allowed for a much broader critique, a much more audacious vocabulary.

And Barack Obama leapt right in.

He spoke after 11 p.m. The crowd had been sitting for four hours. In the previous months, Obama had been criticized for being bland on the stump. But this night, he unleashed a zealous part of himself that has propelled his candidacy ever since.

His first big subject was belief itself. Instead of waging a partisan campaign as Clinton had just done, he vowed to address “not just Democrats, but Republicans and independents who’ve lost trust in their government but want to believe again.”

Then he made a broader attack on the political class, and without mentioning her, threw Clinton in with the decrepit old order. “The same old Washington textbook campaigns just won’t do,” he said, in a now familiar line. He said it was time to “finally tackle problems that George Bush made far worse but that had festered long before George Bush ever took office — the problems that we’ve talked about year after year after year.”

Obama sketched out a different theory of social change than the one Clinton had implied earlier in the evening. Instead of relying on a president who fights for those who feel invisible, Obama, in the climactic passage of his speech, described how change bubbles from the bottom-up: “And because that somebody stood up, a few more stood up. And then a few thousand stood up. And then a few million stood up. And standing up, with courage and clear purpose, they somehow managed to change the world!”

For people raised on Jane Jacobs, who emphasized how a spontaneous dynamic order could emerge from thousands of individual decisions, this is a persuasive way of seeing the world. For young people who have grown up on Facebook, YouTube, open-source software and an array of decentralized networks, this is a compelling theory of how change happens.

Clinton had sounded like a traditional executive, as someone who gathers the experts, forges a policy, fights the opposition, bears the burdens of power, negotiates the deal and, in crisis, makes the decision at 3 o’clock in the morning.

But Obama sounded like a cross between a social activist and a flannel-shirted software C.E.O. — as a nonhierarchical, collaborative leader who can inspire autonomous individuals to cooperate for the sake of common concerns.

Clinton had sounded like Old Politics, but Obama created a vision of New Politics. And the past several months have revolved around the choice he framed there that night. Some people are enthralled by the New Politics, and we see their vapors every day. Others think it is a mirage and a delusion. There’s only one politics, and, tragically, it’s the old kind, filled with conflict and bad choices.

Hillary Clinton has fought on with amazing resilience since then, and Tuesday night may well bring another surprise, but she’s always been the moon to his sun. That night in November, he defined the campaign.

Will Obama “Movement” Awaken to the Urban Livestock/Healthy Protein That Is Urban Fish Production?

Local Food… Local Fish! Milwaukee Urban Fish Production

March 2008 11
http://www.riverwestcurrents.org
by Jon Bales

Jon Bales is founder of a new Milwaukee organization, the Urban Aquaculture Center, dedicated to demonstrating how urban fish production can become a sustainable food producing industry.

Milwaukee has an unprecedented opportunity to remove itself from its rustbelt city image and move in a purposeful direction using a new set of tools. It can do this by embracing the latest in green innovation and becoming recognized as a leader in urban agriculture.

Many local organizations are working tirelessly to bring the local food movement into the city with new urban ideas, encouraging future generations to get back to the land and grow and eat close to home, rather than importing from places far off. “Pollinating our Future,” a conference at the end of February, sponsored by the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute, addresses barriers to urban agriculture and brings together a diverse group of urban agriculture presenters.

The Urban Aquaculture Center, a proposed large-scale production and educational facility, is hoping to bring Milwaukee into the twenty-first century in terms of fish production and to provide an innovative solution to several environmental problems involved with fish.

Past “Peak Fish”

The first humans were pushed out of being hunters and gatherers because of changing conditions. Anthropologists tell us that the Neolithic Era began when the human population replaced hunting and gathering with farming practices, which became a more practical means of ensuring a consistent food supply. An exception to this new practice of farming was gathering fish from the oceans and lakes all over the world.

When it comes to fisheries, we are still hunting and gathering with modern efficiencies that have put the earth past “peak fish.” A team of North American and European marine biologists and economists reports that at the current rate, our ocean’s fisheries will collapse by 2048.

It is now evident that this practice of gathering fish is unsustainable. Marine capture fisheries have reached a ceiling, and we humans must now contemplate the alternative and refine our fish farming skills. As aquaculture continues to feel the pressure to expand, research and development must keep up to minimize the difficulties inherent with this emerging industry.

Proper design, analysis, and implementation of an urban fish farm are necessary to insure its success. This means a thorough feasibility study is needed by the stakeholders, including the public. Generally, a government’s commitment to provide increased support to the aquaculture sector is a prerequisite for the sector’s sustainable development. Farming fish as an urban enterprise needs to be developed with the best management practices available.

Sushi Anyone?

The United States lags behind Asia, particularly China, which accounts for over 90% of the world’s aquaculture. We import fish from far-away countries which results in a seafood trade deficit of over $8 billion annually. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) which makes a comprehensive study of the state of the world’s aquaculture every two years, the US, Canada and Mexico combined account for only 1.3% of the world’s aquaculture. China leads the world as the largest producer and consumer of farmed seafood, accounting for almost 70% of the total.

Viable cities of the future will require a consistent, clean source of protein, produced locally, under secure conditions. We cannot be surprised if in the future we see a ban on the harvesting of fish from the wild for all purposes other than recreational fishing in order to preserve what remains in the world’s depleted oceans.

Thinking in Cycles

Within ten years, the industry of aquaculture will supply most of the fish protein consumed in the world. The reason will be that we simply cannot sustain the wild capture of fish where sizes and numbers are diminishing, and whose bodies contain increasing amounts of undesirable pollutants such as mercury and PCBs.

Aquaculture systems involving organic polyculture or using water to grow top-of-the-food-chain species, and then reusing it in descending order by less dominant marine species such as shrimp and snails, is more sustainable than a monoculture system. Finally, the nutrient-rich effluent water is used by plants to mimic the same carbon cycle begun billions of years ago. Plants thrive on the waste products of other plants and animals.

Cities need to begin farming fish for a variety of reasons. Foremost is the shortage of certain well-known favorites such as yellow perch, which has declined substantially from Lake Michigan. Cities are where the market and labor pool are, and in Milwaukee there are plenty of vacant buildings and plenty of fresh water.

In a recirculating system, the water can be cleaned up, possibly by plants, and reused. With a bio-mimicking technique, fish farming could be combined with growing plants and made into a profitable urban industry.

Urban Aquaculture

The Urban Aquaculture Center was founded with the idea of demonstrating how urban fish production can occur in a sustainable manner. The Urban Aquaculture Center is currently seeking funding and a location where it can house an educational campus to showcase sustainable urban fish farming practices.

http://www.urbanaquaculturecenter.org
Back to top

Julie Rosier, “We Must Each Become The Change”

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood,
divide the work and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the
vast and endless sea.”
- Antoine de Saint Exupéry

Obama has the audacity to hope. He also had the audacity to build a
campaign to run for president. He wanted to see change in America’s
electoral politics and he decided to become that change.

As we hear his story and witness the success of his efforts, a yearning
develops in each of us. Initially, it sounds like a babbling brook
right in our own backyard. “I must be the change,” the trickle of hope
tells us. “We must each build a boat to take us to the beloved sea of
community.

NYT Op-Ed Contributor: My Forbidden Fruits (and Vegetables)

By JACK HEDIN
Published: March 1, 2008
Rushford, Minn.

IF you’ve stood in line at a farmers’ market recently, you know that the local food movement is thriving, to the point that small farmers are having a tough time keeping up with the demand.

But consumers who would like to be able to buy local fruits and vegetables not just at farmers’ markets, but also in the produce aisle of their supermarket, will be dismayed to learn that the federal government works deliberately and forcefully to prevent the local food movement from expanding. And the barriers that the United States Department of Agriculture has put in place will be extended when the farm bill that House and Senate negotiators are working on now goes into effect.

As a small organic vegetable producer in southern Minnesota, I know this because my efforts to expand production to meet regional demand have been severely hampered by the Agriculture Department’s commodity farm program. As I’ve looked into the politics behind those restrictions, I’ve come to understand that this is precisely the outcome that the program’s backers in California and Florida have in mind: they want to snuff out the local competition before it even gets started.

Last year, knowing that my own 100 acres wouldn’t be enough to meet demand, I rented 25 acres on two nearby corn farms. I plowed under the alfalfa hay that was established there, and planted watermelons, tomatoes and vegetables for natural-food stores and a community-supported agriculture program.

All went well until early July. That’s when the two landowners discovered that there was a problem with the local office of the Farm Service Administration, the Agriculture Department branch that runs the commodity farm program, and it was going to be expensive to fix.

The commodity farm program effectively forbids farmers who usually grow corn or the other four federally subsidized commodity crops (soybeans, rice, wheat and cotton) from trying fruit and vegetables. Because my watermelons and tomatoes had been planted on “corn base” acres, the Farm Service said, my landlords were out of compliance with the commodity program.

I’ve discovered that typically, a farmer who grows the forbidden fruits and vegetables on corn acreage not only has to give up his subsidy for the year on that acreage, he is also penalized the market value of the illicit crop, and runs the risk that those acres will be permanently ineligible for any subsidies in the future. (The penalties apply only to fruits and vegetables — if the farmer decides to grow another commodity crop, or even nothing at all, there’s no problem.)

In my case, that meant I paid my landlords $8,771 — for one season alone! And this was in a year when the high price of grain meant that only one of the government’s three crop-support programs was in effect; the total bill might be much worse in the future.

In addition, the bureaucratic entanglements that these two farmers faced at the Farm Service office were substantial. The federal farm program is making it next to impossible for farmers to rent land to me to grow fresh organic vegetables.

Why? Because national fruit and vegetable growers based in California, Florida and Texas fear competition from regional producers like myself. Through their control of Congressional delegations from those states, they have been able to virtually monopolize the country’s fresh produce markets.

That’s unfortunate, because small producers will have to expand on a significant scale across the nation if local foods are to continue to enter the mainstream as the public demands. My problems are just the tip of the iceberg.

Last year, Midwestern lawmakers proposed an amendment to the farm bill that would provide some farmers, though only those who supply processors, with some relief from the penalties that I’ve faced — for example, a soybean farmer who wanted to grow tomatoes would give up his usual subsidy on those acres but suffer none of the other penalties. However, the Congressional delegations from the big produce states made the death of what is known as Farm Flex their highest farm bill priority, and so it appears to be going nowhere, except perhaps as a tiny pilot program.

Who pays the price for this senselessness? Certainly I do, as a Midwestern vegetable farmer. But anyone trying to do what I do on, say, wheat acreage in the Dakotas, or rice acreage in Arkansas would face the same penalties. Local and regional fruit and vegetable production will languish anywhere that the commodity program has influence.

Ultimately of course, it is the consumer who will pay the greatest price for this — whether it is in the form of higher prices I will have to charge to absorb the government’s fines, or in the form of less access to the kind of fresh, local produce that the country is crying out for.

Farmers need the choice of what to plant on their farms, and consumers need more farms like mine producing high-quality fresh fruits and vegetables to meet increasing demand from local markets — without the federal government actively discouraging them.

Jack Hedin is a farmer.

Green Habitat Transformations by Greening Restoration Artisans and Urban Agrarians

Why not explore permaculture concepts to refine the husbanding of our ancestral homes?

Why not visions of ancestral homes again?

Why not visions of 3 generation sustainable households with food and ornamental gardens divine?

Viva the International Urban Agrarians!

Celebrating the News of the Milwaukee International Urban Agriculture Conference, Feb. 28-March 1, 2008

The “urban agrarians” gathered in Milwaukee this weekend
And co-created perhaps the world’s first
International Urban Agriculture Conference.

The “Milwaukee International Urban Agriculture Conference”
Was attended by I’m told as many as 200 people
From all over North America and a few from Europe and Africa.

News of this conference was front page MilwaukeeRenaissance.com news
For a few weeks at…http://www.milwaukeerenaissance.com/Main/Homepage

If you would like to co-create an on-line and then hard copy publication
Of what might be a significant historic event, perhaps even coffee table worthy,
Send an e-mal to coffeetablebookcollective@milwaukeerenaissance.com

It was a transcendent moment for perhaps all who gathered
And shared information, stories, images, and visions
About this new movement for urban agriculture and edible schoolyards.

All who attended and all who will find more graceful lives
By virtue of the rippling of this event through our communities
All across the globe,
Celebrate the imaginative and competent work
Of the conferences organizers, presenters, attendees,
And people at the hotel and in Milwaukee
Who made this so sweet and rich an event.

Viva, the Urban Agrarians!

London Report on Urban Agriculture Projects in the U.S.A.

Note: this is a preview of the full report, scheduled for official distribution, along with some glorious photos, around March 17.

Growing food in cities: A report of a visit to urban agriculture projects in the U.S.A.
by Colin Buttery, Royal Parks, Tony Leach, London Parks and Green Spaces Forum, Catherine Miller, Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens, and Ben Reynolds, London Food Link (Sustain)

Supported by The U.S. Embassy

Contents
Acknowledgements

Summary

  1. Introduction

  • Why grow food in cities?

  • Background to the visit to the US cities

  1. City visits

  • Milwaukee

    • Growing Power Community Food Center

    • Maple Tree Community Garden

    • Walnut Way

    • Riverwest food co-op

  • Chicago

    • Growing Power

      • Grant Park – Urban Agriculture Potager

      • Chicago Avenue Community Garden Partnership

      • Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance

      • Chicago’s Green City Market

      • Homegrown Chicago

      • Jackson Park

      • Kendall College

      • Chicago’s Youth Program

    • Growing Home

    • Angelic Organics
    • Chicago Food Policy Advisory Council

  • New York

    • Added Value – Red Hook Farm

    • East New York Farms – United Community Gardens

    • NY Sunworks: The Science Barge

  1. What we learned

  • Public and private funding and access

  • Laws – animals and composting

  • Fencing

  • Growing on concrete

  • Aquaculture

  1. Opportunities for growing more food in more cities

  • Tree planting

  • Royal Parks

  • Allotments

  • Under-utilised spaces

  • Parks

  • Derelict council facilities

  • Private gardens

  • Social housing

  • Alternative growing spaces – roof gardens, beehives and mushrooms

  • Commercial growing
  • Existing expertise

Appendix 1 The UK Delegation

Appendix 2 Links

Acknowledgements

This report, and the activities it recounts, would not have been possible without a grant from the US Embassy in London. We thank them not only for their financial support but also their vision in seeing the value of this work. London Food Link, which organised the trip, would also like to thank the participants (and their organisations) for generously offering their time, not only to visit the projects but also to write reports on their return. All the participants are also immensely grateful to all the people and organisations in the USA, who not only provided invaluable insight into how their urban agriculture projects work, but also warm humour and generous hospitality to the travellers. However, the recommendations contained in this report reflect the views of the individuals travelling from London, and not the organisations they represent, or the people they met.

Summary

This is a report of a visit to urban food growing projects in the United States by a group of four people from different organisations based in London. It was organised by Sustain’s London Food Link officer, Ben Reynolds, and funded by the US Embassy, who had previously brought Will Allen to London to talk about his project, Growing Power, in the USA.

The group visited an inspiring range of projects in Milwaukee, Chicago and New York and noted a number of similarities to and differences from urban agriculture initiatives in London, including:

  • A commercial element to many of the US projects, which is much less common in the UK;
  • A more liberal situation in the US than in the UK to encourage composting, but less willingness than in the UK to include animals in some urban agriculture projects;
  • Different approaches to fencing and public access to projects, which varied within the US, depending on context;
  • Imaginative and productive ways of growing without access to subsoil, either in raised beds on hard surfaces or, in one case, in hydroponics on a barge;
  • Inspiring use of an holistic and sustainable approach to fish farming in an urban area which produces marketable quantities of tilapia.

The trip stimulated a number of ideas for how to promote more food growing in more cities. These include:

  • Using the many possibilities of urban tree planting to promote traditional varieties of fruit and nuts;

  • Untapping the potential of both Royal Parks and other parks to accommodate some food growing in their grounds;

  • Exploring under-utilised spaces such as derelict council property, private gardens and social housing to grow food;

  • Making use of the abundant buildings in urban areas to grow food on rooftops, up walls and in window boxes;

  • Building on the food growing expertise that already exists in a multicultural community, as well as providing education and training for new growers.

It is hoped that this visit and report will mark the next stage in the development of urban agriculture, an issue we believe is set to rise up the policy agenda in an age of climate change and increasing concern about the sustainability, healthiness and security of our food supply.

  1. Introduction

Why grow food in cities?

For some people, the idea of urban agriculture may be new, or even rather odd – agriculture, surely, is a rural activity? In fact urban agriculture has a long history, a vibrant present and, many would argue, a vital future. In 1996 Sustain produced Growing Food in Cities1, which drew on some of the already considerable experience of urban agriculture in the UK and recommended that more should be done to support and promote it. This message was re-emphasised in 1999 with the report, City Harvest2, which examined food growing in London in more depth.

Both reports drew attention to the multiple benefits of urban agriculture including:

  • the educational value of growing food, for adults as well as children;
  • appreciation of how food is produced as part of encouraging a healthy diet;
  • improvements in physical and mental health, as a result of regular outdoor activity, contact with nature, and the sense of achievement;
  • the empowerment of disadvantaged communities with useful skills,
  • and the importance of preserving green space in urban areas both for its social and environmental benefits.

Since these reports were written, the urgent problems of global warming have rapidly risen up the public and political agenda. It is now widely agreed that our current food and farming system is unsustainable, based, - as it is - on finite supplies of oil, the use of which contributes to climate change. This crisis is compounded not only by many other environmental problems caused by industrialised agriculture – loss of biodiversity, pollution, over-use of water and land, to name but a few – but also by escalating health problems caused by industrialised food production – including obesity, cardiovascular diseases, some cancers, and diabetes – alongside continuing problems of hunger and malnutrition, worldwide.

Now, more than ever, we need to grow more food, closer to where people live, that is tasty, wholesome and nutritious, that enhances rather than destroys the environment we depend on, and that satisfies people’s need for a secure and trusted food supply.
Background to the visit to the US cities
In this context, Sustain was delighted to be approached by the US Embassy in London in the summer of 2007 to meet Will Allen, charismatic founder of the Growing Power initiative in the USA. As well as being privileged to have a personal presentation by Will of his work, (detailed in Chapter Two) Sustain’s London Food Link project3 also arranged for Will to visit Culpeper community garden in Islington.

The Embassy considered that this visit had been such a success that it would be worthwhile supporting a return visit to the USA of people involved in urban agriculture in London. Ben Reynolds, London Food Link project officer, was encouraged by the US Embassy to seek funding to organise such a visit, and this was duly approved in September 2007. Ben then put together the delegation to accompany him, as follows (detailed in Appendix 1):

  • Colin Buttery, from the Royal Parks;
  • Tony Leach, from the London Parks and Green Spaces Forum; and
  • Catherine Miller, from Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens.

With advice from Will Allen’s colleagues and others, Ben arranged an itinerary to take the group of four to a range of food growing projects in the cities of Milwaukee, Chicago and New York, from 12th - 20th October 2007.

The next section of this report provides an account of the projects visited, city by city, and in the order in which they were seen. Chapter three draws together some of the major themes that emerged and observations that were made, comparing experiences in the US city projects with those of growing food in London. Finally, inspired by the trip, some thoughts are presented on a range of opportunities for increasing the amount of food grown in London, and other towns and cities.

Comments on these suggestions are warmly welcomed, and the participants hope that, during 2008 and beyond, much more will be done to ensure that urban agriculture takes its place in the range of policies needed to create sustainable food and farming systems.

  1. City Visits

Milwaukee

Will Milwaukee’s First National Conference on Urban Agriculture Awaken the Presidential Campaigns?

The front page headline story of the Milwaukee Renaissance this past few weeks has been the announcement of Milwaukee’s first national conference on urban agriculture.

http://www.milwaukeerenaissance.com/Main

Many of the members of the urban farm, edible playground, and agrarian urban village movements of the U.S. are hoping Milwaukee will be famous in the 21st Century because of its sparking the energy and enlightenment necessary to awaken the presidential campaings of 2008 to the promise of this new way of life, which is also a very old way of life.

If you would like to harness the power of the internet behind the vision of Organic and Urban Farming and Edible Playgrounds for the party platforms of 2008, send an e-mail to organic@milwaukeerenaissance.com.

The Agrarian Urban Village Movements of North America

I am coming to believe there are a myriad of agrarian urban village movements
In the great bio-regions of North America,
Learning much from the agrarian villages of the planet
As from the agrarian urban villages of Europe, Asia,
South America, Australia, and all across our dear planet.

Here are some examples of the seeds of such:

Introducing the Urban Tilth Program

http://www.urbantilth.org

It’s been just over two weeks since we came together on the Richmond Greenway for a Day of National Service to celebrate the memory and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Our public lands can be a canvas communities use to articulate and communicate the values we hold most dear. By braving the rain, cold, and mud on MLK Day, we made a very powerful statement of our values as a community. Together we enacted the value of diverse individuals and organizations working together to tend to the commons for the well-being of our community. We enacted the value of taking direct action to improve our food system and our ecosystem. Our work together helps to create new, healthier, relationships between individuals, community, land, food, and nature here in West Contra Costa County. I think Dr. King would have loved our local celebration of his legacy. […]

Urban Tilth has three categories of projects:

  • Foodshed development projects:

    • The Lincoln Farm

    • Berryland on the Richmond Greenway

    • Supporting the Verde Market Garden

    • Supporting the Richmond High School garden program

  • Research, writing, and community-building related to developing the foodshed in West Contra Costa County:

    • Coordinating the 5% Local Coalition

    • Occassional 5% Local E-newsletters and blog

    • Membership in the Friends of the Richmond Greenway and the West County School Gardeners

    • Planning for a Market Gardener’s Co-op

  • Business ventures to support foodshed development in West Contra Costa County:

    • Farm Your Lawn service
    • West County Worm products: worm castings, compost tea, and plant food (projected to start sales in early 2008)
    • Farmer’s market stand (projected to start in the Spring of 2008)

Introducing the Bountiful Cities Project!

http://bountifulcitiesproject.org/contact.html

Our Mission

To create, on urban land, beautiful community spaces that produce food in abundance and foster a learning environment for social justice and sustainability.

Our Vision

The vision of Bountiful Cities Project is to enliven and empower self-reliance, cooperation, and a stronger sense of community through providing an opportunity to grow, harvest and eat fresh, local produce.

We envision community spaces that serve as models for sustainability through organic food production, water conservation, ecological building, community celebration, and cooperative economics.

This vision is becoming a reality at our two flagship gardens: a permaculture-based vegetable garden on Pearson Drive in Montford and the Dr. George Washington Carver Edible Park at Stevens Lee Community Center which is home to over 30 varieties of fruit trees and an under story of berries and medicinal herbs.

Organic and Urban Farming, Edible Playgrounds—Now!

In the Party Platforms 2008

Dear All,

We are brainstorming the meanings and possibilities of the “Obama Campaign” at this site:

http://www.milwaukeerenaissance.com/Main/ObamaCampaign

My deepest hope is that the fine people in the Obama Movement awaken soon to the possibilities of organic and urban farms and edible playgrounds.

But I can also imagine the organic and urban farming and edible playground movement, i.e. the agrarian urban village movement, as a non-partisan issue that could be part of that common ground toward a working majority to advance the people’s well-being.

May I upload some of your pictures and some of your prose at this site,
In hopes they might prove a “tipping point” for the inclusion of

Organic and Urban Farming, Edible Playgrounds—Now!

In the Party Platforms 2008.

Why not something like this!

Toward a Planetary Real Food Movement

Michael Pollen has inspired the nation to “eat real food!”
Like great grandma served her family when times were good.

Milwaukee’s Will Allen and his Growing Power team
Have awakened me to the promise of front and backyards,
School yards, corner lots, old industry land for reclamation…

For the renewal of home and community gardens,
For self-reliance, community, grace, and beauty.

Linn Cohen-Cole and Devinder Sharma
Are stretching my mind to our brothers and sisters
Across the planet, in cities, towns, and rural places,
North South East West…
Small organic farmers
Everywhere!

And now Carla Freeman has inspired me to attend to
The power of dreams to cultivate a kind of
Globalized imagination, that finds me
Hoping to meet with China’s urban farmers
As they help us create edible playgrounds,
Neighborhood and backyard food gardens,
An agrarian urban village kind of life.

And Jamie Washum, a transforming Baptist minister
From Texas, along with her Ibo Nigerian Poet Architect Husband
N.J. Unaka, along with Simon Harak, coupled
Micro lending, kiva.org manner, with urban farming!
The night before Milwaukee’s National Conference
On Urban Farming!

We all need real food!
We all can learn to grow it!
Or partner with those who do.

Organic farming, permaculture aspirations.

Agrarian urban village sensibility
In our living.

Starting with connections in the “noosphere,”
To ennoble and protect our lives in the biosphere,
To begin with a germinating web of exchanges
On line and in the real,

Sacred and secular,
Theory, practice.
Practice, theory.

Oh yes!
Dialectically!

Let’s rehearse a future
With an emerging planetary movement
For organic farming and organic farmers,
In the cities
In the towns
In the country.

We’re in this boat together.
We’re on these lands together.

Learning how better to love one another,
Our biosphere,
Our Life.

We now can reach out beyond our locales,
Beyond our regions, beyond state borders.

Internet empowerment for real food farmers,
For real food partners and consumers.

Looking forward to story sharing
And chaordic vision practice.
Intensely.
Very, very intensely.
But with humility, awe, and irony.
And fun!

Growing farms and gardens to the 7th generation,
Of grace, beauty, and justice,
With reverence for mother earth and all creatures…

As the Growing Power vision puts it,

Creating a just world,
One food-secure community
At a time.

Viva, Real Food!
Viva, healthy people and healthy food!
Viva, growing power growing food!

Humanity is One!

Godsil

Sweet Red Cherry Tomatoes From Your Harambe Garden

Have you ever wished to venture forth beyond
Your primal ancestral circles
And see what’s up in the village
Across the river from your own?

Have you ever longed for sweet red cherry tomatoes
So fresh and juicy the old world
Protestant or Catholic in you worries that
Eating them might be some kind of carnal sin?

Have you ever felt the joy of sacred fatigue
At the end of a workout in rich soil
Hands in the dirt, good sweat, and
Joyous work laughter moments with friends?

Have you ever imagined that…

Your nation gave rise to a movement
With other nations you are learning to love,

With an eye, strong body, and heart
Fixed on the prize of
Ten thousand backyard city farms.

With 4 chickens (no rooster) each
(Roosters visit from the early rising towns)

Eyes on the prize of…

Ten Thousand community farms and gardens,
In old industrial city neighborhoods,

Transforming themselves into

Planetary villages of grace, beauty, and health?

And the nation chose a leader
Who could understand all this!

Olde
Too Much Snow and Rain to Roof 2008

Micro Lending for U.S. Central City Food Garden Start-ups

How about developing a Kiva style project to help jump-start backyard food gardens and other worthy enterprise in our central cities?

Our central cities are, God willing, a “developing world!”

http://www.kiva.org

Kiva lets you connect with and loan money to unique entrepreneurs in the developing world. By choosing a loan on Kiva, you can “sponsor a business” and help the world’s working poor make great strides towards economic independence. Throughout the course of the loan (usually 6–12 months), you can receive email journal updates from the entrepreneur you’ve sponsored. As loans are repaid, you get your loan money back.
We partner with organizations all over the world

Kiva partners with existing microfinance institutions. In doing so, we gain access to outstanding entrepreneurs from impoverished communities world-wide. Our partners are experts in choosing qualified entrepreneurs. That said, they are usually short on funds. Through Kiva, our partners upload their entrepreneur profiles directly to the site so you can lend to them.

We show you where your money goes

Kiva provides a data-rich, transparent lending platform for the poor. We are constantly working to make the system more transparent to show how money flows throughout the entire cycle. The below diagram shows briefly how money gets from you to a third-world entrepreneur, and back!

We facilitate connections

Kiva is using the power of the internet to facilitate one-to-one connections that were previously prohibitively expensive. Child sponsorship has always been a high overhead business. Kiva creates a similar interpersonal connection at much lower costs due to the instant, inexpensive nature of internet delivery. The individuals featured on our website are real people who need a loan and are waiting for socially-minded individuals like you to lend them money.

Viva Organic Growth!

Obama, Michelle, Partners and Community: Forming Roots In American Soil

From James B. Nardi, “Life in the Soil: A Guide for Naturalists and Gardeners”

This is what Obama, Michelle, their close-in partners, their expanding roots in communities across the nation appear to be about!

“As soil begins to appear on the surface of sand or rock, every now and then a seed lands, germinates, and extends its newly formed roots into the young soil, testing the new environment…Even though these soils have most of the mineral nutrients that a plant needs to get a start, they are still deficient in that one essential nutrient—nitrogen.

Because practically all of a soil’s nitrogen is stored in organic rather than mineral matter, rocks and soils that contain no living things also have no organic matter and little or no nitrogen. However, some of the plants that pioneer these primordial soils have the ability to establish themselves—root, stem, and shoot—on nitrogen-poor soil here no other plants besides lichens, algae, and mosses have managed to gain a foothold.”

more to come, God willing…

Chris Dodd endorses Obama

Dear friends,

We have been through a lot in this past year and your friendship and support have meant so much to me. That is why I wanted to let you know of my decision to endorse a Democratic candidate for President - and that I have decided to support Barack Obama.

We all understand how much is at stake in this election and that it is more important than ever that we put a Democrat in the White House.

And while both of our Party’s remaining candidates are extremely talented and would make excellent commanders-in-chief, I am throwing my support to the candidate who I believe will open the most eyes to our shared Democratic vision.

I’m deeply proud to be the first 2008 Democratic presidential candidate to endorse Barack Obama. He is ready to be President. And I am ready to support him - to work with him and for him and help elect him our 44th President.

Put simply, I believe Barack Obama is uniquely qualified to help us face this housing crisis, create good jobs, strengthen America’s families in this 21st century global economy, unite the world against terrorism and end the war in Iraq - and perhaps most importantly, call the American people to shared service and sacrifice. In this campaign, he has drawn millions of voters into politics for the first time in their lives and shown us that we are united by so much more than that which divides us.

That is why I believe the time has come for Democrats to come together as a Party and focus on winning the general election. The stakes are too high not to.

The last seven years have been as difficult as any I can remember. More than ever, we need a President who will inspire us to take part in the political process and change our country’s path.

Today, when we need it most, we are hearing a new call from Barack Obama. And I hope you, like me, will answer it in the affirmative.

Please get involved in Barack Obama’s campaign now: http://action.barackobama.com/doddsupporters

Sincerely,

Chris Dodd

Paid for by Chris Dodd for President, Inc., PO Box 51882, Washington, DC 20091, Info@ChrisDodd.com
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Brainstorming a Petition for Urban Ag and Edible Playgrounds on National Party Platforms 2008

Here is a letter that initially was sent to the Growing Food and Justice Yahoo Group:

Dear All,

Would not the cause of Growing Food and Justice be advanced
Were we to inspire 1,000 to 10,000 e-mails to be sent to each of the
Presidential campaigns still working
In hopes of inspiring them to include a line on
Urban farming and edible playgrounds in the 2008 Party Platforms?

Here is a rough draft(seeking editors) of a petition we might try to circulate
(perhaps MoveOn might join in!)

Asset based urban development suggests we look upon vacant city lots, unemployed youth, under-appreciated elders, and “radiant waste products” , e.g. food residues, wood chips, brewers yeast, etc. as resources for the development of community and backyard food gardens, “edible playgrounds,” and urban farms. This urban agriculture would be a source of job development, self-reliance with community building, reduced carbon imprint from long distance industrial agriculture as usual, and healthy bodies and spirits.

Anyone interested in exploring/advancing this project, please send an e-mail to godsil.james@gmail.com.

I have been doing my best to inspire the Obama campaign to awaken to urban farming but this is a non-partisan issue.

http://www.milwaukeerenaissance.com/Main/ObamaCampaign

Here is something that suggests Obama might be ready:

Obama, Corn Syrup, Obesity and Diabetes

By DAVID ESPO – COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) —

Obama made health care a focus of his campaign today, visiting a hospital diabetes unit. At one point in a discussion with doctors and nurses, the talk turned to prevention of the illness in youngsters.
“If we just cut out soda pop,” it would make a difference, he said.
Asked at a later news conference about the issue, he said he hopes schools will “re-examine how easily they make soda available.”
Citing an increase in childhood obesity and diabetes, he said if children “are consuming vast amounts of soft drinks chock full of corn syrup, then we should, you know, consider whether we want to maybe have at least some zones like schools where they have to drink water once in a while.”

Is it not an opportune time for this initiative?

Godsil

Crafting the Petition

Obama, Corn Syrup, Obesity and Diabetes

By DAVID ESPO – COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) —

Obama made health care a focus of his campaign today, visiting a hospital diabetes unit. At one point in a discussion with doctors and nurses, the talk turned to prevention of the illness in youngsters.

“If we just cut out soda pop,” it would make a difference, he said. Asked at a later news conference about the issue, he said he hopes schools will “re-examine how easily they make soda available.” Citing an increase in childhood obesity and diabetes, he said if children “are consuming vast amounts of soft drinks chock full of corn syrup, then we should, you know, consider whether we want to maybe have at least some zones like schools where they have to drink water once in a while.”

National/Local Guests: 4th Street Forum_FARMERS IN THE CITY: BACK TO THE FUTURE?

People in cities are planting gardens again. It’s called Urban Agriculture.

Some think the gardens might help alleviate poverty and other social problems. Do they?

Each forum is taped in front of a live audience for later broadcast on Milwaukee Public Television, Channels 10/36. The forums are free and open to the public. Come and be a part of the discussion. Participate by asking questions of the panelists. Bring your lunch or purchase it from Historic Turner Restaurant.

FORUM DATE AND TIME: FEBRUARY 29, NOON - Special Recording on FRIDAY
WHERE: Milwaukee Turner Hall, 2nd Floor, 1034 N. 4th Street (4th and Highland)

CAN’T ATTEND?

  • Milwaukee Public Television will broadcast this forum on Friday, FEBRUARY 29, Channel 10, 10PM and Sunday, MARCH 2, Channel 36, 3PM.

  • It will also run on Time Warner’s, “Wisconsin on Demand,” (WIOD), Channel 1111.

  • All programs will be available for checkout from your local public library.

  • Podcasts of the programs will be posted after broadcast at www.4thStreetForum.org.

MODERATOR: ENRIQUE FIGUEROA, Ph.D., Director, Roberto Hernández Center, UW-Milwaukee

GUESTS
SHARON ADAMS is the co-founder of Walnut Way Conservation Corp, located in the Milwaukee central city neighborhood of Walnut Way. Their members have rebuilt houses and transformed vacant lots into productive gardens and orchards. By doing so, they have decreased crime and increased job-training opportunities.

MARCIA CATON CAMPBELL is the Milwaukee project manager for the Center for Resilient Cities. Ms. Caton Campbell works in collaboration with the Milwaukee County Parks, the City of Milwaukee, and community groups to revitalize blighted outdoor spaces, including playgrounds.

JAC SMIT is the president of The Urban Agriculture Network (TUAN), which is based in Washington DC. As an international spokesperson for urban agriculture, Mr. Smit has lectured on the topic in over thirty countries.

CHUKOU THAO is the director of the National Hmong American Farmers (NHAF), located in California’s San Joaquin Valley. Mr. Thao works with immigrant and minority farmers – Hmong, Hispanic, African American, Cambodian, Vietnamese – to find the right markets for their crops and to help them receive a fair price for what they grow.

THE WEEKS AHEAD: We’ll be on a short break but will return the 3rd week in March.

MARCH 20 - TRANSPORTATION GRIDLOCK: GOING NOWHERE IN THE 21st CENTURY?

MARCH 26 (special recording on WEDNESDAY) - MILWAUKEE’S NEXT COUNTY EXECUTIVE

Who has the vision, the capability, to run Milwaukee County? Lena Taylor or Scott Walker?
Tune in is as the candidates present their plans for Milwaukee County’s future.

Check our website for updates.

QUESTIONS?
Deidre A. Martin
Director
4th Street Forum
414–272–2833
4thStreetForum@gmail.com
www.4thStreetForum.org

4th Street Forum is sponsored by the Milwaukee Turners, co-sponsored by Milwaukee Public Television, and in collaboration with UWM Milwaukee Idea.
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Obama Urban Policy Paper

BARACK OBAMA: SUPPORTING URBAN PROSPERITY

“Americans work harder than the people of any other wealthy nation. We are willing to tolerate more economic instability and are willing to take more personal risks to get ahead. But we can only compete if our government makes the investments that give us a fighting chance – and if we know our families have some net beneath which they cannot fall.”
[Barack Obama, The Audacity of Hope]

BARACK OBAMA: INVESTING IN AMERICA’S CITIES

Barack Obama has had a lifelong commitment to the people and neighborhoods of America’s cities. He understands that cities and metropolitan regions are key drivers of prosperity in the global economy and that opportunities for and contributions from all people and communities are critical to America’s long term success. Cities house over 80 percent of the people, businesses, universities, and cultural institutions in America, and produce well over 85 percent of the nation’s wealth. Cities enable the concentrated exchange of ideas and resources that generates the nation’s innovation and entrepreneurship. Particularly in the knowledge economy, we cannot afford to waste any of the human capital, real estate and business assets of cities. Investing in the cities and their residents will keep America competitive, prosperous and strong.

Barack Obama knows this from personal experience – and he also knows the challenges faced by people living in cities. After graduating from college, Obama moved to the South Side of Chicago to serve as director for the Developing Communities Project, a church-based social action group. Together with a coalition of ministers, Obama set out to help restore and reconnect poor urban neighborhoods by increasing employment and housing investment and improving safety and infrastructure. Obama also helped form a tenants’ rights group in the housing projects that successfully organized to clear asbestos from more than 1,200 low-income apartments. After graduating from Harvard Law School in 1991, Obama declined lucrative law firm offers to head Project Vote, a Chicago voter registration effort that registered the largest number of African Americans in a single local effort. His commitment to urban development and renewal continued during his tenure as a civil rights attorney, state senator from Chicago’s South Side, and United States Senator. As president, Obama will implement a regional development agenda that utilizes and strengthens the considerable assets of our urban centers to ensure long-term prosperity for all.

Create a White House Office on Urban Policy: Barack Obama will take the federal government’s role in supporting urban America seriously. Today, government programs aimed at strengthening metropolitan areas are spread across the federal government – including the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Transportation, Department of Labor and Department of Commerce – with insufficient coordination or strategy. Worse, many federal programs inadvertently undermine cities and regions by encouraging inefficient and costly patterns of development and local competition. Obama will create a White House Office of Urban Policy to develop a strategy for metropolitan America and to ensure that all federal dollars targeted to urban areas are effectively spent on the highest-impact programs. The Director of Urban Policy will report directly to the president and coordinate all federal urban programs.

Fully Fund the Community Development Block Grant: In the long run, regions are only as strong as their people and neighborhoods. The Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program is an important program that helps strengthen cities and towns throughout the nation by providing housing and creating jobs primarily for low- and moderate-income people and places. The Bush administration has consistently attempted to cut funding for CDBG, including by $1.2 billion next year and $6.9 billion over the next five years. Barack Obama has fought against these cuts, and as president, he will restore funding for the CDBG program.

Do No Harm: Barack Obama does not support imposing unfunded mandates on states and localities. Obama strongly supports providing necessary funding for programs such as No Child Left Behind.

ECONOMIC PROSPERITY

Support Job Creation: The federal government has a role to play to ensure that every American is able to work at his or her highest capacity. Barack Obama believes that we need to double federal funding for basic research, expand the deployment of broadband technology and make the research and development tax credit permanent so that businesses can invest in innovation and create high-paying, secure jobs. As president, Obama will make long-term investments in education, language training, and workforce development so that Americans can leverage our strengths – our ingenuity and entrepreneurialism – to create new high-wage jobs and prosper in a global economy. A critical part of this process is ensuring that we reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) and ensure that it strengthens federal investments needed for success in the 21st Century.

Increase Access to Capital for Underserved Businesses: Businesses cannot thrive without adequate access to capitol. Less than 1 percent of the $250 billion in venture capital dollars invested annually nationwide has been directed to the country’s 4.4 million minority business owners. A recent study found that minority business owners, even if they have the same characteristics as other business owners, are denied credit much more frequently and are required to pay higher interest rates than white applicants. To compound this problem in recent years, there has been a significant decline in the share of Small Business Investment Company financings that have gone to minority-owned and women-owned businesses. In order to increase their size, capacity, and ability to do business with the federal government and to compete in the open market, minority firms need greater access to venture capital investment as well as greater access to business loans. Barack Obama will strengthen Small Business Administration programs that provide capital to minority-owned businesses, support outreach programs that help minority business owners apply for loans, and work to encourage the growth and capacity of minority firms.

Create a National Network of Public-Private Business Incubators: Barack Obama will support entrepreneurship and spur job growth by creating a national network of public-private business incubators. Business incubators facilitate the critical work of entrepreneurs in creating start-up companies. They offer help designing business plans, provide physical space, identify and address problems affecting small businesses and give advice on a wide range of business practices. Business incubators will engage the expertise and resources of local institutions of higher education and successful private sector businesses to help ensure that small businesses have both a strong plan and the resources for long-term success. Obama will invest $250 million per year to increase the number and size of incubators in urban communities throughout the country.

Convert our Manufacturing Centers into Clean Technology Leaders: America boasts the highest-skilled manufacturing workforce in the world and advanced manufacturing facilities that have powered economic growth in America for decades. Barack Obama believes that America is at a competitive advantage when it comes to building the high-demand technologies of the future, and he will help nurture America’s success in clean technology manufacturing by establishing a federal investment program to help manufacturing centers modernize and help Americans learn the new skills they may need to produce green products. Along with the increased federal investment in the research, development and deployment of advanced technologies, this investment will help spur sustainable economic growth in communities across the country.

Strengthen Core Infrastructure: As our society becomes more mobile and interconnected, the need for 21stcentury transportation networks has never been greater. However, too many of our nation’s railways, highways, bridges, airports, and neighborhood streets are slowly decaying due to lack of investment and strategic longterm planning. Barack Obama believes that America’s long-term competitiveness depends on the stability of our critical infrastructure. As president, Obama will make strengthening our transportation systems, including our roads and bridges, a top priority.

Improve Transportation Access to Jobs: America’s families and businesses depend upon workers having reasonable access to their places of employment. Three-quarters of welfare recipients live in areas that are poorly served by public transportation and low-income workers spend up to 36 percent of their incomes on transportation. Barack Obama has spent years working to improve transportation access for low-income Americans. As an Illinois state senator, he was the chief sponsor of the bill that created the Interagency Coordinating Committee on Transportation, a body that was charged with building public-private partnerships to help connect low-income Americans with jobs. As president, Obama will work to eliminate transportation disparities so that all Americans can lead meaningful and productive lives. Obama will double the federal Jobs Access and Reverse Commute (JARC) program to ensure that additional federal public transportation dollars flow to the highest-need communities and that urban planning initiatives take this aspect of transportation policy into account. JARC funds have been used to connect low-income workers around the country with job opportunities.

Invest in a Skilled Clean Technologies Workforce: Transitioning to a clean energy economy represents a tremendous opportunity for American workers. Barack Obama will invest in job training and transition programs to help workers and industries adapt to clean technology development and production. Obama will increase funding for federal workforce training programs and direct these programs to incorporate green technologies training, such as advanced manufacturing and weatherization training, into their efforts to help Americans find and retain stable jobs.

Barack Obama also believes the transition to a clean energy economy holds special promise for low-income communities and families, which are poised to shoulder a disproportionate share of the burden of global climate change. To combat this problem, Obama will create an energy-focused youth jobs program to invest in disconnected and disadvantaged youth. This program will provide youth participants with energy efficiency and environmental service opportunities to improve the energy efficiency of homes and buildings in their communities, while also providing them with practical skills and experience in important career fields of expected high-growth employment. The program will engage private sector employers and unions to provide apprenticeship opportunities. Participants will not only be able to use their training to find new jobs, but also build skills that will help them move up the career ladder over time.

HOUSING

Increase the Supply of Affordable Housing throughout Metropolitan Regions: Communities prosper when all families have access to affordable housing. It undermines both families and businesses when low-income families are priced out of the housing market. Regions then face a “jobs-housing mismatch” as employees cannot afford to live near where they work. Businesses, in turn, have higher workforce costs, and some local governments cannot attract teachers, firefighters and other public servants who cannot afford to live in their communities. Between 1993 and 2003, the number of units affordable to low-income households fell by 1.2 million. Barack Obama believes we should create an Affordable Housing Trust Fund to develop affordable housing in mixed-income neighborhoods. The Affordable Housing Trust Fund would use a small percentage of the profits of two government-sponsored housing agencies, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, to create thousands of new units of affordable housing every year. Barack Obama will also restore cuts to public housing operating subsidies, and ensure that all Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) programs are restored to their original purpose.

Combat Mortgage Fraud and Subprime Loans: The implosion of the subprime lending industry threatens to bring foreclosure to over two million households, including many families with children. Barack Obama has been closely monitoring this situation for years and introduced comprehensive legislation over a year ago to fight mortgage fraud and protect consumers against abusive lending practices. Obama’s STOP FRAUD Act provides the first federal definition of mortgage fraud, increases funding for federal and state law enforcement programs, creates new criminal penalties for mortgage professionals found guilty of fraud, and requires industry insiders to report suspicious activity. This bill also provides counseling to homeowners and tenants to avoid foreclosures. Finally, Obama’s bill requires the Government Accountability Office to evaluate and report to Congress on various state lending practices so that state regulations that undermine consumer’s rights can be identified and hopefully eliminated.

Create Fund to Help Homeowners Avoid Foreclosures: In addition to taking important steps to prevent mortgage fraud from occurring in the future, Barack Obama will establish policies to help Americans currently facing foreclosure through no fault of their own. For instance, in communities where there are many foreclosures property values of innocent homeowners are often also negatively impacted, driving them toward foreclosure, too.

Obama will create a fund to help people refinance their mortgages and provide comprehensive supports to innocent homeowners. The fund will also assist individuals who purchased homes that are simply too expensive for their income levels by helping them sell their homes. The fund will help offset costs of selling a home, including helping low-income borrowers get additional time and support to pay back any losses from the sale of their homes and waiving certain state and local income taxes that result from an individual selling his home to avoid foreclosure. These steps will ensure that individuals who have to sell their homes will be able to quickly regain stable financial footing. The fund will be partially paid for by Obama’s increased penalties on lenders who acted irresponsibly and committed fraud.

POVERTY

Establish ‘Promise Neighborhoods’ for Areas of Concentrated Poverty: Successful strategies to address concentrated, intergenerational poverty are comprehensive in nature and address the full range of obstacles that stand in the way of poor children. One highly-acclaimed model is the Harlem Children’s Zone in New York City, which provides a full network of services to an entire neighborhood from birth to college. Obama will create 20 Promise Neighborhoods in cities that have high levels of poverty and crime and low levels of student academic achievement. The Promise Neighborhoods will model the Harlem Children’s Zone and seek to engage all resident children and their parents in an achievement program based on tangible goals, including college for every participating student, strong physical and mental health outcomes for children as well as retention of meaningful employment and parenting schools for parents. Promise Neighborhood sites will be selected by the federal government after review of applications from cities and their existing non-profit organizations and school districts. Cities and private entities will be required to pay 50 percent of the program costs.

Provide a Living Wage: Barack Obama believes that people who work full time should not live in poverty. Before the Democrats took back Congress, the minimum wage had not changed in 10 years. Even though the minimum wage will rise to $7.25 an hour by 2009, the minimum wage’s real purchasing power will still be below what it was in 1968. As president, Obama would further raise the minimum wage to $9.50 an hour by 2011, index it to inflation and increase the Earned Income Tax Credit to make sure that full-time workers can earn a living wage that allows them to raise their families and pay for basic needs such as food, transportation, and housing – things so many people take for granted.

Expand the Earned Income Tax Credit: In the Illinois State Senate, Obama led the successful effort to create the $100 million Illinois Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). As president, Obama will reward work by increasing the number of working parents eligible for EITC benefits, increasing the benefit available to parents who support their children through child support payments, increasing the benefit for families with three or more children, and reducing the EITC marriage penalty which hurts low-income families. Under the Obama plan, full-time workers making the minimum wage would get an EITC benefit up to $555, more than three times greater than the $175 benefit they get today. If the workers are responsibly supporting their children on child support, the Obama plan would give those workers a benefit of $1,110. The Obama plan would also increase the EITC benefit for those families that are most likely to be in poverty – families with three or more children.

Help Low-Income Workers Enter the Job Market: Obama’s commitment to helping low-income workers began early in his life. After college, Obama worked for a church-based group in Chicago to improve living conditions in poor neighborhoods plagued by high unemployment. Obama worked with a group that used charitable grants to assess skills of unemployed workers and help them find jobs. As president, Obama will invest $1 billion over five years in transitional jobs and career pathways programs that implement proven methods of helping low-income Americans succeed in the workforce. This investment will be coupled with other measures to encourage the private sector and state and local governments to increase their support of these effective employment programs.

EDUCATION

Support Teachers in Inner-City Schools: From the moment children step into a classroom, the single most important factor in determining their achievement is their teacher. Barack Obama values teachers and the central role that they play in education. To ensure competent, effective teachers in schools that are organized for success, Obama’s K-12 plan will expand service scholarships to underwrite high-quality preparation for teachers who commit to working in underserved districts, support ongoing improvements in teacher education, provide mentoring for beginning teachers, create incentives for shared planning and learning time for teachers, and support career pathways in participating districts that provide ongoing professional development and reward accomplished teachers for their expertise. The Obama Career Ladder initiative will help eliminate teacher shortages in hard-to-staff areas and subjects, improve teacher retention rates, strengthen teacher preparation programs, improve professional development, and better utilize and reward accomplished teachers.

Reform and Fund No Child Left Behind: The goal of the No Child Left Behind Act is the right one – ensuring that all children can meet high standards – but the law has significant flaws that need to be addressed. Barack Obama believes it was wrong to force teachers, principals and schools to accomplish the goals of No Child Left Behind without the necessary resources. We have failed to provide high-quality teachers in every classroom and failed to support and pay for those teachers. Obama understands that NCLB has demoralized our educators, broken its promise to our children and must be changed in a fundamental way. Obama will work with mayors and state leaders to ensure that NCLB reform addresses the need for a broader range of assessments and an accountability system that focuses on improving schools, rather than punishing them.

Expand Early Childhood Education: Research shows that half of low-income children start school up to two years behind their peers in preschool skills and that these early achievement gaps continue throughout elementary school. Obama has been a champion of early childhood education since his years in the Illinois legislature, where he led the effort to create the Illinois Early Learning Council. Obama has introduced a comprehensive “Zero to Five” plan to provide critical supports to young children and their parents by investing $10 billion per year to create: Early Learning Challenge Grants to stimulate and help fund state “zero to five” efforts; quadruple the number of eligible children for Early Head Start and increase Head Start funding and improve quality for both; work to ensure all children have access to pre-school; provide affordable and high quality child care that will promote child development and ease the burden on working families; and create a Presidential Early Learning Council to increase collaboration and program coordination across federal, state, and local levels.

Reduce the High School Dropout Rate: Only 70 percent of U.S. high school students graduate with a diploma. African American and Latino students are significantly less likely to graduate than white students. Obama will address this problem by helping at-risk students before they get to high school, because the warning signs often occur well before high school. Obama will sign into law his “Success in the Middle Act,” which will provide federal support to improve the education of middle school students in low-performing schools by requiring states to develop a detailed plan to improve student achievement, develop and utilize early identification data systems to identify those students most at-risk of dropping out and invest in proven strategies that reduce the number of drop outs. Obama will also support federal efforts to continue to encourage schools to organize themselves for greater success by developing stronger relationships among adults and students, a more engaging curriculum, more adaptive teaching, and more opportunities for teachers to plan and learn together.

Obama will establish a competitive grant process open to existing or proposed public/private partnerships or entities that are pursuing evidence-based models that work – such as Diploma Plus or Teacher Advisor programs. These grants will decrease the dropout rate by increasing the capacity of state and district leaders as well as outside leaders – foundations, politicians, entrepreneurs, and community leaders – to collaborate on improving graduation rates.

Make College More Affordable: Barack Obama will make college affordable for all Americans by creating a new American Opportunity Tax Credit. This universal and fully refundable credit will ensure that the first $4,000 of a college education is completely free for most Americans and will cover two-thirds of the cost of tuition at the average public college or university. And by making the tax credit fully refundable, Obama’s credit will help low-income families that need it the most. Obama will also ensure that the tax credit is available to families at the time of enrollment by using prior year’s tax data to deliver the credit at the time that tuition is due, rather than a year or more later when tax returns are filed.

HEALTH CARE

Provide Universal Health Care Access and Lower Health Costs: Barack Obama is committed to signing universal health legislation by the end of his first term in office that ensures all Americans have high-quality, affordable health care coverage. His plan will save a typical American family up to $2,500 every year on medical expenditures by providing affordable, comprehensive and portable health coverage for every American; modernizing the U.S. health care system to contain spiraling health care costs and improve the quality of patient care; and promoting prevention and strengthening public health to prevent disease and protect against natural and man-made disasters.

Fight Health Disparities: Tackling minority health disparities is a top priority for Barack Obama. His universal health care plan expands coverage to all Americans, addressing a major cause of health disparities: insurance coverage. The Obama plan promotes research into combating health care disparities, conducts educational and health outreach to minorities, increases the diversity of healthcare professionals, and improves the delivery of health care to minorities. Finally, the Obama plan also requires health providers to inform the public about disparities and take steps to reduce those disparities. In the U.S. Senate, Obama helped write the Kennedy-Cochran-Obama Minority Health Improvement and Health Disparity Elimination Act. This bill puts new emphasis on disparity research by directing the Department of Health and Human Services to collect and report health care data by race and ethnicity, as well as by geographic and socioeconomic status and level of health literacy.

Foster Healthy Communities: How a community is designed – including the layout of its roads, buildings and parks – has a huge impact on the health of its residents. For instance, nearly one-third of Americans live in neighborhoods without sidewalks and less than half of our country’s children have a playground within walking distance of their homes. This lack of a safe place to walk and play is a major contributor to the growing numbers of overweight children. Barack Obama introduced the Healthy Places Act to help local governments assess the health impact of new policies and projects, like highways or shopping centers. Once the health impact is determined, the bill gives grant funding and technical assistance to help address potential health problems.

CRIME AND LAW ENFORCEMENT

Support Local Law Enforcement: The Bush administration has consistently cut funding for Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS). Barack Obama is committed to fully funding the COPS program to combat crime and help address police brutality and accountability issues in local communities. The COPS program provides local law enforcement funding for: hiring and training law enforcement officers; procuring equipment and support systems; paying officers to perform intelligence, anti-terror or homeland security duties; and developing new technologies, including inter-operable communications and forensic technology. Obama also supports efforts to encourage young people to enter the law enforcement profession, so that our local police departments are not understaffed because of a dearth of qualified applicants.

Reduce Crime Recidivism by Providing Ex-Offender Supports: America is facing an incarceration and post-incarceration crisis in urban communities. Today, nearly 2 million children have a parent in a correctional facility. In the U.S. Senate, Obama has worked to provide job training, substance abuse and mental health counseling, and employment opportunities to ex-offenders. In addition to signing these important programs into law, Obama will create a prison-to-work incentive program, modeled on the successful Welfare-to-Work Partnership, to create ties with employers and third-party agencies that provide training and support services to ex-offenders, and to improve ex-offender employment and job retention rates. Obama will also work to reform correctional systems to break down barriers for ex-offenders to find employment.

End the Dangerous Cycle of Youth Violence: Barack Obama is committed to ending youth violence in Chicago. As a resident and former community organizer on the South Side of Chicago, Barack Obama has witnessed firsthand the destructive nature of youth violence and gang activity on our children and entire communities. As president, Barack Obama will support innovative local programs, such as the CeaseFire program in Chicago, that have been proven to work. Such programs implement a comprehensive public health approach that investigates the causes of youth violence and implements a community-based strategy to prevent youth violence by addressing both the symptoms and causes of neighborhood violence. He will also double funding for federal after school programs and invest in 20 Promise Neighborhoods across the country to ensure that urban youth have safe and meaningful opportunities to keep them off the streets after school.

End the Flow of Illegal Drugs into Our Cities: When law enforcement agencies operate in concert at the federal, state, and local levels, the chances of solving a crime increases. Since 2003, the Tiahrt Amendment has restricted the ability of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to share gun trace information with members of state and local law enforcement. The ATF has a wide-ranging database of gun information, yet Washington has threatened police officers with time in prison for attempting to access it. As president, Barack Obama would repeal the Tiahrt Amendment and give police officers across the nation the tools they need to solve gun crimes and fight the illegal arms trade. Obama also favors commonsense measures that respect the Second Amendment rights of gun owners, while keeping guns away from children and from criminals who shouldn’t have them. He supports closing the gun show loophole and making guns in this country childproof. He also supports making the expired federal Assault Weapons Ban permanent, as such weapons belong on foreign battlefields and not on our streets.

End Racial Profiling: Barack Obama cosponsored federal legislation to ban racial profiling and require federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to take steps to eliminate the practice. He introduced and passed a law in the Illinois State Senate requiring the Illinois Department of Transportation to record the race, age, and gender of all drivers stopped for traffic violations so that bias could be detected and addressed.

STRENGTHEN HOMELAND SECURITY

Allocate Funds Based on Risk: Barack Obama believes that the president and Congress should direct our precious homeland security dollars according to risk, not as a form of general revenue sharing. These dollars help states and localities prepare for disaster and fund first responder needs. To address this pressing issue, Obama introduced an amendment on the Senate floor to increase risk-based funding in the 9/11 bill. Obama’s amendment was supported by the Families of 9/11 and former 9/11 Commissioners Lee Hamilton and Tim Roemer.

Prepare Effective Emergency Response Plans: As our nation witnessed in the Hurricane Katrina crisis and its aftermath, too many localities do not have integrated emergency response plans to handle disasters. As an Illinois state legislator, Barack Obama passed legislation to improve Illinois’ disaster preparedness for terrorism and public health crises. Obama took his firsthand knowledge of state and local disaster planning to Washington where he has worked to provide greater federal tools and guidance to those responding to emergencies on the ground. Obama passed legislation to provide funding for planning for evacuating individuals with special needs from emergency zones and to create a National Family Locator System to help families locate loved ones after a disaster. As president, Obama will further improve coordination between all levels of government, create better evacuation plan guidelines, ensure prompt federal assistance to emergency zones, and increase medical surge capacity.

Improve Interoperable Communications Systems: Our nation lost precious time during the 9/11 attacks and Hurricane Katrina because of the lack of a 21st-century communications network for first responders, local governments, and federal agencies. In January 2007, the Department of Homeland Security gave only six of 75 metropolitan areas high grades for emergency communications. These systems must enable communications across city, county, and state lines and there must be a system by which the Federal government communicates with local entities. Barack Obama supports efforts to provide greater technical assistance to local and state first responders and dramatically increase funding for reliable, interoperable communications systems. He also supports a more rapid turnover of broadcast spectrum to first responders.

Safeguard Mass Public Transportation: Every weekday, Americans take 34 million trips on public transportation systems to get to work, school and beyond. Even though recent attacks have happened on public transit in Madrid, Mumbai and London, the Bush administration has invested only a small fraction of the $6 billion that transportation officials have said is necessary to implement needed security improvements. Barack Obama believes that this critical hole in our homeland security network must be addressed. He will fight for greater information-sharing between national intelligence agents and local officials and provide local law enforcement agencies with the everyday tools they need to protect their transportation systems. As a U.S. Senator representing Chicago, Illinois, one of the nation’s major rail transportation hubs, Obama has consistently advocated stronger rail and transit security programs.

STRENGTHEN LIVABILITY OF CITIES

Build More Livable and Sustainable Communities: Our communities will better serve all of their residents if we are able to leave our cars, to walk, bicycle and have access other transportation alternatives. As president, Barack Obama will re-evaluate the transportation funding process to ensure that smart growth considerations are taken into account. Obama will build upon his efforts in the Senate to ensure that more Metropolitan Planning Organizations create policies to incentivize greater bicycle and pedestrian usage of roads and sidewalks, and he will also re-commit federal resources to public mass transportation projects across the country. Better transportation alternatives will not only reduce the amount of time individuals spent commuting, but will also have significant benefits to air quality, public health and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Control Superfund Sites and Data: Barack Obama demanded that the Environmental Protection Agency report on what it is doing to reduce and control human exposure to hazardous contaminants at more than 100 Superfund sites nationwide. As a state senator, he voted to create the Brownfields Rehabilitation and Redevelopment Program, which encourages private sector voluntary remediation of environmentally-distressed and underutilized sites. As president, Obama will restore the strength of the Superfund program by requiring polluters to pay for the cleanup of contaminated sites they created.

Use Innovative Measures to Dramatically Improve Efficiency of Buildings: Buildings account for nearly 40 percent of carbon emissions in the United States today and carbon emissions from buildings are expected to grow faster than emissions from other major parts of our economy. It is expected that 15 million new buildings will be constructed between today and 2015. Barack Obama will work with cities so that we make our new and existing buildings more efficient consumers of electricity.

  • Set Building Efficiency Goals: Barack Obama will establish a goal of making all new buildings carbon neutral, or produce zero emissions, by 2030. He’ll also establish a national goal of improving new building efficiency by 50 percent and existing building efficiency by 25 percent over the next decade to help us meet the 2030 goal.

  • Establish a Grant Program for Early Adopters: Obama will create a competitive grant program to award those states and localities that take the first steps in implementing new building codes that prioritize energy efficiency, and provide a federal match for those states with leading-edge public benefits funds that support energy efficiency retrofits of existing buildings.

  • Flip Incentives to Energy Utilities: Obama will work to “flip” incentives to state and local utilities by ensuring companies get increased profits for improving energy efficiency, rather than higher energy consumption. Currently, utilities make profits when consumers purchase more energy, and when consumers purchase energy at peak times when energy prices are higher because of greater demands on the system. This decoupling of profits from increased energy usage will incentivize utilities to partner with consumers and the federal government to reduce monthly energy bills for families and businesses. Obama will provide early adopter grants and other financial assistance from the federal government to states that implement this energy efficient policy.

  • Expand Federal Efficiency Grants: Obama will also expand federal grant programs to help states and localities build more efficient public buildings, including libraries, schools and police stations that adopt aggressive green building provisions like those provided by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program of the U.S. Green Buildings Council. Obama will also partner with the private sector to ensure that more companies and building contractors are aware of the short-term and long-term benefits of building “green.”

HELPING FAMILIES

Provide a Tax Cut for Working Families: Barack Obama will restore fairness to the tax code and provide 150 million workers the tax relief they deserve. Obama will create a new “Making Work Pay” tax credit of up to $500 per person, or $1,000 per working family. This refundable income tax credit will provide direct relief to American families who face the regressive payroll tax system. It will offset the payroll tax on the first $8,100 of their earnings while still preserving the important principle of a dedicated revenue source for Social Security. The “Making Work Pay” tax credit will completely eliminate income taxes for 10 million Americans. The tax credit will also provide relief to self-employed small business owners who struggle to pay both the employee and employer portion of the payroll tax. The “Making Work Pay” tax credit offsets some of this selfemployment tax as well.

Strengthening Fatherhood and Families: Since 1960, the number of American children without fathers in their lives has quadrupled, from 6 million to more than 24 million. Children without fathers in their lives are five times more likely to live in poverty and commit crime, nine times more likely to drop out of school, and 20 times more likely to end up in prison. Barack Obama has re-introduced the Responsible Fatherhood and Healthy Families Act to remove some of the government penalties on married families, crack down on men avoiding child support payments, ensure that support payments go to families instead of state bureaucracies, fund support services for fathers and their families, and support domestic violence prevention efforts. As president, Obama will sign this bill into law and continue to implement innovative measures to strengthen families.

Support Parents with Young Children: Barack Obama would expand the highly successful Nurse-Family Partnership to all low-income, first-time mothers. The Nurse-Family Partnership provides home visits by trained registered nurses to low-income expectant mothers and their families. The trained nurses use proven methods to help improve the mental and physical health of the family by providing counseling on substance abuse, creating and achieving personal goals, and effective methods of nurturing children. Proven benefits of these types of programs include improved women’s prenatal health, a reduction in childhood injuries, fewer unintended pregnancies, increased father involvement and women’s employment, reduced use of welfare and food stamps, and increased children’s school readiness. Researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis concluded that these programs produced an average of five dollars in savings for every dollar invested and produced more than $28,000 in net savings for every high-risk family enrolled in the program. The Obama plan would assist approximately 570,000 first-time mothers each year.

Expand Paid Sick Days: Half of all private sector workers have no paid sick days and the problem is worse for employees in low-paying jobs, where less than a quarter receive any paid sick days. Barack Obama will require that employers provide seven paid sick days per year.

Expand High-Quality Afterschool Opportunities: Expanding access to high-quality afterschool programs will help children learn and strengthen a broad range of skills and provide relief to working parents who have to juggle child care and work responsibilities. Barack Obama will double funding for the main federal support for afterschool programs, the 21st Century Learning Centers program, to serve one million more children. Obama will include measures to maximize performance and effectiveness across grantees nationwide.

Expand the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit: The Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit provides too little relief to families that struggle to afford child care expenses. Currently, the credit only covers up to 35 percent of the first $3,000 of child care expenses a family incurs for one child and the first $6,000 for a family with two or more children. And the credit is not refundable, which means that upper-income families disproportionately benefit while families who make under $50,000 a year receive less than a third of the tax credit. Barack Obama will reform the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit by making it refundable and allowing low-income families to receive up to a 50 percent credit for their child care expenses. Coupled with Obama’s “Making Work Pay” tax credit, this proposal will help put more money directly in the pockets of hardworking low and middle-income parents.

Reform Bankruptcy Laws to Protect Families Facing a Medical Crisis: More than half of all personal bankruptcies today are caused by medical bills. Barack Obama will protect workers who fall into personal bankruptcy as a result of a medical crisis. Current law, which Obama opposed in the 2005 bankruptcy bill, provides too many families with inadequate relief when faced by an unforeseen medical crisis. Obama will create an exemption from the new law’s requirement that middle class families extend their debts rather than have them forgiven. If a person can demonstrate to the satisfaction of the bankruptcy court that the reason they filed for bankruptcy was a result of debts incurred through medical expenses, then Obama believes they should be relieved of that debt through a process that lets them get back on their feet.

Cap Outlandish Interest Rates on Payday Loans and Improve Disclosure: In the wake of reports that some service members were paying 800 percent interest on payday loans, the U.S. Congress took bipartisan action to limit interest rates charged to service members to 36 percent. Barack Obama believes that we must extend this protection to all Americans, because predatory lending continues to be a major problem for low and middle income families alike. Obama also believes that we need to ensure that all Americans have access to clear and simplified information about loan fees, payments and penalties, which is why he’ll require lenders to provide this information during the loan application process. Furthermore, Obama will work to empower more Americans in the fight against predatory lending by supporting initiatives to improve financial literacy and financial planning.

Encourage Responsible Lending Institutions to Make Small Consumer Loans: Some mainstream, responsible lending institutions are beginning to enter the short-term lending market to provide many Americans with fair alternatives to predatory lending institutions. These loans provide a reasonable period of time to be repaid, charge fair interest rates, and often ensure that the borrower has the ability to repay the loan on time. Some of these lending efforts are coupled with enhanced financial literacy training, which can ensure that Americans do not become caught in a never-ending cycle of debt. Barack Obama will work with his Secretary of Treasury and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation to encourage banks, credit unions and Community Development Financial Institutions to provide affordable short-term and small dollar loans – and to drive the sharks out of business.
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Rally the Locavores to Read the Obama Urban Policy Paper(UPP)

Help Craft and Mobilize Support for a “Locavore Manifesto”: Organic and Urban Farming Now! It’s Time!

It is easy for me to imagine you teaming up with Michael Pollan and Barbara Kingsolver, and perhaps 10 percent of their thousands of readers, to inspire the Obama and/or Clinton teams to awaken to the promise of organic and urban agriculture.

Why not help us reach those thousands upon thousands of Pollan/Kingsolver readers, and inspire a number of them to raise the locavore banner for the Ohio and Pennsylvania primaries.

Or, e can send some e-mails and make some phone calls to key Ohio activists, green and otherwise, that might constitute a tipping point for a more graceful means of producing, distributing, cooking, and enjoying food in the USA.

Good food and beauty
The people will come!

Labor intensive industry, i.e.
Organic & urban farming,
Clean green jobs,
Community building,
Character development,
Entrepreneurial, low capital cost,
Start-up city farmers, garden coaches,
Local, orgnaic food processors and
Preparers,
Community supported agriculture
Growing rural urban partnerships,
Reduced cabon footprints,
Enhanced food, tasty, healthful,
Affordable.

What say?

Why not?

Godsil

P.S. Here’s something I hope to send to a few thousand reporters, activists, educators, and community food movement citizens in Ohio and then Pennsylvania.

Apprentice City Farmer Seeks Ohio Help for Urban/Organic Ag Place on Democratic Platform

I am an apprentice urban farmer, a board member of Will Allen’s Growing Power, and a member of Milwaukee Urban Agriculture Network(MUAN).

Over the years I hope you will work with me and other apprentice city farmers inspired by Will Allen’s Growing Power “movement” to win a place for urban farming on the national platform of our political parties, starting with Hillary and Obama in 2008!

My daughter Rachel Godsil, an environmental law professor at Seton Hall, has been the convener of the Obama Urban Policy Paper, which makes no mention at all of the promise of urban farms and gardens for self-reliance and community building.

How can the most urbanized county in Ohio develop a more equitable, healthy, and sustainable food system?

By playing a role inspiring presidential candidates to learn about the promise of organic and urban farming!

Would you and yours consider an on-line conversation now and over the years with our eyes fixed on this prize?

Building a Green Power Bloc for Ohio Politics:Fix Eyes on Urban and Organic Agriculture on Democratic Platform

Would it not be grand to find the heavy lifters and detail angels
Of the Greening of Ohio become a key voting bloc
That would inspire Obama and Hillary to discover
Urban farming, csa’s, and the co-op movements focused on food!

I worked intensely with the Obama movement in Wisconsin,
Intending to inspire their commitment to urban farming
And co-ops for food secure communities.
Obama Movement Will Discover Urban Agriculture in Chicago’s Downtown Grant Park Soon Enough
Eco-Moms and Locavores Will Tilt to Obama Upon His Discovery of Organic Urban Farms and Gardens:

“It’s got to be organic,” says big farmer Will,

Inspire Obama to Promote 21st Century Victory Gardens

Growing Power’s Grant Park Harvest Celebration in Downtown Chicago

This has got to be one of my lifetime’s sweetest moments, a harvest celebration at a city farm next to the Buckingham Fountain in downtown Chicago, with over 100 people representing all of God’s children, mxing the work of harvest with the joy of sharing food fit for the gods, with songs and dancing as well!

Farm Director Erica Allen and Partner Lynn Peemoeller

The Grant Park Growing Power Farm has been created by Erica Allen and her father Will Allen. Lynn Peemoeller, program director
of Sustain, is one of the project’s partners.

Young Man Serving Heavenly Food

Gathering Glorious Greens

What Can Be More Inspiring…

The Means for Life?

And the Joy of…

City Farming Mentor

City Farmer at Dawn of Bright New Career!

Leading City Farmers Robert Pierce and Will Allen

Even though this “folk photographer’s” thumb

 mars this picture,I choose to present it.  

Madison, Wisconsin city farmer Robert Pierce’s
love and respect for mentor
Will Allen is captured in this photo!

Young Women Raking Intensely

Young Men Pausing to Pose

Than Our Beautiful Youth Joyfully Creating…

With Young Elders Joining in the Work…

Celebrating…

Harvest Time Work and Play!

Creating Rich Soil for Healthy Futures

Leading urban farm educator of North America.

Stimulate a Green “Power Bloc” For Ohio Politics

Fix Eyes on Urban and Organic Agriculture on Democratic Platform

Would it not be grand to find the heavy lifters and detail angels
Of the Greening of Ohio become a key voting bloc
That would inspire Obama and Hillary to discover
Urban farming and the co-op movements focused on food!

Here are some organizations with web site to connect with:

[http://www.city.cleveland.oh.us/government/departments/pubutil/sustainability/index1.html | City of Cleveland - Sustainability Program]
[http://www.e4s.org/content/index.asp | E4S: Entrepreneurs for Sustainability]
[http://www.earthdaycoalition.org/index.php | Earth Day Coalition]
[http://www.ecocitycleveland.org/index.html | EcoCity Cleveland: Designing Cities in Balance with Nature]
[http://www.ehw.org/index.html | Environmental Health Watch
[http://www.greenenergyohio.org/page.cfm?pageID=3 | Green Energy Ohio Home Page]
[http://www.ohiolung.org/ccacc.htm | The American Lung Association of Ohio]
[http://www.clevelandgbc.org/ | The Cleveland Green Building Coalition]

Matt Russell
Steps Evaluation Coordinator, Center for Health Promotion Research
Case Western Reserve University
matthew.russell@case.edu
216–368–1918

Morgan Taggart
Program Assistant, Steps to a Healthier Cleveland/City Fresh Community Gardening Program
OSU Extension, Cuyahoga County
taggart.32@osu.edu
216–429–8238

Brad Masi
Executive Director, New Agrarian Center
440–774–2906
Brad@gotthenac.org

[#top | Back to top]

Hillary Teams Up With the Obama Movement

And Thereby Sparks an Authentic “Green Democracy Movement”

It’s as much about the people of the Obama movement
As it is about Obama.

Hillary’s committed engagement to
This movement is essential to making it…
A working majority for “The Movement.”

Bill too!

How perfectly they would round out
This vast emerging network of
Movement Partners for a New America,
With Obama simply first among equals.

The Audacity of Obama’s and Sells’ Hopes at the Hoan Bridge

Will Obama shake hands with Bill Sell when he helps free the Hoan Bridge from cars only
And internationalize the Growing Power Urban Agriculture movement of Milwaukee?

http://www.bikethehoan.com/

Green Social Enterprise Development and Obama Movement

Mixed Models for Sustainable City and Rural Partnerships

  • Garden Coach Contracting

  • Grant Development for the Marriage of Growing Power, Zoological Society, County Zoo, the Domes, UW Extension, and Congo Bio-diversity/Bonobo Survival Project

  • Two Girls and a Truck Development

  • Green Democracy Manifesto and Great Lakes Green Network

  • Great Lakes Greening Civil Society and Federal Government under Democratic Regimes

  • Great Lakes Green Co-op Movement Support

“Obama 2008″ and “Going Clean for Gene in ‘68″

This came from a friend and writer, Laura Murphy, in response to “Viva Hillary Obama Wisconsin.”

I haven’t been this excited since Eugene McCarthy in 1968, when I marched up and down Kenwood Blvd. with “Get Out of Vietnam Now” signs and campaigned in Omaha and Indianapolis. Clean for Gene - that was us. We piled into rattletrap cars and drove all night to canvas for our man. We were zealous. We had a mission. I feel that same sense now, but this time across a huge spectrum of American lives and attitudes. We want America to be great again for all the right reasons.

Would anyone have any “Clean for Gene Stories” to share?

Here’s some of Laura’s excellent essays on fine food and dining experiences, from east to west and fresh coast visits.

Laura Murphy

Viva Hillary Obama Wisconsin!

Yin and yang.
Black and white.

He and she.
Mind and heart.

Workers and owners.
Men and women.

North and South.
East and West.

Viva Hillary!
Viva Obama!
Viva, Wiscosin!

Obama 650,000
Hillary 453,000

Seventy four per cent!

McCain 224,000
Huckabee 151,000

Hillary voters greater than
McCain/Huckabee combined!

Obama almost tripled McCain’s showing!

Viva Hilary Obama Wisconsin!

The world was watching.
We did our ancestors proud.

Apprentice City Farmer
Milwaukee, Wisconsin


Wisconsin Did It!

Journal Sentinel Reporter Craig Gilbert Analysis of Wisconsin Primary 2008

Illinois senator garners key demographics
By CRAIG GILBERT
cgilbert@journalsentinel.com
Posted: Feb. 19, 2008

Drawing support from a wide swath of voters in an ultracompetitive Midwestern battleground, Barack Obama soundly defeated Hillary Rodham Clinton on Tuesday in the Wisconsin primary, giving him nine straight victories and a powerful upper hand in their struggle for the Democratic nomination.

Along with winning a majority of the state’s 74 pledged delegates, Obama also demonstrated the kind of broad appeal that will be critical in the big showdown states ahead, especially Ohio on March 4.

That coalition included groups that have backed him in past contests: young voters, independents and the college-educated.

But in a brief, sharp-edged campaign in Wisconsin, Obama also made inroads among women and blue-collar voters, who have more typically backed Clinton.

He won more than half of all voters without a college degree - about 60% of the Democratic electorate. He won more than half of those with family incomes under $50,000. He dominated among white men - 63% to 34%. He won union households by 9 percentage points. And he battled Clinton to a draw among women.

All of these groups were components of an overwhelmingly white electorate (87%) with a grim view of the economy. It also was an electorate hungry for change, an impulse that exit polls showed decisively favored Obama.

“All across the country, people are standing up and saying it is time to turn the page,” Obama said at a rally in Houston, thanking Wisconsin voters for their civic pride and fortitude.

“In Wisconsin, when you go to vote, it’s 5 degrees outside,” he said.

Obama was leading Clinton by about 58% to 41%.

As expected, Wisconsin’s open primary proved to be a boon to the Illinois senator. Independents (28%) and Republicans (9%) together made up more than a third of the Democratic primary electorate - almost the exact same breakdown as in the state’s 2004 primary.

Obama carried independents by about 30 percentage points, according to the exit polls.

But Obama’s performance was striking in other ways that will help him make his case in upcoming states and to the party’s powerful bloc of unpledged super delegates.

One, his victory was big and broad, exit polls suggested.

Two, it came in a 50/50 battleground - the closest state in the country in 2004 - that is a virtual must-win for Democrats in November.

Three, it came in the kind of environment that Clinton herself has said provides added legitimacy - a big-turnout primary, rather than the kind of low-turnout caucuses that Obama has dominated this year by out-organizing his opponents.

With the vote totals not quite complete, it appeared that Wisconsin had generated at least the third-highest turnout rate of any Democratic contest this year, after New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

“I think there’s evidence, at least in Wisconsin, there are some cracks in the Clinton coalition,” said Democratic pollster Mark Mellman, who doesn’t work for either candidate and has polled in Wisconsin in the past.

Mellman said Obama’s performance here doesn’t guarantee success March 4 in Ohio and Texas, but “he’s demonstrating he can win the kinds of voters he needs to take Ohio and Texas.”

Gov. Jim Doyle, Obama’s highest-profile supporter in the state, said Tuesday’s victory shows that “he can compete for any group (of voters) at all.”

Clinton held a rally in Youngstown, Ohio, on Tuesday night, telling her supporters that this was “about picking a president who relies not just on words but on work, on hard work to get America back to work.”

With its big independent vote, its same-day registration so amenable to students and first-time voters and its shared border with Obama’s home state of Illinois, Wisconsin was a source of worry for the Clinton campaign throughout the run-up to Tuesday’s primary. Her aides worked so hard to keep expectations low that at times they seemed to be conceding the state.

As of Monday morning, 24 hours before the voting started, Clinton had not done a single event outside the Milwaukee media market. One reason was a Sunday storm that postponed a planned fly-around. But the main reason was her tardy arrival in the state.

She got to Wisconsin four days later than her opponent, campaigning last week largely via surrogates, TV ads, phone and satellite. She launched the first exchange of negative ads between the two in the 2008 campaign. Exit polls suggested she fared poorly in that exchange, with more voters viewing her attacks as unfair than his. She also was outspent more than 3-to-1 on TV in the state.

Her efforts to pressure Obama into a Wisconsin debate, a key message of her ads, weren’t helped by the fact she was making her case from Ohio and Texas.

“We’ve always said we think Wisconsin is challenging,” Clinton strategist Mark Penn said Tuesday. “There’s a very substantial independent vote that is very favorable to Senator Obama.”

But while the state’s open-primary system favored Obama, its demographics were in some ways good for Clinton: white, relatively Catholic and blue-collar - all features that had worked to Clinton’s favor in many other places.

“Oh, that there was more time,” said Lt. Gov. Barb Lawton, a Clinton supporter, who added that Ohio and Texas are now “larger than life.”

Doyle said Tuesday that he thought the Clinton campaign appeared to have trouble deciding how to approach the state.

“They were worried about losing, so they didn’t want to make it look like they were trying very hard,” he said. “If Hillary Clinton can’t come in and win in (a state like) Wisconsin, she’s not going to get the nomination.”

Wisconsin voters turned out in frigid single-digit temperatures, almost one-fifth of them voting in their first presidential primary, according to the exit polls.

While 46% of the voters in the Democratic primary termed themselves liberal, an additional 40% described themselves as moderate and 14% as conservative. Obama carried all three groups.

The economy was rated the top concern by the largest number of voters (more than 40%), followed by the war and health care. Nine of 10 voters rated the economy “not so good” or “poor.”

Those attitudes, a state that is unusually dependent on manufacturing and the looming Ohio contest help explain why the campaigns of both Clinton and Obama took a populist turn here, debating their records on trade and their plans to bolster the economy.

Obama faced a last-minute controversy, drawing heavy discussion on cable news and the Internet, over rhetoric that he borrowed from friend and Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick. Clinton aides charged plagiarism. But in dozens of interviews with Journal Sentinel reporters at polling places Tuesday, the issue almost never came up.

Asked to say what quality about the candidates mattered most to their choice, about half said it was the ability to bring about “needed change,” and they broke heavily for Obama. Far fewer (about a quarter) cited the “right experience,” and they voted overwhelmingly for Clinton.

Among the few demographic groups carried by Clinton: white women (narrowly), voters 60 or over, and white Democrats.

Young voters clearly boosted Obama’s margins. Those between 18 and 29 years old accounted for 16% of the vote, up sharply from the 2004 primary, when they were 11% of the vote. Obama carried that group, 70% to 26%. Obama carried African-American voters 91% to 8%, but they made up only 8% of the electorate.

Obama was dominant in the state’s two major Democratic counties, Milwaukee and Dane, winning them by roughly 2-to-1 margins.

But he also carried what was clearly a geographic battleground in the race, the Fox River Valley - areas including Brown (56% for Obama) and Outagamie (59% for Obama) counties that are heavily Catholic and mostly middle-class and blue-collar.

“Green Bay and down through the Fox Valley is always very important for Democrats in this state,” Doyle said. “A Democrat should do well in Milwaukee, and should do well in Madison. But many of these races really do get decided in the Fox Valley.”

Photos of Obama’s Mom, Dad, Stepfather, Sister, Grandparents, Wife, and Children


Photos of Michelle Obama at Pabst Theater This Afternoon, Monday. Feb. 18, 2008

Inspiring Memories of Working Class Mothers Listening to Eleanor Roosevelt’s Social Visions 1948!

“Dreaming and hoping is everything!
Everything begins and ends with dreaming.

“Tomorrow, Wisconsin, while you are in the voting booth,
Dream of the day Barack Obama will have his hand on the bible,
And be sworn in as President of these United States.”

“Change is hard!Amrican people can handle the truth.
Cynicism, fear, and division our greatest challenge.

“When people struggle every day in a culture that is mean,
Living in isolation behind a veil of impossibility,
It’s easy to be led by fear.”

“Our souls have been broken by leaders lacking inspiring vision.
Barack is a different kind of leader, ho believes we can face truth,
We are one another’s brothers and sisters,
Our greatness is measured by how well we treat the least of us,
And our leaders by what choices they made working when no one was watching.”

“This campaign expects American to change,
And never give up our seat at democracy’s table!”

Barack will not be perfect. He’ll work hard and expect
the American people will do the same!

“Barack won impressive legislative change
In the mean and tough city of Chicago politics.
He’ll be just fine. He knows about building
relationships of trust. Ultimately, we all have to
work together and leave our opponents their dignity,
And work to win them to positive change.”

“Barack is a uniter!”

If he wins, it’s because of regular folks.”

“When just about all of the political leaders were rushing to war,
Barack, while running for office, said “Wait a second.”

“Gwen Moore has an authenticity rare in poitics.”

Your great mayor Tom Barrett has been with us from the start!

“”We felt on the ground, at the start of the campaign,
That America was hungry for a different kind of politics.

This is the first time in my adult life I am totally proud of my country.
We’re now open to a unifier, a campaign based on hope, on possibility, on unity!”


Grace Lee Boggs, Legendary Detroit Philosopher Activist, On Obama

THE AUTHENTICITY OF OBAMA’S LEADERSHIP

By Grace Lee Boggs
Michigan Citizen, Feb. 24-Mar. 1, 2008

My eyes and ears are riveted to TV. I can’t get enough of Obama’s
calling upon Americans of all ages, all walks of life, all faiths, all
abilities, all sexual orientations, all political leanings, to stop
thinking like victims and start believing that we have the power
within ourselves to create the world anew.

“I am asking you to believe not only in my ability to bring about
change in Washington . I am asking you to believe in yours.”

Obama is providing the authentic, visionary leadership we need in this
period when our challenges are so great and our politics (as he puts it
in The Audacity of Hope) so small.

That kind of leadership is very precious.

26 year-old MLK provided it in 1955 when he inspired Montgomery
blacks, sick and tired of being sick and tired, to go beyond protest
and manifest a more advanced humanity in their yearlong non-violent
boycott.

Jimmy Boggs anticipated it when he said in his last speech to
University of Michigan students in 1991 “I don’t believe nobody can run
this country better than me. I’m saying you better think that way.
You need to stop thinking of yourself as a minority because thinking
like a minority means you’re thinking like an underling. Everyone is
capable of going beyond where they are.”

Liberals and radicals tend to be skeptical of this kind of leadership.
Viewing society as a laundry list of problems, liberals promise
solutions. Radicals, having concluded that another world is necessary,
begin to lose hope that another world is possible when only a few
people show up for their meetings.

Obama does not promise solutions. He doesn’t view people as masses.
Out of his experiences as a community organizer and his
dialectical/historical appreciation of movement building in the U.S.,
he is asking us to become active citizens, builders of a new America
that all of us will be proud to call our own.

As he put it in a 1995 interview:
“What we need in America, especially in the African-American community,
is a moral agenda that is tied to a concrete agenda for building and
rebuilding our communities, We have moved beyond the clarion call stage
needed during the civil rights movement. Now we must move into a
building stage…

“We have no shortage of moral fervor, In every church on Sunday in the
African-American community we have fervor. .But as soon as church lets
out, the energy dissipates. The biggest failure of the civil rights
movement was in failing to translate this moral fervor into creating
lasting institutions and organizational structures…

“ Chicago’s first African American mayor, Harold Washington was the
best of the classic politicians, But he, like all politicians, was
primarily interested in maintaining his power and working the levers of
power. He was a classic charismatic leader,..

 “How do we rebuild our schools? How do we rebuild our communities? How

do we create safer streets? What concretely can we do together to
achieve these goals?”

“For our agenda to work, we can’t see voters or communities as
consumers, as mere recipients or beneficiaries of this change. It’s
time for politicians and other leaders to see voters, residents or
citizens as producers of this change. The thrust of our organizing must
be the whole agenda of creating productive communities. That is where
our future lies…

“The right wing talks about this but they keep appealing to that old
individualistic bootstrap myth: get a job, get rich, and get out. Our
goal must be to help people get a sense of building something larger…

“People are hungry for community, hungry for change…

“What if a politician were to see his job as that of an organizer, as
part teacher and part advocate, one who does not sell voters short but
who educates them about the real choices before them? As an elected
public official, I could bring church and community leaders together
easier than I could as a community organizer or lawyer. We would come
together to form concrete economic development strategies, take
advantage of existing laws and structures, and create bridges and bonds
within all sectors of the community. We must form grass-root structures
that would hold me and other elected officials more accountable for
their actions…

“The right wing, the Christian right, has done a good job of building
these organizations of accountability, much better than the left or
progressive forces have. But it’s always easier to organize around
intolerance, narrow-mindedness, and false nostalgia. And they also have
hijacked the higher moral ground with this language of family values
and moral responsibility…

“Now we have to take these same values that are encouraged within our
families—of looking out for one another, of sharing, of sacrificing
for each other—and apply them to a larger society. Let’s talk about
creating a society, not just individual families, based on these
values. Right now we have a society that talks about the
irresponsibility of teens getting pregnant, not the irresponsibility of
a society that fails to educate them to aspire for more.”

That is what Detroit–City of Hope is about.

Obama is the catalyst that has brought this new generation out of

obscurity onto the historical stage. But they were already in the
wings.

LIVING FOR CHANGE
A New Generation, Out of Obscurity
By Grace Lee Boggs
Michigan Citizen, Feb. 17–23, 2008

If you want to know more about the young people who are making Obama’s
presidential campaign not just a fairy tale, you need to read their
blogs.

Here are the reflections of one blogger:

She begins with excerpts from a speech by Obama during his first state
senator’s campaign in 1995 (which she found only after Obama had
inspired her to re-engage with electoral politics),

“…What we need in America, especially in the African-American
community, is a moral agenda that is tied to a concrete agenda for
building and rebuilding our communities,…

“…What if a politician were to see his job as that of an organizer, as
part teacher and part advocate, one who does not sell voters short but
who educates them about the real choices before them? As an elected
public official, for instance, I could bring church and community
leaders together easier than I could as a community organizer or
lawyer. We would come together to form concrete economic development
strategies, take advantage of existing laws and structures, and create
bridges and bonds within all sectors of the community. We must form
grass-root structures that would hold me and other elected officials
more accountable for their actions.”

Then she speaks for herself:

“This moment that I hadn’t anticipated has clearly come. We have a
presidential candidate who not only engenders our belief in his ability
and integrity, but pushes us to transform ourselves.

“Obama has a subtle and beautiful undertone in all his messaging. He’s
talking about all of us doing this thing called democracy together. He
can’t get away from the spotlight and the adulation that many, myself
included, project onto him, but I think he’s asking us to become
something higher than ourselves.

“Obama is the first presidential candidate that has successfully built
a campaign around Gandhi’s ‘be the change you want to see in the
world.‘ This is where I love his background as an organizer. It’s the
first time I’ve seen someone effectively articulate the need for each
of us to become engaged in the process, rather than spouting more
politics-as-usual rhetoric. This is the kind of leadership this country
needs.”

I know the young woman who wrote this blog <http://wsoftheart.com> .
After graduating from college, she became an environmental justice
organizer in Detroit where she was also active in the Detroit Asian
Youth Project, the Detroit Summer Collective and the League of Young
Voters campaign. From her own experiences as an organizer, she can
appreciate the difference between aggressive campaigning and the
“simply meeting people where they are” community organizing of the
Obama faith-based mobilizations.

She believes that another world is both possible and necessary and
that we must change both ourselves and the world in order to slow down

 global warming, to   keep five million of the world’s children under 5

from dying of malnutrition and disease every year, and to stop the
commodification of all our human relationships by corporate
globalization. To realize her own humanity and to make this country a
beacon rather than an enemy to the world, she is committing her heart,
hands and head to creating this new world.

Like many other young people whom I have met on college campuses and
in community organizations all over the United States , she is like
“the pitcher who yearns for water to carry” (in Marge Piercy’s poem To
be of use). She isn’t just looking for a job. She yearns for work
that is real.

Obama is the catalyst that has brought this new generation out of
obscurity onto the historical stage. But they were already in the
wings.

These young people are our children, our grandchildren, our nieces and
nephews. We should be encouraging, supporting, joining them in the
many ways in which they are rebuilding, redefining and respiriting our
communities. Our future and the future of our communities, our
country and our planet depend on them. We can’t leave it all up to
Obama.

Ellen Bravo, Writer and Renown 9 to 5 Leader, in “Huffington Post”: Why So Many Feminists Are Deciding to Vote for Barack Obama

Posted February 1, 2008 | 12:55 PM (EST)

Something’s happening in these elections that feels like a tipping point.

From a national women’s media training to my local women’s book club, from exchanges among long-time feminist activists to conversations with my feminist son, I hear a buzz about why so many feminists are deciding to vote for Barack Obama. Count me among them.

Almost without exception, we’d love to see a woman president. Anyone who thinks gender doesn’t matter hasn’t seen Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin or Wisconsin Lieutenant Governor Barbara Lawton before a room full of women hungry for solutions to low pay, unfair treatment and lack of time to pee, much less care for loved ones. To paraphrase Eleanor Holmes Norton, we’re well aware that the under-representation of women in political positions has nothing to do with talent or merit. A woman in the highest job would inspire many more women to push against the barriers. And we’re outraged at the sexist treatment of Hillary throughout the media.

But we know the Big Boys have also excluded people of color of both genders from the halls of power, and constructed a massive set of racial roadblocks and indignities. We won’t allow ourselves to be pigeon-holed into choosing which matters more, sexism or racism. Both hurt women. Both profit the Big Boys and allow them to maintain the status quo. Justice matters.

In Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama, voters have a choice between two smart, capable and energetic candidates, either of whom would be far preferable to the current occupier of the White House who has made our nation an occupier in Iraq. Both stand for many of the changes we want to see, including fair pay, living wages, workers’ right to organize, and new standards like paid sick days and family leave insurance, so family values don’t end at the workplace door.

So what’s tipped so many feminists to Obama? For some, it was when the Clintons began treating him as women are treated — patronizing him as merely a “good speaker,” trivializing his accomplishments, minimizing the importance of his early judgment and risk-taking in opposing the war in Iraq, and using surrogates to demonize his morality.

For me and many others, the key attraction is Obama’s vision that people need to be eager, desirous for and participants in the change we want to see (the very strength the Clintons either don’t get or deliberately misstate). Barack Obama doesn’t just make people feel hopeful about the possibility of change — he inspires them to become part of that change, makes them feel it’s the only way we’ll get there. And in doing so, he’s motivating the base, reaching independent and swing voters, and perhaps most important, inspiring young people and many undecided-whether-or-not-to-vote voters — people most affected by injustice who often feel their votes, and their lives, don’t matter in elections where money has so much sway.

This public mobilization is precisely what Hillary failed to do with health care reform in 1992. She owns that failure but not the reason for it.

As long as money determines elections, we won’t have the perfect candidate. Many of us wish the two leading candidates took stronger stands, like Edwards and Kucinich have, against the role of lobbyists and corporate greed and the continuation of poverty. As activists, we know that whoever wins will be subject to huge pressure from the Big Boys and will go only so far as organized movements of people demand that they go. It may take a president to push through a law, but it takes a movement to say, “Ignore us at your peril.”

I believe Barack Obama has the best chance of helping to galvanize that movement and to stay connected with it.

Ellen Bravo is a long-time feminist activist and author who teaches women’s studies at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Her most recent book is Taking on the Big Boys, or Why Feminism is Good for Families, Business and the Nation.

“Milwaukee Journal Sentinel” Endorses Obama!

…”in Obama, there is a potential for meaningful change that does not exist with any other candidate.”

Posted: Feb. 16, 2008

There is only the tiniest sliver of daylight separating Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton on the issues, with the notable exception of health care reform.

Even on Iraq, they end up in much the same place: Steady U.S. troop withdrawal, leaving themselves enough wiggle room in case the situation on the ground becomes so dire that more flexibility becomes necessary.

The similarity of views is, in truth, why the candidates return so much to the themes of change and experience.

Our recommendation in Wisconsin’s primary on Tuesday for the Democratic nomination is Barack Obama. That’s our recommendation because change and experience are crucial to moving this country forward after what will be eight years of an administration careening from mistake to catastrophe to disaster and back again.

The Illinois senator is best-equipped to deliver that change, and his relatively shorter time in Washington is more asset than handicap.

The Obama campaign has been derisively and incorrectly described as more rock tour than political campaign and his supporters as more starry-eyed groupies than thoughtful voters.

If detractors in either party want to continue characterizing the Obama campaign this way, they will have seriously underestimated both the electorate’s hunger for meaningful change in how the nation is governed and the candidate himself.

In an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Editorial Board on Wednesday, the first-term senator proved himself adept at detail and vision. They are not mutually exclusive.

On poverty, he eschewed the phrase “war on poverty,” preferring instead to describe the task as a long-haul effort. No one should launch a program, fight a battle and declare mission accomplished, he seemed to say.

Instead, it will require continuous and unflagging efforts along several fronts - taxation, education, economic development and, yes, personal responsibility - to make progress. He speaks of strengthening the middle class, helping with child care, early childhood education and ensuring access to affordable health care.

In other words, a broad, nuanced approach that recognizes that problems are linked to others.

Similarly nuanced answers came from questions on manufacturing, trade, school choice, the Great Lakes and energy.

He spoke of turning to alternative energy, not just to wean addiction from oil but to spur more technologies that in turn spur more manufacturing possibilities. We can find “competitive advantages at higher value products,” he said, adding that rebuilding much needed infrastructure also can create jobs.

He was a realist, recognizing that no one could likely turn the clock back to Milwaukee’s manufacturing heyday. “The percentage of manufacturing jobs to service jobs is not going to be the same as it was in the 1950s,” he said. “We’re not going to get those jobs back.”

Yet he insisted that manufacturing still could become more competitive and the service industry better-paying for its employees.

Which is not to say that we are in lockstep. On school choice, Obama does not see as clearly as we do the intrinsic value in and of itself of low-income parents having a choice.

On health care, we prefer Clinton’s insurance mandate, though we recognize that more details are needed. Obama would mandate insurance for children only, a worthy goal, but we’re skeptical of his claim that it will get to the same number of people insured as Clinton’s plan.

But, again, not a lot separates Obama’s views from Clinton’s. So why Obama?

It is precisely the excitement that we see in the candidate and his supporters in their demands for change. This promises to alter the political landscape and dynamics for the better, energizing youth for service and involvement as we haven’t seen in a very long time.

In Clinton, there is the potential for déjà vu all over again. Right or wrong, she is a polarizing figure who excites all the wrong kinds of political passions.

And even if she didn’t, her vote on the Iraq war cannot be explained away as not realizing that the president would take that ball (and blank check) and run with it.

Yes, she has been tried. And much of the antagonism she engenders in the right is simply irrational.

But even without this Clinton baggage and on their individual merits, Obama still has the edge. His experience as community organizer, state legislator, U.S. senator and campaigner who took a dream and became a credible contender measures up well against Clinton’s experience as poverty lawyer, first lady and U.S. senator.

The party would be well-served with either candidate, and the historical implications are huge with each.

But in Obama, there is a potential for meaningful change that does not exist with any other candidate.

Campaign Needs Workers on Teusday. $100 For Full Day Workers Provided

The campaign needs workers for Tuesday, election day… $100 for those who can help all day. Please consider helping
out.

Email Kevin Harris at kharris@barackobama.com

Thanks,
Paul

Invite to Join Michelle Obama at Pabst Theater, This Monday, Noon(doors open 11 a.m.)

Please join Michelle Obama at a ‘Stand for Change’ Rally in Milwaukee, where she’ll talk about why Barack is the one candidate in this election who can bring about change we can believe in.

Stand for Change Rally with Michelle Obama

The Pabst Theater
144 E. Wells St.
Milwaukee, WI 53202

Monday, February 18, 2008
Doors Open: 11:00 a.m.
Program Begins: 11:50 a.m.

The event is free and open to the public. Tickets are not required, but an RSVP is encouraged.

RSVP Now

http://wi.barackobama.com/MOmilwaukee

For security reasons, do not bring bags. Please limit personal items. No signs or banners are permitted.

Obama Movement Will Discover Urban Agriculture in Chicago’s Downtown Grant Park Soon Enough

Eco-Moms and Locavores Will Tilt to Obama Upon His Discovery of Organic Urban Farms and Gardens:

“It’s got to be organic,” says big farmer Will!

Inspire Obama to Promote 21st Century Victory Gardens

Growing Power’s Grant Park Harvest Celebration in Downtown Chicago

This has got to be one of my lifetime’s sweetest moments, a harvest celebration at a city farm next to the Buckingham Fountain in downtown Chicago, with over 100 people representing all of God’s children, mxing the work of harvest with the joy of sharing food fit for the gods, with songs and dancing as well!

Farm Director Erica Allen and Partner Lynn Peemoeller

The Grant Park Growing Power Farm has been created by Erica Allen and her father Will Allen. Lynn Peemoeller, program director
of Sustain, is one of the project’s partners.

Young Man Serving Heavenly Food

Gathering Glorious Greens

What Can Be More Inspiring…

The Means for Life?

And the Joy of…

City Farming Mentor

City Farmer at Dawn of Bright New Career!

Leading City Farmers Robert Pierce and Will Allen

Even though this “folk photographer’s” thumb

 mars this picture,I choose to present it.  

Madison, Wisconsin city farmer Robert Pierce’s
love and respect for mentor
Will Allen is captured in this photo!

Young Women Raking Intensely

Young Men Pausing to Pose

Than Our Beautiful Youth Joyfully Creating…

With Young Elders Joining in the Work…

Celebrating…

Harvest Time Work and Play!

Creating Rich Soil for Healthy Futures


Pictures and More from Obama Rally 2/15/2008

Obama has some of Grandpa’s depression/World War II aspect, and some of Mom’s best of the 60s qualities!

Key gifts my Mom and grandparents gave me? “Love, education, and hope!”

We must build a health care system that emphasizes prevention, “not disease care but health care system!”

“Fierce urgency of the now,” quoting Dr. King

3 years of community organizing work in Chicago neighborhoods devasted by steel company closing “the best education I ever had!”

“America’s back!”

Key challenge is to “inspire people to work together to solve problems.”

All great things in this country came because “somebody somewhere was willing to hope!”

“This is our moment in time, when the Spirit is coming through, when we can lock our arms together and reach for the world as it can be!”

Back to top

Apprentice City Farmer Concept of Obama: a complex, brilliant, young, old souled man.

I got within 5 feet of Obama for enough time to take in his “spirit”—warm, modest, spirited, hip, and joyous: a complex, brilliant, young, old souled man.

The Wisconsin Idea for 21st Century Sustainable Development

Looking for writers with roots in the Wisconsin movements of the past 150 years or so, to put together pieces contributing to this concept, which cannot avoid addressing issues of war and peace, planetary political economy dynamics, and broad social cultural movements.

Howard Hinthertuer’s piece on “American Soil?” illustrates one response to this ambition in this web platform.

As does An Urban Manifesto by Milwaukee’s “Activist of the Year” Bill Sell, written as a gift for our newly elected Mayor, Tom Barrett, in 2005. Bill may we re-visit the manifesto, and elaborate afer reflecting on all he has witnessed and helped create in the Milwaukee movements he has advanced, e.g. buses are green, bike the hoan, urban farms and gardens, historic preservation, and more!

Unstoppable Obama by Barbara Ehrenreich

Celebrates Re-branding of America Choosing a “Kenyan-Kansan with roots in

Indonesia and multiracial Hawaii”—a New Day!

Barbara Ehrenreich
February 14, 2008
<http://ehrenreich.blogs.com/barbaras_blog/>

When did you begin to think that Obama might be
unstoppable? Was it when your grown feminist daughter
started weeping inconsolably over his defeat in New
Hampshire? Or was it when he triumphed in Virginia, a
state still littered with Confederate monuments and
memorabilia? For me, it was on Tuesday night when two
Republican Virginians in a row called C-SPAN radio to
report that they’d just voted for Ron Paul, but, in the
general election, would vote for… Obama.

In the dominant campaign narrative, his appeal is
mysterious and irrational: He’s a “rock star,” all flash
and no substance, tending dangerously, according to the
New York Times’ Paul Krugman, to a “cult of
personality.” At best, he’s seen as another vague
Reagan-esque avatar of Hallmarkian sentiments like
optimism and hope. While Clinton, the designated
valedictorian, reaches out for the ego and super-ego, he
supposedly goes for the id. She might as well be
promoting choral singing in the face of Beatlemania.

The Clinton coterie is wringing its hands. Should she
transform herself into an economic populist, as Paul
Begala pleaded on Tuesday night? This would be a
stretch, given her technocratic and elitist approach to
health reform in 1993, her embarrassing vote for a
credit card company-supported bankruptcy bill in 2001,
among numerous other lapses. Besides, Obama already just
leaped out in front of her with a resoundingly populist
economic program on Wednesday.

Or should she reconfigure herself, untangle her
triangulations, and attempt to appeal to the American
people in some deep human way, with or without a tear or
two? This, too, would take heavy lifting. Someone needs
to tell her that there are better ways to signal
conviction than by raising one’s voice and drawing out
the vowels, as in “I KNOW …” and “I BELIEVE …” The
frozen smile has to go too, along with the metronymic
nodding, which sometimes goes on long enough to suggest
a placement within the autism spectrum.

But I don’t think any tweakings of the candidate or her
message will work, and not because Obama-mania is an
occult force or a kind of mass hysteria. Let’s take
seriously what he offers, which is “change.” The promise
of “change” is what drives the Obama juggernaut, and
“change” means wanting out of wherever you are now. It
can even mean wanting out so badly that you don’t much
care, as in the case of the Ron Paul voters cited above,
exactly what that change will be. In reality, there’s no
mystery about the direction in which Obama might take
us: He’s written a breathtakingly honest autobiography;
he has a long legislative history, and now, a meaty
economic program. But no one checks the weather before
leaping out of a burning building.

Consider our present situation. Thanks to Iraq and
water-boarding, Abu Ghraib and the “rendering” of terror
suspects, we’ve achieved the moral status of a pariah
nation. The seas are rising. The dollar is sinking. A
growing proportion of Americans have no access to health
care; an estimated 18,000 die every year for lack of
health insurance. Now, as the economy staggers into
recession, the financial analysts are wondering only
whether the rest of the world is sufficiently “de-
coupled” from the US economy to survive our demise.

Clinton can put forth all the policy proposals she likes
- and many of them are admirable ones - but anyone can
see that she’s of the same generation and even one of
the same families that got us into this checkmate
situation in the first place. True, some people miss
Bill, although the nostalgia was severely undercut by
his anti-Obama rhetoric in South Carolina, or maybe they
just miss the internet bubble he happened to preside
over. But even more people find dynastic successions
distasteful, especially when it’s a dynasty that
produced so little by way of concrete improvements in
our lives. Whatever she does, the semiotics of her
campaign boils down to two words - “same old.”

Obama is different, really different, and that in itself
represents “change.” A Kenyan-Kansan with roots in
Indonesia and multiracial Hawaii, he seems to be the
perfect answer to the bumper sticker that says, “I love
you America, but isn’t it time to start seeing other
people?” As conservative commentator Andrew Sullivan has
written, Obama’s election could mean the re-branding of
America. An anti-war black president with an Arab-
sounding name: See, we’re not so bad after all, world!

So yes, there’s a powerful emotional component to Obama-
mania, and not just because he’s a far more inspiring
speaker than his rival. We, perhaps white people
especially, look to him for atonement and redemption.
All of us, of whatever race, want a fresh start. That’s
what “change” means right now: Get us out of here!

Call for Obama Volunteer Work This Week in Milwaukee!

OBAMA FOR AMERICA - WISCONSIN
VOLUNTEER FOR BARACK

DAILY PHONE BANKING

Feb. 11th -→ Feb. 15th
MON—FRI (3–9)
WE’RE OVER 67% FULL, AND WANT TO FILL ALL LINES
—Make calls from our office (633 S. Hawley Rd.) for 3 hour shifts between 3 PM and 9 PM

GET OUT THE VOTE, WISCONSIN

Feb. 16th thru Feb. 19th
Full or Half Day Canvassing (Door Knocking)
Full or Half Day Phone Banking

ELECTION DAY

Feb. 19th
Commit the full day to volunteer for Barack by knocking doors or making calls

Good Food Offerings for Staff

If you’d like to provide dinner or snacks for the staff or volunteers, that is also greatly appreciated.
It keeps us happy and prevents people from leaving early to grab a bite outside of the office!

Email Hy Safran at hsafran@barackobama.com and let him know when you can come help.

Yes We Can!

Last edited by tyler schuster.   Page last modified on August 03, 2008

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