Rosa sat so Martin could walk. Martin walked so Barack could run. Barack is running so our children can fly.

At the First Corinthian Baptist Church in Harlem on Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2008, Latrice Barnes, right, is comforted by her daughter Jasmine Redd, 5. (David Goldman for The New York Times)

World Leaders Love White House Garden

“Washington Post”
Friday, April 10, 2009; Page A03

WHITE HOUSE GARDEN
Everyone Admires A Green Thumb

The international news media may have been fascinated by what Michelle Obama was wearing on her first trip abroad last week. But the first lady said that the world leaders she met were curious about something else: “The number one question I got as the first lady from world leaders — they were excited about this garden,” she told a group of students who had come to help seed the new, 1,100-square-foot plot on the South Lawn. “Every single person, from Prince Charles on down, they were excited we were planting this garden.”
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White House Garden Ground-Breaking Photo Gallery

For photo essay of this great moment, go to…
White House Garden Ground-Breaking Photo Gallery

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8VD0nKNQeBc

Some of the comments on this video have been described in very negative ways.
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Aloha Zen in the White House

Samoa News Guest Editorial - Aloha Zen in the White House
By Lelei LeLaulu news.newsroom@samoatelco.com
02.09.09

Not surprisingly, many people, and places, are claiming Barack Obama as their own. En route to the White House the president alighted in many places and touched lots of people in diverse locales so it’s no surprise so many are trying to catch some of Obama’s pixie dust.

Overlooked in the pixie dust rush is the fact Barack Obama is the product of a Polynesian island. He was born and schooled on Oahu, “the gathering place” of the archipelago known as Hawaii, the 50th state of the Union.

Everybody in Hawaii is from somewhere else. Its not a problem, Hawaiians are proud of their diversity. You ask a Hawai’ian what they are and they will go into great detail: “quarter Samoan, eighth Irish, eighth Japanese, eighth Cantonese, some Portuguese and a sprinkling of German and Tongan.” Unlike other parts of the USA, even Chicago and Cambridge, one’s diversity is seen as a strength on the Polynesian islands where the majority is a minority. Even the flora of the islands explodes with the brilliance of hybrid vigor.

Growing up in the warm, familial, embrace of the “Aloha Spirit,” undoubtedly equipped the young Obama with an easy multicultural mobility which enabled him to attract votes across a diverse cross-section of the continent. The Aloha Spirit showed him the power of communities in dealing with common problems. Is it any wonder the landlocked young Obama gravitated so easily to being a community organizer in big, cold, urban, Chicago?

“Ohana,” or sense of family, underpins the world of Hawaiians. It is based on the recognition of the importance of the family and how it extends its embrace outwards to broader communities. The warmth and hospitality routinely extended to strangers is a manifestation of the “Aloha Spirit”. Look at how gently he treated Chief Justice Roberts when the top judge in the land flubbed his lines? Obama repeated the jurist’s mistakes and afterward praised Roberts for “helping him out” in a couple of patches. A sensitivity to dignity you wouldn’t see every day in the land of Governor Blagojevich.

Did you see the new president, and his daughters, hailing the Punahou School contingent in the inaugural parade with the Pacific island salute of the extended thumb and pinkie?

In an essay for the Punahou Bulletin, published in 1999, two decades after his high school graduation, Obama wrote: “The opportunity that Hawaii offered to experience a variety of cultures in a climate of mutual respect became an integral part of my world view, and a basis for the values that I hold most dear.”

“Hawaii provided Obama with a situation in which his mixed ancestry was minimally important,” observed Hawaiian Democratic Congressman Abercrombie. “In Hawaii, diversity unites us rather than divides us. It’s not a threat. Nobody gave a damn whether Barack Obama was black or white. That gave him confidence.”

Michelle Obama knows her husband. When Chicago Tribune reporter David Mendell set out to write a book about Illinois’ new and promising U.S. senator, Obama’s wife urged him to visit the state in which her husband was born: “There’s still a great deal of Hawaii in Barack,” she said. “You really can’t understand Barack until you understand Hawaii.”

Still, the new president carries his multicultural background easily.

When the DC schools were closed in January by what mid-westerners would characterize as a “dusting” of snow, the new president joked that in Chicago, schools wouldn’t even let kids come inside during recess in such a light snow fall.

A few days later David Axelrod, Obama’s closest adviser, said the new “informal” look at the White House was, in addition to being a manifestation of the president’s style, was also the result of the president ratcheting up the West Wing thermometer, “the guy’s from Hawaii … you can grow orchids in there!”

And how did Axelrod describe the new buzz in the White House?

“Aloha Zen,” he said.

(A coordinator of the Oceania Sustainable Tourism Alliance, Lelei LeLaulu is also executive director of Small Island Developing States Climate Action Program of the Earth Council and president of Sustainable Solutions, a renewable energy company in Dominican Republic. He was president and CEO of the development and humanitarian agency Counterpart International after serving the United Nations on a series of summits and global conferences that defined international development agenda in the 90s. He is a Samoan.)

Another Education is Possible

Michigan Citizen, Dec. 28-January 3, 2009

The recent selection of Arne Duncan as Secretary of Education shows that change has to come from below, as President-elect Obama said repeatedly during the campaign. As CEO of Chicago Public Schools, Mr. Duncan succeeded in raising test scores slightly, but his approach to education is essentially that of the factory manager. This approach may have worked one hundred years ago in the springtime of industrialism. But our children live in a new world and need a new kind of education. That is why so many drop out and why our schools have become a pipeline to prison.

The following letter provides an example of another kind of education that concerned parents, teachers and citizens can create to meet the needs of our children in this period when our public school system is collapsing.- GLB

Dear Michigan Moms and other Concerned Citizens:

We are average citizens and Moms in Battle Creek, Michigan, who started before the election to work for change in education.

We know that it is crucial to support public schools because the majority of children rely upon them. But we, and 30,000 other parents in southwest Michigan, did not feel that today’s public schools could provide the education we wanted for our children.

Our children live in a new world and need skills to prepare them to live in this new world. As parents, we also believe it is important for children to develop at their own pace and be allowed to pursue their own dreams and interests. We believe that on this path they will learn the basic skills needed to learn more.

We encourage our children to seek information about what interests them . We see the world as our classroom and often use the community as a resource for learning. We act as facilitators, guiding them toward resources that give them what they seek. We want them to be joyful. We seldom test them; yet they always seem to do well when tested.

We are not interested in “ information transfer. “ We are interested in integrated learning, the seamless approach. We take our child’s passions and teach them through those passions. We want them to be able to form meaningful relationships with diverse people of all ages, to be well-rounded and to have plenty of time for play. Happiness is something that is never discussed in educational jargon and there is no place in standardized testing to measure it.

Our public school system is so focused on test results that learning becomes a race and competition. The intrinsic joy of learning is devalued while external motivators like gold stars, candy or pizza are used to motivate children to perform, A child can no longer afford the time to play and daydream because life is a race with the aim of learning as many facts as possible. Children are stressed because they have very little control over their time, activities and choices, There is little interaction with Nature. Their social interactions are usually monitored and restricted to peers. Often the only coping mechanisms for stress management are computer games and television.

Through our work we have found that while many want education to be better, few want it to be different. So we have created the Battle Creek Hatchery, a community center that gives community organizations the space to provide opportunities for children to learn through many different activities. These include Entrepreneurship, where students open and operate their own business with the support of a totally hands-on curriculum and mentoring from local business leaders. Do Right, a student-run consulting firm for sustainable energy usage, involving consulting, political action and public relations. A community cafe that is an easy approach to dialogue, connecting diverse perspectives in innovative ways that lead to collaboration, We are planning a “Fab Lab” to bring “ back of envelope design” to student designers.

Children can be brought by parents, teachers or neighbors or come on their own to explore and take advantage of these opportunities.

We don’t want to teach them; we want to offer them opportunities for learning. We don’t want to measure their knowledge, We want to honor human variability and encourage imagination, invention, innovation, and creativity,

The Battle Creek Hatchery is a place for conversation and interaction between many diverse groups. It brings children, parents, educators, business and community leaders together and roots education in the community, something that, as John Dewey said, the wisest parent would want for her child and the wisest community should want for all children.

We in Battle Creek have made great progress and have great community support for these ideas,.We are fortunate to have a superintendent in our urban school district who is supportive, possibly because there is such an urgent need for change. We also have many nationally-known experts on various levels who are willing to advise and support us,

Cindy Fadel/ thefadels@aol.com
Anita Talmage/lazerel@comcast.net

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Searching for the hope in Obama’s USDA pick

This is a post by Claire Hope Cummings, author of Uncertain Peril: Genetic Engineering and the Future of Seeds.

-----

Is it too early to peal my Obama sticker off my car? I am more than disappointed by the President-elect’s nomination of Tom Vilsack for secretary of agriculture. But after some reflection, this dark cloud may have one ray of light coming through.

During his remarks at the press conference announcing the choice of Vilsack, Obama mentioned biotechnology. He said that promoting biotech was part of Tom Vilsacks’s vision to “strengthen our farmers” and build the “agricultural economy of the future.”

This was an explicit message to agribusiness saying that they can count on an Obama USDA to continue their agenda.

For those of us who care about sustainable agriculture, and for anyone who cares about integrity in government, this is bad news.

The biotech industry take-over of U.S. agriculture policy began in 1986. That was when the Reagan White House hosted Monsanto executives and began years of behind-the-scenes negotiations. Then, before any products were even on the market, the terms of the deal were announced. Even though this was a radical new technology and it would release artificial living organisms into the environment and our food supply, and even though federal agency scientists warned of potential health and safety risks, there would be no new laws and no government testing or monitoring. Instead, the industry would be trusted to report any problems they might find with their products.

This voluntary system is essentially what we still have today. As a result, our food is now widely contaminated with genetically modified organisms, and our farmers are using ever more herbicides and fossil fuels. And this technology locks them into dependency on corporations for all their inputs as well as massive public subsidies (agriculture’s annual bailout) to produce commodity crops.

The only change mentioned for Obama’s biotech policy is talk of labels for GMOs. That would be too little too late. Many developed countries have labels. But the rampant GMO contamination of food and seeds continues — really, contamination is just the control of commerce by other means.

And labels have not stopped this industry’s predatory practices, such as enforcing their patents against farmers whose crops are contaminated. Labels have not stopped the industry from manipulating international trade rules. The State Departments of the last several administrations promoted biotech and even forced them on other countries, most cynically, through food aid. Clinton will do the same.

I was a lawyer for the USDA during the Carter Administration. So I have some sense of the enormous impact the agencies of this department can have. It’s not just about chemically dependent farming and unwholesome food.

The USDA also controls millions of acres of public land where the timber and mining interests have been plundering the commonwealth, where recreational users have been destroying wilderness, and where native nations have been barred from the use of their ancestral lands. There are also USDA officials in every major U.S. embassy in the world, doing the bidding of agribusiness. And, because of its negligence, which is the kindest thing I can say about the USDA, bee colonies are collapsing, and frogs in our Atrazine-laden streams are confused about their gender.

Abraham Lincoln seems to be a popular theme with pundits during this presidential transition. Lincoln established the USDA. He called it “the people’s department.” And yet, over a century later, the politicization and privatization of public governance and the deregulation of essential industries have completely changed the executive branch. Government seems to have abandoned its fundamental duty to stand between the needs of its public citizens and the rapacious greed of its private corporations.

So, allow me a moment of dread. Beyond my dashed hopes for change, I fear that this nomination, with its explicit endorsement of the greed-ridden, corrupt, private biotechnology industry, is a sign that deep down, the public interest role of government is beyond repair. I thought we progressives would be welcome in the halls of an Obama government. Apparently, that’s not the case. But given the disreputable state of government these days, participation in regulatory politics may not be what we want anyway.

Denise O’Brien, a long time organic farmer and sustainable agriculture leader in Iowa who was narrowly defeated for secretary of agriculture under Vilsack, weighed in this week on the nomination. She says that while she understands our reservations, she has found that Vilsack is someone we can work with. She says we must continue to push for change. I have worked for the USDA and against the USDA and wish both efforts well. But my dashed sense of hope has opened my eyes.

Those of us who worked at the grassroots to elect Obama have been building a strong political movement. In my decades of social activism, I have yet to see social change thrive under the blessing of the powers that be anyway. Certainly, the local food and organic farming movement has been an enormous success, despite the best efforts of the USDA to weaken it.

So this disappointment may be just the reminder we need that our vision for change is the only one we can count on. We must do everything we can to protect the right and means to feed ourselves. Let the USDA eat biotech.
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”Milwaukee Way” Infrastructure Investment Projects

These “Milwaukee Way” projects merit consideration for inclusion in
Infrastructure investment stimulus programs:

  • Neighborhood Food and Cafe Cooperatives and Commonwealth Institutions, e.g. Riverwest Co-op, Walnut Way, Growing Power, Groundworks, Faith and School Based Edible Playgrounds, Food Preparation/Edible Playground Training in Church/School Cafeterias

  • Green Mainstreet Enterprises, e.g. Amaranth, Future Green, Community Growers, Pragmatic Construction, Pietre Godfrey Reclamation, Fair Trade Stores

  • Community Food Centers, e.g. Growing Power, Walnut Way, UW-Extension at Amaranth

  • Community Health Centers and Cottage Offices, e.g. Core el Centro, Omni Family Services, home-based therapists and wholistic healers

  • Neighborhood Investment and Micro-Lending Projects, e.g. Riverwest Neighborhood Association, Grameen Bank

  • Artist, Artisan, Urban Farmer Networks, e.g. Community Roofing & Restoration, Community Building and Restoration, Community Growers, Growing Power, Michael Fields, Wellspring, Outpost Natural Foods

  • “Energy Engineers,” e.g. Swedish MSOE Classes, Chicago/Miwlaukee Geothermal Project Partnerships, alternative fuels and energyh pioneering companies and organizations

  • Information Society Resources, e.g. Urban Ecology Center, People’s Book Co-op, Broad Vocabulary Bookstore, Faith Community Sustainable Development Projects, University Community Partnerships

  • New Transportation Systems for New Urban Neighborhoods, e.g. public transit, private transit innovations, e.g. bikes, pedicabs

  • Community Organizing Networks, e.g. Riverwest Currents, Milwaukee Renaissance, Milwaukee Urban Agriculture Network, St. Patric @Timbuktu, Blueberry Pancake Projects

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Letter to Paul Schmitt of Obama’s Innovation and Civil Society Team

Milwaukeean Paul Schmitt is a leader of the Obama Transition’s Innovation and Civil Society Team.

I believe Paul is very much aware of the potential of Will Allen’s urban farming and aquaculture systems. I think he would be happy to learn about other urban agriculture and good food movement innovations as part of his job.

Paul and the Obama Transition team welcome your story at…

http://change.gov/

Here’s “my” story as told today. I would appreciate copies of the story any of you might share at the change.gov site. I would upload them somewhere at…

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

To: The Obama Innovation and Civil Society Team
Re: The Promise of Sweet Water Fish Farms

I am part of a team that is converting an industrial slum into a “greening urban village” in the old community of Bay View, Milwaukee.

http://www.milwaukeerenaissance.com/KKRiverVillage/HomePage

Key to this transformation will be a fish farm in an old Harnischfeger building with a concrete lined trench 90′x11′ and 5′ deep. This trench was for railway cars, but now will be transformed into 3 30′ long tanks. Four more fish runs will be dug up, providing runs 45′x6′ and 5′ deep.

These 7 “fish run tanks” will hold 70,000 gallons of water and 70,000 tilapia or lake perch.

Following recent MacArthur Genius Awardee Will Allen’s Aquaculture Systems, with the oversight of the Great Lake’s Water Institute and the support of Milwaukee School of Engineering classes led by Professor Michael Swedish, these 70,000 fish will yield up to $300,000 per year gross sales revenues. This hypothesis is currently being tested(and confirmed) with 10,000 lake perch at the Growing Power urban farm, in partnership with the Great Lakes Water Institute.

In addition to the $300,000 revenue from the fish, the Growing Power Aquaculture Sytem’s 2nd and 3rd tiers of the simulated river bed will yield thousands of dollars of high end,year round greens and herbs.

The capital outlay for this system will probably be less than $20,000 start-up costs.

My “ask” of the Obama administration is very simple. Sometime this year when the Obama family is in Chicago, a day trip to the Growing Power “miracle” 2 acre city farm would provide the “Growing Power awakening” that would enable President Obama to understand the potential of urban agriculture systems. These systems are powered by the sun and by urban waste streams like wood chips, leaves, veggie wastes, coffee grounds, cardboard and paper, brewers’ mash, etc.

Or, if the Obama family cannot make it(the daughters would love the farm’s goats, turkeys, chickens, bees, and worms!), Vilsack’s visit would be welcomed.

Here’s a video of MacArthur “genius” Will Allen at the Growing Power farm.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3EpTWQWx1MQ

I have an electronic copy of the report by 12 MSOE engineering students on the issues involved in transforming an old industrial building into a tilapia fish farm per Will Allen’s methodologies.

Rocky Marcoux, director of Milwaukee’s Department of City Development, will be meeting us at the KK River Village Fish Farm site this December 31st, at 8:30 a.m. if you would like to join us.

Here are some pictures of the KK River Village Site and Wildflower Bakery meetings regarding the fish farm.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/ourrenaissance/sets/72157611334985327/

Will is scheduled to meet with us this Tuesday at 8:30 a.m., along with some teachers from the Inland Seas School of Expeditionary Learning.

Come along if you can!

Here’s the start of my own Growing Power Story:

The Story of Loaves and Fishes From the Holy City of the Sweet Water Seas

First.

It began in earnest when the kid from the hood,
Just 15 years old, shot in the stomach,
A fine Riverwest, gay, pub worker/owner,

A few weeks after an intemperate leader
Gay-bashed rogue cops

Rather than thoughtfully, powerfully,
Seize the reins of justice.

Second.

This outrageous shooting, plus
A rash of thuggery that summer, 2005,
Brought forth a community gathering,
Which I attended, at the Art Bar on Burleigh,
Across from old St. Mary’s,
Where the shooting had occurred.

I had the same sinking feeling in my stomach,
As during the 1970s and 1980s, when I and friends
Had done our best to inspire thought in things better
Than racist scapegoating at community meetings,
Following notorious crime events and moments
In struggling Milwaukee.

Third

But when I arrived at the Art Bar, there was a
Spirit of graceful, powerful…resolve.

A succession of strong and warm people,
A polyglot, rainbow melange,

People with deep roots in the neighborhood
And the movements of our times,

Expressed thoughts and feelings aiming to heal and renew,
To draw upon our deepest imaginations and
Sources of resilient endurance…

To keep our eyes on the prize that
Ghandi and King, Rosa, John, and Bobby,
Mandela, Grace Lee Boggs, and many more,

Had blazed in great visions in our youth.

Having spent much time alive
In the dark, dank tombs of pharaohs,

While not witnessing manifestations of bestial hate
Aimed at minority “others”

I was overwhelmed by these
Bursts of warm light
Coming from everyday people.

I had to leave early,
Lest I lose my composure,

And while driving home
Along sacred city trails,

Alongside resurgent neighborhoods
And cleansing rivers,

The notion of finally meeting Big Will Allen,
The legendary urban farmer already renowned

In awakened circles for his avant-guard
Permaculture and urban agriculture innovations,

Innovations agricultural and “biological,” e.g. vermaculture,

Agriculture ecological, e.g. gloriously productive
Simulated indoor river valleys with sweet water
And fat, healthy, tasty fish,

Innovations social and cultural, e.g. farmer training youth programs.

And when I got out to Growing Power, on 55th and Silver Spring,
More than one incredibly exuberant persons,
Starting with Miss Karen, greeted me with a warmth and generosity
That continues to inspire, and even, startle me.

Later on I learned that I had experienced my first moment with…

Growing Power Magic!

That’s what Miss Karen calls it.

And it’s true!
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Good Food Movement Can Work With Agriculture Secretary Vilsack

The phones, emails and blogs are abuzz with the latest Obama appointment - former Governor Tom Vilsack of Iowa for the new United States Secretary of Agriculture. On the one hand people are ballistic because he is a trial lawyer and doesn’t come “from the farm.” On the other hand many who have known and worked with him in Iowa are not happy with him and his relationship with big ag, especially Monsanto.

Here’s the story. Vilsack was the first Democrat to hold the office of Governor in Iowa in forty years - yes, forty. The last Democrat holding the seat was Harold Hughes when many of us were children or not even born yet.

Many were ecstatic that a Dem had made it to this high office and that at last, we would have access. There is no doubt about it; the Governor’s office was accessible. For the first time in years, Dems could walk into the office of the Governor and talk to a Governor of the same party. Expectations were high among the progressive farm and labor folk. We thought we could stop Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) and do something about genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and have a voice for fair trade. But alas, we found that even though we were of the same party, there were some differences.

Over the years the Governor’s office was open for a number of meetings relating to trade, prior to the Seattle WTO meeting; for meetings to solve the farm financial crisis that emerges every few years; and for meetings developing food policy. During Vilsack’s administration we were in his office more than all of the past twenty years of farm activism.

It wasn’t far into his administration, it finally dawned on many that our Governor Tom Vilsack was a centrist as was the leader of our country - Bill Clinton - and that we were likely to disagree on a lot of issues. What’s a progressive to do? Give up? Not bother to even engage in discussions about relevant issues? The best thing to do was to keep talking and to keep exposing the governor to a more progressive line of thinking. We resigned to the fact that our expectations of a Democratic Governor were exactly that, expectations and that there was still a lot of work to do.

There were a number of times that Governor Vilsack did act on issues that were more in line with a progressive agenda. He brought people together for problem solving.

He appointed a strong leader as the head of the Department of Natural Resources who worked hard to reign in the CAFOs but was ultimately unsuccessful. The Governor also appointed people to the Environmental Protection Council who were intelligent and outspoken in their opposition to the CAFOs. Alas, big ag still had the upper hand.

One of the best issues that addressed a progressive agenda during his administration was the creation, by Executive Order, the Iowa Food Policy Council. This was the second one to form in the United States. A number of progressives served on this Council and were able to make inroads on issues of food security, local foods, farmer’s markets and programs addressing the needs of people in poverty - food stamps and WIC. Yes, this happened in Iowa, the “Belly of the Beast” of agribusiness and Vilsack was the leader that made it happen.

The bottom line is that we can work with Governor Vilsack. I know this from a personal perspective. When I ran for Secretary of Agriculture in the state of Iowa, I had to first win a primary. Vilsack encouraged and supported a man who had worked for him during his governor years. My opponent had much help - money and volunteers - to make his campaign successful. It didn’t work. I was able to win by a margin of fourteen or fifteen points. And, you know what? The night I won the primary, Governor Vilsack called me up and told me that a large check would be waiting for me when I saw him the next day. I admire that. I beat the pants off the man he supported, but when the contest was over, he gave his full support to me.

During the months prior to the election, Governor Vilsack was often at the same events I was and he heard my platform many times - “Safe and Healthy Families, Safe and Healthy Farms and a Safe and Healthy Iowa”. I can’t help but think that some of what I said has taken root and that he will be an ally to us.

Please, please you say, don’t go all emotional on us! I want you that I am not selling out. I am not naïve – I am a realist. My principals are still intact. I am a progressive from the word go. I am not happy that someone from the progressive foodie constituency was not chosen. The sustainable/organic ag/foodies/local foods progressives have not quite arrived to the point of having as much influence as we would like to believe. Many times I feel that I live in a bubble and that everyone is on the same page with me. It is a time like this, when a mainstream person is appointed to an influential position, that I realize there is still a lot of work to do.

My years of being a farm and food activist have taught me how to work with what I’ve got and to never give up. What we have is Tom Vilsack and what we have to keep in mind is that he knows the sustainable/organic/foodie community in Iowa and beyond. He knows we are hardworking, serious individuals who believe passionately in the issues of food and farm. My hope is that this will be present with him as he moves into his work as the Secretary of Agriculture. Our work is cut out for us. It is important to keep the pressure on and continue to recommend people to fill the positions that will facilitate the scaling up of the work we have already accomplished. The pathway of agriculture and agribusiness is complex. The new Secretary of Agriculture needs our help to maneuver that path.

We have much work to do and we must continue to carry the message of HOPE.

Denise O’Brien

Obama Supports Local, Regional, and Organic Farming

From http://www.barackobama.com/issues/rural/

Ensure Economic Opportunity For Family Farmers

  • Strong Safety Net for Family Farmers: Obama and Biden will fight for farm programs that provide family farmers with stability and predictability. They will implement a $250,000 payment limitation so that we help family farmers — not large corporate agribusiness. They will close the loopholes that allow mega farms to get around the limits by subdividing their operations into multiple paper corporations.
  • Prevent Anticompetitive Behavior Against Family Farms: Obama is a strong supporter of a packer ban. When meatpackers own livestock they can manipulate prices and discriminate against independent farmers. Obama and Biden will strengthen anti-monopoly laws and strengthen producer protections to ensure independent farmers have fair access to markets, control over their production decisions, and transparency in prices.
  • Regulate CAFOs: Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency will strictly regulate pollution from large CAFOs, with fines for those that violate tough standards. Obama also supports meaningful local control.
  • Establish Country of Origin Labeling: Obama supports immediate implementation of the Country of Origin Labeling law so that American producers can distinguish their products from imported ones.
  • Encourage Organic and Local Agriculture: Obama and Biden will help organic farmers afford to certify their crops and reform crop insurance to not penalize organic farmers. He also will promote regional food systems.
  • Encourage Young People to Become Farmers: Obama and Biden will establish a new program to identify and train the next generation of farmers. They will also provide tax incentives to make it easier for new farmers to afford their first farm.
  • Partner with Landowners to Conserve Private Lands: Obama and Biden will increase incentives for farmers and private landowners to conduct sustainable agriculture and protect wetlands, grasslands, and forests.

Support Rural Economic Development

  • Support Small Business Development: Obama and Biden will provide capital for farmers to create value-added enterprises, like cooperative marketing initiatives and farmer-owned processing plants. They also will establish a small business and micro-enterprise initiative for rural America.
  • Connect Rural America: Barack Obama and Joe Biden will ensure that rural Americans have access to a modern communications infrastructure. They will modernize an FCC program that supports rural phone service so that it promotes affordable broadband coverage across rural America as well.
  • Promote Leadership in Renewable Energy: Obama and Biden will ensure that our rural areas continue their leadership in the renewable fuels movement. This will transform the economy, especially in rural America, which is poised to produce and refine more American biofuels and provide more wind power than ever before, and create millions of new jobs across the country.

Improve Rural Quality Of Life

  • Combat Methamphetamine: Methamphetamine use has increased 156 percent nationwide since 1996. Obama has a long record of fighting the meth epidemic. As President, he and Joe Biden will continue the fight to rid our communities of meth and offer support to help addicts heal.
  • Improve Health Care: Rural health care providers often get less money from Medicare and Medicaid for the very same procedure performed in urban areas. Obama and Biden will work to ensure a more equitable Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement structure. They will attract providers to rural America by creating a loan forgiveness program for doctors and nurses who work in underserved rural areas. They support increasing rural access to care by promoting health information technologies like telemedicine.
  • Improve Rural Education: Obama and Biden will provide incentives for talented individuals to enter the teaching profession, including increased pay for teachers who work in rural areas. Obama and Biden will create a Rural Revitalization Program to attract and retain young people to rural America. Obama and Biden will increase research and educational funding for Land Grant colleges.
  • Upgrade Rural Infrastructure: Obama and Biden will invest in the core infrastructure, roads, bridges, locks, dams, water systems and essential air service that rural communities need.

Barack Obama and Joe Biden’s Plan
Ensure Economic Opportunity For Family Farmers

  • Strong Safety Net for Family Farmers: Obama and Biden will fight for farm programs that provide family farmers with stability and predictability. They will implement a $250,000 payment limitation so that we help family farmers — not large corporate agribusiness. They will close the loopholes that allow mega farms to get around the limits by subdividing their operations into multiple paper corporations.
  • Prevent Anticompetitive Behavior Against Family Farms: Obama is a strong supporter of a packer ban. When meatpackers own livestock they can manipulate prices and discriminate against independent farmers. Obama and Biden will strengthen anti-monopoly laws and strengthen producer protections to ensure independent farmers have fair access to markets, control over their production decisions, and transparency in prices.
  • Regulate CAFOs: Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency will strictly regulate pollution from large CAFOs, with fines for those that violate tough standards. Obama also supports meaningful local control.
  • Establish Country of Origin Labeling: Obama supports immediate implementation of the Country of Origin Labeling law so that American producers can distinguish their products from imported ones.
  • Encourage Organic and Local Agriculture: Obama and Biden will help organic farmers afford to certify their crops and reform crop insurance to not penalize organic farmers. He also will promote regional food systems.
  • Encourage Young People to Become Farmers: Obama and Biden will establish a new program to identify and train the next generation of farmers. They will also provide tax incentives to make it easier for new farmers to afford their first farm.
  • Partner with Landowners to Conserve Private Lands: Obama and Biden will increase incentives for farmers and private landowners to conduct sustainable agriculture and protect wetlands, grasslands, and forests.

Support Rural Economic Development

  • Support Small Business Development: Obama and Biden will provide capital for farmers to create value-added enterprises, like cooperative marketing initiatives and farmer-owned processing plants. They also will establish a small business and micro-enterprise initiative for rural America.
  • Connect Rural America: Barack Obama and Joe Biden will ensure that rural Americans have access to a modern communications infrastructure. They will modernize an FCC program that supports rural phone service so that it promotes affordable broadband coverage across rural America as well.
  • Promote Leadership in Renewable Energy: Obama and Biden will ensure that our rural areas continue their leadership in the renewable fuels movement. This will transform the economy, especially in rural America, which is poised to produce and refine more American biofuels and provide more wind power than ever before, and create millions of new jobs across the country.

Improve Rural Quality Of Life

  • Combat Methamphetamine: Methamphetamine use has increased 156 percent nationwide since 1996. Obama has a long record of fighting the meth epidemic. As President, he and Joe Biden will continue the fight to rid our communities of meth and offer support to help addicts heal.
  • Improve Health Care: Rural health care providers often get less money from Medicare and Medicaid for the very same procedure performed in urban areas. Obama and Biden will work to ensure a more equitable Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement structure. They will attract providers to rural America by creating a loan forgiveness program for doctors and nurses who work in underserved rural areas. They support increasing rural access to care by promoting health information technologies like telemedicine.
  • Improve Rural Education: Obama and Biden will provide incentives for talented individuals to enter the teaching profession, including increased pay for teachers who work in rural areas. Obama and Biden will create a Rural Revitalization Program to attract and retain young people to rural America. Obama and Biden will increase research and educational funding for Land Grant colleges.
  • Upgrade Rural Infrastructure: Obama and Biden will invest in the core infrastructure, roads, bridges, locks, dams, water systems and essential air service that rural communities need.

Alice Waters and Obama’s ‘Kitchen’ Cabinet

December 11, 2008, 4:20 pm
(Evan Sung for The New York Times)

The first “kitchen cabinet” was President Andrew Jackson’s team of close but unofficial advisers. Now the chef Alice Waters is leading a campaign to persuade President-elect Barack Obama to create a literal kitchen cabinet.

In a letter to the president-elect, Ms. Waters — joined by Ruth Reichl, the editor of Gourmet, and the New York restaurateur Danny Meyer — urged Barack and Michelle Obama to set an example for the nation on culinary issues like the naming of a White House chef and growing organic vegetables in the White House garden.

“A person of integrity who is devoted to the ideals of sustainability and health would send a powerful message that food choices matter,” the letter said. “Supporting seasonal, ripe delicious American food would not only nourish your family, it would support our farmers, inspire your guests, and energize the nation.”

Earlier this month Ms. Waters joined 90 prominent food and agriculture leaders to suggest candidates for secretary of agriculture.

I spoke with her today about why an Obama kitchen cabinet should focus on issues involving the kitchen.

Q Why is the selection of the White House chef important to you?

A We hope to see that position redefined and just broaden the perspective of what could be done in that place, both for the nourishment of the family but also for the meaning and deliciousness of meals for guests. The symbolic impact is something profoundly important. Even if you don’t taste the food, if you’re hearing this idea that good food should be a right and not a privilege, then that message is getting across. We’re talking about local seasonal food supporting the people who are taking care of the land. You’re inviting the guests to dine on the very best of what America has to offer. This could inspire a rediscovery of our gastronomic heritage and biodiversity.

Q What qualities do you want to see in a White House chef? Should you be a candidate for the job?

A It’s not a job I could do, but I could certainly help to find someone or evaluate who is there. I want them to consider somebody who thinks about food as being connected to nature, to time and place, who understands where food comes from. I’m not thinking of someone who is a celebrity chef. Sometimes the celebrity gets in the way of a focus on real food. I think it should be somebody who just really understands the philosophy.

Q Is it really practical to grow food on the White House lawn?

A I’d love to see a garden sprout up that’s positively and beautifully connected in some way to what happens inside those kitchens. That’s not something that can happen overnight. It takes time to develop. How do you utilize a kitchen garden properly and engage with historic societies? There are so many considerations. I think we could be an invaluable resource for whoever is there, and add and help define priorities.

Q Why do you think this administration would be willing to consider your proposal?

A I think this is an unusual president. I think it’s somebody who cares about what he eats and what his family eats, somebody who understands the issues of obesity and understands the issues of the environment. We’re trying to bring food out of that place of fueling up and into a place of nature and culture.

Q How do you think the culinary decisions of the White House change our views of food in this country?

A Americans don’t have deep gastronomic roots. They wanted to get away from the cultures of Europe or wherever they came from. We stirred up that melting pot pretty quickly. Then fast food came in and took over. We have to bring children into a new relationship to food that connects them to culture and agriculture. I think the demonstration of that idea at the White House could be profound. I can imagine the people who work there eating there. The whole idea of making a sort of democracy within that kitchen is of great interest to me. It would be a team of people, not just a head chef handing down orders. I can’t tell you how influential it could be.

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G.M.: A Worker Owned Company?

Rebuilding Our Economy From the Ground Up
by Scott Kurashige and Grace Lee Boggs
Posted December 10, 2008 | 01:06 PM (EST)

In one of the great events in our nation’s history, the United Auto Workers brought GM to its knees with the Flint sit-down strike of 1936–37. For six weeks, the workers defied antiunion court orders and resisted tear gassing as they occupied the Fisher body plant, a crucial component of GM’s manufacturing process. Buoyed by the active participation of the women’s auxiliary and food and sustenance from the Flint community, the UAW workers refused to budge until they won collective bargaining rights and better working conditions—not just for themselves but for all GM plant workers and eventually all Big Three autoworkers.

The rights and benefits that both union and nonunion workers have enjoyed over the past seven decades are due in no small measure to courageous and imaginative actions like those of the Flint sit-down strikers. But while the current economic meltdown has brought to mind memories of the Great Depression, we need to understand how far we are removed from the 1930s.

In the 1930s, our manufacturing structure was still intact; the working class was growing in numbers, and defying the economic royalists by singing “Solidarity Forever.” Hi-Tech had not made the majority of industrial workers obsolete. Transnational corporations, cheap oil and globalization had not normalized the export of jobs.

In the 1930s, the UAW told GM they would shut the company down until their voices were heard and their humanity respected. Today, the UAW is scrambling to make whatever concessions are necessary to keep GM in business.

In the 1930s, the UAW captured the imagination of millions around the world, who saw in its struggles the makings of a new social movement and willingly offered their material and moral support. Today, the UAW, rightly or wrongly, is viewed by most Americans as an interest group that exists primarily to serve the needs of its own membership.

As Abraham Lincoln said 140 years ago in December 1862: “The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so must we think anew, and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we will save our country.”

If the UAW wants a GM that works for its members, it will need to take ownership of the company and thrust the workers into the position to assume responsibility for the tough decisions lying ahead. Just imagine if GM were a worker-owned company, building the world’s most environmentally-friendly vehicles (not just cars but buses, trains, and other forms of mass transit), prioritizing doing business with local communities, and using its clout to advocate for progressive domestic and foreign policies.

Our belief is that socially-conscious people, including those turned off by the us-against-them rhetoric of the old “Buy American” campaigns, are anxious to rally behind this new kind of business. What we know for sure is that the old business model—upon which both GM and the UAW have relied since the 1950 “Treaty of Detroit” labor-management agreement—has failed and cannot be resurrected. Thus, we need to offer the American public a clear alternative to pouring billions and billions of public funds down a sinkhole.

It won’t be easy for the UAW to break with years of “business unionism” or for its members to take on a new set of unprecedented challenges following decades of relative economic security. Should they choose this path, they will need our love and solidarity more than ever. But even if they fail to do so, we can look to other sources of inspiration.

Today, the laid-off United Electrical workers occupying the Republic Windows and Doors factory in Chicago are attracting attention and support from diverse directions because they have had the courage not only to demand what they are owed but also to expose the warped values of an economic system—made worse by the initial phase of the bailout—that puts the economic interests of corporations ahead of human needs and concerns. Characterizing their plight as “reflective of what’s happening across this economy,” President-elect Obama—reminding us why his campaign of hope inspired so many to work for change from below—declared the UE workers were “absolutely right” to wage their struggle.

Still, the workers did not wait for the approval of politicians before they acted. And for this reason, their local action—just like the Flint strike or the refusal of Rosa Parks to leave her seat—can be a model of inspiration for all kinds of new efforts to rebuild our economy from the ground up. Regardless of what happens to the UE workers, the solidarity they are both demonstrating among themselves and building with others is a vital step toward the “revolution of values” that Martin Luther King, Jr,. called for when assessing an America in crisis owing to entrenched racism, the Vietnam War, and a culture of materialism that privileged things over people.

Once we understand that the current economic crisis is not a downturn in the business cycle that will eventually run its course but a product of dehumanizing and destructive patterns of living, we can prioritize both in our daily lives and in our collective political activism a form of solidarity economics emphasizing sustainability, mutuality, and local self-reliance.

In a thoughtful article for YES! magazine entitled “Help Wanted,” Ethan Miller, who works at a land-based mutual aid cooperative in Maine, calls for a paradigm shift in the way we think about economic development. The conventional wisdom, especially promoted by politicians, is that economic development only comes from outside—in other words from developers. In fact, our economy includes all the ways we sustain and support ourselves, our families, and our communities. What actually holds the very fabric of our society together are local activities that are not done for money: household activities like raising children and cooking; barter activities like trading services with friends or neighbors; and cooperative enterprises based on common ownership and control. These mutual care and cooperative activities are the seeds of “another economy.”

The movement towards community self-reliance and an economy rooted in human solidarity rather than amoral competition has become especially prominent in some Asian and Latin American countries. It may be hard for some to appreciate that another economy is possible in America-- i.e. within the belly of the beast. But in fact it is already emerging. Gar Alperovitz, a historian and economist who teaches in the Democracy Collaborative at the University of Maryland, documents this emergence in his book America Beyond Capitalism: Reclaiming Our Wealth, Our Liberty and Our Democracy (2004). Out of his first-hand experiences in the civil rights and anti-Vietnam War movements and with steelworkers in Youngstown, he has gained an understanding of how new movements can arise seemingly out of nowhere when systemic changes become necessary.

Alperovitz is deeply troubled by the downward trend of the past few decades, as Americans have been steadily becoming less equal, less free, and less the masters of our own fate. However, he has also witnessed millions of Americans responding to the insecurities and suffering caused by huge multinational corporations by creating new forms of community-based institutions to give “we the people” ownership and control over the way we make our living.

Some of the notable developments documented in America Beyond Capitalism are the following:

  • 130 million Americans are now involved in co-ops, mostly credit unions and cooperative housing.
  • 11,000 employee-owned companies already exist in this country. Together they involve more workers than are members of unions of private corporations.
  • The number of community development corporations (CDCs) and municipally-owned utilities is steadily growing.
  • Since the 1960s, countless non-profit organizations have been created to serve community needs. Most of these are funded by foundations but many support themselves by organizing local enterprises.
  • Locally-owned businesses have also increased from 30% to 60%. Many of these were founded by socially-conscious entrepreneurs not only to make a profit but with the aim of protecting the environment and promoting social justice.

Together these new economic institutions are giving communities all over the country a sense of what can be done through collective ownership and management. Their successes and failures provide important lessons for a new radically decentralized community-based economy. These new economic institutions are being created not by starry-eyed idealists but out of a need and a void. Their necessity is only heightened by the economic insecurity millions of Americans face in the collapse of the housing bubble, the expansion of layoffs, and the evaporation of personal retirement funds.

In Michigan, as elsewhere, we have seen a growing number of average citizens scapegoating blacks, immigrants, and other people of color for their plight. That is why it is becoming increasingly urgent that we consciously try to learn the lessons of the many grassroots efforts to create alternative economic institutions that will not only bring greater stability to our communities but also provide us with the control over the ways in which we make our living that is necessary for a real democracy.
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Obama A Son of RFK

This Article is from the StarTribune.com

The full Article, with any associated images and links can be viewed here.
by HARRY BOYTE and STEVEN HAHN, Star Tribune

The furor over Hillary Clinton’s remark about Robert Kennedy’s assassination has obscured a deeper comparison between Barack Obama and the late senator. Kennedy’s 1968 presidential campaign spoke to themes of grass-roots politics and shared governance that the Obama campaign has exemplified. Kennedy also succeeded in attracting much the same coalition of blacks and other racial minorities, young people, professionals, and blue-collar whites and ethnics that Obama seeks to galvanize.

On this, the 40th anniversary of Kennedy’s murder, his campaign holds instructive lessons for Obama’s.

Like Obama, Kennedy ran against an unpopular war and against the political establishment in his own party, closely tied in 1968 to the sitting president, Lyndon Johnson. But at a time of deepening social and political divisions at home, he focused chiefly on the domestic challenges and sought a “new politics” to address them. Seared by the death of his brother and inspired by the example of the civil-rights movement, Kennedy ran on a platform promoting racial and economic justice, ending the Vietnam War, and decentralizing power that touched older American themes concerning the shared work of citizenship. His campaign especially looked to engage young people, whom he saw as the future of a revitalized America, recalling its ideals of equality and partnership.

After Kennedy’s tragic death, others carried on this legacy. One was Barbara Mikulski, the senator from Maryland who got her start as a community organizer in Baltimore and came to recognize that “the ethnic American feels unappreciated for the contribution he makes to society.”

“What is needed,” she said in 1969, “is an alliance of white and black, white collar, blue collar and no collar based on mutual need, interdependence and respect, an alliance to develop the strategy for new kinds of community organization and participation.”

Other activists played pivotal roles outside of electoral politics. The late Monsignor Geno Baroni, a priest from an immigrant coal-mining family in Pennsylvania, served as Catholic coordinator of the great 1963 March on Washington. For years thereafter, Baroni worked with community organizations across the nation to bring people together across divides of race, faith and class. He learned that “the organizer has to believe that ordinary people can build bridges across racial and ethnic lines” and “has to get ordinary people in touch with their roots, their heritage, their best. The organizer has to give ordinary people hope.”

Barack Obama’s developing plans for creating partnerships between government and citizens resonate powerfully with these experiences and histories. They build on and elaborate the foundations of New Deal reforms, the “maximum feasible participation” elements of Great Society programs, the self-help initiatives pioneered by Baroni as assistant secretary of housing and urban development in the Carter administration, and the work of the Environmental Protection Agency with local communities during the Clinton years. They also seek to update these practices for a world in which new technologies and civic methods allow innovative forms of partnership.

A vision of democracy as shared civic governance promises to transform our understandings of political life. Over the past 30 years, growing numbers of Americans — especially white working people and members of the struggling middle class, but also young people — have come to regard the government as a site of their own disempowerment and the public sector as an arena of dependency, and they have joined in the demonization of both. As a result, since the 1990s Democrats have generally argued for smaller government but until now haven’t offered anything substantial, conceptual or active to accompany it. There can hardly be a progressive politics when we downsize without energizing.

The shared work of citizenship is a powerful expression of Barack Obama’s call for one America. The complex history of interracial politics consistently demonstrates that the key to any substantial and lasting coalition is the opportunity for people to work together, to learn more about each other, to meet one another in circumstances that are not burdened by social hierarchies. Obama’s ideas about democracy and governance, and about partnerships and participation, take account of this history and enable his campaign to enliven Bobby Kennedy’s vision of a better world. And, as we commemorate Kennedy’s tragic death, Obama, like Kennedy a generation ago, may ask, “why not?”

Harry Boyte is founder of the Center for Democracy and Citizenship at the University of Minnesota and author of the forthcoming “The Citizen Solution: How You Can Make a Difference.” Steven Hahn teaches history at the University of Pennsylvania and is author of the forthcoming “The Political Worlds of Slavery and Freedom.”
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Conservative David Brooks Has a Lesson for Obama Presidency

Op-Ed Columnist
This Old House

Main concept: It would be great if Obama’s spending, instead of just dissolving into the maw of construction, would actually encourage the clustering and leave a legacy that would be visible and beloved 50 years from now.

To take advantage of the growing desire for community, the Obama plan would have to do two things. First, it would have to create new transportation patterns. The old metro design was based on a hub-and-spoke system — a series of highways that converged on an urban core. But in an age of multiple downtown nodes and complicated travel routes, it’s better to have a complex web of roads and rail systems.

Second, the Obama stimulus plan could help localities create suburban town squares. Many communities are trying to build focal points.

By DAVID BROOKS
Published: December 9, 2008

The 1980s and 1990s made up the era of the great dispersal. Forty-three million people moved every year, and basically they moved outward — from inner-ring suburbs to far-flung exurbs on the metro fringe. For example, the population of metropolitan Pittsburgh declined by 8 percent in those years, but the developed land area of the Pittsburgh area sprawled outward by 43 percent.

If you asked people in that age of go-go suburbia what they wanted in their new housing developments, they often said they wanted a golf course. But the culture has changed. If you ask people today what they want, they’re more likely to say coffee shops, hiking trails and community centers.

People overshot the mark. They moved to the exurbs because they wanted space and order. But once there, they found that they were missing community and social bonds. So in the past years there has been a new trend. Meeting places are popping up across the suburban landscape.

There are restaurant and entertainment zones, mixed-use streetscape malls, suburban theater districts, farmers’ markets and concert halls. In addition, downtown areas in places like Charlotte and Dallas are reviving as many people move back into the city in search of human contact. Joel Kotkin, the author of “The New Geography,” calls this clustering phenomenon the New Localism.

Barack Obama has said that he would start an infrastructure project that will dwarf Dwight Eisenhower’s highway program. If, indeed, we are going to have a once-in-a-half-century infrastructure investment, it would be great if the program would build on today’s emerging patterns. It would be great if Obama’s spending, instead of just dissolving into the maw of construction, would actually encourage the clustering and leave a legacy that would be visible and beloved 50 years from now.

To take advantage of the growing desire for community, the Obama plan would have to do two things. First, it would have to create new transportation patterns. The old metro design was based on a hub-and-spoke system — a series of highways that converged on an urban core. But in an age of multiple downtown nodes and complicated travel routes, it’s better to have a complex web of roads and rail systems.

Second, the Obama stimulus plan could help localities create suburban town squares. Many communities are trying to build focal points. The stimulus plan could build charter schools, pre-K centers, national service centers and other such programs around new civic hubs.

This kind of stimulus would be consistent with Obama’s campaign, which was all about bringing Americans together in new ways. It would help maintain the social capital that’s about to be decimated by the economic downturn.

But alas, there’s no evidence so far that the Obama infrastructure plan is attached to any larger social vision. In fact, there is a real danger that the plan will retard innovation and entrench the past.

In a stimulus plan, the first job is to get money out the door quickly. That means you avoid anything that might require planning and creativity. You avoid anything that might require careful implementation or novel approaches. The quickest thing to do is simply throw money at things that already exist.

Sure enough, the Obama stimulus plan, at least as it has been sketched out so far, is notable for its lack of creativity. Obama wants to put more computers in classrooms, an old idea with dubious educational merit. He also proposes a series of ideas that are good but not exactly transformational: refurbishing the existing power grid; fixing the oldest roads and bridges; repairing schools; and renovating existing government buildings to make them more energy efficient.

This is the federal version of “This Old House.” And this is before the stimulus money gets diverted, as it inevitably will, to refurbish old companies. The auto bailout could eventually swallow $125 billion. After that, it could be the airlines and so on.

It’s also before the spending drought that is bound to follow the spending binge. Because we’re going to be spending $1 trillion now on existing structures and fading industries, there will be less or nothing in 2010 or 2011 for innovative transport systems, innovative social programs or anything else.

Before the recession hit, we were enjoying a period of urban and suburban innovation. We could have been on the verge of a transportation revolution. It looks as if the Obama infrastructure plan may freeze that change, not fuel it.

And not to get all Rod McKuen on you or anything, but the larger point is this: Social change has a natural rhythm. The season of prosperity gives way to the season of economic scarcity, and out of the winter of recession, new growth has room to emerge. A stimulus package may be necessary, but unless designed with care, its main effect will be to prop up the drying husks of the fall.
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Idea for Change in America: Plant a large organic Victory Garden on the White House lawn

Dear President Obama,

Here are the steps to take:

1. Watch the Michael Pollan interview on Bill Moyers’ Journal, and read his letter to you: http://www.alternet.org/story/102678/dear_mr._next_president_—_food%2C_food%2C_food/

Read anything he’s written. Seriously.

2. Review the tremendous success that Cuba has had in localizing, and making organic and sustainable, their food supply. You can find out about some of it here: http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=show_topic&forum=389&topic_id=3923194#3936216

3. Watch “The World According to Monsanto”

4. See what dedicated people here in the U.S. have done, even *without* suport: “MyFarm” is an example: http://www.myfarmsf.com/about.html

5. Commit to keeping America’s food supply safe, healthy, nutritious, and local. Have the Secretary of Agriculture allot monies to states for programs like “MyFarm” which will: supply locally-grown healthy organic food to *people* (with the first priority being inner cities where the people don’t have access to healthy food): provide employment: build community: protect our food supply by de-centralizing it.

Click the link below to view this discussion.
http://www.change.org/ideas/view/plant_a_large_organic_victory_garden_on_the_white_house_lawn
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Grace Lee Boggs’ Call For “Active Citizens”

LIVING FOR CHANGE
Our Time is Not the 30s
By Grace Lee Boggs
Michigan Citizen, Nov. 30- Dec 6, 2008

Two weeks ago in my first post- election column, I wrote that I will not be among those organizing or participating in protest demonstrations against Obama’s actions or inactions, trying to hold his feet to the fire. Neither will I wear a hair shirt, regretting that I voted for Obama instead of Ralph Nader or Cynthia McKinney whose policies are more in line with mine.

That is because my support for Obama was never based on his policies or promises which, with few exceptions, are not that different from those of other Democrats. From the outset my eyes were on the people at his rallies, especially the youth who, inspired by his persona and his eloquence, shed the fears instilled by the Nixons, Reagans and Bushes since the 60s and, imbued with a new hope, began organizing on his behalf.

For me, not just Obama’s victory but that transformation of “we the people” from Fear to Hope, from passivity to activity, from looking on as spectators to participating as citizens was what was so historic about this period.

As I wrote last week, “Every time Barack insisted that it was not about him but about us, we were reminded of our potential for becoming a better people and a better country. When he talked about change we can believe in, and we shouted back “Yes we can,” we were discovering the room for growth in ourselves.”

Now that the campaign is over, let’s not turn all our attention to the Oval Office, constantly comparing Obama and his actions or inactions with FDR and the New Deal, refusing to face the reality that our time is not the 30s. and forgetting the millions who were transformed during the campaign and who need to continue this process of transformation into active citizens if we are to save our planet and ourselves,

Tremendous changes have taken place in the world and in “we the people” in the eight decades since the 1930s.

In the 30s our humanity had not been damaged by our dropping the bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and by our jeopardizing not only ourselves but the whole planet by using up 25% of the world’s resources even though we are only 5% of the world’s population. .

In the 30s our manufacturing structure was still intact, the working class was growing in numbers, and defying the economic royalists by singing “ Solidarity Forever.” Hi-Tech had not made the majority of industrial workers obsolete. Transnational corporations, cheap oil and globalization had not normalized the export of jobs.

In the 30s we never dreamed of an interstate highway system, two car garages, the military-industrial complex, the cold war which we thought gave us the right to kill millions in southeast Asia, de-industrialization, and today’s speculative casino economy.

As Abraham Lincoln said 140 years ago in December 1862 : “The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty , and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so must we think anew, and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and thus we will save our country.

To disenthrall ourselves

•We need to look in the mirror and recognize how our racism, materialism and militarism have brought our country and our planet to our present condition where even the poorest Americans have more “goods” than yesterday’s kings and queens. Yet, rich, middle class or poor, “we the people” have not found happiness.

•Instead of throwing billions at the economy in order to get our financial system working again, we need to take steps, however small to begin with, towards creating a local sustainable economy that enables us to work, eat, and take care of our families, bring the neighbor back into the ‘hood. and slow down global warming. Together we can create a local food system, local health clinics, local safety and security committees – and happiness.

Note: The winter 2009 issue of YES Magazine is about Sustainable Happiness” and creating a new American dream. http://www.yesmagazine.org.

Best Case for White House Victory Garden

White House Vegetable Garden Represents Substantive Effort for Sustainable Agriculture

As an historian of the Victory Garden movement during WWI and WWII, I’d like to throw my endorsement to Eat the View. I also strongly support Mr. Cook’s marvelous ideas, but don’t feel those ideas and the idea of a vegetable garden on the front lawn of the White House are mutually exclusive. What is it they say about revolutions…begin everywhere at once?

To me, the idea of a vegetable garden on the White House lawn is much more than symbolic; the Victory Gardens of WWI and WWII had important impacts…

The Victory Gardens of World War I and World War II - and the garden efforts of the Great Depression - helped Americans successfully negotiate hard times. These gardens helped the family budget; improved dietary practices; reduced the food mile and saved fuel; enabled America to export more food to our allies; beautified communities; enabled every American to contribute to a national effort; and helped bridge social, ethnic, class and cultural differences during a time when cooperation was widely needed. Gardens were an expression of solidarity, of patriotism, and shared sacrifice. They were found everywhere…schools, homes, and throughout public spaces in communities all over the nation. No American was too famous or too important to garden. No gardening effort was too small. Every effort counted. Americans did their bit. And it mattered, and not just in a symbolic sense, but by producing real results.

Consider this: In WWI, the Federal Bureau of Education nationalized a school garden program and funded it with War Department monies. Millions of students gardened at school, at home, and in their communities. A national Liberty Garden (later Victory Garden) program was initiated that called upon all Americans to garden for the nation, and the world. In part because of the success of home gardeners (and careful food preservation), the U.S. was able to significantly increase exports to our starving European Allies.

During 1943, an estimated 3/5ths of Americans participated in some sort of gardening activity, including Eleanor Roosevelt, who planted a Victory Garden on the White House Lawn, and Vice President Henry Wallace, who gardened with his son at the VP’s residence. Nearly 40% of the fresh fruits and vegetables consumed stateside during 1943 were grown in school, home and community gardens. In addition to providing much-needed food, gardening helped Americans accept the nation’s plurality, providing a positive experience that transcended race, class and socioeconomic divisions. That bridged rural/urban differences. They provided a way for all Americans to provide a service to the nation. Gardens did not represent empty rhetoric or symbolism…through gardening efforts, Americans made significant contributions to the war effort.

Our nation has many needs right now. We all share concerns about our food system. Families need help with their personal economies. Entire communities are food-insecure. We have a tenuous connection with the land. Obesity is an epidemic. Environmental concerns - and declining oil supplies - dictate a need to recreate more sustainable and local food systems.

A revival of the successful national gardening programs of the past could help in many, many ways. This would not be a costly program. All of the educational materials that support school, home and community gardens (and urban agriculture) is available through existing government agencies and private organizations. A current government-sponsored program (through the USDA, state land grant institutions, and county government) fields thousands of highly-trained Master Gardeners, who could be called upon to share their expertise with school, home and community gardeners.

What is needed to make this idea a reality is an “ask” and a “do” by our new President, which is why I’m a strong supporter of Roger Doiron’s Eat the View effort. By putting a vegetable garden on the White House lawn, millions of Americans would be encouraged to follow the First Family’s example and garden. We are so eager for change, so eager to engage again in a civic sense. Americans would be inspired to plant food for their families, and their communities. To perhaps share extra produce with food banks and the growing number of hungry in our nation. To learn more about our food system, and what needs to change.

This would not be symbolic, but rather, would show Americans that the personal actions they take as individuals, when combined with the actions of millions of other Americans, can make a vast difference. It’s time to put a vegetable garden (BACK) on the White House lawn, and I’m hoping our new First Family will lead the way.

Rose Hayden-Smith, M.A. Ed., M.A., PhD Candidate
Food and Society Policy Fellow
Acting County Director
University of California CE
669 County Square Drive #100 Ventura CA 93003
805.645.1466 (phone); 805.645.1474 (fax)
http://groups.ucanr.org/victorygrower/
www.foodandsocietyfellows.org

Learn more about Victory Gardens, sustainable food systems and gardening by reading my blog:

http://ucanr.org/blogs/VictoryGrower_Blog/

Garrison Keillor on Barack Obama’s Victory

Wow! America is cool.

We are being admired by Swedes! We don’t have to pretend we’re Canadians.
We elected Barack Obama!

By Garrison Keillor
Nov. 12, 2008

Be happy, dear hearts, and allow yourselves a few more weeks of quiet exultation. It isn’t gloating, it’s satisfaction at a job well done. He was a superb candidate, serious, professorial but with a flashing grin and a buoyancy that comes from working out in the gym every morning. He spoke in a genuine voice, not senatorial at all. He relished campaigning. He accepted adulation gracefully. He brandished his sword against his opponents without mocking or belittling them. He was elegant, unaffected, utterly American, and now (Wow) suddenly America is cool. Chicago is cool. Chicago!!!

We threw the dice and we won the jackpot and elected a black guy with a Harvard degree, the middle name Hussein and a sense of humor -- he said, “I’ve got relatives who look like Bernie Mac, and I’ve got relatives who look like Margaret Thatcher.” The French junior minister for human rights said, “On this morning, we all want to be American so we can take a bite of this dream unfolding before our eyes.” When was the last time you heard someone from France say they wanted to be American and take a bite of something of ours? Ponder that for a moment.

The world expects us to elect pompous yahoos and instead we have us a 47-year-old prince from the prairie who cheerfully ran the race, and when his opponents threw sand at him, he just smiled back. He’ll be the first president in history to look really good making a jump shot. He loves his classy wife and his sweet little daughters. He looks good in the kitchen. He can cook Indian or Chinese but for his girls he will do mac and cheese. At the same time, he knows pop music, American lit and constitutional law. I just can’t imagine anybody cooler. Look at a photo of the latest pooh-bah conference -- the hausfrau Merkel, the big glum Scotsman, that goofball Berlusconi, Putin with his B-movie bad-boy scowl, and Sarkozy, who looks like a district manager for Avis -- you put Barack in that bunch and he will shine.

It feels good to be cool and all of us can share in that, even sour old right-wingers and embittered blottoheads. Next time you fly to Heathrow and hand your passport to the man with the badge, he’s going to see “United States of America” and look up and grin. Even if you worship in the church of Fox, everyone you meet overseas is going to ask you about Obama and you may as well say you voted for him because, my friends, he is your line of credit over there. No need anymore to try to look Canadian.

And the coolest thing about him is the fact that back in the early ‘90s, given a book contract after the hoo-ha about his becoming the First Black Editor of the Harvard Law Review (FBEHLR), instead of writing the basic exploitation book he could’ve written, he put his head down and worked hard for a few years and wrote a good book, an honest one, which, since his rise in politics, has earned the Obamas enough to buy a very nice house and put money in the bank. A successful American entrepreneur.

The last American president to write a book all by his lonesome self, I believe, was Theodore Roosevelt, who, on graduation from Harvard, wrote “The Naval War of 1812,” and in my humble opinion, Obama’s is the better book for the general reader, but you be the judge.

Our hero who galloped to victory has inherited a gigantic mess. The country is sunk in debt. The Treasury announced it must borrow $550 billion to get the government through the fourth quarter, more than the entire deficit for 2008, so he will have to raise taxes and not only on bankers and lumber barons. His promise never to raise the retirement age is not a good idea. Whatever he promised the Iowa farmers about subsidizing ethanol is best forgotten at this point. We may not be getting our National Health Service cards anytime soon. And so on and so on.

So enjoy the afterglow of the election a while longer. We all walk taller this fall. People in Copenhagen andStockholm are sending congratulatory e-mails -- imagine! We are being admired by Danes and Swedes! And Chicago becomes the First City. Step aside, San Francisco. Shut up, New York. The Midwest is cool now. The mind reels. Have a good day.

(Garrison Keillor is the author of a new Lake Wobegon novel, “Liberty,” published by Viking.)

2008 by Garrison Keillor.
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Fantastic Obama Victory Cartoons from Major USA Papers

Mike Luckovich
By Mike Luckovich

Signe Wilkinson
By Signe Wilkinson

Oliphant
By Pat Oliphant

Sargent
By Ben Sargent

Auth
By Tony Auth

Carlson
By Stuart Carlson

Steve Kelley
by Steve Kelley

Jack Ohman
by Jack Ohman

Paul Szep
by Paul Szep

Don Wright
by Don Wright

Dan Wasserman
by Dan Wasserman

David Horsey
by David Horsey

Steve Benson
by Steve Benson

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Song on Obama’s Irish Roots

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Xkw8ip43Vk
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Obama Campaign Archives

Last edited by Tyler Schuster. Based on work by Godsil, Olde, tyler schuster, Alex and Nick.  Page last modified on April 14, 2009

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