Marching for Change

By: Peter Zibinski

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On Sept. 21, 2014, there was a flood on 8th Ave. The NYPD made a valiant attempt to reroute traffic, but the torrent quickly overran the officers. Wave after wave of people streamed onto the already overflowing street. Before long, we formed a river that stretched 30 blocks through the heart of Manhattan. All of us unified by a shared message: Humanity is a gravely endangered species.

Standing atop a police barricade, the throng below me extended endlessly in either direction. All manner of signs, flags and banners floated atop the procession. People were packed so tightly that from my vantage point I could see the combined heat of their bodies distorting the horizon. Despite the humidity, the air crackled with palpable excitement.

At exactly 12:58 p.m., an eerie hush fell overthe crowd. For the next two minutes more than 400,000 people stood in silence with hands raised, paying homage to those already affected by climate change. Following the Moment of Silence was the Sounding of the Alarm. At 1:00 p.m., the march roared back to life as shouting voices, drums, and even car horns joined forces. The sound reverberated between buildings with such ferocity that the air around us seemed to shimmer and shake. Braving the tremendous noise, police officers removed barricades at the march’s head. The floodgates were opened and under a barrage of camera flashes, the procession surged ahead.

THE PEOPLE…UNITED…WILL NEVER BE DEFEATED.

From time to time a chant would rise up from the crowd, swelling in numbers until entire blocks were yelling in unison.Eventually they would die down, only to be reincarnated by a group 20 blocks away. Despite the name, there was very little marching. Instead we danced and skipped and sauntered our way through the city. Indigenous peoples performed traditional dances a few steps behind a motorized Noah’s Ark. A scale model of the earth floated gracefully amongst the marchers while children played beneath a painted parachute.  Above it all, the sweet sounds of revolution echoed through the streets.

Surrounded by hundreds of thousands of other impassioned individuals, I danced happily through midtown Manhattan, sharing ideas and stories with people of all walks of life. This energy exchange with my brethren had a serious impact on my perception of time, as some 80 odd blocks passed virtually unnoticed beneath my feet. Though the march lasted more than three hours, it felt closer to a couple minutes. The ending was abrupt. With a turnout that far exceeded expectations, organizers were forced to disperse the crowd unceremoniously.

My return to city life was quite jarring. In one moment, I was a participant in history’s largest climate march. In the next, I was a college student frantically looking for a bus. Though it passed far too quickly, my time in the People’s Climate March was borderline psychedelic and it forever changed my view of our environmental crisis. That afternoon, signs were discarded, barricades were removed, and the streets were reopened. The march came to an end but the movement, and its message, lives on.

THE PEOPLE

UNITED

WILL NEVER BE DEFEATED

For more information about Peter’s experience, see our PCM gallery.

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Gubernatorial candidate Howie Hawkins envisions a Greener future

Hawkins speaks at Ithaca College on September 12, 2014.
Hawkins speaks at Ithaca College on September 12, 2014.

By: Sydney O’Shaughnessy

Howie Hawkins, the Green Party candidate for governor of New York, spoke Sept. 12 at Ithaca College about the need to unify people to make positive political change.

The event focused on Hawkins’ progressive ideals as well as on the fundamentals of the Green Party: environmentalism and community building.

Hawkins contacted sophomore Joshua Kelly, chairperson of IC Greens, to ask if his campaign could come and speak with the students. Kelly said he believes students need to remain informed about local and national politics, so he agreed to host Hawkins.

“Politicians are representing the people so they help students understand local politics,” Kelly said. “Direct interaction is very important to understanding.”

Throughout his presentation, Hawkins listed the four main pillars of the Green Party. The Greens believe in having a grassroots democracy, maintaining social justice, establishing ecological wisdom and practicing nonviolence.

Hawkins said that the Greens are the only political party that does not depend on corporate funding.

“The Greens won’t take corporate money,” Hawkins said. “We are trying to represent regular people.”

Hawkins went on to discuss his economic plan, called the Green New Deal.  If elected, Hawkins said that he would implement this plan to improve the lives of the residents of New York State by addressing the living wage, health care and basic human rights.

Hawkins wants to increase minimum wage to $15 an hour and create a health care system that is funded through a progressive tax system. He stressed the importance of repairing the current political system by improving equality.

“We need a whole new construction of the economic and political system,” Hawkins said. “Parents and teachers need to work together so that there is no more prejudice.”

He said he believes change is in the hands of the consumer and urges them to make more sustainable choices. According to Hawkins, consumers are the leaders in political change.

“We have to make a consumer change through better choices,” Hawkins said. “We have to get the leaders of the world to take serious action for divestment.”

Although only 21 students came to the event, Hawkins said he was pleased.

“Students are young with a lot of energy and are not in a routine,” Hawkins said. “The youth are the spearheads of change and I receive most of my votes from students. Students are important.”

Kyle Stewart, a freshman member of the Ithaca College Conservatives, said it was interesting to hear the political views of an opposing party.

“He [Hawkins] had a lot of good points on the political system,” Stewart said. “I think all of the parties should come together to create new solutions because everyone is a part of the environment.”

Hawkins said he believes sustainable improvements can be achieved if more people get together to organize and mobilize change.

“Organizing is important,” Hawkins said. “It’s not just me out here. It needs to be a ‘we.’ We need to get lots of people talking to create change.”

5 Crucial Lessons for the Left From Naomi Klein’s New Book

You can’t fight climate change without fighting capitalism, argues Klein in This Changes Everything.

By Jessica Corbett & Ethan Corey

In her previous books The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism (2007) and NO LOGO: No Space, No Choice, No Jobs (2000), Canadian author and activist Naomi Klein took on topics like neoliberal “shock therapy,” consumerism, globalization and “disaster capitalism,” extensively documenting the forces behind the dramatic rise in economic inequality and environmental degradation over the past 50 years. But in her new book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate (due in stores September 16), Klein casts her gaze toward the future, arguing that the dangers of climate change demand radical action now to ward off catastrophe. She certainly isn’t alone in pointing out the urgency of the threat, but what sets Klein apart is her argument that it is capitalism—not carbon—that is at the root of climate change, inexorably driving us toward an environmental Armageddon in the pursuit of profit. This Changes Everything is well worth a read (or two) in full, but we’ve distilled some of its key points here.

1. Band-Aid solutions don’t work.

“Only mass social movements can save us now. Because we know where the current system, left unchecked, is headed.”

Much of the conversation surrounding climate change focuses on what Klein dismisses as “Band-Aid solutions”: profit-friendly fixes like whizz-bang technological innovations, cap-and-trade schemes and supposedly “clean” alternatives like natural gas. To Klein, such strategies are too little, too late. In her drawn-out critique of corporate involvement in climate change prevention, she demonstrates how profitable “solutions” put forward by many think-tanks (and their corporate backers) actually end up making the problem worse. For instance, Klein argues that carbon trading programs create perverse incentives, allowing manufacturers to produce more harmful greenhouse gases, just to be paid to reduce them. In the process, carbon trading schemes have helped corporations make billions—allowing them to directly profit off the degradation of the planet. Instead, Klein argues, we need to break free of market fundamentalism and implement long-term planning, strict regulation of business, more taxation, more government spending and reversals of privatization to return key infrastructure to public control.

2. We need to fix ourselves, not fix the world.

“The earth is not our prisoner, our patient, our machine, or, indeed, our monster. It is our entire world. And the solution to global warming is not to fix the world, it is to fix ourselves.”

Klein devotes a full chapter of the book to geoengineering: the field of research, championed by a niche group of scientists, funders and media figures, that aims to fight global warming by altering the earth itself—say, by covering deserts with reflective material to send sunlight back to space or even dimming the sun to decrease the amount of heat reaching the planet. However, politicians and much of the global public have raised environmental, health and ethical concerns regarding these proposed science experiments with the planet, and Klein warns of the unknown consequences of creating “a Frankenstein’s world,” with multiple countries launching projects simultaneously. Instead of restoring an environmental equilibrium, Klein argues these “techno-fixes” will only further upset the earth’s balance, each one creating a host of new problems, requiring an endless chain of further “fixes.” She writes, “The earth—our life support system—would itself be put on life support, hooked up to machines 24/7 to prevent it from going full-tilt monster on us.”

3. We can’t rely on “well-intentioned” corporate funding.

“A great many progressives have opted out of the climate change debate in part because they thought that the Big Green groups, flush with philanthropic dollars, had this issue covered. That, it turns out, was a grave mistake.”

Klein strongly critiques partnerships between corporations and major environmental groups, along with attempts by “green billionaires” such as Bill Gates and Virgin Group’s Richard Branson to use capitalism to fighting global warming. When capitalism itself is a principal cause of climate change, Klein argues, it doesn’t make sense to expect corporations and billionaires to put the planet before profit. For example, though the Gates Foundation funds many major environmental groups dedicated to combating climate change, as of December 2013, it had at least $1.2 billion invested in BP and ExxonMobil. In addition, when Big Greens become dependent on corporate funding, they start to push a corporate agenda. For instance, organizations such as the Nature Conservancy and the Environmental Defense Fund, which have taken millions of dollars from pro-fracking corporate funders, such as Shell, Chevron and JP Morgan, are pitching natural gas as a cleaner alternative to oil and coal.

4. We need divestment, and reinvestment.

“The main power of divestment is not that it financially harms Shell and Chevron in the short term but that it erodes the social license of fossil fuel companies and builds pressure on politicians to introduce across-the-board emission reductions.”

Critics of the carbon divestment movement often claim that divestment will have minimal impact on polluters’ bottom lines. But Klein argues that this line of reasoning misses the point, quoting Canadian divestment activist Cameron Fenton’s argument that “No one is thinking we’re going to bankrupt fossil fuel companies. But what we can do is bankrupt their reputations and take away their political power.” More importantly, divestment opens the door for reinvestment. A few million dollars out of the hands of ExxonMobil or BP frees up money that can now be spent developing green infrastructure or empowering communities to localize their economies. And some colleges, charities, pension funds and municipalities have already got the message: Klein reports that 13 U.S. colleges and universities, 25 North American cities, around 40 religious institutions and several major foundations have all made commitments to divest their endowments from fossil fuel stocks and bonds.

5. Confronting climate change is an opportunity to address other social, economic and political issues.

“When climate change deniers claim that global warming is a plot to redistribute wealth, it’s not (only) because they are paranoid. It’s also because they are paying attention.”

In The Shock Doctrine, Klein explained how corporations have exploited crises around the world for profit. In This Changes Everything, she argues that the climate change crisis can serve as a wake-up call for widespread democratic action. For instance, when a 2007 tornado destroyed most of Greensburg, Kansas, the town rejected top-down approaches to recovery in favor of community-based rebuilding efforts that increased democratic participation and created new, environmentally-friendly public buildings. Today, Greensburg is one of the greenest towns in the United States. To Klein, this example illustrates how people can use climate change to come together to build a greener society. It also can, and indeed must, spur a radical transformation of our economy: less consumption, less international trade (part of relocalizing our economies) and less private investment, and a lot more government spending to create the infrastructure we need for a green economy. “Implicit in all of this,” Klein writes, “is a great deal more redistribution, so that more of us can live comfortably within the planet’s capacity.”

Originally published at:

http://inthesetimes.com/article/17079/this_changes_everything_naomi_klein_lessons

Fresh

By: Sydney O’Shaughnessy

Off the eastern coast of Spain near the port of Valencia, the Barbara rocks over Mediterranean swells. Captain Salva and deck hand Oscar work together to retrieve their lobster nets. The men readjust their feet with each passing wave.

Salva winds the net sprinkled with fish and lobsters up out of the cobalt blue depths. “Very good!” he exclaims when a lobster the length of an arm is pulled from the sea. He is exceptionally happy with today’s catch.

Boats like the Barbara are the first step in the journey of obtaining fresh fish. After being caught, the fish are purchased at an auction and sold to the customers within two days. The fishermen recognize the health benefits of eating food that is absent of preservatives and locally harvested.

Two hours away in the port, small, iridescent fish splash into buckets on the bobbing floor of Playa la Mata, a family owned and operated fishing boat.  In this leg of the journey, fishermen sort the fish depending on their size and type after being delicately extracted from the tangled nets.

Felipe Giménez, captain of Playa La Mata, sits with his back to the bow and uses his well-trained fingers to slip a fish out of the net and lobs it toward the appropriate bucket. Missing by an inch, he loudly exhales. Fortunately, one of his twin sons donned in yellow rubber boots and overalls is close enough to pick up the fish and drop it into the bucket for his father. Fishermen like Giménez and his family play an important part in feeding Valencia.

“Clean eating is important,” Giménez says. “What you feed your body, your body will give you back.”

The voyage of a fish from the sea to the plate is a sustainable process in Valencia, where the locals prefer their fish as fresh as possible. Yet, fresh fish is more expensive than processed fish and is losing popularity due to the Spanish recession.

Giménez began fishing at the age of 14. Now, 35 years later, he is the Capitan of Playa la Mata and employs his twin sons and brother. Their day begins when the family leaves the port and throws the nets into the indigo water at 5:30 a.m. Together, they wait for a couple hours in the small, crowded deck of his boat.  Giménez loves working with his family because the business “stays all at home.” He thinks that eating fish is important because it is “the most natural thing” a person living in Valencia can consume.

“Meat is not as healthy as fish,” Giménez says. “You eat a fish and you know what is in it, that’s not the same with hamburger bought at the supermarket.”

However, since the Spanish economy is not as strong as it used to be, buying fresh fish is becoming a struggle. Many consumers seek the affordability of processed supermarket fish. These economic decisions are affecting the lives of the local fisherman who make their money by selling their catch at La Lonja.

“Today, we have enough to survive,” Giménez says. “When the economy is good, we make good money. Now, there is not a lot of extra money for my family.”

Giménez and his family load their fish into their bins and douse them in salt water. They gather with the other fishermen at La Lonja, the auction area, at 4:45 p.m. to begin selling their catch for the day.

At La Lonja, dozens of teal bins filled with fish are placed along the conveyor belt, waiting to go out for bidding.  The fishermen joke and laugh with the potential buyers and with each other. There is no hostility in the air. Soon, the conveyor belt roars to life and sloshes the seafood into motion.

A loud laugh erupts from the last row of bidders in La Lonja. Angelo Rito Raja is rarely seen without a big smile stretched across his face. He owns the restaurant Cantina La Lonja de los Pescadores and buys all of his fish from the local fisherman. He understands the physical toll it takes to be a fisherman and runs his business in accordance to their lives.

“Being a fisherman is not an easy job,” Rito Raja says. “This place is their place. We open for them, they need the help.”

As the fish cycle by on a conveyor belt, Rito Raja bids using an electronic clicker. He sits with his clicker in his hands and explains the different kinds of fish for sale. Mollera, boqueron, and bacaladilla are small fish that are best to fry. Sepionet and other squids are sold alongside lobster and salmonete.

After about an hour of buying fish, all of the bins are given to their respected owners. Most of the buyers transport their purchases to various markets spread throughout Valencia so that the public can buy it from there.

Rito Raja carries his purchase to his restaurant that is located 50 feet away from the port and La Lonja. In Valencia, like all seafood loving places, there are hundreds of different ways to prepare fish. But Rito Raja insists that one way surpasses the rest.

“The best way to cook fish is in the oven,” Rito Raja says. “Cook it with white wine and it is nice and juicy. Very delicious.”

His wife, Flora, greets him at the door with a red lipstick smile and kind eyes. She rushes around the restaurant checking on customers and refilling drinks. Together, they create a friendly and welcoming environment for all of the people who stop by. Breezy conversation flows around the cold drinks for the fishermen and settles into the walls around the tables. Outside the tables are full of customers.

Niña Castelló sits casually in her sun soaked chair and inhales the smell of the fish. She wipes the sweat from her brow and delicately takes one of the fish the chef at Cantina La Lonja de los Pescadores prepared and squeezes it apart to extract the spine. She slips the fleshy meat of the fish into her mouth and smiles.

“This is the best fish I have ever had,” Castelló says. “I live in Valencia and this is the best yet.”