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There's a reason some cities are cutting back on funding for elections and polling places and eliminating early and absentee voting. It has a lot to do with keeping certain sections of the population from exercising their right to vote.
This video was from the 2012 election, but it gives you a good idea of what happened in a lot of metropolitan areas. And the biggest clue why they're making it all worse for the next voting day? What the guy says at 2:30.
Yes, we all know that is texting while driving is bad. So another reminder won't hurt.
The original video was made by the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to explain why they give tickets: to save lives. Check out more of their videos on their YouTube page.
The oil industry and its well-compensated apologists in Congress like to complain that the Obama administration is stalling oil production on public lands. The problem with that argument: it’s demonstrably false.
While plenty of environmental advocates may wish that President Obama was actively working to keep the fossil fuel reserves underground, the data tells a much different story.
In fact, according to new data released by the Department of the Interior, the amount of crude oil produced on onshore federal lands in 2013 was the highest it has been in over a decade.
This hasn’t stopped the oil industry from “distorting and cherry-picking statistics,” in the words of the Center for Western Priorities, to argue for even fewer regulations and more lax permitting processes.
A Tuesday post on the The Daily Caller is representative of the oil industry's spin, and provides a tutorial in cherry-picking data.
The total number of oil and gas drilling leases issued in 2013 reached a nearly three-decade lows, according to the Bureau of Land Management. The bureau says it issued 1,468 drilling leases last year, totaling 1.17 million acres of federal land — the lowest figures since 1988, which is the oldest year for which the BLM has data.
Overall, U.S. oil production has boomed in recent years, but production on federal lands has been falling. The Congressional Research Service reports that oil production on federal lands fell from 1,731,500 barrels per day in 2009 to 1,627,400 barrels per day in 2012, and the total shareof crude oil produced on federal lands fell to 26 percent in 2012 from 33 percent in 2009.
Let’s unpack this a bit.
First of all, the post opens by referencing the new BLM data, which only accounts for the federal onshore leasing program. To bolster the faulty argument that fewer leases is resulting in decreased production, the post then cites a Congressional Research Service (CRS) report from last year, which includes all production on federal lands – onshore and, importantly, offshore.
When you actually dig into that year-old CRS report, you see that production on federal onshore lands has increased every year since President Bush left office.
All of the decreases in overall production on federal lands have occurred offshore, where production has flagged from a high in 2010. That year, you may remember, there was a pretty massive explosion and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, which reasonably brought about a more tempered approach — and a temporary moratorium — to deep water offshore drilling.
The new data from Interior and EIA analysis shows that offshore production, too, it poised to again pick up steam. As E&E News reports:
Oil production was level in the Gulf of Mexico, dropping slightly from 476 million barrels to 472 million barrels in 2013, according to the federal data.
And while oil production in the Gulf of Mexico was level last year – down about 23 percent from a peak in 2010 – the region appears to have halted the rapid drop in production that followed the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, which triggered a five-month drilling moratorium and a major overhaul of safety regulations.
Gulf production averaged 1.25 million barrels a day in 2013, but it is expected to grow by 140,000 barrels a day in 2014 and an additional 210,000 barrels a day the following year, EIA said.
As for the oft-repeated claim that that faster permitting and more leases will directly boost oil production? That same CRS report debunks that one too.
There is however, continued interest among some in Congress to open more federal lands for oil and gas development (e.g., the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and areas offshore) and increase the speed of the permitting process. But having more lands accessible may not translate into higher levels of production on federal lands, as industry seeks out the most promising prospects and highest returns.
This is an important point, and one that speaks to another stat cited in the Daily Caller post — that “the total share of crude oil produced on federal lands fell to 26 percent in 2012 from 33 percent in 2009.”
Looking at the percentages of production coming from public versus private lands is just plain misleading.
As the CRS report and the new data from Interior both make clear, overall production has increased substantially and consistently under the Obama administration. The shift in the percentage from public lands is mostly a reflection of the industry’s massive shift to shale oil operations, predominantly in the Bakken region, which don’t happen to be on public lands.
In fact, according to a Center for Western Priorities report,
The large majority of shale oil plays exist under nonfederal lands. Mapping of shale resources reveals that 93 percent of all onshore shale oil and mixed oil and gas plays are found under nonfederal lands. Even in the Rocky Mountain West, where more federal land is located, 89 percent of the shale oil and mixed oil and gas plays are under nonfederal lands.
The CWP report makes a strong case that “the lack of shale oil deposits under public lands and the market-driven movement away from natural gas and towards oil explains recent drilling trends on public lands.”
In other words, oil and gas companies aren’t drilling as much on public lands because there isn’t nearly as much shale oil under public lands.
In fact, that same CRS report that conservative media and the oil industry love to cite says reveals that applications for permits to drill (APDs) have actually dropped consistently from 2006 through 2011 (the last year for which they had data).
And though it might come as a surprise to the oil industry flacks, the Obama administration has actually processed more applications than it received every year, a feat only achieved once in the last three years of the Bush administration.Tags: oilshale oilcenter for western prioritiesoil leasesDrillingPublic LandsBLM
After slogging through their 2,000-word anti-Google ransom note, I did not expect to engage in a remotely reasonable discussion with the Counterforce. Not when the anti-capitalist protestors distributed fliers to Kevin Rose's neighbors in San Francisco demanding that Google pay them $3 billion—and especially not when the group "stalked" Google X engineer Anthony Levandowski.
But the Counterforce caught me by surprise during the Q&A, conducted via email, below.
Yesterday after writing about the unhinged protest against Digg founder Rose, who now works as a general partner at Google Ventures, I got an email from someone using the handle Nicolas Flamel. That's the same pseudonym as the author of Wordpress site kevinroseisaterribleperson. To show that they represented the Counterforce, they added a smiley-face to the Wordpress blog for a brief, agreed upon period of time. To verify that the Wordpress site is affiliated with the group, they sent me a still image "from the unreleased video of our interaction with Kevin Rose."
That's not airtight proof that the person or persons I communicated with represent the Counterforce, which claims to have members who work for Google, or even that their responses were true. However, the fact they suggested meeting in person was a mark in the "Possibly maybe legit" column.
This isn't the first time the Counterforce, which also took credit for anti-Amazon protests in Seattle, has spoken to the press. NextShark just published a Q&A yesterday. According to the emails in my inbox the NextShark interview "was one perspective from a Counterforce member and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the entire group." The answers below, my responded insisted, were drafted by "about half the present group," adding, "A sewage leak, the beach, work and other preoccupations prevented more collaboration."
Like those who claim to speak for Anonymous, perspectives can be contradictory, hard to verify, and just as petty as the rest of us.
Logical might be too strong a word for anyone who thinks they can get Google to part with $3 billion, much less overthrow capitalism. The many-tentacled monopoly recently managed to wriggle out of billions in potential anti-trust fines in Europe as well as a class action lawsuit for data mining students' emails. But after reading reports of the protest, the bar was very low. They definitely had more patience for my pedantic line of questioning than some of the technocrats they oppose, so I'm biased.
Besides, if Silicon Valley can proselytize about cloud country and dividing California into six pieces, why can't their political enemies engage in similar flights of fancy about the world as it currently exists?
Given rising tensions, it was also a relief to hear that despite the spectacle of threatening to snip-snip Rose's "ballz," the Counterforce purports to be non-violent when it comes to human or animal life. Then again, there's a strong possibility that I'll come away with a different conclusion after they release the video of their interaction with Rose. Stay safe, everyone!
How many people are part of the Counterforce?
It is hard to accurately determine this. Membership in the Counterforce is not quantifiable. The group is composed of everyone who takes a conscious stand against the hyper-gentrification of their neighborhoods, whether that be refusing service, yelling at gentrifiers on the street, painting slogans, or holding banners outside residences. The Counterforce has no internal knowledge of its own membership.
You said that the group includes some people that work for Google. What is their role at the company? Why continue to work for Google considering your objections? Can you offer any proof that you have members who work at Google?
A few of our members work for Google, although we cannot describe their positions for security reasons. The wages they receive from their employer go into many anti-capitalist projects. However, our comrades who work at Google cannot stand the culture within its walls and that is why they have lent us their services. We cannot expose their identities or concretely prove to you that they are there, but think about the leaked documents, fortuitous circumstances, and uncanny occurrences that have appeared during this entire tech-backlash
Alternatively, they brought this all upon themselves through their infatuation with social-media and their reliance on exploited workers to get through their daily lives.
Hopefully this makes some sense.
How would you respond to skepticism over whether The Counterforce is actually made up of service workers, as you claim, and is distracting from genuine community activism?
Some of us are most definitely service workers who serve the new ruling tech-class. Again, we cannot concretely prove this to you, but service workers have been marginalized by society, forgotten by the old trade-unions, and exploited by the rich, and thus far their plight in the current context has gone largely unreported.
As far as detracting from genuine community activism, we would reply that we are genuine community organizers and should be taken seriously. No other community organizers have condemned our actions, so we believe that there is no conflict.
Do you honestly believe that Google will give you $3 billion? If not, why advocate for that over something more realistic that might improve the lives of people struggling to get by or find/keep housing?
Yes. The loss of 3 billion would not destroy Google. If that money were given to us, we would absolutely be able to accomplish the limited objectives of creating areas free from capitalism in the Bay Area and Northern California. We do not expect everything to go perfectly, but at the very least we could create sizable communities within each Bay Area city that are free from capitalist relationships and that would eventually blossom into a movement that could not be stopped.
Why did you chose Kevin Rose and Anthony Levandowski as targets? Neither is a Google executive.
Both were targeted for the objective functions they perform within Google, the objections to which we have described in our communiques. Unlike Google executives, these two men are perhaps slightly more inclined to speak to us. The executives never would, isolated as they are from reality and normal human behavior.
How long have most members of the Counterforce lived in the Bay Area?
Many have lived here our whole lives, some for a over decade, others for only a few years, a few have just arrived, some are just returning. In this respect, we are like any other group of people.
Unilaterally driving out everyone employed by a tech company would have a negative impact on the local economy. Why advocate for that?
We are not especially concerned about the positive health of the capitalist economy, given that it is our enemy.
Why don't you see a distinction between tech workers? These corporations are stratified. They do not behave uniformly. They don't all have access to the same wealth and opportunity. They do not all abuse that privilege.
Google has already stratified itself with its different castes of employees: white badges, green badges, red badges, and yellow badges. Thus far, our efforts have been aimed at the white and green badges. White badge employees are the ones gentrifying our neighborhoods and riding the buses to and from Silicon Valley. If these employees stop fulfilling their objective roles in gentrification (paying exorbitant rents, complaining about neighbors, driving up demand for luxury apartments, etc.), they will find that they are no longer subject to such intense criticism and scorn from all sectors.
What do you hope to achieve as a group?
If it is not clear, we want the end of capitalism and the creation of a free world.
Why not protest government officials or policy makers, as opposed to tech corporations?
Been there, done that. When the tech corporations are challenged, they point the finger at city hall and the federal government. When city hall is challenged, they point the finger at the tech corporations and the state government. It all goes round and round, they are all equally complicit, and they should all be equally challenged.
You told NextShark: "Anarchists are the only group with the skill set necessary to solve" the problem of capitalism. Can you point to a prior example where this skill set has provided a viable alternative to capitalism?
Yes. For example: [here, here, and here] and in regards to the current moment: [here].
Is the Counterforce non-violent?
Any group claiming to be the Counterforce is against the harming or taking of human or animal life.Tags: counterforceGoogleGoogle BusattackCategory: Opinion
A note before we start: I do not know Sergey Turzhanskiy, herein referred to as “Kiki,” which is how a lot of people know them. Because I have never met this person, and acknowledging this person will be in an extremely vulnerable position, I want to say that I am not addressing Kiki’s conviction as part of a political organization, nor am I advocating for Kiki. I have had no contact with Kiki, nor would I advocate for Kiki unless I could be sure that doing so would not violate the terms of the sentencing agreement as laid out by Kiki, Kiki’s lawyers, and the federal government.
I would like to close by saying that making me think to type this preface, essentially a disclaimer, is disgusting. I am against anyone being locked in a cage, and in hopes of foregoing further punishment on the behalf of someone I wish to write about, I will recognize the byzantine nature of the system which locks people in cages. So, as an anarchist discussing someone who has agreed not to have contact with anarchists, I do not wish this to be construed as organized advocacy, although I recognize this determination is out of my hands. This was not initiated by Kiki, Kiki’s family, friends, or supporters.
And, if you are a federal official, and have read this far, please kill yourself.
On March 31, a Portland anarchist, Kiki, who was accused of an attempted act of property destruction, was sentenced to two and a half years of federal prison. Kiki was arrested for throwing a crude Molotov cocktail made from a beer bottle at a parked and unoccupied police cruiser at the Northeast Precinct in the early morning of November 5, 2012. When the bottle failed to break, Kiki attempted to smash it on the cop car one more time. This time the bottle broke and started a small fire, which did minimal damage. Apparently the attack came in the middle of a shift change, and nearby police quickly arrested Kiki. There were initial allegations that Kiki was beaten by police, although to what degree remains unclear.
Kiki was originally charged with multiple felonies, including attempted arson and possession of a destructive device, among others. The sum total of Kiki’s bail stood at $1 million, until charges were moved to federal court, and Kiki’s lawyer was able to argue for conditional release in January 2013. Part of the agreement which got Kiki released was that Kiki was to have no contact with anarchists, most notably a group federal prosecutor Stephen Peifer referred to as “Resist the NW Grand Jury,” which isn’t even a group, but the title of a Facebook page devoted to disseminating information regarding resistance to a grand jury in Seattle which was investigating property destruction during riots in that city on May 1, 2012.
Peifer also pointed to the fact that Kiki’s case had been written about on the blogs of prisoner advocacy and legal repression support groups Portland Anarchist Black Cross and Denver Anarchist Black Cross as indicative of Kiki’s “serious involvement with the anarchist activity, which is a threat to the community.”
On the night Kiki appeared in court for sentencing, Kiki was contrite, either in the face of the looming threat of years of imprisonment, or in genuine remorse for their actions (this is uncertain and it would be unfair to speculate). Judge Marco Hernandez gave Kiki two and a half years, three years of supervised release, and continued to forbid contact with anarchists. Kiki was convicted of possession of an unregistered destructive device, but, as per the agreement worked out with Kiki’s lawyers and the government, avoided the attempted arson charge, avoiding a minimum sentence of 5 years, and a maximum of 20. Apart from the sadness of a comrade going to jail, or the relative happiness that they avoided serious time, the case is reflective of some troubling dynamics at play when anarchists are in the legal system.
First, the distinction of “anarchist” is no doubt treated as suspect by the state, naturally, because anarchists advocate for the overthrow or abolition of the state itself and work in many ways towards that goal. However, the implication the state continues to repeat is that being an anarchist, by itself, is criminal, or dangerous, and it informs the way anarchists are treated when they are charged with a crime.
When anarchists go to court, what would normally be construed as protected speech (political affiliation, disseminating information, and association), is then used as a club to hold over the accused during the legal process, and some speech activities, are considered detrimental to one’s case, if not criminal in and of themselves. Former animal rights prisoners the SHAC 7 and former environmental saboteur Daniel McGowan found this out the hard way. The SHAC 7 were essentially convicted as “leaders” of a decentralized protest campaign using RICO-esque interpretations of their role in maintaining a website which chronicled a campaign to shut down a notorious vivisection lab, and McGowan was chided by Judge Ann Aiken at his 2007 sentencing for the content of his support website before slapping him with a terrorism enhancement sentence.
While anyone honest should be dubious that the government should protect speech it vaguely feels is criminal, and anarchists do not, as a rule, see legitimacy in legally-enshrined “rights” as essentially protective of freedom, increasingly the state uses the considerable threats they can exercise through the legal process to make us silence ourselves, or rethink tactics that aren’t illegal, but evidence of which can be used by authorities to determine remorse on behalf of the accused and impose sentences. The idea is that the government would prefer to strip away any political context in which a criminal act is carried out, and if you’re the accused, so a strategy of wholly disavowing the act and the politics behind it, or distancing yourself from them, is sometimes used out of genuine remorse, or to essentially plead for leniency in sentencing. This happens in every almost every criminal case, political or not. It is a theatrical process, a genuflection toward the vested power of the government, and while ideally one would want to shout their condemnation of the legal system and claim responsibility for and explain an act that was accompanied with considerable risk, when decades of your life hang in the balance, it’s hard to push for maximum intransigence when it remains very true that you face your sentence and serve your time alone, no matter what support you have on the outside.
Early after the arrest, Kiki’s attorney got a bail crowdfunding website taken down, as well as a “Free Sergey” blog chronicling Kiki’s case. This was a shrewd move, and due to Kiki’s lack of a criminal record, it was easier to demonstrate contrition in material ways that would satisfy a judge; ultimately, it worked to secure Kiki’s release prior to trial and a lesser sentence. By simple math, two and a half years is less than 20. While both have power, federal courts, when compared to county courts, have more; nearly 95% of federal cases end in a plea deal because enormous disparities between potential sentences and the ones offered in those deals, not to mention enormous costs associated with a legal defense, keep people from fighting charges. Those accused are mindful of this dynamic at all times. When 95% of cases don’t involve even arguing guilt or innocence, apology is sometimes the result when you don’t want a person in a position of enormous power to throw your life away.
Because this case was settled, and largely took place behind closed doors, there are still unanswered questions. There are many reasons why one would want to burn a police car, but speculation as to why this act was carried out isn’t forthcoming, and, in many cases in communities targeted by surveillance, speculation jeopardizes security. But to place things contextually, in November 2012, Portland’s anarchist community had been highly surveilled and targeted for federal repression in the form of a grand jury, which stemmed from the fact that some Portland anarchists were already under FBI surveillance (for what, it has never been said), and were suspected of traveling to Seattle to participate in May Day protests where some participants broke glass doors at a federal courthouse. The investigation related to this involved military-style raids in the summer of 2012 by heavily-armed FBI agents, the serving of subpoenas around the Pacific Northwest, and the indefinite detention of three people who refused to testify. In early October, Portland anarchist Leah-Lynne Plante had just been imprisoned for refusing to testify before the grand jury. (Plante would later testify, was released, and has not been heard from since.) A solidarity march in Southeast Portland after Plante’s imprisonment saw several bank properties on Southeast Hawthorne smashed, in one of the most combative anarchist demonstrations in Portland for years. (Some people detained after that march were later harassed by the FBI, who undoubtedly got their names from Portland police.) One month later, Kiki threw a Molotov at a cop car. It was undoubtedly a political act, but in relation to what, we may never know.
In January 2013, when Peifer argued against Kiki’s release, and said Kiki should have no contact with “Resist the NW Grand Jury,” Peifer said that the anarchists in question were attempting to “obstruct” the grand jury. It’s fairly obvious that the government connected Kiki’s action to the wider effort of resisting the heavy-handed repression in response to the rioting on May Day (which has yet resulted in no federal charges), and was seeking to implicate anarchists in general as dangerous and violent as a means to keep Kiki locked up.
Unfortunately for the authorities, being an anarchist isn’t itself illegal. But that hardly matters. Going back to the notion of “rights,” speaking to or being able to associate with others regardless of their beliefs are some that all Americans are supposed to enjoy, and that courts, ideally, are supposed to uphold. Yet anarchism, an ethic at least as generous and expansive as it is combative, is a bit of a scarlet letter in society, at large. If you’ve read one report by mainstream journalists of a protest, or squat eviction, they often reproduce verbatim police lines about possession of anarchist literature, clothing, political indicia like signs, innocuous materials (paint, hand tools), as fitting some sinister type. Most of the time it seems more lazy than malicious, but it has a cumulative effect in the public consciousness. In court, this type, this profile, is used to maximum advantage by prosecutors. It starts with the villainous tinge given to the word “anarchist,” referring to anarchist “activity” as “a threat to the community,” conceptualizing anarchists as inherently criminal, using one’s adherence to anarchist ethics or beliefs as a means to address a court’s prejudices. Identifying someone as such or playing on the popular implications of what an anarchist is or does is part of the process which helps prosecutors accomplish their jobs; slamming prison bars in someone’s face. In the prison system, being labeled as an anarchist means a lot more, by way of possible repression.
Kiki is still forbidden from having contact with anarchists. It is unclear as to what exactly that entails; whether certain people may write Kiki letters, for instance. In prison, this is a big deal, because political identification is increasingly being treated as a gang matter, and gang affiliation, which is determined by prison officials on evidence obtained by guards, in a process that would make a normal criminal trial look like a civics class lesson. Journalist Shane Bauer wrote about this process for Mother Jones, noting that possession of literature, or the content of drawings at California’s Pelican Bay prison could land a prisoner gang classification, and then solitary confinement. Mark Neiweem, an anarchist arrested on specious terrorism charges before the 2012 NATO summit in Chicago, was put into solitary last year for having what authorities said was “copious amounts of anarchist literature.” Neiweem’s tattoos, which included the anarchist symbol of a circled letter “A”, and an encircled letter “E”, symbolizing “equality” were found by prison officials to signify “class warfare, the 99%.” McGowan and SHAC 7 member Andy Stepanian were both imprisoned in Communication Management Units, high-security prisons within prisons which heavily restrict prisoners’ ability to communicate with the outside world, expressly for their political advocacy. McGowan was even briefly re-imprisoned while on parole for writing an article about the CMUs.
On the law enforcement level, the criminalization of anarchism has played out, too. In an affidavit attached to a search warrant related to electronics seized in 2012′s FBI raids, an agent noted that they had talked with the Portland police to identify “known anarchists.” In 2011, the year Seattle anarchists had regularly protested a high-profile police shooting, police raided an anarchist house party, where they beat and Tasered people, with one officer wielding a shovel. In the late-90′s Pacific Northwest, a hotbed for radical environmentalism and green anarchism, heavy-handed responses to protests and wide-scale surveillance of any and all anarchist activity was the norm. We can go back to the anti-Communist police “Red Squads”. It isn’t as if any of this is new.
In the face of the increasing power of the US legal apparatus, the drastic uptick in conviction rates, the militarization of the police, the rise of the surveillance state, and America’s out-of-control prison system, however, political repression of this kind may only get worse. When taken in total, it’s reasonable to conclude that these systems of power, in concert, cannot be reformed and therefore must be destroyed. That ethical people, or those simply trying to preserve a life for themselves, have to fight back, using varied means that will be confrontational. Many militant mass movements worldwide have adopted organizing principles and tactics favored by anarchists, so there are opportunities for anarchist participation in struggles of all sorts, aside from the ones anarchists initiate.
For this reason, it’s clear that authorities have a vested interest in making it seem like anarchists are a scary threat to the life and welfare of those around them, but every time an officer kills a houseless person, a person of color, a child in a no-knock raid, or feeds the private immigration detention system a continuous succession of bodies, the “safety” which they wish to preserve is exposed as monstrous. This perverted order is the thing anarchists are a threat to, and we counter it with ideas that promote an existence where no one has mastery over anyone else, where systems of domination are abolished, where people can live a dignified existence. We do this through advocacy and actually fighting back.
Kiki’s agreement to not associate with anarchists, whether proposed by Kiki’s legal defense or initiated by the government, sets a dangerous precedent for potential repression. How do authorities make the distinction when someone is in contact with an anarchist? What does “contact” really mean, and how far can it be stretched? Once you’re out of court you’re never out of the system; probation, parole, travel restrictions and all the security and surveillance trappings that come with being convicted follow you. Your prior convictions dictate what sort of sentence you receive in the future, as well. Being legally barred from associating with others could have enormous implications for people already in legal jeopardy. While anarchists should dismiss the power of the state as illegitimate, it is vitally important not to cede it any more power than it already has. This is not a criticism for a plea taken by someone looking down the barrel of decades in prison, just an acknowledgement of a dangerous precedent.
It’s heartbreaking when someone you care about is locked up, harder still when you may be forbidden from speaking to them, and when the state forces displays of atonement, whether genuine or not, the effect is gut-wrenching. But this is how the state tells us not to fight, and warns us that if we do, they will break us. Whether they’re successful is another matter, entirely.Tags: portlandprisonerconsequencesCategory: Analysis
The question I hear time and time again from audiences who see my documentary film, Broadcast Blues is, "Why did you leave your lucrative career in broadcasting to become a media reform...
After learning that predator drone operators often refer to kills as "bug splats," because bodies look so small from up above, an artist collective didn't get angry — they got creative.
Disposable bugs, huh?
Obviously the drone operators need to take a closer look.
From their site: An artist collective installed this massive portrait facing up in the heavily bombed Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region of Pakistan, where drone attacks regularly occur. Now, when viewed by a drone camera, what an operator sees on his screen is not an anonymous dot on the landscape, but an innocent child victim’s face.
After talking with a member of the collective, this was like the icing on the cake: "The piece was left there for as long as people decided to use the fabric for roofing and other useful purposes. The art was always meant to be utilized and not discarded after it was photographed."
This project is a collaboration of artists who made use of the French artist JR’s Inside Out movement. Reprieve/Foundation for Fundamental Rights helped launch the effort and also approved the unnamed girl in the image. True story about her: Her family was killed by drones, and she was wounded. Show support to this initiative by using #notabugsplat.
The showdown at the Bundy Ranch in Clark County, Nevada just took a turn for the worse as militia from around the country mobilized and have started making their way into Nevada.
Campus Discontent: Washington University Students Sit-In Against Peabody, Harvard Faculty Call for Divestment
It's a busy week in the campus fossil fuel divestment movement.
A “sit in” by students at the Washington University of St. Louis enters its third day today. The protestors have camped out underneath their campus's Brookings Archway since Tuesday, demanding that the school cut ties with Peabody Energy — the world's largest private coal company — and its CEO Greg Boyce.
Boyce was named to WU's Board of Trustees in 2009. One year earlier, Peabody gave the university millions of dollars to help create the Consortium for Clean Coal Utilization. (Along with Arch Coal, who also kicked in, the investment was roughly $5 million.)
According to Caroline Burney, a senior at Washington University, the sit-in only became necessary after many other attempts for dialogue with the school's administration were exhausted. Burney writes:
Peabody Energy CEO Greg Boyce also holds one more distinction: member of the Washington University Board of Trustees. Since Boyce was placed on the board in 2009, students have been actively organizing against Peabody Energy’s presence on campus. We have demanded that Boyce be removed from the Board of Trustees and that the University change the name of the “Consortium for Clean Coal Utilization,” a research entity to which Peabody and Arch Coal donated $5,000,000. We have met with the Chancellor – multiple times. We have dropped banners at coal events, peacefully disrupted speeches by Greg Boyce on campus, marched through campus and taken our demands to Peabody’s headquarters. We have protested with residents from Black Mesa, collected signatures for the Take Back St. Louis ballot initiative and rallied with the United Mine Workers in their fight against Peabody.
But, five years later, Boyce is still on the board, the name of the Clean Coal Consortium remains unchanged, and Chancellor Wrighton continues to stand behind Peabody Energy. Indeed, just this week he emailed us saying, “your opinion that peabody energy behaves in an ‘irresponsible and unjust manner’ is not one that I share.” The Administration has successfully used a “deny by delay” process by holding town hall meetings and developing task forces around renewable energy and energy efficiency while ignoring the role that coal plays on the campus.
In a powerful editorial for Student Life, the independent newspaper of Washington University of St. Louis, staff writer Aaron Hall echoes the students' frustrations, and lays out the stakes of the action:
So what can the divestment movement do to cut Wash. U’s affiliation with this robber baron? The answer is that it has done as much as it can so far. It has the public’s attention and has made clear actions to open dialogue with the administration. Unfortunately, the board of trustees keeps Wash. U.’s financials well-hidden from the eyes of its students. So the divestment movement’s first goal is to increase financial transparency so we can see to what extent Peabody funds our school. Secondly, it requests that Boyce be removed from the board of trustees, primarily for the blatantly unethical worker treatment that occurred under his leadership. What does it take for the administration to address this civil and reasonable request? If a sit-in isn’t enough, then I don’t know what is.
Here's video of the sit-in by Student Life, the student newspaper of Washington University of St. Louis.
Meanwhile, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, student and alumni advocates for divestment at Harvard University have been joined by a powerful faction: their teachers. On Thursday morning, nearly 100 faculty members published an open letter to President Drew Faust and the University's Fellows, expressing frustration with the president's dismissive statements on divestment, and demanding that the University “divest, as soon as possible, its holdings in fossil fuel corporations.”
Divestment is an act of ethical responsibility, a protest against current practices that cannot be altered as quickly or effectively by other means. The University either invests in fossil fuel corporations, or it divests. If the Corporation regards divestment as “political,” then its continued investment is a similarly political act, one that finances present corporate activities and calculates profit from them.
You can read the letter in its entirety here.Tags: Harvardharvard universitywashington university of st louisdivestmentsit inPeabody Energypeabody coal
Keynote address delivered at the 2000 Houston Youth Environmental Leadership Conference, 1/26/00 Yesterday a teenager sent me an email letter in which he said, "I feel cheated that it's all UP...
President Barack Obama’s latest budget proposal calls for $1.1 billion to be spent on gun control. Part of the plan calls for a ban on high-capacity magazines and the reinstatement of an even strounger assault weapons ban.
In recent years, Canadians have heard a lot about those extremist American conservation foundations. They’ve been called radicals, money-launderers and even compared to Al Qaeda in Canada’s Senate.
More recently, an oil-related group, British Columbians for Prosperity (which bears remarkable similarity to the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity), alleges that these foundations are carrying out a really complicated American conspiracy to, er, hurt Canada by, um, not letting any of its oil go to foreign markets.
So I looked into some of these allegations and discovered some shocking truths about the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation that Canadians really need to know.
1. They Freaking Love Science!
Gordon Moore is a Silicon Valley legend. He helped develop the earliest semi-conductors and co-founded Intel. He’s so famous they named Moore’s Law after him and he chairs the board of trustees of Cal-Tech, one of the world’s leading science and research institutes. The Moore Foundation board of trustees includes the sitting president of Stanford University, a former president of the U.S. National Academy of Science and a member of the U.S. President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.
With over $5 billion in assets, Moore is among the world’s most illustrious scientific foundations, renowned for both its research and practical solutions.
2. Their $200 million donation will help create hundreds of science and technology jobs in Canada — mostly in B.C.!
The Moore Foundation is partnering with ACURA (Associated Canadian Universities for Research in Astronomy), the National Research Council and U.S. institutions to build the Thirty Meter Telescope, the largest and most powerful optical telescope in history.
The Thirty Meter Telescope is estimated to generate 800 high-tech Canadian jobs. Credit: Courtesy TMT Observatory Corporation.
The telescope’s major components will be designed and fabricated right here in Port Coquitlam by Dynamic Structures using technology developed at the University of Victoria. Built at a cost of $1.2 billion, the Thirty Meter Telescope will be 12 times more powerful than the Hubble Space Telescope. The telescope will eventually be assembled in Hawaii under Canadian guidance.
The Thirty Meter Telescope is like the new Canadarm and is estimated to generate 800 high-tech Canadian jobs — most of them right here in B.C. Although the Moore Foundation has already committed $200 million, the Canadian government is dragging its heels on investment.
3. They’re spending millions on a West Coast earthquake early warning system
The Moore Foundation is funding an early earthquake alert system with Cal-Tech, the U.S. Geological Survey, UC Berkeley and the University of Washington, which could give first responders, transportation networks and citizens a precious few seconds, or even as much as a few minutes, warning. Once developed, this prototype could save lives right here in B.C.
4. They’ve helped create hundreds of sustainable jobs in the fishing and tourism industry on B.C.’s North Coast.
Moore Foundation partnered with the Government of Canada, the B.C. government and other U.S. funders to create a $120-million fund that provided startup capital for sustainable B.C. businesses in the Great Bear Rainforest region. Businesses like Prince Rupert’s Coastal Shellfish Company and Port Simpson’s Coast Tsimshian Seafood sprang from the agreement, creating hundreds of jobs. An eco-tourism venture, the Spirit Bear Lodge in Klemtu, was cited by National Geographic as a Best Trip for 2013.
Tens of millions of dollars still remain in the Great Bear Rainforest economic development fund, ready to drive tourism, business growth and employment on the North Coast.
5. They committed $300 million to protect 150 million hectares in the Amazon Rainforest.
That’s right. $300 million to bring one-third of the forest cover of the Amazon under sustainable management. ’Nuff said.
6. They’re all wet
On the environment front, the Moore Foundation is all about ocean health and marine habitat. They help develop optimal practices for necessary activities like shipping, transportation and fisheries. They’re tracking Fukushima’s radioactive dispersal across the Pacific, and help sustain healthy wild salmon ecosystems in Alaska, British Columbia and Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula — the three remaining regions where great migrations of salmon still return every year.
With enemies like this, who needs friends?
In all, Moore Foundation gifts to Canadian organizations or associated with Canadian government partnerships will total over $250 million, generate almost 2,000 Canadian jobs over the next decade (including hundreds of quality First Nation jobs) and build a legacy of sustainable and responsible resource management.
And for that, the Canadian government has pretty much called them the Taliban, because many of their beneficiary organizations independently oppose the Enbridge Northern Gateway oil pipeline.
But it’s wholly disingenuous, if not outright deceptive, to suggest the Moore Foundation funded or influenced that opposition. Ivan Thompson, program officer for the Moore Foundation says, “The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation has neither taken a position on the Northern Gateway Pipeline nor funded any organizations to oppose the project.”
How this U.S. foundation funding works
The above video shows how a collaborative project, the B.C. Marine Conservation Analysis, used its Moore Foundation grant to develop richly informative maps of the B.C. coast. The project included representatives from the federal and provincial governments, First Nations, user groups, ENGOs and academia.
Now the maps are informing MaPP, the marine planning process underway between coastal First Nations and the B.C. government. The public can view and navigate these maps online here. The Moore Foundation is providing scientific support through a grant distributed by Tides Canada. The MaPP Partners, the province and First Nations determine the grant allocation, while the stakeholder advisory committees advise on the plans and the science advisory committee advises on scientific guidelines.
So … what was the problem again?
As a nation we’ve got to get past this destructive and divisive approach to our environmental challenges. Let’s stop pointing fingers and start lending hands.
B.C. lived through the ’90s “War in the Woods” and all the kindergarten lessons we learned there still count. Good faith and relationships matter. Compromise is strength, not weakness. Friends are better than enemies.
And as for the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation’s donation of hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of jobs? How about a single word: Thanks.Tags: Gordon and Betty Moore FoundationBritish Columbians for ProsperityAmericans for ProsperityGordon MooreACURANational Research CouncilThirty Meter TelescopeGreat Bear Rainforest agreementwild salmonearthquake early warning systemB.C. Marine Conservation AnalaysisMaPP
Jamie Sanders has struggled with something his whole life. This is what it is like on a daily basis.
If you'd like to see more of Jamie Sanders' work, you can Like him on Facebook. And if you wouldn't mind sharing this, he has Tourette's and would like everyone to know.
There are so many gems in this, but you're probably busy, so I'm highlighting the best two minutes of this smackdown. (But realtalk, the whole 15-minute speech is the best part.)
Here are my favorite lines:
- 1:05 — "You know one way to help the economy is for people to make more money! You know what's one of the best ways to make more money? Pay women for equal pay for equal work!"
- 6:13 — "You like to hear, 'Oh, you've come a long way.' But I don't think we've come a long way."
- 6:23 — "Who in this room thinks earning one cent more every five years counts as coming a long way?"
- 6:48 — "There are men all over this country, right this minute, who are in jobs they hate so that their daughters could have the job they love."
What are yours?
A pretty great two minutes from her speech:
The whole shebang in all its glory:
Two years ago, trains snaked through American towns and cities day and night often without residents, or even city officials, knowing they were carrying explosive crude oil from the Bakken shale fields in North Dakota.
But now — after four serious oil train explosions in the US and Canada — the issue has exploded into public consciousness, with citizens and governments across the country raising questions about whether it’s safe to transport the flammable or explosive petroleum products through residential neighborhoods.
Recently we have seen some major developments in the national discussion about moving oil by rail in the United States.
Yesterday, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx told Congress that his agency is committed to pressing the oil-by-rail industry to come up with a safer tank car design for unconventional oil. “My target date is as soon as possible,” Foxx said, although he would not commit to a hard deadline for stricter standards when pressed by the Senate Appropriations committee.
As more communities learn about the dangers of the Bakken crude oil traveling through their neighborhoods by train, they are taking a stand and saying they don’t want it. Additionally, communities targeted for new oil-by-rail projects are fighting these new projects.
In Albany, N.Y., where 150,000 barrels of Bakken crude arrive by rail every day, the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation sent a letter to Global Partners, one of the two companies bringing the oil to Albany, requesting much more information from Global about its plans to expand its oil processing facility at the Port of Albany. Additionally, in a move that was well received by local activists, the department stated that all of the permits granted to allow the transport of oil by rail in Albany are under review.
That same week, Global was fined for its operations on the West coast, where the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) found that Global was bringing in 300 million gallons of oil when it was only permitted for 50 million gallons. In an unusual move, the department scheduled a public comment period on April 3rd, to allow residents to comment on this already permitted project.
As in Albany, the initial project was approved without the knowledge or input of local residents, as noted by Brett VandenHeuvel, executive director of Columbia Riverkeeper, speaking to The Oregonian:
“I find it deeply disturbing that DEQ knew about this, didn’t take action sooner and didn’t inform the public. To skirt that whole process is bad public policy and bad government.”
In late March, the Berkeley, California city council voted unanimously to oppose plans by Phillips 66 to transport oil by rail through the city.
In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo issued another report on new safety inspections.
“The state is continuing proactive inspections to protect New Yorkers and prevent crude oil accidents,” Cuomo said. “Our preparedness and response plans must be adequate ahead of time — not after tragedy strikes. We have seen too many crude oil disasters, and with continued comprehensive safety and emergency response reviews and efforts to improve federal policies and regulation, we can help ensure that New York is doing everything possible to prevent mishaps and keep crude oil transport safe.”
Last month, it was reported that environmental groups in Richmond, CA are suing regarding the permit that was granted to bring oil by rail to a transfer station in Richmond. As with the cases in New York and Oregon, the initial permit was granted without an environmental review or public notification or input. Andres Soto of Communities for a Better Environment noted the lack of public review when talking to the Contra Costa Times.
“We decided that we needed to file this lawsuit because it was a complete sign of disrespect to the people of Richmond on the part of air district staff to decide that this crude by rail project could move forward without any public review.”
In late March, Reuters reported the Department of Transportation is not pleased with the oil-by-rail industry’s lack of response to its requests for information pertaining to accidents with a spokeswoman for the department saying: “The overall and ongoing lack of cooperation is disappointing, slows progress and certainly raises concerns.”
Since the initial approval of many of these oil-by-rail projects, there have been warnings about the risks posed by the DOT-111 tank cars as well as the explosive nature of the Bakken crude oil which have alarmed the public. It appears there has been a turning point in this discussion and it seems unlikely that future oil-by-rail projects will ever fly under the radar the way they once did.
Image credit: Photo of rail inspections on New York Governor's site.Tags: oil by railBakken oilGlobal Partners
Earlier this week, a flaw in software that is used to secure Web communications across approximately 66% of the internet was disclosed. That's a lot of the internet.
The 'Heartbleed' bug introduced a security vulnerability (http://heartbleed.com) in the widely used OpenSSL cryptographic library. We use this security.
We resolved this vulnerability on all of our servers as soon as possible and are now using new SSL certificates and keys. You can read the job tracking ticket if you like that sort of thing.
We do not think that this is an issue for website users who are not administrative users but are continuing our investigations. We may invite all website users to reset their passwords, but want to do a few things first.
Please contact Transition Network web support if you have any questions.
We recommend that you reset your passwords for the big online services including Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Doodle, Dropbox and more. It looks like the banks are safe. There are hundreds of news items about this at various publications dates, but Ed found this Telegraph article handy.About the author
Ed is the Web and Communications Manager for Transition Network.
He lives in Dorchester, likes digging and climbing, growing vegetables and reading, bicycles and books, swimming, camping and generally being outdoors.
Feeling a little meh about protecting your online life from hackers? Think you don't have much to hide? Turns out a weak password can accidentally make you a mercenary for malicious organizations and actions in real life.
That means by not taking care with your online identity, you could be accidentally shutting down websites with strong independent voices, influencing political events, or silencing opposing voices in media around the world.
First, watch this video about exactly how it works, then check out the map below to see where attacks are happening right this second.
This crazy, overwhelming graphic is the path of hackers attacking servers of sites around the world in real time.
Want to prevent yourself from being an unwitting soldier in this weird underground war? Use strong passwords or start using a password recipe (yep, that's the advice we use here at Upworthy from our own Luigi Montanez) and browse more securely by using HTTPS Everywhere, for starters.
It's time for a rant about SACAT. "About what?" you might most reasonably cry. 'Semi Attended Customer Activated Terminals', that's what. In plain English, it's those self checkout things that are taking over shops up and down the land. In 2008 there were 92,600 such units in use worldwide, by the end of this year it is expected to top 430,000. In the UK, 32 million shoppers now use them every week, over one third of Tesco's store transactions every week are self checkout. I recently went to WHSmith at St Panchras station in London, the first shop I've been into that is 100% self checkout. No staff. I turned around and walked back out again.
It's bad enough on the occasions when I visit my local Co-operative store, who have now just two tills with actual human beings. The rest is all self-checkout. According to Geoffrey Barraclough of BT Expedite, who installed the system in the WHSmith store at Kings Cross, such systems are great because because they:
Enabl(e) shoppers to pay for goods quickly by making more till points available is a proven means for retailers to help boost footfall, service and sales levels".
That may be the case, but surely the main reason is that they need to employ less staff and thereby make more profit? Whenever I go into a shop which has self-checkout, I refuse to use it. I make a point of telling whoever is at the till that I am refusing to use it because I don't want even more staff to lose their jobs. It's a solidarity thing. But when I go to a shop that doesn't even give you the choice, sorry, they just lost a customer.
A few years ago I did a series of oral history interviews with people, asking for their memories of Totnes in the 1940s and 50s. One woman told me of her experience of doing the week's shopping:
I used to go to the grocer’s and I could sit down, lovely. They’d go through your list and say yes, yes, we’ve got some new whatever it is, would you like to taste some, you’d have a little snippet of cheese or something, great, yes, we’ll have that. Now we’ve got a tin of broken biscuits, but they’re not too bad, half price you see, would you like them? As soon as you put a biscuit in your mouth its broken isn’t it?! Then they’d say “now Mrs Langford you’re going to the butchers yes yes and going to get some fish? Yes yes, and paraffin? Yes yes, and they used to say to me now bring any parcels in, we’ll put it in the box with your groceries, and bring the lot up for you. And they did you see.
When I go shopping, I want to interact with people. Even the act of popping in to buy a newspaper involves a few words, a "how you doing?" or even just a "thanks". It's interaction, it's communication, it's the glue that sticks us together. A study in the US looking at why people use farmers markets found that 'social interaction' was one of the key reasons, people who shopped there having 10 times more conversations than people shopping in supermarkets. It quoted one shopper as saying:
"You end up talking a lot more to other people than you do in a grocery store. I mean, typically you go to the grocery store and you don’t talk to anyone. Even the checkout people, I mean now you don’t even need to see the checkout person, you can just go through the automated line".
And if I'm checking myself out, I am doing the shop's business for them. Not content with assaulting high streets with out-of-town shops, and then moving onto those self same declining high streets to add "vibrancy" to them, they have now, with most of the opposition neutralised (97% of all UK groceries are now sold through just 8,000 supermarket outlets), they are getting us to do the checking out for them! What next? Stacking the shelves? Sweeping the floor on our way out? Perhaps giving the bathrooms a lick of paint?
We wouldn't expect to do those things unpaid, so why doing the check out? It's not as though they offer you a choice whereby if you check yourself out they give you a few percent off your bill.
Of course, many people might say "actually Hopkins I rather like going shopping and not having to talk to anyone", but for me that's tragic. Think forward. Imagine if we get to the stage where every business, in order to remain competitive with the staff-less chain stores, installs self checkouts? Imagine the day when you can do all your week's shopping without ever speaking to anyone. Something is lost, something as fundamental to our wellbeing as being able to hear the birdsong on a Spring morning. As hearing the sound of children playing. Civility, community, humanity, all start to unravel.
So I say "no more!" Shun the soul-less cash extracting electronic leeches! Refuse to spend any money unless a human being is involved! Turn around, walk out and walk on. The kind of world we want our children to inherit is being shaped by the choices and the decisions we make today every time we go shopping. Choose community and people and conversation over blatant money-grabbing and unemployment generation.
Or even better, you might use them for a month or so, keep a note of how much time you spend operating their checkout system, and send them a bill for your time, charging them the Living Wage for your time (which is, by the way, £8.80 in London and £7.65 an hour elsewhere). Let's see how they like that.
I'll leave the final word to the great Jonathan Richman who, in four minutes and forty five seconds puts it far better than I can:
What role does measuring and evaluating your impacts have to play for Transition initiatives? How important is it, and how straightforward is it in a group that is already busy "doing stuff"? Jo Hamilton is a researcher at Oxford University’s Environmental Change Institute whose research focuses on those very questions. Together with colleagues Ruth Mayne and Kersty Hobson, she is currently developing a project called Monitoring and Evaluation for Sustainable Communities (MESC) to develop and trial a range of tools to enable groups to self monitor and evaluate their work. She's still recruiting groups and is running 3 workshops in April and May for groups who'd like more skills and insights on how to do this (more below).
The project idea emerged from meetings with the Transition Research Network, and is a collaboration between the University, Transition Network, and Low Carbon Communities Network. We started by asking Jo why it matters that Transition initiatives should do monitoring and evalution:
"Used well, Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E)** can be part of toolkit for helping Transition Initiatives assess and make the changes that they want to achieve.
My prior experience of being involved in, supporting, and more recently research with community groups, has demonstrated the power of reflecting on what has been achieved, learning from what has worked, what hasn’t, and what unexpected outcomes there have been. Whilst analysing comments from feedback forms after community events has sometimes felt like the last thing I’ve wanted to do, it has always been helpful: to guide future activities, to communicate what we’ve achieved in the event, and to help us see what other changes need to take place. Positive comments can give a much needed energy boost, whilst critical or negative comments can be the starting point of another conversation and provide useful feedback.
Why does having an evidence based for your impact matter?
Let’s face it, we’re not going to get ‘good feedback’ about the impact of local action from the weather or climate, so we need to see what feedback we can get from the people we’re working with, and the local environment we’re working in.
On a wider scale, having an evidence base is crucial to demonstrate what Transition initiatives have achieved, and to provide weight to argue for investment in local action, or policies that can enable local action to scale up. At present the evidence base is small, but growing. In addition to the evidence generated by groups themselves, in recent years there have been many academic research projects, masters and doctoral dissertations, which demonstrate impact. You can access many of these through the Transition Research Network.
What makes a useful indicator? What is worth measuring and what isn't?
Indicators are specific pieces of information that you collect, so that you can track the changes you’re aiming for. Whilst it is useful to measure the number of people who are reached by or involved in group activities, the changes, or outcomes, that you contribute to are the key things to measure. These could include whether somebody chooses to eco-renovate their home, switch transport modes to more low carbon forms, or exert political influence. However, alongside indicators you also need to ask questions to understand why and how the changes occur and capture unexpected outcomes.
Is monitoring and evaluation something that groups should be looking to do from Day One, or can it be something they pick up later, and if so when?
‘Start where you are’ is the key phrase here, as groups get initiated in different ways and have different motivations. Planning M&E is similar to project planning, so integrating M&E into any form of planning is most helpful at the beginning of a project, although it can also be done at any stage. Simply examining the assumptions that underpin the activities you want to carry out, and the changes that could be expected is really useful. Whatever stage a group is at, M&E can help you learn more about what works, what isn’t working, and what could be done. We’ve compiled a step by step guide which you can download here.
How do you see the balance between getting on and doing stuff and measuring it? Is there a danger that measuring things can take away the energy that gives you anything worth measuring in the first place? There's the balance?
It can be a tricky balance to strike, and many groups haven’t done M&E precisely because the focus has been on the doing. However, I liken M&E tools to penknives: they’re multifunctional tools, which fit in your pocket, and you know how to use them. Some penknives are nice and simple, whilst some look like they might be too cumbersome and complicated, thus are unlikely to be carried around and used. M&E is a bit like that. The process of M&E can be multifunctional, the trick is to select the tools you need, carry them round with you and integrate them with what you are doing anyway.
However, from experience and from research, I know that reflecting on what you have achieved over the past year, or reading positive feedback from an event, can be a real energy boost. Doing this with other groups can help get a wider perspective on the impact of your work, share valuable learning, and identify areas for collaboration on issues which are beyond the capacity of one group alone. It can be a fine tuning mechanism, to help your group set achievable goals.
Some groups (for example Low Carbon West Oxford) who developed a system for M&E from the beginning, have been able to demonstrate their impact to the local authority and funders, which has led to further collaborations and enabled them to replicate and scale up some of their projects.
A lot of measuring can be incorporated into other activities that you’d be doing anyhow - when you’re asking for people’s contacts for emails, ask a couple of questions too. At some events, simple feedback can be provided through engaging activities such as writing thoughts and feedback on post-its.
What are some of the principles that underpin good and worthwhile evaluation?
Following on from the previous question, it’s good to set some guiding principles for your M&E, and to ensure that you have the resources to do it well. Guiding principles could include making sure that your M&E is focused and feasible, whether it’s useful for, and usable by the group.
You might need to generate evidence for potential funders, or to leverage more support for your work from the local authority. In the MESC project we’ve been selecting indicators and devising resources that will hopefully enable groups to compare themselves to others, and which can be aggregated so that there’s a more comprehensive view of what is happening at a national level.
What sorts of things might a Transition initiative want to measure?
It depends what the focus of the TI is, or where the energy is for M&E. You might want to measure the carbon reduction achieved from participants in your activities, how your events are helping local residents in fuel poverty access grants and other services, or how your farmers market is influencing residents’ shopping patterns and food sourcing.
Who are they doing this for? Themselves? Local government? Academics?
M&E can provide useful information for the group and wider movement itself, in helping you to answer the question ‘so, what has your group actually achieved?’. This can help the group feel proud of what they’ve achieved, and help plan future activities. Local and national government always want figures of what Transition Initiatives and other community energy groups have achieved, and being able to provide some of those figures can help justify funding and provide evidence for policy making (such as the recent Community Energy Strategy).
Can groups do this alone or do they need to do it in partnership with other organisations?
We’re currently trialling resources and tools to find out what groups can M&E alone, and what support they need to do more. More in depth M&E could involve partnering with other organisations, such as Universities, or through the Transition Research Network.
How have you developed your resources?
The step by step guide to M&E and tools are based on the teams’ research knowledge and practical experience, and draw on a range of existing resources and research.
We got initial feedback on the step by step guide and some of the tools at two workshops that took place in June 2013, and we’ve developed and adapted the tools.
Lastly, you are running three free workshops for Transition initiatives who want to find out more about this. Can you tell us more about those?
Thanks, perfect plug to the workshops, which we’ll be running in three locations.
The free workshops will give you an introduction to planning your M&E, and a chance to trial a range of resources. The workshops are part of the MESC project, so participants can receive follow up tailored support to help you monitor and assess impact.
- Better understand what works and what doesn’t;
- Generate data that will help you to create better reports for funders and other stakeholders;
- Get a chance to trial a range of resources that will enable your group to self-monitor and evaluate your activities;
- Inform your next steps in whatever project or initiative you are working in;
- Respond to those queries of ‘so what has your group actually achieved?’
Workshop Dates and Locations, all 10am – 5pm (pick one)
Sat April 12th – Oxford at School of Geography and Environment
Sat April 26th – Manchester at Anthony Burgess Foundation
Sat May 10th – London, Lumen URC (nr Euston station)
Advance booking is essential, and priority will be given to groups who would like to participate in the MESC project to trial the resources. For further information please email firstname.lastname@example.org or see the project website.
** Monitoring is the collection and analysis of information about a project or programme, undertaken while the project is ongoing. Evaluation is the periodic, retrospective assessment of a project or programme.
This one goes to eleven! We are pleased to inaugurate the second series of Rolling Thunder, our anarchist journal of dangerous living, with a new issue full of adventure and analysis. Whether you’re a committed revolutionary looking for the latest strategic reflections from the front lines, or you simply enjoy the gripping tales of suspense and subversion, you can’t get this stuff anywhere else.
The issue opens with an epic account of prisoner resistance from anarchist Sean Swain, who met the dreaded Extraction Team of Mansfield Correctional Institution in open battle and lived to tell. Our central feature, “After the Crest,” analyzes the opportunities and risks in the waning phase of social movements, including case studies of Occupy Oakland and the 2012 student strike in Québec. We also present a narrative direct from the tear gas in Taksim Square, the epicenter of the uprising that rocked Turkey in June 2013.
Another feature tackles gentrification, recounting one neighborhood’s fierce struggle against development from multiple perspectives to pose questions about what we can hope to accomplish in such fights. Elsewhere, in a fascinating interview, a longtime Israeli anarchist reviews the history of anarchism in his region, from the Kibbutzim through punk and the animal rights movement to Anarchists Against the Wall, closing with some straight talk about nonviolence rhetoric in the Palestinian resistance.
In the theory department, we offer devastating critiques of ally politics and of the ideology coded into digital technology. The issue concludes with a discussion of Eternity by the Stars, the book by the notorious insurrectionist jailbird Auguste Blanqui that became so influential on Nietzsche, Borges, and Walter Benjamin. Francophiles and other bookish types will also enjoy some scathing gossip about Victor Hugo and Charles Baudelaire.
All this, plus the regular features, gorgeous artwork, and 16 pages in full color. At 128 pages, this is our thickest issue yet. Order your copy here, or better yet, subscribe, starting with this issue.
This issue of RT boasts a new format, implementing some of the ideas behind our redesign of Recipes for Disaster, as well as production changes lowering costs without sacrificing print quality, towards meeting our goal of making the magazine financially sustainable: we’ve reduced the size to 7″ x 10″ and added more pages, discarded the spot-gloss-on-top-of-matte-lamination treatment on the cover, and switched to a slightly thicker, but also lighter, 100% post-consumer recycled paper stock.
Using a smaller, taller-proportioned page, we were able to ditch most of the whitespace that had previously been necessary to make the larger pages more palatable and less intimidating. Needing less whitespace allowed us to more efficiently use the new, smaller space we were working with to create a denser but still visually comfortable reading experience. At the same time, the new page size was still large enough to maintain the grandeur of a full-page photo or the dynamism of a blown-out two-page spread.
And the results are in: RT#11 has the same number of words as the longest previous RT (#10 at 66,000 words) and even more photos and illustrations (97 in RT#11 vs 92 RT#10), while also using less paper and weighing 1.6 ounces less, a 15% reduction. That adds up to a 10% reduction in cost per issue while not reducing the amount of content, and though we’ll still be in the red with this issue, we’ll certainly be less in the red. Thank you, and we hope y’all enjoy it.
Eternal Subscription Mailing
All you subscribers should have your copies in hand by now—we hope you enjoyed experiencing the new format without being spoiled by pixely photos on the internet (a rare thing these days). Thanks again for subscribing, y’all make RT possible!Tags: rolling thundercrimethinccrimethinc.magazinejournalsean swainTurkeyIstanbulGezi Parkoccupy oaklandMontrealQuebecblanquinietzschegentrificationAnti-GentrificationIsraelfuck digital democracyCategory: Projects