Archive for August, 2011


Now Available: Passive Solar Architecture!

Thursday, August 18th, 2011

We’ve been awaiting the release of this book for a long time! Solar pioneers David Bainbridge and Ken Haggard have put together a monumental book on how buildings can use the power of the sun for heating, cooling, lighting, and more. At long last, Passive Solar Architecture: Heating, Cooling, Ventilation, Daylighting, and More Using Natural Flows is available in our bookstore.

From a review in Sustainable Industries:

Passive Solar Architecture: Heating, cooling, ventilation, daylighting and more using natural flows, demonstrates how integrated design can create buildings that are more healthful, comfortable, quiet, secure, lovely, economical, and use 80-90% less energy than buildings commonly constructed today.

Of the many residential and commercial buildings exhibited in the book, author and architect, Ken Haggard, is probably most proud of this Congregation Beth David Synagogue in San Luis Obispo, which uses 82% less energy than the state’s restrictive energy code allows and cost no more than a conventional building. Haggard notes that most of the techniques are common sense and proven, in some cases for more than 2000 years, and that a range of subsidies, perverse incentives, ignorance and foolishness have led most planners, architects, designers, developers and builders to ignore these simple strategies.

The book shows how and why we can change to improve security, comfort, health, productivity in the workplace, and the economics of the built environment. These principles are important for any homebuilder, buyer, renter or business owner to understand. They can save energy, provide security during climate extremes like the ongoing heat wave, reduce costs for energy and medical care, and increase productivity. They can also improve learning and student outcomes in schools.

Drawn from the coauthors’ and contributors’ decades of successful experience, Passive Solar Architecture is both inspiringly broad in scope and delightfully detailed. City and neighborhood planning is intermixed with many small gems—such as a metal water wall detail to capture winter sun—and examples in climates from around the world.

According to John S. Reynolds, FAIA, Professor of Architecture Emeritus, University of Oregon, and Honorary Past Chair, American Solar Energy Society, ‘This is a welcome and unique resource for my university seminars in passive heating and cooling.’

Well worth the wait.

Get your copy today!

This is What Democracy Looks Like – August Activism Book Sale!

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011

Get the tools you need to organize in your community by taking advantage of our August Activism Book Sale, now through August 30. From the sassy style of Diane Wilson, to the in-depth knowledge of Edward Girardet, and practical pointers from Jamie Court and George Lakoff.

As you enjoy the dog days of summer, we’ve got the books to fire you up! All of these inspiring, empowering books are 25% off.

Happy reading from the friendly folks at Chelsea Green Publishing!

MEET THE AUTHOR – VIDEO:


DIANE WILSON

DIANE WILSON
speaks at 2011 Environmental Action conference – watch video.

Download the free kindle version of Diane’s first book,
An Unreasonable Woman.

DIARY OF AN ECO-OUTLAW: 

An Unreasonable Woman Breaks the Law for Mother Earth 

by Diane Wilson

book

Jailed more than 50 times for civil disobedience, Diane Wilson is an activist, shrimper, and all around hell-raiser whose first book, An Unreasonable Woman, told of her battle to save her bay in Seadrift, Texas.  

 

Here she tells of her experience as an activist taking on Union Carbide, co-founding the women’s anti-war group Code Pink, famously covering herself with fake oil and demanding the arrest of BP CEO Tony Hayward.

SAVE 25%

MEET THE AUTHOR – VIDEO:

ED

 

ED GIRADET
watch video

book

KILLING THE CRANES:
A Reporter’s Journey Through Three Decades of War in Afghanistan   

by Ed Giradet

 

In a gripping, personal account, Girardet delivers a story of Afghanistan’s resistance fighters, foreign invaders, mercenaries, spies, aid workers, Islamic extremists, and others who have defined Afghanistan’s last thirty years of war, chaos, and strife.

 

“Ed Girardet has accumulated more experience in Afghanistan than almost anyone else in the press corps, and the result is a truly remarkable book about a completely misunderstood country.” -Sebastian Junger, author of War   

NEW RELEASE!  SAVE 25% 

MEET THE AUTHOR – VIDEO:

 

 

author 

ALONE AND INVISIBLE NO MORE
by Allan Teel, M.D

 

Physician Allan Teel has developed a grassroots community action model for elder care that has turned aging in place into a viable alternative for dozens of elderly residents in Damariscotta, Maine.

 

“A must-read book for any community looking at its own aging population and pondering care for these older citizens.”Dennis McCullough, MD, Dartmouth Medical School

NEW RELEASE!     SAVE 25%

MEET THE AUTHOR – VIDEO:

BRUCE 

BRUCE LEVINE

watch video

bruce

GET UP, STAND UP!
Uniting Populists, Energizing the Defeated, and Battling the Corporate Elite

by Bruce Levine

While other books will leave you wringing your hands about the state of the world, this book is a battle plan:

it lays out the strategies and tactics whereby Americans can unite, gain strength, and wrest power away from the ruling corporate-government elite.

 

 “A must read for all who resonate with Levine’s belief that We the People have the power and the responsibility to overthrow the ruling elite.”  John Perkins,  author of Hoodwinked        

SAVE 25%

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NAOMI WOLF ON CNN

WATCH VIDEO

THE END OF AMERICA:
Letters of Warning to a Young Patriot

by Naomi Wolf
pic You will be shocked and disturbed by this book….Wolf explores the underlying ‘ten steps’ that allow dictatorships to emerge and crush dissent and democracy. By the end of this ‘Letter to a Patriot’ you will be driven to action.”

Michael Ratner, President of the Center for Constitutional Rights


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MEET THE AUTHOR – VIDEO:


jamie
  

JAMIE COURT IS MAD AS HELL - WATCH THE BOOK TRAILER

THE PROGRESSIVE’S GUIDE TO RAISING HELL
by Jamie Court

book How can progressives get what they believed they voted for? Court tells readers how to heat up their issue, take grassroots action, organize their community, use publicity to their advantage, employ Internet and social media to build support, and get the change they want.

 

This book is the manual for holding Democratic feet to the fire.“  -Howard Dean

                                                                    SAVE 25% 

MEET THE AUTHOR – VIDEO:


  
  

 

GEORGE LAKOFF

Don’t Think of an Elephant!

by George Lakoff

 

bookIn this book Lakoff explains how conservatives think, and how to counter their arguments. He outlines in detail the traditional American values that progressives hold, but are often unable to articulate. Lakoff also breaks down the ways in which conservatives have framed the issues, and provides examples of how progressives can reframe the debate.

New York Times Best Seller

SAVE – ONLY $10

Why the Slow Money Movement is Speeding Up

Tuesday, August 16th, 2011

For most Americans, the word “slow” is anathema.  When tied to “money,” the slow money movement hasn’t exactly chosen a brand that will have positive connotations to the majority of the population.  However, the slow money message is increasingly making sense to those fed up with the waste and apathy with which nationalized chains operate in local communities.  With precepts loosely similar to the slow food movement, slow money proposes to support the next generation of small food entrepreneurs who are simultaneously rebuilding local food systems and economies.

The Vision

While the underlying factors and causes that generated the recent, and some would say ongoing, global recession are ambiguous; it is clear that the interconnectivity of markets on a global scale has gone from being an asset to an uncontrollable, devastating force.  One area in which the ramification of a global import/export system has become particularly apparent is the global food supply.  With food prices lingering near an all time high, rebuilding the economy from the ground up takes on a greater precedence, and new meaning.  Slow money emphasizes a localized approach that recognizes the need for a focused economic approach that embraces carrying capacity, care of the commons, and a dedication to changing economic practice from extraction and consumption to preservation and restoration.

The Approach

Slow Money has strategically placed itself at the intersection of food activists, concerned citizens, and environmentalists while appealing to the entrepreneurial, small capital spirit of most Americans.  Put simply, Slow Money addresses the economic stumbling block often faced by proponents of Slow Food.  The primary goal of Slow Money is “One million people investing 1% of their money in local food enterprises, within a decade.” However, Slow Money organizers are not just waiting for money to spontaneously be donated.  Local organizations have been developed to generate seed money, with unlimited options for deals including loans, equities, and credit extensions.  Bartering is also a strong component of many groups. Essentially, Slow Money applies organization to the vision behind current local food movements.  For example, many cities have local farms that have set up CSAs or farmers a market, which begins to keep the money local, but Slow Money shifts the scale of occurrence and provides the organizational resources small groups need.

How to Leverage Slow Money

The disdainfulness progressives traditionally associate with capitalism and entrepreneurial spirit have no place in Slow Money.  The foundation of Slow Money is built upon investment, promoting the idea of an exchange of money to build local economies.   Although the movement is centered on supporting local entrepreneurs, investment opportunities for larger corporations are obvious.  Any corporation supporting sustainable initiatives and locally sourced options is presented with a prime opportunity to invest in a legitimate establishment to establish a community presence and demonstrate involvement in localized regions. As ongoing government restructuring continues to undermine the EPA and Department of Energy (the two main federal determinants of environmental policy), national nonprofits will continue to acquire legitimacy and support from consumers.

The Triple Bottom Line

Although the truth of Mark Twain’s “Buy land, they’re not making it anymore” may have changed (Dubai), the essential fact that humans are entirely dependent on the land to survive has not. Investing through the slow money approach changes making money from the credo of the capitalist pig into a sustainable activity that will maintain local communities.  Although Slow Money is not the first organization to support the idea of investing in local food systems and economies, it is the first to provide a structured approach that addresses the ideological concerns of multiple groups; thereby gaining a diverse support base.  The continued long-term success of Slow Money remains to be seen, but the opportunity to achieve the elusive triple bottom line makes a Slow Money investment a gamble worth making.

Emily McClendon is an environmental marketing specialist currently working at NeboWeb. She has a B.S. in Applied Biology from Georgia Institute of Technology and is currently pursuing her M.C.R.P. in Environmental Planning, also at Georgia Institute of Technology. She believes that communication and shared knowledge are the most important facets of conveying environmentally friendly practices. After participating in biological research, inter disciplinary planning, and interactive marketing, she is convinced a comprehensive approach is the only solution for creating a sustainable economy.

This has been reposted from Environmental Leader.

To find out more about Slow Money, join the National Gathering October 12-14, 2011 at Ft. Mason in San Francisco.

How to Build a Backyard Pond with Tim Matson

Monday, August 15th, 2011

This was reposted from Yankee Magazine.

For more than 25 years, Tim Matson of Strafford, Vermont, has designed ponds for clients around northern New England.

Tim Matson got his start designing ponds by building one for himself. That was 33 years ago. Since then, it has served him well. “It’s done just about everything,” says Matson, who’s authored four books (the newest is Landscaping Earth Ponds) and produced a DVD on ponds and pond building. “I taught my kids to skate on it. In the summer I swim every morning in it. And it brings in all kinds of critters.” In the early days, when his home didn’t have plumbing, he even used it as a water source. But beyond all that, Matson says, ponds are a draw for less quantifiable reasons. “People just want water,” he observes. “It’s in their soul. They feel comfort and security knowing they have a good body of water nearby.”

Study Up
Done right, a well-constructed pond may come with a price tag beginning at $8,000, so it’s important to know exactly what you want before an ounce of dirt is moved. Do you want a beach? Is a fire hydrant part of the plan? Will you introduce fish? How will it be landscaped? Look at other ponds for inspiration, Matson advises; then, when you’re ready to move, vet your contractors. “I’ve seen some expensive ponds filled in after a year,” he warns.

Location, Location, Location
To find the right pond spot, search for sags in the land or down slopes: places that indicate a nearby source of steady groundwater. And remember: Never build a pond below your septic system. “You don’t want bad water going into the pond,” Matson notes.

The Dirty Truth
At its core, a good pond begins with good dirt, which can determine whether a pond can hold its water. A few test pits, each about eight feet deep, can offer clearer details about the land’s water source and soil composition. A sandy mix, for example, is a huge red flag. “You want a loam mixture that has between 10 and 20 percent clay,” Matson says.

Into the Deep
Hey, even if you don’t plan on doing any high dives into the water, you still don’t want a pond that’s too shallow. Minimum depth is 8 feet, Matson recommends; otherwise, winter temps may freeze your pond solid, killing off the fish. “And in summer,” he adds, “the water will heat up and the transmission of light will make plant growth too active.”

Eyes on the Prize
A newly built pond isn’t a finished pond. You’ll have to monitor erosion issues; an unexpected load of nutrients may introduce algae problems; and maintaining a proper water flow (what’s entering and what’s leaving the pond) is critical. “I always tell people, there are two important ingredients for a pond,” says Matson, laughing. “Water and good luck. There are so many uncertainties.”

For more on pond building and design, visit Tim Matson’s Web site: earthponds.com. For a video, go to: YankeeMagazine.com/more

The Truth about Fluoride on Coast to Coast Radio

Friday, August 12th, 2011

As Dr. Mercola’s Fluoride Awareness Week continues, we’re sharing more great material from Paul Connett, co-author of The Case Against Fluoride: How Hazardous Waste Ended Up in Our Drinking Water and the Bad Science and Powerful Politics That Keep It There.

Booklist said about the book: “Fluoridation advocates who have previously branded detractors as conspiracy theorists and shills for junk science will be hard-pressed to debunk the hundreds of peer-reviewed studies and sound scientific reasoning presented here.”

Paul Connett, Executive Director of the Fluoride Action Network, joined Coast to Coast host Ian Punnett recently to discuss the truth about fluoride and how this toxic chemical has no real health benefits whatsoever.

Listen in!

Coast to Coast asks that you subscribe and log in to download their audio.

Slow Money, Anyone?

Thursday, August 11th, 2011

The 3rd Slow Money National Gathering - is taking place in San Francisco, CA on October 12-14, and Chelsea Green Publishing is a proud sponsor of this important event.

Slow Money is the national network that was sparked by Chelsea Green author and board member Woody Tasch and his book Inquiries into the Nature of Slow Money: Investing as if Food, Farms and Fertility Mattered

 

Since we published that book in 2008, over 15,000 people have signed the Slow Money Principles, 2,000  have joined the Slow Money Alliance, and more than 1,000 have attended the first two Slow Money national gatherings, investing $4.25 million in 16 small food enterprises that presented at these events.

 

 REGISTER BEFORE AUGUST 12 FOR EARLY BIRD RATES

 To celebrate the Slow Money Gathering, we’re placing our “slow money” themed books on sale 25% off until August 29th – see below for more information.

 

 

Slow Money Gathering Book Sale — Now 25% OFF

 

 WOODY TASCH

book Inquiries into the Nature of Slow Money:
Investing as if Food, Farms and Fertility Mattered 

 

Presents an essential new strategy for investing in local food systems, a vision for investing that puts soil fertility into return-on-investment calculations and serves people and place as much at it serves industry sectors and markets.

Is it a movement or is it an investment strategy? Yes.

 

 ON SALE NOW at 25% off

 

THOMAS H. GRECO, JR.  

BOOK ON SALE NOW at 25% off

 The End of Money and the Future of Civilization provides the necessary understanding to implement approaches toward monetary liberation, by building economies that are sustainable, democratic, and insulated from the financial crises that plague the dominant monetary system.

 

“Maybe you’ve noticed a slight bit of turmoil in our national and global financial system? This book cuts to the very core of the trouble–and points toward several pathways that might allow us to slowly climb out of the pit into which we’ve stumbled.”
-Bill McKibben, author of Deep Economy

  

 JOAN DYE GUSSOW

FOUNDING MEMBER OF THE SLOW MONEY ALLIANCE 

 

BOOK

This Organic Life: Confessions of an Urban Homesteader

 

The gutsy instigator of the nation’s food fight, Gussow thinks deeply and eloquently about food, and asserts that locally grown food eaten in season makes sense economically, ecologically, and gastronomically.

 

Read the incomparable book from the acclaimed nutrition educator who teaches us the ways she discovered how to nourish herself, literally and spiritually, from her own backyard.


ON SALE NOW at 25% off

 

 

 

ELIOT COLEMAN
FOUNDING MEMBER OF THE SLOW MONEY ALLIANCE
  

 

BOOK

 

ON SALE NOW 

25% OFF 

The Winter Harvest Handbook

 

The definitive guide to year-round harvests of fresh, organic produce-with little or no energy inputs.

  

“If we are going to create a good, clean, fair food system, we’ve got to learn how to grow affordable, local food year-round and make a living at it. Eliot Coleman knows more about this than anyone I’ve met.” -Josh Viertel, President, Slow Food USA

 

“I have been a devotee of Eliot’s for years, fully agreeing with his methods for growing in winter, spring, summer, and fall, tasty, nutritious produce with a minimum consumption of fossil fuels. Congratulations on another volume of useful, practical, sensible, and enlightening information for the home gardener.”-Martha Stewart

 

 

Saying Goodbye to Ray Anderson, a True Pioneer

Thursday, August 11th, 2011

When sustainable business pioneer Ray Anderson penned the preface to his game-changing book Mid-Course Correction, he talked about having three lives. His first, he said, spanned his first 38 years of life and led him to create the company that eventually became Interface, Inc. “The second life began with that act of creation,” he wrote, referring to the trials of building a billion-dollar company.  The third life, launched two decades into the company’s history, is what Ray became most known for. In it, he transformed Interface into a cutting-edge sustainable business. He broke new ground in environmental stewardship and social responsibility. And in the process he became a passionate advocate for businesses everywhere to play fair with the environment and with people.

Sadly, Ray Anderson died on Monday, August 8. But he will have an enduring impact as one who took it upon himself to show other business leaders how you can do good and still do well.

Ray was a true friend, and an inspiration, to Chelsea Green, helping us to build our sustainable company and partnering with us to distribute Mid-Course Correction. Ray often said that one of his own true inspirations was Amory Lovins, author of our upcoming Reinventing Fire, which shows how U.S. businesses can lead the nation away from oil and coal by 2050. That admiration worked both ways. Lovins has dedicated the book to the memory of Ray.

If you have never heard Ray Anderson speak, take a moment now to hear this TED talk.  He is one whose vision and leadership will indeed be missed.

Made in Vermont

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011

Vermont is a magical place, of rugged hills, fertile valleys, thriving local food systems and (not very many) people tough enough to withstand the harsh winters. It’s a hotbed of the secessionist movement as well, or the bio-regional autonomy movement, which sounds a lot more positive. The folks at Vermont Commons are actively fomenting that kind of proud revolution, and they are some of our great local partners.

Here’s the latest in their series of excerpts from our recent book, Bye Bye Miss American Empire, by Bill Kauffman.

Bill Kauffman, resident of New York state, is the author of Bye Bye Miss American Empire (Chelsea Green, 2010), a book that explores the unaffiliated secession movement in the U.S. With the author’s permission, Vermont Commons: Voices of Independence has been publishing excerpts from the book focusing on Vermont’s participation and leadership in secession from the U.S. Here, we present our fifth installment from Kauffman’s book.While many seek the truth by scanning galaxies through powerful telescopes, my eyes have been glued to a microscope—looking down, not up, inward, not outward. America has often seemed transfixed by big. I am captivated by small. —Frank Bryan

We have come back, time and again, to Vermont, our virid little inspiration, the state that is not island or peninsula or archipelago or Francophone or Polynesian and yet breathes independence like no other of its 49 sisters. We will speak more of the Second Vermont Republic, but just as William Carlos Williams said there are no ideas but in things, I believe that there are no ideas but in people, and who better to introduce us to Vermont than its native-son avatar and intellectual and my candidate for its first president?

Frank Bryan is that rare political scientist who can begin one statistics-dappled tome by describing his wife as “the sexiest wench in the galaxy” and enliven another with footnotes recounting his first gun, cows he has milked, getting beat up in a dance hall over a girl, and the abandoned farms of his Vermont boyhood: “The only trace of the old McEachearn place is in a faraway corner of my heart.”

He once ran afoul of the town ordinances of Starksboro, where he lives in a converted deer camp on Big Hollow Road, by having 20 junker Chevettes in his yard. (As a communitarian, not a libertarian, he disposed of these parts-cars with only moderate grumbling.) Bryan is a legendary character at the University of Vermont, where he teaches political science: He is the horny-handed son of toil who does regression analysis, the regular-guy intellectual who prefers the company of “working-class people . . . the old Vermonters.” The irrepressible Bryan made a major contribution to his field (and his country, which is Vermont) with Real Democracy (2004), his magnum opus, the most searching and sympathetic book ever written about the town-meeting democracy of New England. The book is a veritable four-leaf clover of academia: a witty work of political science written from a defiantly rural populist point of view. If we are going to conclude this book [Bye Bye Miss American Empire]with a look at the Second Vermont Republic, the sophisticated, down-home, and generously localist secessionist band in the Green Mountain State, we need first to meet the archetypal – the exemplary – Vermonter.

I met Frank Bryan over breakfast at the Oasis Diner on Bank Street, the working-class Democratic eatery in downtown Burlington that for 50-plus years, until its sale in 2007, was owned and operated by the Lines family, making it an oasis of family ownership in the desert of Applebee’s and Olive Gardens.

Former governor Howard Dean may be the best-known living political Vermonter, but Dean, Bryan notes, is a cosmopolitan flatlander who was “raised in an environment as completely estranged from town meetings as one can imagine.” Although Dean has displayed spasmodic heterodoxy, notably in his 2004 presidential campaign, he does not embody the “curious mixture of radicalism, populism, and conservatism” that Bryan says has defined Vermont politics since the days when Anti-Masonry and abolition were in vogue. If the Green Mountains had a face, it would be Frank Bryan. He is the real Vermont, the enduring Vermont, not the picture postcard, not the New York Times reader in her air-conditioned summer home, but the Vermont of Robert Frost (a Grover Cleveland Democrat who placed his faith in “insubordinate Americans”) and craggily iconic Republican senator George Aiken, who explained that “some folks just naturally love the mountains, and like to live up among them where freedom of thought and action is logical and inherent.”

“My mother raised me a Democrat. Vermont raised me a democrat. This book springs from a life of fighting the dissonance between the two,” writes Bryan in Real Democracy. Son of a single mom who worked in the mills, Bryan has that “redneck’s chip on my shoulder” essential to a healthy, authentic populism. His Class of ’59 at Newbury High totaled seven, which led to his politics: “Keep it small. The basketball isn’t good, but everybody gets to play,” as he told the Vermont Quarterly.

After graduation, “I went off to school and heard about how poor and destitute and dumb people like me were because of the size of my community.” One summer he hiked Mount Moosilauke with his brother, who was studying for the priesthood. “I went up that mountain a Kennedy Democrat and came down a Goldwater conservative because my brother convinced me that the Democrats were going to destroy the small towns; they didn’t care about small farms or town meeting.”

Bryan has since shed his illusions about the commitment of Republicans to any small-town value not reducible to the bottom line on an annual corporate report. The modern GOP is the party of war and Wal-Mart (four of which deface Vermont, the last state to have been infected by the Arkansas Plague). Bryan now calls himself a “decentralist communitarian” whose heart “is with the small is beautiful crowd.” Yet he is no dewy-eyed idealizer of The People: “Jefferson said rural people are the chosen people of God. That’s a bunch of crap. But forced intimacy is good for society; it makes us tolerant. The reason I’ll stop and help you out of a snow bank on Big Hollow Road isn’t because I particularly like you. But I might see you tomorrow at the store and have to explain why I didn’t. And I expect reciprocity.”

Washington–New York conservatives despise Vermont for its “liberalism,” though I cannot see how Bernie Sanders is any more destructive of American liberties than, say, Rudy Giuliani. Or perhaps they hate Frank Bryan’s state because, lacking any sense of place or local loyalties themselves, they fear communities organized on a human scale. Burlington, Vermont’s largest city, has fewer than forty thousand residents, and the state leads the nation in the percentage of its population living in towns of under twenty-five hundred.

Frank Bryan calls himself a “Vermont patriot.” One recalls G. K. Chesterton’s dictum that a patriot boasts never of the largeness of his country but rather of its littleness. As Bryan and John McClaughry wrote in The Vermont Papers (1989), their blueprint for a devolutionary overhaul of state government: “Vermont matters most because it is small, not in spite of it.”
•••
The proposals that Vermont secede from the United States and Kingdom County secede from Vermont were moved and passed, as they had been annually since 1791, when the Green Mountain State first joined the Union. These were the only two measures the people of Lost Nation ever agreed upon unanimously.
—Howard Frank Mosher, Northern Borders (1994)

Mosher, Bryan’s favorite Vermont novelist, depicts town meeting as a blend of cussedness and community, radicalism and renewal. Elsewhere Mosher has written of Northern Vermont as being “full of fiercely antiauthoritarian, independent-minded individualists” for whom “independence, rooted in local land ownership and local government, seems to have remained the chief objective.” Ecce Frank Bryan.

Bryan views town meeting as the palladium of this independence. His research into its workings and meaning has been his “life’s work,” says Harvard’s Jane Mansbridge. Real Democracy is the result.

Every March since 1969, Professor Bryan has sent his students at St. Michael’s College and later the University of Vermont to the school gyms, auditoriums, church cellars, and fire stations of the 236 Vermont towns holding annual meetings at which the citizens present – about 20 percent of a town’s population, on average – vote on budgets, elect officials, levy taxes, and otherwise decide whichever governmental business has not been usurped by the central authorities in Montpelier and Washington, D.C.

Bryan’s sample is enormous: almost fifteen hundred town meetings “encompassing 238,603 acts of participation by 63,140 citizens in 210 towns.”18 This mountain of data is vast and unique, for as Bryan notes incredulously, “No article on town meeting has ever been published in a major political science journal. Never . . . We know much more about the Greek democracy of twenty-five hundred years ago than we do about real democracy in America today.”

Why the neglect and nescience among political scientists?
“They don’t trust common people,” he says of his confreres. “They were trained by professors who were trained by people who were terrified by fascism and the ‘tyranny of the majority.’”

Transient suburbanites and hyper-mobile city dwellers fear nothing so much as the unlettered rural man with a voice and a meaningful vote. They cannot see that the diffusion of power inherent in town meeting is the best defense against tyranny. Bryan quotes Goldwater speechwriter turned Wobbly Karl Hess, who “once said that Adolf Hitler as chancellor of Germany is a horror; Adolf Hitler at a town meeting would be an asshole.”

Yes, localized direct democracy is majoritarian, but the citizen unhappy with a law may appeal to her neighbors, who are often kin or lifelong friends. At the national level, however, she is just a single vote in a mass of anonymous millions – not even a brick in the wall. A Vermonter who dislikes his town’s junk-car ordinance can remonstrate with his landsmen; a Vermonter who dislikes the Wall Street bailout or the Iraq War can shut up or get drunk, but he can’t get within a Free Speech Zone of Barack Obama.

Read the entire excerpt over at Vermont Commons.

Just When You Thought it was Safe to Drink…

Tuesday, August 9th, 2011

…Some guy is dumping toxic waste into your tap water! This week is Fluoride Awareness Week over at Mercola.com, the internet home of Natural Health guru and bestselling author Dr. Mercola.

Watch Dr. Joseph Mercola’s interview from last year with Dr. Paul Connett about his book, The Case Against Fluoride, in the videos below.

Be prepared to learn a lot about the dangers of fluoridation, hear action steps that everyday citizens can take on this important issue, and be educated on some disturbing facts about how fluoridation is affecting our health and our planet.

As Mercola writes, introducing the interview, “This Daily Habit is Damaging Your Bones, Brain, Kidneys, and Thyroid”…Yikes. Watch the five-part video interview below.

Part 1 of the interview:

Read the original article and video post here.Paul Connett is the author of The Case Against Fluoride: How Hazardous Waste Ended Up in Our Drinking Water and the Bad Science and Powerful Politics That Keep It There

Join the Pilgrimage to Polyface Farm with The Atlantic

Monday, August 8th, 2011

Andrea Gabor of The Atlantic, joins crowds of farmers and tourists for a look at Joel Salatin’s pioneering “grass-farming” operation. Read her recent article to join in the pilgrimage. Reposted from The Atlantic.

Two weeks ago, I joined about 1,700 farmers, foodies, and families from across the U.S. for a pilgrimage to Joel Salatin’s Polyface Farm, home of his iconic model of local, sustainable agriculture.

Salatin, the high priest of “grass-farming,” as he defines his work, hosts a field day every three years on his 550-acre spread in Swope, Virginia, in the hills of the Shenandoah Valley. Visitors have come from as far away as Florida and Iowa to trudge through the thick, soft pastures and see how Salatin raises cows, chickens, pigs, rabbits, and poultry. It is a brilliant sunny day, warm already at 8 a.m. on a Saturday.

Walking up a gentle slope, we come upon a herd of cows “mobbed” under a shady canopy, nibbling grass and depositing patties of natural fertilizer in the acre-or-so where they have been herded for the day. Tomorrow the white plastic electric fence—so thin it is hard to see in the brilliant sunlight—will be moved, the cows transferred to a new paddock so they can feast on a fresh “salad bar.” Nearby, the chickens, in their big, floorless, corrugated tin-and-mesh mobile playpens are pecking at the cow patties left by the previous day’s mob, picking out the fly larvae, aiding the composting process. Like so much on the farm, it is a virtuous cycle, the cows and chickens working together to create the rich soil, grass, and insect ecosystem.

We cross over to a glen, where the pasture meets the forest: at about 400 acres, forest covers most of the property, which now supports three generations of Salatins, including Lucille, Joel’s widowed mother, who bought the land with her husband, William, in 1961. Here, more high-tech, hard-to-see fencing contains a herd of pigs, who are snuffling as they search for acorns, hickory nuts, grubs, and worms. “They disturb it, churn it up,” explains Salatin, for whom “disturbance” is the key to fertility and regeneration.It is also a good way to describe the mission of Salatin, who describes himself as a “Christian-libertarian-environmentalist-lunatic farmer”—one who rails against industrial agriculture and government, and proselytizes about reconnecting consumers and farmers. (“Polyface doesn’t participate in government programs,” has no mortgage, and eschews organic certification, says Salatin, a former journalist whose new book, Folks, This Ain’t Normal, is coming out this fall.)

Read the rest of Andrea Gabor’s article.

Check out Joel Salatin’s latest, The Sheer Ecstasy of Being a Lunatic Farmer.


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