Politics & Social Justice Archive


Slow Democracy: Online Book Club

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014

Join co-author Susan Clark for a free online book club!

Ask her your questions, and discover ways to improve the decision-making initiatives in your own community.

Wednesday, March 5th, 2pm (EST)
It’s free and open to all!
RSVP here » »

To purchase your own copy of Slow Democracy, get 35% off using the discount code READCG.

What is slow democracy?

Just as slow food encourages chefs and eaters to become more intimately involved with the production of local food, and slow money helps us become more engaged with our local economy, slow democracy encourages us to govern ourselves locally with processes that are inclusive, deliberative, and citizen powered.

This event is presented in partnership with the National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation, Joan Blades’ Living Room Conversations, and Transition U.S.

Hope to see you there!


Susan ClarkSusan Clark is a writer and facilitator focusing on community sustainability and citizen participation. She is an award-winning radio commentator and former talk show co-host. Her democratic activism has earned her broad recognition, including the 2010 Vermont Secretary of State’s Enduring Democracy Award. Clark is the coauthor of All Those In Favor: Rediscovering the Secrets of Town Meeting and Community (RavenMark, 2005).

Her work strengthening communities has included directing a community activists’ network and facilitating town visioning forums. She served as communication and education director of the Vermont Natural Resources Council and Coordinator of the University of Vermont’s Environmental Programs In Communities (EPIC) project. Clark lives in Middlesex, Vermont, where she chairs a committee that encourages citizen involvement, and serves as town-meeting moderator.

Thank you to our co-sponsors!
NCDD Transition U.S. Living Room Conversations

President Obama on Marijuana: Yes, We Cannabis?

Monday, January 27th, 2014

It’s been a remarkable week for supporters of marijuana legalization. Topping the list of reasons is Pres. Barack Obama’s statement in The New Yorker that he doesn’t think marijuana is more dangerous than alcohol.

No fooling. As in marijuana is safer than alcohol.

I think we’ve heard that phrase somewhere … hmm … where could it be? Oh right! In 2008, Chelsea Green published the book Marijuana is Safer: So Why are We Driving People to Drink? The core message of the book helped win the public relations battle against prohibitionists, particularly in Colorado.

Last fall, we released a revised and expanded edition of the book to take stock of the victories in Colorado and Washington state, and to demonstrate to other states considering legalization efforts that it can be done.

Obama on Marijuana

Here’s a portion of what Pres. Obama told David Remnick of The New Yorker about marijuana legalization:

“As has been well documented, I smoked pot as a kid, and I view it as a bad habit and a vice, not very different from the cigarettes that I smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my adult life. I don’t think it is more dangerous than alcohol.”

Is it less dangerous? I asked.

(…)

Less dangerous, he said, “in terms of its impact on the individual consumer. It’s not something I encourage, and I’ve told my daughters I think it’s a bad idea, a waste of time, not very healthy.” What clearly does trouble him is the radically disproportionate arrests and incarcerations for marijuana among minorities. “Middle-class kids don’t get locked up for smoking pot, and poor kids do,” he said. “And African-American kids and Latino kids are more likely to be poor and less likely to have the resources and the support to avoid unduly harsh penalties.” But, he said, “we should not be locking up kids or individual users for long stretches of jail time when some of the folks who are writing those laws have probably done the same thing.” Accordingly, he said of the legalization of marijuana in Colorado and Washington that “it’s important for it to go forward because it’s important for society not to have a situation in which a large portion of people have at one time or another broken the law and only a select few get punished.”

We’ll let Jon Walker detail the importance of Obama’s comments, as noted on his blog Just Say Now:

This shift in opinion is a huge victory for organizations like Safer Alternative For Enjoyable Recreation (SAFER) founded by Mason Tvert back in 2005 and the resulting book Marijuana is Safer: So Why Are We Driving People to Drink? In retrospect it maybe the most important book for helping to spread support for legalization at the beginning of the 21st century.

Instead of focusing primarily on the economic benefits of legalization or the libertarian case for personal autonomy SAFER promoted the science proving marijuana is simply much less dangerous than alcohol. Once people realize marijuana is safer it logically leads to the question: why is marijuana the one that is illegal?

Hear, hear!

Let’s hope the president and his administration follow through at the federal level to decriminalize pot possession (as well allowing folks to grow industrial hemp, but that’s another story).

Congrats to Steve Fox, Paul Armentano, and Mason Tvert, the authors of Marijuana is Safer, as well as the countless volunteers and activists out there working to decriminalize marijuana. This is no small feat, however, when you still have “Reefer Madness” devotees like Nancy Grace out there. Tvert held is own recently as Grace doubled-down on some rather outdated and overzealous misinformation about people who smoke marijuana.

Here’s the original interview as posted and analyzed by our friends at Raw Story.

And, in case you missed it, here’s a parody of that Nancy Grace interview from the most recent episode of Saturday Night Live.

 

Original Photo by AFP/Getty Images

 

Special Coverage: UN Climate Change Summit via Democracy Now!

Sunday, November 17th, 2013

If you wanted a front row seat to the United Nations climate summit in Warsaw, Poland, but couldn’t make the trek — you’re in luck.

Our fellow Media Consortium friends over at Democracy Now! are in Poland and will bring special coverage of the special United Nation climate summit throughout the week of November 18, and are providing us with a direct link to their live coverage.

Democracy Now!, an independent, global news hour, brings you live reports from the annual United Nations Climate Change Summit taking place this year in Warsaw, Poland. Tune in from Monday, Nov. 18 through Friday, Nov. 22 for on-the-ground coverage of the official U.N. negotiations, as well as interviews with journalists, scientists, policy makers, stakeholders and activists — who are working to sway opinion both inside the conference and with protests outside in the streets.

If you miss the live broadcast from 8-9 AM EDT, Democracy Now! will post a repeat show on their Livestream channel by 10:30 AM EDT, which you can access through the embedded player below.

This is the fifth year that Democracy Now! is providing a live television broadcast from the U.N. climate summit. Click here to see coverage from previous meetings in Doha, Durban, Copenhagen and Cancun

While you’re watching – see if you hear any of the solutions put forward by Chelsea Green authors like Amory Lovins in his book Reinventing Fire, which calls for reliance on renewable energy by 2050 and an end to the Age of Oil, or the calls by Dr. Paul Connett, in his new book The Zero Waste Solution, for an end to the wasteful consumption and packaging that is ravaging the planet. Hopefully, we won’t hear or anyone pushing the notion that nuclear is a legitimate option for energy sources of the future. Author Gar Smith dispelled the myth of the nuclear renaissance in his damning exposé Nuclear Roulette.

If you’re looking for additional insight into what the world will look like in the face of climate change in the coming 40 years, be sure to check out Jorgen Randers’ latest book, 2052. Randers was one of the original authors of Limits to Growth, which was published in 1972 and represented a major shift in many people looked at growth as it affected the climate, planetary resources, and the human condition. In 2012, on the 40th anniversary of the publication of Limits to Growth, Chelsea Green published 2052, which originated as a special report to the Club of Rome, that looked at what could happen in the coming 40 years — from population growth and inter-generational disputes to climate adaptation an perpetual, stagnant economic  growth. In this summary, Randers looked at eight ways the world will change, as well as how we can prepare ourselves for these changes.

So, sit back – get informed. Take action.

Watch live streaming video from democracynow at livestream.com

One Million Strong for Marijuana Is Safer

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

Quick: What do one million Facebook fans and the U.S. Department of Justice have in common?

Apparently, they agree that it’s a waste of time to crack down on individual marijuana smokers. So, will the feds move toward legalization next? If they follow the leads of voters in states like Colorado and Washington, then perhaps we can end the prohibition era mentality when it comes to smoking pot.

In celebration of the Marijuana is Safer Facebook page gaining the support of more than one million fans, and the federal government’s announcement that it’s easing off it’s crackdown on individual smokers, we are offering a special discount on the updated and expanded edition of Marijuana is Safer: So Why Are We Driving People to Drink? – just use discount code MIS35 at checkout to take 35% off!

The position that marijuana is a safer alternative to alcohol is sparking a conversation in communities and legislatures across the country—forcing the media, policy makers and citizens to pay attention to this issue.

Renowned brain surgeon and CNN medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta recently defended and endorsed the use of marijuana in medicinal applications (and was rewarded with his very own aptly-named strand of the drug). Gupta also exposed hypocrisy of the U.S. government, and in the documentary Weed, examined the benefits and relative safety of marijuana. Between this level of exposure and growing interest in the debate, a policy shift is on the horizon.

Marijuana is Safer debunks many marijuana myths and provides research and evidence supporting the relative safety of the substance. This new edition includes the same message, but with even more research and facts, explains the Colorado victory, and lays out the talking points that can help enable change in your state and community.

Whether you’re in support or have yet to be convinced, Marijuana is Safer will educate you, open your mind, and empower you to take action.

Don’t forget to visit the Marijuana is Safer Facebook page and add your support to the one million (and counting) fans. And get Marijuana is Safer for 35% off with discount code MIS35 at checkout.

Get to know the issue. Learn about the facts. Share it with someone else. Make a difference.

Coming Soon to a (Legal) Store Near You: Marijuana?

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013

Is marijuana the “new beer?” A new, eye-catching advertisement from the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) emphasizes that marijuana is a safer, more desirable option than alcohol.

The ad was scheduled to air 72 times during NASCAR’s Brickyard 400 races but officials pulled it at the last minute as to protect the family-oriented audience at their event. Though many did not see the controversial ad at the races, it has spurred a heated discussion of the pros and cons of legalizing marijuana and questions about the safety of regulated substances. See the ad for yourself:

This same controversy and conversation led to the legalization of marijuana in Colorado in 2012, as well as the changing laws and policies in many other states.

The new updated and expanded edition of Marijuana is Safer reinforces the resonating message that marijuana is safer than alcohol. In addition to all the research and information in the first edition that exposes marijuana myths and reveals facts about the relative safety of the drug, this new edition includes a chapter on the Colorado victory, updates to the research that supports that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol, and information so that supporters can use Colorado as a model for change.

This updated and expanded edition of Marijuana is Safer is available now and on sale for 35% off for one week (until August 12, 2013).

In 2005-2007, pro-marijuana groups in Colorado began advocating for the legalization of the use of marijuana for medical purposes. In 2009, the regulation of medical use of marijuana was written into law. From that point to the 2012 presidential election, groups such as Sensible Colorado, Safer Alternative For Enjoyable Recreation (SAFER), MPP and many others started lobbying for the regulation and legalization of recreational marijuana use for all adults.

Fox, Armentano, and Tvert assert that, “The entire ‘Marijuana is safer than alcohol’ campaign had been designed for one purpose: to ensure that voters would not be afraid of cannabis when it came time to vote for its legalization…If all went according to plan, when deciding whether to regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol, voters would acknowledge cannabis as a less harmful alternative to alcohol, rather than an equally or more harmful vice. They would be able to vote ‘Yes’ with confidence instead of voting ‘No’ in fear.”

The change in public attitudes, as well as the campaign message itself, helped to win the vote in Colorado in 2012, and could work elsewhere. The topic has become such a national discussion that CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta is devoting a whole documentary on it — titled “Weed” — this coming weekend.

Show your support by reading the book, sharing it with friends and helping the Marijuana is Safer Facebook page reach over one million likes to further spread the message of a safer alternative to alcohol.

Read the foreword below.

Foreword

Sustainable, Socially Responsible Start-Ups: Your Guide to Creating a Successful Food-Based Business

Monday, June 24th, 2013

It’s not uncommon for desk-chained daydreamers to spend hours thinking of quitting their jobs and pursuing their real dreams—whether those dreams involve starting a small family farm, opening a bakery, or something else entirely. But to do this you need—among other things—money. Lack of access to start-up capital deters many would-be entrepreneurs from doing the things they really want to do.

It shouldn’t be so hard for socially responsible, sustainable businesses to get their work off the ground, but unfortunately that’s often the case. Small businesses face a significant economic disadvantage in the marketplace. “Put another way, our capital markets are like a Mob-run casino,” writes Michael Shuman in the Foreword, “with the dice loaded to provide a huge edge to global business and undercut community-based businesses.”

Enter Elizabeth U. In Raising Dough, U, a social finance expert and founder of Finance for Food, lays out what you need to start a successful, socially responsible, food-based business.

“Elizabeth U has created a formidable one-stop guide to the brass tacks of building a successful sustainable food business,” writes Anna Lappe, founder of Real Food Media Projects and author of Diet for a Hot Planet. “For everyone who’s ever wanted to turn their passion for sustainable food into a thriving business, this book is for you.”

Through case studies and personal expertise, U outlines the necessary tools and options every socially responsible entrepreneur needs to be aware of before starting a business, including:

  • Different types of crowd-funding;
  • Fundraising laws;
  • Grants and other available capital options;
  • What to look for in a business partner;
  • How to choose an appropriate model; and more.

“Chances are good that you’re reading this book because you’re a farmer or local food entrepreneur looking for money,” Shuman writes in the Foreword. “Or you might be an investor looking to place your money in a local food business. Or perhaps you’re just interested in learning about how to start a food business. Or maybe you’ve just heard that this is a tremendous resource for anyone interested in local investing. Whatever your mission, prepare for a feast ahead.”

Raising Dough: The Complete Guide to Financing a Socially Responsible Food Business is available now and on sale for 35% off.

Read the Introduction below.

 

Raising Dough Introduction by Chelsea Green Publishing

Workers of the World Unite: It’s May Day!

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

Most countries honor Labor Day on the first of May, but we Americans celebrate it at the end of summer, an excuse to barbecue and raise a glass to the passing season. Traditionally, May Day is not a beer and lawn chair kind of holiday, it’s a day of rallies, protests, and direct action in solidarity with the workers of the world, and a day of hope that our rights will be protected and upheld.

Workers have always been at the mercy of the owners of the factories, offices, and companies where they labor. In the often dark history of the industrial era, workers were routinely exploited, injured, and even murdered when they protested the inhumane conditions they faced each day. But when workers came together to form strong unions, they finally were able to defend themselves, at least a little bit.

Tireless labor leaders like Tony Mazzocchi fought for protection from toxic exposure, and ended up making meaningful progress toward a more humane version of capitalism. Mazzocchi’s work led to the passage of OSHA, which still regulates working conditions today. Les Leopold wrote a beautiful biography of Mazzocchi: The Man Who Hated Work But Loved Labor.

Today, labor unions are weaker than ever, and despite having won many important battles over the years, the state of worker power is eroding. Companies can easily outsource labor to more affordable markets overseas, and high unemployment makes it hard for workers to negotiate for better pay and benefits.

But there is a quiet revolution happening despite all this. Worker-owned companies are on the rise, from cooperatives that are wholly owned and operated by their workers, to gradual employee buy-out schemes like the Employee Stock Ownership Plan that Chelsea Green enacted last year.

Worker-ownership avoids the perennial conflict between labor and capital by understanding that the two can never be considered entirely apart from one another. Capital needs labor, and labor needs capital. Both need sustainability, and the only way to achieve that goal is to slow down, pay attention to place, and take care of all the people affected by the work of the company. As worker-ownership spreads, communities will be reinvigorated by increased wealth, and inequality will decrease because nobody in a company will hoard more wealth than is necessary for sustenance and encouragement. Learn more about this “next American revolution” in Gar Alperovitz’s new book, What Then Must We Do?

Are You Part of the Next American Revolution?

Monday, April 8th, 2013

In 1886 Leo Tolstoy wrote a slim pamphlet entitled What Then Must We Do? about the abject state of the peasants in his country. He wrote, “I sit on a man’s back, choking him and making him carry me, and yet assure myself and others that I am very sorry for him and wish to ease his lot by all possible means—except by getting off his back.”

Gar Alperovitz has taken Tolstoy’s mysterious title for his own new book, What Then Must We Do? After all, with an economy as systemically unequal as ours, the question is still painfully relevant. Capitalism seems to have failed us, but for decades we have believed in the Thatcher-era dictum, “There Is No Alternative.” The mere mention of socialism sends politicians running for the hills, and Tea Partiers scrambling to scribble protest signs.

Alperovitz’s new book explains that, in fact, there is an alternative to corporate capitalism, one that is working to democratize the ownership of wealth, and is already taking root in some of the communities hardest hit in the recent economic crisis. This “next American revolution” is an economy based on empowered worker-owners, green jobs, and communities that can take care of themselves. In the excerpt below, Alperovitz tells the curious story of Youngstown, Ohio, a town that lost its steel mill and launched a quiet economic revolution in response.

Booklist says, “Alperovitz’s deliberately informal, conversational style makes normally rarefied economic concepts accessible to a wide audience, enhancing his inspiring message that, with the right strategies, a wholesale economic revolution is not only possible but achievable by well-organized, average citizens.”

Get the book for 35% off this week.

An Initial Way to Think About System Change: An Excerpt from What Then Must We Do? by Chelsea Green Publishing

Snapshots from the New Economy

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

The top 400 wealthiest people in America own more riches than the bottom 180 million. The system is broken. But we don’t need to look far to find a better one.

Do you shop at a food co-op? Then you’re supporting a democratically-owned corporation that works to serve its members instead of distant shareholders focused merely on quarterly profits.

Do you bank at a credit union instead of a multinational corporate behemoth like Bank of America or Wells Fargo? Then you’re contributing your savings toward loans that go to help businesses, home owners, and people like you right in your community.

When you turn on the lights, does your power come from a municipally owned utility? If you live in Jacksonville, Florida, or Seattle, Washington it does. Now, what if you and your neighbors got together to demand your utility generate renewable energy? They’d have to listen, because you are their primary stakeholders.

Do you buy King Arthur Flour, rent cars from Avis, or buy books from Chelsea Green? If you do, you’re supporting companies that are owned by their employees, which means that the profits go to the workers — in other words to the people who make them possible.

Do you own a house through a community land trust — which made that house affordable, and will make sure it stays affordable when you decide to sell it. Or do you participate in a CSA or herd share that allows you to support a local farmer while making sure you get the fresh food you want? Or maybe when a restaurant or bookstore in your town threatened to go out of business you pitched in with some cash in return for discounts on your future purchases (the Slow Money model).

In Ohio, a state ravaged by the exodus of manufacturing, yet another example of a new-economy business model is starting up. The largest worker-owned greenhouse in the state is being financed by Evergreen Cooperatives, a unique partnership between public institutions, city government, and private nonprofits. The greenhouse will sell fresh produce to the hospitals and universities in the area, cutting the carbon footprint of those goods, and bringing good, green jobs to a neighborhood that needs them.

Gar Alperovitz is the founder of the Democracy Collaborative, a key partner in the project, and Gar has long been one of the leading champions of the worker-owned shift the economy so desperately needs. Next month his book What Then Must We Do? will explain how we must democratize wealth and build a community-sustaining economy from the ground up. Sustainable businesses are already changing lives and making money flow where it’s needed most. All we need is more of them.

These businesses define success as something deeper than profit. In doing so they’re living examples of what the new economy looks like. It’s not so complicated, it’s just what happens when business comes back down to earth.

(Illustration by Adrian J. Wallace)

Happy Holidays! Save 35% with Code: CGFL12

Monday, December 17th, 2012

We continue our holiday sale this week, featuring books on the politics of sustainable living. Our political books are full of inspiring stories from the front lines of the movement to build resilient towns, and practical tools you can use to reinvigorate your own community.

Money is power, and local investment matters. Books like Inquiries into the Nature of Slow Money by Woody Tasch, and Local Dollars, Local Sense by Michael Shuman show how bringing finance back home can improve the health of the soil, your local economy, and your pocketbook.

Power also comes from within. Books like our bestseller Don’t Think of an Elephant! by George Lakoff, and Get Up, Stand Up by psychologist Bruce E. Levine take the idea of politics to a personal level, and show that even the ways you think and speak affect how empowered you feel — and how much positive change you can enact in the world.

Stock up on inspiring and educational gifts for your friends and family from Chelsea Green (and don’t forget about yourself). Our books will inspire and empower you for years to come. Keep in mind that the last day for you to get holiday orders in is Thursday December 20th, as we will be closed for inventory from December 21st to January 2nd.

Happy Holidays from the Employee Owners at Chelsea Green Publishing!

P.S. Don’t forget to use the code CGFL12 when you checkout at chelseagreen.com.

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Politics & Social Justice: 

Please keep in mind that discount codes do not combine with other offers—our books already on sale

for example. Phone orders please call 800-639-4099.


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