Politics & Social Justice Archive


Hemp History 101

Monday, March 24th, 2014

The historical prominence of hemp can be seen in dozens of American towns that still bear its name, including Hempfield, PA, Hemphill, KY, Hempstead, NY, Hempfork, VA, and more.

How did humanity’s longest utilized plant, that has more than 25,000 uses and so many towns named after it, end up nearly extinct in the U.S.?

We first explored hemp’s potential in 1997 with the publication of John Roulac’s book, Hemp Horizons: The Comeback of the World’s Most Promising Plant. Roulac, Founder and CEO of Nutiva, was ahead of the curve when this book was published, and is now a leader in the lucrative superfood industry in which hemp plays a major role. We’ve resurrected a chapter of this now out-of-print book to give readers a glimpse at hemp’s many uses throughout history (from the dawn of civilization). In looking back, we get a sense of what could be in store.

Speaking of which: We return to the promise of hemp — environmentally, agriculturally, and economically — this year with investigative journalist and goat farmer Doug Fine and the publication of Hemp Bound: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the Next Agricultural Revolution. In this book, Fine introduces readers to a variety of innovative hemp applications from riding in a hemp-powered limo to testing hemp-based building insulation.

To learn more about Doug’s book and just how hemp could be the next billion-dollar plant that’s going to change our diet, restore our soil and wean us from petroleum, check out this post. And, test your hemp history knowledge with this Hemp Quiz.

Hemp Horizons: The Comeback of the World’s Most Promising Plant by Chelsea Green Publishing

Photo: Courtesy of teepeesigns.com

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

 

Zero Waste: A concrete step towards sustainability

Thursday, December 26th, 2013

By Dr. Paul Connett

I can’t remember exactly when I concluded that we were living on this planet “as if we had another one to go.”

We would need at least four planets if the whole world’s population consumed like the average American and two if everyone consumed like the average European. Meanwhile India and China are copying our massive consumption patterns. If we want to move in a sustainable direction then something has to change. In my view, the best place to start that change is with waste. Because every day every human being on this planet makes waste. All the time that we do that we are living in a non-sustainable fashion, but with good political leadership – especially at the local level – we could be part of a movement towards sustainability. A sustainable society has to be a zero waste society.

The zero waste approach is better for the local economy (more jobs), better for our health (less toxics), better for our planet (more sustainable), and better for our children (more hope for the future).

How do we get there?

Zero Waste a New DirectionIn The Zero Waste Solution I outline “Ten Steps to Zero Waste,” which are essentially common sense. Most people would have little trouble dealing with the first seven steps:

• source separation
• door-to-door collection
• composting
• recycling
• reuse and repair
• pay-as-you-throw systems for the residuals, and,
• waste reduction initiatives at both the community and corporate level.

However, it is Step Eight where some people are going to have trouble and where, if we are not careful, the waste industry could easily co-opt all our good work.

The incineration industry has discovered that by introducing two words it can continue to insert its poisonous, polluting activities into the mix. The phrase “Zero Waste to Landfill” cynically takes the good intentions of the Zero Waste movement and moves it back in a non-sustainable direction.

Instead, step eight calls on communities to build a residual separation and research facility in front of the landfill. The point of this step is to make the residual fraction very visible as opposed to landfills and incinerators that attempt to make the residuals disappear.

It is at this facility that we have to introduce a new discipline on waste. The community has to say to industry “if we can’t reuse it, recycle it or compost it, you shouldn’t be making it.” In other words waste is a design problem, and that is Step Nine: We need better design of both products and packaging if we are going to rid ourselves of the wretched “throwaway ethic” which has dominated both manufacture and our daily lives since WW II. We need to turn off the tap on disposable objects.

The final step is to create interim landfills — and I use interim because the goal of zero waste initiatives is to eliminate the need for traditional landfills. These interim landfills should be seen as temporary holding facilities until we can better figure out how to recycle, reuse, or better dispose of these materials than just tossing them in the ground, and capping them.

Summing it up with the Four Rs

Zero Waste four RsThe simplest way to explain Zero Waste is that it involves four Rs. The three familiar R’s of community responsibility—Reduce, Reuse and Recycle (including composting)—are joined by the less familiar “R” of industrial responsibility: Re-design.

In fact, the first person that talked about zero waste was one of the greatest designers of all time: Leonardo da Vinci. Somewhere in his writing he said that there is no such thing as waste: one industry’s waste should be another industry’s starting material. No doubt he was copying nature’s approach to materials. Nature makes no waste; she recycles everything. Waste is a human invention. Now we need to spend some effort to “de-invent” it.

Dr. Paul Connett is the author of The Zero Waste Solution: Untrashing the Planet One Community at a Time.

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

Zero Waste: How to Untrash the Planet

Monday, November 4th, 2013

Waste. We make it every single day. But how often do we think about it? It’s easy enough to throw your garbage in a trashcan and never think of it again. Out of sight, out of mind—right?

Not for long. “New research showed that the annual volume of that waste could double by 2025, thanks to growing prosperity and urbanization,” writes Paul Connett, author of The Zero Waste Solution and contributor to the documentary film Trashed. “Translation: Rather than producing 1.3 billion tons per year, as we do now, we could soon be producing 2.6 billion tons.” Soon, it will be impossible for us to avoid our own waste.

But there’s hope. Through research, case studies, and profiles, Paul Connett’s The Zero Waste Solution introduces problem-solving techniques to rid the planet of as much waste as possible by 2020. “If we lave the waste problem to itself, we are part of a nonsustainable way of living on this planet with huge consequences for human health and the global environment,” writes Connett in the Foreword. “However, with good leadership we can become part of the solution.”

Inspiring Zero Waste initiatives already exist worldwide, in places like:

  • San Francisco, CA: By 2012, they achieved 80 percent waste diverted and are continuing to move forward;
  • Austin, TX: Has plans to reduce the amount of trash sent to landfills 90 percent by 2030;
  • Sicily, Italy: This small island is playing a large role in the fight against incinerators—expensive, unsustainable, toxin-producing waste disposers; and many more.

In his latest book, Connett imagines a world in which cities, regions, and countries with zero waste initiatives were not mere case studies and hopeful examples, but the worldwide norm.

The Zero Waste Solution is for all those concerned about humanity’s health and environment, writes Academy Award-winning actor Jeremy Irons in the Foreword. “Essential reading for anyone fighting landfills, incineration, overpackaging, and the other by-products of our unthinking and irresponsible throwaway society.”

The Zero Waste Solution: Untrashing the Planet One Community at a Time is available now and on sale for 35% off until November 11th.

Read Chapter 2: Ten Steps Toward a Zero Waste Community:

Renewable Energy for Resilient Communities

Thursday, September 5th, 2013

How can we successfully bring our neighbors together and relocalize our food, energy, and financial systems?

To glean some of the best ideas percolating throughout the United States, and the world, sign up for the Community Resilience Chats—a webinar series that delves into details essential for communities that are ready to take the necessary steps to reclaim their future. These online discussions stem from The Community Resilience Guides co-published by Post Carbon Institute and Chelsea Green.

These online chats are co-produced by Chelsea Green, Transition US, and Post Carbon Institute.

In the next chat — Power from the People — community clean power visionaries, Lynn Benander of Co-op Power and Lyle Estill of Piedmont Biofuels will share their experiences in moving away from big energy. Join the conversation:

Community Resilience Chat: Power from the People – Webinar
September 10, 2013 at 2:00pm (EST)

The webinar is free, but space is limited so don’t wait to sign up. Participants will receive an exclusive 35% discount on Greg Pahl’s Power from the People. There will be a presentation and time for Q&A, but send in your burning questions on community clean power in advance to help shape the conversation.

If you missed the first Community Resilience Chat: Rebuilding the Foodshed with Philip Ackerman-Leist, you can watch it here:

 Next up on Community Resilience Chats: Local Dollars, Local Sense. Michael Shuman’s perspective sheds light on rebooting the economy to meet the needs of investors and entrepreneurs for a healthy and secure local economy.

Want to learn more about these books and how to make your community more self-reliant? Chelsea Green is offering  The Community Resilience Guides series as a special book set to make sure you and your neighbors have the tools and strategies you need to become more resilient.

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.

Acres U.S.A.: Food Rights Under Fire with David Gumpert

Monday, August 12th, 2013

Increasingly, consumers are turning away from mass-produced and excessively processed foods, and seeking out local farmers and neighbors for antibiotic- and hormone-free milks, meats, and organic produce they can trust.

Meanwhile, as food-borne illnesses continue to appear in the industrialized U.S. food supply, regulators are cracking down on small-scale farmers.

In his new book, Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Food Rights: The Escalating Battle Over Who Decides What We Eat, author David Gumpert tracks the increasing tension between consumers and regulators, industrial agriculture and small farmers, and what it means for access to, and the distribution of, raw, whole foods in the United States.

Chris Walters of Acres U.S.A. sat down with Gumpert and talked about some of the recent farmers who have gone on trial, and the significance of this emergent battle over access to food. In the interview, Gumpert comments on the growth of the movement, “We have a lot more awareness about food safety. Some might call it fearmongering about food safety, but certainly there’s been a lot more attention given to food safety beginning in the mid- to late 1990s, and it has grown in importance and attention. It has become a big issue in the legal arena.”

In this wide-ranging interview, Walters and Gumpert offer salient details of some of the larger trials and incidences of government attacks and retaliation on farmers and private food clubs, but also examine the fragile future of our right to buy private food; a right that earlier generations never thought could be jeopardized.

“We have a long tradition in this country of people being able to obtain food privately. Until the supermarkets sprang up after World War II, that’s how people obtained a lot of their food, direct from farmers or other food producers or small stores that obtained it directly from farmers. I grew up in Chicago and we always had food people coming around. In fact, even in suburban Boston through the 1970s we had a chicken man, an egg man and a milk man,” notes Gumpert.

Acres U.S.A. is giving Chelsea Green readers exclusive pre-release access to the interview. If you haven’t already, take a look at Acres U.S.A. – A Voice for Eco-Agriculture and consider a subscription – support another remarkable independent publisher with a focus on sustainable agriculture.

Read the full interview below.

Acres U.S.A. Interview with David Gumpert: Food Rights Under Fire by Chelsea Green Publishing

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


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