Reviewed by Maya del Mar
YES! A Journal of Positive Futures. Published by Positive Futures, Bainbridge Island, WA. Fall 2002 issue. Subscribe, or check it out with a free trial issue, http://www.yesmagazine.org.
The media news is rather grim these days. Last month I said I would talk about some positive movements reported by YES! magazine. I have the Fall 2002 issue at hand.
First, I am heartened by the great number of people speaking up against the Iraq war, phoning and e-mailing their Congresspeople by the tens of thousands, and sitting in at many of their offices.
Expert and dedicated newswoman Amy Goodman, broadcast in the Bay Area by KPFA (94.1 FM), spent one day calling congressional offices to ask about communication from their constituents. She replayed many of their responses on her daily one-hour program, "Democracy Now" (which is on the web as well as the radio). Nearly all communications were against war. Senator Barbara Boxers office, for instance, said that they had received many thousands of calls and e-mails, all of them against war.
Amy Goodman is also promoting democracy by giving a phone number which people can call and speak their minds. She replays some of these opinions on each program.
Amy interviewed a young man who has built a Cyber-Mobile out of a bus. He calls it Voices of New York, and is starting to travel around New York State and City to do two thingsone is to educate young people in the importance of their vote to restore democracy to the U.S., and the other is to teach young people how to do broadcasting and how to set up their own broadcasting systems. His work is scheduled to be presented on PBS TV on November 19.
This issue of YES! is focused on living economies. There are about 20 informative articles about alternative ways in which people are handling the economic aspects of their lives, as well as short articles about people supporting human dignity and a better life.
Here are a few samples:
"Building a New Force" by Michael Nagler. Michael Nagler is Professor Emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley and co-founder of Peace and Conflict Studies Program. He has shown that when entrenched hostility is short-circuited by third parties, combatants humanity can be re-awakened.
These interventions can take different forms. One is "witnessing," just being on the ground as an observer, sharing information with the outside world. Over these last months Free Speech Radio and KPFA Radio have interviewed many witnesses in the Occupied Territories, from the entire western world. Today a Bay Area contingent has landed in Baghdad simply to be witnesses. It is certain that there will be many from Europe with this same mission.
Another kind of nonviolent intervention is accompaniment. Peace Brigades International volunteers have successfully accompanied human rights workers for 20 years now all over central America, East Timor, Sri Lanka, and other places. They monitor human rights abuses, and by so doing, prevent many of them, although they remain non-partisan.
Donna Howard is part of a team building a Nonviolent Peace Force of thousands, ready to respond wherever there is conflict around the globe. She asks, "What would it mean if the world had at its disposal thousands of trained nonviolent soldiers?" And she is helping to create this vision.
"12 Things to Do Now About Corporations" by Sarah Ruth van Gelder, executive editor of YES!. On one page Sarah lists a dozen things that we can start to do right now. Many of them are legal changes, which start at local and state levels. Some examples include:
- Insisting that corporate executives return ill-gotten gains to the pensioners, ratepayers, taxpayers, and investors.
- Three strikes youre outthree criminal convictions and your corporate charter is history.
- Personhood for people, not corporations. POCLAD (Program On Corporations, Law and Democracywhose book, Defying Corporations, Defining DemocracyI reviewed in August 2002) is developing a model charter for corporations, including limitations which were once law.
- Rules, incentives, subsidies, etc. should favor local enterprises which are serving local needs.
- Public money should not subsidize exploitation. Enron, for instance, has received $8 billion in federal subsidies and financing since 1992.
David Korten has a long and instructive article on living economieswhat they are and how to make them happen. He points out that our quality of life would be stunningly different if we based economic decisions on life values, rather than on purely economic values.
It is. I can attest to it, for Ive been trying to live that way for 30 years. I began when my income was very very smallperhaps because I didnt want to spend that meager money on anything that didnt really enhance my or my childrens lives.
(Thirty years ago Pluto entered Libra, the sign of balance, in my third house of daily living.)
David Korten mentions the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE) launched in 2001 in San Francisco. By mid-2002 BALLE had signed on 17 regional chapters, which are encouraging people to buy from, work for, and otherwise support locally owned, values-based enterprises.
As David says, the most promising way of ridding ourselves of the institutions of the suicide economy is to displace it. This is not hopeless. Those institutions only have the power which we give them. Every time we choose where we shop, work and invest we can redirect our life energy from the suicide economy to the emergent living economy.
Ive been working on doing this for 30 yearsquiet choices that I make every dayand theres an inner satisfaction in knowing that I am working to contribute to a life stream as much as I conveniently can, rather than to a death stream. Just that is a big payoff for me.
In another article Lisa Garrigues tells how Argentines are re-inventing their economy from the ruins of corporate capitalism.
Anthony Flaccavento describes how farmers and community activists in once poverty-stricken Appalachia are building a new economyone that can sustain people, their unique culture, and the regions ecosystems for generations to come.
Jill Bamburg describes an exciting community, Intervale, in Burlington, VT, which provides quality living with sustainable use of resources, for 14 farms. This community grew out of the towns dump, and has now learned to close the circle to live in harmony with nature.
In "Breaking Down Buildings, Building Up a Neighborhood," Holly Dressel shows how Shane Endicott in Portland, OR has created a bustling business out of recycled building materials. The Rebuilding Center demolishes buildings without machines and thus employs 3 to 6 times more people than mechanized demolition companies and still does the job for less moneyand pays them considerably higher wages. Workers come from the immediate community and are treated like full business partners. After just two years, the Center is being hailed by the local community as "an anchor thats revitalizing the local economy." The Center itself has expanded from a garage to a half-block long building, and employs 36 people, at the same diverting millions of pounds of still-useful material from overloaded landfills.
This Fall 2002 issue of YES! contains many encouraging and inspiring articles which demonstrate how simple it can be to change to a living economy. All it really requires is a shift in mindset. When enough of us make that shift, we will be living in a better world.
People Not Profits says it simply. To that I would add Nature Not Profits. We can live life for life, not to satisfy a balance sheet.