Since proposing resolutions is all the rage at the beginning of January (and because it actually might be a good idea) I am laying out my social change resolutions for this year (as opposed to my personal resolutions, which include eating more broccoli and getting more bruises in nature).
I hereby resolve:
1)To scale up organizing and progressive social change activity: Historically, there has been no major advance in rights or progressive social change without widespread and organized pressure from citizens. I’m dedicating myself to advancing progressive social change, with focus, determination, hope, and strategy. I’m resolved to fight against militarism and for food justice, social justice & environmental justice, universal health care, gay rights, immigration reform, and transitioning from a permanent war economy & unsustainable radical capitalism to an economy built on sustainability, social justice, and peace. Among other things, this involves reframing issues, adopting inside-outside strategies, strategic nonviolent direct actions, and cultivating broad coalitions and cross-sector alliances (more on these in an upcoming post). It involves motivating people to move beyond armchair & bumper-sticker activism. We have enormous opportunities in 2010 to push for some real change that millions have invested but have failed to materialize.
That’ll leave 2011 open for something else.
“Out of our boxes & into the streets!” — Chris Carlsson, Nowtopia
“Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” — Frederick Douglass
2)To volunteer more in my local community. Continue with some organizations I have worked with in the past, but also want to explore more opportunities through Hands on Bay and the Volunteer Center of East Bay. Lots to be done.
“Those among you who will be truly happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.” — Albert Schweitzer
“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before beginning to improve the world.” — Anne Frank
3)To grow more of my own food & keep learning permaculture.
Okay, so we harvested quite a bit of lettuce, kale, zucchini, but the tomatoes, strawberries, onions, and carrots didn’t turn out great. Let be known: I have a lot to learn. Alongside this of course is supporting local farmers and food justice organizations and eating seasonally.
“Earth is here so kind, that just tickle her with a hoe and she laughs with a harvest.” — Douglas William Jerrold
“My green thumb came only as a result of the mistakes I made while learning to see things from the plant’s point of view.” – H. Fred Ale
4)To have more conversations with more people about important topics. Practice nonviolent communication techniques: This is a simple, but an underrated, goal. Also, to practice deep listening–as the Chinese proverb says, a single conversation across the table with a wise person is worth a month’s study of books. I’ve heard it said that the three things you should never talk about are Sex, Politics, and Religion. On the contrary–talk about them. Often. With friends and strangers alike. Add to that food & love and that covers about everything.
“The difficulty with this conversation is that it’s very different from most of the ones I’ve had of late. Which, as I explained, have mostly been with trees.” – Douglas Adams
5)To Use less: Of everything. Less water. Less food. Less electricity. Less paper. Less plastic. Less fuel. Accumulate less things–especially new things. I think conservation will go much further towards ecological sustainability than most new green tech solutions. I’m fairly minimalistic as it is, but I’m sure I have unconscious habits that are less than sustainable that can be worked on. And we’re constantly bombarded with messages to upgrade or get something that we have somehow survived our whole lives without but now suddenly need. I have adopted the habit of carrying my stainless steel water bottle, utensils, and a cloth napkin with me wherever I go so I don’t ever have to use plastic utensils, plastic bottles, or paper towels. But I still have to work on those hot showers and using the dryer.
“You can never get enough of what you don’t need to make you happy.” — Eric Hoffer
“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed.” — Mohandas K. Gandhi
6)To support the new, alternative economy. To be one pillar in building the alternative to our current system of unjust and radical unchecked capitalism. What does this mean? Well, the full scope of what it entails is still taking shape because we are still experimenting, but at the very least it means not using credit cards and moving my money from big banks and Wall street to local credit unions or community banks that have an interest in the local commuity; supporting local socially and environmentally responsible businesses that emphasize the triple bottom line; promoting worker cooperatives, cooperative housing, and timebanks; and exploring democratic and participatory budgeting and complementary currencies.
“We have an economy that tells us it is cheaper to destroy earth in real time rather than renew, restore, and sustain it. You can print money to bail out a bank but you can’t print life to bail out a planet.” — Paul Hawken
“Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell.” — Edward Abbey
7)To let businesses know I support them or do not support them. We all consume–but we can do it consciously or unconsciously. We can do it in a way that supports one thing or value rather than another. Though I have a ways to go, I do an okay job of voting with my dollars by supporting responsible businesses and not supporting the corporations that are irresponsible and abusive of people and the environment. However, I want to do a better job of letting those business know explicitly why I support them or why I do not buy their products by writing to them. We have more power than we realize when it comes to pressuring corporations to behave–just like the individual sands on a beach, all the individual decisions add up to a signal that CEO’s get
8)To promote & be alternative media. I’ll save my rant on how the mainstream media (MSM) is Satan’s poor ugly step-sister for a rainy day and for now simply say it is complicit in fast-tracking the intellectual and moral depravity of this country. MSM is in the business of selling eyeballs to advertisers–and that’s the most positive thing I can say. Luckily, a full spectrum of non-corporate independent media exists to remedy that. I resolve to carry the banner of alt. media whenever I can and try to pry all those eyeballs to turn away from the darkness.
Upcoming posts will explore alternative non-corporate media a bit more, but I’ll mention a few political sites: Democracy Now, Truthdig, CommonDreams, Real News Network, Mother Jones, The Progressive, Upside Down World (for Latin America), Al Jazeera, and Media Matters (for analysis/critique).
“Censorship is by omission and misuse of language.” — John Pilger
“After you’ve had somebody say to you for the thousandth time, “How come we never hear about these issues in the media,” you start to realize that the media itself is an issue.” — Svend Robinson
“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth is revolutionary.” — George Orwell
9)Celebrate and honor the good in our culture: It is all too easy to dwell on the horrors of our broken system, from the greedy financial elite, corrupt politicians, and war profiteers to racism, social inequalities, mass ignorance, and religious fundamentalism. But indeed there is a tradition in this country of widening the scope of rights, of the progressive values of freedom, individual expression, and equality, even if imperfectly manifested. Millions hold those values and it is worth drawing on them and building upon them as well as celebrating when gains are made. (Stay tuned for upcoming blog on progress in 2009–believe it or not there was some!)
10)To cultivate Balance, set limits, and have fun doing the hard work of social change: Finally, just as important as all the rest is to make sure I balance activism with my health, relationships, money, play, and mental sanity. Cultivating the right attitude is key. Social change work is serious, but that doesn’t mean it can’t also be fun. (More on this topic soon)
“Work, love and play are the great balance wheels of man’s being.” Orison Swett Marden
“I’m here to laugh, love, fuck and drink liquor and help the damn revolution come quicker.” — Boots Riley, of The Coup