Posts Tagged ‘politics’

Three weeks ago today 20 little children, their teachers and a long-suffering mother were senselessly gunned down by a seemingly mentally ill young man with assault weapons.

The entire nation watched in horror.  We wrung our hands.  We tsk-tsk-ed.  We said some prayers that day.  We wrote angry rants on Facebook.  Some of us wrote our congresspeople.

Then it was Christmas, a fiscal cliff, a new  year, new stories.  We turned our attention elsewhere.

We must NOT abandon those kids and their families or the families of the brave schoolteachers.

We must NOT just tsk-tsk.

The NRA works every day of the year to ensure guns are plentiful.  What are WE doing?

Did you know that there are over 80 guns for every 100 people in America?

Can you think of one good reason why anyone, anywhere, at any time needs an assault weapon?

Please join me in REGULARLY writing our president, your two senators and your one representative to demand an end to assault weapons, to demand a tightening of gun control measures and to demand better funding and accessibility for mental health programs.

Will this prevent another Newtown, Connecticut?  Perhaps not.  But when the more civilized nations of the world have banned assault weapons or instituted gun control their mass shootings have disappeared.

We can make a difference.  We owe it to those small children to act on their behalf.

I pledge to contact my representatives at least once/month for a minimum of 26 months to demand positive change.  I plan to do it on the 14th of each month.

Will you join me?

Do not abandon those kids

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“Today I am grateful for love over hate, yes over no, the future over the past, hope over fear and WE THE PEOPLE over billionaires, corporations and Super PACs.  VERY VERY VERY grateful!”

That’s what I wrote on FaceBook on November 7.  It’s been a long and often vitriolic election season.  Our country has been so divided.  And, as was true for me in another highly charged time – 1968 and 1972 – it has affected me personally as the political divide in my family has caused pain on both sides.

When I was a child one of my father’s maxims was “if  you  can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all” – and after the obvious differences in our family got highlighted with the whole Chik-Fil-A anti-gay-marriage event, my upset has kept me from my blog.

But I woke up on the morning of November 7 after what was, for me, the single best overall election in my lifetime of voting, realizing that I had just participated in a historic event.

The tide has been turned.

The discord isn’t over and there are challenges ahead.

But a very significant change has occurred – we have crossed a threshold and there is no going back.  America, which has been slowly and inexorably changing, crossed a tipping point.  Ward and June Cleaver are dead – the new day has dawned!

The coalition of purported ‘minorities’ are, in fact, the new majority – Latinos, African-Africans, Asians, and single women.

This nation has long been known as a melting pot – and now that reality is the new order.

One of the insightful articles I read (Manchester Guardian? Josh Levs? How I wish I had bookmarked and can’t now find it) said that this election showed that the culture wars of the sixties won.

20 women senators! Our country’s first gay senator!  Gay marriage gets a boost in 4 states – from the PEOPLE, not the courts!

When I was young we dreamed of, longed for, and some worked towards “The Revolution.”  It took 44 years, but it has finally come to pass!

Now comes the work that I personally mapped out for myself at the beginning of this year, and from which I got sorely distracted by divisive politics – Create. Positive. Change

I am very excited about the prospects for America.  I believe in Hope.  I believe in Forward.  I believe in – and embrace – positive change.  Most of all, I embrace “We the People”.  And, as I posted on FaceBook – I am SO energized and ecstatic that We the People won:

“WE THE PEOPLE won – Not the Koch Brothers, Not Addleson, not Citizens United, Not corporations – WE THE PEOPLE.”

God Bless America, land that I love!

From the most re-tweeted tweet ever – victory!

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We are collectively waiting.  Corporations wait with huge coffers of cash (Apple, for instance, is sitting on $98 BILLION).  The unemployment rate, officially, around 8.3% in February 2012, doesn’t include the long-term unemployed – we can guess that 10-15% of working-age people are sitting on the sidelines.  Entire industries (construction, finance, and to some degree manufacturing) have a lot of sidelines going on – in terms of workers, production, etc.  11 % of US homes are vacant – and that number seems to be increasing.  Then there is the tsunami of Baby Boomers starting to cascade into retirement – and the sidelines.

So what is “the sidelines”?  In this sense it is “a sphere of little or no participation or activity.”  However, I think there’s a sense of impending and previous participation implicit – so to me it’s more like limbo “an intermediate or transitional place or state.”

I think of the sidelines as a resting place.  The coach has pulled me out of the game – but temporarily.  I am watching the action on the field, maybe drinking some Gatorade, catching my breath – and beginning to plan my next moves.

I believe any sentient being can see that we are on the brink of – and to some degree, amidst – great, sweeping change.  The old order is very rapidly dying away and yet the new one is yet to be born.  It is a gestational, liminal time, to be sure.

What then, shall we do?  I wrote about one such solution in this post – Power to the People! Let’s Turn this Country Around.  I wrote this post right after my beloved friend was diagnosed with what turned out to be terminal liver cancer – so I got distracted.  It may be time to revisit implementing some of these ideas.

I’m also participating in The 99% Spring and plan to be involved in that.

There is so much abundance – time, energy, talents and money – sitting in abeyance while people are hungry, lonely, angry and tired.  Isn’t it time to change that.

Please join me in the 99% Spring.  And if you are interested in beginning dialogue on the ideas I laid out in Power to the People, let’s dialogue about how we can begin.  Margaret Mead was right:  “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.  Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

I’m in.  You?


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Tuesdays are Ideas Day here at Taking it to the Streets

I recently read Bill Clinton’s “Back to Work:  Why We Need Smart Government for a Strong Economy.”  It’s a good book to read any time, but particularly helpful in this election season, with the very idea of having a government under attack by a fringe element on the far right.

Regardless of one’s political persuasions, it seems to me that we are all clear that we’re in a very liminal age and that America’s role in that new age emerging is very up for grabs.  Baby Boomers and our parents are aware that the world in which we came of age is really all but gone.  Younger people are aware that their future seems highly uncertain, and is possibly permanently damaged by the economic meltdown we’re just barely coming emerging from.

Unemployment, while not at Great Depression levels (whoa, that must have been scary!) is the highest it’s been in the lifetimes of everyone under 70.

What then, shall we do?

I’ve read several books lately that attempt to answer that question.  The two most pertinent are this book and Thomas Friedman and Michael Mandlebaum’s That Used to Be Us (see also this link).

Both are good books.  But if you have time to read just one, you may want to read Clinton’s book in that he is far more succinct.

Like Friedman, he spends more time on the problem than the solution – in this case, the first five (of six) chapters).  However, if, like me, you are a progressive/liberal/Democrat/leftist/socialist in a family of Republicans, Clinton provides very good facts, figures, graphs and talking points.  It’s my opinion that the Republicans are the greatest spin-meisters known to mankind – getting poor people to vote in their worst instances, bamboozling people to think Obama has caused or added to the debt (the biggest contributors were Bush and Reagan) and otherwise obfuscating the facts to present the agenda of the Koch Brothers and other wealthy puppeteers.  Clinton’s charts, graphs and statistics tell another story.

The final chapter “How Do We Get Back into the Future Business” lays out 46 specific things that can be done – most of them RIGHT NOW – to get America back to work and to restore some of what we’ve lost since the long slide began with Reagan.  He groups these into some broad-based ideas:

  • Get the money flowing
  • Build a 21st century infrastructure
  • Lead the world in green technologies (my favorite section)
  • Restore our manufacturing base
  • Double our exports
  • Increase the role of the SBA
  • Use ‘crowdsourcing’ to fund small businesses (think Kiva and the like)
  • Give companies incentives to train the workers they can’t find (there ARE lots of open jobs – Americans just don’t have the needed skills)
  • Provide extra incentives to hire people who have been out of work more than six months
  • Give employers incentives not to lay off people in the first place
  • ‘Insource’ jobs we’ve been outsourcing (I think this is starting to happen)
  • Provide incentives for young people to go into so-called STEM fields (Science, technology, engineering and math) as we did in the past for doctors for rural areas
  • Grant more H-1B visas to immigrants in STEM fields until we have enough Americans to fill the gap
  • Bring more tourists to the US
  • Promote affordable opportunities to “buy American”
  • Offer a prize for ideas that promote innovation and job creation
  • Replicate ‘prosperity centers’

As you can see, it’s full of ideas (46 of them!) and specifics.

The problem, though, as clearly outlined in both Clinton’s book and Friedman’s is political gridlock.  And while they both have suggestions (in the problem section) on addressing that, the underlying issue (we have become a plutocracy, not a democracy) isn’t really addressed.  Clinton DOES admit to being wrong in repealing Glass-Steagall, which, of course, greatly exacerbated the problem.

But asking politicians to fix Washington is asking the fox to guard the chickens – it is not in our interests to do so.  That,however, is another topic.

So, I recommend this book to anyone who cares about America, cares about getting us ‘back to work’.

Have you read “Back to Work”?  What’s your take?


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The problem:  Where to begin?  Income inequality in America, crumbling infrastructure, corporations trying to wrest control of the Internet, Citizens United, global warming….pick your issue!

The solution:  Say no! —- and — Say yes to an alternative!

I spent a lot of last year being outraged.  Well, I’ve been outraged a lot since 2008, watching America change into an entrenched plutocracy.  Being outraged, per se, only hurt me.  Not paying attention (the tactic I see many – most? – people use) is probably worse.

Now I’m focusing on two alternatives, both of which will create positive change (as you know, that’s my theme for 2012 – create positive change).

Say no to what you don’t like.

Or say yes, to a better alternative.

At a philosophical level, I feel the better strategy is to say yes to the better alternative.  My mom used to tell us “you become what you think about” (wise woman!) and one of the tenets of my church (Unity) is that “Thoughts held in mind produce after their kind” – i.e., our thoughts create our reality, so best to choose positive ones.  I agree with that.

But this pugnacious, passionate Irish girl still gets riled up at injustice and inequality.   Rather than wishing I were less bombastic, it’s occurred to me that I can do both – focus on creating good, put my energy into the new world I wish to see.  But also continue to say no.

What saying no looks like for me:

  • Attending “Occupy the Courts” in Chicago this Friday
  • Writing about what needs changing
  • Boycotting companies that are egregiously wrong (top of my list:  Wal-Mart, followed by Target and BP)
  • Getting more involved in Occupy Chicago

What saying yes looks like for me:

  • Getting more involved in the Transition Town network
  • Getting food from local sources – farmer’s markets, CSAs, my friend’s garden, Farmer Nick (local eggs and chickens)
  • Buying locally in general
  • Seeking sustainability from the very small acts (cloth bags rather than paper/plastic), to the medium (buying a shredder with my friend rather than each of us buying one) to the larger (investigating co-housing)

I plan to explore more of these this year and will take you along for the ride.

How are you saying no right now?

How are you saying yes right now?

Which feels more natural to you?

I really want to know!


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Tuesdays are Ideas Day here at Taking it to the Streets

I promised you more about Tom Friedman’s new book That Used to be Us.  And since I wrote that post I’ve finished one book by Paul Hawken (The Ecology of Commerce) and am half way through another one (Blessed Unrest).  I have so many ideas I want to share with you from what I’m reading.

But, listen.  Something’s going on in America.  It’s big.  To quote earthquake forecasters and fishermen – “This could be the Big One.” 

Back in the hot month of August in Chicago in 1968, when I was 19, long before the Internet, or Facebook or Twitter, young people got the vibe that something was going on.  Come to Grant Park.  The whole world is watching.  I really thought the revolution we had all talked about was truly at hand.  That the America we dreamed about was right around the corner.  That war was over and we would Give Peace a Chance.

My generation blew it – and really, I think Pat Robertson was right – it was that event, more than anything else that caused America and the Left to break up.  If you ask me, we had the right ideas, but the wrong way of delivering the message.

We live in perilous times.  As I’ll tell you when I write more about That Used to Be Us (I promise! soon!), we are facing huge forces that so easily could crush us all – environmental peril, unchecked corporate greed and control, a crumbling infrastructure, economic meltdown.  We have failed to address the issues that are most important (quoting Friedman here):  globalization, the IT revolution, chronic deficits,  and our pattern of excessive energy consumption.

And the economic practices that were put into momentum with Ronald Reagan have coupled with unprecedented corporate greed to create a true plutocracy.

I work right now as an IT contractor at a large bank, right across the street from the Chicago Federal Reserve.  For the past three weeks a growing number of activists are outside my door into work as part of the now global Occupy Wall Street movement.  At first they reminded me of us – I saw a young man in pajama pants with his homemade sign and long scraggly hair and thought “oh, boy, your message is WAY too important to be diluted by looking like someone who the bankers and Fox news (who are out almost every day on my street) can dismiss.

But lately it’s a much broader mix.  Elders (yes! even older than me!), union workers, and many people holding signs that say things like “Yes, I have a job and I am here on my lunch hour so you can keep yours.”

I can feel it.  I can smell it.  It is coursing through my veins.  This time “could be the big one.”

A few years back my brother lent me a university course on CD on Plato’s Republic. I had not read any Plato other than The Symposium (which I greatly enjoyed) and I have to say I was shocked at how radical he was.  One thing that really stood out to me was his clear laying out of the succession of styles of government.  He said that what follows a plutocracy (a government by, of, and for the rich – ie., America) is violent revolution, then democracy.

I want our democracy back.  I smell the revolution coming.  I just hope it isn’t violent.  Because when I see the signs (not in Chicago, but in pictures of New York) saying “Eat the Rich” – well, you’d be dining on some people I love. And, really, some of you might think that ***I*** look like a hefty appetizer.  I don’t think that’s what we need.

But a change?  A way to get America back from the repeal of Glass-Steagle and from Citizens United (which firmly sealed the deal on making it an official Plutocracy)?  yes, we need that.

And as we chant in front of the Federal Reserve:

“The people


Can never be defeated.”

We ARE the 99%.  People – join me. It is time to WAKE UP.  Now.  Act!

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Tuesdays are Ideas Day here at Taking it to the Streets

Tom Friedman’s new book (co-written with Michael Mandlebaum) is masterful.  It’s called “That Used to Be Us:  How America Fell Behind in the World it Invented and How We can Come Back.”  The title – That Used to Be Us – came from a speech Obama gave. 

I’ll do a review next week but I’m so excited about this important book that I wanted to do a little sneak preview.  Do you know of Tom Friedman?  Maybe read some of his other books, such as “Hot, Flat and Crowded” or “The World is Flat”?  He’s a brilliant New York Times columnist, journalist and author of many books (I’m just citing the other ones I’ve read).  I do believe this is one of his strongest books.

If you’re an American I would think that, like me and Tom Friedman, you’ve noticed that we’ve been slipping.  A lot.  We’ve taken our eyes off the ball – focusing instead on the mustard stain that the lady in the bleachers has on her shirt.  Really, I think THAT makes more sense than some of the marginalized “issues” that our press and the whacko extremists in BOTH parties conjure up.

Friedman and Mandlebaum give a detailed analysis of how we lost our way, what we SHOULD be focusing on, and how to get back on track.  Not get back to where we were – because the world has changed so much – but get back to WHO we were.

The book is comprised of five parts:

Part I:  The Diagnosis
1. If you See Something, Say Something
2. Ignoring our Problems
3. Ignoring our History

Part II:  The Education Challenge
4. Up in the Air
5. Help Wanted
6. Homework x 2 = the American Dream
7. Average is Over

Part III: The War on Math and Physics
8. “This is Our Due”
9. The War on Math (and the Future)
10. The War on Physics and Other Good Things

Part IV: Political Failure
11. The Terrible Twos
12. “Whatever it is, I’m Against It”
13. Devaluation

Part V. Rediscovering America
14. They Just Didn’t Get the Word
15. Shock Therapy
16. Rediscovering America

I’ve underlined most of the book and swear I could write a post about almost every page – there are so many facts to absorb. But better than the facts are Friedman and Mandlebaum’s  analysis.  Their ability to get the 50,000 foot view and make sense out of what heretofore had seemed baffling is one of the things I like most about this book.

I’m savoring the last 20 pages, then I’ll let it marinate in my brain a bit more – I’ll be back to you on this.  But meanwhile, if you’ve read the book I’d love to hear your take. I think it should be required reading for Americans.  All Americans.

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Sundays are Spirituality Day here at Taking it to the Streets

I’m struggling to find a spiritual tone this morning as I contemplate another round of “killings for Christ” as it were.  Along with the rest of the world, I was shocked and horrified by the recent bombing and mass killing of children in Norway.  I suspected, as perhaps you did, that the twin tragedies were tied to Al Qaeda or other Muslim extremists – though I must say I was hard pressed to determine why a country as peaceful as Norway would be targeted for politically based hate crimes (because I believe that Al Qaeda is a political, not religious organization that preys on Muslims as much as the rest of us).

When it was found that the perpetrator was a ‘conservative, Christian fundamentalist’ I found it hard to retain my own spiritual centeredness.

My favorite bumper sticker of all time, which I saw ages ago and finally found to put on my own car simply says “Who would Jesus bomb?”.  I bought it as commentary on the endless wars as well as on right-wing religious fanatics who bomb abortion clinics, etc.

This “religiously inspired’ murderous massacre in Norway just infuriates me.  Though I’m very distressed about the killer’s actions, what I find equally reprehensible is the silence of the right-wing “Christians” on this and other ‘religiously inspired’ acts of violence.  Recently in Chicago we have been subjected to anti-abortion activists swarming the streets that lead to the commuter trains with huge graphic pictures that they think will add you to their anti-abortion cause.

Are the lives of teenagers worth less than unborn babies?  What about the lives of government workers, just trying to make some money and support their families? 

Why aren’t the people who quote the Bible to oppress women and gay people quoting the Bible now to condemn religious fanatics who kill in the name of God? 

Going back to my previous post on The Spiritual Universe, if you believe, as I do, that we ARE all one, then how can it make an ounce of sense for killing based on discrimination (they are foreigners, they are Muslims, they are immigrants, they are non-Christians)? 

And, of course, if we are all one, then me railing against the religious right and fundamentalist Christians is likely equally crazy.

Holly Near has a great lyric:

“Why do we kill people
Who have killed people
To show
that killing people is wrong.”

My sympathy goes out to the great and peaceful people of Norway (and not just because my paternal great-grandparents emigrated from Norway, though I DO feel particularly connected).  In cases such as this, I always wonder what type of trauma or mental illness led a perpetrator to such a path.  Where I’m struggling for equanimity is in accepting the silence of the “religious” right.  Who WOULD Jesus bomb?  Would he just stand by mutely or prepare for his next anti-abortion march?  Would he sit smugly in church this morning?  Or do you think he’d be out speaking out about the power of love and that we are all one. 

I believe that life is sacred and that people who are actually alive and walking around deserve the sanctity of life too.  I believe we all lose – each and every one of us – when life is so violently disrespected.

I grieve with the people of Norway and I grieve for all who love freedom, justice and human life.  Norway’s suffering is the suffering of the world, just as Japan’s recent losses were the losses of all of us. It’s time to wake up.

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Tuesdays are “Information/Ideas” day here on Taking It to the Streets – often showing up as book reviews.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, Barbara Kingsolver’s recent book is really a masterpiece and a perfect-for-me book:

– Gorgeous, accessible, beautifully writing
– Funny! I wasn’t expecting that. Kingsolver is a firebrand, passionate activist – and she’s writing on serious topics, but good gracious this is a funny book.
– Her passion about food, nutrition, health, the environment and what I consider to be TRUE family values is visceral. I can’t imagine reading this book and feeling ho-hum about it. Her arguments are compelling, her way of presenting them is at times inviting, at times challenging. It’s not a ‘sit back and just take it in” book – to me this book compels action.

The book chronicles one year in the life of her family as they “abandoned the industrial-food pipeline to live a rural life – vowing that, for one year, they’d only buy food raised in their own neighborhood, grow it themselves, or learn to live without it.”

So they took the localvore thing to a whole new level – actually growing/raising a LOT of their food, putting food up (canning and freezing) – in many ways, living like my rural grandparents.  Food politics as well as nutrition are passions of mine and I felt as though I had thought about this topic a lot so I was surprised to learn as many facts as I did in the book.

The book was co-authored by Barbara, her husband Steven Hopp, their elder daughter Camille.  Their younger daughter Lily (9 at the time of writing) was prominently featured in the book – my favorite character along with a wild turkey named Lolita (the part about turkey sex was laugh out loud funny).

For those of us who have read The Omnivores Dilemma by Michael Pollan, we are aware of the nightmares of industrial food – the sad, scary parts of our food supply that are so hidden from us.  But I think a lot of folks picture the kind of farm my grandparents had or the one they sang about as toddlers (you know where your quarter pounder comes from – Old McDonald’s…) when you think of farming.  If you even THINK of farms as where food comes from.  Of course for a lot of people what they eat is very far removed from both farm and food.  Even so, with all that I read on this topic, I didn’t know that turkeys don’t typically live past four months old and that turkey babies aren’t made my turkey mommies and daddies having sex any more – it’s all artificial insemination. 

While I’m not sure I’m ready or willing to work as hard as they did to raise ALL of my own food or to eat only locally, the book’s evangelism definitely hit home with me.  I’m either doing a CSA share this summer (Community Supported Agriculture) or doing Farmer’s Markets combined with my friend Bill’s generous garden bounty. 

She talked a lot about the cost (in all ways) of shipping food all over the planet – the oil involved to get bananas or kiwis here.  And while even St. Barbara didn’t give up coffee, her family DID give up tropical fruits.  I’m not ready to eschew bananas as yet, but I AM being much more diligent about not buying strawberries in the winter, or any other things that would have shocked my farm-wife Grandma.  Buying locally makes sense to me.  Growing your own, makes sense to me.

I’ve been eating less and less processed food.  Not so many boxes or bottles or cans in my life.  More cooking. Simple meals that taste great, are cheaper than packaged stuff. And I’ve lost 22 lbs since I started focusing more on the health of Diane and of the Planet.

Even if you don’t intend to grow your own food, make your own cheese (I DO want to try that one!) or eschew anything – I still think you’d benefit from this book.  My interest in this subject has been growing, but I started small. the changes I’m going to make now are small – did a lot of Farmer’s Markets last year, intend to do more this year.  Maybe start a compost pile to give to Bill the Garden Guru.  Get a rain barrel.  Cut down on non-local foods.  Go to restaurants (like Duke’s in Crystal Lake, IL) that use locally grown, hormone and antibiotic free animal products and local produce.

The Earth needs us to pay more attention. Our bodies need us to be better stewards.  Plus, you know? Locally grown, fresh REAL food tastes SOOOOOO much better.

Really, this is one of the 2 best food books I’ve read (Omnivore’s Dilemma is the other one).  All of Barbara Kingsolver’s books are great, but this is my favorite.  Have you read it? What did YOU think?

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Building on yesterday’s post here’s my initial proposal to start a TRUE revolution in this country.  The America I grew up in was the leader of the world in virtually all measures – not a plutocracy, with people’s day-to-day quality of life falling behind. I think we can use the Army of the Unemployed to turn this ship of state around.  Please dialogue with me – this is simply an initial offering.


  • LifeSchool – learning what we REALLY need to know; each one teach one
  • BodyShop – real HEALTH with CARE – taking back our bodies, not turning them over to BigPharma
  • Earth Forces (the REAL “Green {Hats}”)
  • S.O.S. – Save Our Society

Program overview

We all have talents and abilities.  The unemployed, the retired and the generous have time to donate.  There are ghost-towns of empty buildings available.  Instead of “wasting time in the unemployment lines, standing around waiting for a promotion” (nod to Tracy Chapman); instead of waiting for the government or (imho, worse yet) the corporations or the rich – let’s roll up OUR shirtsleeves ala Greg Mortenson and turn this ship around.  So this is all about things regular people could do by, for and with each other (remember the Gettysburg Address).  OUR country – not the rich people’s or the corporations (or, to give a nod to my friends on the right – of the government).


Let’s set up free schools with volunteer teachers and administrators (or – someone who can write grants, write a grant to get money for building space and a SchoolMom/SchoolDad – someone to organize the thing).  “each one teach one” – people who know things can teach people who want to learn those things.  I see 5 initial curriculum:

  • Strengthening your Self (personal skills, including a tie-in to BodyShop)
  • Strengthening your Relationships – relationships of all kinds:  parenting classes, negotiating skills, marriage-strengthening, getting along at work, etc.
  • Work and Money Skills – Create your own job, find a job, job skills, money 101, investment classes, frugality, buying a house, anti-foreclosure classes
  • LifeSkills – cooking, plumbing, fix your car, write a grant, gardening, etc.
  • Save the World – getting beyond yourself to help your community, the world, how to make a difference, setting up your own Grameen-Bank-like skill/money co-op, etc.

BodyShop (REAL Health CARE – taking charge of your own health)

  • Natural Healing classes of all kinds (herbs, Chinese medicine, ayurveda, first aid)
  • Fitness Camp – personal training you can do at home with very little equipment or info about cheap gyms, etc.  Free classes (spin, aerobics, circuit training)
  • Food & Nutrition – cover basics, nutritional defense for specific diseases, build your immune system, fast and easy nutritious meals, eating healthfully when you’re broke, good food for people who don’t like to cook, etc.
  • Cooking classes – beyond just educating – big kitchen, group cooking, hands-on fix a meal.  Use Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution idea – learn a meal, then teach your neighbor.  Eating healthfully, inexpensively with meals that are tasty and easy/fast to prepare.
  • Emotional Health – things YOU can do to help with what ails you – EFT, support groups, exercise, nutrition, mentoring

EarthForces (Green Baseball Hats? – smile and nod to the other Greenhat guys…)

  • Classes on sustainability
  • Green your home
  • Habitat-for-Humanity like group to focus on weatherizing homes for the poor, elderly, infirm, etc.
  • Johnny Appleseed Corps – tree planting  – help people, public spaces, unused land – fill it with trees
  • WaterWorks – water conservation – from in your house to in your country – water action!
  • Garden Guerrillas – turn this land into food  – teach gardening, encourage community gardens, ask to put gardens in unused land, etc.

S.O.S. – Save our Society

  • Take back Food:  localvorism, CSAs, food co-ops.  Move AWAY from the industrial agriculture that is killing us and is outrageously inhumane to animals.
  • Take back Money:  Buy local! Say no to Big Box stores
  • Take back Money, Part 2:  barter economy, skill banks, stop outsourcing your life

What’s Next?

Your “yes, we can” ideas.  I’m sure some of you have 100 “that will never work” ideas, which you are welcome to ponder while we move into action ala Greg Mortenson.

What I’m interested in:

  • Feedback on these ideas
  • YOUR ideas – what else can the army of unemployed, under-employed, retired or generous folks do with their ‘spare’ time?
  • Interested folks.  You don’t have to be local.  I somewhat suspect Chicago is not the only town that could use an initiative like this.  Start a school/movement/group in YOUR town!
  • But if you are local and would be interested in seeing what we could collectively create let me know – send an email to lifeschool.chicago@gmail.com

“We can change the world.  Rearrange the world.  It’s dying.” (nod to CSNY for lyrics, nod to YOU for wanting to change the world).

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