That was when they suspended the Constitution. They said it would be temporary. There wasn’t even any rioting in the streets. People stayed home at night, watching television, looking for some direction. There wasn’t even an enemy you could put your finger on.
— Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale, 1985
The Constitution of the United States represents the classic solution to one of humankind’s greatest political problems: that is, how does a small group of states combine into a strong union without the states losing their individual powers and surrendering their control over local affairs?
The fifty-five delegates who convened in Philadelphia during the sweltering summer of 1787 answered this question with a document that called for a federal plan of government, a system of separation of powers with checks and balances, and a procedure for orderly change to meet the needs and exigencies of future generations.
In an ultimate sense, the Constitution confirmed the proposition that original power resided in the people —not, however, in the people as a whole but in their capacity as people of the several states. To bring forth the requisite union, the people through the states would transfer some of their powers to the new federal government. All powers not reserved by the people in explicit state constitutional limitations remained in the state governments.
Although the Constitution was adopted on September 17, 1787, the fear of the new federal government was so strong that a “bill of rights” was demanded and became an eventuality.
Intended to protect the citizenry’s fundamental rights or “first liberties” against usurpation by the newly created federal government, the Bill of Rights—the first ten amendments of the Constitution—is essentially a list of immunities from interference by the federal government.
Unfortunately, although the Bill of Rights was adopted as a means of protecting the people against government tyranny, in America today, the government does whatever it wants, freedom be damned.
“We the people” have been terrorized, traumatized, and tricked into a semi-permanent state of compliance by a government that cares nothing for our lives or our liberties.
The bogeyman’s names and faces have changed over time (terrorism, the war on drugs, illegal immigration, a viral pandemic, and more to come), but the end result remains the same: in the so-called name of national security, the Constitution has been steadily chipped away at, undermined, eroded, whittled down, and generally discarded with the support of Congress, the White House, and the courts.
A recitation of the Bill of Rights—set against a backdrop of government surveillance, militarized police, SWAT team raids, asset forfeiture, eminent domain, overcriminalization, armed surveillance drones, whole body scanners, stop and frisk searches, vaccine mandates, travel lockdowns, and the like (all sanctioned by Congress, the White House, and the courts)—would understandably sound more like a eulogy to freedoms lost than an affirmation of rights we truly possess.
What we are left with today is but a shadow of the robust document adopted more than two centuries ago. Sadly, most of the damage has been inflicted upon the Bill of Rights.
Here is what it means to live under the Constitution, post-9/11 and in the midst of a COVID-19 pandemic.
The First Amendment is supposed to protect the freedom to speak your mind, assemble and protest nonviolently without being bridled by the government. It also protects the freedom of the media, as well as the right to worship and pray without interference. In other words, Americans should not be silenced by the government. To the founders, all of America was a free speech zone.
Despite the clear protections found in the First Amendment, the freedoms described therein are under constant assault. Increasingly, Americans are being arrested and charged with bogus “contempt of cop” charges such as “disrupting the peace” or “resisting arrest” for daring to film police officers engaged in harassment or abusive practices. Journalists are being prosecuted for reporting on whistleblowers. States are passing legislation to muzzle reporting on cruel and abusive corporate practices. Religious ministries are being fined for attempting to feed and house the homeless. Protesters are being tear-gassed, beaten, arrested and forced into “free speech zones.” And under the guise of “government speech,” the courts have reasoned that the government can discriminate freely against any First Amendment activity that takes place within a so-called government forum.
The Second Amendment was intended to guarantee “the right of the people to keep and bear arms.” Essentially, this amendment was intended to give the citizenry the means to resist tyrannical government. Yet while gun ownership has been recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court as an individual citizen right, Americans remain powerless to defend themselves against SWAT team raids and government agents armed to the teeth with military weapons better suited to the battlefield. As such, this amendment has been rendered nearly null and void.
The Third Amendment reinforces the principle that civilian-elected officials are superior to the military by prohibiting the military from entering any citizen’s home without “the consent of the owner.” With the police increasingly training like the military, acting like the military, and posing as military forces—complete with heavily armed SWAT teams, military weapons, assault vehicles, etc.—it is clear that we now have what the founders feared most—a standing army on American soil.
The Fourth Amendment prohibits government agents from conducting surveillance on you or touching you or invading you, unless they have some evidence that you’re up to something criminal. In other words, the Fourth Amendment ensures privacy and bodily integrity. Unfortunately, the Fourth Amendment has suffered the greatest damage in recent years and has been all but eviscerated by an unwarranted expansion of police powers that include strip searches and even anal and vaginal searches of citizens, surveillance (corporate and otherwise) and intrusions justified in the name of fighting terrorism, as well as the outsourcing of otherwise illegal activities to private contractors.
The Fifth Amendment and the Sixth Amendment work in tandem. These amendments supposedly ensure that you are innocent until proven guilty, and government authorities cannot deprive you of your life, your liberty or your property without the right to an attorney and a fair trial before a civilian judge. However, in the new suspect society in which we live, where surveillance is the norm, these fundamental principles have been upended. Certainly, if the government can arbitrarily freeze, seize or lay claim to your property (money, land or possessions) under government asset forfeiture schemes, you have no true rights.
The Seventh Amendment guarantees citizens the right to a jury trial. Yet when the populace has no idea of what’s in the Constitution—civic education has virtually disappeared from most school curriculums—that inevitably translates to an ignorant jury incapable of distinguishing justice and the law from their own preconceived notions and fears. However, as a growing number of citizens are coming to realize, the power of the jury to nullify the government’s actions—and thereby help balance the scales of justice—is not to be underestimated. Jury nullification reminds the government that “we the people” retain the power to ultimately determine what laws are just.
The Eighth Amendment is similar to the Sixth in that it is supposed to protect the rights of the accused and forbid the use of cruel and unusual punishment. However, the Supreme Court’s determination that what constitutes “cruel and unusual” should be dependent on the “evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society” leaves us with little protection in the face of a society lacking in morals altogether.
The Ninth Amendment provides that other rights not enumerated in the Constitution are nonetheless retained by the people. Popular sovereignty—the belief that the power to govern flows upward from the people rather than downward from the rulers—is clearly evident in this amendment. However, it has since been turned on its head by a centralized federal government that sees itself as supreme and which continues to pass more and more laws that restrict our freedoms under the pretext that it has an “important government interest” in doing so.
As for the Tenth Amendment’s reminder that the people and the states retain every authority that is not otherwise mentioned in the Constitution, that assurance of a system of government in which power is divided among local, state and national entities has long since been rendered moot by the centralized Washington, DC, power elite—the president, Congress and the courts.
If there is any sense to be made from this recitation of freedoms lost, it is simply this: our individual freedoms have been eviscerated so that the government’s powers could be expanded.
It was no idle happenstance that the Constitution opens with these three powerful words: “We the people.” As the Preamble proclaims:
We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this CONSTITUTION for the United States of America.
In other words, we have the power to make and break the government. We are the masters and they are the servants. We the American people—the citizenry—are the arbiters and ultimate guardians of America’s welfare, defense, liberty, laws and prosperity.
Many who responded to the survey had a strange conception of what was in the First Amendment. For example, 21% said the “right to own a pet” was listed someplace between “Congress shall make no law” and “redress of grievances.” Some 17% said that the First Amendment contained the “right to drive a car,” and 38% believed that “taking the Fifth” was part of the First Amendment.
In fact, while some educators want students to learn about freedom, they do not necessarily want them to exercise their freedoms in school. As the researchers conclude, “Most educators think that students already have enough freedom, and that restrictions on freedom in the school are necessary. Many support filtering the internet, censoring T-shirts, disallowing student distribution of political or religious material, and conducting prior review of school newspapers.”
I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of our society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power.
From the president on down, anyone taking public office should have a working knowledge of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and should be held accountable for upholding their precepts. One way to ensure this would be to require government leaders to take a course on the Constitution and pass a thorough examination thereof before being allowed to take office.
Some critics are advocating that students pass the United States citizenship exam in order to graduate from high school. Others recommend that it must be a prerequisite for attending college. I’d go so far as to argue that students should have to pass the citizenship exam before graduating from grade school.
Here’s an idea to get educated and take a stand for freedom: anyone who signs up to become a member of The Rutherford Institute gets a wallet-sized Bill of Rights card and a Know Your Rights card. Use this card to teach your children the freedoms found in the Bill of Rights.
If this constitutional illiteracy is not remedied and soon, freedom in America will be doomed.
Benjamin Spock, M.D., Author of Baby & Child Care — An eloquent plea that Americans recognize the appalling frequency of illiteracy…a tragedy which handicaps–occupationally, politically, and emotionally–a third of the citizens of our rich, ‘advanced’ country. referencing, Illiterate America, Jonathan Kozol
Note: This is a pretty mellow piece below (parts 1 & 2), for the local, Newport News Times, where I have published. Here, an archive, of sorts, of some of my articles and op-eds.
In elementary school he was put in special ed because of learning and reading delays. The label followed him all the way through high school. He graduated from Toledo High School with an IEP Diploma.
He worked as a landscaper and janitor; he struggled to live on his own because he could not read.
However, he’s a survivor. For years, he’s been working at a mill operating a large Caterpillar. He’s wanted to learn how to read for more than two decades. At age 36 the proverbial light bulb went off on August 3, 2021.
Reading tutors who worked through Mid-Valley Literacy Center rendezvoused to assist this man’s reading. One of the tutors is my friend, and she reports her “student learner” is reading sometimes fluidly. She’s been at this since March, meeting him in Toledo once a week.
My friend hails from Chile, and has been a teacher locally, as well as a substitute in Lincoln County. She’s fluent in Spanish and English, and works as a professional translator. Maria, a library tech, and another tutor have been working with this young man for six months.
More than 43 million adults in the US cannot read, write or do basic math above a third grade level. That’s one stat, and professionals I work with – I’ve been an English and writing teacher for more than three and a half decades, in El Paso, Juarez, Mexico, Spokane, Seattle, Portland, other places – say the actual figure is much higher, around the 60 to 80 million mark.
In one diverse study, 80 percent of people trying to properly install an infant car seat failed one or more steps because of “an inability to follow directions written at a 6th grade level.”
Other stats point out if the US was to increase average reading grade levels to the 6th grade, an additional $2.2 million a year would be added the economy.
Maria’s student is looking to move into an area of the mill where reading instructions and understanding safety manuals are a must. Getting out of the seat of a bouncing, loud log loader will also help him strengthen his longevity at the job.
I have worked with this student. He lives on his own, does amazing engine work on his truck, and he eventually wants to get certification and open up his own car repair shop.
He tells me that he was picked on beginning in second grade, for his inability to sound out words and lack of skills to do “read alongs.” This stigma is common in Lincoln County. Poverty, one-parent family dynamics, and other adverse childhood events (ACES) impact youth’s ability to learn at grade level.
Others are born with some form of developmental disability. We are seeing as a society more youth entering our primary schools with learning/intellectual disability – a phrase that stigmatizes people.
I’ve worked with adults as a supported employment professional in Seattle, Portland, Gladstone, Beaverton and Lincoln County; and assisted adults in advocating for themselves in order to land jobs and keep those jobs. Reading, writing and math sometimes are impediments, either individually, or collectively.
However, all those services Oregon has set up around supported employment and housing do give people a hand up. Maria’s student has had dozens of folk come into his life, informally, who started reading sessions, but all quickly moved on. Maria, 78, is dedicated to this gentleman.
She reports to me that “he is finally reading, sometimes pretty complex sentences. He has a big smile on his face now when we meet.”
Maria’s student is one of millions worldwide who should be valorized for succeeding. All our hats should be off for this local man: September 8 is International Literacy Day. “Since 1967, International Literacy Day (ILD) celebrations have taken place annually around the world to remind the public of the importance of literacy as a matter of dignity and human rights, and to advance the literacy agenda towards a more literate and sustainable society. Despite progress made, literacy challenges persist with at least 773 million young people and adults lacking basic literacy skills today.”
This is what guiding and assisting look like:
[Linda Perez (L) and her guide Alvaro Herrera (R), Tokyo, Japan, August 31, 2021. | Photo: EFE]
My first story on this fellow, from illiterate in March to reading in August:
Literacy is a matter of life and death, happiness or penury
I used to get my elbows up into many literacy projects as an English and writing faculty member at community colleges, universities, prison school programs and writing/journalism workshops for people who are exploited because of their status as low income or as former felons, and those homeless citizens as well as adults living with developmental and intellectual disabilities.
Events like “Banned Books Month” (October) or National Poetry Month (April) I worked hard to promote/support. Big journalism organizations like Project Censored and groups like Reporters without Borders are still in my blood.
I am now working again in a small rural community dotted with small towns. I am not only supporting folks with job development and on-the-job training and coaching, but I am helping two Lincoln County citizens with reading literacy.
In my situation with Shangri-La, these two are adult men in their 30s who are seeking reading literacy programs.
It may come as a surprise to citizens, lawmakers and politicians alike, but Lincoln County does not have a literacy center. There is no one-stop place for people who need literacy tutoring, whether they are functionally illiterate in their English skills as a U.S.-born citizen, or those who are English as a second/third language learners.
I’m working with a Salem group, Mid-Valley Literacy Center (founded in 2009). Vivian Ang is my contact who is helping train Newport and Toledo-based citizens to help tutor my two clients. This is not an easy task, and Vivian, with more than 20 years of tutoring including at Chemeketa Community College, says it’s hit or miss.
“I do not have any experience with assisting an adult with a learning disability (developmental disability) to learn how to read,” she has repeated to me several times.
An adult who drives a car, works at a factory, runs a large piece of construction equipment, lives on his own and presents as a “regular sort of guy” can be in one of the most dire of circumstances — functional and complete illiteracy.
Wanting to learn how to read when you are in your 30s takes guts. There are stigmas for someone who can’t read an insurance form or simple job application.
The need is high in Lincoln County for adults like this client of mine — born in Newport and educated in Newport’s K-12 system, including special education classes — to learn how to read. But we have many from Mexico, Guatemala and other countries in our communities where learning how to read and speak English is more than just a step toward better pay.
Vivian tells me a story about an Oregon woman, from Mexico, illiterate in English, who had a sick daughter who needed medication to improve. The prescription stated, “Take this medication once a day.” In Spanish, once is the word for the number 11, so, tragically, the mother followed the prescription contextualized in her Spanish reading abilities. At 11 times a day, after a few days, the medication killed her two-year-old daughter.
Navigating housing, employment, the legal system, utility companies, landlords, cultural activities, and representative politics are basically off limits to a person who can’t read or write. The amount of exploitation, fines, fees, garnishments, late payments and other penalties is a regular occurrence for people who can’t read and write.
According to the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy (founded 1991), low literacy in the USA costs us as a society $2.2 trillion a year. According to U.S. Department of Education, more than half of U.S. adults aged 16 to 74 years old (54 percent or 130 million people) lack proficiency in literacy, reading below the equivalent of a sixth-grade level.
For my many clients across the board, lack of reading, low reading levels and functional illiteracy can be linked to poorer health, low levels of civic engagement and low earnings in the labor market. On average, more than 70 percent of people following the seventh grade reading level for instructions on how to install an infant car seat fail to follow the proper steps.
I am enlisting tutors for my two clients. I have a librarian and a library technician on board. Three retired women living in Toledo and Newport, too. One of my client’s workplaces is stepping up and paying the nonprofit Vivian runs for the materials and training. That general manager is also providing a private space with internet access to his worker (I’ll call him Samuel) who is illiterate.
He tells me, “I wish I had 22 Samuel’s working for me. He’s an incredible worker, reliable, goes the extra mile.”
So, as an endpoint, I have to express the complete dissatisfaction with K12 and college and university settings, whereby the stuff (sic) taught is broken, stuffed and starved lies, with some of the most fearful or disruptive professors, principals, administrators and school boards ruining our youth, and our young adults’ minds. Lest we forget great workers for real education, fighting colonialism in Latin America and Africa. Oh, we need anti-capitalists, anti-imperialists, anti-billionaire workers to bring real education to our people, intergenerational, on the land, away from dark hallways, 30 desks and chairs to a room, away from the atomization and disparity of capitalist miseducation:
Freire’s work and practice have inspired what has become a worldwide critical pedagogy movement. Cabral is a centrally important, yet mostly unacknowledged, influence of this movement. In the last prepared book before his death, subtitled Letters to Those who Dare Teach, Cabral’s influence on Freire seems to have remained central, as he insisted that “it is important to fight against the colonial traditions we bring with us.”
“How Amílcar Cabral shaped Paulo Freire’s pedagogy: Frantz Fanon’s influence on Paulo Freire’s thought is well known, but the Brazilian educator also drew considerably from Amílcar Cabral, the revolutionary intellectual from Guinea-Bissau”
Exactly two years ago, I walked with my colleagues from Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research through the Camp Marielle Vive (‘Marielle Lives’) outside of Valinhos in the state of São Paulo, Brazil with a great sense of déjà vu. The camp resembles so many other communities of the desperately poor on our planet. The United Nations calculates that one in eight people on our planet – one billion human beings – live in such precariousness. The homes are made of a jumble of materials: blue tarpaulin sheets and bits of wood, corrugated iron sheets and old bricks. A thousand families live in Camp Marielle Vive, named after the Brazilian socialist Marielle Franco, who was assassinated in March 2018.
Camp Marielle Vive is not an ordinary ‘slum’, a word with so many negative connotations. The mood in many slums is desolate, criminal gangs and religious organisations providing them with fragile social glue. But Camp Marielle Vive exudes a different aura. Flags of the Landless Workers’ Movement (MST) are everywhere. The residents give off a quiet and friendly dignity, many of them wearing t-shirts or caps from their organisation. They have an air of preparation: prepared to defend their camp from eviction by the local authorities and prepared to build a genuine community for themselves.
Community kitchen at Camp Marielle Vive, 2019
At the centre of the camp is a community kitchen where some of the residents eat their three meals. The food is simple but nutritious. Nearby is a small clinic that is visited by a doctor once a week. Outside the homes are flower beds and vegetable gardens. The municipal authorities of the adjoining town stopped allowing the school bus to pick up children from the camp and transport them to the town’s school. As parents struggled to get their children to school every day, Camp Marielle Vive built an on-site classroom for after-school activities, which has continued during the pandemic.
Tassi Barreto of the MST told me in early August 2021 that the camp has had no deaths to COVID-19 because they have ‘taken firm action to avoid the spread of infection’. The local municipality denied the camp water, which is – as Barreto says – ‘a human rights crime’. The residents continued developing their collective work, strengthening the community kitchen and the community health centre, and advancing agroecological production in the vegetable garden, which is built in the shape of a mandala. The garden has been so productive that the camp has been able to sell baskets of produce in the nearby cities of Valinhos and Campinas.
The classroom sits in a prominent part of Camp Marielle Vive. But, Barreto told me, ‘the children and young people of school age had great difficulty because there were no face-to-face classes [at the municipal school] and there were virtual activities in which they could not participate’. The camp’s leadership had to innovate: worksheets had to be printed and distributed to the students each fortnight and – since the public school teachers could not review them – the camp turned to educators from the UNICAMP, a nearby public university, to supervise their work. Education for the children has been a serious challenge.
From Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research comes a dossier, CoronaShock and Education in Brazil: One and a Half Years Later (August 2021), that goes into depth about the crisis of public education as a result of the pandemic. Our dossier cites a UNICEF study that shows that, by the end of 2020 in Brazil, roughly 1.5 million children and adolescents had abandoned their studies and 3.7 million were formally enrolled but were unable to access remote classes.
The United Nations estimates that 90% of students across the world – 1.57 billion children – were unable to attend in-person schooling during the length of the pandemic, many of them told to go online. However, a recent UNESCO study shows that half of the world’s population does not have an internet connection. That’s 3.6 billion people with no internet access. According to the study, ‘At least 463 million or nearly one-third of students globally cannot access remote learning, mainly due to a lack of online learning policies or lack of equipment needed to connect from home’. Half the global population has no internet, and many of those who are able to access the internet cannot afford the technologies and tools required to participate in distance learning. The digital divide is even more sharp along gender lines: in the less developed countries, only 15% of women used the internet in 2019, compared to 86% of women in the so-called developed world.
The turn to digital education has emboldened mega-corporations to enclose the commons of public education, making it harder and harder for the masses of children to have access to any education at all. Big business sees the opportunity clearly. As Microsoft explained, ‘The fallout from COVID-19, continuing advances in digital technology, and intensifying pent-up demand for student-centred learning have combined to present an unprecedented opportunity to transform education across whole systems’. As Bia Carvalho of Brazil’s youth movement (Levante Popular da Juventude) told us for our dossier, ‘For these businessmen, distance education is more profitable because it allows them to cut a part of their expenses and it gives them access to a much larger number of students. From the point of view of [looking at] education as a commodity, where they sell classes, distance education makes a lot more sense’. Public funds have already been used to underwrite the massive expansion of private digital education systems.
Our dossier closes by highlighting three key issues: the need to increase investment in public educational infrastructure (while ensuring no stealth privatisation of education); the need to value, train, and support the professional development of teachers; and the need to struggle for a new educational project. The latter is of great importance. It asks questions about the purpose of education, which sets the stage upon which young people learn to ask questions about their society, about their values, about the discrepancy between their values and their social institutions, and about what one can do about that discrepancy. There is a direct line from the student protests that convulsed Chile in 2011, in South Africa in 2015, and India in 2015-16 to the sentiment in our dossier. This new educational project needs to be elaborated. It is a necessity.
After-school classroom in Camp Marielle Franco, 2021 (photograph by the Communication Sector, MST–Sao Paulo)
When we walked through the Camp Marielle Vive in 2019, two young women, Ketley Júlia and Fernanda Fernandes, joined us. They told us about their schooling, including the English classes they were taking at the camp’s classroom. In the past two years, Ketley joined other women in the camp as a key leader in her community. She coordinates the mandala garden, helps at the storeroom, and organises the donations of clothes and blankets, all of this despite fighting off challenges to her own health.
‘In the midst of the barbarism’, Barreto told me, ‘hope always has a way of appearing’. Ketley is now pregnant, ‘a joy that encourages us in our struggle’, Barreto said. Fernanda now lives in Camp Irmã Alberta near São Paulo, where she continues in the MST as she raises two children. Fernanda’s children and Ketley’s child provide hope, but they also need hope to be fashioned through a world with a humane and hopeful educational project.
In 1942, the English poet, socialist, and pacifist Stephen Spender wrote ‘An Elementary School Classroom in a Slum’. The children in the slum school, Spender wrote, have a future ‘painted with a fog’, their maps ‘slums as big as doom’. We must break the windows of that slum, Spender wrote,
And show the children to green fields, and make their world
Run azure on gold sands, and let their tongues
Run naked into books the white and green leaves open
History is theirs whose language is the sun.
The fourth of John Talbott’s criteria is the need for cultural sustainability: Satisfying our need as human beings to be creative and expressive; to learn, grow, teach and be; to have a diverse, interesting, stimulating and exciting social environment and range of experiences available.
― Christine Connelly, Sustainable Communities: Lessons from Aspiring Eco-Villages
And, we can take what Connelly states in her book to the level of — There is relatively little sharing of facilities, faculties, things, social capital, land, farming, cooperative everything, largely due to the dispersement of collective action capitalism has welded to the capitalist consumer, err, citizen. In one sense, many people in this Western society like the idea of big familial situations, and dispersing extra “things” and extra “time” in a cooperative sense, but the systems of oppression, the systems of dog-eat-dog, the systems of malformed educations and coocoo histories, all of that and the retail mentality AND the psychological fears (real, imagined, post-hypnotically suggested through a debt society) of losing home, health, humanity with the wrong throw of the mortgage and employment dice, we have now mostly a society that is not a sharing society, not a sharing economy, not a cadre of millions who believe in a genuine progress index as a marker of a democracy’s overall health.
But to allude to the title, specifically, I am looking at more and more systems of shutting out the ground-view of things versus the global view, or the international view. I am seeing more and more web sites forgetting the lynch-pin of humanity — the family, the community around a family, and the attempt to create tribes and communities of similar purposes and communities of place. Leftist websites spend countless miles of digital ink repeating what the take is on Imperial power, what the take is on the perversities of the American Chaotic diseases, what the world is in those white nations (sic) of more and more poverty, fencing out solutions and global bullshit tied to hobbling literally China, Iran, Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua and any country where a social contract with the people and the land is emerging. Important, sure, but some of us are Marxists because we look at the ground as a way toward the larger truths.
Keeping it Local for Global Perspectives
The reality is that, like Thoreau, most do not have to travel far geographically or scholastically to understand systems from one example or a limited set of examples. If a community, or town or county can’t stop job-killing, physiology-killing, ecological-killing things/ideologies/processes coming into said community, such as, say, aerial sprays of mountains and valleys and hills that have been razed by industry, then, what sort of hope do people hold out in the larger view that your country will do the right thing with say, oh, Cuba. You know, stopping the plague of economic and financial and shipping sanctions/blockades. You can see in plain view the results of stealing countries’ bank accounts or stopping the shipping of valuable life saving “stuffs.”
So, how can that Lincoln County, OR, attempt to go to the State Supreme Court to lobby these shyster judges to do the right thing — stop the spraying of neurological and gut killing sprays to inhibit the unnatural grown and profusion of noxious weeds and opportunist shrubs and bushes on a part of mother earth that once was a dynamic forest with dynamic species, with shaded creeks, with ground food for subsoil, terrestrial and avian creatures.
I get why web sites that carry leftist news and reports go for the international gut wrenching or elitist view, but we need balance. We need proof of life and hope and action at the human level. We need writers like me to take one example of humanity doing humanity right, and giving it to the world.
That is the world here, for a moment — less than 72 hours on a plot of forest land I happen to own with my sister. Nothing fancy, just 20 acres of white pine and cedar and Douglas fir. Turkeys and bears, and the amazing skies. It is near Pahto, or Mount Adams. What should be wet soil is something like I’d find in Colorado near Durango. Snow for the season, more than one fifth the average snowfall. And there has been no rain since June 17.
We are talking Oregon, in the viewshed of Pahto and Wy’east (Adams and Hood). Things on those 20 acres and my neighbors’ adjoining 75 acres are not right. Fire, as one of the brothers told me, will be — unless climate models change 180 degrees — a bigger and bigger part of the land. The landscape. The people’s trial and tribulations. Throughout the west. Throughout the globe.
As we are in a 24-7 loop of being entertained (distracted) to death with sports, Trump Beatification Syndrome/Trump Derangement Syndrome, the politics of perversity, Corona Crisis Number 999, and all the junk that occupies the brains of Homo Retailopethicus.
I’ve been coming to this property for going on 30 years. Not regularly since I have lived and worked in such places as El Paso, Spokane, Seattle, Portland, Gladstone, Beaverton, Estacada, Vancouver, and down here on the coast. It is a three and three-quarters of an hour trip from our house on the Pacific (Central Coast) to the place eight miles north of a town called White Salmon.
I met the neighbor landowners, let’s call them Rita and Ron, before they had put down the concrete footings to their house. Now, some 30 years later, they have a garden, tapped into water, have a nice modern house, lots of out buildings, a Cat for grading, and other things to make life in the woods pretty nice. Ron’s got a degree from U of Washington in geography. He is from Seattle. His brother (we’ll call him JW) put in 30 years at Boeing, and he spends time up on some acres he owns next to my property. A motor home that is nothing fancy, a SUV and he has juice, water and a septic system. There is a lot to do, and not a lot to do. He has a condo in Scottsdale, and he has kids in Spokane and Florida. He is living the good life, and it isn’t a huge ecological footprint. He’s a dyed in the wool democrat.
There are robust and real discussions with these two guys and Ron’s wife Rita. She has been married three times, has childhood trauma, had major drug addictions and she is a big time worker, gets things done, and is in recovery. Her gigs include not just taking care of rich people’s linens, scrubbing and cooking. She’s done this sort of work so long that she gets requests from really sick spouses, or individuals. She is there as caretaker, first responder, nutritional coach, travel agent, companion on some of those trips, and navigator for finances, health care concerns, family issues, and more.
Heavy things taking care of people who once were robust, skiers, surfers, outdoors folk, who are now bed-ridden and stroke paralyzed. There are plenty of issues tied to family members of the people she cares for wanting their cut of the goods, and those who want to outright steal from their moms and dads, grannies and papas.
This is a job we call “caring for people” angels. While Rita doesn’t buy into any heaven/hell theme, she jokes about being both an angel of mercy and of death. Many have died on her watch due to advanced stages of cancer, Alzheimer’s, and the like.
I worked as a union organizer in Seattle, for part-time college faculty, but my union, SEIU, was and is all about health care workers. I spent time with women and men in Seattle and surrounding communities who were the licensed caregivers — the care home owners and the care home workers. Those workers are many times employed by the state to work the low paying, hard hours jobs of assisting people, old or young, who are incapable of thriving on their own without help with any number of things. Many of the people I represented in the union did the bathing and the feeding.
What I learned in those microcosms (again, the big picture stuff was always at the forefront in the union, with them beating the drum to support Obama-2 and Insley for WA governor) was again ramifying how mixed up Capitalism is under Democrats or the Demons of Republicanism. In Seattle, post-Occupy where I got to teach a few times in those famous street teach-ins, all of the Trayvon Martin protests, and those against Amazon, the fabric of that disjointed concept of those who have and those who do not have was in plain sight.
The levels of inequity were in plain sight in that backyard of mine. And, those people from African nations, those Latinx, working as personal care support, or CNAs, and those managing houses where the old, tired, sick would end up, now that was yet another lesson, and all the world is a stage was there as the underlying theme in that Diaspora of people from poverty-stricken post (sic) colonial lands, where war and murder by despots were daily concerns. These humble people were/are the caregivers, the end-of-life shepherds for “our” people — citizens.
In so many cases, the people who come from poor countries, they were the only people in the lives of these American citizens who were languishing in their sadness as their families had abandoned them in many instances. Some woman from Somalia, Sudan, Nigeria, there she was, bathing, soothing, singing to and holding the lives of white people who were stuck in a room, slowly or rapidly dying.
Caregivers, and SEIU represented them as a unit. All the training these caregivers have to undergo, at the state and county levels. Black women and men, and those of Muslim faith, in the Seattle area, tending to the lives of the dying, or the developmentally disabled, that is the reality of capitalism as throwaway society. Capitalism of the impersonal, Capitalism of the scam after scam. Each layer of Capitalism is like a tree riddled with termites and beetles and all manner of disease eating it from the inside out.
That’s the real world stage — what a society does to assist the old, young, vulnerable, failing, too weak to move. What a society does to collectively build safety nets, to look at the “all the world as a stage” perspective from a macro lens, in order to widen the scope to the county, regional, national, global level. Rita taking care of super vulnerable people who do not worry about how they are paying for her private services. Aging in place — in these big homes overlooking the Columbia Gorge. Aging at home before all things go south.
In some cases, Rita is their only confidant, their only set of ears and eyes. Twice weekly visits are the only human touch they receive in their lives. Her job is that multiplicity of jobs in a patriarchal disaster capitalism society — nurse, PT provider, social worker, psychologist, taxi service, health navigator, nutritionist, legal consultant, errand person, cook, mover, travel consultant, companion, financial planner, and more. to end up as a symbolic friend and quasi-daughter or sister.
Rita and Ron live a good life out in the woods, with turkeys jumping into the trees, deer coming to the great garden they have, and the seasonal bear pushing over stumps to look for grubs. A riot of hummingbirds. Snakes and lizards. Butterflies we don’t see in suburban areas anymore. And those trees.
Ron works the land, tends to the canopies, looks for crowded trees, or dying ones, and has learned how to shepherd the land so the trees on the property thrive. Canopies where the crowns don’t touch. A better than park-like feel to the land. And now, with the changing precipitation, the nighttime temperatures last week in the nineties, all that desiccating climate heating, we have yet another “world is a stage” with the poor management of the land, the lack of state resources, the lack of collective will to mitigate fire suppression, and how to bring these forests into some manageable fire dampening state.
Yes, Ron is 68, still capable of logging and stacking trees, but his shoulder a few years ago was operated on, and a knee replaced this year. And, just a week ago, a reminder that the other knee will be chopped out with a titanium replacement to come.
Rita and Ron save money, use the Washington state Medicaid system, they are not consumers — Ron saves the old Ford sedan, cannibalize parts from old washers and dryers, and he knows how to tune up chainsaws, and how to build. His degree in geography and his deep regard for American history keep him sane. He likes golf, he plays dozens of types of cards, including Texas Hold’em, and he does Scrabble. He knows the native names of the two mountains in his geographic area.
This is the small fry of America, and a hidden gem. I know for a fact that old aging in place infirm people, or chronically unhoused folk, or people on the more untenable end of the Autism Spectrum, as well as people who do not fit in, who have intellectual disabilities, or those with complex or simple PTSD, would thrive here.
Again, setting up communities that are multi-generational, with residents possessing multiple avocations and occupations, people with varying skills, those who want community big time, and those who need community in their lives to do some checks and balances. Horse therapy, or dogs. Healthcare and PTSD recovery through gardening. Skills of building a tiny home from logs to end product. Designing microhomes that are in kits, packages that a couple could put together. Imagine that, housing people, and getting abandoned farms or degraded farms into the hands of intentional and healing communities.
So, that one 72 hours on the land, my land shared in title with my sister (it’s really never OUR land, now is it), the small things of just regular people spark, again, from this socialist, Marxist, communist, the deep well of experience and deep learning to a much higher ground, something worthy. But imagine, a thousand, or ten thousand farming centered healing communities, with Native American elders/wisdom, with that wounded veteran to farmer ethos, with all the markings of communitarian outposts of real healing and body-mind-spirit functioning. You know, all those yellow buses that are no longer road worthy. Think of them in the millions, taken to some of these places to be stripped, insulated, interior designed, made into HOMES, with amazing artistic touches, in a big circle, like a sunflower, with a community gathering place in the center, commercial kitchen and food processing center, healing center, and arts center. Imagine that, Bezos and Gates and all the other Financial Stormtroopers who have gutted communities from the bottom, up.
Alas, that’s what the small generates — the systems thinking approach to communities, which need food security, water security, direct health care, even living, aging and dying in place. This does work, will work, and should be scaled up to the thousandth degree. But in this scorched earth and scorched body capitalism, nothing can be moved unless there are a thousand lawyers, ten thousand contracts, and one hundred thousand overseers-code enforcers-middlemen/women in the mix, denigrating human agency, deconstructing the value of people and ideas, and destroying hope.
Bear, turkey, deer, on the deck sipping tequila, and the four of us talking about life, aging, the intricacies of lives so different yet here, on this plot of land, with a common humanity beyond just the intercourse of money and exchanges a la capitalism. The land, that is, the mountains and hills, all those animal trails, each tree a testament to these people, Rita and Ron, caring for the place for more than three decades.
Got a Few Million for this Real Solution?
So, the state of affairs is rotten, to the max, in every aspect of Capitalism. Sure, JC and Rita and Ron have a more middle of the row belief in this country’s exceptionalism. They are not versed in Howard Zinn, W.E.B. DuBois, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, and so many others who have pried open this country’s evil roots, it’s so-called founding, and the wars, the expansionism, all of that. It’s much easier to look at the past with rose tinted glasses, and to believe that something was right, with Eisenhauer or Truman, FDR, any of them. That is the limitation of Americans, even good ones like Ron, Rita and JC. Truly, but they are in their own world, so to speak, a bubble, and yes, they get the world around them is harsh, that some (sic) of USA’s policies have kinked up the world. But to have those limits, to not see how the US has always been Murder Incorporated, or that this is Rogue Nation, a nation of chaos, a nation run by CIA-DoD and the secretive cabal of banks-industrialists-AI fuckers.
And, lo and behold, another friend, we’ll call her Betty, sent to me this other chunk of land, in Oregon, near wine country, 205 acres, up for sale, with amazing infrastructure, up for sale for 6.9 million dollars. The possibility of a developer coming into 205 acres, setting the torch for 5 acre dream (sic) homes for the rich, in a planned and gated community of millionaires, well, that is the rush she had to ask me if I had ideas.
Of course, I have ideas. Look at the list above. This place is called Laurelwood — Look at it here. Link.
Here, the low down via the realtor —
205 +/- acres zoned AF-5
Includes 49 Acre Campus with 6+ Buildings totaling approx. 130,000 SF:
Expansion Hall- Administration Building with Auditorium, Classrooms and Offices
Harmony Hall- Girl’s dorm with 67 rooms, 7 offices, lounge, chapel, commercial kitchen, dining room, bath suites, etc. and attached 3-bedroom Dean’s house
Devotion Hall- Boy’s dorm with 49 rooms (19 rooms need sheetrock finished and painted), apartment with kitchen, bath suites, rec room, lounges, etc. and attached 5-bedroom Dean’s house
Gymnasium/Music Building with Stage
Science Classroom Building with Library
Industrial Arts Building with Auto Shop, Wood Shop and Welding Shop
Extensive Updates during current ownership include:
Administration Building has newer metal roof, updated windows, new insulation, remodeled auditorium and meeting rooms, new HVAC, electrical service and lighting
New windows, high efficiency hot water system, new HVAC, new kitchen appliances and walk-in refrigerator, insulation, paint, lighting and carpeting in Harmony Hall (Girl’s dorm)
New windows, insulation in 49 rooms plus new sheetrock in 30 rooms of Devotion Hall (Boy’s dorm)
New and repaired roofs and new electrical services
Domestic water system and sewage system for campus
Includes separate 4.69 acres (Tax Lot 1301) with Spring and water rights– domestic water source for campus
Adjacent 151 +/- acres well suited for low density residential development with 30 LA water co-op certificates
Vineyard soils & Beautiful Views
South Fork Hill Creek flows through property
Rural location approximately 14 miles south of Hillsboro near Gaston
Ahh, the place is now a retreat, in retreat, as the Yoga enthusiasts are old or aging, and the place was closed due to the corona insanity/lockdown, and the people are giving up, and now it’s on the market: It is Ananda of Laurelwood. I present the basic website verbiage:
What Is Ananda?
Ananda is a global movement to help you realize the joy of your own highest Self.
Living Wisdom School
Temple & Teaching Center
Education for Life
There you have it — water, a spring, land, buildings, the potential of being not just this 205 intentional-healing-farming-tiny home building community, but a model for many others to spread across the land. I know I could get dozens of groups to come to this property for workshops, test kitchen work, growers, even wine producers, horse therapy folk, music healers, and even entomologists to create insect and pollinator fields. Students from the dozens of colleges around the Pacific Northwest, doing projects on aging, on healing, the dog and horse therapy works.
Take a look at this —
So, how do I, well trained, well educated, well versed, find the money? My proposal to Betty is to send a letter to, well, that famous ex-wife, McKenzie Bezos, now McKenzie Scott Tuttle. Billionaire who has pledged to give away half of her wealth, in the billions, tens of billions. Oh, there is Nick Hanauer, and other billionaires, so, imagine, just putting 6.9 million down, owning the property, shelling out for two or three years the monthly upkeep and insurance shit that this property would need while people like me and others build this community, pulling in all those actors, business women and men, the nonprofits, the outside the envelope people who could help design this place as a place of healing.
For me, it is a quick writing prompt, and what follows it that letter to McKenzie Scott Tuttle. First draft. You can never get this to Abigail Disney or Melinda Gates, others, including the Phil Nike Knights. That is Capitalism on steroids — lies, flimflam, propaganda, marketing us to death, layer after layer of buffering, check systems, until good ideas and a good piece of land go the way of the dodo — extinct. This project I could spark into action. I have no problem talking with McKenzie or her handlers with her there, of course. Anyone. There are 2,800 billionaires in the world. Hundreds of philanthropies. A few million angel investors. Collective action and stakeholder building. But the property needs to be held in a trust, a placeholder to allow for a group of people to design its future, to get entrepreneurs involved, to get this thing going so it can be self-sufficient. A model for thousands of other places around the USA and Canada, being scarfed up by the evil ones, the developers.
Below my letter to Scott-Tuttle, see Nick Hanauer. McKenzie Scott gets wealthier even giving away billions below that. Abigail Disney below that. Below her, the author of Dream Hoarders. Better yet, Michael Parenti on Capitalism below the hoarder talk. Below that, Michael’s son, Christian, speaking about Tropic of Chaos, his book climate chaos/heating fueling violence and war.
Here, my letter to McKenzie Scott Tuttle (Warren Buffett and Bill Gates started the Giving Pledge in 2010. It encourages those billionaires to pledge to give away 50% of their earnings to charity. By 2012, over 81 billionaires joined the Giving Pledge. That number is now over 120 billionaires, as of May 2014, according to the Giving Pledge’s official website.)
Reverence is an emotion that we can nurture in our very young children, respect is an attitude that we instill in our children as they become school-agers, and responsibility is an act that we inspire in our children as they grow through the middle years and become adolescents.
— Zoe Weil, p. 42, Above All Be Kind: Raising a Humane Child in Challenging Times
Oh, the naysayers tell me and my cohorts to not even try to break into the foundation you run, that this concept of having Mackenzie Scott Tuttle even interested in becoming a placeholder for an idea, and for this land that a group of visionaries see as an incubation collective space for dreams to become reality.
We place our hopes in your ability to read on and see the vision and plans driving this solicitation, this ask. And it is a big ask.
This is figuratively and literally putting the cart before the horse. Here we have 200 acres, and the vision is retrofitting this center that is already there, Ananda, into a truly holistic healing center, youth run, for a seven generations resiliency and look forward ethos of learning to steward the land, learning to grow the land, toward biodynamic farming, all mixed in with intergenerational wisdom growing.
We are seeing this, as stated above, as a medicine wheel. A circle of integrative thinking, education, experimentation and overlapping visions of bringing stakeholders from around the Pacific Northwest (and world) into this safe harbor. There are already facilities on this property as you can see from the real estate prospectus. There are 120 rooms in a great building. There are outbuildings, a gymnasium, barns, and spring water.
It is unfortunately up for sale, and the danger there is a developer with a keen eye to massive profits and turning a spiritual and secular place of great healing and medicine wheel potential into “dream homes” for the rich.
Good land turned into a gated community? We are asking your philanthropy to take a deep dive into helping put this property on hold from those nefarious intentions and allow our group to develop this circle of healing – education across disciplines, elder type academy mixed with youth directed programs; farming; food production; micro-home building and construction facility; trauma informed healing.
Actually, more. Think of this as a community of communities.
Young People Need Hope, a Place (many places) and Leadership and Development
So many young people are done with Industrial and Techno Capitalism. They know deep down there is more to a scoop of soil than a billion bacteria, and they want to be part of healing communities.
We are proposing the Foundation you have set up invest in this property, as a placeholder for our development plan – actually it is an anti-developer plan. This property will be scarfed up for a steal, by, land and housing developers who want McMansions out here in this incredible eco-scape. Just what we do not need in the outlying areas of Portland. Or in so many other locations across this country.
We are a small group ready to do what we can to get food growers and producers at the table to invest in intellectual and sweat and tears capital to make this 200 acres work as a living community of new farmers, people living and learning on the property, incubating ideas for, we hope, to include a micro-home building project, crops, vineyards, learning centers for farming and preserving, marketing and engaging in food healing.
We come at this with decades around food systems, learning from Via Campesina/o or Marion Nestle, Alice Waters, Winona LaDuke, Rachel Carson. We believe in biomimicry, that is, learning how nature settles scores, survives and thrives. We come at this as deeply concerned about ecological footprints, life cycle analyses, the disposable culture and the planned and marketed obsolescence.
We are also coming at this as educators – earth teachers, who know classrooms in prison like settings, with rows of desks, do not engender creative and solutionaries– young people ready to go into the world, even a small community, with engaged, creative and positive ways to deal with climate chaos and the impending shattering of safety nets, including biological and earth systems “nets” and “webs.”
This property is unique, as all of our earth is. This is firstly Kalapua land, first, and that is the Grande Ronde and Siletz, as well as the Atfalsti, too. We call it Gatson, near Hillsboro, Oregon, but the land is the essence of the spirit givers of this continent before “discovery.”
Rich, in the wine country of the new people to this region, this land is about applying our ethos and yours, Ms. Scott-Tuttle, toward a real healing, a real stewardship and real intergeneration ethos around carrying the wisdom of tribes and growers and educators to the youth. We believe women are at the center of many of the themes already listed – farming, educating, healing, human stewardship.
Think of this project as the cart before the horse because the old system, the horse, was always the money, the source of power, and with power comes strings attached. The people involved in this project are looking to have a multistoried community of farmers, learners, youth learning trades and people skills, as well as elders, both Native and new arrivals, to understand that a farm is more than that, as well as a vineyard is more than the sum of the grapes. It is about a reclaiming of the sacred – soil, air, photosynthesis in a truly sustainable fashion.
The only “green washing” we can imagine this project will carry forth is the washing of the greens, the other harvests, in tubs of clear spring water.
Some of us on this project have traveled to other parts of this continent, and spent time with coffee growers and understand that shade grown coffee and beyond fair trade are the only elements to a truly fair and equitable system. Train the people of the land, who are the true stewards, to not only grow, but to roast and market the bounty. Grow the community with water projects, irrigation, schools, and globalized sharing of people, visitors.
This project needs a placeholder, to keep the land out of the insane real estate market. We will do the rest, we solutionaires. There are so many growers and investment angels who want to be part of the Seventh Generation solution.
Clearly, the lessons for people to be in this 200 acre community, farm-soil-healing satellite, are lessons you, Ms. Scott-Tuttle, the fiction writer, know, which you capture deftly with Luther Albright. The world for young people in the Pacific Northwest is that crumbling home and crumbling dam of Albright. The healing we need is more than the structures and infrastructure. It is inside, at the heart of the soul of imagination. Some of us on this project are soliciting from your charity a placeholder purchase of the property are tied to the arts, believing STEAM is the only way forward, and that S.T.E.M. is lifeless and dangerous without the A – arts. We believe the true voice of people are those who believe in asking “what should we do” rather than what is currently on superchargers – “What Can We Do?”
We realize that for many young people, politics have failed them. Many youth I speak with and work with, believe this country is in the midst of an empire of chaos in steep decay. Alternatives to the decay is building communities that would fit the model here on 200 acres – agro-ecological farming; nutritional centered living; housing; long-term care assistance; youth directed entrepreneur projects; bringing in local and state businesses leaders to be part of a design from the grassroots up.
The catch for most of the youth we have engaged is — to paraphrase and level a composite point,” We are ruled by an elite class of individuals who are completely out of touch with the travails of the average American.” This simple statement is packed full of context and frightening reality for millions of students and adults who feel disconnected and neutered by both government agencies and corporate policies.
First, who wants to be “ruled” by anyone? That we have this class system of elite, middle managers, the elite’s high ranking servicers, and then, the rest of the citizens, the so-called 80 percent who have captured less than the overall 10 percent of “wealth” in this country. The very idea of an elite out of touch, or completely out of touch speaks to an ignorance that is dangerous to the world, to the 80 percent, and also speaks to a possible planned ignorance. That we have millions of amazing people, to include nonprofits, community-led organizations, educational institutions, journalists, and others, who can speak to what those “travails” are, and yet, the elites failing to grasp those challenges, or failing to even acknowledge them, this is what many believe is the decay of this society.
This may not sit well with you or your philanthropy, but we as a group have dozens of years experience working with K12, higher ed, farming groups, social services/mutual aid movements, and have systems thinking in our backgrounds, and we underscore youth and community-driven projects and designs. This medicine wheel/circle land trust we are asking you to consider with a follow up meeting, well, this is the only way to a model-driven set of safety nets to move into some challenging times for this Empire in a world that is no longer USA centric.
We are solutionaries, that is, we look for solutions by taking apart problems and then applying holism and deep experimentation in design, but using tried and proven systems that do work.
Healthy food, healthy relationships to culture, people, nature, healthy work, worthy work, with an eye always on the arts. Just as a farming and tiny home community, where biodynamic farming and food preserving and from nail to roof to complete tiny home design are part and parcel the key elements for this community to thrive under, well, there are no better classrooms and transferable skills.
Some of us have seen youth and adults learn the crafts needed to design, plan, buildings, and market tiny homes that would be used to seed communities that are, again, centered around farming, centered around healing, centered around Native American healing, and local community values. A young woman who finishes the hands-on learning of building a tiny home – with windows, skylights, plumbing, furnishings, electricity ready, all of that which a home entails – is a remarkable, valuable person. All those skills, again, like a medicine wheel, teach deeper lessons, and transferable skills.
This is what this property would also “house.”
All Tied Together – School, Outdoors, People, Action, Solving Food Insecurity and Housing
The should is an educational-farming-entrepreneur-solutions incubator on these 200 acres. Proving that this could be one of a thousand across the land. There are literally thousands of similar properties around the US, within their own cultural-community-ecological-historical milieus, but again, this project is one that Luther Albright would have thrived inside as a “New Engineer for Growing Communities,” as opposed to river-killing dam builder.
Our earthquake is here now, with all measure of tremors and aftershocks — that is the climate chaos, wildfires, food insecurity, and alas, the New/New Gilded age of deep inequities that are criminal, as you well know, Ms. Scott Tuttle.
Here, the cart (before the horse): this amazing collective piece of land and buildings with a multiversity of spiritual under girders . The horses are ready, but they need the cart, the home, the fabric of incubation. Those stallions and mares are engaged, ready, who are willing to take a leap of faith here and risk being outside the common paradigm of predatory and consumer-driven capitalism that has put many millions in a highly precarious position.
It’s amazing, the current system of philanthropy which forces more and more people to beg for less and less diverse money for fewer and fewer truly innovative ideas. Funding a project like this is a legacy ad-venture, the exact formula we need (scaled up to a 1,000 different locales) to break the chains of Disaster and Predatory Capitalism. We need that “capital,” the cart, to help those stallions and mares to break for the field of ideas and fresh streams of praxis.
There are any number of ideas for sustainability communities. Co-ops, growers groups, or mixed communities for young and old to exchange knowledge, capacity, growth, sweat equity — called intergenerational living. This is about a pretty inventive suite of concepts and practices:
learning spaces, inside and outside
buildings to develop micro home (unique, easily packaged and ready to put together) manufacturing and R & D
food systems – farming of sustainable food, herbs and those vines
learning food systems, from farm to plate
ceramics, painting, music, dance, theater and writing center
farmers, restaurateurs and harvesters with a stake in the community
Youth directed outdoor education and experiences
sustainability practicum’s for students
low income micro home housing
day care center, early learning center
How does this make any sense to a billionaire, who has devoted her life to “giving away” half of her wealth in her lifetime? Well, we see this project – this land-property – as a legacy for many of the avocations and interests (passions) you have articulated over the years. Your vision and commitment to education and women-centered projects are admirable. This is one of those projects.
There is that emotional and sappy Movie, Field of Dreams, and the statement – “if you build it, they will come.” We have found that over the years teaching in many places – Seattle, Spokane, Portland, El Paso, Auburn, Mexico – that young people and nontraditional students want mentoring, leadership and the tools to be mentors and leaders. They need the cart before the horse can herald in the new ideas, and the new way to a better future. If the classroom and master facilitator allows for open growth, unique student-led ideas and work, well, that person has BUILT the field of dreams from which to grow.
There are so many potentials with this project, and it starts with the land, holding it as a Scott-Tuttle placeholder. From an investment point of view, as long as you have people wrangling other people and professionals to get this satellite of sanity, the medicine wheel with many spokes radiating out and inward, the property increases in monetary value. Land is sacred, but just as sacred are the ideas and the potential that land might germinate and grow. It is the reality of our country – too few control too much. We see it in the infamous “Complex” – not just military, but, Big Pharma, Big Ag, Big Media, Big Business, Big Education, Big Medicine, as well as private prisons, for profit social services, AI , and Big Tech, so called Surveillance Capitalism. Who in the 80 percent has the funds to purchase a $7 million project?
Big ideas like this cooperative land medicine wheel (a first of many satellites) might be common, but the web of supportive and cohesive things tied to this property is unusual, to say the least. With the failing of small businesses throughout the area, with the food insecurity for women, children and families, with the housing insecurity, added to debt insecurity — with all those insecurities young and old face, this project could be the light at the end of many tunnels. We have connections to Oregon Tilth and Latinx Farmers, and large biodynamic vineyards. We have connections to women’s veteran groups, to aging in place experts. We have connections to trauma healers and growers and interested folk who know construction and design. Additionally, the Pacific Northwest, from Puget Sound to Gold Beach, OR, is full of innovators, and those include the dozens of colleges and universities just in these two states – Oregon and Washington. We intend to trawl for investors – farms, food purveyors, wineries, restaurants, schools and various college programmers – to put into this project. A soil plot to test perennial wheat, a al the Land Institute, to Amory Lovins, Novella Carpenter, and so many more, finding a place of integrated living, ag, permaculture and ever-evolving cultural understanding of the finite planet we are on.
We are hopeful, even under the current Sixth Extinction.
It is telling, this entomologist and educator’s perspective after three decades of teaching:
Diana Six, an entomologist for 30 years who teaches at the University of Montana, took her students to Glacier National Park on a field trip and reported the following:
Life doesn’t just deal with this. When I went up Glacier with my students a few weeks ago, the flowers were curling up. At some of the lower elevations, glacier lilies were shriveled, lupins didn’t even open. The flowers should extend for another three weeks and they’re already gone. Any insects or birds that depend upon them, like bees or hummingbirds, are in trouble, their food is gone. Bird populations have just baked… People seem to think of extinctions as some silent, painless statistic. It’s not. You look at birds that can no longer find fish because they’ve moved too far off shore. They’re emaciated; they’re starving to death. We are at the point that there’s nothing untouched.
How contradictory and illustrative that this student experience took place in a “protected national park.”
Referencing how climate change impacts life, Diana said:
Somewhere along the way, I had gone from being an ecologist to a coroner. I am no longer documenting life. I’m describing loss, decline, death.
We are hopeful that our youth can document life on this Medicine Wheel Land Satellite, and instead of describing “loss, decline, death,” this one satellite can help individuals to describe resurgence, restoration, holism, and growth. A model, like the one we propose, could be the incubator and inspiration for other similar projects throughout the land. So many empty buildings, so many abandoned farms, so much good land about to be grabbed up by McMansion developers, or those who have no vision toward a resilient and communitarian existence.
We are thinking of a medicine wheel since so many people can utilize the Farm, from horse therapists, to gardening as trauma healers; from alternative medicine experts, to restaurants with a connection to growers. This is Tierra Firma Robusta, for sure, with so much potential to integrate a suite of smart, worldly, localized and educational programs, permanent, long-term, and short in duration. This would be the linchpin of inspiration, an incubator for similar projects, and we’d make sure that the Philanthropy you head up would be in some form of limelight – imagine, a billionaire placing a property with a deep spiritual history into a land trust of perpetuity. I know another billionaire has purchased farmland and is now the largest farm land holder in the US, but this one here we propose would fit an entirely different model, having nothing to do with industrial farming, genetic engineering and monocultures. Like all good societies, the cornucopia of life and backgrounds and people and land is what makes them dynamic, healthy and resilient, as well as fair.
We propose a grand idea, but we need that field of dreams, that field, that farm, before we can engage a hundred people to be part of this medicine wheel of land healing and hope.
Please let our team discuss this further. Truly, we have both the passion and persistence to get this Medicine Wheel of Healing Farm Community to an unimaginably vibrant level. Will you be part of our field of dreams?
I am of the opinion that people have the right to decide whether to accept vaccines or not, especially since these are experimental vaccines … My concern is I know there are risks but we don’t have access to the data … We don’t really have the information we need to make a reasonable decision.
No, it is not the sky is falling overreach. Any leftist worth her or his understanding of Capitalism’s History, of the entire project of this country’s Indian Removal campaign, the entire force of slavery then and slavery now, and the dirty murderers in every aspect of American government and corporate prostitution of government/politicos, knows this new normal policing of the Internet is just another variation on a theme of USA Surveillance Central: snitches, Scarlet Letters, superstitious Skull and Bones antihuman Ivy Elites, House Committee on Unamerican Activities (HCUA), COINTELPRO, CIA Murder Inc., Confessions of Economic Hit Men, Chicago School, Edward Bernays School of Pulling the Wool Over the Sheeple’s Eyes.
Note that the YouTube interview of me has been scrubbed, and Andy Libson thinks it’s Artificial Intelligence doing it, though I am surfing the internet all the time for jobs, and many remote jobs are in the pipeline, and there are humans doing $20 an hour gigs surfing the internet with those tools of oppression provided them to, well, scour the internet of ideas! Here, Andy’s email to me:
I thought this might happen…and it did!
If you want you can post your episode up on bitchute.
I actually wonder if they got all bent out of shape about the comments. Who knows with these creatures.
We know that this might be disappointing, but it’s important to us that YouTube is a safe place for all. If content breaks our rules, we remove it. If you think we’ve made a mistake, you can appeal and we’ll take another look. Keep reading for more details.
It is childish, all “vice principal thuggery like”, suspensions for not standing during the pledge of allegiance, or expulsions for defending oneself with fists when a bunch of thugs jump you in the high school bathroom. The nanny state on growth hormones, and this just is a long line of compliancy, the school system John Taylor Gatto discussed. One hundred and fifty years in the making, until today: Zoom Doom Schools, adult teachers as children, children as infants, wasted thoughts, busy work, coloring and snack-snack-snack, all that school loyalty, mascots on underwear, administrators who sound like two-bit car salespersons: the rise of Consumo Pithecus and Retailosapiens:
Twentieth-century scientific schooling is best described as the social experiment of inculcating into children what Gatto calls the “seven lessons of school teaching.” These lessons of mass forced schooling merit lengthy quotation:
It confuses the students. It presents an incoherent ensemble of information that the child needs to memorize to stay in school. Apart from the tests and trials, this programming is similar to the television; it fills almost all the “free” time of children. One sees and hears something, only to forget it again.
It teaches them to accept their class affiliation.
It makes them indifferent.
It makes them emotionally dependent.
It makes them intellectually dependent.
It teaches them a kind of self-confidence that requires constant confirmation by experts (provisional self-esteem).
It makes it clear to them that they cannot hide, because they are always supervised.
Or, as Rockefeller’s General Education Board summed up in a 1906 document on scientific schooling:
In our dreams … people yield themselves with perfect docility to our molding hands. The present educational conventions [intellectual and character education] fade from our minds, and unhampered by tradition we work our own good will upon a grateful and responsive folk…. The task we set before ourselves is very simple…. We will organize children … and teach them to do in a perfect way the things their fathers and mothers are doing in an imperfect way.
This is the new normal since we’ve had 150 years of Gestapo schooling, even before the words, Geheime Staatspolizei (Secret State Police) were put together in order to exact obedience. You can hear Glen Greenwald’s most recent analysis of the cancel culture, and worse, the libeling and destruction of human beings with a counter thought, contrarian, outside the main paradigm, critical of systems, left, right or center under this fascist state, USA:
On this special edition of System Update, Glenn Greenwald dives into the latest online war to erupt in the Liberal media ecosystem to explore the underlying pathologies driving liberal and Democratic Party discourse. He focuses on two reputation-destroying cancers in particular that have become dreadfully commonplace: baselessly accusing people of being paid Russian agents, and weaponizing accusations of sexual misconduct.
The irony of my hour and 49 minutes with Andy, Eduardo and Kenny, on their three-year-old show, What’s Left, is that I bar no holds, and actually critique the entire mess that is the echo chamber, the Jimmy Dore’s, Bill Maher’s, Jon Stewart’s, SNL’s, all of them who think they are giving to humankind in their endless prattling and rattling. Millionaires, like Joe Rogan? Really. Oh, the work they don’t do to have $ thrown at them. All the prognosticators, all those making hay commenting on the commenters and the news (sic) and the political whoring that is DC/K-Street/Big Media/DoD/Three Branches of the Poison Tree called Government! It is endless, meaningless, and worthless in the scheme of things, but should never be 86-ed off any platform.
Do we get taken off Word Press for the stories Dissident Voice runs, the fun word play I have with life in the Matrix? Gestapoization connected to YouTube, Google, Twitter, Microsoft, Facebook, this concept too much for the worldwide net? Do those algorithms and deep boring AI tools go looking for these sorts of juxtaposed concepts by writers, to tally up and then eventually remove?
I’m attempting to get Andy, Eduardo and Kenny to get me in on interviewing THEM at What’s Left, and, the irony is, we can’t talk about bans by YouTube, or discuss this Internet Gestapoization without, well, getting the bloody YouTube video banned, culled, taken down, First Amendment Ripped! Here’s what I just email What’s Left:
So, how many times has this happened to What’s Left, Andy? I will be writing a piece on this ASAP, but give me a sense of the times you all got taken down, by YouFuckYourselfTube, so I can frame some of what I write about ties into your work. What are the takedowns about? Just “medical misinformation”?
Andy — We’ve had 4 episodes removed.
1. What’s Left came about why?
Andy — About saying the the previous prez election was stolen. And that the “insurrection” was a setup and a fraud. (Yours) … I think it’s the idea that it is a bioweapon. That is my guess at least.
2. What are some of the more compelling topics and issues you all have covered? Why?
Andy — They were about talking about vaccines and maintaining that they were gene therapy techniques and were dangerous. And we were skeptical of them even being vaccines.
3. What topics would you like to cover in the future?
4. What’s your background, quickly (I did see your interview on Left Lockdown Skeptics)?
5. As a socialist, for you and Kenny and Eduardo, what has all of this Facebook and YouTube and Twitter lockdowning, censoring, etc., done to your framing, your perspective?
6. Are you three educators? This sort of culling of discussion and debate and information flow back and forth being culled by ruthless people, the elites and their foot soldiers, it seems like something you all would talk about in HS current events, communications classes, history, no? What would you tell students who might ask you why all the websites and podcasts and videos are coming down.
7. Here you go, Green Peace gets Exxon, but this is business as usual for the elites. And, Green Peace will be sued. Discuss?
8. So much for peaceful protests — how do you frame a story like this to your compadres and students? “In Iowa, a federal judge has sentenced climate activist Jessica Reznicek to eight years in prison for damaging parts of the Dakota Access pipeline in 2016 and ’17. U.S. District Court Judge Rebecca Goodgame Ebinger also ordered Reznicek to pay nearly $3.2 million in restitution. In 2016, Jessica Reznicek and fellow activist Ruby Montoya set fire to five pieces of heavy machinery being used to construct the Dakota Access pipeline.”
Harkens to Bidder 70, Tim DeChristopher — “Tim DeChristopher disrupted an illegitimate Bureau of Land Management oil and gas auction in December of 2008, by posing as Bidder 70 and outbidding oil companies for parcels around Arches and Canyonlands National Parks in Utah. For his act of civil disobedience, DeChristopher was sentenced to two years in federal prison. Held for a total of 21 months, his imprisonment earned him an international media presence as an activist and political prisoner of the United States government.”
9. Define what it means to be a human/man in 2021 — your perspective.
10. What does community mean to you?
11. Each of us has the elevator (masked and only two aboard under Covid-19 Craziness) speech on what is socialism, what is communism. What’s yours?
12. Where do you see USA in 20 years?
13. Where do you see the world in 20 years?
14. Are you a pacifist, and if so, why, and if not, then what, and why?
15. Biggest influencers in your life to have gotten you where you are now?
16. And, exactly where are you know? Define!
That’s the idea, at least, to drill down and peel back all the obfuscation and over and covert propagandization and disenfranchisement of real leftists, for sure — revolutionaries, socialists, communists.
Getting knocked off of YouTube pales in comparison to the issues of the day, of the hour, of the second, but it does have reverberations. All the people looking into the fascist states around the world and the fascist corporations and the thugs of the World Economic Forum and World Health Organization kind, well, those stories will be culled, and if you do an Internet search, not only are stories put to the 20th page of a Google search, there are 19 pages of fake articles, faux forums and other variations of mass media mush that hit you/us with countervailing articles (sic) on the very topic you might be writing about and posting/publishing.
They are at war with the people, with ideas, with free thinking, with free learning, with freedoms. The elites and their handmaids of oppression, subjugation and repression are working 24/7, each nanobit and nanosecond we breathe:
patriarchy as ham-fisted murderers of the military industrial complex kind
Hollywood (Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, too) as the arbiters of the lies, the propagandists, the chosen few — Lies Incorporated
any given minute, read the news feeds of your choice and see the perversions the elites and the mainstream feed the minds of Westerners
health system gulags
AI & Surveillance gulags
It all adds up — polluted skies, polluted thoughts, polluted discourse, or lack of discourse, that is!
Finally, the inventor of the mRNA process, Dr. Robert Malone, has been not just scrubbed from YouTube, but from Wikipedia. This is how Gestapo works:
… the adult public are basically research subjects that are not being required to sign informed consent due to EUA waiver. But that does not mean that they do not deserve the full disclosure of risks that one would normally require in an informed consent document for a clinical trial.
And now some national authorities are calling on the deployment of EUA vaccines to adolescents and the young, which by definition are not able to directly provide informed consent to participate in clinical research — written or otherwise.
The key point here is that what is being done by suppressing open disclosure and debate concerning the profile of adverse events associated with these vaccines violates fundamental bioethical principles for clinical research. This goes back to the Geneva convention and the Helsinki declaration.12 There must be informed consent for experimentation on human subjects. (Source; Source)
Pulitzer or Izzy or Project Censored awards? Those don’t matter in these Mad Hatter times of faux news, invented news, spurious news, demented news. It’s just another day in the “if it bleeds, it leads” gambit of mainstream and askew stream news. We have to keep digging, keep interviewing, keep researching. The ultimate arc of social justice and freedom is truth.
The only kinds of fights worth fighting are those you’re going to lose, because somebody has to fight them and lose and lose and lose until someday, somebody who believes as you do wins. In order for somebody to win an important, major fight 100 years hence, a lot of other people have got to be willing — for the sheer fun and joy of it — to go right ahead and fight, knowing you’re going to lose. You mustn’t feel like a martyr. You’ve got to enjoy it.
— I. F. Stone, quoted from, The Impossible Will Take a Little While: A Citizen’s Guide to Hope in a Time of Fear, Paul Rogat Loeb
One view of change when it comes to charter schools is that charter schools are awful for various reasons, especially when it comes to funding arrangements, and that what is needed is better oversight, regulation, and accountability of privately-operated charter schools so that they stop “bilking the system” and stop harming public schools that educate the majority of students.
More accountability and oversight are certainly better than no accountability and oversight, but the charter school sector has operated with neither for 30 years.
The key question is: do charter schools have any valid or legitimate claim to public funds, resources, and facilities in the first place? With or without oversight, should charter schools be receiving a single public penny at all? What right do charter schools have to public wealth produced by workers?
The only way to settle these questions is to deeply appreciate the critical difference between public and private and then ascertain whether charter schools are public schools or not. It is well-known, for example, that simply declaring something is public 50 times a day does not automatically and spontaneously make it public.
The public/private question has been answered by a long list of charter school investigators: charter schools are not public schools, they are not even run by elected individuals and cannot levy taxes like public schools. Charter schools differ from public schools in many critical ways and function like privatized, marketized, corporatized entities. Unlike public schools, charter schools are not political subdivisions of the state; many operate openly as for-profit schools and many more are “managed” by for-profit corporations. Charter schools and public schools differ on organizational, legal, philosophical, and operational grounds. They are simply not the same. Thus, for example, charter schools are heavily driven by “free market” ideology. Charter school promoters see education as a commodity, not a social responsibility, and they treat parents and students as consumers and shoppers, not humans and citizens with rights that must be guaranteed in practice by government. A fend-for-yourself ethos pervades the crisis-prone charter school sector. It is no surprise that more than 3,000 charter schools have closed in just three decades. Chaos, anarchy, instability, and corruption are rampant in the highly segregated charter school sector.
If deregulated charter schools wish to exist, they can exist, but they must not have access to any public funds, resources, and facilities that legitimately belong to public schools. They have no valid claim to public wealth. At no time should a private entity be able to seize public resources that belong to the public sector. Such a setup distorts the economy and undermines education. Accountability and oversight will not fix that.
The millionaires and billionaires behind charter schools are not interested in accountability, transparency, or oversight; they are determined to engage in more neoliberal restructuring of the state so as to maximize profit as fast as possible in the context of a continually failing economy. Charter schools are pay-the-rich schemes that have nothing to do with improving schools or achievement. They are promoted under the veneer of high ideals but cannot be prettified. Charter schools are a form of state-organized corruption to pay the rich. If the tens of billions of public dollars and public facilities seized annually from public schools by charter schools were returned to public schools then students, teachers, and society would be much better off.
Balance. Inside out, outside in. From science driven diving, environmental warrior in the 1970s — in AZ, in Mexico, in the Sea of Cortez — to small-town daily newspaperman: Tucson, Bisbee, Wilcox, Sierra Vista, and all these small towns in several rural counties south, on the borderline. El Paso, New Mexico, Mexico, Central America.
Teacher, social worker, mescal-guzzler, photographer, aspiring failed novelist, always moving, always moving on, always distracted.
She’s seen me buoyant and busted. She’s heard me wax poetic and polemic. She’s admired me and feared me. She’s understood me and debated me. She’s heard me embrace her and argue with her.
There is no handbook, no guideposts for being a father . . . or to flip the script: there are no guiderails or throttle governors to learn how to be a daughter of a character like me!
her chin lifts
air of Chihuahua
sink into corner
clouds on wall
painted by Mario
beer in hand
the world his home
her room, sanctuary
daughter is innocence
odors of cumin
green giant chiles
thunderbird on mountain
one day a woman
alone at night
sounds of city
harsh, tumbling humanity
trapped, concrete prisons
she tastes poblano
eagle out there
wings of hope
— Paul Haeder, 7/2/2021
I was in Spokane, helping my amazing daughter get her small business going.
Lots of tough days with her father, me, always on the air, in print, hurly burly, angry at the world, alone writing, man lost of tribe, lone wolf, perfectionist, over “college” educated. Always flapping his lips.
She asked me, “Are you really proud of me, dad? I didn’t finish college? I am not this politically engaged and active person in Spokane. I am not the daughter you wanted, right?”
Shit, now that takes a 64-year-old know-it-all, big blustery dude like me down a few notches.
The reality is, of course, I am proud of her. Of course, I am not disappointed about the lack of a college matriculation. Of course, I am not expecting in 2021 that college means much.
Proud, and with love. Seems like a no-brainer combo in this completely (almost) fucked up (oxymoron) world (theirs, ours, mine, hers).
It is the father issue, for sure. Divorce. Other things in my daughter’s life that not only cemented her spirit into what we call CPTSD — complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder — but also her view of the world, with her own beat of a very different drummer in the background, low grumble bass in her chest.
Those are her stories to tell, though my daughter is self-actualized, open, and articulate about her struggles.
“Come to Dust”
Spirit, rehearse the journeys of the body
that are to come, the motions
of the matter that held you.
Rise up in the smoke of palo santo.
Fall to the earth in the falling rain.
Sink in, sink down to the farthest roots.
Mount slowly in the rising sap
to the branches, the crown, the leaf-tips.
Come down to earth as leaves in autumn
to lie in the patient rot of winter.
Rise again in spring’s green fountains.
Drift in sunlight with the sacred pollen
to fall in blessing.
All earth’s dust
has been life, held soul, is holy.
She is in Spokane, since age six, and alas, at 25 she’s feeling everything I lamented and wrote about: small town now traffic snarled; pigs/cops hassling homeless; unchecked building (growth); water issues; broken down buildings; homes and rents out the roof; Californians (other big monied folk) swooping into town and the county buying up stuff, and hiking rents.
I was there, June 30, at a 112 degrees, 101 in the night, 1 am. Planned rolling blackouts by the electrical service, Avista. Roads cracking and buckling. Fireworks stands. Death, sickness, the new normal — unmitigated survival of the fittest (richest) and nothing ever prepared now, yesterday and for tomorrow’s heat domes.
The show is over, with unfettered casino-predatory-disaster-zombie-parasitic capitalism.
Shit, how does a guy like me help a gal like her, 25, 500 miles away (I drove the 2006 van, which I have kept up, worked on it myself, called a sucker for having a rig with 230,000 original miles on it).
She’s an on-her-knees kind of photographer, but also right there, with a heart of empathy, for what Eduardo’s poem belies — “the nobodies”. Others call them/us — useless breathers, useless breeders and useless eaters. Makenna is there, in their spaces, and her own heart is so drawn into that unknowable force that makes some people “empaths.”
Fleas dream of buying themselves a dog, and nobodies dream of escaping
poverty: that one magical day good luck will suddenly rain down on
them—will rain down in buckets. But good luck doesn’t rain down
yesterday, today, tomorrow, or ever. Good luck doesn’t even fall in a
fine drizzle, no matter how hard the nobodies summon it, even if their
left hand is tickling, or if they begin the new day with their right
foot, or start the new year with a change of brooms.
The nobodies: nobody’s children, owners of nothing. The nobodies: the
no ones, the nobodied, running like rabbits, dying through life,
screwed every which way.
Who are not, but could be.
Who don’t speak languages, but dialects.
Who don’t have religions, but superstitions.
Who don’t create art, but handicrafts.
Who don’t have culture, but folklore.
Who are not human beings, but human resources.
Who do not have faces, but arms.
Who do not have names, but numbers.
Who do not appear in the history of the world, but in the police
blotter of the local paper.
The nobodies, who are not worth the bullet that kills them.”
― Eduardo Galeano, Open Veins of Latin America
She’s stayed in Spokane and has enveloped herself in that part of the Inland Pacific Northwest, because of the fairy like worlds in the woods and in mountains and valleys:
The ecosystems — running water, lakes, mists, the dews, soggy soils — those are the victims of climate heating, bulldozers, human incursions. So, combine this formula after formula:
bigger than life father
mother an English teacher
father on the radio, in the news, making it and writing it
dad with full-throttle on boats, kayaks, motorcycles, diving, hiking
a childhood with lots of leeway
exposure to street life, and Spokane has a reputation of having tough lives on the street, and violence
being a vegan and self-styled, she was bullied at k8-12
mother hits the air to move to Australia
father raising a pubescent girl while on his own, dating
always railing against the systems of oppression, her father, well, not always a good bedside manner raising his only child
father moving away — Seattle, Vancouver, Portland, Oregon Coast!
I look back and, of course, this is not the life I envisioned, the relationship with a child I was banking on. I wasn’t even thinking of children. I cycled through relationships, and that includes four marriages. I am not prudish or Puritan about this at all, but the ramifications are huge. Hell, I am trained on ACES:
I’ve worked with youth for more than a decade as a social services provider. I have worked with adults who are coming out of prisons, are homeless, are facing addictions, and are poor. I know the epigentics of how even bodies (DNA) change under cortisol loads. I am there, understanding why some old guy with no teeth who just went off the wagon again, using meth, is bawling and apologizing. Old guy at 73, one of my clients when I worked with homeless vets. At 73, sliding into Meth in Portland. Everything goes to shit because he goes MIA for days.
I know these men and women, and they have a boatload of influences in their lives. They did not wake up one day, at age 14 or 21, and say, “Man, I can’t wait to have all my teeth rot out of my head. I can’t wait to have collapsed veins, psychosis, COPD, the shakes, uncontrolled bowels, living in a box at the back of a warehouse, with a criminal rap sheet that is 30 pages long.”
My daughter has kept one good thing her old man instilled — “When you see that person on the street, all greasy and broken down, cardboard sign in hands, and shaky, and, wanting to drink or shoot up, with blathering and blathering as his or her SOP, remember, that person once was a baby. And even if it was a nurse in the delivery room, that old homeless adult once had at least a person in his or her life who swaddled him or her and loved. Unconditional love.”
It is tough being Makenna since her old man is always out there, putting it all out there for everyone to see, hear, read, view. She’s seen her old man locked up for various things, seen her old man sacked for various reasons, seen her old man broken by this or that slight coming at him from the bureaucrats. She’s seen her old man heart-broken. She’s seen her old man not exactly the ideal of a good All-American Father.
Yet, she has stuck with me. She embraces my spouse, now, finding the thrill of my wife’s laugh, the warmth of the chile-embraced tamales my wife makes so all can taste Aztlan on their tongues. She has held my hand and warmed my cold heart. These are valuable humanistic traits in a time of Covid, post-Covid, Transhuman Dystopia, Unbalanced-Unbalancing world. But she is also one of the world’s vulnerable ones — heart on sleeve, deeply tied to humanity, absolutely through and through in constant ire against the authorities, the systems of oppression, the overlords and the mean as cuss cops/pigs/DA’s/judges/CEOs/Captains of Industry/Colonels of death!
During those last hours I was in Spokane — not surrendering to all that heat the real new normal for most of USA — I was being interviewed by Andy, Kenny and Eduardo for their podcast, “What’s Left.” I was in her pad, and alas, while she was getting an ultrasound for excruciating side aches, I was doing the interview.
The closer I look at the Zoom recording, the more fidgety and disjointed I am now after so many decades of railing, screaming to be heard. I’ll post that interview when Andy and his fellows wrap it up.
But am I Beale?
All I know is that first, you’ve got to get mad.
You’ve gotta say, “I’m a human being, goddammit! My life has value!”
So, I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window, open it, and stick your head out and yell,
“I’m as mad as hell,
and I’m not going to take this anymore!!”
— Network (1976)
Thanks, daughter, for putting up with me and my rants, like the one below I just posted on the show I will be on today — What’s Left. I was recorded with Che in the background in your cute, sweet, house-plant invested apartment in Spokane. Hasta luego, chica:
Yes, indeed. All my travels — physically, intellectually and emotionally — have taught me that, of course, communism and collectivism work. Yeah, act locally, think globally. Well, what a hell of a resource extraction world the Capitalists have set forth. You do not have to travel far into history or your own backyard to see that predatory-casino-parasitic-penury-disaster-war capitalism is the gift that keeps giving: fines, tolls, add-ons, penalties, triple taxations, taxes without representation. Rape the land, force pollutants onto the people, charge the people for cleaning them up (they never get cleaned up, ugh, forever chemicals, PCBs, dioxins, radioactive by-products). Epigentics of DNA mutations.
Then, attempt to critique or fight this tyranny, and, well, zip up that mouth and lose that job, because a person counting on a dirty boss and dirtier paycheck to make ends meet is not going to be looking that rotting gimpy gift horse in the mouth. You will, however, not see anyone on the right actually fit any humane or human role, so that dead horse don’t need no kicking. I have interviewed, argued with, taught, and even looked down the wrong end of the barrel of right-wing fuckers’ gun, and to a person, they are not in this world to be holistic, to be collective, to be fair, to be one in the whole. Dog-eat-dog, pull-yourselves-up-by-your-own-bootstraps, I’ve got mine, and I give a shit if you don’t have yours.
These are the human eaters. When I say right, let’s make that clear — that’s Clinton or Bush, Carter or Reagan, Obama or Trump. Add to that DNA similarity the mutated minds of the western thinker — sociopaths, pedophiles, bestiality’s punks, torturers, criminals, Oedipus-loving narcissists. So, critiquing lockdowns, or questioning the Big Pharma-Big Tech-Big Finance- Big Capitalization/ Financialization agenda, seems like what Che did, Marx did, a million other communists did and do. Keep up the good work, What’s Left, and remember to have some fucking fun with these snakes and poisonous propagandists and murderers.
Check out one motherfucking funny and off the wall dude —
Remember, any motherfucking patriarchal prick who thinks of the 80 percent as useless eaters, useless breeders, and useless breathers, well, it doesn’t matter which side of the “political” manure pile in this country’s duopoly he sits on: those people are, well, mass murderers, in situ, with the power of a mouse click, the power of the rule of corporate law.
Galeano’s work, above, “The Nobodies”! Says it all, if you spend time talking about its meaning, its context, its writer.
Or hell, Pablo Neruda, man — says it all about EVERYTHING, 71 years later: Musk, Exxon, Bates, Soros, the Fortune 1000 thugs, transnationals, the Group of 30 and the 147 companies controlling the world:
The United Fruit Company by Pablo Neruda , 1950
When the trumpet sounded, it was
all prepared on the earth,
the Jehovah parceled out the earth
to Coca Cola, Inc., Anaconda,
Ford Motors, and other entities:
The Fruit Company, Inc.
reserved for itself the most succulent,
the central coast of my own land,
the delicate waist of America.
It rechristened its territories
as the ’Banana Republics’
and over the sleeping dead,
over the restless heroes
who brought about the greatness, the liberty and the flags,
it established the comic opera:
abolished the independencies,
presented crowns of Caesar,
unsheathed envy, attracted
the dictatorship of the flies,
Trujillo flies, Tacho flies,
Carias flies, Martines flies,
Ubico flies, damp flies
of modest blood and marmalade,
drunken flies who zoom
over the ordinary graves,
circus flies, wise flies
well trained in tyranny.
Among the blood-thirsty flies
the Fruit Company lands its ships,
taking off the coffee and the fruit;
the treasure of our submerged
territories flow as though
on plates into the ships.
Meanwhile Indians are falling
into the sugared chasms
of the harbors, wrapped
for burials in the mist of the dawn:
a body rolls, a thing
that has no name, a fallen cipher,
a cluster of the dead fruit
thrown down on the dump.
So far, none of the four majority-white suburbs around Charlotte have succeeded at breaking away from CMS and sequestering their children in predominantly white charter schools, but an obscure federal government program is helping them resegregate education, nevertheless.
According to an analysis by the Network for Public Education (NPE), published in the Washington Post, a five-year grant of $26.6 million from the federal government’s Charter Schools Program (CSP) was awarded to North Carolina in 2018 and is being used to finance “white-flight academies,” including existing and new charter schools in the majority-white communities that tried to break away from CMS.
Referring to her organization’s analysis, NPE executive director Carol Burris explains that North Carolina used funds from its federal government grant to finance charter schools that have “significant overrepresentation of white students or a significant underrepresentation of Black students compared with the population of the public school district in which they are located.”
Specifically, of the 42 charter schools that “received CSP grants via the North Carolina Department of Education,”30 have reported demographic information, and among those schools, more than one-third (11) have much higher percentages of white students compared to public schools in their home districts, says Burris. Among those 11 schools with racial imbalances, four schools are located in or near two of the four majority-white communities that tried to split off from CMS. Two more grant recipients are also in or near these majority-white communities but have yet to report attendance data.
“The purpose of the award was to support ‘high-quality schools focused on meeting the needs of educationally disadvantaged students,’” Burris told Our Schools in an email. But her organization’s analysis finds that “most” of the charter schools that the state awarded federal money to “have served and still serve as white-flight and affluence-flight alternatives to the local public schools.”
Federal Support for Resegregating the South
When the bill allowing communities to secede from CMS and start their own charters was first proposed in 2017, proponents claimed it was about improving education through “more parental choice,” Carolina Journal reported.
Opponents argued that should the bill become law, which it eventually did, it would “undermine” the efforts being undertaken in CMS to have more racially mixed schools, according to NC Policy Watch. The district, which was once “lauded as an example of what successful integration could look like,” according to a 2016 article in the New Yorker, had more recently reverted to its segregated past due to a series of court decisions and actions by state and local governments.
Opponents of the new law also pointed to clear evidence that the expanding charter school sector in the state was already increasing segregation, and they have called for “a really honest conversation about what charters are designed to do and what they’re actually doing,” said Justin Perry, a Charlotte parent and chair of OneMECK, an advocacy group that seeks to provide fair and equal education opportunity to all CMS students.
It’s hard to believe that officials in the U.S. Department of Education were unaware of this debate when they were weighing in on the decision of whether or not to award North Carolina with a charter school grant.
The evidence linking charter schools to increased racial segregation is well known, particularly in the South, and there is a significant body of research showing that allowing smaller suburban communities to break away from large metropolitan districts is also a contributor to racial segregation.
Further, it is well known that charter schools in North Carolina are helping to effectively resegregate the state by enrolling students who are generally much whiter and wealthier than the public schools in their host districts.
So, for the federal CSP to award North Carolina what some considered to be an overly generous grant shortly after the state had enacted a new law allowing white suburbs to peel away from CMS seems either naïve or intentionally opportunistic.
Further, North Carolina state officials who divvied up the federal grant money to individual charter schools, at best, seem not to have closely examined applications for the funds.
In her email, Burris said, “As we [NPE] went through the North Carolina subgrant applications, we saw the same problems we have seen before with CSP grants. Several applicants either falsified or cherry-picked the data they shared.”
“For example, the Hobgood Charter School, a former voucher academy, reported their percentage of economically disadvantaged students [in 2020] was 66.96 percent [in their subgrant application],” Burris continued. “However, according to the North Carolina State Report Card, the percentage [of economically disadvantaged students] during the year Hobgood applied [for a subgrant in 2019-2020] was only 18.7 percent.”
In short, “If you could write a good narrative, you [got the money],” Burris said.
A 2020 grant recipient, with an award of $700,000, is the Community School of Davidson, located near Cornelius. As Burris writes in the Washington Post, the charter school converted from a formerly private school, which operated from a Baptist church. “The year  it received its grant, 84 percent of its students were white,” she notes. In 2021, the school was still predominantly white (82.4 percent) and only 3.4 percent Black and 6.2 percent Hispanic. Nearby Cornelius Elementary School is significantly more racially mixed, with a student population that is 63.7 percent white, 12.6 percent Black, and 15 percent Hispanic as of 2021.
Lakeside Charter Academy, located at a Cornelius address, received a $600,000 grant in 2020. The school has all the appearances of an elite private school with only 213 students, spread out across K-8 grade levels, who are majority (51.6 percent) white, with lunch service catered by a local restaurant; although, the evaluation description of the school’s grant application stated the school intends to provide “a free or reduced lunch program through the ‘Apple a Day’ catering company.” It seems hard to believe this school really needs the $600,000 grant.
Two more grant recipients—Telra Institute charter school, which received a $400,000 grant, and Huntersville Charter High School, which also got a $400,000 grant—are in Matthews and Huntersville, respectively, but have yet to report any student demographic data (Telra Institute has only recently opened, and Huntersville Charter High School has yet to open). But given the tendency of North Carolina state education officials to be agnostic about allowing federal grants to fund schools with racially imbalanced student enrollments, it’s hard to believe these schools will be exceptionally diverse.
Local Opposition to Resegregation
While the federal government continues to fund charter schools that are resegregating these communities, there are signs that local opposition may use the democratic process to stymie the effort to resegregate CMS through breakaway charters.
Study commissions created by local governing boards in Huntersville and Cornelius to examine how their communities would use charter schools to secede from CMS came away with divergent conclusions. While the Huntersville commission recommended seceding from CMS and forming a municipal charter or partnering with existing charters, the Cornelius commission presented pros and cons of this move in such a way that it persuaded the mayor to express strong doubts about making any changes other than to remain in CMS.
In the 2019 mayoral election in Matthews, voters tossed out the incumbent mayor Paul Bailey, who supported municipal charters, and the challenger who took his place, John Higdon, joined with the town board of commissioners to stick with CMS. Mint Hill, according to the Charlotte Observer, “did not actively pursue joining on to the legislation” allowing the community to establish its own municipal charters.
In 2020, the North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Branch of the NAACP, and two parents with children in CMS filed a lawsuit against the state, claiming that the law allowing community secession from CMS is an attempt to resegregate the district that “violates the state’s constitutional guarantees of a uniform system of free public education.”
Also in 2020, William Brawley, the state House representative who sponsored the bill that legalized secession from CMS, lost his reelection race. Brawley’s victorious Democratic opponent, Rachel Hunt, daughter of former North Carolina Governor Jim Hunt, criticized the vote on allowing schools to secede from CMS, according to the Charlotte Observer.
In the run-up to the election, as WFAE reports, “Democrats believe[d] they [could] flip the seat, in part because of the controversy over House Bill 514, which lets Matthews and three other municipalities build and operate their own taxpayer-funded charter school districts.” Looks like they were right.
There is a rapidly-growing body of scholarly and popular literature exposing, analyzing, and rejecting charter schools. While the analytical rigor and overall quality of this expanding content is steadily improving, it remains riddled with conceptual, ideological, and theoretical shortcomings that undermine the public interest.
One of the most stubborn themes in this regard is the notion, espoused frequently by many charter school critics, that charter schools are promoted mainly by conservatives, republicans, right-wingers, or libertarians. The implication is that democrats, lefties, or progressives are not really major promoters of charter schools and that the real problem is conservatives, republicans, etc.
Prominent democrats who have supported or continue to support these privately-operated contract schools run by unelected individuals include the Governor of New York Andrew Cuomo, the Governor of California Gavin Newsom, President Joe Biden, and former presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. Hillary Clinton also supports charter schools. Even so-called “more lefty” democrats like senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have not really come out and resolutely opposed charter schools. Corey Booker, Pete Buttigieg, Robert “Beto” O’Rourke, Kirsten Gillibrand, and a long list of other democrats also fall into this retrogressive camp. And for their part, Democratic candidates in New York City’s 2021 mayoral race are openly and proudly boasting about their warm embrace of crisis-prone charter schools. It is as if voluminous research and extensive experience exposing endless problems with deregulated charter schools do not even exist; both are instantly wiped out by anti-consciousness.
If one were to examine the record of the country’s 50 governors, 50 state legislatures, all members of Congress, and the mayors of many cities, they would easily find a very large number of democrats who support charter schools or do not put up any serious opposition to them. This pleases the millionaires and billionaires behind charter schools.
Segregated, unaccountable, deunionized charter schools with high teacher turnover rates have always had bipartisan support; they have never been only a republican, conservative, or right-wing phenomenon. Other destructive policies like high-stakes standardized tests and various teacher evaluation systems have also had reliable support from a large number of democrats coast to coast. Democrats at all levels of government have also long supported cuts to education funding and healthcare funding while voting for funding for various wars and imperialist aggression. To be sure, over the decades numerous democrats at all levels of government have supported many different antisocial ideas, policies, and arrangements.
It should be recalled that charter schools are segregated, plagued by corruption, run by unelected individuals, largely deunionized, and unaccountable. Hardly a week goes by without news of someone being arrested in the charter school sector, which represents barely seven percent of all schools. Charter schools also spend lots of money on advertising, act like private entities, dodge transparency, violate open meeting laws, and have more inexperienced teachers and fewer nurses than public schools. They have been known to greatly inflate their student waitlists as well. Hundreds of charter schools close every year for financial malfeasance, mismanagement, or poor academic performance. Many charter schools do not even offer transportation for students, siphon enormous sums of money from under-funded public schools, over-test students, and routinely engage in discriminatory enrollment practices as well. Other problems could be cited.
It is critical to make a clean break from the unaccountable cartel party system of government and come to terms with the demise of liberalism and liberal institutions. Neither can open the path of progress to society. The outdated two parties of the rich have no prosocial solutions and refuse to modernize politics so as to empower the people to be sovereign decision-makers who decide the aim and direction of education and all the other affairs of society. People are under no obligation to “work with” an anachronistic setup that perpetuates the privilege of narrow private interests. People do not want to spend all their time humiliatingly begging politicians to serve the public interest.
Thinking, analyzing, and acting independently and speaking up in our own name is necessary at this time. All the old arrangements are obsolete and cannot open a path forward. The existing liberal democratic political institutions are blocking social progress. In this sense, it is an exciting time to think “outside the box,” to think independently, to think anew, and give rise to a new politics and outlook that rejects the historically superfluous rich and their political representatives. It can be done. In the hands of the people, power can be wielded quickly and decisively to accomplish great things that should have been attained long ago.