February 26, 2009

Repo Trash

     I was shocked to see on Oprah yesterday all the perfectly good useful stuff that gets hauled off to the dump now that so many houses are getting repossessed. Apparently there's just too much for Goodwill or the Salvation Army. Amazing. And shameful.
     We have so much stuff that nobody can be bothered taking care of repo leftovers. But it's crazy to trash stuff that was made from pieces of Mother Earth, using energy taken from her without giving anything back - except of course, trash. We should be ashamed of ourselves. This isn't the market's failure, it's our failure.
     Most people have heard of the velveteen rabbit, the stuffed pet that was loved so well, and well-worn, that he came alive. Every piece of repo trash deserves to be as cared about as the velveteen rabbit.
     Every piece of Mother Earth deserves to be loved. Can you love them?

February 23, 2009

City Council Plans Almost $12 Million in Corporate Welfare

     A winter of economic and budget meltdown seems like a peculiar time for the city council to be spending this kind of money on projects that are far from essential, when it could instead use that money to save perhaps 120 jobs for next year (or 60 jobs for 2 years), rather than slashing almost 300 city staff as the Bee reports is expected tomorrow night.
     Claims that moving the Greyhound terminal will improve inter-city transit services are sabotaged by the fact that RT bus service there is spotty, the eventual light-rail station may be a 10-minute walk away from the new location, and there's nothing to stop Greyhound from staying in this 'temporary' location for 20 years. This will not improve services for those actual passengers who don't have cars or money for taxis. The $6 million plus destined for this project would be much better spent on things that are more essential for the unemployed, like food and shelter.
     The plan to spend $5.7 million on developing 4 entertainment venues at 10th & K, while selling the properties to the developer for $1, only adds insult to injury for citizens and taxpayers who might prefer something a little more useful for their money. Perhaps the reason this item was postponed to March 3 was that even the council was too embarrassed to approve a whole $12 million in corporate welfare Tuesday afternoon before slashing city staffing Tuesday evening.
     The class war is alive and well, unlike capitalism.

February 19, 2009

Sustainable Sacramento Blog Partners

     Recently, Ming asked to join this blog and post about local sustainable topics. Others are warmly invited to also join, and actively participate in the discussion.

     I have also started another blog at www.bullshitfreezone.blogspot.com, for philosophical comments on a variety of topics. For example, on Feb. 17:
     Why is everyone so worried about Blagojevich, Burris, Daschle, Geithner, and other garden-variety funny business that's just about money? Why are we giving the international war criminals, Bush & Cheney, a pass? Where is our perspective?
     Do we really care more about traditional Chicago political games or cutting corners on one's tax return than we care about spending (eventually) $$trillions killing millions of Iraqis and destroying their infrastructure as well as the financial health of our own nation?
     Pretty pathetic.

February 9, 2009

Feb 10th at 2pm (tomorrow) is the proposed Anti-scavenging Ordinance for the City of Sacramento. Please show up and protest this proposed ordinance.


This week, in Sacramento, the Sacramento City Council, will decide upon adopting a proposed ordinance that would make it illegal to scavenge from the waste receptacles. I believe that this is a wrong direction for the City Council to be putting enforcement of the law. 1) In tough economic times, criminalizing survival methods of the impoverished seems just wrong. Compassion seems more appropriate. 2) Sacramento takes pride in being a "Sustainable City". The passage of this proposed anti-scavenging ordinance encourages landfill waste in that it criminalizes recovery and reuse of another person's trash which could be potentially useful to someone else.

Would you be willing to show up at the Sacramento City Council meeting, 915 I St., on Tuesday, February 10th at 2pm to speak against this draconian measure that would criminalize a survival method for the impoverished and would criminalize a method of recovery and reuse of less-than-new products ?

As background, the city seems to be worried about "identity theft" which they feel is caused by people going through trash. I believe there are better, more effective methods to counter "identity theft" than criminalizing and penalizing homelessness and methods to find and reuse reusable items.

Thank you for your consideration,

Sacramento Sustainability Action Group

More specific excerpted information is below:


"(Pass for Publication) Ordinance Amendment: Scavenging from Solid Waste Receptacles

Location: (Citywide)

Recommendation: 1) Review an Ordinance repealing Section 13.10.160 of the Sacramento City Code relating to the removal of recyclable materials placed for City sponsored program and adding Section 13.10.160 of the Sacramento City Code relating to scavenging from solid waste receptacles; and 2) pass for publication the Ordinance title as required by the Sacramento City Charter 32c to be adopted on March 3, 2009. Contact: Edison Hicks, Integrated Waste General Manager (916) 808-4949, Marty Strauss, Integrated Waste Planning Superintendent (916) 808-4934, Utilities Department."
http://sacramento.granicus.com/MetaViewer.php?view_id=8&event_id=74&meta_id=169925 021009-11-Scavenging (PDF-340 KB)

February 4, 2009

How To Make Your Own Sustainable Job

     If you used to be a GM executive, you should prepare to radically refocus your perspective on what's economical. If you used to wash dishes in a restaurant, you are probably already in the ballpark of understanding the real economy.
     First, be very clear on what you need: clean air and water, healthy food, and warmth. The first two are already in the bag; they are basically free and not that bad for you. Food is essential, and the healthier it is, the lower your health care costs will be. So in the short term, some kind of food-related job can put you ahead of the game. A kitchen job for a natural food restaurant would be ideal; people who work in kitchens are rarely hungry (unless they work for a fast-food chain). Even dishwashing has potential.
     Other places where food can be found include family farms, farmers markets, grocery stores, and dumpsters.
     Having a roof or a tent over your head is a key factor in staying warm, since they protect you from wind and rain. We could solve the housing crisis by taxing empty bedrooms, but don't wait until politicians come to their senses. Look around yourself for a cost-effective room to rent or barter for. Older people often live alone in houses with empty space, and often feel challenged by all the upkeep. Their fixed incomes often don't allow them to hire the kind of help they could use. If I were an single mom, I would be looking for an adoptive grandmother.
     Clothes are not such a problem. They aren't as inexpensive as air and water, but we are awash in a sea of clothes that overflow thrift stores and garage sales. And since most of them have some synthetic fiber content, they won't really wear out for an awfully long time.

     Once you have gotten back to basics like this, you are tuned in to the real economy. The real economy is just the sum total of what is actually happening underneath the "veil of money." The trick about money is that it works best when the players all have their eyes firmly fixed on what's real, and not on the veil of money. Looking at the man behind the curtain is a good idea.
     Now, things can only get better from here. To expand your economic horizons, start by thinking about the economy as a whole. Basically the economy has 2 parts:
1) the human race takes resources from the planet, and
2) human beings take in each other's washing, i.e., take care of each other.
     Currently, our economy is overweight on the resource part, and underweight on the caring part. So looking for some excess resources that you can use to take care of other people is a good strategy. Assess your skills, and compare them to people's needs and wants. People will always need clean air and water, healthy food, and warmth. Once they feel secure about those basics, they start thinking about social activities, which are free for those who are creative. They start thinking about education. What can you teach that is useful?
     Look for a job doing something that people need often, like cooking or farming, rather than something they only need occasionally, like construction or stock-brokery. Look for ways to get outside of the money economy, such as barter.
     If everyone who is unemployed put themselves to good use, by means of these principles (and those outlined by other sensible people) the economy will recover as quickly as possible. But if we persist in thinking that we need Wall Street or Congress to fix it for us, we will get what we deserve. They can't fix it, because the real economy depends on millions of people living individual sustainable lives.