New Clear Vision

constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted
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Frozen Prairie

February 25, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Brian Terrell, Community, Family, Politics

Letter from a Drone Protester’s Jail

by Brian Terrell

Greetings from the Federal Prison Camp in Yankton, South Dakota!  As of this writing, I am two months into a six month sentence imposed due to my protest of war crimes committed by remote control from Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri against the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Betsy accompanied me here to Yankton on November 29, and that evening the Emmaus House Catholic Worker community, Beth Preheim, Michael Sprong and Dagmar Hoxie, hosted an evening of music, good food and good company to see me off.  Activists from around the Midwest attended, including some sisters from the Benedictine monastery here.

In the morning after a great breakfast and Gospel prayer, Betsy and Dagmar and Michael, along with Renee Espeland and Elton Davis, Catholic Workers from Des Moines, and Jerry Ebner, a Catholic Worker from Omaha, walked a “last mile” with me to the gate of the prison where I expect to remain until the end of May. (more…)

Fairness in Hypocrisy Valley

August 14, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Harry Targ, Politics

And So It Goes in Higher Education…

by Harry Targ

I have spent much of my adult life in Hypocrisy Valley, a small community which is the regional center of commerce, agriculture, and modest industrialization. It also is the home of a major university, Hypocrisy Valley State University, which has a reputation, we are told, in agriculture, engineering, and science. As a state supported institution it is obliged to serve the research and educational needs of the citizens of the state.

The faculty size of the university and the student population has grown by 25 percent in forty years. The university is the largest employer in the county, and many workers say that while they receive low wages, are not treated with particular respect (except for the annual spring fling distribution of free hot dogs), they work at the university because of the health and retirement benefits, which exceed benefits from other employers in the area. Of course, state law prohibits Hypocrisy Valley employees from organizing staff or faculty unions. (more…)

Open Letter

May 25, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Ecology, Family, Pancho Ramos Stierle

To Government Officials, Law Enforcement Employees, people of the University of California,  and Occupy the Farm community — and to all humanity in general…

by Pancho Ramos-Stierle

That we live now in an economy and society that are not sustainable is not the fault only of governments, administrations of public institutions, and corporations armed with political power, heavy equipment and police enforcement.

We all are implicated. 

We all, in the course of our daily (economic, educational, and social) life, consent to it, whether or not we approve of it. This is because of the increasing abstraction and unconsciousness of our connection to our economic sources in the land, the land-communities, the land-use economies, and the way we learn.

First, I would like to offer a set of questions, intended to facilitate the process of “farming truth and love,” and specifically in relation to recent events around the Occupy the Farm movement and its experience with UC-Berkeley: (more…)

The Oracle Says…

May 18, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Culture, Mary Sojourner

“We Told You So…”

by Mary Sojourner

Spring 1973, Atlanta. My lover was a professor of psychology, a man more familiar with suburban angst and tenure and fretting about interest rates rather than whether the month is going to outlast the income. I was thirty-three, had lived with my three kids in communes for six years; started food co-ops and collective day care centers; and had seen my friends lug their hand-thrown pots, hand-dipped candles, and hand-woven shawls to craft fairs and tiny stores in the heart of the dying city in which I lived.

“You’re going to love this,” he said. “Underground Atlanta! It’s the next phase of what you and your friends have been creating.”

We descended by escalator into an inferno of neon and charm. “Dear God,” I said to my lover, “may you be wrong.” We were surrounded by chain boutiques, chain craft shops, chain yogurt stands, and what were then called fern bars — cutesy joints with fake antiques on their walls and menus some think tank had designed. (more…)

Cooperative and Capable

April 17, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Ecology, Guest Author

Community Resilience in Natural Disasters

Peace researchers Dr. Diane Bretherton and Anouk Ride say evidence indicates most people, when facing a natural disaster, are cooperative, altruistic, and resilient.

If you watch the news, particularly news about foreign countries, you could easily believe that natural disasters are followed by looting, crime and individualistic behavior to survive. However, research from six different countries indicates when facing a natural disaster most people are cooperative, altruistic, and resilient.

If you face a natural disaster, you will most likely turn to your neighbors and your community for help, advice and to help others you see as suffering more than yourself. This is a natural response to survive, to cope psychologically with the chaos and loss of control experienced in a disaster, and to rebuild communities. This behavior is far more common than generally assumed by the authorities and media commentators — who predict crime, competition and opportunism.

Initially we wanted to find out why some communities seemed to cope better than others with natural disasters. With local researchers in six countries, we talked to people who had survived tsunami waves higher than multistory buildings, droughts that lasted for years, earthquakes that crumbled entire villages. (more…)

Please Come to Chicago

February 10, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Economy, Guest Author, Politics

At a Global Crossroads, Turn Against War

by Brian Terrell

On January 25, the host committee for the G8/NATO summit in Chicago in May unveiled a new slogan for the event, “The Global Crossroads.”  The mood of the organizers is upbeat and positive. This is a grand opportunity to market Chicago with an eye for the tourist dollar and the city is ready, the committee assures us, to deal with any “potential problems.”

One of the potential problems that the committee is confident that it can overcome, according to a report by WLS-TV in Chicago, is “the prospect of large-scale protests stealing the stage as the world watches.” The new slogan stresses the international character of the event and the prestige and economic benefit that hosting world economic and political leaders is expected to bring to Chicago. “We’re a world class city with world class potential,” declares Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “If you want to be a global city, you’ve got to act like a global city and do what global cities do,” says Lori Healey who heads the host committee and who previously led the city’s unsuccessful bid to host the 2016 Olympics.

All indications, unfortunately, are that Chicago is preparing to “act like a global city and do what global cities do” and it appears to want to follow the lead of other “global cities” in dealing with mass demonstrations threatening to “steal the stage” — think Tehran, Beijing, Cairo, Moscow and Seattle, to name a few. (more…)

Restorative Education

February 09, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Culture, Robert C. Koehler

Transforming Our Troubled Schools — and Society

by Robert C. Koehler

What happened?

Can the world shift on such a simple question? Imagine yourself sitting eye-to-eye with a kid in trouble and that’s the first thing you ask. No lecture, no sarcasm, no judgment, no explosion of lost patience and a cry of “Why did you do that?” Just: What happened?

And then you wait for an answer. When it comes, however haltingly, you press gently and firmly on, still without judgment, just the need to know:

What were you thinking at the time?

What have you thought about since?

What do you think you need to do to make things right?

These are the four basic questions of restorative practices, a movement slowly transforming troubled schools and troubled communities around the globe — a movement replacing zero tolerance and other punishment-based and wildly ineffective practices that increase people’s feelings of separation and alienation from one another. (more…)