New Clear Vision


constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted


Lessons from Bolivia

March 07, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Culture, Diane Lefer, Family

Try a Little Tenderness…

by Diane Lefer

Imagine working in an office where as people enter they hug and kiss all their co-workers every morning. You start the day with about a dozen hugs and kisses and of course more each time you leave and return. Here we might call it sexual harassment. But I loved these gestures of affection and solidarity while I was collaborating with Educar es fiesta, a nonprofit organization in Cochabamba, Bolivia, serving young people living in difficult circumstances and families in crisis.

Edson Quezada, known to all as “Queso” — Cheese (from his last name, not because he’s the Big Cheese) founded the organization believing that training in the arts is also training for life, that children have an intrinsic natural right to joy, and learning must go hand-in-hand with happiness.

Educar es fiesta draws young people into the program by offering theatre and circus arts–trapeze, aerial dance, juggling, unicycle riding, gymnastics, even some tightrope-walking, to develop self-expression, self-confidence, and perseverance. The kids learn that to develop a new skill, they may fail many times till they achieve success. (more…)

Remembering the Lawrence Strike

January 09, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Economy, Jerry Elmer, Politics

On the Centennial of a Nonviolent and Decisive Workers’ Victory

by Jerry Elmer

January 12, 2012 is the one hundredth anniversary of the commencement of one of the most important labor strikes in American history – the bloody 1912 Lawrence, Massachusetts, textile strike that lasted 63 days. The strike represented the organizing apogee of the radical, syndicalist Industrial Workers of the World (IWW, or Wobblies); the strike has also become associated (albeit erroneously) in popular lore with the slogan “Bread and Roses” (the phrase originated in a poem by James Oppenheim published in 1911, but was apparently never used by the Lawrence strikers in 1912).

On January 1, 1912, a new Massachusetts law had gone into effect that cut the maximum work week to 54 hours. Mill workers’ pay was given out on Fridays, not for the week just ended but for the previous week; thus, on Friday afternoon, January 12, 1912, workers received their pay for the work week of Monday, January 1 through Saturday, January 6. Workers found their pay to be an average of 32¢ short, representing the fewer hours that the mill workers had toiled. (more…)

One Year and Counting…

December 30, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Ecology, Economy, Politics

Still Cultivating a ‘New Clear Vision’ for 2012, and Beyond

When we started this blog a year ago, there were already signs that the year to come (now the year past) was going to be potentially revolutionary. A lingering economic crisis, the realization of perpetual warfare, the mainstream media’s increasing rightward slide, rapidly worsening environ-mental conditions, and the beginnings of mass mobilizations were already in evidence as 2010 drew to a close. Still, the spectrum of events launched in 2011 was nothing short of miraculous, from the Arab Spring to Occupy; and while much remains to be done, there is also much to be optimistic about. (more…)

Remembering Vietnam’s Independence

September 02, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Jerry Elmer, Politics

Sending Greetings to a Determined, Free People

by Jerry Elmer

Today, September 2, is Vietnam’s National Day — the Vietnamese independence day that is the equivalent of our Fourth of July.  On September 2, 1945, President Ho Chi Minh read Vietnam’s Declaration of Independence at Ba Dinh Square in Hanoi.

The opening words of the Vietnamese Declaration of Independence might sound vaguely familiar to Americans:  “All men are created equal.  They are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”  It is not a coincidence that these words are in the Vietnamese Declaration of Independence.  Ho Chi Minh had lived as a young man in the United States (in New York City and Boston) and had been deeply impressed with the American ideals of independence and freedom. (more…)

A Necessary Good

August 04, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Current Events, Jerry Elmer, Politics

Tim DeChristopher and the Defense of Necessity

by Jerry Elmer

Tim DeChristopher is the environmental and climate-change activist who was recently sentenced to two years in federal prison for an act of public, nonviolent civil disobedience.  On December 19, 2008, DeChristopher disrupted a federal auction in Utah of oil and gas drilling lease rights.  DeChristopher participated in the auction, openly and publicly, posing as a real bidder.  His high bids won rights to 14 separate parcels totaling 22,500 acres of land, for $1.8 million.  DeChristopher had no intention of paying; he had scooped the parcels as a means of making a dramatic public statement about the dangers of climate change. DeChristopher follows a long and noble tradition of civil disobedience that includes other practitioners such as Thoreau, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, Jr. (more…)

Colombia: Imagining a Culture of Peace

June 16, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Diane Lefer, Economy, Politics

Building Trust and Community Through Theatrical Programs

by Diane Lefer

“Theatre Festival!” said the taxi driver. “Spending money on theatre when people don’t have food to eat! What for?”

That’s what I hoped to find out from May 20-30 in Barrancabermeja, Colombia where I would offer a series of writing workshops and seek to answer questions of my own: How could theatre contribute to peace in a country where the armed conflict has gone on for six decades? How did the violence come to an end in this particular city — center of the country’s oil industry, once the site of battles pitting guerrilla forces against the Colombian army, and paramilitary death squads against civilians?

What did it mean to hold an International Theatre Festival for Peace when till 2010, during the eight years of the Uribe administration, anyone who talked about peace or a political solution to the country’s woes risked being called a terrorist — a label that could target you for assassination? (more…)

Finding the Way Forward

May 14, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Jerry Elmer, Politics

Freedom Ride Anniversary Prompts Reflection on Movement Tactics

by Jerry Elmer

This month marks the fiftieth anniversary of the 1961 Freedom Ride. It has been gratifying to see a number of public events commemorating the occasion; too often progressive history goes unmarked and unremarked. For example, George Houser, the last surviving participant in the 1961 Freedom Ride, appeared on Oprah Winfrey’s television program on May 4. Interestingly, some of the recent publicity has identified the 1961 Freedom Ride as the first Freedom Ride. Actually, it was the second Freedom Ride.

The first Freedom Ride occurred 14 years earlier in April 1947.  The reason that some historians get confused is that the earlier event also went by the name “Journey of Reconciliation.”  There were a lot of overlaps between the first Freedom Ride (1947) and the second Freedom Ride (1961). (more…)