New Clear Vision

constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted

Seeing Through War

September 13, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Current Events, Politics, Robert C. Koehler

Resistance Opens Possibilities for Conflict Transformation

by Robert C. Koehler

“Because these weapons can kill on a mass scale, with no distinction between soldier and infant, the civilized world has spent a century working to ban them.”

Why does the president need to address a classroom full of third-graders?

On Tuesday night — hallelujah — he stepped back from the brink of war, but in his address to the nation he spent most of his time justifying his earlier aggression toward Syria, detailing the Assad government’s single, heinous deviation from the civilized norms of war.

The ever-fresh PR stratagem of war is to cherry-pick an example of evil behavior on the part of the designated enemy and rally the outrage against it, never, never looking inward at one’s own behavior, and in our ignorance bonding as a clan or a nation or whatever in our determination to destroy the perpetrator of said evil. (more…)

Communities and Connections

July 30, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Economy, Jay Walljasper

Neighborhood Activism and the Pursuit of Happiness

by Jay Walljasper 

At one point in my life, my neighbors and I were fighting battles on two fronts to protect our community. Our modest Kingfield neighborhood in Minneapolis was threatened on one side by the widening of a freeway, which would rip out scores of homes, and on the other side by the widening of an avenue, which would escalate traffic speeds on an already dangerous road.

I remember a dizzying round of strategy sessions, protest rallies, public meetings, more strategy sessions, and, eventually, victory parties, which wound up redirecting my life and work in gratifying ways Until that point, I rarely thought about opportunities for improving people’s lives by boosting public life and revitalizing public spaces. (more…)

Importance of the Commons

July 17, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Ecology, Economy, Jay Walljasper

In Praise of Vacant Lots and Community Development

by Jay Walljasper

It’s easy to talk about the importance of the commons in grand terms — vast stretches of breathtaking  wilderness, publicly funded advances in science and technology, essential cultural and civic institutions,  the air and water which we all depend on for survival. But let’s not forget the lowly commons all around that enrich our lives. Things like sidewalks, playgrounds, community gardens, murals, neighborhood hangouts, and vacant lots. Especially vacant lots.

Modern society’s obsession with efficiency, productivity, and purposefulness sometimes blinds us to the epic possibilities of empty spaces that aren’t serving any profitable economic function. The word “vacant” itself implies that these places are devoid of value. But think back to all the imaginative uses you could discover for vacant land as a kid. You probably realized someone else owned it, but it was still yours to run around, play ball, plant a garden, host tea parties, pitch a tent or just get away from the watchful eye of adults. Thankfully, commoners in many places are working to make sure that vacant lots will be there for future generations of kids. (more…)

Creating Peace

March 07, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Economy, Politics, Robert C. Koehler

Toward the Separation of Profit and State

by Robert C. Koehler

Sometimes what I fear most is that the disintegration of public life — indeed, the very idea of the public good — is complete. The vultures and profiteers swarm around the carcass and make a profit and that’s all that matters.

Thirty years on, the Reagan Revolution has done its job, or nearly so. There’s no sustaining integrity left to how our society is organized, no principle that can’t be gamed for private benefit. And even awareness of all this has been successfully marginalized. We still proclaim ourselves, in the prevailing media, the world’s oldest, greatest democracy, and worship the old rituals. (more…)

Re-Occupy Public Space

December 14, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Economy, Keith McHenry, Politics

A Modest Proposal for a Coordinated Effort in Honor of MLK Day

by Keith McHenry

The occupation movement is the most important movement of our lives. I get calls everyday from average middle Americans asking how they can help, calling to say they are so proud of everyone, some even coming to tears expressing that we just had to succeed.

As Naomi Klein wrote on October 7, 2011, in an article titled “Occupy Wall Street: The Most Important Thing in the World Now,” the need to keep the occupations going is crucial: “Occupy Wall Street, on the other hand, has chosen a fixed target. And you have put no end date on your presence here. This is wise. Only when you stay put can you grow roots. This is crucial. It is a fact of the information age that too many movements spring up like beautiful flowers but quickly die off. It’s because they don’t have roots. And they don’t have long term plans for how they are going to sustain themselves. So when storms come, they get washed away.” (more…)

The Significance of Place

November 29, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Current Events, Guest Author, Politics

Why Tents (Still) Matter for the Occupy Movement

by Jen Schradie

Last week, I responded to a 4am text and went down to the Occupy Oakland site to support the encampment during yet another raid. I saw the sunrise over various police agencies dismantling Occupy Oakland tents. That evening, I marched back at sunset with other protesters to take back the plaza. The night before, Denver and Portland authorities moved in to take down local occupy encampments, and a swat team stormed an Occupy group’s takeover of an abandoned building in Chapel Hill. The next day, I watched a livestream of the destruction of Occupy Wall Street’s tents.

But protesters have not given up on tents. On the day of a strike at, the University of California-Berkeley in response to police brutality, the Occupy Cal and Occupy Oakland movements converged with a full-sized tent on a large stick as the symbol of the union, and the movement. (more…)

Rebuilding the Commons

October 29, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Ecology, Economy, Jay Walljasper

Principles and Practices for Reinvigorating Shared Spaces

by Jay Walljasper

Elinor Ostrom shared the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2009 for her lifetime of scholarly work investigating how communities succeed or fail at managing common pool (finite) resources such as grazing land, forests and irrigation waters. Ostrom, a political scientist at Indiana University, received the Nobel Prize for her research proving the importance of the commons around the world. Her work investigating how communities co-operate to share resources drives to the heart of debates today about resource use, the public sphere, and the future of the planet. She is the first woman to be awarded the Nobel in Economics. (more…)