New Clear Vision

constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted

Replenishing the Earth

September 27, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Ecology, Guest Author

Healing Ourselves and the World

by Wangari Maathai

During my more than three decades as an environmentalist and campaigner for democratic rights, people have often asked me whether spirituality, different religious traditions, and the Bible in particular had inspired me, and influenced my activism and the work of the Green Belt Movement (GBM). Did I conceive conservation of the environment and empowerment of ordinary people as a kind of religious vocation? Were there spiritual lessons to be learned and applied to their own environmental efforts, or in their lives as a whole?

When I began this work in 1977, I wasn’t motivated by my faith or by religion in general. Instead, I was thinking literally and practically about solving problems on the ground. (more…)

Students Help Make the Change

September 14, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Austin Tye, Culture, Ecology

Environmental Activism on Apathetic College Campuses

by Austin Tye

Editor’s note: We asked a student leader, “Is there a clear, stronger trend toward more environmentally conscious behavior by students? If not, why? Why is there substantial apathy about the low-intensity war on the students’ planet, compared to the 1960s generation’s concern about social injustice?” It is a given that there is no militant movement visible today. At Berkeley (the university community that originated the Free Speech and antiwar movements) most students believe political activism is about holding a student-government office for decorating their resumés. — Jan Lunberg (editor, Culture Change)

Austin’s response: Although many colleges and universities are seeing pockets of environmental change, there is not a clear trend toward large groups of students becoming more environmentally conscious. So what is holding us back? (more…)

Nowhere to Run, Nowhere to Hide

September 07, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Ecology, Economy, Tina Lynn Evans

Enforced Dependency is Everywhere

by Tina Lynn Evans

In the globalized world, dependency on current systems is enforced almost universally. Ironically, the very recognition of our dependency and its enforcement is fertile ground for growing truly powerful ideas for living more sustainably.

Ours is a truly complex world — with interlocking systems of finance and debt, globalized supply chains for commodities and products, highly specialized social roles and professions, and multiple technologies that tightly interface with and depend upon one another. For people living in modern societies, there is virtually no escape from dependency — technology dependency, food dependency, oil dependency — you name it. What’s more, we actively participate in maintaining and expanding social systems that circumscribe our potential. These systems limit our autonomy, our choices, our development, and our authentic engagement with others and the world. (more…)

California Streaming

July 28, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Ecology, Martin Zehr, Politics

Moving from Water Wars to Collaborative Management

by Martin Zehr, aka Mato Ska

Groundwater in California is the focus of the latest water war between water users in the North and users in the South. Some 38% of water used in the state comes from groundwater mining. The battlefield of this war is the Central Valley of California and the Central Valley Aquifer.

Norris Hundley estimated California’s groundwater reserves in his book, The Great Thirst, amounting to 850 million acre-feet, with the caveat that less than half that amount was usable. Running from the Sacramento Valley to the San Joaquin Valley this aquifer circulates roughly 2 million acre feet of water/per year. Withdrawals account for roughly 11.5 million acre ft./yr., according to the Groundwater Atlas of the United States. In December 2009, satellite-imaging projected the loss of 30 cubic kilometers of water since 2003, which is creating an unprecedented political struggle in the state of California. (more…)

Water Politics

July 07, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Ecology, Martin Zehr, Politics

Balancing Growth with Renewable Supplies

by Martin Zehr, aka Mato Ska

Any study of water management in the state of California that fails to analyze water politics leaves a significant gap in grasping the decisions that have been made in the past and those that will be made in the future.

In addressing California water politics we find profound disparities in power and influence. There are many advocacy groups that represent users and stakeholders throughout the state who are engaged in issues of water quality, water allocations and water diversions. There are lines drawn between coastal municipalities and inland users. There are lines drawn between North and South. There are environmentalists and agribusinesses that project their ritual oppositions in the media. Liberals in San Francisco raise the banner of the Delta smelt, while conservatives on talk shows mock the prioritization of a minnow-like fish ahead of the farm owners and farm workers of the Central Valley. (more…)

‘I Want to Be a Farmer’

June 03, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Ecology, Family, Randall Amster

Food Justice, Out of the Mouths of Babes

by Randall Amster

“Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.”Psalm 8:2

My oldest son recently “graduated” from preschool. In the endearing ceremony, each of the children was asked what they want to be when they grow up. His precocious, divergent, and unanticipated response was, “I want to be a farmer like my dad.” And I couldn’t have been more proud.

To be sure, I’m hardly a “farmer” in any real sense of the word. Yes, I do work hard to scratch out a good-sized family garden each year in this high-desert habitat, and in our five years here we’ve planted an orchard and built a large chicken coop, among other interventions. So while I definitely get my hands dirty and spend a fair bit of time building soil and coaxing vegetables from the granite and clay, my skills are much closer to the hobby side of the coin than anything that can rightly be termed “farming.” (more…)

The Browning of the American Farm

April 27, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Culture, Devon G. Pena, Ecology

Back to the Future of Agriculture in the Year 2000

by Devon G. Peña

(Originally posted in July 2000):  WHILE THE ANGLO FAMILY FARMER continues to disappear at an alarming rate, the number of Latino farmers has rapidly increased — from 17,476 in 1987 to close to 30,000 in 1997, according to agricultural census data. This number is expected to increase to 40,000 by 2007, and doesn’t include the thousands of uncounted Latino farmers who do not fit the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s conventional definition of commercial farms.

The trend is not limited to the American Southwest, although the states of Texas, California, New Mexico, and Colorado contain more than 80% of Latino-owned and -operated farms. In Washington, which has the sixth-fastest-growing Latino population in the country, the number of Latino farms and orchards increased by a staggering 343% between 1992 and 1997. (more…)