New Clear Vision

constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted

Revolutions Happen

April 25, 2014 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Devon G. Pena, Ecology, Economy

On the Crisis of Neoliberalism and the Alternative of the Common

by Devon G. Peña

Revolutions happen. One has already started though many people are yet to recognize it. But they may already be participating in it and helping to bring alterNative[1] futures forward. The resurgence of the common is the revolution quietly unfolding around us and through each of our relations and actions.

Here, I explore the enactment of a new social revolution the multitude (a.k.a. the 99%) is creating to ‘sublate’ (aufheben)[2] neoliberal capitalism in the spaces of direct material production and bio-politics, qua reproduction. The resurgence of the common is the underlying force driving a largely subaltern and protean process of revolutionary change.

It is through the agency of collaborative networks and their spaces of autonomy that we are disrupting the empire of the commodity form and threatening the stability and long-term survival of the neoliberal state of economic exception (Negri 2008). (more…)

On Acequias

November 02, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Culture, Devon G. Pena, Ecology

Water, Place, Resilience, and Democracy

by Devon G. Peña (Sangre de Cristo Acequia Association; San Luis, Colorado)

{Note: This post is a synthesis of select excerpts from work appearing in a chapter prepared for a forthcoming edited anthology, Voces de Agua: Culture, Place, and Nature in the Acequia Communities of the Upper Rio Grande Bioregion, 1598-2008. This article presents a summary of some of the principal research findings of the path-breaking NEH Upper Rio Grande Hispano Farms study, the core of which was conducted in the field between 1995 and 1999. This massive research project, with more than $190,000 funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Ford Foundation, produced the first comprehensive interdisciplinary and farmer-led study of acequia farms of the Río Arriba since the historic Tewa Basin Study of the 1930s; that sadly, is a testament to the neglect of acequia agroecosystems and communities by governmental and academic institutions. The twenty-four research scholars and farmers who collaborated in this major study developed some enduring innovations for integrated social and natural scientific research on Indo-Hispano agroecosystems that have left an enduring mark on the field. The NEH study played a significant role in the revival of acequia studies in the United States at a time when no one was really paying much attention to the study of Chicana/o farmers.} (more…)

Local, Slow, and on the Street

October 12, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Devon G. Pena, Ecology, Economy

Exploring the Roots of Urban Agriculture in Mexico 

by Devon G. Peña

Every now and then a photograph really speaks more than a thousand words. The accompanying 1865 photograph shows two fruit and vegetable vendors in Mexico City. Judging from the architecture in the background, the photo was most likely taken inside the historic core, perhaps close to the Zócalo.

A lot of commentary has been made about this photo. One thread of comments emphasizes the perceived poor condition of the ambulantes (mobile street vendors). How one can surmise this seems difficult but one comment posted recently to Facebook argues that the photograph demonstrates “The poor condition of the vendors, which can still be seen in the streets of Mexico City today.”

However, even by today’s standards, these vendors actually look fairly well dressed and healthy. These lamentations about the urban poor strike me as betraying a modernist urban sensibility and class bias. If anything, given the source of the comments on Facebook, they illustrate a widespread failure, common to what I can only characterize as petit-bourgeois intellectuals, to understand that for many people street vending is as much a way to earn an income as it is a social and community-building activity — a way of life even. (more…)

The Peace Train

May 22, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Ecology, Economy, Guest Author

Seeing and Believing It…

by Noah Kass

The prospect of peace seems distant in this modern era of perpetual warfare. As headlines scream of newfound conflict and environmental catastrophe, imaginations of peace are pushed further into our subconscious. But losing hope in the face of violence is just the easy way out when it comes to challenging the structures of violence that plague our planet. Instead of giving in to the negative narratives of apocalypse, we must prepare to wage peace. Averting our eyes and our actions from the destructive modes of living that have decimated life and environment, we must move toward the protection of our planet through the lenses of ourselves, our society, and the ecosystems that surround us.

The common Western mindset geared toward individualism and private opulence has fueled the rise of contemporary capitalism. Capitalism in turn has legitimized the Western consumption and acquisition of the world’s resources through violent coercion or extraction. Although a bit oversimplified, the truth remains that from the personal-entitlement complex of the common American citizen, we have subconsciously stamped our approval of the battles that take place in the name of resource security. In an effort to move toward sustainable survival, we must challenge our conceptions of subsistence and consumption. (more…)

La Lucha por la Sierra

May 31, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Culture, Devon G. Pena, Ecology, Economy

On the ‘Continuous, Open, and Notorious Use’ of the Commons

by Devon G. Peña

Between 2002 and 2003, in a remarkable and much discussed series of three decisions, the Colorado Supreme Court restored the historic use rights of the plaintiffs in the Lobato v. Taylor land rights case. The legendary case involves plaintiffs’ use rights on 80,000 acres of common lands in the Sangre de Cristo Land Grant (merced). This is an alterNative paradigm unfolding right before our eyes…

The grant encompasses a total of 1 million acres and most of the 1843 merced was enclosed by private owners including the portion at stake in the Rael-Lobato trilogy; on the New Mexico side of the grant, some of the land ended up in the public domain as part of the Kit Carson National Forest (including portions of the Valle Vidal) but local heirs successfully re-acquired title to more than 30,000 acres as part of what is today known as the Rio Costilla Cooperative Livestock Association (RCCLA) lands. (more…)

Notes on the Solidarity Economy

February 02, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Devon G. Pena, Ecology, Economy

Replacing the Predatory with the Complementary

by Devon G. Peña

By now it is eminently apparent that both Left- and Right-wing politicians alike have it wrong when it comes to re-imagining the future of “making stuff” in the U.S. The question is not just: What do we make?  It is also: How do we make it?

We can begin to answer this by presenting an ideal type in the form of a purely heuristic “imagine that…” type of exercise. The conceptual distinction I wish to make is between a “predatory” economy at one end of the continuum and a “solidarity” economy at the other. I invite readers to engage this exercise of exploring both ends of this continuum, for the sake of analytical discourse and concrete possibilities alike.

Indeed, while the problems before us are manifold, it is equally the case that the answers we seek are closer at hand than it might otherwise appear. (more…)

Water, Water Everywhere…

January 26, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Ecology, Randall Amster

Sustaining Scarce Resources in the Desert

by Randall Amster

Life in the desert southwest is richly complex and oftentimes a great challenge. A hint of frontier culture remains even as rampant growth and homogenization take hold at breakneck speed. People love the landscapes and the history, but can still sit and watch both disappear in the name of “progress.” At times it seems as if a strange double consciousness exists here, nowhere more prominently than in our relationship to water.

It’s interesting to live in a place where you regularly see coyotes, roadrunners, hawks, antelopes, and javelina (just to name a few local species) with packs of the latter still roaming through our downtowns. People have horses in their front yards, gunracks on their cars, and cacti in their burritos. In a few hours time you can go from a densely-packed urban center to the Grand Canyon, watching the landscape change from desert hills to mountain forests and back again. Despite ubiquitous strip malls, golf courses, and backyard swimming pools, the southwest is still magical in many ways. (more…)

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    Since launching in 2010, we featured many inspiring writers on cutting-edge issues. In times of escalating crises, we sought to remain proactive rather than perpetually reactive, to not give more power to those who would co-opt the agenda, and to try turning visions in practice. We can critique what is and offer insights into what could be, without becoming embittered in the process. We weren't partisan, but we'll always stand on the side of those who desire peace with justice. We're not posting anymore new content as of 2017, but our archive will remain up and you can still find us on social media. We'll see you in the interwebs...
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