New Clear Vision

constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted

Tiny Houses

April 04, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Ecology, Economy, Guest Author

Living Simply So That Others May Simply Live

by Delo Freitas

It is an interesting time to be looking for a home in America. Though known for capitalism and consumerism, McDonalds and McMansions, emerging counter movements seek to promote sustainable living through the most personal of methods, and the one most tied up with the American dream — the home. Especially in the face of 2008’s economic crisis, more and more Americans are embracing the “Tiny House Movement,” in which each square foot is utilized to its full potential. Living small is, in its own way, a form of subversion: It decommodifies the idea of “home,” promotes a DIY (Do It Yourself) ethic in one the largest sectors of the U.S. economy, and places control back into the hands of homeowners instead of finance capitalists, speculators and the global market. (more…)

Solstice Manifesto

December 21, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Ecology, Economy, Guest Author

On the Importance of Integrating Social and Ecological Perspectives

by the ISEP Class Working Group

{Editor’s Note: This collaborative statement was produced in the context of a college class focusing on the integration of social and ecological perspectives. The depth of critical engagement with the intersecting crises in our midst, coupled with insightful visions for action and change, provide a source of hopefulness in a time of profound challenges.}

I. Why We’re Concerned

Our world’s current dysfunction is a multifaceted crisis, exemplified by a host of social and ecological problems, including racism, violence, water shortages, drought, species extinction, pollution, and many others. Upon closer examination, the roots and solutions of each of these problems have both social and ecological components, which are dependent upon and directly influence each other. (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…)

Bench Strength

November 21, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Guest Author, Politics

Public Art Controversy Brought People Together for a Cause

by Kristin Anthony

{Editor’s Note: In Prescott, Arizona, a work of public art created with the participation of over a hundred community members was recently destroyed by local officials in the middle of the night. The controversy set in motion a range of reactions, including the resignation of a city council member and calls for a coherent public art policy. The originator of the art project, which was a mosaic-tiled bench, reflects on the issues and overall experience.}

During my time in Prescott, I had the opportunity to create a community bench as a senior project for Prescott College. I had seen many of these structures in Nepal where there is a deep sense of connection between people and nature.

Enthusiastic to bring this idea to the U.S., I received approval from the Parks and Recreation Department and worked with the city for many months before the bench finally came to life. After eight weeks of work we were asked to stop construction, and three weeks later the bench was torn down. (more…)

Sustaining the Unsustainable?

April 15, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Ecology, Economy, Guest Author

Uranium Mining Threatens Grand Canyon Communities

by Simone Crowe

Over a thousand uranium mines have already contaminated water across the Southwest, poisoning communities with radiation that leads to cancer, harming the biodiversity of rivers and dissipating toxic ore dust into the air. Despite the immeasurable damage the mess of these abandoned mines has inflicted, including the official designation of the Four Corners as a “national sacrifice area,” the federal government and foreign mining companies want to continue uranium mining in the Grand Canyon.

Currently federal mineral land, this area of the Grand Canyon has been subjected to mining since 1872 due to the antiquated General Mining Law. In 2009, the federal government mandated a two-year moratorium on mining, protecting the land, surrounding communities and the Colorado River from any additional mine development. With the moratorium’s expiration date looming, pressure from foreign mining companies and the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) history of allowing invalidated mines, the ecological health of the Grand Canyon vicinity could be at risk. (more…)

Food Sovereignty and the End of Obesity

March 10, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Ecology, Guest Author

America’s Paradox: Getting Heavier and Growing Hungrier

by Kat Asselin, Kendra Broadwater, and Mollie Tarte

In a world of climbing food costs, media outlets are predicting the downfall of Americans increasingly subject to the diseases of obesity while concurrently talking about the epidemic of food insecurity that has only worsened in the decades since the so-called Green Revolution.

Obesity is clinically defined as a body mass index in excess of 30, but other studies and models suggest that there is genetic diversity in body types and a strong correlation with century-old dietary practices and co-evolution of human bodies and heritage cuisines. Over the past 30 years, the proportion of obese adults has climbed in most states, in some cases from less than 10% to more than 30% today.  The attention given to the ever-expanding American waistline has been impossible to ignore.

You can even see this drama unfold on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP) website. (more…)

In Defense of Schoolyard Gardens

February 21, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Culture, Ecology, Guest Author

Youth Gardening as a Pathway to Academic Success

by Tessa James, Kalyn Janae Marab, and Sabine Parrish

Caitlin Flanagan’s 2010 article in The Atlantic, Cultivating Failure, ridicules the idea that schoolyard gardens can help children in any way become better educated.  Her principal argument is that gardens do not teach students the necessary skill sets to pass the standardized examinations required of most students across the nation:

“Here is the essential question we must ask about the school gardens: What evidence do we have that participation in one of these programs — so enthusiastically supported, so uncritically championed — improves a child’s chances of doing well on the state tests that will determine his or her future (especially the all-important high-school exit exam) and passing Algebra I, which is becoming the make-or-break class for California high-school students?”

Contrary to this statement, there is growing evidence that gardening cultivates not just crops but young minds. This includes teaching environmental consciousness — but gardening can also teach practical and applied lessons in science and math and is an engaging and creative way to explore natural and cultural history.  The question should not be, “Will our students pass these tests?” Instead, we might ask: “Why have we developed a system in which standardized tests determine our children’s future?” (more…)

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