The first time I ran into people who believed that breaking windows was a revolutionary act was in 1972. We had just had 21 people arrested for occupying the campus at University of Toronto to set up a tent city for transient youth. We called it Wachea, a place where everyone was welcome, or so we thought. A radical new left group called Red Morning tried to convince the assembled masses that going back to the University and "trashing it," in the parlance of the day, was the best way to protest the arrests. It was the moment I stepped into leadership, debating them for hours, saying that more violence was counter productive and would give more strength to the arguments against us. Instead we should protest on the grounds of Queen's Park and demand that the government give us land for our transient community. In those days we didn't have the notion of "diversity of tactics." We believed in the group who was organizing the demonstration deciding democratically what to do. Red Morning withdrew their proposal since they couldn't convince us.
Today famed British journalist and environmentalist George Monbiot wrote an open letter to the people of Canada pleading with us to clean up our act on the environment. In his usual incisive prose he wrote:
Canada's tactics have caused shock and revulsion everywhere. They are dragging your good name through the mud. Stephen Harper and Jim Prentice threaten to do as much damage to your international standing as George W. Bush and Dick Cheney did to that of the United States."
We are trying George but our government doesn't listen to the people of this country, only to the oil companies.
Today is Blog Action Day on Climate Change. Bloggers around the world are writing to promote Global Action. I hope lots of us in Canada are participating since our government is about the worse climate criminal around. Shaming the Harper Tories to do better or even do anything on climate change is not going to work but you can sign the petition and show that the people of Canada are not behind the government on this one.
Last night I went to see the final showing of Petropolis, Aerial Perspectives on the Alberta Tar Sands directed by Peter Mettler and produced by Greenpeace. It was an extraordinary experience that I will never forget.
Joanna Macy : All the problems of the world were made by the human mind so they can be unmade by the human mind"
Last night the extraordinary ecologist Joanna Macy made a rare appearance in Toronto. My friend Jackie has been working with Joanna for a long time and co-facilitates reconnecting workshops in BC. Joanna is also featured in my friend Velcrow Ripper's new film FierceLight: When Sprit Meets Action now showing in Canada and soon to open across the U.S. I have always found her deep ecology a little too woo woo for me. Yet I have enough respect for my friends to have decided to go hear her in a rare appearance in Toronto last night and I'm glad I did.
Last night I spoke at a fundraising event for the legendary Highlander Center that was part of a three day gathering of labour and community activists organized by the Labour Education Centre. It was an amazing event. Incredible diversity, majority people of colour, lots of poor people, many young people. It was politically diverse from people who have just gotten active to veteran activists, from service workers to anti-capitalist activists, from union, community, and even academia. And on top of that it was a US/Canada collaboration beginning an 8 month project to build connections between labour and community in Toronto.
I’ve just arrived at the head offices of AIDESEP, the Interethnic Association of Peruvian Rainforest Development, the representative body of Amazonian peoples of Peru, now at the centre of a developing emergency here in Peru. It is really a fight over who controls the Amazon and the lives of those who live there.
It's the week of Hot Docs, as I have heard at every screening, the largest documentary film festival in the world. And it is great. I'm a movie lover but I've always been more of a TIFF fan. The love of documentary films is more recent for me, partly from my friendships with Monique Simard, now the Director of the NFB in Quebec and Velcrow Ripper, a director whose extraordinary new film Fierce Light is in Hot Docs and opens in theatres in Toronto and Vancouver on May 15 but also because documentary films have become so important to social change.
Van Jones appears a lot in Transforming Power. I first found out about him by listening to Velcrow Ripper's podcast a few years ago. Van was speaking to the Network of Spiritual Progressives. That's where i heard that line about Martin Luther King. I figured I gotta meet this guy and I did at Hollyhock that year where he was the keynote speaker. I've kept up with him since and think he is one of the most visionary thinkers and activists on the planet. The best news I've heard in a while was that President Obama hired Van Jones as his special advisor on Green Jobs. Yes Magazine has an interview with Van about why he took the job.
Let’s today step out of the normal boundaries of analysis of our economic crisis and ask a radical question: What if the crisis of 2008 represents something much more fundamental than a deep recession? What if it’s telling us that the whole growth model we created over the last 50 years is simply unsustainable economically and ecologically and that 2008 was when we hit the wall — when Mother Nature and the market both said: “No more.”