Archive for Economy

Idle No More Victoria BC. Year end protest in pictures.

Posted in Activism, Anarchism, Canada, Economy, Environment, Food, Food For Thought, Health, Idle No More, Justice, Law, Photography, Politics, Racism, Social Justice, Society, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 31, 2012 by animal_static

It has been a long time since my last post!  My semester is finished and I finally have time to write something that I am not being graded on.  Not that I would expect anyone to read anything that I say without a critical lens.  I would be disappointed if that were the case.

It has been a busy couple of months and a lot of things have happened.  American elections, mass shootings, omnibus legislation, gun control, shady trade deals, attempted genocides, disastrous disaster relief, European general strikes, and the end of the Mayan Calendar just to name a few items that immediately come to mind.  It’s a lot, and arguably too much negativity on the global scale given that my last post was only in the first week of November.  Maybe it is the approach of 2013 but it feels like things are changing.  Negativity and hate are on the rise but are also accompanied by reactionary social awareness and action.  People are taking to the streets in greater numbers and at a greater frequency than I can remember.  Someone somewhere once said that things become more apparent as you immerse yourself in your reality.  Perhaps it is an increasingly critical political appraisal that comes with a personal struggle to understand what anarchism means to me that is bringing all of this action into focus or perhaps people everywhere have simply had enough.  It’s probably a little of the former and a lot of the latter.  We all have a personal and collective threshold of values which can and have seemingly been crossed for people all over the world.

Enough preamble.  I attended the Idle No More event yesterday (December 30) in Victoria BC and I wanted to share a few pictures of my last protest event of 2012.  The message is important, the weather was great, and so was the turnout.  It is always amazing witness the sense of community that emerges during such events.  The ongoing nature of Idle No More might actually give us a chance to foster this sense of community beyond the next rally, panel, action, etc., into something deservedly lasting.  Let’s hope.

I have a head cold right now and am wary of committing any more words to paper or screen so here are some pics for you.  Please ignore the time stamp. My camera is old and seems to think it is 2010.  I too found this alarming but thorough experimentation has revealed that my 8 mega pixle wonder is indeed NOT a time machine.  Alas

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Happy New Years everyone

Comments and sharing are always welcome

Static_Animal

Defend Our Coast, Effective Protest? Perhaps Not. Lets Talk About It

Posted in Activism, Blogging, Canada, Economy, Environment, Food For Thought, Justice, News, Politics, Social Justice, Society, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 5, 2012 by animal_static

This is my third post regarding the Defend Our Coast action that took place this past October in Victoria BC.  Time is a funny beast and when it gets mixed up with our notoriously fickle human brains there is a tendency to produce nostalgia or arbitrary associations with past events.  So lets recap shall we?

Very briefly,  the Defend Our Coast event was a direct action located on the legislature grounds in Victoria B.C. with the intention of giving voice to the many people who are directly opposed to the expansion of the oil and gas industry in Canada and more particularly in B.C.  Criticisms were most directly aimed at corporate and fed/prov. governments who are engaging in some pillow talk on how to best get the much contested Enbridge pipeline project put in place.  There were a number of concerns put forward including health for the present and future generations, political corruption, first nations rights, environmental issues, and several other talking points.  The direct action which included “the possibility of arrest” involved the staking of a black fabric picket the length of an oil tanker (235 meters if I am not mistaken) on the legislature grounds.  The arrestability of this seeming offense is up in the air at this point with organizers citing laws prohibiting the erection of such a structure and questioned police not really being aware of such a law.  So what we are left with is the suspicion of some publicity generation on the part of the organizers though we can’t really speak to the intentionality of this action at this point.  The end result was no arrests on the ground though the police have been reported for poaching off site protesters in such a way as to infringe on search and seizure rights mentioned in the earlier posts.  No one really expects much else from the police do they?  Nothing shocking here.

There is some valid criticism out there that this was a largely symbolic event which is often the case when this kind of action is lead by environmental NGO’s.  Well actually, there is always an open possibility for good intentions to translate into a lot of shouting and back patting with little actual “action” no matter who runs the show.  I was talking to someone about this who made the valid point that events like this are the bread and butter for NGO’s who success if often linked to the visibility of their profile and the number of supporters they can claim.  An event like the one that we were just talking about had thousands of physical participants and thousands more virtual supporters and managed to make newspapers, TV news programs and social media buzz for several days.  Impressive stuff by any standard and a home run for involved parties, but did anything tangible come out of it?

The reason for this post is that there is a D.O.C. reflection event coming up on Tuesday, November 6th which will feature a variety of panelists who are going to weigh in with their thoughts on the effectiveness of the event in general and some of the pitfalls that accompany event organizing.  Should be interesting and it can never hurt to be critical of your protesting soul.  Self reflection and critical analysis are crucial components to weighing the worth of social actions.  Click on the above poster for the event info. If there is a pod cast I will be sure to post it.

It is only Monday and it usually takes me all week to decided on blog content but my pessimistic crystal ball tells me that my next post will contain my complaints about the upcoming American election which is sure to end in tragedy no matter who wins.

Comments and sharing are always welcome

AnimalStatic

A Photo Report of the Defend Our Coast Event. Victoria BC. October 22, 2012

Posted in Activism, Canada, Economy, Environment, Food For Thought, Industry, Justice, Law, News, Politics, Social Justice, Society, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 23, 2012 by animal_static

So the Defend Our Coast Action that I blogged about yesterday went off without a hitch today.  There was a great turnout of 3000 plus people, with a strong media presence (which can be good or bad), a reasonable police presence, and a whole slew of inspirational speakers.  The crowd is always the make or break factor in events like this.  Arrests, drugs, and violence basically make the whole effort a media write off but today was very peaceful and the act of civil disobedience went unchallenged by police.  To my knowledge there were no arrests at all at this event.  Some very irate drivers who were rerouted around the site but no arrests

We were lucky enough to be presented with a varied selection of powerful and concerned voices.  First Nations leaders from multiple provinces were present today, paying respect to the  Songhees Nation for allowing the flying of the flags of protest on their territory and providing us with powerful first hand accounts of the effects of oil production in Canada.  This was not merely a descriptive endeavor however but also a call to fight.  It was widely noted that we need to fight the present corruption of a government who are in bed with big oil to secure a livable world for future generations.  To paraphrase one speaker, “We are fighting for our childrens future and though the politicians and CEO’s don’t know it we are fighting for their childrens futures too!”

There were some incendiary political challenges to BC premier Christy Clark and Stephen Harper today as well, most notably the challenges from Green Party leader Elizabeth May to the willingness of Clark and Harper to sell the future of tomorrow for a dollar today.  Another First Nations leader also had something to say about the price tag of this project stating that their complaints to Enbridge about the this pipeline were responded to with, “here, have some money” and when complaints were then taken to the government, the result was …”here, have some money”.  Todays challenge loudly stated that you cannot throw money at us and make it all go away.  The message today was the demands of a group of people who have been pushed too far, and too often disregarded in the pursuit of profit.  BC is not for sale.  Canada is not for sale.

I just left this message for Premier Clark.  Not expecting a reply:

Other people are writing about this event with more grace than I can muster at the moment so I will conclude here and present you with a selection of the photos that I took today.

Congratulations to everyone who made it out today and braved the rain.  Special acknowledgement to all those who had to travel from out of town to make the event.  That’s dedication.  I hope everyone took some inspiration home with them today which wont wear off by the weekend.  There are many avenues available to affect positive change.  Lets explore some!

Comments and sharing are always welcome,

AnimalStatic

Some Anti-Oil Protest Pics From Last Weeks CAPP Sponsered UBCM Convention in Victoria, B.C.

Posted in Activism, Blogging, Canada, Economy, Environment, Food For Thought, Industry, Justice, News, Politics, Social Justice, Society, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 1, 2012 by animal_static

Last week the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers sponsored a reception event for the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) convention in Victoria BC.

Who are these people?

The UBCM is a somewhat complicated organization which aims to bring together delegates from various BC municipalities, First Nations groups, Regional Districts, etc. with the aim of providing an environment where ideas and concerns may be expressed.  This particular conference brought in roughly one thousand delegates form around the province.

If you go to the “about” page on the CAPP website you will learn that this group tout themselves as, “the voice of Canada’s upstream oil, oil sands and natural gas industry” which kind of lets you know what they are about but not really.  CAPP is basically represents Big Oil production in Canada (a very sizable industry) and acts as a lobbyist organization to the government.

Items on this years UBCM agenda included Policing Issues, Cutting services provided by the Coast Guard, Decriminalization of Marijuana, and oil tanker traffic in BC.

So we have Big Oil sponsoring a political event where OIL issues are up for vote.  Here we see a rather transparent attempt to sway votes in BC in favour of the oil industry while Enbridge is still clawing its way towards having their pipeline project go through.  Public opinion vs. corporate interest.

The Powerpoint for the CAPP presentation can be found here:  http://www.capp.ca/library/presentations/Pages/default.aspx

Note the absence of social impact, First Nations land rights, habitat fragmentation, the under representation of GHG contributions, downplaying the fact that BC sits on major fault lines and the west coast is right under the Juan de Fuca/North American subduction zone, and many other blatant issues.

That’s skinny.  About 100 people showed up to the venue to roll out the red carpet for delegates, offering a visual and vocal reminder that this is a very contentious issue which stands to do great harm to social groups and environs all across the province.  Free edibles and musical entertainment were also offered to sway any who may have been tempted by a free lunch (no such thing right?).  There were a couple of “get a job comments” and there were also some folks who obviously favoured what we were standing for with a few choosing to stay with the community rather than step inside.  One woman stopped to tell us that she was a NGO rep who actually purchased a ticket (not everyone had to buy) and was there to clog the halls and fight from inside” (AWESOME).

The end vote if you are interested was 51.3% in favour of the human race.  Did we impact the vote?  I can’t say for sure but it is certain that people need to speak out and they need to speak loudly.  Our silence is out consent.

Below we have some pics that I shot on my crappy 8 mega pixel wonder cam  supplemented by some links to other folks lovely photo reporting.  I also included a photo of the reception as shot by CAPP.  What you see is a basically empty street with a 6:11 pm posting time on twitter. This is eleven minutes after the scheduled start of the organized protest.  suspicious?  You bet. Surprising?  Not at all.

The odd twitter pic from the CAPP account:


Another photo/twitter oriented report from Liz McArthur on Storify :  http://storify.com/lizmedia/demonstrators-roll-out-the-red-carpet-for-oil-exec?utm_content=storify-pingback&awesm=sfy.co_j9mh&utm_campaign=&utm_source=t.co&utm_medium=sfy.co-twitter

UBCM website: http://www.ubcm.ca/

CAPP website:  http://www.capp.ca/Pages/default.aspx

Comments and Sharing are always welcome,

Static_Animal

Why We Should Listen to What George Monbiot Has to Say, A Book Review.

Posted in Activism, Books, Economy, Environment, Food For Thought, Politics, Social Justice, Society, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 27, 2012 by animal_static

I know that I posted a book review a few weeks ago but I am trying to cram in as much extra curricular reading as possible before I get locked into another eight months of academia.  Not to say that I don’t love what I choose to study but there is something to be said for freedom of choice.  I just finished a somewhat current (2009) volume by George Monbiot entitled, “Bring on the Apocalypse, Six Arguments For Global Justice”, which is definitely worth a read.  Monbiot is of the idea that the Right Wing approach to government which is prevalent in the most powerful (Western/Northern/G8) nations has enabled and cultivated social and environmental scenarios that are contributing to the ultimate demise of the planet and creating an expanding social divide between the rich and the poor.  I agree.

Image from bookrabbit.com

The world is not what it seems, you are being lied to but the truth is out there and George would like to help you find it.  Government and media (sometimes synonymous) are experts at altering our perceived social and environmental realities.  We are stripped of collective identity and told that individualist consumer oriented goals (buy that house, car, second car, second house, lest you be left behind and find yourself worthless) are what we should be striving for.  Environmental disasters are downplayed or swept under the rug, an unsustainable auto industry is lionized as a true expression of freedom, social movements are under reported, and your governmental policies ARE being dictated by industrial lobbyist groups.  It’s all quite negatively overwhelming.  Luckily there are activists like Monbiot who are able to present us with some well thought out ideas that help to strip some of the veneer from the right-wing neoliberal agenda.  There are going to be some right-libertarians out there who will state that unbridled free markets are the ultimate expression of personal freedom but guess what;  that path has yielded enough blood and horror to prove it an inhuman pursuit.  Lets ask Chile, Argentina, and virtually every indigenous population on earth how they feel about it.

Image from redmolotov.com

The “arguments” in this book are collections of essays which fall under the categories of God, Nature, War, Power, Money, and Culture.  While not hitting the nail on the head with every single essay, Monbiot does a fantastic job of exposing some of the cracks in the informational facade that we are presented with by the government and media via popular news venues and “democratic” process .  Like all books dealing with current issues this one too shall eventually fall by the wayside but will not find itself in the tar pits of literary history.  The sentiments expressed within are valid critiques of problems that have thwarted humanity in one form or another since the arrival of surplus commodities which have freed parts of the population from the labour pool thus enabling religious/cultural pursuits and unbalanced power dynamics.  These easily accessible essays provide a decent foundation from which one can step stone to more in-depth critiques of sociopolitical factors that do affect most aspects of our lives and for that reason alone this book is quite valuable.

Not trying to be punny here but anyone willing to take on issues like the Vatican’s bigoted obsession with homosexuality, Americas love affair with oil and torture, the British governments submissive relationship with big business, shoddy climate change science, and media manipulation is OK in my book.  This is a guy who knows a lot about a lot of things that matter and has not been bought, hence a guy worth listening to, but as with all things, you decide.

I would love to hear what you think.

Cheers.

AnimalStatic

Homelessness and the Troubles of Moving From NIMBY to YIMBY.

Posted in Activism, Canada, Economy, Environment, Food, Food For Thought, Health, Politics, Security, Society, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 13, 2012 by animal_static

I think about homelessness a lot.  What it is and how it comes to be.  Social circumstance, mental health issues, domestic abuse, unaffordable housing, economic downturns; These are all elements that non-exclusively contribute to what is largely viewed as a homeless blight on our urban (and rural)  neighbourhoods but would be better regarded as a failing from a society bent on individualistic consumer goals.  Our North American existence is set against a  backdrop of government budget cuts and a Not In My Back Yard (NIMBY) philosophy based on aesthetics and fear. Homelessness is criminalized and sensationalized, effectively stripping the humanity from street populations.

Homelessness is painted with a broad brush and most people misunderstand the true scope of what it means to be without a home.  It’s not just about physical bodies occupying physical space in our city streets.  The lack of tangible shelter creates an emotional vacuum and replaces well-being with fear  and certainty with uncertainty. A stable place to rest ones head  instills confidence and a sense of security but the lack of said shelter exacerbates a wide range of problems for a demographic that is already harassed by poorly trained police forces, thwarted by municipal and provincial policies, unable to predict and plan for mundane aspects of daily life that most of us take for granted, and shunned by the majority of the population.

When we think about homelessness we think about single individuals begging for our money at inopportune times (man those shopping bags are heavy), block our paths downtown, are visibly intoxicated, and OBVIOUSLY making no contribution to our city living minus the added threat of dirty needles and something extra to step over on our way to work in the morning.  What is the reality?  The reality is that well-paying jobs are hard to come by in the post recession economy and wages have not kept up to inflation.  Housing on the west coast is really expensive, and competition for vacancies is high as municipally supported housing developments absolutely do not cater to affordable housing.  What emerges is an impoverished working class that hold down jobs but do no make enough money to maintain a fixed address.  Here on the west coast we see entire families that couch serf for indefinite periods of time.  The kids go to school and the parents go to work while having no real sense of home.  These folks are known as the “hidden homeless”.

Image from The Guardian

The effects of the cuts to the healthcare budget under the Gordon Campbell Liberal government are also worth noting.  The nutshell;  Cuts were made, facilities were shut down with no provisions for made for the added strain on standard health care provision.  What resulted is an increase in subsidized housing for mental health patients in standard rental complexes, which creates its own unique set of problems, and a whole bunch of people with no place to go and no way to integrate into the work place.

Whats the solution?

Everyone has an opinion, few act on them and so far no one has successfully come up with a plan to attack the problem.  It is a difficult task and one that is fraught with ethical problems.  Shelters are good, safe injection sites are good, education is good, and safe communal sleeping spaces are good but the idea of tackling a seemingly unsolvable problem is daunting.

Image from Woodwynn website

Woodwynn Farm located near Victoria BC has taken an innovative approach to regional homelessness where on site housing is provided for eligible candidates and residents engage in various aspects of farm life, building skill sets and ideally a sense of confidence that facilitates  participation in the regular workplace.  While this project is in danger of being labelled as paternal libertarianism I can understand its ideals and applaud any constructive effort to help people work through the vast array of problems that made them candidates for this program in the first place.  Woodwynn acknowledges that there is no “cure-all” that works for everyone but notes that there have been success stories and that makes it worth the effort.  Sadly, Woodwynn is embattled against its local municipality who seem determined to dismantle the existing camp which would obviously negate any future programs if they are successful.  Kudos are to be given to Woodwynn as they have openly stated that they will not be disassembling the camp any time soon.  Civil disobedience in the face of misguided authority is a beautiful thing.

Check out Woodwynn Farms here:  http://woodwynnfarms.org/

Comments are always welcome

Animal Static

You Are What You Read About What You Eat

Posted in America, Books, Economy, Environment, Food, Food For Thought, Health, Industry, Politics, Society, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 6, 2012 by animal_static

I recently finished a great book by Michael Pollan entitled, “In Defense of Food, An Eaters Manifesto” and I thought it was worth a share.  The authors credo: “Eat Food.  Not Too Much. Mostly Plants”, is unfolded against current eating habits and correlative social/health/industrial phenomena tied to the “Western Diet”.  What is the western diet?  According to the Author, the “real food” that we should be eating can be found on the peripheries of the grocery store and the more “western” items fill the middle majority of the store.  Sound flaky?  Like a flaked pastry wrapped in plastic? Not so much.  If you think about it, pretty much every store that you have been in is ringed by the bakery, the deli, the dairy, the fish counter, and……the produce.  So what is left?  Oreos, Stove Top, Hungry Man, Pizza Pops, and literally thousands of other items that contain hundreds of ingredients that most of us can’t identify (I am being presumptuous here but feeling secure in my assumptions).  We are presented with some good advice which states that if your grandparents or great grandparents couldn’t identify it as “food” then perhaps it is best to steer clear. The other thing that makes our diet “western” is the penchant to unbalance our plates with above average portions of meat, red, politically correct but environmentally unsustainable meat.

Pollan also gives us a breakdown of dietary trends such as vitamins and supplements, cholesterol, omega-3, trans fats, grains, and some of the effects that these trends have had on public health.  Like vitamins?  They apparently don’t do much.  The fact that you like vitamins is because you take a greater interest in your overall physical health and likely treat your body a little better than those who would sneer in derision when passing the supplements aisle on the way to the potato chips.  The truth seems to be that vitamins separated from their food sources aren’t very effective.  How about omega-3?  Comes from fish right?  Wrong.  Omega-3 is abundant in fish…that eat plants.  When you consider the health benefits of fish (protein, fats, oils, and acids) and plants as regular dietary staples it seems kind of silly to pump omega-3 into milk, eggs, and pills.  Especially when you consider that these animals would be richer in omega-3 if let to feed naturally rather than  on grain and synthetically formulated diets aimed at increasing food production.

Image sourced from Wikipedia

Pollan does a pretty decent job of laying out the rudiments of the politicalization  of our food.  Like Ethnic cuisine?  Keep it out of the White House or else.  If you aren’t a McDonald’s fan your favour in the polls might not last forever and if you want to run for office don’t dare oppose industrial farming lobbyists.  The government doesn’t want you to stray from its national nutritional policies which is backed by Big Agra and as a result we are made to feel weird and unpatriotic if we choose to support farmers who have diverse cropping methods, less than 100 000 chickens, and who might just want to sell us some real food for a real price (Probably a little more than you pay in the store but worth it).  Shop local and your chances of scoring some unique heirloom varieties that you won’t find in the box type grocery stores increases exponentially.  Purple tomatoes, red carrots, and multicoloured corn are all great.

POTATOES! Image from: http://www.specialtyproduce.com

One of my favourite aspects of this book is Pollans’ illumination of the problematic relationship between science and food.  Because food is SO complex, science, which in my humble opinion has strayed from its holistic philosophical roots, pursues a physicalist approach to food studies,isolating individual components of food.  In turn we are presented with beneficial or harmful properties of very small elements of what are in fact very complex organisms.  What you eat is equally important to what you do not eat and food can only be truly considered as a whole rather than its components.  In this regard we seem to treat food  like we treat our oceans.  We know next to nothing about how they work  but feel entitled to fill them full of garbage while appropriating individual components of a complex system in the name of self-interest but with paradoxical health effects .

Want to know who enjoys a good yoghurt enema?  Well you will just have to read the book to find out.

Check out “In Defense of Food” at Pollans website here:  http://michaelpollan.com/books/in-defense-of-food/

Comments and sharing are welcome.

-Animal Static