26 June 2010

Detroit Incinerator Protest

Saturday, June 26, 2010, Detroit—Protest against Detroit incinerator. We were told that this is the "largest incinerator in the world." It's a privately owned for-profit company that does the job. It's called Covato, or something like that. I'll look it up and make any corrections.

Also, it's hard to see smoke, but there is a nasty odor in the exhaust plume. I wonder if the particularly nasty stuff gets burned at night, or if the smoke has been cleaned up for the presence of out-of-towners with the forum this week. There was a very nasty odor when we walked downwind of the facility.

Detroit doesn't have a recycling program, so waste plastic, styrofoam and other toxics may very well be included in the waste that is burnt at the incinerator. Disgusting thought.

One organizer mentioned the concept of Zero Tolerance: There is no safe, nor allowable level for toxic emissions. Any toxins are unacceptable. For example, if the incinerator releases even one particle of dioxin, then it must be shut down. I agree. Especially if it is run for-profit.

No one deserves to profit from activities that do harm.

It was a great protest, I have a ton of photos. More later!

[more photos from the protest here: //peacepotential.blogspot.com/2010/07/more-photos-from-detroit-incinerator.html]

25 June 2010

Scenes from the Apocolypse (Day 4 at the US Social Forum in Detroit)

My friend just drove through East Detroit. I'm told that it looks like a scene from the Apocolypse. The houses still standing in disrepair, and only a few sparse houses still standing, with giant trees standing like sentinels, and some blocks are entirely razed to the ground every house collapsed. There are giant multi-story factories crumbling, with upper stories caving in...

What a story. What an indictment of our amoral/immoral boom and bust economy. I am thinking about a transition to a life-serving society, rather than one that presumes the possibility of enlightened and altruistic self-interest.

I believe progress is toward service, toward caring, toward a society that ensures the mutual uplift of all people, a society that is non-discriminatory.

I believe that the highest purpose for humanity on Earth is stewardship and care-taking, because I believe that the Earth does not belong to any one of us, nor to all of us collectively—rather it's the other way around, in that we belong to the Earth, and we are part of the Earth.

It's so sad to see the poverty that exists in the midst of so much abundance. So sad to see the racism that goes on to this day.

I had a conversation with a friend earlier about their parents opinion that poor people are to blame for their plight because they're lazy.

I am concerned that this type of thinking is all too prevalent in the mainstream, and is the result of ignorance and a misguided and incomplete understanding of systematic privilege and oppression, and the effects of violence and abuse on individuals and communities.

People suffer mistreatment and it causes impairment. It is incorrect to blame people with impairment for their subsequent disability. People who suffer with impairment ought to be supported and cared for, ought to be nurtured and accepted for their condition—as they are—and not subjected to pity, nor to discouragement based on their condition.

It's about unconditional love. And understanding that all people are good. And while some people behave in ways that aren't good (probably all of us do to some extent in this society (because society is not designed to serve life/our best interests of health and mutual prosperity) it makes sense to strive for understanding and for a world that works for all people, regardless of age, gender, religion, race, nationality, ethnicity, ability, and etc..

"Another world is possible. On a quiet day I can hear her breathing." —Arundhati Roy

24 June 2010

Social Forum Day 3


Interesting day today, lots to talk about. I did some laundry, and had an interesting bike ride a couple miles North from the WSU campus on Woodward. Laundromat was huge, and the machines worked well. The neighborhood was pretty depressed. Woodward was being repaved with some serious concrete slabs. I have to wonder what people are thinking by investing in this infrastructure when we know that our current societal addiction to fossil fuels is harmful and unsustainable and the cause of so much economic and environmental instability and injustice...

I went to an interesting workshop this morning. It was by an organization called Resource Generation (http://www.resourcegeneration.org/home.html), and I have some mixed emotions and (what I think are) deep thoughts about the workshop and some of the ideas that were presented. The workshop was titled, "Class Privilege and Activism." I think the crux of my discomfort related to the lack of analysis about the intrinsic harmful nature of the majority (if not all) of wealth generating activities... Basically, I think it makes the most sense to have a society that is economically egalitarian, because the real ways to happiness are less material than they are spiritual. Real happiness results from health, belonging, community, being part of a meaningful society.

So I was kind of distressed by how these young wealthy people were seemingly justifying or rationalizing their wealth based on fact that they're interested in being philanthropic. Like holding financial power over others, making the decision over who is going to get money and when?

I have more to write about this topic, I took some notes, hopefully I will have more energy to write on it tomorrow.

I saw Climbing PoeTree (http://www.climbingpoetree.com/) perform tonight, and enjoyed their performance. It's really electrifying. I encourage you to check out these talented performers.
Climbing PoeTree at the US Social Forum 2010 in Detroit


22 June 2010

USSF Opening Day

The United States Social Forum opened today with a march and a ceremony. The theme of the forum is that another world is possible, and another US is necessary in order to make that other world possible. The phrase Another World is Possible comes from Arundhati Roy.

Thousands of activists from all around the USA have converged upon the city of Detroit Michigan for the five days of the forum.

The opening ceremony was marked with great wisdom from a few local organizers and other visitors.

Detroit is an appropriate place to host the forum because the city has suffered in recent times the effects of a boom and bust economy that places profits before people.

Here's a photo from the march that led to the opening ceremony at COBO hall.

I'm tired. Although I wish I had more energy to write more about the march today and the ceremony!

I am looking forward to plugging in and learning more about the work to challenge the existing harmful culture, and to make the world a better place.


21 June 2010

Beautiful Flowers

These are flowers in the alley behind the house that I'm staying in in Detroit.

Update from Detroit Michigan

It's Monday, June 21, 2010. Happy Solstice!

I am in Detroit Michigan for the US Social Forum and the Allied Media Conference. The AMC ended yesterday, and the USSF begins tomorrow.

I participated in a workshop yesterday about health and healing. It was partly titled "Health is Dignity and Dignity is Resistance." I like that concept.

Today the plan is to participate in a Poor People's March.

Last night an incinerator fired up. The incinerator is less than a half mile away from the house I am staying in.

The last couple of mornings I have been experiencing an unusual nasal drip. I wonder if it is due to air pollution. And I wouldn't be surprised if it is. I worry that there might be plastic burning in the incinerator, which would create airborne dioxin.

Here's a photo from Detroit. My Internet access is limited, so I plan to upload more photos in the future, but here is one of the incinerator that is stationed so close to this residential neighborhood.

Incinerator in Detroit Michigan

19 June 2010

Disability Justice

Yesterday I attended a disability justice workshop. I thought it was great, I learned a lot and thought the presentation was very well organized, and productive.

Here are notes:
Disability Justice Notes from the Allied Media Conference in Detroit
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I am in Detroit Michigan for 10 days for the Allied Media Conference (AMC) and the 2010 US Social Forum (USSF 2010). The AMC started on Friday. I have attended three workshops so far, including one on Disability Justice (DJ). The USSF will start on Tuesday the 22nd. I have been photographing a lot. I haven't counted by I am sure that I have well over 500 photos from the 5 day road trip from Olympia to Detroit. Photo content ranges from snapshot scenes inside the bus to landscapes from the moving bus to some candids and landscapes.

I attended a couple more workshops this Saturday afternoon. One was entitled Hurricane Season: Unearthing Solutions in an Era of Unnatural Disaster, by Climbing PoeTree. The other was a symposium about the writings of Octavia E. Butler. I thought both were very worthwhile.

I thought the DJ workshop yesterday was excellent and I heard from others that they thought so too.

The workshop started with a discussion about what Disability Justice means and the workshop organizers shared their working definition:
DJ is a multi-issue political understanding of disability + Ableism, moving away from a rights-based equality model, to a framework that centers justice + wholeness for all disabled people + our communities.
The various major disability movements were compared. These movements range from advocacy for services, to advocacy for rights, to working for basic root level justice. One of my thoughts about the justice movement is that it's radically different from the other movements because it includes the struggle for cultural transformation.

The room was full, with about 80 people in attendance. The participants split into three separate groups to discuss three interrelated aspects of DJ: Policing Bodies, Medical-Industrial Complex, and the Myth of Independence.

I was in the Myth of Independence group. After a round of brief introductions and sharing of thoughts, we discussed various aspects of how the myth of independence affects society and individuals, especially impaired people. Our conclusions included a social analysis of how our society favors a notion of independence, but that this notion is really illusory, and impaired people are discriminated against for being dependent, when in reality everyone is dependent-everyone is interdependent on each other, and interconnected. There is an fictitious idea, a harmful myth, that those whom are ambitious, DIY'ers, whom are entrepreneurial are somehow independent and that independence is a sign of strength, and intelligence (or even superiority.) When in reality, we are all interdependent, and interconnected, both able-bodied and disabled alike.

We see this myth in concepts like, "independently wealthy" and in comparisons between "high-functioning" and "low-functioning" persons, placing value and higher esteem on those who seem more highly functional. There is usually also higher status granted to those whom have invisible impairments, vs. impairments which are visible. We also see this idea reflected in the concepts of rugged individualism, pulling one's self up by their bootstraps, the "American Dream" - all of which carry the odor of Social Darwinism.

It seems to me that the myth of independence relates in important ways to the myth of meritocracy and the myth of scarcity. I think there are some important dots to connect between these concepts.

I think it is important to also mention that the function of our society causes harm. The function of our society causes impairment.

It was exciting to be around so many differently-abled people and think about the re-birth of a nonviolent world that places peoples' well-beings above and beyond anyone's supposed self-interest.

Just imagine. Imagine a world that is not harmful. A world that does not cause impairments...impairments that are caused by calculated and structural poverty, exploitative economics, any of various other deeply entrenched oppressions, or any other violence, very much including war. So I thought the education was good, and important.

18 June 2010

In Detroit!

At the Ice Cream Shop in Ann Arbor
At the ice cream shop in Ann Arbor

We made it. We're in Detroit!

Last night there was an eerie sight of a helicopter flying quickly across the hazy midnight sky with a very bright search light pointed at the ground.

I wonder if I will see Robocop.

more updates here: Cascadia Freedom Caravan in Detroit Michigan

B Media Collective

And I have more photos on my flickr site, which are linked through the above photo.

17 June 2010

Cascadia Freedom Caravan Day 5 Update

We are heading for Detroit, ETA is for this evening.

Petro-chemical Industrial Manufacturing Refinery

This is a photo from North Dakota.

It's Day 5. Last night we stayed in a really nice church in Milwaukee. The Central United Methodist Church. I was grateful for the hospitality after 4 long days on the road; I had some delicious food and needed rest.

We also did a presentation at the church, and I was really impressed by the skills of my fellow caraveners, whom I think are all brilliant human beings.

We had a panel that included geographical representation of people going to the US Social Form in Detroit, from Portland, Seattle, and Milwaukee. Then we had people talk about issues. We watched a video that members of the B Media Collective produced. It's a six minute video about an open pit copper mine that we visited in Butte MT.

I showed some photos, Danny Kelley and others did musical performances.

Members of the audience asked a few intelligent questions after the presentation, so it seemed successful.

We just passed through Chicago. It's hot and muggy.

The bus got cleaned this morning, so we are rolling in style.

Rick is driving like a champion.

I am looking forward to getting to Detroit after a stop in Ann Arbor to pick up some boxes from Rising Tide.

16 June 2010

Day Four CFC from PNW to Detroit

Badlands ND
On day three of the Cascadia Freedom Caravan from the PNW (Pacific Northwest {Oregon and Washington}) we traveled from South central Montana to Fargo North Dakota, and Moorehead Minnesota.

It was a sunny and warm day of travel through a beautiful landscape.

Today, day four, we are driving for Milwaukee Wisconsin.

As I write this we are approaching St. Cloud, MN and about 80 miles from the Twin Cities, Minneapolis and St. Paul.

The clouds are accumulating, and the agricultural fields are very green. It smells wet, and it seems like there is a possibility for rain.

People are tired, right now most of the people on the bus are asleep, I think there are only about 7 of us still awake.

Last night as we drove through the darkness on our way to Fargo, I could hear 7 different conversations taking place simultaneously amongst the 25 passengers on the bus. It was pretty amazing. There have been some amazing, interesting and important conversations that have occurred on the trip.

So far, I have had a lot of conversations about culture, society, economics, politics, the environment, spirituality, values, and other topics that are of interest to me.

Right now we are listening to Amy Goodman speak on Democracy Now! The segment is an interview about BP's human-made undersea petroleum volcano in the Gulf of Mexico.

I am learning a lot about 'merica (i.e. America.) And so far, I still believe that another world is possible. A world of altruism, where success is based on the common welfare of all people. A world where people demonstrate caring attitudes and behaviors for each other, for all people, realizing that we are all part of one interconnected web of life. A world where people do not hurt each other, and earnestly seek to gain understanding and awareness of how our system is harmful... A world of respect, of love and truth, of peace and harmony.

Joy in the struggle!

And Peace.


15 June 2010

Beautiful Nature

Leaf and Creek
Last night we stayed at a campground in a beautiful National Forest North of Yellowstone National Park.

14 June 2010

On the Road!

Hey Everyone, on the road, blogging from the bus via mobile internet connection!

a couple reports:

link to story: Day 1: Portland, OR – Missoula, MO from bmedia collective

and a report from olyblog: Cascadia Freedom Caravan Day Two Update

Crossing the Water

13 June 2010

Three Peaks View

Yes there are three famous volcanic mountains in the photo.
Three Peaks View
Know Olympia?
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12 June 2010

Choose Peace

Choose Peace (count the ways)
Friday, June 11, 2010
Olympia, Washington

Choose Peace!

Count the Ways...there are so many ways to choose peace!

For one, boycott, and divest from, harmful industries!

Go Friend!

Go Friend!
Getcha Some!

Friend, that's my middle name!

This was at the 2010 Evergreen Graduation, see more information in the previous post!

Evergreen Graduation 2010 cross-post

I am cross posting this from OlyBlog, even though I think recent technical difficulties are a thing of the past.

11 June 2010

Nonviolence is the Way to Peace

Nonviolence isn't easy. It's more like an art than a science. Nonviolence is not simply the absence of violence. Nonviolence is a constructive, creative force. It is truth force. It is the intention to do no harm. It is the intention to protect. For me, it is the intention and desire to protect all life against harm, and abuse.

Here's an interesting article from Tikkun.org. I like the Tikkun organization very much. The article is about Michael Nagler, who is an advocate of nonviolent resistance and cultural change.

Here's a short description:
A short article showing excerpts of a longer article by Michael Nagler, which gently criticizes the behavior of some of the Mavi Marmara, based on his belief in the efficacy of nonviolence. Nagler believes that violent reactions are often knee-jerk in our culture, and that often we are unaware about other possibilities, and also untrained to properly respond in a more productive, creative, nonviolent manner.

Please check it out: Commentary of the flotilla attack by a leading nonviolence educator

p.s. from the video, an important idea: "either fight or flight is violence." - nonviolence is another way.

Internationalize the Petroleum Industry

cross posted from OlyBlog, June 11, 2010:

10 June 2010

A Bunch of Photos from the Past Few Days

These are not exactly in chronological order, and some have more information attached at the page they're linked to.

On Memorial Day
Memorial Day Soldier Found in Mud
May justice be done to the memory of all soldiers by ending all war between human beings.

Sunset Reflections
Sunset Reflections

June 2nd, 2010 A Late Spring Sunset

Alley Windows and Barrels
Alleyway Windows and Barrels

Shoes on the Line

Private Roadway No Trespassing Union Pacfic RR
Private Roadway No Trespassing Union Pacfic RR

Beautiful Flowers / Facebook

If you know me well enough, then you probably know that I am somewhat of a habitual Internet user. Facebook is part of my habit. I post a lot on my Facebook page. For some time I had my Facebook settings so that anyone could see my page. Then I changed it around for a while. Now it is back to where Facebook users can see a lot of my page without necessarily being a contact. Here's a link to my page: http://www.facebook.com/rfwwhitlock

On another topic, here are some beautiful flowers.
Purple Flowers
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08 June 2010

Can Capitalism Be Altruistic?

Ralph Nader's New Book
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This book, "Only the super-rich can save us," by Ralph Nader, came out last year.

I think Ralph Nader is a brilliant thinker. I credit Ralph with initiating my own political awakening, to the harmfulness that is intrinsic to this corporate power dominated political system. These corporations compete for market domination. They can do no less - or else they would not be wise investments. Dominate to succeed. It's an unnatural and inharmonious system. Human beings have too much control over the environment to have a system that promotes and encourages the dominator paradigm. Another way is possible. A better way. A way of altruism, respect, kindness, compassion, reciprocity, truth, and peace....

Here are some of my initial thoughts about this book, I posted these on the facebook website earlier today:

I'm reading this new book by Ralph Nader. I'm about a chapter into it, "Only the super-rich can save us."

I think Ralph is brilliant, and I enjoy what seems, so far, to be the sense of humor in this book. However, there are some questions I have about the vision Ralph presents in this book, and although I am curious ab...out whether my questions will be addressed in this nearly 800 page epic, I am also skeptical.

The book presents Ralph's fictional (though he thinks plausible) scenario in which some of the world's richest philanthropists suddenly wake-up and realize how fucked-up the world is. Because of this realization, and the realization of their potential ability to make change, they therefore dedicate themselves, under the leadership of one mega-billionaire Warren Buffet, to use their capital, and other influence, toward the creation of an "open society" -a society that is altruistic and benevolent.

My question relating to the plausibility of this scenario revolves mostly around the realism of an expectation for reform within the capitalist (corporate socialism/ fascist) economy that we have.

It seems to me that capitalism has always been abusive. It seems to me that capitalism has always been exploitative and violent (slavery, extinction of species, et al.). It seems to me that on at least some level capitalism has always involved the mentality of divide and conquer. It seems to me that capitalism has always been oppressive.

So, so far the book is interesting, and I really appreciate what I think is Nader's sense of humor. About 40 pages into it, and I think it's an entertaining and interesting, crafty literary work of prose, albeit with a narrative that is sometimes somewhat silly, (an aspect which I personally find to be charming.)

But the question remains... is capitalism reformable? Is it possible to practice an altruistic capitalism? Or is the tendency to pit people against each other a radical and undeniable basic feature of the capitalistic economic system?

Is the concept of altruism anathema to capitalism (especially one that thrives on materialism/commercialism/consumerism)?

07 June 2010

Clouds in the Sky, These Clouds Signal Change

This type of cloud formation, I think the scientific name is alto cirrus (but I might be wrong) are also known as mare's tails, and they are an indicator of changing atmospheric conditions.

I saw these clouds while passing by The Olympian newspaper office building.

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Happy Monday

I hope you have a great day, if at all possible!

Enjoy some flowers!
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06 June 2010

4th Ave Bridge

Cross posted from OlyBlog.net:

What's Up

I am just catching up having had a busy day. Quick run-through: volunteered with the Family Support Center last night. The Olympia FSC has a shelter for homeless families, and a friend and I stayed overnight last night. I liked it and I look forward to volunteering more with the FSC.

Then I went to Media Island (International,) where participants in the Cascadia Freedom Caravan hosted a brunch to benefit the travel expenses from Olympia to Detroit. We plan to bus to Detroit next week to attend the Allied Media Conference and the US Social Forum. Looking forward to that. It was a good brunch, and a really nice crowd of people that came through MII today.

After that was some clean-up and socializing. Then the Bruce and Berd weekly radio hour, which airs 7 to 8pm Sundays on KOWA 106.5 LP FM. KOWA has a studio attached to MII. Was a good show and we had a guest on the show who talked about media issues.

On my way home I was treated to a gorgeous late spring, late evening, extended sunset display. It was gorgeous, I hope to have a few more photos of it to share soon.

Peace to the World,

05 June 2010

A Question about the Situation with Israel/Palestine

Ask Israel why it excludes kids' books and wheel chairs from Gaza.
Why does Israel exclude kids' books and wheel chairs from Gaza?

Why does the U.S.A. give Israel so much support despite the vast amount of credible reports of human rights abuses and crimes against humanity committed by Israel?

Whom, or what, might benefit?

Does the state of Israel represent Jewish values?

02 June 2010

Squirrel Mouseover

This squirrel was sitting there for a while. It was looking at a group of folks sitting inside Media Island International. We were at the island because there was a brunch benefit for the Cascadia Freedom Armada caravan to the U.S. Social Forum in Detroit.

move cursor over image for "mouseover" effect:
Thank you Squirrel!

People Need to Be Able to Distinguish Between Right and Wrong

I found the following quote in the front pages of a book called Nonviolence. The book is by Mark Kurlansky:

"To kill one man is to be guilty of a capital crime, to kill ten men is to increase the guilt ten-fold, to kill a hundred men is to increase it a hundred-fold. This the rulers of the earth all recognize and yet when it comes to the greatest crime—waging war on another state—they praise it!"

"It is clear they do not know it is wrong, for they record such deeds to be handed down to posterity; if they knew they were wrong, why should they wish to record them and have them handed down to posterity?

"If a man on seeing a little black were to say it is black, but on seeing a lot of black were to say it is white, it would be clear that such a man could not distinguish black and white. Or if he were to taste a few bitter things and were to pronounce them sweet, clearly he would be incapable of distinguishing between sweetness and bitterness. So those who recognize a small crime as such, but do not recognize the wickedness of the greatest crime of all—the waging of war on another state—but actually praise it—cannot distinguish between right and wrong. So as to right or wrong, the rulers of the world are in confusion."
—Mozi, China, Circa 470-391 B.C.

Sunset Reflections
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SO: Why do we have rulers in this world whom are either unable to distinguish between right and wrong, or uncaring about perpetrating wrongful (i.e. harmful) acts?

01 June 2010

Chalmers Johnson: High-Ranking U.S. Military Officers Treated Like Royalty

Had a great discussion at book club tonight about nonviolent communication (language,) nonviolence as a cultural alternative, the prospects for empathy, kindness, compassion for creating a better world.

I also described a movie that I saw in fourth grade. In the movie it rained all the time, except for a two hour window every year. The two hour window was known well in advance, and in the movie, which was set in an elementary school, all the students and teachers were very excited and looking forward to the annual two hours of sunshine (because in the film, all the flowers would bloom in that very short window.)

When the day came, some mean students locked up one of their peers in a closet, so that she was unable to venture outside and run in the sunshine through fields of flowers.

I felt very sad for the poor child, a victim of bullying. I wonder how other people interpreted the film. Maybe that it is better to be strong than weak, better to be a bully than to risk being bullied?...

Personally, I think the path to peace is through trust, honesty, openness, truth, and vulnerability...

There are so many reasons to believe in the transformative power of love and compassion, and cooperation - rather than fear, hate, and violence, and domination...

The following is an interview with Chalmers Johnson that mentions how U.S. military generals get treated like royalty:

The Story of Stuff by Annie Leonard: An Important Story

This is a well-produced 20 minute video. Please watch. It's a very important story!

Emergency Demonstration for Gaza Aid Freedom Flotilla

Monday, May 31, 2010
Olympia, Washington

Well over 100 people gathered to protest against Israel's recent attack on human right's activists. Several hundred people were attempting to escort a significant shipment of material humanitarian relief supplies, when Israeli commandos hi-jacked them under the cover of darkness in the early morning. Israel even went so far as to kill some of the human rights workers during their take-over of the ships.

more information about the Freedom Flotilla here: The Free Gaza Movement