Saturday, December 31, 2011

Richard Heinberg: Why the end of growth can mean more happiness

Inspiring video on sustainability and life with less.

From YouTube...

Richard Heinberg- whose latest book describes The End of Growth- isn't looking for when the recession will end and we'll get back to "normal". He believes our decades-long era of growth was based on aberrant set of conditions- namely cheap oil, but also cheap minerals, cheap food, etc- and that looking ahead, we need to prepare for a "new normal".

The problem, according to Heinberg, is our natural resources just aren't so cheap and plentiful anymore, and he's not just talking about Peak Oil, Heinberg believes in Peak Everything (also the title of one of his books).

Heinberg thinks for many, adjusting to a life where everything costs a bit more, could be very hard, but he also thinks the transition to a new normal might actually make life better.

"Particularly in the Western industrialized countries we've gotten used to levels of consumption that are not only environmentally unsustainable, they also don't make us happy. They've in fact hollowed out our lives. We've given up things that actually do give us satisfaction and pleasure so that we can work more and more hours to get more and more money with which to buy more and more stuff- more flatscreen tvs, bigger SUVs, bigger houses and it's not making us happier. Well, guess what, it's possible to downsize, it's possible to use less, become more self sufficient, grow more of your own food, have chickens in your backyard and be a happier person."

This is not all theoretical. In the backyard of the home Heinberg shares with his wife, Janet Barocco, the couple grow most of their food during the summer months (i.e. 25 fruit & nut trees, veggies, potatoes.. they're just lack grains), raise chickens for eggs, capture rainwater, bake with solar cookers and a solar food drier and secure energy with photovoltaic and solar hot water panels.

Their backyard reflects Heinberg's vision for our "new normal" and it's full of experiments, like the slightly less than 120-square-foot cottage that was inspired by the Small Home Movement. It was built with the help of some of Heinberg's college students (in one of the nation's first sustainability classes) using recycled and natural materials (like lime plaster).

Heinberg admits it's not a real tiny house experiment since they don't actually live in it- his wife uses it as a massage studio, he meditates there and sometimes it's used as a guest house (though that's hush hush due to permitting issues). But their tiny cottage points to the bigger point behind why a transition to a less resource intensive future could equal greater happiness.

"Simplify. Pay less attention to all of the stuff in your life and pay more attention to what's really important. Maybe for you it's gardening, maybe for you it's painting or music. You know we all have stuff that gives us real pleasure and most of us find we have less and less time for that because we have to devote so much time to shopping, paying bills and driving from here to there and so on. Well, how about if we cut out some of that stuff and spend more time doing what really feeds us emotionally and spiritually and in some cases even nutritionally."

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, final meetings (?)

The next two meetings of the Az. IRC are scheduled for Monday, Dec. 19th at 9:30 a.m. and Tuesday, Dec. 20th, at 1 p.m. Despite the best (worst) efforts of Gov. Brewer and every Republican in the Arizona legislature to destroy the process, they were unsuccesful. Thank you, Arizona Supreme Court, and here's to a total house cleaning of the Repubs next fall.

It is possible that these will be the final meetings if they reach a final map that the majority will agree to. As usual, you can tune in to the hearings live at

The legislature, when they reconvene next month, may well try to pass referendums to:

a. Destroy Clean Elections
b. Destroy the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission.

Thus we may be very busy countering these efforts.

Meanwhile at the federal level, the Fair Elections Now Act garnered 79 co-sponsors in the House and 13 in the
Senate...surprise, surprise. House cleaning with a huge effort will hopefully clean out the Dems in Republican clothing and the Repubs en masse.

And the movements to get rid of the Citizens' United Supreme Court "decision" (5 to 4) gain momentum with the national Move to Amend group, 2 proposals in the Senate (Sen. Sanders and Sen. Udall)and the recently merged United Republic (joined Get Money Out (Dylan Ratigan) and Fix Congress First (Lawrence Lessig). You can check out the websites. They all deserve support. Keep tuned.

Rick Graap
Clean Elections IOT

Friday, December 9, 2011

Tucson Economic and Social Justice IOT Agenda (12/10/11)

PDA Tucson Economic and Social Justice IOT
December 10, 2011 Rincon Market 10 AM – noon

1.0 Introduction
1.1 Welcome
1.2 Agenda Modifications
1.3 Minutes from November
1.4 Announcements from the Steering Committee
1.4.1 Workshop for Jan. 14, 2012
1.4.2 Other Items will be interspersed where appropriate
2.0 Reactions and Follow-Up to Nov. 10th Program
2.1 Discussion
2.2 Request from Steering Committee to work directly with Local First Arizona
2.3 Should we promote an economic program?
2.3.1 Ideas:
1. innovation grants as Pam outlined
2. some quick professional formations in eCommerce, microenterprises, etc.
3. the creation of computer shacks using discarded equipment in many disadvantaged neighborhoods
4. a progressive rent ordinance where a rent is decreased periodically if a property is not occupied--Say it decreases 15% after 3 months, 35 % after 6.
5. a model for converting the economy (cf. the Ros Boxer materials)
6. setting up a series of workshops/studios where technical people, graphic designers, service providers, accountants, business coaches, start-ups work together in the same venue and where they are required to help one another as well as to build their businesses
7. whatever else we can think up.
2.3.2 A package or just one point at a time?
2.4 Cooperation with: Center for Economic Integrity

Their website is at:
3.0 Public Banking in Arizona
3.1 Check out the Public Banking Institute at
(You can join their listserv.)
3.2 Report on Meeting with Rep. John Fillmore Jim Hannley
3.3 Report on Conversation with Marc Armstrong, Executive Director, PBI
4.0 Other
Next Meeting: Saturday, January 7, 2012, 10 – noon, Revolutionary Grounds, 606 N. Fourth Ave.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Alas Another Economic and Justice IOT Change

At least one helpful IOT member has reminded me that the Fourth Avenue Street Fair takes place this week end. So another change; this time, we have a change of venue.

Instead let's meet at the Rincon Market Coffee Bar at 10 AM this Saturday, Dec. 10th.

And. . . . (fanfare please) . . . our meting with Rep. Fillmore about the state bank was a grand success!

See you Saturday!