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What Role Should Cities Play in Sustainable Consumption?

Shareable Magazine - November 22, 2014 - 09:11

Resourceful PDX connects residents to events like the neighborhood cleanup pictured above. Credit: SE Uplift

Categories: Economics

Daily Digest 11/22 - Stop Trying To Save The World, Record High Temps In B.C. Waters

Chris Martenson - November 22, 2014 - 07:53
  • Stop Trying To Save The World
  • There’s a Giant Contradiction at the Heart of the U.S. Economy
  • Officials Revise Goals on Containing Ebola After Signs of Wider Exposure in Mali
  • The Secret Life Of Passwords
  • Small Business Saturday: Promoting Small Businesses and One Great Big One
  • China Needs 1,000 Nuclear Reactors to Fulfill Its Climate Pledge
  • Record North Pacific temperatures threatening B.C. marine species 
  • Half of Americans Think Climate Change Is a Sign of the Apocalypse

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Categories: Economics

Beyond the Sharing Economy in Gijon

Shareable Magazine - November 22, 2014 - 06:52

My trip to Gijon, Spain for the Beyond the Sharing Economy conference began five months earlier 30 feet underground in the catacombs of Paris.

Let me explain.

Categories: Economics

Energy & The Economy - Crash Course Chapter 22

Chris Martenson - November 21, 2014 - 17:17

In the past few chapters on Energy EconomicsPeak Cheap Oil, and the false promise of Shale Oil, we've gone into great detail to show how our economic growth is deeply dependent on our energy systems.

Understanding the known facts behind this story, as well as each of the stated risks is what The Crash Course is about: assessing those risks and deciding what, if anything, a prudent adult should do about adapting to these realities and facing these risks. 


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Categories: Economics

New Film Shows How Florida Farmworkers Won Fairer Pay From America's Biggest Food Companies

Lucas Benitez of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers. Photo by Jeffery Salter.

The small city of Immokalee, Florida, provides produce to millions of people. It’s one of the country’s agricultural hubs, but with an average per capita income of $9,518, the majority of residents—many of whom are farmworkers—live well below the national poverty level.

“The wealth doesn’t stay here with us.”

That’s Lucas Benitez, founder of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and a former farmworker, in the new film Food Chains.  The documentary, by director Sanjay Rawal and executive producers Eva Longoria and Eric Schlosser, follows the Coalition’s fight for human rights and fair wages for tomato pickers. “There is more interest in food these days than ever,” the filmmakers write on the film’s website. “Yet there is very little interest in the hands that pick it.”

Rawal, who spent 15 years working in the nonprofit industry and several years abroad, was aware of the routine human rights abuses against agricultural workers overseas. “I had no idea that these same abuses could be happening here,” he told me. “I knew I couldn’t just focus on the problem, I had to focus on the solution.”

For Rawal, the most promising path out of this kind of exploitation comes from the Coalition’s strategy of organizing workers at the bottom to revolutionize entire supply chains.

In the 1990s, Benitez and a small group of other tomato pickers founded the Coalition to create a safer working environment in Florida’s fields and raise farmworkers' pay. In addition to winning wage increases, the group has been instrumental in fighting sexual exploitation, violence, human trafficking, and debt bondage on farms.

Many tomato pickers live in trailers with up to 16 other people during the growing season, since rent is otherwise unaffordable. Until recently, when Coalition organizers succeeded in increasing their pay, workers received 50 cents for each 32-pound bucket of tomatoes they picked—a pay-per-piece practice that’s a holdover from slavery, according to the film. Pickers’ wages usually amount to less than $50 a day, and they work long hours under the constant threat of sexual assault and abuse. Because many are undocumented, crimes against them often go unreported.

In 2011, the Coalition launched the Fair Food Program, an project aimed at getting corporations to pay farmers an additional cent for every pound of tomatoes purchased. The program also demands that allegations of abuse and sexual assault on the farms are taken seriously.

Many large companies have already signed on—some of them after tenacious, drawn-out campaigning by Coalition members. Whole Foods, Subway, Walmart, and Chipotle are among several corporations that now comply with Fair Food Program standards.

Now, upwards of 80,000 Florida farmworkers—about 90 percent of the state’s total—are receiving the benefits of these protections. But Food Chains largely focuses on Publix, a major regional grocery chain in Florida, which has refused to meet with Coalition members or join the Fair Food Program, despite public pressure.

Part of what makes the Fair Food Program so successful is that the additional cost for tomatoes is offset to consumers: Since it’s distributed among millions of buyers, each family pays just pennies more per year. Plus, the program holds producers accountable: If they’re found guilty of inappropriately handling a case of sexual assault or abuse, for example, partner companies can’t buy their produce. In other words, if workers report an issue and a supplier in Florida doesn’t address it, that supplier won’t be able to sell to Subway or Whole Foods. Janice R. Fine, a labor relations professor at Rutgers, called it “the best workplace-monitoring program I’ve seen in the U.S.” earlier this year in The New York Times.

Julia de la Cruz, a Coalition member, says farmers are already seeing the benefits of the program. Workers now have a right to take breaks, to leave the farm when they feel threatened, and to report cases of sexual assault or abuse without fear of retaliation.

According to de la Cruz, farms are enforcing a zero tolerance policy against sexual assault. There have been cases where women have reported abuse, and those supervisors were investigated and fired. And that additional penny per pound of tomatoes? It’s a “significant economic relief for our workers, and our community,” she told me.

Rawal sees this fight in the American tomato industry as part of a bigger global issue. “More than 95 percent of the products that we purchase come through a supply chain system,” he said. And other, non-agricultural workers who produce for major retailers—like the Gap and Walmart—face very similar issues at the bottom of their respective supply chains.

Rawal and and his colleagues believe the Coalition’s model of grassroots organizing can be a solution for workers all over the world.

“This is not a film about oppression,” executive producer Eva Longoria told MSNBC’s Chris Hayes this week. “It’s actually about transformation.”

Watch the interview below. Food Chains opens on November 21. Click here to find out about screenings near you.

Nur Lalji wrote this article for YES! Magazine, a national, nonprofit media project that fuses powerful ideas with practical actions. Nur is a contributor to YES! based in the Seattle area. Follow her on Twitter at @nuralizal.

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Categories: Economics

Daily Digest 11/21 - Lean Times Ahead, Can Immigration Save Japan?

Chris Martenson - November 21, 2014 - 08:21
  • Can immigration save a struggling, disappearing Japan?
  • Lean times ahead: Preparing for an energy-constrained future
  • Switzerland Net Exports 100t Of Gold In October
  • New York City’s Unemployment Rate Drops to Lowest Level in Six Years
  • America's 11 Million
  • The Economic And Strategic Implications Of Low Oil Prices 
  • How Climate Change Will End Wine As We Know It
  • Scientists: Be Lazy, Don't Rake Leaves

Join the conversation »

Categories: Economics

SELC Celebrates Victories and Launches Seed Library Campaign

Shareable Magazine - November 21, 2014 - 08:14

On Tuesday, the Sustainable Economies Law Center (SELC) hosted its annual Fall Celebration and Showcase. Now in its fifth year, SELC is a driving force for the new economy, doing pioneering work around worker cooperatives, home-based food businesses, alternative currencies, legal guides for sharing, legal apprenticeships, accessible legal cafes, renewable energy, the commons, seed libraries and more.

Categories: Economics

Off the Cuff: The Shift From Paper Assets To Real Ones Is On

Chris Martenson - November 20, 2014 - 18:29

In this week's Off the Cuff podcast, Chris and John Rubino discuss:

  • Mass-delusional Markets
    • Investors are mistaking the destruction of our fiat system as prosperity
  • The Shift From Paper To Real Assets Is On
    • At least, among the top 1%
  • Generational War
    • Coming to a stagnating economy near you
  • It All Comes Back To Energy
    • And there's still no magic bullet in sight

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Categories: Economics

Share Thanksgiving Connects Canadians and Immigrants for Holiday Meals

Shareable Magazine - November 20, 2014 - 12:09

Share Thanksgiving is a free, turkey-based matching service connecting new immigrant families with host families in Canada, where Thanksgiving is in October but is still celebrated with family gatherings and a large feast of turkey, pumpkin pie and all the trimmings. Now in its third year, Share Thanksgiving recently had 700 people participate in 10 cities across Canada.

Categories: Economics

Daily Digest 11/20 - The Economy's Ebb And Flow, Dust Storms On The High Plains

Chris Martenson - November 20, 2014 - 08:29
  • Emission Statement
  • The Geography Of Terrorism
  • The Economy's Ebb And Flow
  • Rich hoard cash as their wealth reaches record high
  • Cops Mock Victims While Learning How to Legally Steal Their Property
  • Russia-China Deal Could Kill U.S. LNG Exports
  • Dust Storms Again in the High Plains
  • Keystone XL pipeline bill dies in Senate

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Categories: Economics

When most projects just disappear off the radar, its great to see such a self-cr...

Community Currency Magazine - November 19, 2014 - 20:44
When most projects just disappear off the radar, its great to see such a self-critical & artistic account.

In 2010, Pixelache and curator Susanne Jaschko invited UK artist Christian Nold to develop a project for Helsinki. Autopsy of an Island Currency describes and reflects on the two-and-half year process of this artistic research project, which attempted to create an experimental local currency for the…
Categories: Economics

Keep Your Eyes On The Prize

Chris Martenson - November 19, 2014 - 19:53

At the essential center of the framework of the Crash Course is the almost insultingly simple idea that endless growth on a finite planet is an impossibility.

It is so simple it could be worked out by a clever 4 year-old and yet it must not be so simple because the main narrative of every economy in every corner of the globe rests on the idea of endless, infinite growth.

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Categories: Economics

Enhanced Problem Solving

Chris Martenson - November 19, 2014 - 10:33

Executive summary: Day after day, humans are challenged to solve problems big and small, yet our brains didn't evolve for optimum problem solving! Fortunately, many simple techniques have been developed to overcome our brains' problem-solving drawbacks, and these techniques can greatly improve our chances of problem-solving success. Unfortunately, while most people solve problems to the best of their natural ability, they have little to no understanding of their brain's shortcomings in this regard, or of ways to overcome them. To better enable us to work smarter, not harder, this article seeks to demonstrate the validity of these assumptions, and to point readers to further problem-solving resources.

Imagine this: Someone offers to pay you $100 for every song you can name! Whoopee! Easy money, right? There's just one catch: you can only use your unaided mind to come up with songs. That's right, no outside assistance – so just step away from the computer, and put down that smartphone! (Just for fun, do spend a few minutes trying to name every song you know.)

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Categories: Economics

The Truth About Cast Iron Pans

Chris Martenson - November 19, 2014 - 09:24

If you have ever wanted to incorporate some cast iron cookware into your food prep routine but was hesitant based on what you had heard about maintaining / seasoning or other drawbacks to cooking with it - don't hesitate any longer.  The following article really dispels the myths of cast iron cookware and will give you the confidence in your newly acquired pans.  (I personally cook with cast iron every single day and for most meals.  Breakfast, lunch and dinner!)

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Categories: Economics

Is Sharing Good for the Environment? It Depends.

Shareable Magazine - November 19, 2014 - 08:49

With the rise of the sharing economy, people are sharing cars, houses, sports equipment, clothing, toys, meals, surfboards and much more. There's an intuition among sharers that sharing is not only good for the pocketbook, it’s good for the planet. The thinking goes that sharing helps us reduce consumption and keep usable goods out of landfills.

Categories: Economics

New Documentary Celebrates Amsterdam as a Sharing City

Shareable Magazine - November 19, 2014 - 08:28

Around the world, sharing cities are being created. Sparked, in part, by Shareable’s Sharing Cities Network, the sharing cities movement, with its emphasis on growing community, peer-to-peer transactions, and collaborative consumption, is gaining momentum.

One such city is Amsterdam. A well-established progressive, tech-enabled, and open-minded place, Amsterdam is also a hub for the sharing economy.

Categories: Economics

Daily Digest 11/19 - France's Flailing Economy, Student Loan Debt Rises

Chris Martenson - November 19, 2014 - 07:43
  • France's flailing economy
  • Bank of Japan meets as economic slump, tax delay cast doubt over outlook
  • Japan recession, Europe stagnation cast pall over global economic outlook
  • Average Student Loan Debt Rises
  • UCSD students to protest proposed tuition hike
  • Americans put health insurers on the hate list
  • Russia Adds More Gold as Sanctions Weaken Ruble to Record Low
  • Frankfurt begins first European direct settlements in Chinese yuan
  • Interest rates may stay low for years: RBA
  • Another rude Obamacare surprise awaits

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Categories: Economics

Open Sauce / Source for the Food Revolution

Shareable Magazine - November 19, 2014 - 00:11

"He who receives ideas from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine receives light without darkening me."   - Thomas Jefferson

We can't get around it, so we'll say it upfront. Food is essential to life. What's more, ensuring open access to the resources, knowledge, and land we need to feed ourselves is political. In opposition to corporate control and intellectual property, we need systems and processes which emphasize sharing and collaboration for food systems work.

Categories: Economics

How To Properly Prepare A Water Barrel

Chris Martenson - November 18, 2014 - 15:59

Learn the basics of prepping and using a water storage barrel.  Great tips and info in the following article.

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Categories: Economics