Saturday Links for the Week – August 25, 2007

100 miles
100 mile radius from my home. About 60% of what I eat, and buy, comes from inside the circle. Not enough.

Globally, Things Keep Spiraling Out of Control…

Canada’s Cops Continue to Slide into US-style Corruption and Brutality: For the last year, starting with the report of how the RCMP was complicit in the US arrest and deportation to Syria for torture of Canadian businessman Maher Arar, there has been a depressing litany of reports of bad police behaviour at every level: the beating and murder of First Nations people, widespread corruption, kickbacks, theft and extortion, the use of excessive force in making arrests and extracting confessions, and more. This week we learned that the Quebec police planted masked agents impersonating demonstrators to try to foment riots at the anti-SPP-North-American-Union protests there. One informant said this is ‘normal’ police practice across North America — riots allow the cops to discredit peaceful protests, demoralize the protesters, and ‘try out’ their anti-riot equipment. Shameful, but alas, not surprising.

The US/China Conspiracy to Keep Standards Low: Probably news to no one, but there’s overwhelming evidence that the government of China is incapable of cracking down or even modestly regulating the flood of poisoned, dangerous and flawed goods being produced there, and that the government of the US (its co-dependent economy) has no intention of stepping in to protect Americans from the growing mountains of Chinese crap. Meanwhile, the widespread slavery and employee abuse that fuels Chinese industry continues unhindered.

DDT Re-Emerges as Anti-Mosquito Poison of Choice, Despite Dangers: Yes, it’s toxic, extremely persistent, poisons everything it touches, and, as a destroyer of nerve cells, probably contributes to the epidemic of chronic environmental illnesses in our world. And yes, as soon as and wherever it is widely used, mosquitoes build up immunity to it. But despite this, DDT has re-emerged as the insect toxin of choice in Africa, and a heavily-financed campaign from several industries is lobbying for restrictions on its use to be lifted. When will we ever learn?

…but There’s Some Good News on Sustainable, Responsible Living…

Powell River BC’s 50-mile diet challenge: HtStW reader David Parkinson, who heads the food security project in Powell River on Vancouver Island BC, points to a recent write-up on their community’s success working towards buying almost all their food from responsible local producers. We need to get working on such initiatives in every community in the world. Get your 100-mile diet map here.

Cowichan BC’s Caregiver Society: Already 8% of North Americans are looking after ill or disadvantaged adult family-members. This percentage is expected to quadruple in the next generation, as the population ages. Most of us have no idea what we will do if/when we face this situation, and some of us won’t be able to cope with the stress. A great model is Cowichan BC’s caregiver society, which provides materials and resources and peer-to-peer connection to help caregivers of adults and seniors handle the challenge. Thanks to Prad for the link.

A Personal Story of Radically Simple Living: Tyra and James Arraj’s online book Radical Simplicity and the Fourth Step is an engrossing read, full of first-person anecdotes of home schooling, building simple forest shelters, growing their own food, etc.  The resource guide link at the end of the book is also valuable, especially the intriguing resources and links to natural building. The book conveys, without preaching, the philosophy of simple, responsible, natural living, and how to live true to that philosophy.

…and in the same vein, here’s a letter from HtStW reader Paige Porter, for those looking for inspiration to move from thought to action:

My name is Paige Porter. I’m seventeen and from Connecticut, and want to save the world. I’m doing a world-wide community service program next summer, and have multiple Greenpeace and Habitat for Humanity volunteer work experience, but I know it’s not enough. When I grow up, I want to be a cardiothoracic surgeon, working as part of Doctors Without Borders. I’m planning on adopting as many kids as I can afford, and as many animals as I can afford and house comfortably. I don’t eat meat, and because I have Celiac disease I can’t eat many manufactured or dairy based products, so I’m basically on a vegan diet. My family uses only earth-friendly products, and nothing in the house is tested on animals. We’re sponsoring kids from all over the place and take in animals whenever the need arises, but I don’t feel like I’m making a big enough impact. I started wanting to save the world after winning some high school debates on bio fuels, global warming, immigration, etc., and graduated high school early so I could continue doing as much as possible to help the world. I finished high school in February of last year, and am now doing a prep-pre med program in a homeschooling program based out of PA. I’ve listed all the things I’m doing so you could possibly suggest more? Are there any other ways to help? I haven’t looked into anything other than what’s listed above, because I don’t know of anything else. If there is any organization or anything more I can do, please let me know.


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3 Responses to Saturday Links for the Week – August 25, 2007

  1. Doug Alder says:

    Dave – while the 100 mile diet is a good idea and well worth pursuing, it is impractical if not impossible, for those who do not live in areas where agriculture is large and varied. In my are very little produce is grown, the major crops are fruit and berries along with tomatoes – and there isn’t a lot of that. You need a fairly temperate climate (unless you’re using hot houses and that raises global warming and geopolitical (petroleum) concerns)to sustain agriculture year round, which is what you need to eat locally.

  2. Jon Husband says:

    I hope Paige does not encounter episodes of depression as she grows into adulthood, acquires more comtext and depth of knowledge, and experiences the disillusionment(s) that she is likely to encounter on the journey.I say that because as I read her letter I was reminded of the many stories I have heard or read about teenagers and young adults who get straight A’s, or really excel at sports for a while, but who are also susecptible to depression, anorexia, etc. as a result of their drives and perfectionsim.Now, that I’ve got those random thoughts out of the way .. as you say, WOW ! What a bundle of focused energy and passion. There are some exceptional people out there, and it sounds like she’s gonna become one.

  3. David Parkinson says:

    Thanks for the hat tip, Dave. Minor quibble: Powell River is up the coast from Vancouver, not on the island.And Doug: of course, there are plenty of reasons for concern about the feasibility of local eating. Here in Powell River, we do not produce anywhere near the amount of food we’d need in order for people to eat well locally. But we could do much better, and I look at the 50-mile diet as one way of educating people about how that might look, where the gaps are, and so on. But it’s obviously just one tool among many: we also need more farmers, more farmland, better local distribution of food, CSAs, co-ops, education in food production, etc. But almost anything that we can do is going to be progress.

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