Living and thriving through regenerative practices and a sustainable worldview.


Lessons from Hurricane Sandy: infrastructure and resilience

I’ve been thinking a bit about this whole hurricane thing, and as is often the case, it has turned to more permaculture-related thoughts.

When my grandfather was a boy, he had a little kerosene lamp to light his way to bed every night. You see, they didn’t have electricity yet. During Hurricane Sandy, my mother used this very same lamp to read by and navigate through a darkened house.
I find it amazing that in around just one generation’s time, we’ve gone from having no electricity, to being so UTTERLY dependent upon it.

I recognize that this is largely due to the fact that electricity has been built into our infrastructure. Generally, we don’t put wood-burning stoves in new homes or apartment buildings. We think of fire as a potential hazard, even if we cherish the warmth of a fireplace enough to make electric versions of them.

All of this brings me back to my grandfather. In his childhood, they had a lot less “infrastructure”, but stronger social relationships. I’ve had a lot of discussions about alternative infrastructure, how to strengthen it, getting off the grid “in order to be self-sufficient”, etc.
But none of those are really the same as talking about the idea of infrastructure ITSELF as being a crutch or a potential obstacle to resilience.

Back in the day, my grandfather’s community, in a town next to where I still live, had a very important discussion. These people were very hard-working folks who believed very much in the church as center of community, and in helping your fellow person out. These people also invented the very first insurance company in the U.S., and the idea of “insurance”, and this was almost a scandal inside the church.

Why? Because they recognized that it had the potential to “relieve” folks of the moral responsibility of helping their fellow community members, since insurance would step in and do what had traditionally been done by people: re-build houses after a fire, loan resources, etc. In the end, it was decided that they would only make “insurance” available to “heathens outside of the church”, in order to not make their own people complacent and apathetic. Obviously, the idea grew past those boundaries, and we now have a nationwide epidemic of insurance fraud and a litigious court system. Our good natures are now actually HAMPERED by insurance liability in many cases. Which is exactly the kind of thing that they were worried about. Oops.

My point is this: is infrastructure that is not based in social relationships, but rather, in contracts, actually an impediment to resilience, both physically and morally?

Support 'Local Farms, Food and Jobs Act' to help decentralize food system

Sunday, March 11, 2012 by: Jonathan Benson, staff writer

(NaturalNews) Federal food policies that distribute billions of taxpayer dollars every year to subsidize the growth of commodity crops like genetically-modified (GM) corn and soy are largely responsible for the dismal state of food quality and health in our nation today. But Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Oh.) have introduced a new bill known as the Local Farms, Food and Jobs Act that would help decentralize the food system and promote diversified, small-scale farming operations capable of meeting the growing demand for clean, fresh, local foods.

At least $12 billion a year is currently allocated to subsidize industrial-scale agriculture systems like pesticide-ridden GM crop mega-farms, and concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) that hold tens of thousands of animals in filth. Meanwhile, only about $100 million a year is allocated to support local food programs that grow and distribute fresh, clean food.

But all this can change with the passage of the Local Farms, Food and Jobs Act, which will provision more money from the Farm Bill for small-scale, organic farmers, and help bring more clean, local food into public school lunchrooms. And since hearings on the 2012 Farm Bill, which will establish federal food policy for the next five years, are already taking place, now is the time to contact your congressmen and urge support for the Local Farms, Food and Jobs Act.

"American consumers want access to healthy, fresh foods and farmers should be able to sell it to them," said Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Oh.) about the bill. "Local and regional food systems help the communities where farmers and consumers live growing the economy and creating jobs while improving public health and nutrition."

You can read the entire Local Farms, Food and Jobs Act by visiting:

Investing in local food systems will help reverse the obesity, chronic disease epidemic in America
Obesity, heart disease, and diabetes are among the top chronic conditions that afflict millions of Americans today, many of whom consume a steady diet of corn- and soy-laden processed foods that are artificially inexpensive because of federal food subsidies. And while more and more people are learning the truth about processed foods and seeking out healthy alternatives, federal policies make it difficult for small-scale farmers to earn a living and provide healthy food for their communities.

“For too long, funding provided by the United States’ most far-reaching food and farm legislation has primarily benefited agri-business and large scale industrial-scale commodity farms that aren’t growing food,” writes Kari Hamerschlag on the EWG blog. “Instead, they’re growing ingredients for animal feed, fuel and highly processed food — at a high cost to our nation’s health, environment and rural communities.”

The federal government has no place interfering in agriculture in the first place, but if it is going to redistribute taxpayers’ money into the food system, it needs to promote the systems that lead to improved nutrition and better health — small-scale, diversified farms.

To learn more, visit:

To contact your congressmen and urge support for the Local Farms, Food and Jobs Act, visit:

Sources for this article include:

The Occupied Wall Street Journal

The Occupied Wall Street Journal

"This might be the one protest where, if asked why you were there, you could reply, 'Are you fucking kidding me?' and that would actually be understood."
The Endgame of Occupy Wall Street Is Critical Mass
Posted: 10/6/11 09:37 AM ET

What is surprisingly unique about the Occupy Wall Street demonstration, and supporting actions across the country, is the broad immediate support without an immediately stated objective. With so little coverage and a yet unspecified goal, major unions lent their support, supportive occupations cropped up nationwide, and the numbers in Liberty Park are growing despite NYPD crackdowns.

Unlike anti-war marches, Tea Party gatherings, or other well-worn modes of protest, the notion of an in-person response to Wall Street’s unchecked looting of the economy apparently did not need much explaining. That is because many Americans have been living with painful awareness that their hardships in recent years are related in a myriad of ways to reckless trading, predatory loans, and manifold illegal banking practices, all perpetrated by the same executives still receiving multi-million dollar bonuses whose guilt is trumped by the notion that their companies are Too Big To Fail.

None of these many abuses by financial institutions collectively referred to as Wall Street are new information. It’s not like people just flooded the streets upon hearing that Bank of America is trying to tack on another surcharge, just after laying off over 30,000 employees, just after widespread manipulation of their loan business was deemed not criminal, by their own accord. (No, that move by B of A was just easy pickings for Democrats trying to remember their purpose.)

It’s not like Americans did not wait while the federal government negotiated good-faith interest-free loans to keep huge banks and firms afloat, at the price to taxpayers, many of whom were struggling to stay afloat themselves under variable interest or inflated mortgages foisted upon them by said financial giants. It’s not like financial regulations weren’t proposed to Congress, with larger reforms left by the wayside, and in the final decision by the Federal Reserve on the Durbin Amendment of the Dodd-Frank Finanical Act, credit card companies somehow get to charge more for debit swipes than they had even hoped. Bank lobbyists paid off, in more than one sense.

And, it’s not like President Obama hasn’t trotted out some fine rhetoric of late, angling the ongoing Republican obstructionism to fuel his re-election campaign as it gears up. Yes, it’s math, not class warfare. But, if this were a metaphor of head to head competition between classes — namely, the top 1% Super Rich that owns 40% of the wealth versus the 99% rest of Americans — then Obama would be like a goalie, constantly swarmed by the offensive John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, Eric Cantor, Darrell Issa, bank lobbyists, and Goldman Sachs alumni in his own ranks. The Super Rich Team will continue to score point after point on Obama, because despite his considerable skill set, it’s like he’s playing at the company picnic, and really, you just don’t make your bosses look bad when they underwrite your existence.

Obama is looking for $1 billion to fund his re-election campaign. That may seem extraordinary, but after the disastrous Supreme Court decision Citizens United vs. FEC, it is a given that there will be even more spent against him in anonymous corporate money. Karl Rove’s American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS have announced plans to raise and spend record amounts, over $300 million in outside ads running across the country in the 2012 races.

Obama is not going to get one billion dollars from $5 donations, no matter how many email blasts. Obama and his team have been currying favor like a schoolboy with Wall Street throughout this administration because they are waiting for the pay-off in their campaign coffers. The slap on the wrist following the financial meltdown was more drying their hands like a bathroom attendant so they can get back to work making important deals without consequence.

While the financial meltdown and ensuing bailouts came before Obama, the lack of reform or accountability does not win him any gratitude from either side, it only serves as precedent that selling bundled crap mortgages to old people goes unpunished. In fact, it is richly rewarded. Obama’s deference and endless capital to the banking industry has long made it clear where his priorities are. His jobs plan is well-intentioned, but probably a drop in the bucket and a few years late. For all the bitter clamor over health care reform, it’s quite likely that it will be deemed impermissible by the Supreme Court. Clarence Thomas can’t wait to sit silently through the arguments before he punts our healthcare system back to the wolves that employ his wife, Ginni.

As the crowds grow, this will become Obama’s next oil spill. How long will he let Occupy Wall Street go on before addressing it as more than just a policy point to support his agenda? Many loyalists will defend the intentions and constraints on Obama, but this much is painfully clear: The President must act now. Because if he does not get in front of this parade, it’s about to surpass him.

If Obama really does aspire to be like President Lincoln, then he must recognize that his country is rent apart and it requires a true leader to keep our union from collapsing under debt and looted public services.

Because when people show up at the gates of their oppressor, the response is not: “What do you want? Can you bullet-point it for me?” You know what this is about. Our country has been decimated over the past three years, with continual revelations of financial impropriety, concerted fraud, and executive compensation the amount of a small nation’s GDP. This might be the one protest where, if asked why you were there, you could reply, “Are you fucking kidding me?” and that would actually be understood.

To dispel media misconceptions, here’s what Occupy Wall Street is not: it’s not another Tea Party, a corporate PAC-backed stab at populism consisting of right wing extremists. It’s not just young people in attendance, even though younger generations have more to lose anyway, and many are already crippled with student debt and no job possibilities. (Admittedly, younger people are better suited to sleep in inconvenient places and be fine with that. The kids call this “crashing,” which should not be interpreted as a roughhousing sort of thing.)

Occupy Wall Street is not anti-capitalism. We don’t live in capitalism. Capitalism is supposed to be merit based and left to the market — consumers — to decide where innovation and service is found. What has been foisted on us again and again is not a fair and open market. Massive companies spend huge sums to avoid paying taxes altogether. They then spend money to back politicians that will be friendly to them, in terms of regulations and tax breaks or pressure on rivals. This is a system of massive corporate welfare, where the biggest corporations pay the least to the country that allows them to prosper, while they spend their excess money in hopes of making more money through lower taxes, government jobs, or loosened environmental restrictions. Election cycles ensure ongoing opportunities for candidates to be wooed with money or threatened with ads. The more they spend on the race, the more indebted candidates become to their backers. Those that become elected repay their backers with loose oversight, no-bid contracts, and even accept their donors’ legislation pre-written. We don’t live in capitalism — that’s favoritism.

And most importantly, Occupy Wall Street is not one political party or part of a spectrum. This grassroots movement is fundamentally removed from both parties, because both parties accept vast fortunes from Wall Street to not rain on their parade. The reason abuses have thrived is because of the cost of running for office. Most people’s political persuasion or identity is based on their own sense of what’s just and fair. The nuance of foreign policy or civil liberties is lost when people are losing their homes due to manipulative mortgages from banks that have faced no discipline or reform and have been given federal money to loan to people which they still sit on.

Yet, it will take a political solution to retake our country from the Gollum of Wall Street. There’s no way any of these banks or brokers will willingly accept reform measures, even after taking trillions of taxpayer money following their own colossal fuck-ups. Wall Street execs thrive on extracting more and more profit per sale, and get off on boardroom backstabbing. Do you expect them to respond to people of all types camped outside their offices politely? The only thing they care about is if the market goes down.

Real financial overhaul will only happen if we reclaim our elections. We need real campaign reform, and we need to elect the people who will enact it. We do that through running and winning in primaries, where the party’s pick usually prevails with the most money. We innovate low budget campaign strategies to support candidates not backed by Political Action Committees, fronts for corporate money. We do it through becoming the media and covering these candidates where we live and across the country. And it starts in the streets. Where else is there but the streets?

America was born in the streets. Our first president was sworn in on the steps of Wall Street, where Congress convened for years. The framer’s dream of escaping monarchy is being eclipsed by the wealthiest 1% and their insatiable assault on anything the government provides to the public.

How can we not occupy Wall Street? Wall Street occupies US.

Feds order farmer to destroy his own wheat crops: The shocking revelations of Wickard vs Filburn

My note: This article is from last year, but it demonstrates how Interstate Commerce law is being used (abused), as noted in a recently published article on this blog about the fracking industry using it against a whole town in PA.

Feds order farmer to destroy his own wheat crops: The shocking revelations of Wickard vs Filburn

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger

Editor of

(NaturalNews) In arguing for S.501, the “Food Safety Modernization Act,” there are all sorts of attorneys, legislators and internet commentators who keep claiming, “The government won’t try to control the food production of small farms.” They say, “Your backyard garden is safe” and that the feds won’t come knocking on your door to control your seeds or foods.

As usual, these pushers of Big Government are utterly ignorant of the history in their own country. Because as you’ll learn right here, not only CAN the U.S. government control and dictate to single-family farms what they can grow in their own backyards; the government has already blatantly done so!

In this article, I’ll share with you the full and true story of how Big Government has already run rampant over the rights of individuals to grow their own food — I’ll even cite the US Supreme Court decision that “legalized” this tyranny.

How the tyrants came after a farmer named Roscoe Filburn

It all starts with a farmer named Roscoe Filburn, a modest farmer who grew wheat in his own back yard in order to feed his chickens.

One day, a U.S. government official showed up at his farm. Noting that Filburn was growing a lot of wheat, this government official determined that Filburn was growing too much wheat and ordered Filburn to destroy his wheat crops and pay a large fine to the federal government.

The year was 1940, you see. And through a highly protectionist policy, the federal government had decided to artificially drive up the prices of wheat by limiting the amount of wheat that could be grown on any given acre. This is all part of Big Government’s “infinite wisdom” of trying to somehow improve prosperity by destroying food and impairing economic productivity. (Be wary any time the government says it’s going to “solve problems” for you.)

The federal government, of course, claims authority over all commerce (even when such claims are blatantly in violation of the limitations placed upon government by the Constitution). But Roscoe Filburn wasn’t selling his wheat to anyone. Thus, he was not engaged in interstate commerce. He wasn’t growing wheat as something to use for commerce at all, in fact. He was simply growing wheat in his back yard and feeding it to his chickens. That’s not commerce. That’s just growing your own food.

But get this: The government insisted he pay a fine and destroy his wheat, so Filburn took the government to court, arguing that the federal government had no right to tell a man to destroy his food crops just because they wanted to protect some sort of artificially high prices in the wheat market.

This case eventually went to the US Supreme Court. It’s now known as Wickard v. Filburn, and it is one of the most famous US Supreme Court decisions ever rendered because it represents a gross expansion of the tyranny of the federal government.

The US Supreme Court sided with government tyranny

The US Supreme Court, you see, ruled that Roscoe Filburn’s wheat could be regulated and destroyed by the federal government simply because Roscoe’s wheat production might reduce the amount of wheat he bought from other wheat producers and therefore could impact interstate trade.

Now stay with me on this, because this is a really, really important point to understand.

The federal government claimed authority under the Commerce Clause of the US Constitution (Article 1, Section 8), even though the Commerce Clause was originally written primarily to prevent states from erecting tariffs, not to allow the federal government to control interstate trade. But thanks to the twisted interpretation of the government — and believe me, the government will twist every interpretation it can in an effort to assert more power over the population — the feds claimed that Filburn’s growing of his own wheat effectively reduced interstate commerce in wheat. Therefore, they reasoned, they could regulate his backyard wheat production (and order him to destroy his wheat).

Because of this US Supreme Court decision in 1942, it now means the federal government can order you to halt food production in your own back yard by arguing that when you grow your own food, the amount of food you purchase from other food providers is reduced, meaning that your food production impacts interstate trade and therefore can be fully controlled by the federal government.

In other words, the federal government claims the authority right now — even without the Food Safety Modernization Act — to knock on your door and order you at gunpoint to destroy all the food in your garden, your greenhouse or your farm. They can order you to destroy all seeds in your possession and all food harvested from your own garden. And they can do all this with the full protection of U.S. law by simply citing the precedent set in Wickard v. Filburn in 1942 as ruled by the US Supreme Court.

Why the naysayers will probably starve

Still think you have the right to grow your own food? I’ve heard all sorts of naysayers claiming that S.510 — the Food Safety Modernization Act — is no threat to small growers and family farms. They say the fears about S.510 are overblown and that the government can’t possibly shut down your backyard gardens or small, local vegetable farms. They say this with the kind of smug certainty you might typically hear from a doctor who thinks he knows everything about human health (but who actually knows nothing about nutrition).

These naysayers tend to operate out of an assumption that Big Government will never take away their rights and freedoms and that expanding the reach of agencies such as the TSA, FDA, DEA and FTC with even more power and more armed agents is a good thing because the government always takes care of the people. We need more protection from e.coli, they argue, so let’s unleash 4,000 armed FDA agents instead to protect us from bacteria. But who will protect us from the FDA?

What these ignorant naysayers don’t understand is that government is constantly trying to expand its power to the point of tyranny. As a current example of this, look at what just happened with Chavez in Venezuela. He has now been granted what are essentially dictatorial powers over the country (…). Chavez is now the King of Venezuela, and whatever he says is now law. Venezuelan citizens are now slaves to his tyranny, and they must follow his orders or be executed.

The United States is moving in precisely the same direction. First, power gets stripped away from the People little by little. Then it gets concentrated in the hands of a few regulatory agencies who write their own laws and who stay in power year after year because none of their officials are elected. (Think the FDA commissioner is elected by the people? Think again…) And then, over time, a few powerful individuals concentrate power from those agencies into their own hands. Before long, the country is run by a handful of power-crazed tyrants who disregard all freedoms and rights of the People.

This is precisely what the FDA is doing with the Food Safety Modernization Act. Backed by yet more funding and a new army of agents, plus the Supreme Court ruling that says the federal government can order you to destroy the food you’re growing in your own back yard, the FDA can now pillage the countryside, going from farm to farm and house to house, burning fields and ordering the citizenry to destroy their plants, seeds and crops. This is exactly what they’ve been doing to raw milk producers and food coops, by the way (…).

That is no exaggeration. It is a documented “legal” precedent established in Wickard vs Filburn, and it can be used at any moment to destroy the ability of people to grow their own food, thereby making these people totally dependent on dead processed food (which is always FDA approved if it’s dead, of course) made in food factories that churn out nutritional deficiencies and death.

What will you eat when the government destroys your local food supply?

You see, under the argument that your backyard garden “impacts interstate commerce,” the federal government can order you to simply spray Roundup on your entire garden in order to kill it.

What will you eat then? When the GMO crops suffer a mass catastrophic failure, and the monocultured wheat dies from a global viral infection called ug99 “rust” (…), what will you eat?

If the government has its way, you won’t eat at all. You’ll starve to death under the “protection” of the food safety thugs at the FDA who don’t believe any “live” food is safe in the first place (hence their war against raw milk).

Those people who have the foresight to grow their own gardens and protect their food sources from the tyranny of the federal government may actually have a chance at surviving. The rest will simply starve while waiting in government food lines where the feds hand out nutritionally worthless cheese and other depleted processed foods that Sesame Street absurdly thinks are “superfoods” (…).

Big Government declares war on the local food movement

Make no mistake, folks: the government is attempting to destroy the local food movement. They are trying to wipe out small, organic farms that compete with corporate agribiz in the same way the FDA has long plotted to destroy natural health supplement companies who compete with Big Pharma.

It’s all about wiping out the little guys and protecting the monopoly markets of the largest and most influential corporations that are poisoning the earth and destroying your health. As Wickard vs Filburn clearly demonstrated, the government does not believe you have any natural right or Constitutional right to grow your own food. In fact, the government believes it has the right to order you to destroy your food at the time of its choosing.

Don’t think this could happen to you? Filburn didn’t either. The idea that his own government would show up at his door and order him to burn his field of wheat was simply unimaginable. Similarly, the idea that the FDA would tear across the countryside wiping out small family farms is unimaginable to many Americans today. But that’s only because they don’t know their own history and they put far too much faith in the flimsy idea that the government somehow, in some way, respects the rights and freedoms of the People.

The obvious falsehood of that idea is evident in the way we are all being treated by the TSA. Who would have thought, just two years ago, that we’d be subjected to government-enforced molestation at the hands of airport security screeners? That idea seems unthinkable at the time, much like the idea that the FDA could seize your garden seeds or order you to destroy your greenhouse crops. Yet such actions are already within the claimed power of the federal government… merely waiting to be invoked at the time of their choosing.

Traitors to freedom

All those who voted for S.510 — which includes the entire U.S. Senate, Republicans and Democrats alike — are traitors to the freedoms upon which America was founded. They have thrust our food supply into the hands of tyrants who are just waiting to exercise their control and “authority” over as many people as possible.

Five years ago, I joked that people might one day be arrested for smuggling broccoli across state lines. Today, that joke has become a sad reality. The mere act of growing food and selling it to your neighbor without government permission is about to become a criminal act. And no, small farms are not “exempt” from S.510. They must provide financial information and apply to the FDA to be granted exemption status. That sounds a lot like slaves begging for mercy from the king, doesn’t it?

Keep the big picture in mind as you consider all this: When teens are poisoned by the aspartame in diet soda, the FDA does nothing. When children are given cancer by the sodium nitrite in hot dogs, the FDA does nothing. When countless thousands of Americans suffer heart attacks and cardiovascular disease each year from the partially-hydrogenated oils used throughout the food supply, the FDA does nothing. But when you grow fresh produce in your own back yard and carry it to your local farmer’s market to sell it without government permission, you will be arrested by the FDA as a criminal.

Shame on all those who supported this bill. May history have mercy on their souls for the suffering and injustices they have unleashed upon us all.

Sources for this story include:…

Lies the Government Told You: Myth, Power, and Deception in American History by Judge Andrew Napolitano…

(This is an amazing book. Highly recommended reading that will educate you on the history of government abuses of power. All Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians and Independents need to read this book.)

Gas driling industry group sues Pa. community

Gas industry group sues Warren County township over anti-dumping ordinance

Monday, September 19, 2011
A Warren County community`s attempt to keep Marcellus shale drillers from dumping their wastes within its borders has drawn a federal legal challenge by a gas industry group.

The Pennsylvania Independent Oil and Gas Association, based in Marshall, claims in an Erie federal court filing that Columbus Township`s ordinance prohibiting the dumping of toxic liquids that were not generated inside the township violates the Constitution`s interstate commerce clause.

The township passed the ordinance in August and amended it on Sept. 13. The ordinances are a response to the Environmental Protection Agency approving permits for two underground injection wells that Bear Lake Properties LLC of Pine wants to use to dispose of brine and other fluids from Marcellus shale well drilling and fracking.

“The distinction made by the ordinances between liquid waste generated within the township and such waste generated outside of the township is arbitrary and does not serve any legitimate relationship to the health, safety and welfare of the residents of the township,” the association says in its lawsuit.

David Goodwill, chairman of the township`s board of supervisors, said Columbus has a lot of 20- to 30-year-old wells that the gas industry wants to use for disposal even though there`s very little Marcellus shale drilling near the township. The industry should be required to dispose of the waste where it creates it, he said.

“We don`t want our township to be a dumping site for the whole state of Pennsylvania,” he said.