Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Sing A Song of Solidarity in the New Year

Antioch New England's president David Caruso recently sent me a video clip of Playing for Change's globally-produced song "Stand By Me." I've embedded it below. I have to say I just love this inspirational New Year reminder about the power of globalizing culture, justice, and human solidarity instead of the damage caused by globalizing corporate rule, empire, or militarism. We all need to learn how to stand by each other. May we all rededicate ourselves to creating an ecologically sustainable, socially just, and spiritually fulfilling human community on this beautiful blue-green planet.

Let's make it a Happy New Year, folks!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A Call To Civil Disobedience Against Coal Power

From Bill McKibben, a long-time climate protection activist and Wendell Berry, a farmer, man of letters and prophetic voice in American literature.

Dear Friends,

There are moments in a nation's-and a planet's-history when it may be necessary for some to break the law in order to bear witness to an evil, bring it to wider attention, and push for its correction. We think such a time has arrived, and we are writing to say that we hope some of you will join us in Washington D.C. on Monday March 2 in order to take part in a civil act of civil disobedience outside a coal-fired power plant near Capitol Hill.

We will be there to make several points:

1) Coal-fired power is driving climate change. Our foremost climatologist, NASA's James Hansen, has demonstrated that our only hope of getting our atmosphere back to a safe level-below 350 parts per million co2-lies in stopping the use of coal to generate electricity.

2) Even if climate change were not the urgent crisis that it is, we would still be burning our fossil fuels too fast, wasting too much energy and releasing too much poison into the air and water. We would still need to slow down, and to restore thrift to its old place as an economic virtue.

3) Coal is filthy at its source. Much of the coal used in this country comes from West Virginia and Kentucky, where companies engage in "mountaintop removal" to get at the stuff; they leave behind a leveled wasteland, and impoverished human communities. No technology better exemplifies the out-of-control relationship between humans and the rest of creation.

4) Coal smoke makes children sick. Asthma rates in urban areas near coal-fired power plants are high. Air pollution from burning coal is harmful to the health of grown-ups too, and to the health of everything that breathes, including forests.

The industry claim that there is something called "clean coal" is, put simply, a lie. But it's a lie told with tens of millions of dollars, which we do not have. We have our bodies, and we are willing to use them to make our point. We don't come to such a step lightly. We have written and testified and organized politically to make this point for many years, and while in recent months there has been real progress against new coal-fired power plants, the daily business of providing half our electricity from coal continues unabated.

It's time to make clear that we can't safely run this planet on coal at all. So we feel the time has come to do more--we hear President Barack Obama's call for a movement for change that continues past election day, and we hear Nobel Laureate Al Gore's call for creative non-violence outside coal plants. As part of the international negotiations now underway on global warming, our nation will be asking China, India, and others to limit their use of coal in the future to help save the planet's atmosphere. This is a hard thing to ask, because it's their cheapest fuel. Part of our witness in March will be to say that we're willing to make some sacrifices ourselves, even if it's only a trip to the jail.

With any luck, this will be the largest such protest yet, large enough that it may provide a real spark. If you want to participate with us, you need to go through a short course of non-violence training. This will be, to the extent it depends on us, an entirely peaceful demonstration, carried out in a spirit of hope and not rancor. We will be there in our dress clothes, and ask the same of you. There will be young people, people from faith communities, people from the coal fields of Appalachia, and from the neighborhoods in Washington that get to breathe the smoke from the plant.

We will cross the legal boundary of the power plant, and we expect to be arrested. After that we have no certainty what will happen, but lawyers and such will be on hand. Our goal is not to shut the plant down for the day-it is but  one of many, and anyway its operation for a day is not the point. The worldwide daily reliance on coal is the danger; this is one small step to raise awareness of that ruinous habit and hence help to break it.

Needless to say, the two of us are not handling the logistics of this day. All the credit goes to a variety of groups, especially the Energy Action Coalition (which is bringing thousands of young people to Washington that weekend), Greenpeace, the Ruckus Society, and the Rainforest Action Network. A website at that latter organization is serving as a temporary organizing hub.

If you go there, you will find a place to leave your name so that we'll know you want to join us.

Thank you,

Wendell Berry and Bill McKibben

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Antioch Librarian Honored by New York Times

A full page ad in the New York Times congratulates Antioch University New England's librarian Jean Amaral and nine others today (December 8) as recipients of the Carnegie Corporation of New York/New York Times I Love My Librarian award.

Judges chose Jean, a reference librarian here at Antioch University New England, and her fellow award winners from 3,200 nominations from across the nation. Only two university librarians were chosen for the award, Jean and Iona R. Malanchuk from the University of Florida.

"Jean's efforts on behalf of the students and faculty here at Antioch New England are exceptional. Her enjoyable and energy-packed lectures, training sessions and consultations on the latest research techniques have been invaluable in their support of teaching and learning, " said ANE President David Caruso. "We are thrilled that she has received this honor."

In his nomination letter, Environmental Advocacy and Organizing Program director Steve Chase said Jean "is a dynamo of energy, talent, humor, consideration, and has the most intense dedication to aiding students and faculty that I have ever seen."

Each of the ten award winners receives a $5,000 cash award. Jean is donating her cash prize to ANE student scholarships.

Jean travels to New York City tonight to participate in a ceremony and reception at The Times Center, hosted by The New York Times on December 9. (Read more here to learn about the award and download a pdf of Jean's nomination letter.)

The I Love My Librarian prize recognizes the recipients for exemplary service to their communities, schools, and campuses.

Jean summed up her work philosophy recently by saying "I love working at Antioch, and I love being part of the library profession, because they're about the same thing: winning victories for humanity, making our world a better place, a just place."

Jean joined Antioch University New England as a reference librarian in August of 2006. She received her master's degree in library and information science from San Jose State University, her master's in English and American literature from the University of Virginia at Charlottesville, and her bachelor's degree in economics and English from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Prior to working at ANE, she lived in the San Francisco Bay area working as a public librarian for the Santa Clara County Library system. Currently, she lives in Marlborough, New Hampshire.

Congratulations Jean!