Skip to main content

Wed Jul 24, 2013 at 08:17 AM PDT

One Nation Under Borg

by Words In Action

Reposted from ClassWarfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS Working Class Global Occupy movement by Words In Action

The source is a quick read so I encourage everyone to take a look. Just a teaser here:

DARPA insists that Atlas is not being designed for adversarial military tasks, but for humanitarian reasons—to aid rescue efforts during future natural and human–made disasters. Not everyone is convinced though. “The US military has shown off what may become the soldier of the future: a hulking robot that would easily look at home in Hollywood's Terminator franchise or an Isaac Asimov novel,” the Australian reported. And Michael Allen opined about Atlas in Opposing Views, “DARPA is famous for trying to create new military weapons, so that could be a possibility as well.” The latter is a good hint worth exploring.


When the US government assures the public that a particular military program is being developed for humanitarian reasons, should we believe? History tells us—we must not.


Equipped with Atlases on the ground, backed by drones in the sky, and real–time global surveillance—the US government will soon be ready to announce: “Resistance is futile.”

The one piece missing from this assessment of course is the sequestration of the Bill of Rights, the abbrogation of due process, and the ongoing War on whistleblowers and investigative journalism, all in the name of state security. Er, that's national security.

How else can the 1% continue to maintain control over the 99% as they continue to turn the screws of predatory, disaster capitalism on We the Prey?


The Security State is

5%5 votes
80%76 votes
5%5 votes
5%5 votes
3%3 votes

| 94 votes | Vote | Results

Continue Reading

Fri Jul 05, 2013 at 10:17 AM PDT

The Democrats' Dirty War

by Words In Action

Reposted from Words In Action by Words In Action

I often have an approach-avoidance problem with important documentaries I know will upset me. There are dozens, probably hundreds I have not watched for just that reason. I suspect others deal with the same issue. As a recent diarist astutely and I believe accurately noted, MSNBC's ratings problems can no doubt in large part be traced to the ongoing slaughter of progressivism detailed there each evening, and the difficulty which many of us have watching hours of it every day. Count me among those. I doubt I watch more 3-4 hours of MSNBC nightly news per week, not because I do not  need, applaud, or respect the coverage, but because I simply cannot withstand that much painful truth each evening, especially after days in which I see so much of it here on DKos and elsewhere.

Documentarians would probably be much more well-paid and better funded but for this dilemma. I suppose we should use that knowledge to reach out and reward them in other ways and/or at other times. Kickstarter can be a mechanism for that, helping to fund projects getting off the ground, especially since more established people are now using it, and I have used it to contribute.

It is in this context that I saw Jeremy Scahill's Dirty Wars yesterday.

Some will think my choice unfitting for keeping Independence Day, but I feel just the opposite, as we are losing our independence (and much more) every day not bit by bit, but in huge swaths, like the football fields of the Amazon rain forest never to be untouched again that are cleared in similarly blind, amoral fashion. And we are letting it happen. And those whom we have voted for have used our votes to do it.

Continue Reading

Excerpted from an article in Yes! Magazine's current Summer 2013 issue: Love and the Apocalypse.

Feeling anxious about life in a broken-down society on a stressed-out planet? That’s hardly surprising: Life as we know it is almost over. While the dominant culture encourages dysfunctional denial—pop a pill, go shopping, find your bliss—there’s a more sensible approach: Accept the anxiety, embrace the deeper anguish—and then get apocalyptic.


If all this seems like more than one can bear, it’s because it is. We are facing new, more expansive challenges. Never in human history have potential catastrophes been so global; never have social and ecological crises of this scale threatened at the same time; never have we had so much information about the threats we must come to terms with.


Mainstream politicians will continue to protect existing systems of power, corporate executives will continue to maximize profit without concern, and the majority of people will continue to avoid these questions. It’s the job of people with critical sensibilities—those who consistently speak out for justice and sustainability, even when it’s difficult—not to back away just because the world has grown more ominous.
- Robert Jensen,  Get Apocalyptic: Why Radical is the New NormalFeeling anxious about life in a broken economy on a strained planet? Turn despair into action. Yes! Magazine

Jensen also features this quote from James Baldwin:
“Not everything that is faced can be changed; but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”
This is a quick, thought-provoking slideshow: 5 Recycled Buildings: Wing House, Sea Fort Resort And More Places That Will Blow Your Mind.
The Corporation, still one of the most significant documentaries of the new millenium. Because what's clearly wrong is a strong signal of what would be right. The following trailer is good, but it only hints at its brilliant central motif, which shows how corporate behavior IS clinically psychopathic. If you haven't seen it, isn't it time?

The Corporation 2020 campaign gets it. But will we? This is part of the New Economics we MUST understand and engage in if we truly want to move forward beyond our current crises.
On a cool day last December, the eminent Swedish scientist Johan Rockström stood in front of a large audience at the European Parliament in Brussels and pleaded his case. “This is what we could call ‘the scientist’s nightmare,’” Rockström said. “We have disturbed the energy balance to the point where we are committed to three degrees warming. We have reached the sixth mass extinction of species on planet Earth—the first one to be caused by humans.” Rockström elaborated on his seminal 2009 Nature paper: “Suffice it to say that it’s not only climate change [we need to worry about], but we should be equally preoccupied with the interlinked issues of nitrogen, phosphorus, biodiversity, freshwater, land.” -


Launched at the Rio+20 conference in 2012 as a campaign to transform today’s model of business to make it fit for the future, Corporation 2020’s name points to the fact that a large-scale shift in human behavior must occur within the next decade or so—rather than in 2050 or 2100, as some multilateral negotiations discuss—if we are to maintain any hope of a sustainable world.


Corporation 2020 addresses this imbalance through four planks of change, which, when implemented, can snowball into significant structural changes in the economy. The first is a proper accounting and reporting system for these hidden externalities. Some companies have attempted to measure these on their own, but various groups (such as the TEEB for Business Coalition) are now coming together to collaborate on standardizing this measurement and disclosure. The second plank is a new system of taxation. Taxation can be used as an incentive to promote conservation and resource efficiency, but unfortunately our current system tends to rely mostly on taxes on income and profits. Third, Corporation 2020 takes a close look at corporate advertising, positing that advertising is a key factor in the expansion of an unsustainable consumer culture. Finally, recognizing that sustainability is not just an environmental issue, Corporation 2020 takes on the wildly risky levels of financial leverage that many companies now utilize, which contributed to the last four economic crises and which remain a threat to a sustainable economy.
- Solutions Journal

And deservedly so:

Bill McKibben's Sophie Prize Win For Climate Change Activism Awards Him $100,000
FYI, if, like me, you didn't know: there's a Green Shadow Cabinet. And it's got some great people.

The Green Shadow Cabinet includes nearly 100 prominent scientists, community and labor leaders, physicians, cultural workers, veterans, and more, and provides an ongoing opposition and alternative voice to the dysfunctional government in Washington D.C.. As with shadow cabinets in other countries, the Green Shadow Cabinet of the United States responds to actions of the government in office and demonstrates that another government is possible. This cabinet is led by the 2012 Green Party presidential nominees of Dr. Jill Stein and Ms. Cheri Honkala and supports independent politics and policies. However, it is not a project of any political party.
ProPublica updates the Timeline: How Obama Compares to Bush on Torture, Surveillance and Detention. Be sure to use the mouse over function.
The latest on New Era Windows, the workers cooperative formed to revive Republic Doors & Windows - Serious Energy, the company that bought and rescued the business back in 2009 following the worker "occupation," and then subsequently shut it down in 2012 as well, leading to a planned buy-out from the newly formed worker cooperative, decided at the last moment this past month that it would not be selling the factory to the workers after all. Apparently, liquidation looked better to them. Liquidation is set for July 6th. A protest RALLY is scheduled the day before.

What:  Rally and delegation at Mesirow Financial to save good Chicago jobs.
Where: 353 N Clark Street, Chicago
When: Thursday July 5th, 12pm Noon
What a Way to Go: Life At the End of Empire

This is the way: build a boat. WOW! Now this is what I'm talking about.

Let's Build a Boat from VisionQuest Pictures on Vimeo.

Surviving that old new economy, where a "recovery" spreads like an economic plague:
A new report from the Brookings Institution, “Confronting Suburban Poverty in America”, reveals how formerly affluent bedroom communities have faltered in recent years. Brookings researchers found that between 2000 and 2011, the rate of poverty in the American suburbs grew by nearly two-thirds — more than twice as fast as it did in cities.


But this report doesn’t really say that cities are winning. If anything, it says we’re all losing — you’ll notice that both of those trend lines in the graph are on the rise. It’s further evidence of the growing wealth chasm and how it dictates our choices.
- Susie Cagle, Poverty moves to the suburbs, Grist

Millenials could be the silver lining in the collapse?
A quiet revolutionary struggle is brewing in the minds of the US "millennial" generation, those 80 million Americans between ages 16 and 34. They are wrestling with the fundamental edict of capitalism: Buy and you shall be happy. The millennials have not rejected consumerism, but they have also not embraced it fully. They experience its very real downsides - that also afflict millions of older Americans and go to the heart of capitalist sustainability and morality.

Recent polls by marketing firms and the respected Pew Research Center show strong environmental concerns among millennials, but hint at a broader issue: whether consumerism itself makes for a good life and society. Americans, especially the young, love their computers and sleep with their iPhones next to their pillows, but still worry about the negative sides of consumerism.


In a recent informal study of Boston-area college students, I asked them how they felt about American consumerism. Almost all said they would prefer to be in a society that was less consumer-oriented, because consumer culture gives them these headaches:

    * It creates fierce competitive pressure to have more and newer "stuff."

    * It complicates their lives, always worrying about how to maintain, pay for and use all the things they buy.

    * It distracts from a quality life with their family and friends.

    * It creates a "dirty" lifestyle that makes them and the planet sick.

    * It leads to more inequality, with people seeking more at the expense of others.

    * It distracts from political engagement - President Bush told them to go shopping as he was gearing up for war with Iraq after 9/11.

    * It imprisons them in a life full of products and empty of meaning.

Consumerism and Its Discontents
- Charles Derber, Truthout

20 Big Ideas for Creating a Democratized Economy - from It's Our Economy, an organization of four amazing people I had the pleasure of meeting and working with for two weeks at the October 2011 occupation of Freedom Plaza in D.C. Two of them, Kevin Zeese and Dr. Margaret Flowers, are members of the aforementioned Green Shadow Cabinet...

Continue Reading
Reposted from Other Worlds by Words In Action

                                         By Tory Field and Beverly Bell

                                    Part 16 of the Harvesting Justice series

In Santa Fe, New Mexico, one of a growing number of winter farmers’ markets. Photo: Tory Field.
In Western Massachusetts on a sunny winter day, a farmers’ market was taking place in the entryway of an elementary school. The smell was a mix of apple cider, homemade donuts, and gymnasium. Long rows of tables were heavy with piles of root vegetables, hardy apples, fresh pies, pasture-raised lamb, honey wine, and handmade brooms. There was enough diversity that, if determined and creative, one could make it through an admirable portion of a long northern winter.

In the last few years, winter farmers’ markets have been turning up everywhere, tucked into corners of community centers, churches, and school auditoriums. Farmers in cold climes are pushing the limits of their seasons, growing vegetables in greenhouses and building root cellars to make their harvests last. And communities are aligning their appetites with their climates, relinquishing mealy winter tomatoes in favor of the joys of parsnips and cabbage.

Continue Reading

The dot-com boom seems like a lifetime ago, doesn't it? Pre-financial collapse. Pre- real estate collapse. Pre-9/11. Pre dot-com collapse. Pre-election 2000.

And yet even after all those things, life today for the mainstream culture bears a striking similarity to the dot-com era.

Well, the jobs are less numerous and many of the ones left don't pay so well. Techies in the 90s did much better than they do today. Ditto for advertising industry workers swimming in dot-com ad dollars raised in IPOs for vaporware start-ups that were going to make billions. (Thankfully, at least some did.)

In terms of consumption, though, we're still partying like it's 1999.

Lots and lots of stuff is still being bought, for many people more than they can possibly manage. And the reason we can still afford them in this recession for the 98% is that there are always countries, people and people who can be pinched. And that's what our government and corporations and their legions of toadies and the IMF and the World Bank are REALLY good at: converting other people's stuff and labor into "externalized costs," cheap products, and huge profits.

Exploitation, um, "externalized cost:" the bedrock of the American Way.

Don't worry. Soon enough today's economy will seem as distant as the dot-com era, probably more so. The further you are from the top now, the sooner the Class and Climate Wars are going to re-size your personal economy. Hell, most of the population is already feeling the contraction.

If we're smart, though, there could be upsides. In fact, it could get much better.

Jill Schor is one person thinking ahead. She recently gave her below vision of the economy in 2050. It assumes, of course, that we've been reasonably smart and are thus moving down the path to sustainability. If we're not, the economy will not only be much smaller but also even uglier than today. More overall Hobbesian.

In my 2050 we have people who work on average 16–20 hours in the formal economy at regular jobs, receiving regular paychecks. They meet their needs in a variety of other ways. They do some self-provisioning, for example growing food in high-tech, eco-knowledgeable ways—low-labor, high-yield growing technologies. They have a 3D printer that they can program to make small manufactured goods. The household is a little factory.

People are involved in a range of peer-production activities—that is, the kinds of collaborations we’ve seen online in the world of informational software and culture such as Wikipedia. It’s not-for-profit, collaborative, high quality, and operating according to a different economic model. There’s peer-to-peer exchange that’s possible in lots of activities and areas. I’m thinking of peer production in lodging and sites such as Couchsurfing and AirBnB, where peers make homes available to others for free or a small fee. We are seeing peer production in transportation and food.

In my future, people have more time to be involved in the production of things so if they only spend 20 hours at their jobs, they can make clothes or bake things and share with neighbors in exchange for another service. It’s an economy of sharing and peer-to-peer collaboration that frees people from high-impact lifestyles and long hours, because most of this activity is local and creative. One thing that people like is variety in how they spend their days. It’s the new economics of household production.  - Jill Schor, interview, Solutions

Of course, a choir of neoliberal economists and corporate and government lackeys and functionaries will continue to worship economic growth and the untethered, short-sighted consumption upon which it's based, blinded by habit, including greed, too afraid of losing familiar forms of security, comfort and status to transition to something more sustainable economically, environmentally, even socially. And their benefactor owner-priests will simply continue to siphon and stockpile the surpluses and fortify their increasingly militarized and gated cathedrals of capitalism, luxury retreats, and monuments to their insatiable egos.

Forward-looking thinkers like Jill Schor and David Korten (below) are the ones who are truly being practical, at least concerning the general welfare. They are members of a vanguard of this future now just ahead, a future that requires a "new economy," sized to this planet and shaped to the real priorities and values of inhabitants looking to sustain civilization long-term.

What? New Economy? Didn't the New Economy begin in the 80s, mature in the 90s and crash and burn already?

The term new economy has two sharply contrasting meanings. Let's call them New Economy 1.0 and New Economy 2.0.

In New Economy 1.0, money is the defining value and power resides in global financial markets.

In New Economy 2.0, life is the defining value and power resides in people and communities of place.

New Economy 1.0: Magical High-Tech Fantasy World

Investopedia defines New Economy  as "a buzzword describing new, high-growth industries that are on the cutting edge of technology and are the driving force of economic growth." This New Economy 1.0 envisions a globalized money-driven, perpetual-growth "High Tech Wonderland" of magical technologies and market forces that liberate humans from environmental constraints the economic growth. Global corporate monolith's competing for monopoly control of resources, technology, and markets to make money for rich investors continue to be a defining feature. New Economy 1.0 simply puts a new face on the Old Economy of financial values and concentrated power that traces back at least to the founding of the British East India Company in 1600 and now threatens our national and species viability.


...New Economy 1.0 features a belief that  magical technologies and global market forces will save us from our environmental follies and eliminate barriers to accelerated rates of economic growth in perpetuity.


[New Economy 2.0: Cooperative, Sustainable Civilization]

There is an important place in the New Economy 2.0 vision for advanced technologies and for global sharing of ideas and technology. This is particularly true for energy and communications technologies that wean us from dependence on fossil fuels and support and collective decision making on a global scale. New Economy 2.0 does not, however, assume that technology will magically save us from our reckless abuse of one another and nature. Rather technology is a facilitator of the deep transformation of values and institutions required to achieve an economic system that meets the needs of all in sustainable, creative balance with Earth's biosphere.

- David Korten, Beyond High Tech Fantasies, Living Economies Forum

Susan van Gelder is the Executive Editor of Yes! Magazine, a cornucopia of news, research findings, cases studies and living examples of people reaching out and exploring the future in which this new economy and the wider culture it serves exist outside small experiments. She recently had this to say about worker cooperatives and the reason that Yes! is so interested in them, the essence of which applies to the broader concept of new economy.
We've found that there's something very different that happens when human beings can make decisions driven by all of the things we care about: our communities, the freshness of our air and the [?] of our water, our children and their children down to the seventh generation, as our native friends say--all of these can come to the forefront if profit and loss statements and returning profits to those who are already wealthy isn't our dominant concern. -Sarah van Gelder
We do not have to be victims of the old new economy indefinitely. We simply need to be adventurous or courageous enough to invent a new new economy.
Continue Reading


fyi, this video is 6:29. A transcript follows.

This is an unofficial, independent, voluntarily produced transcript. All emphases added.
{ } contain transcriber comments

In Season One of The Story of Stuff, we looked at a system that creates way too much stuff and way too little of what we really want. Now we're gonna start looking at the stories behind The Story of Stuff. That's where we'll find ways to turn this situation around.

Welcome to Season Two:

The Story of Change

Why Citizens (Not Shoppers) Hold the Key to a Better World.

{Enter Annie Leonard}

Ever since I learned where our stuff really comes from and how this system is trashing people and the planet, I've been trying to figure out how we can change it. I've read a lot of these {books}. A 100 Ways to Save the Planet Without Leaving Your House. 50 Simple Things You Can Do to Save the Earth. The Little Green Book of Shopping.

I thought these {tip books} might have the answers. But their tips all start here (Distribution: Big Box Mart}, with buying better stuff. And they end here, with recycling all that stuff when I'm done with it. But when it comes to making change, this story of going green {picture of book: $hop Your Way to A Green Planet}, even though we see it everywhere, has some serious shortcomings.
It says that if I become a smarter shopper {fluorescent light bulbs} and tell all my friends to do the same {fair trade coffee}, I've done my part. And if I don't buy all this green stuff, then it's my fault the planet's being destroyed.

Wait a minute! My fault?

I didn't choose to put toxic products on the shelves or allow slave labor in factories around the world.

I didn't choose to fill stores with electronics that can't be repaired and have to be thrown away.

I didn't choose a world in which some people can afford to live green, leaving the rest of us to be irresponsible planet wreckers!

Of course, when we do shop we should buy the least toxic and most fair products we can. But it's not bad shoppers here {distribution} who are the source of the problem. It's bad policies and bad business practices here {the government and the corporation}. And that's why the solutions we really need are not for sale at the supermarket.
If we actually want to change the world, we can't talk only about consumers voting with our dollars. Real change happens when citizens come together to demand rules that work {rally, sign: No Toxics In Our Products}.

Look, it is important to try to live green. As Gandhi said, "be the change." Living our values in small ways shows ourselves and others that we care. So it is a great place to start. But it is a terrible place to stop.

After all, would we even know who Gandhi was if he just sewed his own clothes and then sat back, waiting for the British to leave India?

So how do we make big change?

To answer that question, I went backed and looked at Gandhi, the Anti-Aparthied Movement in South Africa, the U.S. Civil Rights Movement, and the environmental victories here in the 1970's. They didn't just nag people to perfect their day-to-day choices, they changed the rules of the game.

It turns out there are three things you find whenever people get together and actually change the world.

FIRST, they share a big idea for how things could be better. Not just a little better for a few people {20% less segregation by 1970}. A whole lot better for everyone. And they don't just tinker around the edges. They go right to the heart of the problem {No segregation}. Even when it means changing systems that don't want to be changed. And that can be scary.
Hey, millions of us already share a big idea for how things could be better. Instead of this dinosaur economy {linear, non-sustainable materials economy} that focuses only on profits, we want a new economy, that puts safe products, healthy people, and a healthy planet first {closed loop production, sustainable economy}.


Isn't that what an economy should be for?

Trying to live eco-perfectly in today's system is like trying to swim upstream, when the current is pushing us all the other way. But by changing what our economy prioritizes, we can change that current so that the right things become the easiest things to do.

SECOND, the millions of ordinary people who made these extraordinary changes didn't try to do it alone. They didn't just say "I will be more responsible." They said "WE will work together until the problem is solved."
Today it's easier than ever to work together. Can you imagine how hard it was to get a message across India in 1930? We can do it now in less than a second.
FINALLY, these movements succeeded in creating change because they took their big idea and their commitment to work together and then they took action.
Did you know that when Martin Luther King, Jr., organized his march on Washington, less than a quarter of Americans {23%} supported him? But that was enough to make change because those supporters took action. They did stuff.


74% of Americans support tougher laws on toxic chemicals.
83% want clean energy laws.
85% think corporations should have less influence in government.

We've got the big idea and the commitment, we just haven't turned it all into massive action yet. And this is our only missing piece.

So let's do it!
{rally, signs: "Corporations Are Not People, 99%, We're Not Broke}

Making real change takes all kinds of citizens, not just protesters. When you realize what you're good at, and what you like to do, plugging in doesn't seem so hard {someone making food for the protesters}. Whatever you have to offer, a better future needs it.

So ask yourself, what kind of changemaker am I?

We need investigators, communicators, builders, resisters, nurturers, and networkers.

At the, you can explore these types of change-makers, and find your first or your next step to take action.

{Link to take the change-maker quiz and/or learn about change-makers.}

Being a responsible citizen starts with voting. That's one of those basic things that everyone's just got to do. But it gets way more exciting and fun when we put our unique skills and interests to work alongside thousands of others.

I know that changing a whole economic system is a huge challenge. It's not easy to see a clear path from where we are today to where we need to go. And there's no ten simple things we can do without leaving our couches.

But the path didn't start out clear to all these guys either {Environmental Movement, Civil Rights Movement, Anti-Apartheid Movement}.

Dr. King said,

faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase
They -

Worked hard to get organized.
Practiced the small acts that built their citizen muscles.
Kept their focus on their big idea.

And when the time was right, they were ready.

It's time for us to get ready too. Ready to make change and write the next chapter in The Story of Stuff.

Continue Reading


fish eating fish
Our economy, our civilization: what could possibly go wrong? [caption added]

This is the extended version of Victor Lebow's vision for achieving continuous economic growth through consumption, referred to by Annie Leonard in The Story of Stuff online video.

Our enormously productive economy demands that we make consumption our way of life, that we convert the buying and use of goods into rituals, that we seek our spiritual satisfactions, our ego satisfactions, in consumption. The measure of social status, of social acceptance, of prestige, is now to be found in our consumptive patterns. The very meaning and significance of our lives today expressed in consumptive terms. The greater the pressures upon the individual to conform to safe and accepted social standards, the more does he tend to express his aspirations and his individuality in terms of what he wears, drives, eats- his home, his car, his pattern of food serving, his hobbies.

These commodities and services must be offered to the consumer with a special urgency. We require not only “forced draft” consumption, but “expensive” consumption as well. We need things consumed, burned up, worn out, replaced, and discarded at an ever increasing pace. We need to have people eat, drink, dress, ride, live, with ever more complicated and, therefore, constantly more expensive consumption. The home power tools and the whole “do-it-yourself” movement are excellent examples of “expensive” consumption.

Continue Reading
Reposted from Meteor Blades by Words In Action Editor's Note: This is being added to "Stuff That Really Matters" because the Class War is pretty much at the top of the pyramid of root causes of pretty much all other social and environmental ills in our culture. So, It Matters.™ ☮ ♥ ☺ -- Words In Action
They knew some of them would be arrested Monday and 17 of them were. They were homeowners from across the nation demonstrating outside the Department of Justice offices in Washington, D.C., against the government's years-long failure to take legal action against banks. Some of the protesters were tazed. A coalition made of Occupy Wall Street, Occupy Homes, the Home Defenders League and the Campaign for a Fair Settlement, among others, the crux of demonstrators' message was that shielding the banks that are too big to fail is cowardly and unjust:
Five years after Wall Street crashed the economy, not one banker has been prosecuted for the reckless and fraudulent practices that cost millions of Americans their jobs, threw our cities and schools into crisis, and left families and communities ravaged by a foreclosure crisis and epidemic of underwater mortgages.
Nobody from DOJ came outside to talk with the protesters. Read below the fold for more on what sparked the protests:
Continue Reading

If Climate Change matters to you, The Story of Stuff should be part of your mindset, your toolkit, your spiel and your life plan. Seriously.

Something dead serious is wrong and that matters. Each day batters us with more events, revelations and data. They rain down upon us. We read about them, watch videos, write diaries, comment, compare notes... We create narratives. And some of them change us and what we do.

The Story of Stuff is an online video that comes from a similar place as those stories that matter and impacts us like the ones that change us: a long study driven by an obsession that produces evidence, a narrative of what's wrong and a picture of what we need to do. And the subject, sustainability, is for many of us a shared obsession. As well it should be. Between that and the effectiveness of the video, I believe you will feel compelled to act in new ways. And you will know what to do.

Annie Leonard, the creator of the video and the founder of The Story of Stuff Project, had some strong feelings and questions about "stuff." Material "stuff." So she traveled the world for ten years to forty countries to learn about it: where stuff comes from, how it's made, what's in it, why it's so cheap, how it gets to us, why we buy it, how we use it and how we dispose of it. And now she knows exactly why we produce, use and throw away so damn much of it.

As Ms. Leonard explains, it's no accident. It is a planned, man-made system. And it is not so very old. But it is destructive. Brutally destructive. Increasingly destructive. Even fatally destructive. And ultimately? Like, really soon? Cataclysmically destructive.


Because this is a linear system with inputs at one end and outputs at the other, toxic outputs that just...keep...piling...up... in a finite space. A space we are now capable of physically changing. The space we and everything else on this planet live in. This system is in crisis. We are in crisis. But the system can be changed. Just as we have gone from a people without nearly so much stuff to a culture that consumes tons and tons and tons of stuff, we can change ourselves and it.

Our linear system of consumption was created by design and sold to us with intention as being desirable, empowering and inevitable, when it is the opposite. It could just as well be a closed, regenerative, sustainable loop. It could be truly desirable and empowering, even if it is not inevitable. Hell, the only thing that is inevitable is that this earth will contain our activities within its limits and rules. It will do so relatively compatibly with our activities or in gross, violent conflict. Our choice. It does not prevent us from living here intentionally in a sustainable model any more than it prevents us from intentionally continuing with our current system of unsustainable consumption until it collapses into tragic chaos. It will let us do either. But if we want to avoid lots of unnecessary pain and suffering, more than we are already signed up for, then we must conform our system to the earth's and stop expecting and pretending it can work the other way around.

"Remember, that old way didn't just happen. It's not like gravity that we've just got to live with. People created it. And we're people too. So let's create something new."
- Annie Leonard

The Story of Stuff is Ms. Leonard's very fine effort to share what she's learned in a presentation that is eminently accessible both visually and verbally. That's not trivial given that she's addressing the most significant issue of our time, just as so many others have tried and failed to do, and success is critical. Significantly, she approaches sustainability much more through the consumption of products (as embodied resources and energy) than the use of dirty fossil fuels. (In fact, this video is as much about resource depletion as it is about carbon emissions and climate change--somewhat indicative of the time in which it was made.) Most importantly, she's clear about what must be done.

The Story of Stuff (2007) is not brand new. It already has been viewed 15 million times. But it is still very relevant and lacks nothing in accuracy to my knowledge. And most people still have not seen it. If you are thinking about where we must be in the future to achieve sustainability in time to avoid the worst affects of climate change, if you are thinking about how we can best get there, this video will help. Both the pathway to sustainability and the video are first and foremost about the stuff. If you have seen this video before but not recently, you might watch it again with your present mind. It is also a good resource to share with others, perhaps best if you can watch it with them, even if only to ensure that it gets watched.

The approximately 21 minute YouTube video appears below (or you can go to the Story of Stuff Project to watch it there) and a transcript follows the orange pastry for those who prefer to read.

Continue Reading
You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.


Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site