Apr. 18th, 2011

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See the pretteh here


Holi (होली), is a spring religious festival celebrated by Hindus. It is primarily observed in India,Nepal, Sri Lanka,[1] and countries with large Indic diaspora populations, such as Suriname,Malaysia, Guyana, South Africa, Trinidad, United Kingdom, United States, Mauritius, and Fiji. InWest Bengal and Orissa of India it is known as Dolyatra (Doul Jatra) (Bengali: দোলযাত্রা), orBasanta-Utsav ("spring festival")(Bengali: বসন্তোৎসব), . The most celebrated Holi is that of theBraj region, in locations connected to the Lord Krishna: Mathura, Vrindavan, Nandagaon, andBarsana. These places have become tourist destinations during the festive season of Holi, which lasts here up to sixteen days.[2]
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2010 Chicago’s $1.3 Million Experiment in Democracy: For the first time in the U.S., the city’s 49th Ward lets taxpayers directly decide how public money is spent.

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The start: 2002 Porto Alegre's Budget Of, By, And For the People

Fifty thousand residents of Porto Alegre—poor and middle class, women and men, leftist and centrist—now take part in the participatory budgeting process for this city of a million and a half people, and the numbers involved have grown each year since its start in 1989. Then, only 75 percent of homes had running water.

Today 99 percent have treated water and 85 percent have piped sewage. In seven years, housing assistance jumped from 1,700 families to 29,000. In 12 years, the number of public schools increased from 29 to 86, and literacy has reached 98 percent. Each year the bulk of new street-paving projects has gone to the poorer, outlying districts. In addition to these achievements, corruption, which before was the rule, has virtually disappeared.

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Wikipedia article:Social Movements practicing Partiscipatory Democracy

The Six Nations:Oldest Living Participatory Democracy on Earth

The people of the Six Nations, also known by the French term, Iroquois [1] Confederacy, call themselves the Hau de no sau nee (ho dee noe sho nee) meaning People Building a Long House. Located in the northeastern region of North America, originally the Six Nations was five and included the Mohawks, Oneidas, Onondagas, Cayugas, and Senecas. The sixth nation, the Tuscaroras, migrated into Iroquois country in the early eighteenth century. Together these peoples comprise the oldest living participatory democracy on earth. Their story, and governance truly based on the consent of the governed, contains a great deal of life-promoting intelligence for those of us not familiar with this area of American history. The original United States representative democracy, fashioned by such central authors as Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, drew much inspiration from this confederacy of nations. In our present day, we can benefit immensely, in our quest to establish anew a government truly dedicated to all life's liberty and happiness much as has been practiced by the Six Nations for over 800 hundred years. [2] MORE

Wikipedia links to Criticism

Reviewing the experience in Brazil and Porto Alegre a World Bank paper points out that lack of representation of extremely poor people in participatory budgeting can be a shortcoming. Participation of the very poor and of the young is highlighted as a challenge.[6] Participatory budgeting may also struggle to overcome existing clientelism. Other observations include that particular groups are less likely to participate once their demands have been met and that slow progress of public works can frustrate participants.[6]

From this World Bank paper: PARTICIPATORY BUDGETING IN BRAZIL* Quick and easy read btw

Liberty Tree's 2004 Prospects for Participatory Democracy in the USA

The Participatory Budgeting Project

In light of the ongoing lets gut the poor to feed the rich trends happening around the world, what do you guys think of this alternative?
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The 2011 Goldman Environmental Prize for Europe: Ursula Sladek

In response to Germany’s expanded reliance on nuclear energy, Ursula Sladek created her country’s first cooperatively-owned renewable power company.

Nuclear Energy in Europe
Twenty-five years ago, the catastrophic Chernobyl nuclear meltdown in the Soviet Union produced a radioactive cloud that quickly spread across Europe. As news of the event rippled through the continent, questions arose about toxic fallout and its implications for communities thousands of miles from Chernobyl.

At the time, West Germany relied almost exclusively on nuclear and coal energy to power its growing economy. A small handful of companies held a monopoly on the energy market, controlling most of the local grids. An anti-nuclear movement had been active throughout the 1980s and had gained some popular support, but German power companies did not provide opportunities for consumers to opt out of using nuclear-derived power.

For Ursula Sladek, a mother of five from the tiny community of Schönau in Germany’s Black Forest region, the Chernobyl disaster served as a serious wake-up call about the dangers of nuclear energy. She and her neighbors were alarmed by reports about radioactive residue detected on playgrounds, backyard gardens, and farmland in Schönau. Suddenly, it was unsafe for Sladek to go about her normal routine of eating locally grown foods and sending her children outside to play.

In response, Sladek, her husband, and a small group of parents began researching the energy industry in Germany to see if there was a way to limit their community’s dependence on nuclear power. They found that power companies were not allowing citizens to have a say in energy production decisions. Chernobyl proved that though nuclear energy could be called “green” by some standards, the safety risks associated with it were cause for deep concern. Sladek also knew that nuclear energy was not the only option. Thus, the group began what would become a 10 year project to take over the local grid, and in a second step, allow people all over Germany to choose safe, reliable, sustainably-produced energy. This project would transform Sladek from a small-town parent trained to be a schoolteacher into the founder and president of one of Europe’s first cooperatively-owned green energy companiesMORE

Audio Interview with See Jane Do
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2011 Goldman Prize for North America: Hilton Kelley, Texas, USA

Hilton Kelley
USA Toxic & Nuclear Contamination

Now leading the battle for environmental justice on the Texas Gulf Coast, Hilton Kelley fights for communities living in the shadow of polluting industries.

Port Arthur, Texas
Located among eight major petrochemical and hazardous waste facilities on the Texas Gulf Coast, the largely African-American West Side neighborhood of Port Arthur has long suffered as a result of the near constant emissions spewing from smokestacks ringing the community. Port Arthur is noted by the EPA as having some of the highest levels of toxic air releases in the country, and the companies operating the local plants have been cited with hundreds of state air pollution violations.

The West Side’s asthma and cancer rates are among the highest in the state, while the community’s income levels are among the lowest. As industry has grown, local property values have plummeted. Few jobs exist in the plants for West Side residents. At the end of each workday, a stream of cars heads away from Port Arthur’s industrial facilities toward the more affluent towns nearby as the gas flares continue to burn within sight of the West Side’s schools and federal housing projects.

The facilities operating in the area include the Motiva oil refinery, the Valero refinery, the Huntsman Petrochemical plant, the Chevron Phillips plant, the Great Lakes Carbon Corporation’s petroleum facility, the Total Petrochemicals USA facility, Veolia incinerator facility and the BASF Fina Petrochemicals plant.MORE

2003 The Ungreening of America: No Clear Skies

SHORTLY AFTER 4:30 P.M. ON MONDAY, April 14, 2003, the power went out at the Motiva refinery in Port Arthur, Texas. The massive plant shut down instantly and, as is common when something goes wrong at a refinery, the "product" in the pipes -- tens of thousands of pounds of highly pressurized liquids and gases -- was released through the smokestacks. In this particular incident, 256,653 pounds of toxic chemicals were hurled into the air over the next 24 hours.

Read more... )

A Love Letter to Hilton Kelley

I applaud you for your tenacity. You decided shortly after your visit that since there was no one to step up and fight for the survival of your town, it had to be you. And so, incredibly, you moved back, and you took on the fight. And you became known as the man who doesn't give up, who won’t take no for an answer, and who has made an enormous positive impact on environmental protections for Port Arthur. The list of your accomplishments is awe-inspiring:

Read more... )

This is what we mean when we talk about environmental justice. This toxic stuff keeps on getting located in poor poc backyards. And then next thing you know, politicians are yelling about welfare and overloading hospitals and not doing well in school and the like. This is bullshit. Enough with poisoning people already. Renewable ways of doing things please.


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