CoreChange is a powerful new initiative to create substantive change for our urban neighborhoods here in Cincinnati. Dr. Victor Garcia began this effort in response to the young victims of gun violence, a crime of its own. If you're unfamiliar with us, start by reading the About Us entry.
The core of CoreChange [if you will] is our Working Groups. These groups are tackling long-standing social issues that have plagued our urban communities for decades. We're taking on critical care for children, jobs for those with limited skills, transportation and changing the narrative and attitudes of local citizens. You can find a listing of our active Working Groups here.
CoreChange was inaugurated with a summit held here in Cincinnati in February, 2012. This is where working groups, principles and methodologies began to unfold. Since then, we've been working to develop the organizational structure to support our Working Group projects and actions.
Now that we have these key pieces in place, we're ready to activate, engage and awaken. Our approach is that every citizen deserves a community where peace, prosperity and health are available. Our methodologies are backed by science. Our activities are based on our passion, the common desire we share for a thriving Cincinnati.
Our friends at Green Umbrella have initiated a local food pledge effort to raise awarness about its value, and to support our fledgling local food movement.
The idea is that by committing to buying 10% more local food than we currently do, we support local food, reduce pollution, eat better food, enhance our health and more than likely have a richer experience of the transaction in the process. As one of the most important keys to the CoreChange Transformative Model, enabling wholesome, local food production and processing is paramount.
When we hear the term “sustainable communities” in general it refers to the Triple Bottom Line of Social, Economic and Environmental interests at the “community scale.” For our purposes in discussing sustainable (or resilient) communities, the focus is on the Social domain—Community as the social framework and scale for creating a sustainable future, and healthy Community as an essential element of that future.
The sustainability equation is sometimes cited as the Triple E’s: (Social) Equity, Environment and Economy. Social equity is too narrow a framing of our interests in healthy community. Sustainable Community includes human health, arts and culture, civic affairs, education and learning, spiritual interests, communication and networking, social capital, local food and much more.
Whatever our efforts at all scales (global, national, regional, municipal) if the results do not manifest at the local community and neighborhood scale, it’s not happening. If local communities are not fully engaged as the primary stewards and authors of their own sustainable future, it’s not happening. If the human and other capital resident in Community (i.e. non-institutional resources) is not activated, it is not happening. If communities are not thriving in terms of responsible citizenship, human health, peer to peer networking and communication, creative expression, an informed and active electorate (True Citizens), caring for each other, it’s not happening. We can throw all the money and technological/ecological knowhow we want at the wall, but if these and other social qualities do not exist at the local level, the results will be limited and incremental— that is, they are not enough and not enduring. All of our various sustainability efforts to date have not produced the level of transformative change needed to meet our social, economic and environmental challenges and opportunities. The primary reason for this result lies in the social domain.
All of our various sustainability efforts to date have not produced the level of transformative change needed to meet our social, economic and environmental challenges and opportunities.
Our understanding of what constitutes a healthy community and how to catalyze its emergence is lagging far behind work in the economic and environmental domains. We are still using old top-down hierarchical planning and management paradigms in how we engage social interests in community, even among well-intentioned progressive NGO’s and governmental organizations. Tremendous resources are being allocated to incremental projects that do little to strengthen a community’s capacity to care for itself. Most large-scale urban and regional organizations are operating from an outdated top-down hierarchical paradigm without a primary mission of strengthening autonomous grass roots social infrastructure. One such organization recently noted that they were the “grass tops,” and we at the local level were the “grass roots.” We at the grass roots select our own “tops”, and we form and run our own working groups, they are not appointed by the “tops,” and so on. Our campaign efforts are dominated by high-status heroes, champions and experts––they represent a leadership modality that has come and gone, and that unintentionally disempowers the ordinary people who are engaged, the real heroes. Many millions have been expended to buy land and easements to preserve environmental values, an unsustainable long-term strategy, while little has been expended to support the social infrastructure needed for communities to take care of themselves.
The source for transforming how we work in community at the social and cultural level must be people in communities determining for themselves how to proceed.
We need a major transformative shift in how we work in community at the social and cultural level. Much more work is needed on developing the qualities of healthy community and the principles and methods of working in community. While there is a need for multi-disciplinary expert work in this arena, the primary authors of these emerging paradigms must be people in communities determining for themselves how to proceed. How to catalyze this effort is the Possibility. PlacerSustain.Org is a fledging effort to explore this possibility.
There are times in history when two eras—with their respective world views, cultural patterns, and predominant means of livelihood—run in parallel. One may be exhausting itself while the other is still in its infancy. This can be a confusing and divisive time as different sets of cultural assumptions compete to give meaning and direction to life. And the decay of the dying era can seem to overwhelm the formative one.
Small actions and choices can have major, although unpredictable, effects in determining what comes next.
But these are also times ripe with possibilities. Small actions and choices can have major, although unpredictable, effects in determining what comes next.
Among the possibilities is that the thousands of experiments and millions of choices to live more consciously will coalesce into a new civilization that fosters community, provides possibilities for meaning, sustains us while also sustaining life for the planet. Encouraging that process is the purpose of YES! Magazine and its non-profit publisher, Positive Futures Network.
A sustainable future is far from preordained. A time of chaos and transition can be terribly frightening and lead to a retreat into simplistic solutions and fundamentalism. Fundamentalism—which can happen on either the Left or the Right, in secular and spiritual realms—is characterized by a rigid belief system and a widening of the polarity between "us" and "them." Because it is founded in fear and divisiveness, it cannot tolerate diverse views and backgrounds, and is far less capable of creatively discovering answers within a context of complexity.
Fundamentalism, which has become all too prevalent in political discourse of late, is not up to the challenges of these times. Instead, the next stage in human evolution will grow out of creative, self-organizing innovations that offer sustainable and meaningful ways of living and interrelating.
Like natural evolution, human cultural evolution thrives in a context rich in diversity and complexity, in which there are myriad opportunities for interaction. In such a setting, self-organizing innovation can emerge out of the search for ways of living that sustain us in every sense of the word. These innovations become "attractors" that draw us out of the chaotic soup into further experimentation with sustainable communities, education, new means of livelihood, and new international connections. The most powerful attractors are those that respond to people's basic needs for survival and to their deepest yearning for such things as connection, meaning, transcendence, and wholeness. When these attractors resonate among large numbers of people, society shifts.
An "attractor" can only attract if people are aware of it, however. When people discover voluntary simplicity, sustainable communities, and the many other efforts we write about in YES! they often are surprised and elated to find that they aren't alone—that they are part of something larger which resonates with their deepest values.
The media often ignores these efforts or sees them as blips in an overall downward spiral—when you only see the dying era, things that are full of life appear either irrelevant or poignant. What the media and many others have yet to realize is that these are not anomalies—they are indicators of a much greater dynamic that is allowing us to become whole. And while many of these efforts may now be separate and seemingly unrelated, awareness is growing and connections are developing rapidly.
The shift that is emerging out of these connections draws on the ancient wisdom traditions that have nourished human souls for eons while also building on the strengths of the modern era and our new global awareness.
These complex times are rich with possibilities. Through YES! we raise awareness of the promises and hazards of these times, with news of the ways that people all over are rethinking and re-creating communities, relationships to the natural world, their own sense of purpose and meaning. The Positive Futures Network seeks to help connect people to one another in dialogues that help empower action at all levels. Join us!
CoreChange recognizes that among the many areas where substantive change is needed, quality food, food production and food access are crucial. Here's what some folks in West Oakland are about. Check it out…
There’s a lot of energy in the air these days surrounding hemp, and with good reason. Hemp was removed from our culture back in the early 20th Century when a number of laws were established that demonized hemp and marijuana. Now, as we’re learning that so much once held as true is false, it should come as no surprise that our illusions about hemp are crumbling as well.
Hemp is the common name for cannabis, the first plant cultivated by humanity as we crept from a Hunter/Gatherer culture to an Agrarian one. This were several reasons for this. First, hemp is an extremely versatile plant, with edible seeds, rich oil and strong, fibrous stalks. Second, it’s particularly easy to grow, needing little in the way of fertilizer or pest control. And finally, hemp is native to many parts of the world, so it was accessible to large segments of our ancestors.
Hemp has a strong historical influence on every continent, with varied cultural and religious traditions. It’s written about in China as early as the 5th Century BC. It was commonly breathed or smoked by various tribes in the Middle East. Many African spiritual practices involve consuming hemp smoke to enhance awareness and generate visions like the Dagga ‘cults’.
In the United States, as early as 1619 the first Virginia House of Burgesses passed an Act requiring all planters in Virginia to sow "both English and Indian" hemp on their plantations. In more modern times, hemp was a popular crop in antebellum Kentucky and other southern states. It was commonly used for a variety of products, most notably the paper on which the U.S. Constitution was written. Several of our founding fathers were hemp farmers.
All that changed when newspaper mogul William Randolph Hearst decided to demonize the plant, his financial interests better served by printing his newspapers on wood pulp supplied by forests he owned in the early 20th century. Dupont’s new plastics were far more valuable in a hemp-free world as well. His nephew, Harry Anslinger, commissioned ‘Reefer Madness.’
Today, we can still follow the money. The lumber, textile and petro-chemical industries are the most influential in keeping hemp illegal. Then for pot there’s the pharmaceutical industry, the alcohol lobby and all those anti-drug agencies with self-preservation interests. We learn much from understanding these connections.
With this background, let’s consider how hemp might again play a pivotal role in our communities and culture.
With hemp, we have a low-impact, high-yield crop that can be used for a variety of purposes. The stalks and fiber can be used in composites as a wood substitute for an array of products. They can also be processed to create ethanol. This is a carbon-neutral resource, since the carbon released is but the carbon the plant ingested during its life. Durable, light-weight, and strong, it’s difficult to imagine all the uses for industrial hemp were we to focus on designing and building hemp-based products.
With hemp oil we have another energy-rich resource, which can be used in cooking, as lamp oil and as a medicinal, as its high concentration of essential fatty acids is great for the skin and overall health. Hemp seed can be used for food as well. They’re highly nutritious with a good deal of protein. Hemp has remediation properties too. It absorbs heavy metals in the soil, reducing their toxicity and harmful environmental effects. There are vast expanses of hemp in the area of the Chernobyl nuclear accident for just that reason.
Hemp can be grown successfully in nearly every state in these United States. One can imagine a culture where locally produced hemp provides a good portion of the energy, food and product needs for our communities. This approach would provide employment in both production and processing of the plant. It would also reduce the environmental damage caused by our pollutive, subsidized corn production. Re-integrating hemp into our culture is a key to the new localism.
And then there’s marijuana. The heathen devil-weed [a term coined by Hearst’s yellow press] was blamed for all sorts of bad behavior as part of the demonization process. Marijuana actually reduces aggressive behavior, unlike alcohol. The demonization and slander against the singular most influential plant in human history is but one example of the dysfunctionality of our culture.
Weed does indeed have psychotropic properties of note. Being stoned has a curious effect on the mind. Most say it tends to enhance whatever we feeling or experiencing at the time, offering a heightened experience of music or games or food [the proverbial munchies]. It is often used as a mind-quieting agent as well, as the stream of thoughts so constant to most of us becomes less pressing in a marijuana state of mind. In our fear-ridden, highly-stressed culture that alone could be of great value.
Medical marijuana is much in the news these days, being legal in a number of states, though often still prosecuted by the Feds. Its value in alleviating the worst effects of cancer treatments, chronic backache and other issues is well-documented. Imagine if our culture actually encouraged research on medical marijuana [sigh]. Not likely when the legal drug cartel called ‘the pharmaceutical industry’ has so much influence in government.
Finally, it’s worth noting that marijuana has not been placed as the medical cause in a single death in this country. Compare that with alcohol, tobacco, or the host of concoctions the pharmaceutical industry markets to us constantly. Mary Jane is decidedly benign.
Just say no to politicians and pundits who espouse the evils of hemp. They are uneducated, disingenuous or both [surprise, surprise]. Let’s say yes to re-introducing hemp into our culture, and to creating local jobs, products and health.