Posts Tagged ‘activism’

the great eroticI’m not very familiar with paganism, but I certainly appreciate aspects of the pagan approach to spirituality infinitely more than that of many religions. There is of course the belief in the sacredness of the Earth, there are notions like the principles of unity or co-creation, virtues such as beauty, simple living, service, wisdom and compassion (see Donald L. Engstrom-Reese’s website), and values such as the great erotic, passionate, wild love for life, that embraces dark and light and the whole cycle of birth, growth, death, decay and regeneration (Starhawk’s Dirt Worship blog). Heathens seem to know how to honour and celebrate life in its totality!

But dilemmas can arise, for example when you are concerned about the impacts humans have on the planet and you want to counteract our destructive practices on the one hand and have fun and live life to its fullest on the other. An interesting article written by Starhawk highlights this value predicament:

The greatest ethical problem at the moment, I think, for those of us who believe the earth is sacred is how to respond to climate change, to the immense potential loss of life and biodiversity it represents, to the personal and social challenges it poses. How do we both live with personal integrity and also help to galvanize a more effective public response? How do we make people aware of the urgency without plunging them into cynicism and despair? What sacrifices are we truly called to make, and how do we formulate a truly pagan response, that avoids falling into quasi-Christian moralism, that lets us continue to value pleasure, joy and beauty, that seeks to create abundance, regeneration and healing?

It’s very easy when we talk about environmental matters to fall into a kind of environmental moralism. A lot of our solutions involve exhorting people to be good, to give up things, to make sacrifices. We make people feel guilty and wrong. Well, maybe we should feel guilty and wrong for destroying the planet, and when we’re grubbing for flaccid, dying roots in the melting tundra in small, starving bands escaping the suffocating heat of the lower latitudes, we’ll wish we’d made greater sacrifices–but exhorting people to be good has limited effectiveness. And maybe a bit of it, just a bit–is a holdover of patriarchal religious conditioning, that pleasure is suspect and goodness involves austerity. I wonder what an ecological movement might look like that truly embraced Pagan values–that pleasure is good, the body is sacred, life should be full of beauty and delight, that all of life is alive and speaking and communicating and inviting us to join in the song? If we said, “Come join us in a world that is alive with enchantment, throw off the shackles of the poisonous world and the chains of production and run wild, eat fabulous food, have ecstatic sex, swim naked in clean-running rivers, restore the life and health of the world?”

Well said. Indeed, large parts of the environmental movement sometimes seem to embody a kind of religious revival – in their seriousness, earnestness, joylessness, cheerlessness and gloominess. They remind me of the early heydays of the political left in the 1970s when the spontaneity and fun-activism of the then anarchists was frowned upon by the upright, straitlaced Marxist-Leninist party faithful. And I agree: there is no compelling or imperative reason for not having fun when fighting to halt the planet’s destruction or battle the protagonists of global injustice!

While fun and activism are one area where pagan values can add a valuable dimension, another point to contemplate is the role darkness plays in our collective mind. Again Starhawk provides and interesting perspective:

Tuesday we heard a powerful presentation from the Beehive Collective,, a group that does amazing, complex graphics on giant posters about key political issues. They live collectively here in Maine but travel to tell stories and present their work all over the world. They’ve been working on the issue of mountain-top renewal and coal. James Hansen, one of the world’s leading climate change scientists, says that stopping coal is 85% of addressing climate change. As for ‘clean’ coal—take a look at the 400 mountaintops in Appalachia that have been leveled, at the buried streams, at the dams of toxic tailings, at those flooded towns in Tennessee—and then define ‘clean’!

At any rate, on their research tour in Appalachia, they met at one point with an executive from the coal company. Among other things, he told them “Coal keeps the lights on—and the dark is scary.”

One of the Pagan Values I hold is to embrace the dark. We don’t identify dark with evil and light with good, but see light and dark as parts of the balance. The dark of the womb, the dark of fertile earth, the dark of the night sky all hold mystery, creativity, life.

Not that I don’t love electric light to read by, my computer and even the occasional movie of TV night. But I wonder—is our fear of the dark—which is connected to our fear of the wild, of the body, of nature, our fear of mortality and our denigration of the women’s bodies which bring us into this mortal life, our oppression of people whose skins are dark and our disdain for those who work with their hands in dark earth—is that connected to the denial and the disconnect that is letting us continue to destroy the very systems that sustain our lives?

It probably is, and the patriarchal Judaeo-Christian religions have contributed immensely to our disrespect for nature and the feminine, and to our fear of darkness. And like supplementing austerity with pleasure, it seems sound advice to begin to celebrate the dark and wild fearlessly for what they are – essential parts of life.


Just a reminder – for more information go to the 350 website AND also:

  • Click here to send an e-mail to your friends about the video using your default e-mail program.
  • Spread this link around however you can—through instant message, your e-mail signature, etc.:
  • If you’re using GMail, you can import contacts from your address book by going to the 350 site and clicking on the gmail link on the lower part of the page.
  • The 350 team will pick a random 3 people who share this video using Twitter or the tool below receive a FREE 350 Camelbak water bottle or a 350 wristband–check ’em out!

stop caterpillar

CHICAGO, Illinois – June 9 – As Caterpillar shareholders gather on June 10th at the Northern Trust Bank Building in Chicago, to discuss falling profits, they will be met by representatives of Jewish, Christian, and human rights organizations calling on Caterpillar to build the U.S. economy, not destroy Palestinian lives and livelihoods.

Human rights groups will urge Caterpillar shareholders to vote yes on proposal #5, a shareholder resolution which calls for a review of Caterpillar sales to countries with poor human rights records, including Israel. The resolution is sponsored by an interfaith coalition including Jewish Voice for Peace, the Mercy Investment Program, and 16 Catholic orders. Jewish Voice for Peace will personally deliver thousands of lettersasking the Caterpillar Board of Directors to end military sales to Israel. These shareholders will be supported outside by a public gathering calling on Caterpillar to “Build America, Not Destroy Palestine.”This effort is organized in part by the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation and local groups, Chicagoans Against Apartheid in Palestine and the Arab Jewish Partnership for Peace and Justice in the Middle East. Events are also planned for June 10th at Caterpillar dealerships across the country.

According to Katherine Fuchs, National Organizer for the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, “It is possible for Caterpillar to turn a profit, employ Americans, and rebuild the U.S. economy without destroying Palestinian livelihoods. Investors need to understand that supporting the violation of international law and the destruction of Palestinian homes, land, lives, and livelihood is not good business. The recent divestment decisions of the Church of England and Hampshire College show that there is a price for destroying instead of building.”

The dissent inside and outside of the Caterpillar shareholder meeting comes in the midst of a growing movement to divest from Caterpillar until it ends its material support for Israel’s military occupation and apartheid practices. Caterpillar equipment, including armored and weaponized D-9 bulldozers, are used by the Israeli military to destroy Palestinian homes, lay waste to thousands of acres of Palestinian agricultural land, and build illegal Israeli settlements, which are opposed by the Obama administration. Most recently, unmanned Caterpillar D9 bulldozers were used to destroy houses during “Operation Cast Lead” in December-January. Additionally, the Israeli military has killed dozens of people using Caterpillar equipment, including American peace activist Rachel Corrie of Olympia, Washington.

“Ultimately, Caterpillar is contributing to the destruction of any future for the Palestinian people,” notes Bill Chambers of Chicagoans Against Apartheid in Palestine. “We challenge Caterpillar to contribute to building, not destroying, Palestine.”

The movement to hold Caterpillar accountable has received a recent boost from decisions by the Church of England and Hampshire College to divest. These institutions held a combined total of more than $3 million in Caterpillar stock before their decisions to divest in December 2008 and February 2009, respectively. More recently, a group of 20 Israeli human rights organizations have petitioned the Norwegian government to divest its pension fund from a list of companies providing support for Israel’s military occupation, including Caterpillar.

The pressure on Caterpillar is part of a larger effort to promote accountability for companies that profit from Israel’s military occupation. Human rights groups, students, and faith organizations have joined forces to put pressure on these companies. The US Campaign and its member organizations plan to continue pressuring Caterpillar by organizing divestment efforts in cities, campuses, and churches across the country.


The US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation is a national coalition of more than 280 organizations facilitating responsible U.S. policy toward Israel/Palestine and responsible consumer choices to support human rights, international law, and equality for all Israelis and Palestinians. For more information about the US Campaign, please click here.



Support the GetUp campaign below!

That’s how The Age announced news we’ve been dreading to hear: Gunns is close to finding offshore investors for its controversial pulp mill in Tasmania and may begin construction soon.

Gunns just won’t give up on this destructive mill, but so far together we have foiled their every attempt. We’ve fought too hard to give up now.

Without international finance, or an overseas joint venture partner, the pulp mill will be history. That’s why we need to pull out all stops and publish a massive newspaper ad this week in the European Financial Times: the paper we know hits every bank in Europe. This ad needs your urgent help:

Last year when we showed Gunns’ long-time banker ANZ the weight of opposition against the mill, they pulled out.

In the spirit of fairness we sent an advance copy of this ad to all banks considering financing the mill to give them a chance to declare otherwise. Within days, three of the four main contenders have told us they will not finance the mill.

We know this ad works.

But to stop the remaining contenders we need to show the weight of public opinion against this project. Click here to chip in:

Thanks to your efforts, no Australian bank will touch this project. This ad, hitting the desks of every financier currently contemplating giving the green light to a project we thought long-dead, will send shockwaves around the European finance community.

Thanks for being a part of the solution,
The GetUp Team

PS – Imagine the boardroom meeting: “Thousands of people chipped in to fund an ad to stop us financing this project… Are we sure we want to be involved? Let’s take another look at our figures…”

Chip in to pulp the mill once and for all.

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24 October 2009


What’s the best way to introduce the 350 mission to the world?

With over 4000 languages spoken around the world, it’s probably not with a bunch of words–so the ‘350’ team made the animation you see above.

Enjoy it, and for a wordier explanation of what they do, here’s their text-based mission statement:

Mission is an international campaign dedicated to building a movement to unite the world around solutions to the climate crisis–the solutions that justice demand.

Our mission is to inspire the world to rise to the challenge of the climate crisis–to create a new sense of urgency and of possibility for our planet.

Our focus is on the number 350–as in parts per million, the level scientists have identified as the safe upper limit for CO2 in our atmosphere. But 350 is more than a number–it’s a symbol of where we need to head as a planet.

To tackle climate change we need to move quickly, and we need to act in unison–and 2009 will be an absolutely crucial year.  This December, world leaders will meet in Copenhagen, Denmark to craft a new global treaty on cutting emissions. The problem is, the  treaty currently on the table doesn’t meet the severity of the climate crisis–it doesn’t pass the 350 test.

In order to unite the public, media, and our political leaders behind the 350 goal, we’re harnessing the power of the internet to coordinate a planetary day of action on October 24, 2009.  We hope to have actions at hundreds of iconic places around the world – from the Taj Mahal to the Great Barrier Reef to your community – and clear message to world leaders: the solutions to climate change must be equitable, they must be grounded in science, and they must meet the scale of the crisis.

If an international grassroots movement holds our leaders accountable to the latest climate science, we can start the global transformation we so desperately need.

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What will the world be like a year from now? Left-wing activist group Attac publicized their ideas by printing realistic-looking copies of a prominent German newspaper — dated May 1, 2010.

14042080Attac activists distributed 150,000 copies of their faked, eight-page version of the German weekly Die Zeit in over 90 cities across the country.

With the top headline “At the end of the tunnel,” the paper presented reports the group said it thinks can become reality within 13 months.

Today’s news about the global financial crisis, world hunger and climate change leave a lot of people feeling helpless, said Attac member Jutta Sundermann.

“We fast forwarded time and wrote about the news we want to read about tomorrow — not about some distant paradise, but about concrete changes that are conceivable and attainable,” she added.

Articles describe the beginning of a “new era,” where banks have been nationalized, factories taken over by workers, the influence of lobbyists replaced with more democracy, the Group of 20 industrialized and emerging countries made seeing eye to eye, and the big polluters taken to task.

Detailed print and online imitations

Attac mimicked the weekly newspaper’s format down to the last detail, though the final version was a bit smaller. They also recreated an equally detailed online version.

Die Zeit said it would not take legal action against the group.

“Naturally, we can never endorse an imitation of Die Zeit in print or online, particularly not in quality as good as this,” said the paper’s editor-in-chief, Giovanni di Lorenzo. “But it’s not surprising that Attac chose Die Zeit for this campaign, as it’s the largest national newspaper of quality.”

The paper has a circulation of over half a million.

In a similar campaign, the American activist group Yes-Men published a false version of The New York Times.

Slightly edited version

Hampshire College Students Win Divestment
of Companies Profiting From the Israeli Occupation

Interview with Brian Van Slyke,
coordinator of Students for Justice in Palestine,
conducted by Melinda Tuhus

In Feb. 7, Hampshire College in Amherst, Mass., became the first college in the U.S. to have its board of trustees vote to divest from holdings in companies that support the Israeli occupation of Palestine. The vote was the result of a two-year campaign by Students for Justice in Palestine. It should be noted that when the board acted, the board president and the college president issued a “clarification” that the divestment decision was made “without reference to any country or political movement.”

Among the companies students recommended for divestment, due to their financial interest in the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land were: Caterpillar, General Electric, ITT, Motorola, Terex and United Technologies. In response, Alan Dershowitz, a prominent supporter of Israeli policy has threatened to initiate an international campaign to divest from Hampshire College.

Between The Lines’ Melinda Tuhus spoke with Brian Van Slyke, a junior at Hampshire and a coordinator of Students for Justice in Palestine. He is also the elected student member of the board of trustees, with voting power. Van Slyke describes the successful campaign, which resulted in the college divesting of approximately 20 percent of its $30 million portfolio. And he provides a possible explanation for the college officials’ denials of targeting the Israeli occupation.