Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Archive for the tag “youtube”

Bikers Against Child Abuse

Something amazing, powerful and a bit scary in this group, but you have to admire what they are doing.

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Alon Shalev is the author of the 2013 Eric Hoffer YA Book Award winner, At The Walls of GalbriethThe First Decree, and Ashbar – Wycaan Master Book 3 – all released by Tourmaline Books. Shalev is also the author of three social justice-themed novels including Unwanted Heroes. He swears there is a connection. More at http://www.alonshalev.com and on Twitter (@elfwriter). Hang out with Alon on Google+

Oh, Those Tax and Spend Republicans – Tom Rossi

On the news the other night was a story that almost made me change the channel. I’m glad I didn’t. At first, it seemed like the typical, NBC news fluff piece about a kitten being rescued from a tree by a nine-year-old dressed as a fireman or something. But the piece had a diamond in the fluff.

The city of Allen, Texas has something to brag about. Something to show off – a new football stadium. What’s such a big deal? Lot’s of places have a football stadium, maybe even a really nice one. But in Allen, the stadium is for…

a high school.

I’m not going to talk about the ridiculous excess of spending $60million in bond money to build a high school football stadium. Lot of people have been talking about that for three years. What caught my attention was a comment made by an Allen resident (I’m not sure if he was involved in the project) in an interview at the stadium.

He said the $60million was an “investment in the future of the kids and in the future of the town.” The money was supplied by a bond initiative that was approved by 64% of the area voters. Interviews with fans confirm the sentiment by the supporter mentioned above saying, again and again, that it was “worth it.”

Students walk across an indoor practice field, part of the new $60 million football stadium at Allen High School

I’m captivated. I can’t know the individual politics of anyone in any of these video interviews, but Texas is an extreme conservative stronghold. And here are a bunch of Texans speaking the language of progressivism: investing in your community, investing in the future, sacrificing money for a greater purpose. Wow.

If these people could only make the HUGE leap from football to things like water, the climate, clean air, transportation, and sustainable energy, we would really be onto something.

The other thing that fascinates me now is that this piece really seems to have disappeared from NBC. I have searched and searched, and it’s just gone. Even though I made a note of it being on NBC, I also searched on all major and local (bay area) networks and stations’ web sites. I finally found the entire episode of NBC Nightly News on Youtube:

Why would this be missing from NBC’s own web site? Besides the taboo “investment” talk – I actually saw a language “translator” for Republicans that said that the word, “investment” actually means, “spending” – the piece talked about the 64% of voter approval garnered by the bond measure. What this means is that 36% of voters in that area are paying taxes for an “investment” that they didn’t want. Hmmm… Sounds kind of socialistic and/or dictatorial to me. I’m usually skeptical of conspiracy theories, but this piece might have just been a little too embarrassing to Republicans.

We have entered Bizarro World. At the Republican National Convention, Romney and Ryan are berating President Obama for cutting medicare… like they have been demanding for years. They’re claiming that Obama wants to raise taxes on the middle class. And they’re shouting about his “crony capitalism.”

Am I on drugs? Am I in a coma and having bad dreams? Maybe not. In football, if one team does something new or uses a certain kind of system and wins, the other teams imitate it. Football and politics have a lot in common.

-Tom Rossi

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Tom Rossi is a commentator on politics and social issues. He is a Ph.D. student in International Sustainable Development, concentrating in natural resource and economic policy. Tom greatly enjoys a hearty debate, especially over a hearty pint of Guinness.

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Robin Hood Tax – The Musical Post

I recently spent two posts (here and here) and possibly a couple of thousand words to explain the Robin Hood Tax.  Here is a young and talented musicianJonathan Mann – who managed to sum it up in two and a half minutes.

Jonathan, who is apparently for both writing a song a day and having a propensity to sometimes perform in the buff,  would probably want me to point out that you can download this song and that he has also just recorded an album that can be found here.

Have a very musical weekend, everyone.

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/ and on Twitter (@alonshalevsf).

A Lesson from Mouseland

A friend of mine suggested this to me when I told him that I was baffled by the negotiation around raising the Federal Debt ceiling. I’m not sure there is much to add this 5-minute cartoon. Decide for yourself.

Have a great weekend – one with many creative ideas!

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/and on Twitter (#alonshalevsf).

Socially Networked Farm – Roger Ingalls

I have visited the farm of the future, it was a mind-blowing experience. Shockingly wonderful, this place presented a roadmap of what could be and gave me a sense of relief and hope that a healthy, happy and properly nourished community was possible in a peak-oil economy.

Farmville

Like many of the out-of-towners visiting the farm’s Produce Bazaar, I was mesmerized by the sheer variety of fruits and vegetables. There were forty-nine different types of tomatoes—I’ve never tried more than five varieties in my whole life!

The bazaar had question after question popping from my mouth. Again, the choices and coordination of the place were astonishing. Finally, the lead attendant at the info center, probably out of frustration, sent a text message to the farm’s operations manager asking if he could rescue her from the interrogation. He, Joe, would end up spending the next four hours with me—he was rightfully proud of the farm and enjoyed explaining the inner workings of the operation.

Here’s the amazing part; the farm is a co-operative enterprise of over 500 micro-farms, all within a single metropolitan area and all located within three miles of one another. This is an urban farm co-op organized around community gardens, commons, business rooftops, balconies and warehouses but most of the produce comes from residential farms (converted lawns).

Front Yard Farm

The micro-farms sell and barter their goods seven days a week, all year long, at a nearby land commons that is the home of the Produce Bazaar. It resembles a typical farmers market but is much larger and centrally organized by a command and info center. The bazaar is set up much like a wagon wheel with the command and info center serving as the hub.

The co-op organizes and markets using social media. Twitter and Facebook pages give a daily update on which farms will be at the bazaar and what produce will be available. As the micro-farms check in with the bazaar’s command center in the morning, they are assigned a location and their produce is listed on the website. A map of the bazaar is actively updated minute by minute showing produce type and where it is located and all this info is tweeted to interested followers. Phone apps are available so you can create a shopping list and a map of the bazaar is generated showing you where to go to pick up or view your produce of interest. The apps can be used to forward your shopping list to the command center and a runner will pick up the goods and have it ready when you arrive—for a small fee. The farmers also use social media to send and receive customer info, such as, how a particular crop is progressing, when it should be available and also to ask what produce customers would like planted in the future.

Approximately 90% of the produce is organic. Synthetic fertilizer is only allowed in closed-looped farming systems, such as, hydroponic operations. This is allowed because balcony and rooftop farms are best suited for hydroponics. Any product that is grown using synthetic fertilized is labeled as non-organic. Absolutely no synthetic pesticides are allowed.

With so many participants, food is abundant and the variety is unlike any market anywhere. The produce is also inexpensive because most of it comes from converted residential lawns. The former lawns cost the homeowners money to water, mow and fertilize and there was no financial payback. Now the residential land grows edible crops so money is made from sales and the expenses are used to lower the tax burden because the farm is a business.

The co-op had a profound impact. Past becomes future as neighbors talk, farm and socialize making the neighborhood more safe. Participants have an additional source of income. The social media aspect engages all age groups so even the youth want to be involved, and the extra activity along with improved nutrition has produced a healthier community. The farming is local, not based on fossil fuel derived fertilizers and pesticides so the whole operation is environmentally sound.

Every movement begins with a single step toward tomorrow. Their community could be yours, and mine, if we take that step together.

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Roger Ingalls is well travelled and has seen the good and bad of many foreign governments. He hopes his blogging will encourage readers to think more deeply about the American political system and its impact on US citizens and the international community.

Twitter to Change the World

There are many who grumble about the advances of social media in our lives, particularly those who enter reluctantly because otherwise their promotion or platform would become irrelevant for anyone under the age of 100.

We have already seen how Facebook has been used for grassroots activism. Actually as a non-profit who works with students, the San Francisco Hillel Jewish Student Center relies heavily on Facebook. While we still table on the campus, leaflet and send out weekly list serves, it is Facebook that keeps students connected  to our events.

I have begun exploring Twitter as a new social platform for promoting my novels and am still trying to find my way. But I was delighted to discover this short YouTube video explaining how to leverage Twitter for social advocacy.

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/ and on Twitter (#alonshalevsf).

A Tribute to Debbie Friedman

Debbie Friedman passed away 30 days ago today. In Jewish tradition, the shloshim (thirtieth day after death) marks the end of the mourning period. I would like to pay tribute to a musical icon in the Jewish and interfaith world.

This past Friday night, our Hillel Jewish Student Center lit up to the voices of students singing a song she wrote – Miriam’s Song. It is a empowering song for Jewish women and, in particular, the female students were in full song.

I am not sure that any words can pay better tribute than the vibrancy of young Jewish women as they put their arms around each other and sang the words of Miriam’s Song. Debbie – you will be sadly missed, but your songs will continue your legacy for generations to come.
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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com

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