Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Transition Team Cooperative Initial Plan

I have been working on a concept for quite some time. I finally have a concrete proposal to put forward. So far, this is what I have...

Step 1- Fundraising enough money to create the cooperative business structure. We will do this by making contacts with small business and soliciting donations. All finances will be kept completely transparent. If you would like to donate, please do so at either of these two links. or
Step 2- Recruit the subject matter experts, and when we reach enough funding, have an Open Space Technology meeting to formalize the arrangement, by consensus.
Step 3- Recruit the ground team. These individuals will approach community organizations, local businesses, and lo cal municipal officials about how we can help their community.
Step 4- Find depositors in these communities and form the local credit union with the following features. It will have a dual currency system; US dollars and a local currency based on a composite of locally-produced goods, preferably the products of the next step. It will also be a not for profit entity, and preferably a cooperative. The dealings of this institution will be completely transparent, and any excess funds at the end of the fiscal year will be given to other not for profit entities in the following way. Depositors will get to choose 5 organizations meeting the not for profit criteria, and whatever percentage of the current holdings of the CU they own will be distributed to those 5 entities. For example, if someone owns 1% of the current holdings, the 5 entities they choose will get.2% of the excess funds each, totaling 1%.
Step 5- Local business and municipal officials will be approached and will be offered the opportunity to participate in the local currency program. If they accept, any purchases using the local currency will be exempt from sales tax, or at least a significant discount. The purpose of this will be to provide an incentive for the use of the local currency.
Step 6- When the credit union is formed, we will find members of the local community that want a stake in the ownership of the vertical farm, based on the toolkit being developed at
The preferred format for this business will be a workers cooperative, but other structures may be allowed, dependent on what is decided in step 2. The construction of the vertical farm will also be accomplished using local resources and open source technology from the Global Village Construction Set being developed by Open Source Ecology, were possible. For more details about the GVCS, visit
Step 7- The goods produced by the vertical farms will be sold at farmer's markets and premium grocers in the 100 mile area surrounding the community first in order to reduce food miles. After that, it will be sold at 125, then 150, and so on miles out until all the products are sold.
Step 8- As the funds that were used for the loan for the vertical farm come back to the credit union, it will be added to a local microloan funding pool administered by the credit union, with the goal of increasing the funding the pool by 20% per year, adjusted for inflation. Local businesses in need of construction services will be given preference if they choose to use a builder that uses GVCS tools in the construction process.
Step 9- When the GVCS approaches completion, a loan will be made available for a local fabrication shop and a retail location for locally-made durable goods.
This is by no means formalized, but is a good starting point for the consensus that will occur at Step 2. Thanks for reading! Feedback is always welcome!
Here is the Facebook page to visit:

Friday, December 7, 2012

Perry's Joint

One of the first places that I visited on my endeavor to walk the Pacific Crest Trail in order to raise awareness for the need for an an organization to help small businesses compete and thrive in the world dominated by the corporatism cartel was Perry's Joint. Perry's Joint is a coffee shop in Atladena, California that has been in business for 8 years. Perry came from a family with a rich small business background; his parents were small business owners, and as he worked in his younger years, he saw the value of being in business for himself. Perry also knew that small business are the lifeblood of communities everywhere, and by starting a local business that keeps money in his local economy, he could improve the lives of his neighbors. So he set out to start his own business. However, starting a coffee shop was not easy. He has had to compete with businesses like Starbucks, huge tax burdens just to hire people, and the financial downturn of 2008 were serious problems that would put many other small business under. From dealing with these things, he has many insights to share.

Surviving economic downtowns is hard. When the Great Recession of 2008 occurred, the price of the things he needed for his business to function went up, while his sales went down; people just did not have the disposable income for his goods. This caused him to have to make choices he would rather not have had to make. He had to lay of workers, and could not do the normal things he needed to do to maintain his business. The worker's he had to lay off could not contribute to the local economy anymore, and so that affected other businesses. He himself could not afford to do the maintenance that his business required, and the local businesses that did those services felt the impact of that, too. This is the true price of financial collapses, and, as can be seen, it starts a viscous cycle.

Competition with larger entities like Starbuck's is hard. They have the benefit of economies of scale that small businesses do not have, and they have access to financial tools that small businesses do not have in order to weather economic downturns, although they too are affected. Additionally, with enormous advertising budgets, these entities get a huge portion of the market share.

So, for businesses like Perry's, just surviving is a challenge that requires an amazing amount of resiliency. So how does he do it, and what things would make it easier for him? Well, first he learned that he had to rely on other small businesses in his local economy. While I was speaking to him about what I was going to put in this entry, a mother and her daughter walked in carrying a cardboard box full of fruits and vegetables. They were bringing him his order of goods from the garden that is cultivated by the students at John Muir High School. He told me he wanted to support what they were doing, and by purchasing these goods from them, he could help them to continue what they were doing, and also make local salads and entrees for his customers. He also knows that his ability to interact with his local customer base through good service leads to repeat customers, and that tomorrow the money he spent on the produce might come back to him when the money that the local garden ends up in the hands of one of his customers. It was no surprise then when he said that he was very impressed as a child growing up in the Bernal Heights area of San Francisco at their local currency system, a system he thinks would be a huge boon today. Also, because of these things, he has some insights into common sense solutions that will make the life of local business owners easier and allow them to pump more wealth into local economies for the benefit of all.

So, I then asked him what type of things he would like to see that would make being a small business owner easier, so that more people could become entrepreneurs like himself. After some though, he said he wished there were local support organizations that could provide support in areas like collective bargaining and advertising, helping the community understand the vital role that small businesses play in the well-being of their own lives, help lower the tax burdens like payroll taxes, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, Worker's Compensation, property tax, and other things that make it hard for small business to hire workers, and to help provide financial advice and ideas for expansions. He feels that these type of things would help small businesses replace large corporate entities that take money out of local economies and leave it poorer, and instead concentrate wealth in communities. These things, if practiced everywhere would reduce our nation's deficit, as goods and services would be produced at home, and that would lead to prosperity for many, many people that are afflicted with poverty under the current global business system.

It is stories like this that illustrate why we need the services of the organization I am striving to create. These are real people, with real lives and needs that are not being met by the current system. So, if you would like to change this, and would like to hear more stories from other local business owners that I meet on my walk along the Pacific Crest Trail, please contribute at

Thank you!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Next 1000 Mile Journey

Every journey begins at the end of another, just as the mythological phoenix is reborn out of the ashes of the old. This is no different. Today, I am going to start something new. Today, I am going to start a new effort to help communities transform from an unsustainable path that benefits only a few, and leaves others destitute, without the means to have the life that they want and steals the source of life from future generations.

I will be walking the Pacific Crest Trail in order to raise awareness of this issue.
The PCT is a 2700 mile long trail from the US border in California to British Columbia. I will get tired, my feet and shoulders will burn as I carry all the equipment I need to survive this long trek. But this a labor of love, I want the next 7 generations to have the same benefits we have, and not have to concern themselves with how they, and countless other species, will survive a world changed by the darkness that is the greed and desire to dominate of the few that own the mortgage of our world's future. Pain is temporary, but our actions resonate in eternity.

I will be forming an elite team over the coming months to help create a plan and implement it in as many places as possible. This plan will be to create open-source, transparent, dual-currency (USD and a local currency based on a composite of local commodities), worker and depositor-owned community credit unions, vertical farms in distressed downtown buildings in small communities based on an open-source toolkit of greenhouse technologies to cultivate good, organic and ethically produced food for communities, and relocalize production, and provide work for those with disabilities. As the fine people at Open Source Ecology perfect more Global Village Construction Set technologies, we will use them for new economic development projects to demonstrate the true power of an open source enterprise economy, based on lifetime design and intelligent use of resource and innovation. We are the future, we need only demonstrate it. In fact, the vertical farms will feature and utilize some of the open-source technologies already created, the Lifetrak, dimensioning sawmill, compressed earth block press, soil pulverizer, Powercube, and others as they near completion.This team will not just be a think tank sitting in an ivory tower giving orders, it will be a consensus-based organization that will have boots on the ground helping build these communities and providing excellent customer service. It will be a not-for-profit worker's cooperative of consultants and developers that want to shift the world from a scarcity-based economy to one that benefits all of humanity. 

The initial funds will go to launching the Indiegogo campaign, with swag for donors, provide for my needs (which will be documented with transparency), equipment, and tools needed to make this a success. You, the donor, can choose which part of the campaign you wish to support, or just place it in the general fund. You can choose to give me a per mile walked donation (I am shooting for 40 miles a week). I will be visiting the communities that provide resupply points along the way, and will be interviewing and writing about local business owners, conservationists I meet, and other noteworthy people and endeavors to see what they want in an economy, and will be posting them here on this blog! Stay tuned!

After enough funds have been gathered, subject matter experts recruited, and intial gathering of information, we will have a meeting in California using Open Space Technology to develop the concrete plans about this. We will then go to small communites in progressive areas that want to revitalize their local economies to build consensus about plans for action there. We will maintain boots on the ground working with local people and business owners building frienships and good working relations with the communities that have turned to us for help, so that they can turn to us again in the future, and, perhaps, join us. A network of communities is a powerful thing, and we will demonstrate the ethic of thinking globally while acting locally by starting local offices where we have been doing projects.

So what does it take to do all this? I don't completely know yet, but it begins with you providing support to help me find out. Let's begin shall we? If you can donate, please do, and contact me at 972-533-8857 or visit the wepay provided below, until the Indiegogo campaign is set up. Thank you!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Enterprise for the 21st century

I have seen the ills that corporatocracy bring, from turning small downtown squares to ghost towns, to the disenfranchised setting themselves on fire in protest to a system that crushes the dreams of millions that cannot find a way to support themselves or their families. I am pleased to say, however, that through speaking to literally thousands of people, doing thousands of hours of research, and doing training courses and other practical ways of gaining skills, I have come to a solution. A solution that I think will eventually end corporatocracy and replace it with something all-together more humane, that provides for the needs of all people, while being ecologically and socially responsible, based on time-tested means, cutting edge research by some of the most progressive thinkers in the world, and is a concrete map from our current operating system to a true post-scarcity, resource-based localized economy where the needs of every human being can be met.

This is a bold claim. Everyone should be skeptical of it. However, I am not asking for anyone to believe this on faith alone. I will base my arguments of things that can be factually verified, and if I am operating on anecdotal evidence, I will describe it as such. First, let us look at our current operating system to see what data we can draw from it.

Currently, the United States has the highest per capita trade deficit in the world, a concurrent deficit since the late 1960's. Most of our debt is owned by China. Of the companies that currently derive most of their salable products from China, we see that Wal-mart is currently in the lead, where 60% of their goods are imported, and their imports from China represent a whopping 15% of the US deficit. Additionally, in order to keep prices low, Wal-mart pays their employees so poorly that 80% of them qualify to be on government assistance. What does this tell us?

As can clearly be seen by these two graphics, there is an inversely proportional relationship between the civilian participation in the economy, which represent a much truer estimate of unemployment in the economy, and our trade deficit. Interesting.

Next, let's draw some conclusions on what this tells us. Our country has the biggest budget of any country. This comes from taxes that the government receives. Where do these taxes come from?

The vast majority of these taxes come from individuals and small, non-corporate entities. As we can see from the historical data, payroll taxes have largely replaced corporate taxes. Fiscal conservatives would say that this would have been done to not burden job creators like major corporations. Is this actually true though?

So, if 47% of Americans do not pay taxes, and corporations pay about 9% of total taxes, and have been replaced by payroll taxes as where a large amount of "hidden" tax revenue comes from? Let's look at one more set of data from the small business adminstration.

Small firms:
•    Represent 99.7 percent of all employer firms.
•    Employ half of all private sector employees.
•    Pay 44 percent of total U.S. private payroll.
•    Generated 65 percent of net new jobs over the past 17 years.
•    Create more than half of the nonfarm private GDP.
•    Hire 43 percent of high tech workers ( scientists, engineers, computer programmers, and others.
•    Are 52 percent home-based and 2 percent franchises.
•    Made up 97.5 percent of all identified exporters and produced 31 percent of export value in FY 2008.

So what does this tell us? 

1. Our government gives tax breaks to the wealthiest corporations under the pretense that they create jobs. The data does not reflect this to be true.
2. Mega-retailers are responsible for the vast majority of our trade deficit.
3. Small business, the segment of the economy responsible for the most positive economic well-being of the most Americans are currently disproportionately affected by taxation.
4. American small business cannot compete on in an international market because it is overburdened by taxation and the need to provide its employees with a living wage, which the largest corporations do not do.

Next, let's look at the United State's politics, specifically campaign finance. As most everyone knows, the vast majority of contributions come from corporations, and that it is almost impossible to get elected in this country without these contributions. In order to be elected or reelected, our politicians, who are suppose to answer to their constituents, must instead kowtow to those that hold their political fate in their hands, the corporations that pay for campaigns. This is not a partisan issue; this affects both parties equally. This is just the tip of the iceberg, but is enough to say that corporations have undue influence in the operation of our government.

Let's look at human health. In the last 3 decades we have seen several things. There has been a huge increase in obesity, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic illnesses, which also corresponds with the increased prevalence of GM foodstuffs. Peer-reviewed science has already demonstrated that certain strains of genetically modified corn leads to obesity, genetically  modified sources of L-tryptophan
killed dozens and permanently disabled thousands. GM soy has been shown to have severe effects the survival of mice, both from low weight to issues with pregnancy.  Additionally, we can see that a great many of these long term illnesses are being treated with pharmaceuticals, as over half of American's are now on prescription medications that are 6200% more likely to kill a person than violence. 

To summarize, the U.S. is in a financial, political, social, and health crisis. What is the common denominator? Corporations. In order to solve these problems, we are going to have to do something about corporatism. You are probably asking yourself, "What can we do about that? They produce the vast majority of goods and services we need for a modern quality of life." This is most certainly true. However, there are many  projects that are actively being worked on for the last few years that, when complete and combined, will change this paradigm. These are the beginnings of a movement to revolutionize the way we do business on a local basis. In order to fix these global problems, we must first go local.

The Transition Network is a project aimed at helping small communities to transition from a fossil fuel infrastructure to one based on renewable sources of energy and revitalize local economies by doing this.

Open Source Ecology is a project that is prototyping and open-sourcing 50 fundamental industrial and agricultural technologies that are required for a modern existence. This toolkit is also known as the Global Village Construction Set, or GVCS for short. On average, these technologies cost eight to ten times less than their proprietary equivalents. In short, what this means is that these technologies are inexpensive enough to be deployed everywhere, and provide a concrete means to produce the goods that would be imported from places like China in the current paradigm, and produce them on a local basis, when fully realized. Additionally, all of these machines are designed for lifetime use, as opposed to most products today which are based on planned obsolescence, so that they break quickly and often so that they have to be repurchased cyclically. 

In conjunction with the industrial technology that is the main focus of the GVCS,  I am creating a sub-project called the Holistic Aquaponics Greenhouse Toolkit. This toolkit is a series of modularized technologies, the vast majority of which are already widely used by greenhouse and aquaponic growers world-wide, and open-sourcing them. It is designed to augment the GVCS and provide the ability to produce superfoods in climates where they would not normally grow, in order to provide the ultimate in nutritious, organic, and inexpensive foods on a local basis. 

So what else is needed? Well, after having heard countless great ideas about how to create solutions to these problems, I've yet to hear of any of them making rapid progress towards their goals. The reason is simple. they do not have the funding that it takes to make them a reality. In order to accomplish this, we need to find a way to get them the funds they need. We need local credit unions that provide local loans  to local businesses. Right now, the globalist banks dominate this area. If we are to change anything, we need to change this first. Since the Occupy Movement started pushing for people moving their funds out of the Too Big To Fail banks and into credit unions at a rate of almost double of transfers of years before, over 2 million between June 2011-2012. By creating not-for-profit credit unions on a local basis, excess income can go into charities and local microloans to create even more local business opportunities that strive to relocalize production of goods and services that have been taken over by multinational corporations which, most certainly, do not have the best interests of people and small communities at heart, as, by design, their only concern is to increase the wealth of their stockholders. That is why I advocate a start here.

So how would we go about creating these things? First, we find people willing to make deposits into  local credit unions. We then make the first microloans to build aquaponics greenhouse to provide jobs and quality, organically produced foods and herbs as a means to exercise preventative care for chronic illness in our communities. We also retail these goods in larger markets, like farmer's markets in large cities, Whole Foods and other cutting edge food retailers. This boosts the local economy again, and, in turn, allows the local credit union to make even more micro loans in the local economy in the following five spheres:

1. Financial and Logistics

2. Food and related industries that boost preventative care
3. Industry and infrastructure based on the Global Village Construction Set
4. Education and Innovation
5. Tourism and Recreational

There is obviously a great deal more that needs to examined in each of these areas, but for now we can say that with proper planning, we can create local businesses in these areas, create jobs and income for people, and meet their needs based on local resources, not on imports that, over time, remove wealth from the communities that use them. When we start to replicate this throughout the United States and the world at large, we can improve the lot of people in a fundamentally sound way, and an answer to the ills of the demands of corporatism, a system that is fundamentally flawed, as it requires infinite growth in a finite world in order to continue. What is needed is communities with a pioneer spirit that see the problems of the current system and the courage to face these challenges head on, and, in the process, become greatly enriched.

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Essense of Empowerment Lies Within

You are not your circumstances, your circumstances are you. Sounds cliche, huh? I though so too for a long time, but, looking back at where I have been, and how far I have come, I know it in the depths of my soul to be true. But what does this really mean anyway? Well, to me it means that when circumstances seem to be out of your control, all you must do is know that while you cannot control what life throws your way, you can be find solace in the fact that others have overcome challenges even greater than this and not only survived, but have thrived.

George Bernard Shaw once wrote that "The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want and if they can't find them, make them." This sagely advice makes all the difference. If you do not like the current state, you have an obligation to yourself to change them. The best way to do that is, again the subject of a quote.

“Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
Watch your words, for they become actions.
Watch your actions, for they become habits.
Watch your habits, for they become character.
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”

It is by this ethos that I live, and also how I came to accomplish the things in life that I seek. It is what drove me to change my circumstances, not by trying to tackle all problems (which are opportunities in disguise) at the same time, but by being mindful of my thoughts, and by doing the next right thing. Remember, the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. Perhaps you have taken that first step already, or are taking it by reading this, and seeing what is possible.

I was in the Marine Corps several years ago, but this is not really about that. It is about my life after I got out. I slowly began to gain weight after I got out. I attribute this to a couple of major things. My circumstances had changed, but I had not. Also, I had no direction or motivation, or they were at least completely misaligned. I was hopelessly addicted to video games to the point that I became homeless, and had burned all the bridges with my family because of it. I chose to not work out, I chose to eat poorly... in general, I had no discipline and no willpower. I did not just gain weight, I lost my own personal sovereignty. The problem was not a microcosm, it was systemic. I tried, quite foolishly, to try to ignore my problems instead of confronting them. I knew on an intellectual level how to fix them, but I did not know how to emotionally.

I don't know the exact moment that began to change, but I know the general circumstances, which is the most important part. I had been working with my Dad building furniture for a couple years. that is another story, but it was really an exercise in futility. We were broke, to the point where we could only afford stuff off the dollar menu at McDonald's, so I was eating three or four double cheeseburgers a day, was stressed out, and was working 80 hours some weeks. My health began to fail, I was depressed, and was in a very dark place in my life. I would sit for hours, motionless, staring into the fire that heated our shop, and the place I was living. It was in this place that I did my most profound soul searching. I wanted a "normal" life, an end to the senselessness of a life with no fulfillment or hope. It was in this time I heard my inner voice for the first time. What a miracle! My life began to change; I got an apartment through the kindness of other, I enrolled in college, and I has given a bike. These were the only tools I needed to start to make a life for myself. I started to seize opportunities that others though were folly, and through sheer determination, dug myself out of seemingly bottomless hole I was in. I was put on this earth to do something, and I was going to try or die trying. 

  This is the earliest picture after I started school back in 2005, at approximately 315 pounds. This is also the first picture with my mom after being reunited after 15 years.

The bike, in particular, was a huge blessing. I remember the first time I road it. I could only go down the street before my legs turned to jelly and I could barely walk. I loved it; I knew what it was... freedom. I started just by riding to school, about half a mile. Man, did my legs get sore! I started to challenge myself; I would ride just a little further everyday. I started to lose weight, and before I knew it, I was riding for a couple hours at a time. 20 miles, 30 miles, 40 miles, 50 miles, 60 miles, 70 miles, 80 miles, 90 miles, 100 miles... I was a machine! There was nothing that could stop me! I was not just getting in incredible shape, I was excelling in school, making the President's list 3 semesters in a row, and Dean's list once. I decided to go to Texas Tech to finish my degree.

Here are few pics of me as I got in shape:

May, 2006

My first 50+ mile ride

Road Warrior!

Me in the best shape of my life, 200+ miles a week!

A few days before my life changed, again. 

So, I was running my life right? I was doing well in school, money was not a problem (for once) I was is sick shape, President of Texas Tech Cycling Club, and my family was proud of me! Wrong! I still had lessons to learn, and boy, were they a doozy! On January 6th, 2008 I was hit by a car when riding my bike. I collapsed my left lung and had broken ribs along my spine. I though that I would recover rather quickly, I was in great shape, right? Wrong again! I was severely overtrained, my body was at the breaking point, because I was not mindful of my nutrition. I was eating poorly all the time, drinking beer a few nights a week, and on a spiritual and mental level, was not respecting myself. This lead to the initial injuries spiraling into the depths of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Fibromyalgia.

The next 3 years were hell. At my worst, I was sleeping 16 hours a day. My overworked brain shut down. I could barely form a coherent though. My body, so strong before, failed me. I started to gain weight, again. I had to quit school, I was broke again, living with my mom. I was heavily sedated, as if I was not, I was in physical, emotional, and spiritual agony. I was a burden to friends and family alike. I loathed what I had become. But still, I preserved. I would not give up... even if I was going to be disabled for the rest of my life, I was going to make the most of what I thought was the remnants of my life. I started to look at my life holistically. My physical well-being was tied to my emotional well-being, and they were both tied to my philosophical well-being. I worked as hard as I could to master my nutrition; my food became my medicine. However, as intangible as it was, my emotional perspective was critical to my recovery as well! It was in this time that I began to truly understand who I was and what my purpose was.

As ugly as it is, here is the descent into CFS:

I could barely stand at this point

In searching for what I wanted to do with my life. I had depended on other people so much, I wanted to return the favor, to take care of people instead. My philosophy began to change. I was largely confined to the house I was living in, with limited contact with the outside world, so I brought the world to me, through the internet. I started to inform myself, reading stuff on the internet for 10+ hours a day, questioning everything, and what role I played in the world at large. It was at this point that I started to on my journey to find my bliss. 

Guess what? When I started to do this, it was not long after that I started to recover from CFS. I began to look at life differently, and this shift of perspective was all that was needed. Yes, I had previously mastered myself physically, but what about philosophically and emotionally? It was not about the destination, it was about the journey. All I had to do was get up, do what I could do in a day, no more, no less. Do the next right thing. My body needed good nutrition, so I yielded. My mind needed something to do, I yielded. I could not control everything, but I could control some things.
I decided, regardless of the circumstances, I could control my perception of these things. I could still be goal-oriented as I ever was, but by truly focusing myself on making the world a better place.
I realized that you don't always get what you want, but you do get what you need. I had a purpose, and that purpose was to make other people's lives better, and, by doing so, I would make mine better. You may notice that in the earlier pictures, I was alone for the most part, but in the latter pictures, I am surrounded by family. Before, it was about what I could do for me. Now, it is about what I can do for other people. 

The Road to Recovery

A few days before I started my journey last year

Alida, one of my heroes

When you have this many sisters, you go to a lot of weddings.

So what has all this taught me? Exercise moderation in all things. The problems in life never go away, and that is a good thing. Remember, problems are opportunities in disguise. Its not about the things you own, the most important things you have are priceless. Life is your perspective dancing on the waters of possibilities. Wisdom is the fusion of experiences and perspective. Do not live in the past or the future, you only have right now.  Do not judge others on a different path than you, there are 10,000 doors to the Dharma. God works through people, so be good to others. In the end, all we leave in this world is the lives you have touched. Don't just be good, be good for something. In order to take care of other people, you have to take care of yourself. Everything in your life touches every other thing. Everything you need will come to you in time.You do not have all the answers, but you do have some. A fit mind begets a fit body. You are not perfect, perfection is a process in which you do the next right thing. Do not linger on your past failures, learn from them and move on. Focus on the small things and the big things will come. Listen to your heart and your head, they both possess merit. Treat people how you would like to be treated.

So I had a hard life, partially of my own making? So what, it is a small price to pay for the wisdom and empathy I have gained. So I lost 100 pounds, twice no less? So what, it is a small price to pay for health. So I don't have a car? So what, I have friends and family that love me. So I do not have that cookie-cutter white picket fence life? So what, I have priceless experiences, and all the tools I need to make my destiny... myself and those I chose to surround myself with. So I am not content with the ways of the darkness in the world? So I will be a light that shines in the darkness.

I dedicate this to my Grandmother and Grandfather, who's love showed me that through love, anything is possible.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Profit and Loss, a Human Perspective

We have all, in more or less words, heard the expression “It's just business.” Usually, when we here it there is negative karma associated with it. However, if we consider it from a global perspective, it represents something all-together more dreadful. It reflects opportunities lost, and opportunities are what make life worth living.

I am just one person, but my experiences are not altogether different from other people's experiences. For example, something recently happened to me in the context of “It's just business.” I started work on a farm in California, 1500 miles away from my friends and family. The terms of work were that I would work about 45 hours a week for room (a small travel trailer), partial board (vegetables from a farmer's market), and 500 dollars a month. While not the best deal in the world, I took it because it would place me in a position for greater opportunities, namely starting to market my laundry soap and line of teas at above-mentioned farmer's market. However, in the first week I got moderately injured and sick, something not all-to-uncommon doing hard manual labor in animal husbandry. I was willing to persevere, however the farmer was in need of something more. He let me go, as he is in dire financial straits, and could not afford to wait for me to get better.

In the end, both of us lost out. He did not get the farm hand he needed to be a financial success, to take care of his family, and to have the life he works tirelessly to build. I lost out on an opportunity to do the above-mentioned things, lost respect from peers, life needlessly turned upside-down, and was left penniless, and why? Because of the insidious nature of money. It does not just affect the microcosm, the farmer and I, but those who's lives touch ours! Promising friendships put under undue and untimely strain, small children who want to have time to spend with their dad, and the quality time spend on things that matter, not where next months mortgage payment is coming from! This is why we need post-scarcity! Not Socialism, because it does not nurture innovation, not free market capitalism and its endless pursuit of profit to the degradation of all else, but radical abundance, so that everyone has the tools they need to climb the ladder of human achievement!

My story is not unique. If anything, it is far less disastrous than some, where people actually lose their life due to not having what they need. I am fortunate, I had another opportunity available to me, and my wounds will heal. It is not microcosmic, it is macroscopic and systemic. Let's do better! Let's build a future where stories like this are not common, where “It's just business!” is a phrase of a by-gone era. We have the tools we need, let's use them intelligently, so that humanity does not have to endure another generation of broken dreams and false hopes.

I will be discussing this more fully in my upcoming book “Perspectives of Someone of No Particular Consequence, 99 Reasons to Occupy” #POSONPC99RTO

Sunday, March 11, 2012

On Anarchy and its Implications on the Occupy Movement

Let me begin by saying that I am an anarchist. While I would love for anarchistic principles to be an integral part of the occupy movement, I realize that in our current situation, it is far from ideal. I feel this way because until human beings are capable of separating themselves from their ego, base desires, and become more aware of the true implications of their actions, anarchy is currently not the best model. After having lived in an Occupy camp for 42 days, these flaws became glaringly apparent, and it is my opinion that anarchy, at this juncture, is impractical, but is certainly something to work towards.

Early in Occupy Dallas' encampment, chaos reigned. Everyone, myself included, felt they knew exactly what we should do, based upon their opinions, which were largely formed in a vacuum, without consulting others. What happened thereafter is a major reason why anarchy will not work at our current level of cultural sophistication. As I observed events unfold, I noticed the following things: People were making decisions that affected others based on emotion. People were unable to follow the golden rule, the cornerstone of humane anarchy, and people were unable to empathize with each other enough to actually know where the other person was coming from. I attribute these failings to several things.
First, we live and our psyches were developed in a society that places a large emphasis on individual desires with little to no regard for the needs of others. Additionally, our society is  largely based on the ideal of instant gratification, which has the effect of pushing people to do rash things with little to no regard to the future implications of their decisions. In addition to these very few of the decisions made were done by consensus, a concept I will discuss in more depth.

Right now, we are not prepared for true, moralistic anarchy. We, simply put, are not mature enough. A rational person would not give a shotgun to a young child, as they do not yet possess the judgment to use it properly, just as those that have not exhibited their capability to think not just of themselves, but of others cannot abide in anarchy. This issue is glaringly apparent in the current system; it is the very reason that we resist the 1%, as their insatiable greed is what brought us to this juncture. In order for anarchy to work, people MUST exercise better judgment than they ever have before. In order to say that we need no masters, we must first be able to honestly say that we have mastered ourselves.

Now this may seem authoritarian, but allow me to elaborate why it is not. The Occupy Movement has afforded us a rare opportunity. It has allowed all of us, of all different social backgrounds, ages, and all other things that make us who we are, to come together, united by common purpose, to enact positive change in the way that we are governed. We can use this solidarity we possess to explore each others perspectives, empathize, and to understand where our fellow man or woman is coming from; this is already occurring at occupy camps around the world. We can then use this knowledge, and our own character to realize that it is not what each of us wants, but about learning to compromise and achieving consensus, so that we all can get what we need. Only when we can move beyond our own individual desires towards what is best for everyone can we be entrusted with anarchy. Right now, our social system is in great peril; it is true reflection of what ails our society. Greed, selfishness, desire to dominate, and negligence are not just the traits of the 1%, they reside in us as well, and if we are to change the world, we need only begin by changing ourselves.

Anyone that knows me is aware that I value actions far more than words. We all see the the problems we face, but seeing the problem and doing something about it are two entirely different things. First, we must change ourselves, so that we truly are not just voices of dissent, but capable of providing the solutions. We do this by creating a forum in which we can freely exchange ideas with each other, peer to peer education. This, in essence, is what an occupy encampment is. As we educate ourselves on the plight of others, empathy is born. We use the information we have gathered, filtered through our empathy to answer questions like “How will my actions affect others?”, “Are my actions helping or hurting others?”, “Will my actions create or destroy suffering, especially for those that have no voice, our society's children and other creatures that call the Earth their home?", and, perhaps most importantly, “If this is the last decision I ever make, will I have a clear conscience about what I have done?” Only after this is done should a person take their perspective to others to share and integrate with their ideas. In doing this one eliminates the fallibility of individuals, and filter it through collective wisdom to create something new, humane, and a true reflection of the change we, the 99%, want to see in the world. Then, and only then, should we be entrusted with the most fragile and beautiful of human institutions, anarchy.