Category Archives: In The News: Words From The Front Lines

A LOOK OUTSIDE THE BACKYARD

The Long Emergency: Surviving the Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-First Century by James Howard Kunstler

The Long Emergency: Surviving the Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-First Century by James Howard Kunstler. With much on peak oil, alternative fuels, and building sustainable communities.

City Shuts Downs Preschoolers’ Farm Stand Citing Zoning Violations

By Kerry McDonald

It’s like something out of The Onion: city manager shuts down preschool farm stand out of fear that, if allowed, “we could end up with one on every corner.”

Alas, this is not satire. It’s the current predicament facing the Little Ones Learning Center in Forest Park, Georgia, just outside of Atlanta. In an area where access to fresh fruits and vegetables can be limited, this preschool has stepped up to prioritize growing and selling fresh produce from its school gardens. According to recent reporting in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Little Ones has often sold its produce with generous discounts to local food stamp recipients and other neighbors and has been acknowledged as a leader in the farm-to-school healthy food movement.

That is, until the city shut down the bi-monthly farm stand program last month for zoning violations. Despite protests from community members, city officials are holding firm to their stance that allowing one farm stand could lead to an unruly proliferation of fresh produce.

“Anywhere you live, you’ve got to have rules and regulations,” Forest Park City Manager Angela Redding said. “Otherwise, you would just have whatever,” the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

That “whatever” is exactly the hope and promise that irks central planners. Whatever symbolizes what is possible when individuals and organizations spontaneously create new streams of value for their neighbors. Whatever are opportunities for mutual gain through voluntary exchange. Whatever are new inventions, new services, and new ways of living and being that augment our existence and improve our future. Whatever is freedom.

Freedom is the threat. Central planners are uneasy with spontaneous order, or the decentralized, peaceful process of human action that occurs when individuals follow their diverse interests in an open marketplace of trade. A preschool finds it beneficial for their students, parents, employees, and neighbors when they emphasize immersive gardening, sustainably-grown produce, and farm stand commerce. Students enjoy it, parents value the experience for their children, teachers choose to work in this farm-focused environment, and neighbors are willing to pay for the garden bounty from a twice-per-month farm stand. It is a beautiful example of the beneficial gains achieved through free markets.

That is, until the city’s central planners intervened out of fears that allowing one neighborhood farm stand to operate could lead to many, un-zoned farm stands. This is particularly poignant given that this preschool is located in one of the most disadvantaged counties in Atlanta. Little Ones preschool director Wande Okunoren-Meadows told Mother Nature Network: “According to the United Way, Clayton County has the lowest child well-being index out of all the metro Atlanta counties…So if we’re trying to move the needle and figure out ways to improve well-being, I’m not saying the farm stand is the only way to do it, but Little Ones is trying to be part of the solution.”

Zoning is often considered to be a protection mechanism, ensuring that neighborhoods remain orderly and livable. Yet, zoning laws in this country have a long history of racist tendencies. Granting power to government officials to control housing, commerce, and neighborhood development has previously led to unfair practices and unfavorable results. Decentralizing that power by eliminating questionable zoning practices can ensure that power is more justly distributed among the individual citizens of a particular community.

In the case of the Little Ones preschool, power would shift from city planners to local neighbors and businesses.The city has offered Little Ones an opportunity to hold their farm stand in another part of town, but it is far away from the preschool and its neighborhood. City officials also said that Little Ones could pay $50 for a “special event” permit for each day it hosts its farm stand—a fee that is prohibitively expensive for the school and its small produce stand. For now, the school is selling its fruits and vegetables inside the building, but the indoor location is leading to far fewer sales as passersby don’t realize it’s there. The Little Ones parent and educator community is hoping that the city rules can be changed to allow for occasional outdoor farm stands.

Cases like Little Ones preschool expose the deleterious effects of zoning regulations. “It’s like shutting down a kid’s lemonade stand,” Okunoren-Meadows says. “Nobody does this. It just shouldn’t happen,” the preschool director told Mother Nature Network.

Sadly, children’s lemonade stands are also routinely shut down for similar reasons, often with the same outrage.We should be outraged when young entrepreneurs are prohibited from producing and selling something of value to their neighbors due to restrictive regulations that centralize power and weaken neighborhood dynamism. Some states, like Utah, are passing laws to protect young entrepreneurs from these zoning and licensing challenges. The key is to look beyond preschool farm stands and advocate for more freedom for all.


Kerry McDonald is a Senior Education Fellow at FEE and author of Unschooled: Raising Curious, Well-Educated Children Outside the Conventional Classroom (Chicago Review Press, 2019). She is also a regular Forbes contributor. Kerry has a B.A. in economics from Bowdoin College and an M.Ed. in education policy from Harvard University. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts with her husband and four children. You can sign up for her weekly newsletter on parenting and education here.

This article was sourced from FEE.org

You Can See The Article At Activist Post Here

North America’s Bird Population Is Collapsing – Nearly 3 Billion Birds Have Been Wiped Out Since 1970

 

 

All around us, our world is literally in a state of collapse, but most people don’t seem to care.  I spend much of my time writing about the inevitable collapse of our economic and financial systems, but they are only one part of the story.  These days, millions upon millions of us are spending countless hours in this “virtual world” that we have created, and that is preventing many of us from understanding what is really going on in “the real world”.  Where I live, I can literally keep the doors wide open for hours without worrying about bugs coming in, because insect populations are disappearing at a pace that is frightening.  They are calling it “the insect apocalypse”, and some scientists are warning that they could all be gone in 100 years.  And this dramatic decline in the insect population is one of the main reasons why North America’s bird population is collapsing.  In the old days, I remember the singing of birds often greeting me in the morning, but these days I am never awakened by birds.  That might make sense if I lived right in the middle of a major city, but I don’t.  I live in a very rural location, and I do see birds out here, but not nearly as many as I would expect.

On second thought, I don’t know if the term “collapse” is strong enough to describe what we are facing.

In 1970, there were about 10 billion birds in North America.

Now, there are about 7 billion.

When are we finally going to admit that we have a major crisis on our hands?

Hopefully it will be before the count gets to zero.

Overall, we are talking about a total decline of approximately 30 percent

“We saw this tremendous net loss across the entire bird community,” says Ken Rosenberg, an applied conservation scientist at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in Ithaca, N.Y. “By our estimates, it’s a 30% loss in the total number of breeding birds.”

Could humanity survive without birds?

Probably, but this is yet another sign that the planetary food chain is in the process of totally breaking down.  Despite all of our advanced technology, we are not going to survive without an environment that supports life, and at this moment that environment is being destroyed at a staggering pace.

According to the lead author of the study, the evidence they compiled “showed pervasive losses among common birds across all habitats, including backyard birds”…

“Multiple, independent lines of evidence show a massive reduction in the abundance of birds,” said study lead author Ken Rosenberg, a senior scientist at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and American Bird Conservancy, in a statement. “We expected to see continuing declines of threatened species. But for the first time, the results also showed pervasive losses among common birds across all habitats, including backyard birds.”

I like having birds in my backyard.  In fact, I wish that I had a whole lot more.

Two of the largest factors being blamed for this stunning decline are “toxic pesticides” and “insect decline”.  We have already talked about the “insect apocalypse” which is raging all around us, but I should say a few words about pesticides.  Yes, they may help to protect our crops and our lawns, but in the process we are literally poisoning everything.

And that includes ourselves.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “there are traces of 29 different pesticides in the average American’s body”, and many believe that this is one of the reasons why cancer rates have skyrocketed in recent decades.

These days it seems like just about everyone knows at least one person with cancer.  If you are one of those rare people that doesn’t know a single person with cancer, please leave a comment below, because I would love to hear your story.  It has been estimated that one out of every three women and one out of every two men will get cancer in their lifetimes, but considering the rate that we are currently polluting our environment those estimates may be too conservative.

Without a doubt, several of the big pesticide companies are some of the most evil corporations on the entire planet, and yet most Americans don’t really seem to care about the death and destruction that they have unleashed all around us.

As with so many other things, this is yet another example that shows that we have no future on the path that we are currently on, and the clock is ticking.

Don’t you want a world in which the birds sing to you in the morning?  Pete Marra, one of the scientists involved in the study, told the press that a number of bird species “that were very common when I was a kid” are among those being hit the hardest…

“We can all talk through the stories about there being fewer and fewer birds, but it’s not until you really put the numbers on it that you can really grasp the magnitude of these results,” Marra said. “We’re now seeing common species that have declined, things like red-winged blackbirds and grackles and meadowlarks — species that I grew up with, that were very common when I was a kid. That is the most surprising and most disturbing part.”

Everywhere around us, we can see decay, decline or collapse.  This stunning drop in the bird population is just one more example.

But just like with so many other issues, most people don’t really care, and most people certainly don’t want to change.

So in the end we will reap what we have sown, and it will not be pleasant.

 

You Can Read the Full Article Here.

Missouri Senate Bans All Federal Gun Control Laws in Proposed Bill

By Max Headroom -March 19, 2019

Missouri may have just made the most monumental step towards freedom and individual liberty since the signing of the Bill of Rights. In an upcoming vote by Missouri’s state senate, the state is expected to pass a bill that would nullify ALL Federal gun laws and regulations, and make enforcement of those laws by federal officers within the State of Missouri a criminal offense. Republicans control both U.S. Senate seats and more than two-thirds of the seats in both the Missouri House and Senate.

You can see the full article here.

How To Survive When You Can’t Pay The Bills

October 2018

By Daisy Luther

 

Let’s talk about poverty.

I don’t mean the kind you’re talking about when your friends invite you to go shopping or for a night out and you say, “No, I can’t. I’m poor right now.”

I don’t mean the situation when you’d like to get a nicer car but decide you should just stick to the one you have because you don’t have a few thousand for a down payment.

I don’t mean the scene at the grocery store when you decide to get ground beef instead of steak.

I’m talking about when you have already done the weird mismatched meals from your pantry that are made up of cooked rice, stale crackers, and a can of peaches, and you’ve moved on to wondering what on earth you’re going to feed your kids.

Or when you get an eviction notice for non-payment of rent, a shut-off notice for your utilities, and a repo notice for your car and there’s absolutely nothing you can do about any of those notices because there IS NO MONEY.

If you’ve never been this level of broke, I’m very glad.

have been this broke. I know that it is soul-destroying when no matter how hard you work, how many part-time jobs you squeeze in, and how much you cut, you simply don’t make enough money to survive in the world today. Being part of the working poor is incredibly frustrating and discouraging…

To Read The  Full Post At The Organic Prepper  Click Here

You Might Also Like Long Live the Mortgage Lifter

By Michael Patrick McCarty

Long Live The “Mortgage Lifter”

mortgage lifter tomato radiator charlie

 

Challenging economic times call for ever more creative survival strategies. Food costs have exploded across the land, forcing families to squeeze every last penny from their rapidly devaluing dollars. Housing costs are another matter altogether and a home mortgage can be a terrible burden to bear. Check out here how to build a nest egg to support yourself during retirement years. Just ask anyone who has lost their home through random hardship or the disappearing job. At times it seems a most unsolvable puzzle.

A man named MC (“Radiator Charlie”) Byles of West Virginia had a solution to these type of problems in the early 1940’s. In this case his answer was large and red and proud, and particularly delicious on a slab of steaming homemade bread with salt and mayonnaise.

A homespun gardener and inveterate tinkerer, he wanted to build a better, and bigger tomato. And build it he did. After several years of propagation his tomato plants could produce, mild, meaty, and delicious fruit of immense proportions. People flocked to his door for a look at a 3 pound tomato, and he was happy to accommodate them. Never one to miss an opportunity, he sold his seedling plants for $1 each and paid off his $6,000 home mortgage in a few short years. He named his new creation “the mortgage lifter”, and a backyard gardening legend was born.

That legend lives on today, and for good reason. Imagine paying off your property with the fruits of your backyard labor. Think about what life would be like without a house payment, or a weekly grocery bill large enough to choke a horse. It’s an inspiring and encouraging idea. It gives me hope. It can be done. Marshall Cletis Byles would tell you so, if he could.

I tip my gardening hat to him, and to the unbounded energies of his creativity. I’d say it’s time for many of us to take another look at his game changing idea. Perhaps it’s possible to follow his example and do our very best to lift the grinding weight of the mortgage from our backs. It may be an overly ambitious or unrealistic plan, but like him, I must try.

There are many ways to get there, and perhaps you have already begun or are well on your way. Our version of the “grocery lifter” comes in the form of rabbits and squab. Others beat back their bills with a small flock of geese, which possess the marvelous ability to efficiently convert grass to many pounds of tasty meat. The addition of a few pigs can provide miraculous results for your larder, particularly if you are a fan of pork and pig fat. Pigs, like tomatoes, have often been refered to as mortgage lifters. My neighbor has added a couple of steers to his small pasture and plans to keep one for the freezer and sell the other to cover his costs.

You may have an entirely different idea, but the intention is the same. I think it can be any animal or plant that works for you and fits your particular set of circumstances or comfort level.The important thing is that we all do a little to help ourselves and contribute to a more self-sufficient life. Every bit of food we can produce at home takes power form the corporate controlled food model. It gives us a reason to get up in the morning and keeps us grounded in the small satisfaction of a job well done.

So let’s hear it for the backyard gardener, the keeper of hens, the canner, and the prepper. Give thanks to the independent farmers and agricultural workers everywhere. Let’s revel in the joys of animal husbandry, fish farming, or beekeeping. Put a little bit of the farm and the old-fashioned barnyard back in your everyday life. You won’t regret it.

We can do it. We are doing it. Let’s decentralize, and unplug from the controlling grid. We must put our heads together, and our families and communities will follow. Let’s keep our friends close, and our enemies at bay. It’s the mortgage lifter revolution, because the very definition of mortgage is death and we must throw off the chains of that grim and unforgiving reaper of sorrows.

The spirit of MC Byles, like his seeds and giant heirloom tomatoes, live on. It can be seen in the successes of backyard entrepreneurs across the continents. Sometimes the path to independence and the bounty of a joyful life starts with a simple seed, planted in the welcoming and living earth of a backyard garden.

Long live the mortgage lifters and the backyard heroes, and the unlimited promise of a new day!

———-Do you have a backyard hero? Tell us your story…

“There’s nothin’ in the world that I like better than

Bacon, lettuce and home grown tomatoes
Up in the morning and out in the garden
Pick you a ripe one, don’t get a hard ‘un
Plant ’em in the springtime eat ’em in the summer
All winter without ’em’s a culinary bummer
I forget all about the sweatin’ and the diggin’
Every time I go out and pick me a big’un

Home grown tomatoes, home grown tomatoes
What’d life be without home grown tomatoes
There’s only two things that money can’t buy
That’s true love and home grown tomatoes

You can go out and eat ’em, that’s for sure
But there’s nothin’ a home grown tomato won’t cure
You can put ’em in a salad, put ’em in a stew
You can make your own, very own tomato juice
You can eat ’em with eggs, you can eat ’em with gravy
You can eat ’em with beans, pinto or navy
Put em on the side, put em on the middle
Home grown tomatoes on a hot cake griddle

If I could change this life I lead
You could call me Johnny Tomato Seed
I know what this country needs
It’s home grown tomatoes in every yard you see
When I die don’t bury me
In a box in a cold dark cemetery
Out in the garden would be much better
Where I could be pushin’ up home grown tomatoes”

From “Home Grown Tomato”, By Guy Clark, Sugar Hill Records, 1997.