Categories
Environment Reading

Sunday Reads

This week the primary focus is on climate justice. We begin with a working paper on transformative climate justice and end with a report on Extinction Rebellion. In between is a piece on COVID-19 the reopening of colleges and universities and an essay on squad wealth. Don’t know what that means, then definitely read that essay. I leave you with a podcast series recommendation on Indigenous languages in California.

Towards Transformative Climate Justice: Key Challenges and Future Directions for Research, a Working Paper published by the Institute of Development Studies in July 2020

It’s a long paper, but recommend reading the first 13-pages. “Mainstream discourses are increasingly framed around the recognition that climate change is fundamentally a question of justice, in terms of the responsibility for the problem and its mitigation; that vulnerabilities to the impacts of climate change are both a reflection of, and exacerbate, structural injustices; and that there will be residual impacts beyond the capacity to mitigate and adapt or what might be deemed ‘tolerable’ impacts.”

COVID-19 and the Racial Equity Implications of Reopening College and University Campuses by Shaun R. Harper published in American Journal of Education (August 2020).

“COVID-19 forced many colleges and universities to suspend in-person operations in spring 2020. Students and instructors abruptly shifted to virtual learning and teaching, and most employees began working remotely during the global pandemic. Presented in this article are 12 racial equity implications for federal and state policy makers, as well as higher education leaders, as they consider reopening campuses across the United States.”

Squad Wealth by Sam Hart, Toby Shorin, Laura Lotti and published by Other Internet, August 2020

“Squads have existed for thousands of years as vital forms of social and economic organization. Thanks to group chats and a wave of private online social platforms, squads are reemerging today as a potent cultural force that rejects a strictly individualist market philosophy. Squads play a key role not only in internet community dynamics but in emerging economic networks. Hawala, chit funds, chamas and other forms of P2P savings or credit associations are notable precursors to the kinds of financial relationships we anticipate decentralized cryptocurrency protocols will soon enable.”

Fuzzy graph is SQUAD SPACE, the network of inner-zones.
This fuzzy graph is SQUAD SPACE, the network of inner-zones where digital microcultures are born: group DMs, Discords, Slacks, Keybases. Memes forged in SQUAD SPACE bubble out into the “clearnet” above, pwning NPCs on the internet of beefs. SOURCE: https://otherinter.net

As the West Burns, the Trump Administration Races to Demolish Environmental Protections. By Sharon Lerner. Published in The Intercept on September 19, 2020.

Polluters and their agents in government want to finalize as many environmental rollbacks as possible before the presidential election. This article covers a review of the last four years and highlighting what is taking place today.

A New Climate Movement? Extinction Rebellion’s Activists in Profile by Clare Saunders, Brian Doherty, and Graeme Hayes. Report published by Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity in July 2020.

“Extinction Rebellion set out to mobilise a new generation of activists. As our data shows, they have in part succeeded: participants in Extinction Rebellion’s two major actions in London in 2019 had notably little prior experience of protest action, and we encountered many first- time activists. At the same time, however, our socio-demographic profile of XR’s activists in the UK reveals a broadly familiar kind of environmentalist: XR’s activists are typically highly-educated and middle- class (and though our survey did not explicitly ask this, white); they identify politically on the Left; and they consciously adopt multiple pro- environmental behaviours in the course of their everyday lives.”

Podcast Series

Language Keepers created by Emergence Magazine. Series was launched on September 1, 2020.

Three episodes have been released so far in this 6-part podcast series. “Adapted from our award-winning multimedia story, “Language Keepers,” this six-part podcast series explores the struggle for Indigenous language survival in California. Two centuries ago, as many as ninety languages and three hundred dialects were spoken in California; today, only half of these languages remain. In this series, we delve into the current state of four Indigenous languages which are among the most vulnerable in the world: Tolowa Dee-ni’, Karuk, Wukchumni, and Kawaiisu. Along this journey, we meet and learn from dedicated families and communities across the state who are working to revitalize their Native languages and cultures in order to pass them on to the next generation.”


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Categories
Reading

Sunday Reads

This week’s reading covers TikTok, surveillance capitalism, California farmworks, California prisoners as firefighters, and facial recognition in the schools. Settle in a pick these pieces up in the coming week.

TikTok and the Evolution of Digital Blackface by Jason Parham published in Wired

“Minstrelsy thrives on TikTok, but the phenomenon goes back a long way. The earliest American iterations emerged in the 1840s as a form of entertainment and endured for more than a century. White people would darken their skin with burnt cork, greasepaint, or shoe polish and perform in variety shows. The musical acts, comedy sketches, and dances relied on stock characters, like Sambo and Zip Coon, to parade Blackness as laughably uneducated or as a target of humiliation.”

How to Destroy Surveillance Capitalism by Cory Doctorow published in OneZero

Totally worth the 109-minutes of reading! A great writer and skilled writer about technology, copyright, and civil liberties. A sample, “Facebook is heralded as the origin of all of our modern plagues, and it’s not hard to see why. Some tech companies want to lock their users in but make their money by monopolizing access to the market for apps for their devices and gouging them on prices rather than by spying on them (like Apple). Some companies don’t care about locking in users because they’ve figured out how to spy on them no matter where they are and what they’re doing and can turn that surveillance into money (Google). Facebook alone among the Western tech giants has built a business based on locking in its users and spying on them all the time.”

An extraordinary summer of crises for California’s farmworkers by Alejandra Borunda published in National Geographic

“On the first day of the smoke, Villegas got a headache after a day working without an N95—with just her cloth mask and a cotton face covering she’d sewed from an old embroidered pillowcase, its bright flowers encircling her brow. On the second, her boss showed up with a box of N95s for the crew but said a single mask would have to last for four days. “Take it home and wash it,” Villegas recalls being advised. Everyone had laughed, knowing the masks wouldn’t hold up to water.”

Cameras in the Classroom: Facial Recognition Technology in Schools by Claire Galligan, Hannah Rosenfeld, Molly Kleinman, and Shobita Parthasarathy published by George R. Ford School of Public Policy at University of Michigan

This is a very long report (115-pages), so if you only have a little time then Executive Summary is only 6-pages. They write, “On the basis of this analysis, we strongly recommend that use of FR be banned in schools. However, we have offered some recommendations for its development, deployment, and regulation if schools proceed to use the technology.”

Can California’s Prison Firefighter Program Be Reformed from Rattling the Bars. California’s Conservation Camps put prisoners to work fighting climate change-fueled fires for pennies on the dollar.


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Categories
music

Music Wednesday

Five new tracks for you musical enjoyment. We start with multidisciplinary artist and pianist Duval Timothy, who splits his time between England (where he was born) and Sierra Leone. Followed by London-based Another Sky who draws influence from a favorite of mine–Talk Talk. French-Canadian electronic musician Marie Davidson joined by L’Œil Nu on this new release. Rival Consoles is the stage name of Ryan Lee West, an English electronic musician released on a favorite label of mine–Erased Tapes. We conclude with Vivian Kuczynski, a Brasil-based indie musician.

Next Tomorrow by Duval Timothy
Apple Music | Spotify | YouTube | Amazon Music | Pandora

How Long? by Another Sky
Apple Music | Spotify | YouTube | Amazon Music | Pandora

Renegade Breakdown by Marie Davidson & L’Œil Nu
Apple Music | Spotify | YouTube | Amazon Music | Pandora

Vibrations on a String by Rival Consoles
Apple Music | Spotify | YouTube | Amazon Music | Pandora

PELE by Vivian Kuczynski
Apple Music | Spotify | YouTube | Amazon Music

Categories
Justice Reading

Sunday Reads

This week I include topics such as the First Amendment in the context of booksellers, racism in Germany, online court hearings, the intersection of pollution, white supremacy, and the coronavirus, and last liberation theory in social justice education.

It’s Past Time for the Bookselling Industry to Reckon with Its Institutional Racism by Angela Maria Spring published in Literary Hub

This article piqued my interest because it explores the First Amendment in the context of booksellers along with a reference to libraries (my field). Spring writes, “As bookstores across the country field an unprecedented number of orders for anti-racism books, it’s time for the bookstore industry to face its own reckoning with white supremacy.” An important read for readers and librarians.

Books

Black Lives and German Exceptionalism by Eddie Bruce-Jones published in Verfassungsblog: On Matters Constitutional

An international perspective on white supremacy. In this case, the author is looking at comparisons between Germany and the United States. If you don’t know anything about circumstances in Germany, then this is the read for you. For example, Bruce-Jones writes, “Making a comparison to the German context seems absurd to some, given that the scale of police killings is much smaller in Germany. However, scale is not the most interesting point of comparison between the United States and Germany. In Germany, if a person is killed in a policing altercation, there is no ability by the family to bring a private (civil) action on behalf of that person.”

How Fair Is Zoom Justice? By Lauren Kirchner published in OneZero/TheMarkup

Learned something new with this one. For example, video bail hearings have occurred in some places for over 30-years. But what is the impact on those being charged? And what about the dehumanizing aspect of video hearings? Kirchner writes, “some courts have reacted to the pandemic by putting almost all operations on hold for now — and with it, defendants’ right to a speedy trial. There’s an enormous pressure for courts to start back up again, and the safest way to do that is either by video or phone. What technological substitutes courts allow vary from state to state and are changing every day.”

A Surprise Surge in Air Pollution May Be Causing More Coronavirus Complications by Robert Roy Britt published in Elemental

What happens when you cross white supremacy, climate crisis, and the coronavirus? We truly have a moment of interbeing with these three topics. They are interconnected and people are dying. Britt writes, “While we might believe that the pandemic lowered pollution everywhere, that in fact has not been true, and in some places pollution increased substantially because of this rollback.”

The Future of Social Justice Education: A Liberation Perspective by Victor Lee Lewis published in The Fearless Heart

I recently had the privilege of attending a East Point Peace Academy webinar with Victor Lee Lewis and I really appreciated what he had to share of teach. Much of his topic is covered in this article. It’s a short article and Lewis is looking to redefine social justice education. The foundation of which is the question: “Is this liberating?”

Categories
Justice Reading

Sunday Reads

For this week’s long reads, we explore the topics of racism against Chinese scientists, linguistics and race, applying democracy to climate change, the lockdown and public works (by Naomi Klein!), and California’s privacy ballot measure. Plus one recommended podcast. I hope you enjoy.

The U.S. Crackdown on Chinese American Researchers Endangers the Future of Science by Eileen Guo published in OneZero

“…the already strained relationship between the U.S. and China continued to deteriorate, worsening as the Obama era gave way to the Trump administration. Hundreds more Chinese American scientists have been scrutinized as a result. The U.S. maintains that it is doing so to protect against the threat of Chinese espionage, an argument it has maintained for decades. But a growing network of advocates and scientists fear that the FBI is targeting scientists based on racial discrimination, and that is not only destroying the livelihoods of Chinese American scientists but also damaging American science output as well.”

Why the term “BIPOC” is so complicated, explained by linguists by Constance Grady published in Vox

“There’s this anxiety over saying the wrong thing,” says deandre miles-hercules, a PhD linguistics student who focuses on sociocultural linguistic research on race, gender, and sexuality. “And so instead of maybe doing a little research, understanding the history and the different semantic valences of a particular term to decide for yourself, or to understand the appropriateness of a use in a particular context, people generally go, ‘Tell me the word, and I will use the word.’ They’re not interested in learning things about the history of the term, or the context in which it’s appropriate.”

Improving Democracy for the Future: Why Democracy Can Handle Climate Change by Daniel J. Fiorino published in E-International Relations

“Climate change is a complex challenge, the largest collective action problem in history, and a classic illustration of the concept of a wicked problem. It is distinctive in many ways: unlike most forms of air or water pollution, the effects are not immediately obvious; harms occur mostly in the future, with a perceived temporal mismatch of costs and benefits. There is good reason to believe, however, that democracies overall are more suited to handling climate change than their authoritarian counterparts.”

A group of men planting trees during a Civilian Conservation Corps project on the Nett Lake Reservation in Minnesota. Photo: MPI/Getty Images

How Not to Lose the Lockdown Generation by Naomi Klein published in The Intercept

“As in the 1930s, this generation is already being referred to as a “lost generation” — but compared to the Great Depression, almost nothing is being done to find them, certainly not at the governmental level in the U.S. There are no ambitious and creative programs being designed to offer steady income beyond expanded summer job programs, and nothing designed to arm them with useful skills for the Covid and climate change era. All Washington has offered is a temporary break on student loan repayments, set to expire this fall.”

Why EFF Doesn’t Support California Proposition 24 by Lee Tien, Adam Schwartz, and Hayley Tsukayama published by Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)

California voters need to read this article. This November, Californians will be called upon to vote on a ballot initiative called the California Privacy Rights Act, or Proposition 24. EFF does not support it; nor does EFF oppose it.

Podcast

Seen on Radio: Seeing White (14-part series)

Where did the notion of “whiteness” come from? What does it mean? What is whiteness for? Scene on Radio host and producer John Biewen took a deep dive into these questions, along with an array of leading scholars and regular guest Dr. Chenjerai Kumanyika, in this fourteen-part documentary series, released between February and August 2017. The series editor is Loretta Williams.

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Categories
Justice Reading

Nonviolence and Beloved Community

As a long-time student of nonviolence, I was excited to pickup the book Healing Resistance by Kazu Haga. Not only was it published by Parallax Press, founded by Thich Nhat Hanh, but the jacket quotes from Michelle Alexander, Joanna Macy, and Larry Yang said this was a book for me to read. 

Healing Resistance

Kazu writes in a very friendly, personable, and real style. We are brought right into the stories as he explores the intricacies of Kingian Nonviolence. We begin with some basic definitions of violence, nonviolence, and conflict. 

As Kazu writes, “nonviolence is about action, not inaction.” This is an important concept to understand about nonviolence. He continues, “Nonviolence gives us an alternative way of responding: to face. Facing means looking your assailant in the eye, not backing down, not giving into fear, and not reacting in kind.” And perhaps most importantly, nonviolence allows us to heal. 

Both Thich Nhat Hanh and Dr. Martin Luther King speak of Beloved Community. As I read the Six Principles of Nonviolence, I can’t help but draw parallels with the Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings of the Order of Interbeing. Like the Trainings, the Principles are interconnected. They inter-are. And practicing one we can practice all the other ones. 

The Six Principles of Nonviolence

  1. Nonviolence is a way of life for courageous people. 
  2. The Beloved Community is the framework for the future. 
  3. Attack forces of evil, not persons doing evil. 
  4. Accept suffering for the sake of the cause to achieve the goal. 
  5. Avoid internal violence of the spirit as well as external physical violence. 
  6. The universe is on the side of justice. 

These were first articulated by Dr. King in his 1960 essay, “Pilgrimage to Nonviolence.” These are now the Six Principles of Kingian Nonviolence. Kazu has been a trainer and teacher of these since 2009 and form the heart of this book. Each are looked into with greater detail. 

The last third of the book explores the Six Steps of Nonviolence. Namely, information gathering, education, personal commitment, negotiation, direct action, and reconciliation. It is this last one, reconciliation, that can be seen as the goal of nonviolent action. In this section of the book, we see how to apply these steps in the social justice movement. How to organize and to get things changed. To build and create the Beloved Community. To experience reconciliation. 

It’s not all about external action. We learn that the internal work is just as important as the external work. Maybe even more important. If you want to learn more about what nonviolence means and how it can be applied in our lives today, then look no further than this book. 

As Michelle Alexander wrote, “Kazu Haga’s deep, nuanced, and principled commitment to nonviolence has challenges and inspired me and many others.” 

Purchase directly from Parallax Press or from Bookshop.

Categories
Family

Growing Up a Missionary Kid

My early life can be characterized by travel and moving. And, because of my parents, was filled with service and peace work. How much does our early life influence who we become as adults? 

My parents joined Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), a relief, service, and peace agency shortly after their 1965 marriage. MCC represents Mennonite, Brethren in Christ and Amish bodies in North America. Their first assignment was to spend 3-years in Jos, Nigeria teaching at a high school. Jos is located in central Nigeria. It wasn’t such a large city in the sixties but today is close to a million residents. During this time, Nigeria experienced a series of military coups and the Nigerian Civil War (1967-1970). It was in this environment that I was born in October 1967. 

Ken Neufeld holding Kenley

To this day, my dad remains connected with some of the young students he had in Jos. I certainly don’t recall this time in Nigeria, but it is a part of my story. Nigeria is where I was born, but my connection and roots pretty much end there. 

When my parents commitment was complete, in 1968, they moved back to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and worked in the family lumber business. But our stay in Saskatoon was short-lived as my parents then moved to Akron, Pennsylvania where MCC is headquartered. My dad served as associate secretary of personnel services. Because this was the height of the Vietnam War, the MCC office was helping many young Mennonites seek alternatives to military service. Filing conscientious objector status was a time consuming matter. 

Once again, I don’t have memories of this time in Pennsylvania. And yet I can’t help be wonder how much the peace work my parents were doing may have influenced me. To be surrounded by people taking a clear stand against war and being willing to serve in other capacities. To some extent, I can say the MCC grounding in service and peace has most definitely carried forward throughout my life. 

In 1971, my parents were sent on another 3-year commitment overseas. This time we moved to Lusaka, Zambia. Here my dad was the country representatives in charge of 30 MCC personnel. It was here that I began school and making friends. I recall time on the dirt schoolyard playing marbles with other children. I recall the walk home to our house. Like many in Africa, we had house staff to help with cooking and caring for the property. I remember the people who lived with us. Their kindness and friendship. We had chickens running around the yard that we would use for food and eggs. I recall playing in the wilderness out behind our house where we could get lost in the tall reeds and trees. 

My time in Zambia is a good memory. A time of play and friendship. And beginning to learn about the world around me. But it did come to an end. One lasting negative memory I have was just before we left when we ate a slaughtered family cow. My feeling was of anger and not understanding. Perhaps this was the start of my veganism?

On that note, we moved back to the United States. We arrived in Reedley, California in 1974 where my dad helped establish a West Coast MCC regional office. This move came after I was fully acculturated in Zambia. Zambia is where I began my formative school years. Zambia was really all I knew. I even spoke with an “English” accent as that was the national language in Zambia. The transition to American culture and living was a steep curve and came with many difficulties for me. A missionary kid in a new country, with different ways of talking, different ways of doing things, and with the whole landscape of sports and media I knew nothing about. 

It was also here that I discovered some Mennonites who had served in the military. That was a shock to me because I already knew we were pacifists. But these Mennonites had been in the United States a very long time and had lived through World War II. And as German speakers, they needed to assert their patriotism. This is how I remember it. I knew my parents still spoke German and our family was from Canada (my parents are first generation Canadians). 

I won’t go into the whole story of acculturating to America, that’s for another time, but suffice to say I remain in California since that move. I naturalized as US citizen 1991 so that I could vote and not be kicked out of the country for speaking my mind. 

Growing up as part of the MCC community, the first 12-years of my life, I can most certainly say it influenced me in the areas of service and peace. I have been a lifelong pacifist, practitioner of nonviolence, and a strong advocate for social justice. And though I am no longer a practicing Mennonite, now a student of Thich Nhat Hanh and the Plum Village tradition, I can see my practice today is firmly rooted in those early years in Nigeria, Pennsylvania, Zambia, and California

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