I took a long break over the summer, both from political action and the internet. As usual though, I ended up visiting some amazing people, including Helen Dew, of Living Economies, who lives in Carterton, Wairarapa, with her husband Alf. Living Economies research alternatives to the unsustainable and unjust economic systems enslaving humans across the planet, and maintain a library and a bookstore on those topics. As well as helping out in her wonderful permaculture garden, I picked up a number of books from Helen.

 ’The Ecotechnic Future‘, by ‘green wizard‘ and Peak Oil blogger John Michael Greer, was a patchy read, perhaps the result of being compiled from a number of his blog entries on the Archdruid Report. Like many Peak Oil commentators, John is a collapsist, although unlike primitivist Derrick Jensen at al, he believes that a new, more ecologically wise technological society will emerge after a series of collapse stages. There are some excellent chapters on topics John knows well, like ecological succession and composting, and some thought-provoking speculations on the likely fate of science during energy-driven economic and social contraction. His chapters on telecommunications however, are embarrassing. Clearly he knows little about how the internet works, and has to yet to discover the free code software movements. Certainly worth taking in, but keep the salt handy; you’ll need a grain or two in some parts.

Sacred Economics’ by Charles Eisenstein, author of The Ascent of Humanity, asks and tries to answer some probing questions about money. How does money symbolize the schizophrenic split in our culture between disembodied spirit and desecrated matter? Why does it seem to amplify destructive effects on communities of human beings, and the deeper ecosystem communities in which we are embedded? How might we change our use of money, and redesign our currency systems, to help us respond to the environmental and financial transformations we face? He offers a number of possible solutions, including negative interest on savings, commons-backed currency, and social dividends. I found this book both educational and inspiring, and I highly recommend it to anyone wanting to understand why so much of our activism feels like banging our heads against brick walls, and how to hack around those walls.

In the spirit of the gift about which he writes so beautifully, Charles has given his books to the cultural commons, using a CreativeCommons license, and put the entire text up online, where you can read it free of charge. If this book touches you as deeply as it did me, I encourage you to make a reciprocal gift, in whatever way you can. You could buy a print copy, or give a donation to Charles via his website, but if you ‘pay it forward’ into the communities and ecosystems around you, I’m sure it will get back to him.

Filed March 27th, 2012 under Uncategorized

In my last post (the open letter to the makers of the documentary Revolution OS), I gave examples of artists and organisations that had figured out how to cover their costs, and make a living for their workers, without resorting to demanding economic rent on perceived “intellectual property”. Today I learned from a blogger on TorrentFreak that in late 2006, filmmaker Mark Achbar released an official torrent of his film ‘The Corporation‘, and invited people to make donations. TorrentFreak quotes him as saying:

“Since my initial torrent launch of The Corporation at the end of August, there have been $635.00 in contributions.”

I also mentioned mentioned Banyak Films, who not only made their entire documentary ‘Us Now‘ available for viewing on their website, but also extended it with a set of webpages that allowed further exploration of the topics and issues discussed in the film. The BBC have taken this concept further, creating a multimedia 3D explorer, which combines the extended web content with clips of their documentary series ‘The Virtual Revolution‘, which was written partly through online collaboration with its audience.

Even more exciting to me, raw footage shot for the series is available to be downloaded and mashed up, under a custom license. It’s only a shame they didn’t use a CreativeCommons license - from a quick skim of the ‘BBC Digital Revolution License‘ it looks like CC-BY-NC would have worked fine. Maybe they can be talked into a dual license, Wikipedia style? Either way, a ground-breaking project, and a fascinating topic; I can’t wait to explore it.

Filed March 2nd, 2012 under independent media, documentary
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