Category: Uncategorized

The deeper history behind the Association of American Railroads’ support of Dollar General in the U.S. Supreme Court case Dollar General v. Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians.

The deeper issue, however, is whether tribal nation courts should have jurisdiction in civil tort and contract claims involving non-Indians on Indian lands. If the company is successful in overturning tribal civil jurisdiction, leading historians and legal experts say that the potential long-term impact could affect nearly every aspect of tribal life in America.

As Indian country awaits the outcome, Dollar General has laid bare a history of corporate greed, wholesale Native uprooting and empire building reaching back some 150 years—involving, of all things, the railroad industry.


A Living Wage

Tomato picker Fatima giving interview about her struggle to make ends meet.

Fatima, a tomato picker

I meant to post this last week during the aforementioned Global Food Week, but I’ve been terribly busy (and now have two sprained index fingers!). This post comes from Global Food Week, with videos of some of the people who struggle to make ends meet growing food for the global North.

What did you have for dinner last night? There is a good chance that at least one of the ingredients in your meal came from the other side of the globe. Think about the spices you used, the fruit you had as a desert or the vegetables you cooked.  Many of the products that we consume on a daily basis are grown, picked, processed or packed by people in the Global South.

Read the full post and see the videos here: A Living Wage – Blog by Wendy Schutte | Global Food Week 2015

Al Jolson, American minstrel performer, in blackface stereotyping Black people

Al Jolson, a white Jewish minstrel performer pictured in blackface and without makeup. Source:

Rachel Dolezal, white woman who created a Black identity and used blackface to advance career in civil rights

Rachel Dolezal, a white academic pictured in blackface as an adult and without blackface as a teen

Given that U.S. media outlets are teeming with stories about Rachel Dolezal, a white woman who has been using blackface and a fabricated past to advance her career, it seemed appropriate that I use this space to reflect on some fundamental concepts that have been alluded to but not strongly articulated by the many think pieces that have since come out.  I do so not only because of the impact Dolezal’s deception has had on my community,* but because it offers me the opportunity to discuss power, identity, and how both impact social equity, one of the three prongs of sustainability. Continue reading

Image of a densely-packed forest

Source: Linda Sanchez-Greissel’s Flickr photostream

OK, check this out. I’m pretty. I’m bad. I’m a pretty bad man. In fact, I’m so bad that despite what my online persona might have you believe, I go around the street knocking people upside the head. I can KO a dude with a single roundhouse kick to the head and not give a crap, that’s how bad I am.

I’m so bad, in fact, that one day I’ll stroll up to your house (yes, YOU) with a couple of my equally bad friends, rough you up, and kick you to the curb. You’ll stare at us with tears in your eyes as my buddies and I laugh, standing in your doorway. You’ll shout “You’re horrible! How can you beat me up and kick me out of my own house? (Let’s forget about cops for a minute). I’ll be like, “It’s MY house, punk!” high-five my friends, and call up some of my other friends like, “Yo, house party at the new crib I just stole!”

Soon, a whole bunch of people are coming up to get this party started. As you sit on the curb nursing your injuries, you glare at them. “You’re all just as bad as the three guys inside,” you shout at them. “That house doesn’t belong to you, but you’re going to enjoy it like it’s yours.” One person says, “Whoa, whoa, WHOA! Cut the GUILT trip! *I* didn’t roundhouse kick you in the head! *I’m* not the one who kicked you out of your house! I’m an individual and you can’t lump me in with everybody else. I personally didn’t do anything wrong, and you can’t make me feel guilty for something I didn’t do.” That friend then throws up a peace sign at you, and strolls up to MY new house, and high-fives me at the door. “This house looks NICE,” he nods. “This party is gonna be dope!”

You’re still shouting at everyone and how they’re responsible for your loss when one of your friends come by. You explain to them what happened, and reiterate how everyone in that party is just as wrong as me when your friend cuts you off. “Hey, that’s really cold,” your friend says. “You can’t take away people’s identity like that. Instead of lumping everyone together, you should try to empathize and not point fingers.”

You were expecting your friend to be supportive of your plight, but instead they’ve made you super angry. You’re hurt, you just lost your house, but your friend is asking you to *empathize* with me and my friends. You’re about to scream, but instead you take a deep breath and say, “I’m not saying the people in my house are not individuals. I’m also not saying that every single one of them beat me up and stole my house. Yes, only three guys beat me up, but all of them are now enjoying the benefits of what those three guys did, so I’m holding them all accountable.”

Your friend shakes their head. “Those house guests are individuals who have feelings and families, but you’re erasing their identities. That’s not cool.” You tell your friend to shut up (in perhaps not as many words). They shrug, and go join the rest of the guests in my house party.

The moral of the story is: individuals matter. Collective identities matter. Sometimes individual experiences are important and should be recognized (you’re hurting and you want your house back). Other times, collective identities need to be discussed because collective action is necessary (all those guests need to leave and give you your house back). We can talk about individual trees AND a collective forest, without ignoring one or the other. Let’s not focus on the individual as a way to deflect collective responsibility and action; let’s not focus on collective identity to erase particular experiences. Instead, let’s be context-aware and discuss these issues accordingly.

The end

cradle to cradle design

Cradle-to-cradle design. Source:

Consume less. Live small. Leave no footprint.

A lot of people in vegan/natural living circles strive for these things, and find them noble endeavors. Being the contrarian that I am, I want to challenge that. I don’t want to consume “less”; I want to consume until I am satisfied. I don’t want to live “small”; want to live fully. My footprint may be shallow or deep, depending on how much I weigh, but they’re the inevitable result of being a living being in a living world.

I’m not just trying to be contrarian, though. I want to talk about why “less” is “better”: is it because we as a species recognize an inherent evil inside ourselves that we must keep contained, minimized, so that it cannot hurt others? Is it because we enjoy self-flagellation?

I don’t always take my cues from nature (I crap in a porcelain bowl, for example), but if we look around us, we don’t really see the rest of the universe operating on a “less is better” mantra. In fact, excess and redundancy is everywhere. A tree doesn’t produce “just enough” leaves to catch sunlight: it grows an abundance of leaves so it can capture more sunlight so it can grow more leaves within its capacity. Some of these “excess” leaves become food for herbivores. And when the tree is done with those leaves, they fall and become food for the microorganisms living in the dirt. A lion doesn’t kill the smallest possible animal with the exact amount of calories it needs: he chases and kills the gazelle, eats what he needs from it, and whatever left over is what vultures and other scavengers survive off of. A star doesn’t burn exactly the amount of elements it needs to continue self-sustain…and the excess light and heat makes for a lovely planet like the one we happen to be living on.

I could go on. What I’m saying is, that rather than trying to “minimize” our existence, what if we tried to “optimize” it? What if we lived as freely as we cared to, and the “excess” of our lives fed into the lives of others? What if, rather than seeing our very existence as a threat to nature, we saw ourselves as part of nature, and actually lived within it? What if everything we did was not always as a negative, but as enriching the world around us? Back when I was taking product design classes, I read “Cradle to Cradle,” which kind of got me thinking about this kind of just and equitable living. We can create systems as though our lives move from cradle to grave—a dead end. Or, we can create systems as though our lives move from cradle to cradle, where our footprint becomes the shallow pool for insects to drink from after a rain.

Green Uncle Sam

The Fourth of July is a great time to get some sun, have a little fun and forget about the daily grind as we celebrate our nations birthday. But just because its an excuse to party hardy, we shouldnt forget that keeping things green and protecting our environment over the holiday is just as important as making the perfect apple pie or lighting up the barbecue. With this in mind, weve rounded up seven ways you can add a little bit of green to your patriotic party and still have plenty of fun – read on!

Via 7 Tips for a Red, White and GREEN Fourth of July! | Inhabitat – Sustainable Design Innovation, Eco Architecture, Green Building.

OK, it’s obvious that I’m reposting this purely because I’m too lazy to find or write a decent article about sustainability and the U.S. 4th of July holiday. Buy this overpriced compostable picnic set instead of styrofoam! (Because plain old paper plates are too passé). Help the earth “breathe easier” by burning less-dirty fuel in the grill! Clean up the mess you make after you party! Yes, these are some of the tips this blog post from Inhabitat offers to the green-curious.


On the other hand, I mightily approve of this photo gallery of 6 (not 8) BBQ recipes for summer.

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