Natural Capitalism

I finished reading “Natural Capitalism” by Paul Hawkens and Amory and L. Hunter Lovins last evening. Although written in 1999, the messages of the book seem very current and compelling to me. The description of systems approaches where the impact on “externalities” such as the environment are very convincing. I found the description of market approaches to natural capitalism a bit more murky, yet interesting nonetheless. It’s the first time I’ve come close to understanding how a market in pollution credits could possibly be helpful, although I’m still not entirely convinced of the value of the idea. The description of the Brazilian city of Curitiba was wonderful… makes me wish I had known to visit there during my trip to Brazil in the spring.

“Nickled and Dimed” by Barbara Ehrenreich

I found Barbara Ehrenreich’s “Nickled and Dimed” a fascinating portrait of low-wage labor culture in the U.S. She traveled to three cities in the U.S. where she took jobs at low wages to see whether or not she could make ends meet. Her accounts of jobs as a housekeeper and working in retail at Wal-Mart are insightful and compelling portraits of the shortcomings of the U.S. economic system.

“Webs of Power” by Starhawk

The best part of Starhawk’s chronicle of recent global protests called “Webs of Power: Notes from the Global Uprising” is the vision she lays out for the global justice movement:

* We want enterprises to be rooted in communities and to be responsible to communities and to future generations. We want producers to be accountable for the true social and ecological costs of what they produce.

* We say that there is a commons that needs to be protected, that there are resources that are too vital to life, too precious or sacred, to be exploited for the profit of the few, including those things that sustain life: water, traditional lands and productive farmland, the collective heritage of ecological and genetic diversity, the earth’s climate, the habitats of rare species and of endangered human cultures, sacred places, and our collective cultural and intellectual knowledge.

* We say that those who labor are entided, as a bare minimum, to safety, to just compensation that allows for life, hope, and dignity as well as to the power to determine the conditions of their work.

* We say that as humans we have a collective responsibility for the well-being of others, that life is fraught with uncertainty, bad luck, injury, disease, and loss, and that we need to help each other bear those losses, to provide generously and graciously the means for all to have food, clothing, shelter, health care, education, and the possibility to realize their dreams and aspirations. Only then will we have true security.

* We say that democracy means people having a voice in the decisions that affect them, including economic decisions.


Vivek brought home an interesting film called “The Blue Kite” the other evening. It was banned in China because it shows the damaging effects of the various stages of the cultural revolution on an apparently typical Chinese community.

I am reading Polyani’s “The Great Transformation” about the negative societal effects of market-based economies and how social and political controls on markets are necessary to retain human values.

I’m also reading “The Free Speech Movement: Reflections on Berkeley in the 1960s,” which is a series of essays from activists, administrators, and others who lived through the events as well as historians providing interpretations. It looks like quite an impressive volume.

Pagan Peace Surprise

Update: About 60 pagans and friends gathered in San Francisco’s Union Square today to wage peace and amplify love. Participants cast a circle, invoked the directions, and spoke from the heart about why the war in Iraq cannot be alllowed to happen. They handed out flyers and leaflets to passersby, some of whom joined the circle, and chalked a large circle and peace, spiral, and yin-yang symbols on the pavement, then filled them in with colored sand. Some local students who had walked out from their high school joined the circle. After channeling energy to wage peace and prevent war, they opened the circle and sang while sweeping up the sand to bring it to the ocean. “Ish ka la ma bood le la. La la e la. The ocean refuses no river, no river. The ocean refuses no river, no river.”

See pics on Indymedia at:
Today we’re doing a Pagan Peace Surprise as part of the March 5 Moratorium activities to wage page against a war in Iraq.

Monday evening I went to Black Cat house for the first time to help organize the Pagan Peace Surprise. It was about seven women, a faerie named Cougar who came because of a notice I forwarded to the local faerie email list, and myself.
We decided the action will include casting a circle and perhaps a spiral dance and that we will mark the directions using chalk symbols that we will fill in with colored sand.

One of the women organizers was Starhawk, who lives in that house. I admire Starhawk immensely for her politics and her writing integrating politics and spirituality, so it felt really good to have time to get to know her better.

I told her about the ballot propositions for participatory budget and for secession of San Francisco and she seemed interested, providing a suggestion about how to locate an attorney who might be familiar with the ballot process in San Francisco.

Everyone is marvelling about the fact that 11 million people protested against the war on Feb 15-16. It may be the largest protest ever from the human race. And yet the senseless bombing of Iraqi civilians may happen nonetheless. Let’s hope not. Perhaps this is just the tip of the iceberg with a major shift in global politics and economy about to take place. Let’s hope so. May that shift be toward empowerment of those who are disempowered and about dimishing inequalities of wealth and poverty while respecting the dignity and human rights of everyone. Peace now!