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We have the power to move the world: A mayors’ guidebook on sustainable transport

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In We have the power to move the world, the leaders of 14 of the world’s most ambitious and successful sustainable transport cities explain why they are taking action, what they are implementing, the approaches they are taking, and their advice for other cities. Their intension is to inspire and support more cities to show the same leadership. The actions showcased range from expansion and electrification of mass transit, to restrictions on polluting vehicles and improved conditions for pedestrians and cyclists.

All the cities featured are signatories to the C40 Green and Healthy (Fossil Fuel Free) Streets declaration. The quotes and statistics below are extracts from the guide, which was developed by C40 Cities in partnership with the Transformative Urban Mobility Initiative (TUMI).

“In Copenhagen we insist on green solutions because they pay off. Copenhagen’s green transformation goes hand in hand with job creation, economic growth, and a better quality of life.”

Frank Jensen, Lord Mayor of Copenhagen

“My advice to other cities is to set your goals high, but remember to be in constant dialogue with the city. Make sure your goals are accessible, affordable and supported by your citizens.”

Femke Halsema, Mayor of Amsterdam

“The “radical” idea of the superblock is a means to put people first, rather than vehicles, in the public space. Superblocks unite urban planning with mobility and limit the presence of private vehicles in order to give back public space to the citizens. They are an answer for the city’s lack of green spaces, high levels of pollution, noise pollution, accident rates and physical inactivity. We plan to implement the superblock approach for the whole city over the coming years… My advice to other mayors would be to listen and engage with citizens and communities. Do not be afraid of trying new things in the city. It is time to apply a paradigm shift in our cities towards a people-centered approach.”

Ada Colau, Mayor of Barcelona

“There is no magic formula to Medellín’s success, but the advice I would give to other mayors looking to develop sustainable mobility is to put people and communities first in planning transport. This is something I have tried to do in my tenure as mayor, reaching out to people and involving communities in the design of urban space and the extension of the public transit system. Trust and partnership are key to developing a sustainable system that works for all.”

Federico Gutiérrez, Mayor of Medellín

“Our vision is to transform Jakarta away from a traffic dominated, congested and polluted city to a world leader in public and sustainable transport, where residents and visitors feel that using public transport is safe, sustainable and comfortable. Our advice to other city leaders is to set a clear and ambitious vision and to work with people and organisations in the city to find common interests to make it a reality.”

 

Anies Baswedan, Governor of Jakarta

Course: C40 Cities

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How Our Grassroots Energy Projects Are Taking Back Power From Utility Companies

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From solar power that cuts NYC energy bills and powers streetlights in Detroit to affordable high-speed internet throughout the United States, grassroots utilities projects are delivering on their promises to underserved communities of color.

By Aric Sleeper, – US, United States –

As power outages caused by extreme weather events become more intense and frequent, the efforts by federal, state and local legislators to abate human-caused climate change may seem futile to those on the front lines, who are left sweating or freezing in their homes after the power goes out unexpectedly and at the worst time possible.

Without intervention, these events will only become more recurrent. According to data provided by the National Centers for Environmental Information—which is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and maintains and provides national geophysical data and information—there was an average of around three “weather and climate disasters” per year in the 1980s, compared to a staggering 22 extreme weather events in 2020.

The Biden administration’s participation in COP26, which took place in Glasgow from October 31 to November 13, 2021, was a step in the right direction to address climate change, compared to the previous administration, which derailed any progress made by the U.S. to address the current climate crisis. President Joe Biden, however, still did not go far enough at the international climate conference in terms of addressing environmental justice, systemic environmental racism and the disproportionate support for repairing the damage caused by extreme weather events in impoverished countries and underserved communities in the United States. The actions and projects needed to address these issues and bring about real change on the ground are, meanwhile, being championed by grassroots organizations led by women and people of color who are taking steps within their communities to move away from fossil fuels, power their neighborhoods with clean energy, and stay connected with community-created broadband infrastructure.

In New York City, Making Solar Power Affordable and Accessible Is About ‘More Than Just Putting Panels on Rooftops’

Working at the intersection of climate change and environmental justice in the heart of New York City is the Latino community-based nonprofit UPROSE. Founded in 1966, and based in the city’s largest maritime industrial district, the nonprofit organizes sustainable development projects and advocates for policies in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Sunset Park and throughout all five boroughs. Their Sunset Park Solar project, which “will be New York City’s first community solar project owned and operated by a cooperative for the benefit of local residents and businesses,” will save its participants about 15 percent on their monthly electric bill, once the solar system has been installed and is operational.

The road to the project’s completion has been long and challenging due to the slow-moving gears of the existing governmental processes, according to Summer Sandoval, energy democracy coordinator at UPROSE.

“Sunset Park Solar is about more than just putting panels on rooftops; it’s about creating a scalable and replicable community-led model for the development of solar projects that build long-term community wealth and exhibit a Just Transition,” Sandoval says. “This project builds on the traditional community solar model but is vastly different from anything that’s been done before, and it’s challenging to navigate our way through processes, financial models and incentive programs that weren’t built for projects like this.”

Sunset Park Solar would allow for about 200 subscribers to utilize renewable energy and would not require any of them to install solar panels on their homes or pay any upfront costs, as UPROSE and its partners in the project have already done the heavy lifting. The panels for this project will be installed on the Brooklyn Army Terminal rooftop and will provide 685 kilowatts of clean electricity. In addition to the tangible cost-saving benefits to residents, the project has shown that community-led clean energy projects are possible.

“Even before construction, this project has demonstrated that the climate solutions are coming from the people on the front lines, and hopefully decision-makers see that as well and invest their resources directly into those front-line communities,” says Sandoval.

A Bright Spot in Detroit With Solar Streetlights

In Highland Park, Michigan, a city that sits within the City of Detroit, the nonprofit Soulardarity has been fighting for energy democracy since 2012.

“The idea of energy democracy is essentially focused on ensuring that the people who are affected the most by the decisions in energy should be the ones with the greatest amount of say in the process,” says Soulardarity Program Director Rafael Mojica.

Energy costs for city residents have been skyrocketing for decades (and continue to do so). The rate hikes were largely at the hands of the investor-owned, state-regulated utility company, DTE Energy, which made an interesting demand when Highland Park residents could no longer afford to pay the maintenance bill for their streetlights.

“In 2011, DTE gave [an] ultimatum to the City of Highland Park that they [either] pay the debt associated with the streetlights’ maintenance costs or lose them, and unfortunately, the city was in no position to pay their debt, so DTE followed through and removed more than 1,000 streetlights from the city,” says Mojica. “They didn’t remove everything. They left the stumps as a reminder to the community of their presence.”

When like-minded community members, led by Highland Park resident Shimekia Nichols (who is now Soulardarity’s executive director), organized as a result of the streetlight removal, they formed Soulardarity to bring light back to the community. After gathering funds from local residents, the first solar-powered streetlight was erected in 2012 in the neighborhood known as Avalon Village in Highland Park.

Soulardarity’s mission isn’t only to illuminate their streets with solar energy but also to shine a spotlight on the failed model of electricity production that for-profit, investor-owned utility providers like DTE Energy represent.

“DTE increases the rates they charge customers on a regular basis, exacerbating financial distress [for] communities of color, and despite the profits they’re raking in, they’re not using it to reinvest in their infrastructure. As a result… [the communities in Highland Park] have a poor level of service,” says Mojica. He adds that in the summer of 2021, “for example, Southeast and mid-Michigan experienced a huge number of blackouts, which are in DTE’s service area.”

Mojica points to the rippling effects of frequent power outages, especially in the summer and winter months, which can lead to refrigerated groceries that cost hundreds of dollars going bad as a result of these outages or can lead to rising hotel costs that may cripple the budgets of poor families living from paycheck to paycheck.

Currently, Soulardarity has been sifting through the language of the latest budget bills to ensure they provide funding for renewable energy projects in communities like Highland Park. Specifically, Soulardarity is seeking funds from the Department of Energy’s Communities LEAP program, which provides “supportive services valued at up to $16 million for community-driven clean energy transitions.”

Soulardarity has also completed an analysis in partnership with the Union of Concerned Scientists to outline what a clean energy, net-zero future would look like in Highland Park in the future called Let Communities Choose.

“Ultimately, we want to break free from DTE, and in this analysis we found that it is doable,” says Mojica. “Not only that, but there are a number of community benefits that would come with the transition to renewable energy in the form of job creation and economic development, and our communities would be healthier and safer—basically, dramatically improving the quality of life for all community members.”

Internet Access for All American Communities as a Gateway to Democracy and Equity

While the replacement of fossil fuels with renewable energy sources like solar is essential to preventing further global warming and boosting local economies, power also comes in the form of information. When access to high-speed internet is controlled by corporations that operate in a similarly monopolistic manner as utility companies like DTE Energy, underserved communities suffer, especially during situations like the ongoing pandemic.

“If you aren’t fortunate enough to live in a place with affordable and reliable high-speed internet, you are essentially locked out of participating in modern society in so many ways, whether it’s distance learning, telemedicine, entertainment or even civic participation,” says Sean Gonsalves, senior reporter for the Institute for Local Self Reliance’s Community Broadband Networks Initiative. “These problems really came to the fore during the pandemic.”

Currently, the high-speed internet market and broadband infrastructure, especially in rural communities, are inadequate, according to Gonsalves. When internet service providers are for-profit monopolies, large segments of the country either can’t afford reliable internet service, or don’t have access to high-speed broadband.

“When a community is reliant on outdated technology like DSL, they can’t even have a Zoom meeting, and good luck sending an email,” says Gonsalves. “In a healthy functioning market, people have choices, but when it comes to broadband, there aren’t options, which leads to high prices, poor customer service and bad coverage.”

To gain more reliable and affordable internet service, cities across the United States have formed their own municipal broadband networks to compete with the existing monopolies. Cities like Longmont, Colorado; Wilson, North Carolina; and Chattanooga, Tennessee, have transformed their economies and communities after organizing to create their own municipal broadband networks.

“The golden child is EPB in Chattanooga, which is a city-owned utility,” says Gonsalves. “Not every community can do what Chattanooga has, but in terms of benefits, the return on investment was $2.7 billion in the first 10 years of operation.” With federal legislation like the American Rescue Plan and Infrastructure Investments and Jobs Act setting aside resources to increase and strengthen community broadband networks, Gonsalves and others at the Community Broadband Networks Initiative are hopeful that more communities will organize and take advantage of these opportunities and create their own broadband networks with the use of federal funding.

“The infrastructure bill represents a watershed moment in terms of the largest investment by the federal government in broadband ever,” says Gonsalves. “Even private investors are showing interest in community broadband, and now is the time for communities to start planning and pushing forward in an organized and strategic way.”

This article was produced by Local Peace Economy, a project of the Independent Media Institute.


Aric Sleeper is an independent journalist whose work, which covers topics including labor, drug reform, food and more, has appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle and other publications local to California’s Central Coast. In addition to his role as a community reporter, he has served as a government analyst and bookseller.

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Phytotherapy, knowledge and experiences 03- “A path to the deep”.

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(Image by Claudia Mónica García)

We continue sharing from REHUNO Health the series of notes that Horacio Mesón gives us under the title: Phytotherapy, knowledge and experiences. In this third and final installment, the author invites us to delve into the relationship between his passion and knowledge in Phytotherapy with the depths of his inner world and his purpose in life. As Horacio himself tells us at the end of the article: “Phytotherapy is, for me, the best excuse to carry out my Purpose”.

By Horacio Mesón

My garden is small but with little you can do magic. The house is warm, comfortable and simple.

Summer was ending and our grandson Lorenzo had turned three years old. Very lively, sparkling, awake and emotional, with an interesting character when he plants himself.

I thought it was the right time and, in an orderly way, I took him with me to the garden and introduced him to some aromatic plants. First the creepers and then the shrubs. We gently caressed them.

We went from Peperina to Hierba Buena; then the Muña Muña that we collected last spring in the field. The Manzanilla was the one he liked the most.

We came to the Citronella, the first bush, there was rejection. The Pennyroyal more or less. He liked the Lemon Balm, but when we got to the Rosemary he jumped on it. A smile exploded all over his face without laughter and he hugged it. It was just in flower and he caressed its tops, dragging the scent towards him, I think he was imitating me.

Six months went by and he remembers the names of all of them, for him they already have an entity. But with Rosemary the chemistry, the affinity, the compatibility is very great. A bond was established between them as if they had known each other for a long time?

This link also grows between the three of us, it has the depth of my emotional and ancestral memory.

The plants that I came to as a child playing, out of devotion to my grandparents and then out of necessity, showed me in depth a path that I had already begun.

I came to understand with the heart of a city-dweller, that I have a feeling for Pachamama. That Mother-Earth concept, that unique devotion that I dare to call Love or something similar.

I understand that any “Craft and Discipline” faced with the Inner Force, that is to say with everything and without holding anything back, leaves us on the threshold of what is desired.

I understand that along the way one has passed even without method through certain “places” and registers.

That’s why a scheme of forms is required that allows one to precipitate…

There are key questions and tracer questions, directional questions. They help to focus, to concentrate and bring us closer to goodness.

In the service of what are my vocations? In the service of what are these capacities? Why do I do what I do without thinking about it? What is the motive? Is this my purpose? Do I have a plan? If I do, how do I perfect it? Do I want to go further? How far am I willing to give? What is the Valid Action? What is my greatest desire or aspiration?

Ancient dreams come together with the present and the future. The three times act in a permanent dynamic. Sometimes you think things are coming from the past but they are coming from ahead, from what will be. The register is here and now.


(Image Horacio Mesón)

The purpose was designed and deepened in dreams as children and today it detonates feeding on the future, on what is intuited and inspired.

The warm embrace between peers and the meaningful exchange is so necessary.

Valid action is not just an act, it is an achievement of actions guided by the chosen direction and pulled by the future thanks to the Purpose. Connected to the best of oneself.

If there is something natural as a very human virtue it is the action of Giving, this is the original intention.

A Purpose thrown forcefully out into the world and to others is a whirlwind, a cascade and a myriad of valid actions. And yet it does not live or register as a whirlwind, nor as a waterfall.

The greatest desire or aspiration is to be able to help others until the last moment of my life.

Final question: What then is Phytotherapy for me: “it is the best of excuses to carry out my Purpose”.

So much for the author’s words which complete this series of 3 notes on Phytotherapy. If you would like to know more about this knowledge and experience, please contact the author directly: horaciomeson@yahoo.com.ar

REHUNO Health

Source: Pressenza

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Chautauquas and Lyceums and TED Talks, oh my!

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Our future is in OUR Hands

We are aiming with Mobilized to create a vibrant forum for ideas.  “Big deal”, you might say, there are already places for that.

Well, you’re not wrong.  There was, in the earliest days of the web, a loose and wild forum called The Well.  The great and powerful Google had as it’s mission the goal of “bringing all the knowledge of the world to every person”… before it pivoted to a new goal of just making money off of what it knows about us.  That change was a real pity.  There have been sites such as Wiser Earth, which aimed to be a global directory of people and non-profit organizations so that collaboration could happen on a larger scale than ever before.  It lasted about two years, sadly; not long enough to create a legacy.  Huffington Post had a good run in its’ early days, sharing ideas widely and helping to boost its’ contributors in the public’s mind.

What’s important to know, is that as of this writing, there is not really a widely recognized forum online or in ‘meat-space’.  There are print publications such as YES! magazine, Tikkun, The Sun Magazine, and The Utne Reader, all of which which reach a population of hundreds thousands.  Great, but their reach could be even more broad, in my humble opinion.  Within social media sites there are plenty of good ‘groups’ but they also don’t reach enough folks outside of their own memberships.

Probably the most popular comparable live events right now are the TED talks, which do serve a valuable purpose.  Sadly, they also tend toward the ‘Gee-Whiz‘ and the ‘Shiny New Buzzword‘ in their contents.  Mobilized really wants to focus on the proven, the existing, and the hidden.  There are already, all over, groups doing wonderful work, but too many of them are laboring in obscurity.

So, how do we do that?  Well to begin with, we’re not trying to be a technology startup.  There is no secret sauce, no fancy algorithm at work here.  Almost all the underlying code behind Mobilized is made with off-the-shelf parts, such as WordPress.  There is zero reason to re-invent the wheel, and frankly the notion that one must do so has tripped up several earlier attempts at building a successful progressive community.  We take the approach of using the tools at hand to build our house.

Secondly, we are going into the future with an eye firmly on the past.  And that leads us to the point of this essay, a look at how America became America.  We can take many lessons from the past.  One of our best ideas as a nation was the Chautauqua movement.   It had it’s heyday from the 1870’s right up until the beginning of World War II.  In part, it helped spawn a Lyceum movement, the Vaudeville traditions in the theater world; and had an effect on the earliest days of the motion-picture industry.  Here’s why it was so popular: the average person, anywhere in the land, could go to a Chautauqua when it came to their town, and engage in spirited discussion with the brightest minds of the day.  It was direct, person-to-person, and offered a mix of local and national ideas and people; presented on a rotating basis.  So ideas could be hashed out and spread rapidly.  And they did.  In no small part due to these two movements, the Robber Barons of the Gilded Age were defeated.  The Great Depression was tackled too, and along the way no less than Susan B. Anthony, Teddy Roosevelt and Mark Twain became huge fans.  No part of society could, or wanted to, ignore the notion that average people could teach other average people.

Mobilized aims to help bring that back into common understanding.  In the present era, there may well be a place for tents and lecturers setting up in farmer’s fields.  There certainly is a crying need for an educational platform that is accessible to the masses.  And now, there exist enough robust tools for us to re-create the ethos of a Chautauqua on the internet.

We, the people, when it really mattered and the stakes were high, collectively taught ourselves how to better ourselves.  Now, in every corner of the world, the stakes are once again pretty high.  It is time for a new Chautauqua movement, and this one will be truly global.  So step right up, come on inside our virtual tent.  Welcome to the show.

 

 

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Localization

Local food sourcing saves people and climate

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World traffic in food by massive corporations harms environment, jobs, and health; yields no net change in food availability; and harms jobs and food security everywhere. Swedish linguist Helena Norberg-Hodge, founder of International Society for Ecology and Culture (now Local Futures), tells Helen Lobato of Women on the Line how prioritizing local food production and distribution will build back local economies and roll back corporate oil-dependent hegemony.

Source: WINGS: Womens International News Gathering Service

 

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