Response to sustainable wood for instruments release

Glad the musicians are finally getting this. The current deforestation phase is only the continuation of 500 years of colonialism, standing on 10,000 years of urbanism. Stealing the resources of the forest is the only way empires and cities grow. The reality of climate change is just making it hip, but we have long known that leaving the forest in the hands of the forest people is much better for the forest and the world.

Musicians understand intellectual property and how the corporates screw them using the laws. It is completely analogous to what is happening to forest people.Outsiders with connections getting rich by stealing their forest. It is also how economic development works in brownfield communities where the benefits of development never ends up in the hands of the people who live there, they just get displaced again.

walking in a winter wonderland

I love being out in the snow. Hate being cold and wet. But once I learned how to dress, being out in the snow became a true joy. My favorite activity used to be cutting firewood in a low wind snowfall in the north woods. Hauling it home on the sled. Watching the big flakes

Instead of the woods and country roads I now walk Providence, and while I still love snow, walking is more difficult here, and most definitely more dangerous.

I love walking my neighborhood, on 6th St the block is shoveled from top to bottom including the corners, and most residential streets are well shoveled, with many people even creating places to cross at the corners. The North Burial Ground is also a treat. Might be plowed better than anywhere else in the city, and if you take the back streets, you can almost avoid North Main St. while getting there.

North Main St has never been a great place for winter walking. From 6th St going south on the east side of the street the block between 4th and 5th as usual took a bit longer than they should have to clear some hazards and the corner is still bad. I made a call to city hall about N Main St yesterday asking that they do some enforcement among the scofflaws, so that could have made a difference at some of the places on N Main getting it together late yesterday and today, but I will never know. I have now requested that Miriam and Home and Hospice clear their sidewalks, and the crew from the Burial Ground was snow blowing that stretch of N Main St. I had been cutting through the burial ground instead of using the sidewalk, now I can go back to the sidewalk. I did not go as far as Branch this morning, but as of Thursday that intersection was still not pedestrian friendly. The highway overpass on Industrial is always neglected from a pedestrian perspective, though the mini-mall just to the north had shoveled their sidewalk, a most unusual occurrence. The areas near University Shopping Mall is a disgrace. A BIG RI mall developer, CARPIONATO, ALWAYS LEAVES THEIR N MAIN SIDEWALK UNSHOVELED, Yes, it is a poorly designed sidewalk, and there is no place to put the snow, but that stretch of N Main is critical to connectivity and that stretch needs to be kept passable ALL winter. There are ways to do it. Charles and Canal were difficult near the river. River frontage with no building is considered no man’s land for shoveling, despite the fact that these spots are key transportation corridors for all transportation modes from canals, to trains to interstates, to traditional walking paths, to Rt 1. It is clearly the city’s responsibility for clearing overpasses and river frontage like Canal St. and it is one they totally neglect.

Downtown, the Downtown Improvement Program, funded by special levies, clears the sidewalks. Always passable. Heading out Broad St the I-95 crossing was hard walking or in the street walking and south of the 3 High Schools the fast food area created one of the most dangerous hazards to pedestrians, the driveway plowing that blocks the sidewalk. This is one I really do not get. Or rather get and am disgusted by it. A fast food or convenience store shows parking lot to the street. Plows its driveway and parking lot, piles the snow on the sidewalk between the driveways and at the edge of the property. Never clear their own sidewalk. One year I did an action on a convenience store. I shoveled the snow piled up on the sidewalk into their driveway. An hour later they had shoveled their sidewalk.

How hard could it be for these businesses having their contractor clearing the driveway do the sidewalk or at least not block the sidewalk any worse than it already is? Maybe they need a sidewalk contractor? But mostly it would mean paying attention.

I have not yet been south of my office on Rice St, so I can not say what is to the south, but experience shows that buildings in distress, buildings for sale, buildings with absentee landlords and weak management leave gaps in the shoveling, the corners will be difficult, and driveway plowers will block sidewalks leaving pedestrians in dead ends with knew deep snow and 6 ft mounds to cross.

Maybe it is a pipedream, but given the state of the world, cities are going to have to become more pedestrian friendly all year round. Maybe we shall know we have achieved climate resilience nirvana when after a snowstorm it is just as easy to walk around the city as to use any other means of transport. The current model of making someone a second class citizen for having a lower carbon footprint does not seem like a good strategy to me.

war and peace

To the editor,

The op-ed in January 23rd’s Providence Journal entitled “US, French foreign policy invites terrorism” is probably the most intelligent and accurate description of what is going on in the world that I have read in the Providence Journal in years. Though a teenager, Raymond Mancini demonstrates a better historical perspective and understanding of human nature and justice than any of the public officials making policy in Washington DC today.

You would think that Senator Reed, with his years of military service and years of service on the military oriented committees of the Senate would have figured out what Mr. Mancini has figured out, but Senator Reed and the rest of RI’s congressional delegation keep voting money for policies that keep blowing back on America and its allies.

If we keep bombing weddings, if we keep invading countries, if we keep military bases in over 100 countries, and reserve the right to kill, maim, and torture anyone we want we shall have frustrated people to stop Americans from invading their countries by all available means. The way to peace is not war, it is the withdrawal of American military personnel from the Middle East. That a teenager knows this better than any member of Congress, better than the President, and better than any member of the bureaucracy tells us we are in for some very hard times. At least until the generation of Raymond Mancini stops the stupid wars and ends the American torture machine.

Speaker Mattiello under a cloud.

Recently I saw an op ed in the paper that tells me I am not the only person questioning whether the current Speaker of the House, Nicholas Mattiello, is the right man for the job. One of the leaders of the Progressive Democrats of RI concluded that the policy prescriptions of the Speaker are seriously out of alignment with the Democratic Party and the people of Rhode Island. That the Speaker sells his own party down the river is of no concern to me, I expect such shenanigans, but the policy prescriptions that the Speaker offers are seriously out of whack. Likely to make the economic problems worse in Rhode Island rather than alleviate them.

My special concern is issues along the ecology/economy interface and the economic development of low income communities, and I will come back to why the Speaker’s economic policy prescriptions will be ineffective due to ignoring ecological healing and economic justice another day, but today I want to point out one more problem the Speaker will bring to Rhode Island.
Given the recent history of RI Speaker’s of the House leaving office under a cloud, I am guessing that there is something inherent in the position and the men seeking it that causes the men seeking to be Speaker to be ethically challenged. The competition is so cut throat, especially in the scramble to fill the position when the Speaker leaves under a cloud, that anyone with a shred of ethics has no chance. The least qualified to lead therefore get the job.

The temptations these ethically challenged people have once they assume the mantle of speaker of the House in Rhode Island overwhelm them, especially when so much of their focus is the 100 year struggle to fix the Rhode Island economy, a post industrial economy centered on a mid size city in an age of mega cities.

Because of the sluggish economy in Rhode Island the obsession with economic development leads us to confuse real estate speculation with actual economic development. This belief that real estate speculation is economic development seems to have a particularly nasty twist when it comes to Speakers of the RI House as many of the recent occupants of the hot seat come to it from an occupational history as lawyers involved in the business of real estate transactions.

There are a number of problems with this beyond skewing the Speaker’s understanding of economic development in the 21st Century. The first and foremost is that real estate speculation in old industrial places like Rhode Island is not in any way a capitalist enterprise. Nearly all development except the spreading of sprawl into the exurbs happens with subsidies from the public.

Picture it. Most powerful man in RI, sets policy, directs investment, signs off on subsidies. He comes to the office already immersed in the real estate industry, including its use of subsidies and desire to drain every wetland. An industry that is already a huge source of money for state and local elections (mostly because of its need for subsidies), and the basic source of corruption in our communities. The Speaker of the House is right in the center of the fetid swamp enjoying the water.

As far as I know Speaker Mattiello is not currently under investigation and there is no word of his being involved in any corrupt dealings other than selling out the people of Rhode Island, which seems to be legal. But the combination of real estate oriented lawyer Speakers and the need for subsidies in the industry is so powerful that I am not asking if Speaker Mattiello will eventually have to leave under a cloud, only when. In the mean time we shall be subject to horrible and ineffective policy due to the anti regulatory, anti community, pro inequality memes that have already infested his brain due to his day job.