Recent comments I made on nation of change

  • The Real Job Killers

    • ProsperityForRI     • a minute ago 

      We hear all the screaming about the business climate, but it is very clear that paying attention to what we need to do to adapt tothe climate changes coming, and reduce the greenhouse gas emissions to reduce the overall climate crisis is much more important in the long term for creating prosperity in our communities than doing what the rich tell us to do. You cannot end poverty without healing ecosystems, you can not heal ecosystems without ending poverty. and we can not do either if the rich keep their hands on the war machine.

  • Discussion on NationofChange

    Has the Left Surrendered? The Overdue Conversation We Need

    • ProsperityForRI     • 8 minutes ago 

      Yeah I guess I am not a liberal. I am not and have never been a Democrat. I am a proud member of the Green Party and know that Barack Obama has been just as bad for the planet and my community as we predicted he would be. I did not vote for him. I voted for Cynthia MicKinney in 2008 and Jill Stein in 2012. I collected hundreds of signatures both years to get them on the ballot in RI. War is wrong. The NSA needs to be closed. The wars of the empire ought to be outlawed and the perpetrators of them ought to be tried at the Hague. Economic growth is destroying the planet, and has become uneconomic growth. it lines the pockets of the rich and impoverishes post industrial communities. Loss of biodiversity and climate change are jointly an existential crisis for civilization and we are failing. Inequality and lack of democracy are holding back communities.

      The Democrats are so beholden to the rich that they support things like TPP. I do not even talk of Republicans as it is improper to talk about those with so little contact with reality.

      And rather than disappearing, the left is alive and well, just not in the two party system that has been more than ever captured by the rich. The young are organizing co-ops, starting organic community gardens, stopping gmos, mitigating climate change, all the things the liberals and the rich do not want on the agenda.

      My focuses on ecological healing, economic justice, and democracy as the road to community prosperity. Western economies have to shrink so that those elsewhere can rise to healthy levels. We need to figure out how to shrink in ways that helps communitiesw all over the world. Food security is the future of our economy, Right now I am trying to shift public debate towards the idea It is much more important to pay attention to the climate than the business climate if we want prosperity. But I have been at this since the first earth day, and defining the left by liberals and the Democratic Party makes less sense than ever.

  • Discussion on NationofChange

    North Carolina Blames Duke Energy Corporation for Toxic Coal Ash Spill

  • Discussion on NationofChange

    What if Americans Demanded the Ouster of this Government?

    • ProsperityForRI     • 3 days ago 

      We held a little demonstration against the TPP the other day in front of the federal courthouse. 20 people, mostly old. Department of Homeland Insecurity watched us the whole time. We did get a quote into the paper saying “obviously the threats to the US must be very small or the police ridiculously overstaffed if they have the time to spend an hour with people openly advocating non violence.”

  • Discussion on NationofChange

    Apocalypses Everywhere

    • ProsperityForRI     • 3 days ago 

      I mostly agree with Chernus, and while I am sometimes described as gleefully apocalyptic, I do my work as ProsperityForRI because I think an economy based on justice and ecological healing, which means a smaller economy, will be good for my community and the people who live here.

  • Discussion on NationofChange

    President Obama Pledges $2 Billion+ for Drought-Stricken California and U.S. Climate Resilience Fund

  • Discussion on WPRI

    Protest demands end to govt. spying

    • ProsperityForRI     • 18 days ago 

      it is most clear that NSA spying is not compatible with democratic governance. Abolish the NSA and actually practice peace.

  • Discussion on NationofChange

    Weak Job Growth, but Declining Unemployment Give Mixed Picture in January

    • ProsperityForRI     • 18 days ago 

      What we are seeing is trying to follow the dictates of the business climate. what the economy really needs is to pay attention to the real climate and doing the things we ought to do to make the no carbon transition. That would bring community prosperity whereas the current system brings us nothing but inequality and environmental destruction.

  • Discussion on NationofChange

    Island In Scotland to be First 100% Self-Sustaining Place on Earth

    • ProsperityForRI     • 18 days ago 

      I doubt the island is truly sustainable, but what I like is the realization that democracy is a critical factor in creating economies that work for communities on planet Earth.

  • Discussion on NationofChange

    Why the Lousy Jobs Report Boosted Wall Street

    • ProsperityForRI     • 20 days ago 

      Growth is hallucinatory on a planet with such damaged ecosystems. Constanza, Daly, and others continually point out that we need to use less and share more, not expect more. Post industrial economies are going to grow very slowly if at all, and wages are falling, The need to pay off interest keeps them burning with uneconomic growth that costs more than it provides, especially as technology makes more of us obsolete. Food security needs to a big part of our strategy.

  • Discussion on NationofChange

    The Global Elite is Insane

    • ProsperityForRI     • 23 days ago 

      I like defining the rich as insane. i doubt it actually helps us undo the crap they offer, but it does define the problem well.

  • Discussion on NationofChange

    Land Conflict and Injustice Development in ‘New India’

    • ProsperityForRI     • a month ago 

      The displacement of the forest people is going on everywhere, and given the health of the planet, it is the stupidest thing now being done on planet earth with the possible exception of fracking.

  • Discussion on AlterNet

    12 Biggest Right-Wing Lies About America

    • ProsperityForRI     • a year ago 

      Unfortunately even the article, which shoots up the stupid republican tricks, is wrong because it expects economic growth, which is basically impossible under conditions of ecological collapse

  • Discussion on AlterNet

    Why Do Americans Keep Getting Suckered By Right-Wing Lies? | Tea Party and the Right | AlterNet

    • ProsperityForRI     • 3 years ago 

      I spend most of my efforts trying to convince the people practicing economic development in my community that their economic plans are not going to work, and that only a radically green approach will do. Every day i get a bit more traction. I call it viral marketing. I am infecting my community. We can do this, but the Democrats never will figure it out.

Preview of Climate, Business Climate and Prosperity essay

Greg Gerritt Feb 7, 2014
I am researching and writing an essay tentatively entitled “Climate, Business Climate and Prosperity in Rhode Island”. Finishing it will take months, but the radio silence was getting to me.  Hence this very abbreviated undocumented version.  I am spending hours looking at references and figuring out how to say what each article says in 2 sentences that fit in with what else I have written.  Every day as I delve deeper I find more nuance but also more confirmation of the misdirection in economic policy globally, nationally, and in my community.  I am not alone in the struggle to change these policies.  Every day new centers of activism arise.  The specific mission of and the Catalyzing Prosperity project is to bring what we are learning about the economy/ecology interface globally to the policy discussions in Rhode Island,  The focus of the research and writing project is to counter-act the obsession with business climate and economic growth found among Rhode Island politicians and business leaders that continues to lead us nowhere.  The goal is more prosperous communities in Rhode Island.  This short paper simply states what is going on without the documentation and data that will be in the final paper.
The hypothesis being explored is that the current obsession with the business climate actually harms our communities.  There is very little evidence that following the prescriptions offered by the business climate indexers actually work even on their own terms, which is simply faster growth in GDP,  There is evidence that following the prescriptions harm economies and communities in an astounding variety of ways, and that if we actually did the math we would find our communities are becoming less prosperous in the old industrial west as the externalities catch up to us and the technological revolutions create economic bubbles that undermine economic security for our communities
The flip side of that is the things that we have to do to keep climate change to as small a number as possible and to mitigate and adapt to the harm already in the pipeline is both much more likely to benefit our communities economically than following the business climate route, and that what we should be doing to help our communities move forward is absolutely not the business climate prescription for governance.
Beyond the business think tanks obsession with low taxes it should be noted that much of the regulatory madness in America that in some ways infuriates all of us, not just the think tanks or business community, is primarily the result of shenanigans by the same forces that obsess on the business climate.  We all know the  American legislation process is like sausage making, full of deals and compromises.  That is politics. But the specific things the business lobbyists get into the legislation that they can not kill are often designed to make the laws harder to use effectively.  The lobbyists operate under the theory that if we can make it clunky maybe we can get it undone next year.  And if that fails, we cut the enforcement budget so folks have to wait a long time for permits.  Then we can blame it on bad regulations, rather than accepting that developers both wanted the regulations hard to interpret so they could fudge a lot of things, and then cut the budget for enforcement and permitting so they could use the slowness of the permitting process to undermine protection of the public interest in the pursuit of greater profits.
I underpin much of my work with the understanding that due to the ecological constraints of planet Earth further damage to the ecosystems of the planet are likely to have very serious negative consequences for most of humanity, and we have already reached the point where sinks are full and resource extraction is getting more difficult and expensive as we seek ever further and deeper in a desperate race for more stuff.  The reality is that yes we have more throughput, and many places around the world desperately need economic growth so that people can get enough to eat,  but in the USA 99% of the growth in income is going to 1% of the population, and it is all funny money from economic shenanigans or what Herman Daly refers to as uneconomic growth, which I define as an expansion of economic activity that in aggregate does more harm than good, ecologically, socially, politically, while reducing the need for labor with nearly all growth in wealth flowing to the 1% while the overall growth rate continues to drop as urbanization and deforestation reach natural limits and inequality slows the pseudo growth machine too.
I have friends who are practioners in the alternative energy industry saying let the market decide too, make it easier to do business.  Two problems, The fossil fuel lobby has more money and their subsidies include the military industrial complex that undergirds 1% power. Besides the Koch family is funding efforts around the country to make it harder to install solar and wind power. We need to change the conversation, not just have the market destroy communities and ecosystems slightly less swiftly.
Funny how it is exactly the family most responsible for climate denying propaganda in the world, people who detest real evidence and science, who are also key funders of the most outrageous business climate reports.  To me it is no surprise that the business climate reports are useless as policy prescriptions because the evidence they use is as thin as the science of climate deniers, and is paid for by the same ideologues.
Dealing with climate change is likely to be the most important thing people have to do for the next 100 years.  It is way too important to be left to the 1%, And since so much of what happens in our communities happens via economic activity, that economic activity is way too important to be left to the 1%.  The same people advocating for the Keystone XL pipeline are the same ones telling us to follow the business climate prescriptions.  No community input, no right to protest, no regulations, low taxes, military subsidies for the oil industry, lax regulations of chemicals, undo the clean water act.  Allow developers to build anywhere, and then keep flood insurance payments artificially low, allowing the tax payers to subsidize the gross abandonment of common sense.  That in a nutshell is the business climate prescription. Public loss, private profit and prevent dissension from getting out of hand.  The ideologues of the right detest the fact that helping our communities reduce the heat index and cope with the problems created by climate change will take strong regulation of fossil fuel emissions, promotion of alternative energy, a shrinking of the military, a reduced effort to go ever further and deeper to get fossil fuels, an understanding of limits, investment in communities, improving food security, and real democracy.  And they are willing to stop at nothing to maintain their power and privilege.
I read a world bank study on their forest lending programs.   Forest dwellers tend to be the most disenfranchised, disempowered and marginalized people in their countries.  Monetarily they are the poorest people, the least attached to the modern economy, though if left alone in the forest often they are more well nourished than tenant and small holder agriculturalists or slum dwellers in the cities.  As forests are among the most valuable resources on the planet, and one of the most critical for the development of urban economies, the powerful have been stealing forests forever.  I wrote an article analyzing the World Bank report
Here are some of the key findings I picked out
WB   2.79  page 56   The focus on engaging local resource users in decision-making is a vital element of resource management that holds potential for increasing synergy among  the three pillars. Increased local participation in environmental management is viewed as a means to eliminate inefficiency and corruption in administration of the forestry sector while enhancing equity in the distribution of economic benefits.
WB  2.82  page 57   Across the World Bank forest-related projects in the Sahel, the failure to explicitly address asymmetrical power relationships between decentralized bodies and forestry agents is likely to reduce the ability of local groups to actually exercise decision-making power in forest management.
WB  Page 100 The evolution of  the partnerships towards holistic landscape-level approaches that combine forest conservation and SFM with climate change mitigation and adaptation, improved food security and climate smart agricultural development are important achievements. The Bank‘s efforts to integrate broader governance concerns and issues, including the efforts to protect and enhance the rights of indigenous forest-dependent communities, into these approaches are also recognized as important  achievements.
In plain English, following the dictates of the rich and powerful, allowing business as usual makes poverty worse, harms ecosystems, and undermines democracy ion forest communities and nations.  In Rhode Island it is not the residents of East Greenwich that need economic development, it is the people of our EJ communities, our communities full of Brownfields: Olneyville, Pawtucket, Central Falls, West Warwick.  Old industrial places that electric power grids and automobiles made obsolete.    The people of these communities are the disempowered, disenfranchised, marginalized people of Rhode Island.  I would argue that just as the World Bank found that only systematic efforts to neutralize the power of the 1% so that the community could make its own decisions lead to good economic outcomes (always linked to good ecological outcomes) for the people in the community.  In Rhode Island the same things apply.  And that dealing with climate change is the way forward if we use the tools available.
I can assert anything I want.  I have tried mightily in this short essay to avoid the details and footnotes, but ultimately a fully documented description is necessary to make a radical case break the log jam the powerful have put in our way,  And to weave all of the connections that are necessary to a full understanding of the problems and the way forward.     I hope to have it written by summer.  In the mean time send comments and questions.  greg


Capitalism and free markets are based on the idea that everyone will have perfect information. The GMO industry claims to be for free enterprise, but they seem to constantly violate the rule of perfect information for all consumers intentionally and deceptively. clearly they are nothing but thuggish rent seekers seeking subsidies by buying public officials.


Response to the BRWCT event

Yesterday I attended a statehouse presentation coordinated by the RI Bays, Rivers, and Watersheds Coordination Team reviewing the shoreline special area management plan, the Beach SAMP. This little commentary is primarily going to those who attended, and a few of my colleagues.  The speakers, primarily from government agencies, spoke on climate change induced sea level rise and what it means for Rhode Island.  All well and good, but it was infused with a great deal of magical thinking about keeping intact our shoreline communities with private control of access to the shore while expecting public subsidy in order to safely keep them there.  There was a stunned silence after I finished my question about magical thinking, though eventually the speaker representing the Real Estate industry mouthed some platitudes.
In this age of austerity, in an age of shrinking livelihoods for many Americans, in an age where the rich demand that we cut their taxes and kowtow to their every whim, while they suck up all the money and insist that free enterprise is the way to the future, we need to call out the hypocrisy of the owners of the shore line when they demand that we either publicly fund the infrastructure they need to maintain their houses and lifestyles and allow them to violate environmental rules and common sense, while they fund climate deniers and demand that the poor be abandoned.
The sea is coming.  The issue is not how long can we hold it back for the benefit of home owners, it is how do we adapt to rising sea levels and the slow disintegration of our economy as the climate creates disaster after disaster.  We can not allow rebuilding along the cost, we need to engineer a retreat while we create much larger coastal ecological buffers that will reduce our carbon footprint, and improve our feed security.
Recycling the materials in coastal properties, especially the copper, before it falls into the sea is much better for all of us than waiting for the next storm.  If the rich insist on waiting it out until the sea comes for them, they should pay the cost of their own stupidity and not expect the rest of us to rescue them and bail them out.
Greg Gerritt


Bugs in the Burial Ground 2013

This is the final video in my 2013 series.  I do not know what most of the critters in this video are. The beginning of the video captures images of critters I netted while seeking tadpoles in Providence’s  North Burial Ground drainage swale.  I have some of those same critters captured in pixels swimming around the swale in natural habitat.  The purple flowers are I believe arrow leaf.  They grow in the drainage swale, filling the pond in late June and making it impossible to film things swimming in the water after that.  The latter part of the video was filmed at the permanent pond in the burial ground.   greg

Turtles in Action


This video project is part of the evolving Wildlife of the North Burial Ground project of Friends of the Moshassuck funded by the Rhode Island Rivers Council.
There is one full time pond in the NBG.  When i first started paying attention about 5 years ago on the sunning log you would see up to 6 turtles at a time. This past summer there were 14 after several years of growing a bit each year.  Painted Turtles.  There is also a snapping turtle in the pond most of the time, but I rarely see it and have never captured it in pixels.
Turtles are but one attraction in the pond.  I have video of fish, insects, muskrats, various birds, and various life stages of the Bullfrog from the pond all posted on this channel.
Turtles are hard to film.  They ought to be relatively easy.  They are largish, relatively slow moving.  I am still learning to make videos and had great difficulty getting clear pictures.  Besides the murky water that makes in water shots difficult, on the sunning log the intense reflection from the low morning sun off of the shells and heads means i rarely get clear pictures or good color.  Hopefully I will figure out how to deal with that eventually as I learn how to use the camera better.  And learn how to edit.
There is only 1 log to sun on in the morning in the pond and when it gets crowded it is hard to find a place to climb on.  That provides the bulk of the  action in the video.  I do not think watching a turtle repeatedly try to climb out of the pond onto the log and keep falling back in can hold a viewers attention for very long, so i experimented with speeding it up on occasion.  I think if the camera man had a steadier hand it would work pretty well.  So watch for it in 2014 as the season progresses.  And enjoy my first years efforts here.
I think I now know much more about turtles than I did before I started this endeavor, but I suspect I will learn much more over the next few years of study.  Hopefully that too will inform future posts on this channel.


Birds of the North Burial Ground 2013

This video project is part of the evolving Wildlife of the North Burial Ground project of Friends of the Moshassuck funded by the Rhode Island Rivers Council. The project evolved out of observations of tadpoles in the drainage swale, but now will video any animal we can get on camera. Birds are hard to video for an amateur like me. I have not mastered panning with them smoothly or keeping them in focus. Not quite like bullfrogs sitting in the pond or the tadpole cities of the drainage swale where motion is not an issue. Hopefully the 2014 version will be better.

Bullfrogs in the NBG 2013

After several years of observations, with a little funding from the Rhode Island Rivers Council I began a video project to record wildlife in Providence’s North Burial Ground, with an emphasis on the tadpoles in a little drainage swale near the maintenance building.   The Misadventures of an Urban Naturalist tells some of that story. There is also a larger and permanent pond in the burial ground, and it may be the best wildlife watching place in all of Providence The Bullfrogs of the larger pond were always of interest, but in some ways I used them as a back up, something else to focus on in case the drainage swale went dry and produced no tadpoles.  As I noted above, the larger pond has an abundance of wildlife, 3 types of heron, ducks, geese, cormorants, kingfishers, and swifts, as well as songbirds in profusion, muskrats, occasional otters, a growing population (from 6 to 14 over the last few years)  of painted turtles, several varieties of fish, and bullfrogs.

The size of the pond, the inaccessibility of various parts of the shoreline, and the murkiness of the water means that unlike the drainage swale certain parts of the bullfrog life cycle are inaccessible.  The most obvious missing piece is that I have never seen, let alone filmed, the early stages of bullfrog tadpole life.  Fowler’s Toads and Gray Tree Frogs complete their breeding cycle in one season.  They mate, the eggs are laid, the tadpoles develop and the frogs and toads hop away from the pond between May and August.  Bullfrogs overwinter as tadpoles the first year.  Bullfrogs mate later in the season, so the tadpoles are in the water from July until the following July.  I have never seen the newly hatched  tadpoles in the late summer.  They do not appear to swim near the surface close to shore, so I have no idea where they are.
What I do see of tadpoles is the tadpoles that have overwintered in the pond beginning in May, once the water warms up.  They float near the surface, swim around,  jump out of the water, and are generally visible nearly every day.  What gets my attention is the jumping, and the video that accompanies this essay reflects that fascination with jumping tadpoles, including the use of slow motion so the motion can be seen a bit more clearly.
In the spring, in addition to the tadpoles, there are the frogs that have overwintered.  I have a collection of shots of the various frogs that have overwintered, the rogues gallery.  There is nothing systematic about these shots, I take them when I find a frog in range,.  I know there are not very many frogs in the pond in the spring, but it would take a much more scientific approach than I can muster to actually determine the population size.
The transformation from tadpole to frog in early July is fast.  I have found only one shot that shows a Bullfrog tadpole with legs, in contrast to the abundance of footage I have of Fowlers Toads and Gray Tree Frogs with legs,   It seems like one day there is an abundance of jumping and milling tadpoles, the next day there are no tadpoles, but the shoreline of the pond is covered in small frogs.  To give some sort of reckoning of the new abundance I came up with the idea of capturing on film how many take off when I go near them.  I have shots from 2 locations, in the northwest corner of the pond near the outflow and looking north from the peninsula/point in the center of the pond on the western shore.  Slow motion is again used to show more details.
After the new frogs show up the herons become more common (Green and Night as well as Great Blue) and the population slowly dwindles under the predation until they go to sleep for the winter in the bottom of the pond, waiting for spring and the chance to do it again.  I retreat into editing, waiting for spring and a chance to see the pageant of life played out in a pond again.

Rhode map commentary

Question on the Rhode map website:

What is your vision for a new approach to economic development in Rhode Island?

My Response:  only get 1000 characters
The most important thing is to understand current conditions.  And key conditions are climate change, growing injustice, and the end of economic growth for 99% of the population.  We have to throw out the business climate BS and realize that unless we directly address inequality the economy is going to continue to deteriorate.  Another study just came out pointing how rising inequality harms economies.  Even the pope can figure it out, why not Rhode Island?
And unless we heal our ecosystems, our communities will fail.  Climate change is about to drop us off a cliff, so what we need in that case is to stop using fossil fuels and start focusing on food security.  We need to rebuild forests, fisheries, and soils, which means compost and no more food scrap in the landfill.
We need to clearly remember that there is absolutely no correlation between a good business climate and a healthy economy.  As long as business interests reduce taxes on the rich, RI will never work.

The road to prosperity

Originally written as a letter to the editor December 18, 2013  Greg Gerritt

On December 18, 2013 in a remarkable juxtaposition the Providence Journal had an article “Analysts say income gap impedes growth”,  an op-ed by by Steven Frias “Warnings of RI Stagnation go way back”, and an op-ed by John J. Colby “Wage regulation okay for the well to do”.  Mr Frias repeats the tired old cliches about the business climate saying that the only way to move the RI economy forward is to cut taxes on the rich and remove regulations that protect the public health and the environment.  The problem with Mr Frias’s argument is that there is absolutely no correlation between a good business climate and a healthy economy, and that if Rhode Island obeyed the business climate shysters what we would end up doing is increasing inequality further, which even economists and the pope are starting to realize harms the economy, as well as destroying democracy.


Mr Colby points out just how inequality has harmed our economy, the poor are unable to be the consumers our consumerist economy seems to demand.  But considering the state of the Earth, and the likelihood that changes in the climate due to overconsumption are likely to overwhelm the effects of any boost the 1% will get from adopting the greed is good model, a model based on consumerism is unlikely to help our communities.  Even the World Bank knows that ecological healing and economic justice are likely to produce better economic results than anything else in marginalized communities.  Time for Rhode Island to learn that too.

Response to article on November Jobs report

This is actually the new normal. We are unlikely to ever see economic growth large enough to create lots of jobs as technology will destroy jobs faster than it creates them. American workers are going to see a reduction in per capita income as our national economy shrinks.

The real challenge is not to keep it growing, that is an ecological and social dead end, but to shrink it in a way that grows our Gross National Happiness. The way to do that is ecological healing, shrinking inequality, and focusing on community food security and climate resilience.

Comments on ESA article

Read an article on Endangered Species Act success.  Here is what I wrote in response:


Wish the Republicans could remember when they were a party of conservation and how much it benefits communities. The Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, The ESA, are some of the most important legislation Congress has ever passed, but every day they are under threat of repeal despite near unanimous support for them from the American public.

2013 BND sites in Rhode Island

The 17th Annual Buy Nothing Day Winter Coat Exchange

Friday November 29, 2013

If you have a coat to give, please drop it off.  If you need a coat, please pick one up.  

 Some see Buy Nothing Day as an escape from the marketing mind games and the frantic consumer binge that has come to characterize the holiday season.  Others use it to expose the environmental and ethical consequences of over-consumption.  In Rhode Island  as part of International Buy Nothing Day, we hold a winter coat exchange in various locations around the state, where people who can donate coats, do so, and people who need coats pick them up.. Volunteers are needed to help with this life-affirming event.

Locations in Rhode Island


Providence  State House Lawn  brick patio across from the mall 

Collection and give away   November 29 9 AM to 1 PM

Rain location  Gloria Dei Lutheran Church  15 Hayes Street  Providence

Contacts Greg Gerritt: 331-0529;;

Phil Edmonds: 461-3683;


Pawtucket –  175 Main St   Blackstone Valley Visitors Center

Coats accepted at the visitors center and many other locations in Pawtucket  all through November during business hours.

Collection at November Winters Farmers Markets Wednesday evening and Saturday morning at Hope Artiste Village

Coats given away Friday  Nov. 29  10AM  -2PM

Contact  Arthur Pitt ;     401-369-1918

East Providence  Bridgepoint    850 Waterman Ave

Coats collected and given away Friday November 29  9 AM to 1 PM 

Coats collected throughout November at various locations in East Providence and Seekonk including the Newman YMCA.

Contact  David or Lisa Spencer  401-965-9099

 Newport – St Paul’s Church 12 West Marlborough St.

Coats collected and given away 10 AM to Noon

Contact  Reverend Becky Baumann  Coats also available at other church events

Wakefield –St. Francis Church, 114 High Street,

Coats Collected and given away 10AM to noon

Contact   Tom Abbott   401-364-0778

East Greenwich      St. Luke’s Church, 99 Pierce Street, East Greenwich

Drop Off and Exchange 10 am – 2 pm    In downstairs cafeteria.

Contact:  Jean Ann Guliano, 401-323-5196,

Greater Providence YMCA’s sites

All sites collecting coats throughout November    Most sites distributing Coats on November 29   9 AM to 1 PM

East Side/Mount Hope

Drop off coats throughout November   Not a distribution site

Contact    Christy Clausen    401-521-0155


West Bay Family YMCA Branch

Collection and distribution site

Contact   Kaitlyn Rooney     401-295-6501

Cranston YMCA

Collection and distribution site

Contact   Mike Norklun     401-943-0444


Bayside YMCA

Collection and distribution site

Contact   Michael Squatrito    401-245-2444


Kent County YMCA

Collection and distribution site

Contact  Patricia Driscoll     401-828-0130



South County YMCA

Collection and distribution site

Contact    Melissa Bousquet   401-783-3900


Newman YMCA (Seekonk, MA)

Collection site only

Contact    Paula Roy  508-336-7103

Resistance to police commissioners

The mainstream media has universally condemned the protest at Brown this week, but they are grossly wrong in their understanding of what happened.


First:  Free speech is for the people, not the government.  The job of the government is to protect the right of the people to free speech.  The government already has too many ways to get its message out, overt  and covert.  The government seems to lie freely, cover up its crimes daily≤ and try to squeeze all of the space away from whistle blowers and truth tellers.  The government owns the microphones, the media seems to acquiesce, but the people must rise up strongly and fiercely and nonviolently to prevent the government from overstepping its bounds.


In this context think again about what happened at Brown.  a behind the scenes donor wants to hear from a conservative proponent of violence against the people, the students hear about this, though not necessarily about the back door game being played in choosing him. The students petition the administration saying this is a really bad choice, the administration blows them off,.  Then at the event the administration just sort of bumbles about.  The speaker leaves with his tail between his legs and all across the world people opposed to the police state cheer.


Lets also put what was done in context in terms of the type of protest it was.  If the students had marched on  police department headquarters in NYC protesting the policy of stop and frisk, the NYPD would have beaten them with sticks, handcuffed them, denied them medical care.  They have done this to protesters regularly for YEARS.  The NYPD and its leadership have acted unconstitutionally for years.


Kelly then decides it is okay to come to Providence and spread the message that the ruling class thinks it is just fine to harass the poor and the people who do not look white enough. In other words he is a messenger of class war for the ruling class.


He comes to town, the protesters occupy the space.  Is occupying that space any different from sitting in at a congressional office?  Would the commentators have written so harshly of sitting in at a congressional office over something so egregious as blatant violations of the constitution?  How about occupying the administration building at Brown when it does something egregious?  Especially under the conditions that real progress on issues of justice at Brown usually happen only after the students do something bold and outrageous.


Thinking of what happened to Kelly as a protest is the wrong framing.  It is an act of resistance.  It is the same as the protesters going to Tahir square in Cairo to protest Mubarak and Morsi.  You think if Mubarak had come to Tahir square the people would not have screamed at him and tried to shout him down?  Under this context Kelly received mild treatment and the only thing that made this one different was the ruling class was caught by surprise, fumbled about, and have now started moaning about the evil protesters.


The shutting off of Commissioner Kelly’s microphone was an act of resistance that should be viewed for the resistance to government policy that it is  and should be cheered.









Contradictions in RI Economic Development Policy

This week the news was how great the startup culture in Rhode Island is.  We have the infrastructure to help new businesses get off the ground, and there is lots of success.  This is contrasted with the continual drumbeat about how bad the business climate is and how hard it is to grow businesses in RI.  Which is it guys????


Maybe a simplistic question, but one that goes to the heart of the misinformation about the RI economy that the media and the wealthy persist in stating.   The biggest misinformation is what a business climate is.  The exact definition is how much a state, community, or national government is willing to kowtow to the rich and allow them to run roughshod over the health and safety of the community and how little the rich have to pay in taxes to maintain the health and prosperity of the community.


Business climates are one of the tools the rich have used to beat all of us around the head by telling us that we shall have nirvana if only taxes on the rich are low enough and there are no onerous regulations on business.  There are a couple of things wrong with this model, one of which is that we are constantly told how important the place of Rhode Island is to our competitive advantage.  People love our beaches, farms, rivers, and old cities, but the only way to make money is to redevelop real estate, and for that we need to undo wetland regulations.

Another of our contradictions is that we see on a daily basis is that the rent is too damn high, but falling real estate prices are anathema to our future.  Which is it guys??  Do we want more homeless folks, more people who can not afford a place to live?  Or is rewarding speculation and too big to fail banks by creating more bubbles in real estate?


Which is going to do more for our economy, affordable housing for everyone or speculative bubbles for the banks to profit from?  The rent is still too damn high and ought to come down a lot seems much more important for our future.


The list goes on and on, but I will offer one more example and call it a day.  Current policy in RI favors the rich.  Incomes for the rich are skyrocketing while the rest of us fall further behind (see the rent is too damn high).  Nearly all of the growth in income has gone to less than 10% of the population.  But in the consumer society we live in rising inequality slows the economy as most folks do not have more money to spend.  The more unequal an economy gets, the less well it works.  So why does policy in RI flow in that direction?


Is Rhode Island ready to openly talk of its contradictions?

Response to Gary Reber essay

The flaw in this essay is that it assumes that economic growth is possible and desirable, when the reality is that the economy is already shrinking in western industrial economies due to ecological collapse, and that efforts to restart growth in the west are unlikely to succeed. We are seeing wages around the world move towards the mean, which means 90% of the folks in the west will be poorer. It still allows for growth in those places that are desperately poor, mostly because the only way any of this works is if the west gives up the right to steal the resources of the poor countries. As currently constituted, the global economy is rigged to help 1% maintain their wealth and power, which they do mostly with weapons and the ever growing police state.



Beyond ecological collapse in the ever more desperate thrashing for growth, the rigged economy generates ever greater inequality. The result of inequality is a deteriorating economy, which defeats much of the purpose of those who tout the greater power of the wealthy and their greater influence on policy. It is supposed to be able to at least create the illusion of growth during the bubbles, but even the bubbles look pretty strange when the only thing they are founded on is weird mortgages.



Tax the rich, feed the poor, heal the ecosystems. Put ecological healing and economic justice together, understand how the economy has to shrink in order to keep the planet livable, remember that community can substitute for a great deal of money, and that economic democracy is as important these days for community prosperity as political democracy.



I have been participating in the Rhode Map process and have been somewhat troubled by its approach.  The most troubling is that it is mostly focused on economic growth with the other factors that sustain communities relegated to the second tier, subservient to growth.  The reason this troubles me so much is that economic growth, the kind that lifts all ships as productivity rises, has disappeared from the industrial world and is not coming back.  While many people scoff at the end of growth, the literature describing why this is happening, and how, is large.  The concept is still under observation, and there are ways to get a little growth in the short term, but to put all of our marbles in the growth basket is naive under conditions on planet Earth in the 21st Century.
The ecological collapse/global weirding that we are observing in the loss of forests, extreme storms, and food insecurity is deeply connected to the growing inequality that has overrun the global and American economies as the wealthy look for speculative investment rather than steady productivity gains.   The casino economy and our obsession with the business climate as opposed to the changes in the actual climate are clearly related to the end of growth as the wealthy can not find actually productive investments that return what they expect and have resorted to rent seeking and buying the political process.  Real estate speculation and the financialization of the economy are what they turn to when there is nothing else.  They have figured out how to profit from bubbles.  While the rest of us get poorer.  And the rest of us getting poorer is exactly why we know we are at the end of growth.
RhodeMap with its emphasis on growth centers it almost entirely a real estate speculation oriented program.  It merely seeks to move the real estate speculation to specific places rather than question why real estate speculation is our major economic indicator and how it relates to the further impoverishment of the people of Rhode Island.
While paying lip service to ecology, biodiversity, equity,  it is clear Rhode Map is driven by the desires of the rich, and is therefore likely to produce little of what really benefits the people of Rhode Island.  We would be much better served by a program that put ecology and equity first with the direction of investment coming after that, and that was also based on an understanding that the economy of Rhode Island will shrink over the next generation and we would be best served if we managed the shrinkage in a way that reduced the power of the rich and shared the income more equally.

Greg’s 60th Birthday conference speakers list

Greg’s 60th Birthday Conference Speakers

The morning line up will start at 10 AM with welcomes from the hosts and the politicians that wander in.
Tony Affigne will be the MC.
Then I get to talk. Not sure what I will be talking about one month from now, depends upon what catches my ear and is being processed, but I will give an overview of what I think RI needs as well as give my own welcome to the assembled.
Then we have the keynoter  Margaret Flowers co director of Its Our Ecoonomy.  The more people I talk to, the more I find folks familiar with Margaret’s work on health care.  She has broadened her horizons and I am really looking forward to meeting her and listening to her.
Then we have lunch.  I am still looking for some special presentation during lunch, but maybe I will just show my tadpole development video.
After lunch will be a series of 15 to 20 minute talks by some of the more interesting practioners and ponderers in Rhode Island, though lead off by an outsider who is one of my favorite observers of the American scene, Sam Smith.
The afternoon lineup beginning at 1:15
Towards an economy that works for all        Sam Smith     Editor of the Progressive Review,
Nourishing Rhode Island’s Future    Katherine Brown  Ph D. Rockbridge Farm
Natural resources: Rhode Island’s economy and landscape   Ken Payne   Administrator, RI Agricultural Partnership, and Principal, System Aesthetics LLC.
Building Resilient Community Economies       Robert Leaver     New Commons
What Should We Do and Not Do to Revitalize Rhode Island’s Economy?        Marshall Feldman     Director of Research and Academic Affairs at URI’s Center for Urban Studies and Research and an Associate Professor in URI’s Charles T. Schmidt, Jr. Labor Research Center.
Inequality and the prospects for prosperity in Rhode Island     Eric Hirsch   Professor of Sociology  Providence College
Achieving Economic Justice: Implementing An Urban RI Economic Strategy Plan     Keith Stokes    Mayforth Group
Valuing the urban forest      Ray Perrault      Director  Trees 2020  Groundwork Providence
Some effects of the military industrial complex on Rhode Island    Martha Yager  Program Coordinator  American Friends Service Committee SENE
Ecological Economics   Greg Gerritt  Practice Focused on Community Prosperity on Planet Earth
Register by emailing Greg Gerritt   Please let me know if you will be attending the conference, the party, or BOTH and how many people ( and who)  will be in your entourage.
Conference costs    $40 per person.  If the price is too high, let me know.  Your presence is more important than your money.
Just coming to the party    $40 per person.    If the price is too high, let me know.  Your presence is more important than your money.
BOTH   $60 per person     If the price is too high, let me know.  Your presence is more important than your money.
SPONSORS    I am hoping many of you will be able to donate a bit more to support the work of the Environmental Justice League of Rhode Island and Groundwork Providence two small non profits in Providence that I am proud to be associated with, and who are in the trenches helping prepare the community and the people in the community for the changes we are going through.   If you can not attend, please consider giving in honor of my birthday.
$100 per person or more would be gratefully accepted and acknowledged with a listing in the program under “I am standing with Greg on his birthday for environmental and economic justice.
Checks made out to the Environmental Justice League of RI  (EJLRI is fine) can be mailed to Greg Gerritt   37 6th St  Providence RI 02906
Or  pay on line at   

Environmental Justice and the Rhode Island Economy

Environmental Justice and improving the RI economy.  Greg Gerritt  September 2013
Over a 25 year period i have evolved a “Practice Focused on Community Prosperity on Planet Earth”.     Its slogan is “You can not heal ecosystems without ending poverty, you can not end poverty without healing ecosystems..”  The practice developed from the observation that the poorest people live in the most degraded ecosystems and that the only way to help communities prosper is by addressing both the poverty and the ecosystem degradation simultaneously thorough reforestation, building soils, restoring fisheries, cleaning up pollution.     This is true whether in rural villages or urban slums. As a result of the convergence of situations we find in lower income rural and urban communities living in degraded ecosystems we need ways forward that are applicable in communities across the globe, In the industrial west and in the tropics.  Struggling communities seeking prosperity in current conditions need to heal ecosystems, reduce inequality (1), develop resilience in the face of climate change, and surf the massive changes in the global economy as economic growth continues to slow (2) and all countries converge towards the global mean in per capita income.
Given the global upheavals, economic development in the 21st Century is going to be a bottom up affair if it is going to work and it will need to keep food security front and center.  Climate induced Bread Riots were the spark that touched off the Arab Spring (3), building on the long term trauma of living in places with too little water, too few jobs, and too little justice.   The forces of patriarchy have tried to smother the democratic and justice sparks of the Arab Spring. Despite the continued maintenance of political power by traditionally hierarchical systems based on ecological devastation and violently enforced inequality, the oligarchy is no longer able to deliver prosperity to the masses (4, 4A) . So the young demand justice knowing that that is the only way to get the economy to work.  Another world is possible.
Many of the poorer countries on the planet are still seeing a rise in per capita income towards towards the global mean, but rarely doing it in a way that spreads the wealth or preserves the ecosystems that feed them. (5, 6)   In an effort to maintain their power as the global economy slows, the rich have fostered an ever more unequal system so that they can maintain their privilege and the illusion of wealth while everyone else in the west gets poorer and communities around the world are devastated.    is one of the propagandists of the vision of global domination by wealthy white men.   NSA style snooping is how the government and the ruling class seek to damp down the resistance to the oligarchy, their economy, and the pseudo democracy they offer. Thank you Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden for pulling back the curtain.
The urge to create a security state is nothing new for the oligarchs, they have always created enemies to kill,  but today some of the tools the capitalists have developed to cover their economic tracks can no longer pretend the times are good. Even the World Bank, the cudgel of privatization and austerity, knows the current system is breaking down and that a new strategy is necessary (7) . Historic growth rates will not be returning except in places with some newly exploitable natural resource to devastate and pollute with such as places now being fracked. (8) Overall in the US 60% of the growth is in the medical industrial complex   (9), and the rest is being sucked out by Wall St. or contributing to global warming. 90% of us are already getting poorer and receiving degraded services.
Business as usual is failing because it is not based on the truth, ecologically or economically.   The more this becomes obvious, the more the forces of the 1% work to convince us that what they are doing to us is good.  We are bombarded with the message that doing exactly what business wants, eliminating rules, allowing more pollution and degradation, lowering taxes is the only way to more money. They call this having a good business climate and beat us about the head telling us we must obey, despite no evidence tying community prosperity to the business climate.  Do we really want the economy of Mississippi? (10 )
The World Bank describes forest communities as sitting on some very valuable and easily capturable resources.  (11)
 ”…….forests often have a combination of capturable wealth but poor, isolated, and powerless residents. Powerful interest groups can seize this wealth, depriving poor people of access to forest resources, and sometimes contributing to corruption and poor governance at the national level. Because it is more profitable to mine the forest than to manage it sustainably, this contributes  also to environmental damage.`
The people are marginalized, disempowered, disenfranchised. Often forest people are of a different ethnicity than the wealthier people of the cities. The mechanism of displacement is often a general or warlord on the take from Asian Pulp & Paper or some other corporados.   Two major factors right now are driving global deforestation.  Plantations for global corporate agriculture and China wants the wood to build its new cities and provide raw materials for its factories,  China has very limited forest resources  due to thousands of years of deforestation so it is cleaning out what is left in Indonesia, Southeast Asia, and Africa.  (12)  Money changes hands, legislators vote for concessions, a new supply zone is now open for destruction, The community is soon headed headed for shanty towns and malnutrition, while the wood heads to the city and is often used by the employers who hire the refugees as low cost labor.  Resisters to government/warlord stealing of community forests are being killed across the world.  (13) Genocide has often been the tool of choice when powerful interests want a new forest to cut.
Rhode Island is the Industrial West’s fun house version of what is going on in forests around the world (the Great Swamp Massacre was not much different from what is going on in Irian Jaya today), where inner city populations are of a different ethnicity than the wealthy suburbanites and efforts to disenfranchise voters and ignore the will of the people are well known. In Rhode Island unless we encourage the paving over of farms and forests, which is an extremely stupid thing to do in the current global situation in which food security is critical to our development efforts, the prized sites for development in the cities are the brownfields, usually the old mills or dumps that line our rivers and dot our neighborhoods.  Our heavy and textile manufacturing is essentially gone, leaving toxic sites, degraded rivers, and poisoned low income people surrounding the sites.  The game of developing these sites so that they can generate money for the wealthy plays out similarly to the development of forest communities by the generals,   In the US we call these disenfranchised and marginalized communities subject to degradation Environmental Justice communities, EJ for short, and in our old deindustrialized industrial revolution heartland, these communities are treated similarly to forest communities in southern Asia that have been targeted for resource extraction.  With similar results.  It is my contention that the best practices that have been developed over the years to help forest communities develop themselves, the ones that yield the best results in terms poverty reduction, ecological healing, and contributions to the larger economy, provide some very clear lessons for places like Rhode Island. If we placed those same best policies and practices at the heart of all economic development efforts in Rhode island, rather than the business climate, we would achieve much better results in high poverty areas, and for the entire state, than anything going on today.
The best practices prescription the World Bank (14) offers for sound economic development based on their experience in forest communities:
Make sure the project has an ecological sustainability component based on real science and ecosystem health,
Include efforts to directly address poverty, especially addressing the needs of the poorest people and most disenfranchised in the community,
Put specific safeguards in place to make sure the capturable benefits stay in the community rather than end up in the hands of those who already have power and resources,
Develop democratic processes and practices for directing investment, and
Specifically encourage and train communities to stand up for themselves, while setting up a structural framework of real democracy in the larger community
I do not know about you, but that sounds exactly like the approach to development that is needed in our EJ communities and in Rhode Island in general, and is the one that most effortlessly puts money in government coffers as well with a fair taxation system  If the capturable resource is abandoned mills and the result of development tends towards displacement of the community already there as it is upscaled, how does this differ from forest people ending up in shanty towns when the generals steal their forest?    If the community has no say in what happens, if they suffer the burdens and displacement of development but not the benefits, how does that differ from what forest people get, and how does that change as to what we ought to do to remedy the situation?  And how does this not fit in to the picture of 121% of all the income growth going to 1% of the people?  (15)
It says to me that the best way to get economic development right in poor communities, or actually all communities, is to practice economic democracy, To allow the community not only a voice, but a vote and a stake in what happens to them and the land in their community.  The way forward is not continued deregulation, allowing harm to communities, it is not restricting labor rights or cutting benefits, it is not lowering minimum wages and the like.  It is not making a place business friendly.   It is bringing low income communities in to the process  and making sure the pie is more equitably distributed and the environment healed.   This is massively resisted by those who most benefit from the current system in Rhode Island and those who claim the mills as their property, just as it is resisted by the warlords in Africa trying to control the flows of wood and coltan.  The World Bank offers us a way forward, and everything we have learned in the Environmental Justice movement over the last 30 years says that is a path with heart.  The ecological condition of the planet says follow this path.  And the changing economies across the world say the old development model is failing fast.  The growing inequality and a system based on eternal growth and resource depletion is incompatible with making our communities and planet livable. (16)
The end of economic growth in the west was noted and footnoted earlier, but not adequately explored, and it adds an additional complication to the shifts communities all over the world are going through as they find economic equality such a critical component of poverty ending development.  So lets explore this and a few other factors so that we can relate them back to the other disasters /opportunities we are facing.
Economic growth that we have come to love and honor and rely upon to cover the tracks of the massive stealing by the rich, the system that allowed a few crumbs to trickle down to the rest of us because there was plenty more where it came from for the wealthy, is essentially gone, partly from ecosystem collapse, partly because inequality grinds economies to a halt, and maybe because the industrial revolution has run out of job creating innovations (17, 18) . At least one author has gone so far as to suggest that it is impossible to build modern industrial economies without new forests to exploit (19) something that is rapidly disappearing on planet Earth.  The stats coming out say the US economy grew about 2.5% a year last quarter (20). Not quite the 3% that signals good times, but the best in years.  What the media forget to tell us is that for the last 5 years more than 100 percent of the growth in income has ended up in the hands of 1% of the population.  (21)    Maybe 5% of the population has done well for itself, but wages are sinking for most workers and have been for years.  So for 80% of Americans there is no economic growth already and nothing in the offing from the traditional leadership seems like it will restart the jobs machine or relink it to improvements in productivity.  The growth is just funny money the rich play with so they can steal ours.
Another condition not mentioned in polite company is that 60% of the pseudo growth is in an industry that is bankrupting the country.  The Medical Industrial Complex. (22)  People are going bankrupt due to the high price of health care, while workplaces and municipalities are finding they can not afford health care for their employees or communities.  By every measure the US has the most expensive health care system in the world, and one of the worst of the industrial systems for most consumers. It takes from the poor and gives to the rich. This sector is growing at the expense of nearly every other sector in the American economy and Congress offers us pseudo solutions that keep the Insurance fat cats fatter while stymieing the ability of people to start and run microbusinesses.   So nearly everyone else is worse off now than they would be if the health care economy in the US was proportionally as large as it is in Western Europe and as good. Our political leadership keeps touting the medical industrial complex as a, economic growth center while trying to rein in health care spending.  Such contradictory goals highlight the problems we face as a community. Especially when the overall system is geared to expensive cures rather than cheaper prevention.
Due to the various “free” trade pacts large corporations have negotiated on their own behalf and then paid politicians to solemnize, wages in the US are trending down towards the global mean,and  have been for quite a while.  The buying power of the average American continues to go down every year ( 23)  and long term unemployment is spreading.  Even employed people have a harder time making ends meet each year as wages lag productivity.  Yet consumerism continues to be the state religion and every time housing prices go up the media pundits dance a jig despite the fact that many people, especially lower income people, are paying way too much of their income on housing ( 24). The rent is still too damn high. While the wealthy squawk when we tell them that we can no longer allow building in places at risk from rising sea levels and bigger storms.
When we go to the halls of government and community meetings to explore prosperity for RI, there is still much resistance to speaking the truth, of describing the inequality growing among us like a cancer and describing the results inequality brings to the economy and the ecosystem.  The economic development specialists continue to deny the reality that American Capitalism is no longer delivering the goods to any except Wall St.  The developers offer us a 50 year track record of failure in Rhode Island but continue to insist the emperor is clothed.  They offer us rising inequality, dropping wages, climate change, artificial foods, expensive health care, and diminished democracy held together by the national surveillance state, the thugs of the empire, and the criminalizing of dissent.   And have the audacity to tell us our business climate is bad and that giving the rich more would solve all of our problems.
Given the track record it is time for a new approach.  So let us try using the principles the World Bank offers us, which turn out to be exactly the same principles we have developed after looking at what kind of development really does alleviate poverty in the West and especially in EJ communities.  Take the principles of the Environmental Justice movement and put them at the heart of our work on developing the economy for all of our communities while remembering to ponder development in an age of no growth.  The key is development, not growth.  Using less but encouraging a healthy community without a toxic burden.  Providing for more of our own needs, becoming fossil fuel free and growing more of our food regionally.  Equality, community, justice and a proper and well maintained infrastructure are a great substitute for useless stuff.
While the EJ movement developed out of the civil rights movement and the environmental movement, it crystalized around some reports in the 1980’s about the ridiculously high incidence of the most toxic industrial and waste treatment sites being sited in the most vulnerable communities. (25)  From this beginning we have also come to see how it applies equally to the redevelopment of inner city sites, the lifting of historic toxic burdens from the working people in old and post industrial communities, and economic development in our communities in general.    Many years ago I wrote after my first visit to Milwaukee that it was following exactly the same redevelopment model that Providence was following with the resculpting of the riverside neighborhoods.  Both the positives and the negatives of redevelopment mimicked those of Providence, and were resulting in the same sort of gentrification of neighborhoods.  In the post real estate bubble crash of the economy Providence developed several shanty towns that the police wiped out, displacing a number of people.  We supposedly have shelters, Asia and Latin America have shanty towns, But shanty town or shelter it is the poor being displaced again because the financialization of the economy that functions by the rich capturing the capturable resources of the community and everyone else getting poorer.   Sometimes we get the illusion of growth, but often the growth we see is the result of adding to the economy things we should be subtracting.  If you do not subtract the cost of displacement and the diminishment of the resource base,  it is easier to pretend the economy is growing.
So the goal ought to be the redevelopment of old industrial sites in a way that keeps all of the added value in the community and displaces no one.  That requires that the community be an integral part of the development planning from day one, and that they get most of the economic benefits rather than the benefits leaking out of the community.  A system that uses private developers might work if democracy was enforced and communities could choose not to be displaced, and if no special treatment was asked for by the rich.  But the reality is that economic development  is a game played by governments and developers with all kinds of goodies not accessible to most in the community.  It is not private enterprise, despite the propaganda. The government provides the basics, everyone else follows along, and we allow the biggest followers to pick up most of the money created instead of an equitable distribution.  No wonder our communities are suffering.
Several years ago several people associated with the Environmental Justice League of Rhode island spent a year negotiating with the RI Department of Environmental Management on new rules for the redevelopment of brownfields, specifically focusing on community involvement.  We developed a set of rules that made the process transparent and fostered community involvement.  Those rules still sit in limbo, the DEM not having sufficient staff or political capital in the age of the business climate obsession to finalize them. The false austerity reigns.   It is clear that to further develop the compost industry in RI, to remove a major pollutant from the waste stream and reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, while providing a critical resource for our agricultural economy and food security, we need a new set of rules governing compost facilities.  Several of us developed a set of rules and sent them over the RIDEM.  Again DEM due to state budget cuts targeting enforcement had insufficient staff to review and revise the rules and they sit in limbo as does the industry.  But wealthy interests continue to call for the deregulation of everything, especially rules that protect clean water and the legislature follows their lead,  despite no evidence that the business climate actually measures anything useful or contributes to prosperity  (26)
We are stuck.  Gridlock in Washington, unanimity on Smith Hill, all following the business climate lemming march to ecological and community apocalypse.  The withering of the economy makes the business climate fantasy ever more dangerous for our communities, but the beat of the business climate propaganda machine, the repression of democracy, the criminalizing of dissent and the disenfranchisement of the poor make resistance tougher.  But we plod on, bringing the message of justice and ecological healing as the way forward.  RI has several public processes going on and is drifting ever faster into the business climate fantasy.  But the message of economic democracy, of ecological healing and the ending of poverty as the keys to prosperity, will march along with the EJ movement and will change the world. Instead of resisting, a clearer understanding of these changed conditions by the political and business leadership in Rhode Island would get all of us much more of what we want, Prosperity for all in healthy communities.
1.   Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett       The Spirit Level       Bloomsbury Press New York 2010
2.   Robert J Gordon     Is US Economic Growth Over?  Faltering Innovation Confronts Six Headwinds   NBER Working Paper No. 18315   Issued in August 2012
3.    2011 Food Price Spikes Helped Trigger Arab Spring, Researchers Say    Steve Baragona      Last updated on: December 13, 2011 7:00 P

4.  Valerie M Moghadam  Development and Patriarchy   :  The Middle East and North Africa in Economic and Demographic Transition   World Institute for Development Economics Research of the  United Nations University    Working Paper 99 July 1992

4A  India’s Economy  A Five-Star Problem    The Economist  Aug30 2013  by P. F. Mumbai

5.  Growth and Poverty in Developing Countries    Montek S. Ahluwalia, Nicholas G. Carter and Hollis B. Chenery

Development Policy Staff, The World Bank, Washington, DC 20433, USA Received December 1978    (from Journal of Development Economics 6 (1979) 299-341 © North-Holland Publishing Company)

6. China moves to curb rising income inequality       By Charles Riley and Vivian Kam  @CNNMoney February 5, 2013: 11:50 PM ET
7.       Managing Forest Resources for Sustainable Development: An Evaluation of World Bank Group Experienceprepared by the Independent Evaluation Group, distributed internally on December 28, 2012
8.     Robert J Gordon     Is US Economic Growth Over?  Faltering Innovation Confronts Six Headwinds   NBER Working Paper No. 18315   Issued in August 2012
9.    Health-Care Spending to Reach 20% of U.S. Economy by 2021      By Alex Wayne – Jun 13, 2012 12:01 AM ET
10.  Grading Places:      What Do the Business Climate Rankings Really Tell Us?   by Peter Fisher, with a Preface by Greg LeRoy     May 2013
11.    Managing Forest Resources for Sustainable Development: An Evaluation of World Bank Group Experienceprepared by the Independent Evaluation Group, distributed internally on December 28, 2012
12.  China’s Forestry Resource Inventory     Prepared By:     Mark Petry & Zhang Lei    USDA Global Agricultural Information Network’s%20Forestry%20Resource%20Inventory_Beijing_China%20-%20Peoples%20Republic%20of_2009-12-15.pdf
13.     Cambodian police shoot dead leading anti-logging campaigner
14.    Managing Forest Resources for Sustainable Development: An Evaluation of World Bank Group Experienceprepared by the Independent Evaluation Group, distributed internally on December 28, 2012
15.    Top One Percent Captured 121 Percent Of All Income Gains During Recovery’s First Years: Study        Bonnie Kavoussi  The Huffington Post

Posted: 02/12/2013 2:11 pm EST


16.  James D Ramsey and Terence M. O’Sullivan       There’s a Pattern Here: The Case to Integrate Environmental Security into Homeland Security Strategy

Homeland Security Affairs  The Journal of the Naval  Postgraduate School Center for Homeland Defense and Security

17.   Robert J Gordon     Is US Economic Growth Over?  Faltering Innovation Confronts Six Headwinds   NBER Working Paper No. 18315   Issued in August 2012

18.     Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett       The Spirit Level       Bloomsbury Press New York 2010

19.  Immanuel Wallerstein  The Modern World-System: Capitalist Agriculture and the Origins of the European World-Economy in the Sixteenth Century. New York: Academic Press, 1976,

20.   United States’ 2nd-Quarter Growth Is Revised Up to 2.5%, From 1.7%  New York Times

Published: August 29, 2013 

21.  Top One Percent Captured 121 Percent Of All Income Gains During Recovery’s First Years: Study        Bonnie Kavoussi  The Huffington Post

Posted: 02/12/2013 2:11 pm EST

22.  Health-Care Spending to Reach 20% of U.S. Economy by 2021      By Alex Wayne – Jun 13, 2012 12:01 AM ET
23. Lawrence Mishel and Heidi Shierholz     A Decade of Flat Wages     The Key Barrier to Shared Prosperity and a Rising Middle Class

Economic Policy Institute   August 21, 2013  


24   Home prices across the US defy gravity      John W. Schoen   CNBC    Aug. 26, 2013   8:48 AM
25.  Bullard, R. D. 1990. Dumping in Dixie: Race, class, and environmental quality. Boulder, CO: Westview.
26    Grading Places:      What Do the Business Climate Rankings Really Tell Us?   by Peter Fisher, with a Preface by Greg LeRoy     May 2013


McKinney Global Report

I have been reading a McKinney Global report on 5 areas of opportunity for the US economy.  It reads just like every other report on economic development potential I have read for the last 20 years and misses the boat just as much.  it is the business climate argument writ large.  Reduce regulation seems to be the obsession, all the while minimizing the risk of environmental catastrophe and downplaying all the risks.  Fracking is one of the stalking horses that McKinney just loves and climate change while mentioned, is just plain out of the calculations.  Another dumb report

The misadventures of an urban naturalist

Published on ecoRI news

Ever since I moved to Providence from the northwoods my daily walking has taken me to the cemeteries of the East Side.  I still walk frequently in the Swan Point Cemetery but ever since a neighborhood delegation convinced the Parks Department to quit locking the pedestrian entrances to the North Burial Ground I have spend much time there looking at the two ponds.  In the NBG the larger pond, the one right below the esker, is a treasure trove of wildlife.  There are fish, turtles (at least 2 kinds) Bullfrogs, a variety of waterbirds (ducks, geese,Green herons, Night Herons, Great Blue Herons, Kingfishers, Cormorants) muskrats and otters.  Swan Point provides an occasional opportunity to see large and charismatic wildlife such as Bald Eagles or a flock of 15 Great Blue Herons, but day in and day out if you need a small wildlife fix, the pond at the Burial Ground will show you something almost every day.
The bigger pond will be included in this tale of misadventure and discovery, but the scene of the crime is actually a little drainage swale just below the maintenance building.  It has water in it most of the time, but does go dry when we hit a long dry spell.  It is about 50 ft by 75 ft, maybe 2ft deep at its deepest point.  I had walked in the Burial Ground occasionally prior to its unlocking, but had no memories of the drainage swale.
But several years ago some time in May or June, (I have no recollection of the date, only the wonder) I was walking by the pond ( which is how one might normally think of it until they checked out the drainage system more carefully and realized it was man made) looking at the water and saw these little black tadpoles swimming around in the water.  It was the first tadpoles I had seen in years, and most definitely the first opportunity for the study of tadpoles since I had studied evolution and could understand what I was looking at.
For the few weeks in the late spring and early summer that they were turning from tadpole to ( and here the misadventure begins) frog  I watched nearly daily.  Actually I did not know what kind of tadpoles they were, did not know you could look at tadpole pictures to identify them, but figured when they turned to frogs I would be able to identify them.
There were thousands of them, and mostly they swam about the shallow water right offshore in plain sight.  I brought my bird watching scope and had some very good viewing.  Eventually i saw legs and they turned to frogs in early July.  I looked carefully at some before they hopped away.  They were mostly gray with dark markings on the back.  On line I looked at frog pictures and thought they were Gray Tree Frogs.  I gave it no other thought other than that is what I started calling them, while I awaited the next spring so I could watch again and learn more.
The second year I saw them early, watched all the way through, learned that this bunch were mating repeatedly with tadpoles showing up in cohorts in May and June. Again the first week of July, they were gone.  I also realized that the ease of observation might just make it a great place for both educational and video purposes.  I continued my observations, starting to think about recording the dates of first sightings and last, began to understand the waves of maturation as likely resulting from successive nights of mating, and began to look for some sort of program for young teens who might be interested in creating a video.  Luddite that i am it was hard to imagine me getting and figuring out how to use a camera.  So I figured some program for teens might have one or two that would be interested in such a thing.  I still have not found them.
My third year of observation, while I was still hoping some teenagers would work with me (I continue to offer the opportunity for teenagers in my neighborhood) I actually recorded the date I first saw tadpoles, May 12.   In retrospect I realize I paid little attention to pond dynamics other than knowing it would go dry in a drought and watching it empty and fill with the weather.   One highlight of the year was bringing my great niece down to the pond for her first look at tadpoles.  For that we netted a few, looked at them briefly, then put them back and netted a new crop.  They are so easy to net that even a three year old could do it.  She was gentle and practiced catch and release.  I also spent a bit more energy watching the vegetation in the pond, and realized that about the time the tree frogs were hopping away the vegetation in the pond was starting to get thick and eventually became so thick that you could not see into the pond to watch anything.
This third year I also became aware that as the Tree Frogs were leaving, a new crop of tadpoles was becoming visible.  Again my ignorance showed and I assumed that since there were bullfrogs not very far away, and that as the pond did not go dry every year Bullfrogs might be fooled into trying live there on occasional dispersals from crowded ponds.  I assumed they were bullfrog tadpoles.  Between the vegetation and the pond going dry I saw no more of the new tadpoles after mid July and thought I might find out more the next year.
After two years of looking for a program to work with on the video I decided it was time to do it myself.  That and the Rhode Island Rivers Council suggested that Friends of the Moshassuck to do more than work on its experimental forest every year. So FOTM applied for a few hundred dollars in our annual Rivers Council grant application to make a video on the development of Gray Tree Frog tadpoles from first appearance to hopping up the hill and away from the pond. The request was funded and I jumped in along with my friend and fellow Friends of the Moshassuck board member Michael Bradlee.  Thank you RI Rivers Council for your support of this project.
I got a used JVC camera up on Hope St, It spent weeks on my desk while I figured out how to find the owners manual and reading it.  Eventually, some time in early March, I just started taking it outside and turning it on.  I then spent two weeks recording and deleting strange shots of the ground, monologues, and experiments with focusing and magnification, and then figured out how to get into imovie.   I started collecting video of the two ponds in the North Burial Ground towards the end of March 2013 and vowed to learn to edit them.  I eventually learned you can do primitive editing simply by copying, pasting, deleting, and that I can do.  I also learned about slow motion, and I have learned much about tadpole locomotion by watching slowed down swimming and jumping.   I still can not do captions, voice overs, music or anything else, but it was enough to get started.
From the start it was clear to me that while the grant was for a tadpole video, it made sense to record all of the different wildlife  in the Burial Ground.  Early on there were the birds and much footage of efforts to get birds in focus and keep them in the screen has been deleted.  I continue capturing birds in pixels and am looking to eventually produce a video collage of the birds of the NBG.  I am slightly more adept today than I was in March but actually just became comfortable with shooting and shooting and getting 5 usable seconds.  Under those standards I even have a few shots of swifts and the red tail hawks.
When it became warm and sunny in April the bigger pond came alive with Painted Turtles and Bullfrogs.  I have been tracking the turtles and Bullfrogs over the last few years as well as the tadpoles of the little pond.  Two years ago I regularly counted 9 turtles on the morning sunning log, and last year there were 12.  This year I have seen as many as 14 at a time during the spring peak.  The turtles taught me much about video production.  My tendency is to futz and the turtles reminded me to set the camera, get the turtles in focus, hit record and walk away.  The magnification and distance meant that with the naked eye I could only see the outline of what was going on, and on the little screen that shows you what you are filming it is hard to see much, so all of the interesting turtle behavior observed is the result of reviewing my footage after the fact.  Do not know what I will do with it all, turtles can be pretty boring and immobile for long stretches, but there is some interesting footage and I expect I will find a few minutes of action to show when I get to turtle videos.  On May 12 I I learned how easy it is to finish up a video in imovie (click on finish)  and post it on to youtube (click on share) . I created the moshassuckcritters youtube channel and posted small snippets of a bullfrog sitting in the pond, some turtles sunning, and calling frogs.  The Bullfrog footage continues to be collected, and I will eventually produce a Bullfrog video.
While I had gotten in the habit over the last few years of walking in the Burial Ground, even at night, I had not taken to walking late enough to see the frog matings in the long days of May and June.  But with video project underway Michael Bradlee and i spent a number of evenings trying to get pictures of mating frogs (only one quick shot that is included in the Fowler’s Toad development video) and recording lots of calling. Mating took place on multiple nights when conditions were favorable.  I started posting short snippets of calls right away.  It is only as i now go through the material making videos from the raw footage that I have heard the clear distinction between the calls of the frogs and the toads.  Because we assumed we knew what we were listening to (tree frogs), we did not do our homework, though i listened to some tree frog calls on the web and what we heard seemed to match up. Of course this being a misadventure I was totally confused about what we had in the little pond,  Sometimes it sounded like we were hearing two different critters, but we were never sure, and just assumed tree frogs were multi tonal.  As I was writing this, and simultaneously working on putting the Gray Tree Frog Development video together, I listened to two sets of calling one right after the other.  The calls were very distinct and i realized for the first time I could  tell which calls were which.    Though I checked with some experts before totally believing it. Clearly this is something I am going to have to pay much more attention to next spring when I do this again.
Beginning on June 5 little black critters filled the little pond, thousands of them over the next few weeks.  Assuming the were Tree Frogs I posted videos, did interviews, wrote blog posts about them.  In their early stage they remind me of pelagic shellfish, on steroids.  I often think of them as harried commuters living in tadpole cities during the morning commute, often with a predominant direction.  It is a sight to behold, these little critters going every which way, bumping into each other, stopping here and there then moving on.   Over the last few years it is the mad rush of the tadpoles swimming that has stuck in my mind the most.  But this year i was actually recording things and reviewing them and a new picture began to emerge.  Turns out the pelagic stage lasts barely a week, at which point they start to settle down in the vegetation and eat.  They are still hyper, moving a lot, but staying on the vegetation and eating much of the time.  Most tadpoles eat bacteria on the plants in the water, very different fare from the insects and other small creatures they eat after transformation.  I have included video of Fowlers toad tadpoles grazing on what grows on the grass.
The pond is open water in the cold weather, but as the pond heats up an amazing array of plants spring up, and they cover the entire surface of the pond by late June.  I noticed this phenomenon last year, but this year I paid much more attention.  By June 18 it was starting to get very difficult to get clear shots into the water of the tadpoles hidden as they were in the bottom vegetation, and the flowering plants above the surface began covering the entire pond with their leaves.  June 22 was the last day i could get a clear shot of anything in the pond, and that was the day I made my first pictures of the second round of tadpoles in the pond.
Turns out I had focused the camera on the water, turned it on, and then turned to talk to a colleague who had shown up.  It was only later, many days later, when i got a chance to look at the footage that I realized what I had captured.   The 23rd I returned to the pond with my great niece for the second year in a row and netted tadpoles for her to look at and to video.  It was then I became aware of the diversity in the pond, and events were set off that eventually turned the misadventures in taxonomy into a much more accurate picture.  In addition to catching little black tadpoles in all stages, no legs, two legs, four legs, and the first frogs of the season, we caught a few tadpoles with green skin a large flat tail and a golden disk, the ones I had seen the year before and thought were bullfrogs.
By this time I had learned that there are tadpole identification guides and I checked out a few on line.  I assumed it was bullfrogs, maybe with a few coming over from the big pond a few hundred yards away, but that did not seem quite right looking at the pictures.  They looked the most like Gray Tree Frogs, but i was very skeptical because I thought the little black tadpoles turned into Tree Frogs.  So I posted a video clip and started asking my colleagues at DEM, RINHS, and assorted places what they were.  I received I do not know answers, and some guesses as good as mine, but eventually I was connected to Chris Raithel of the RI Department of Environmental Management and Peter Paton at URI.  Peter clearly identified the new tadpoles as Gray Tree Frogs.  When i had absorbed that information I asked what were these little black tadpoles that turned into gray frogs.  The original word came back as American Toads, which was quickly updated to Fowler’s Toads.  I realized how big a misadventure i had been on for two years, though no real harm done, I needed to correct everything.  So I fixed the titles and write ups on the videos and fixed some of the writing about frogs on my blog.
The use of the net to catch tadpoles and froglets for videoing on June 23 changed the project dramatically, and allowed it to go forward at a time when it was impossible to video into the pond.  I quickly developed a methodology that got me as clear pictures as an amateur like me was going to get , that also allowed the tadpoles to have water  and to get them back into the pond safely.  This allowed me to capture much more detail in the development of the legs, and the sequences I have of very tiny legs in the Tree Frogs are not matched in the pictures I have of developing Toads.  I have a few glimpses of toads in slow motion showing what might be the early stages leg development, but nothing very clear until videoing netted tadpoles on June 23.  What I did get on the toads is cool pictures of them in the two and 4 legged stages.  The two legged stage is still very much water adapted. When the toads were in my hand or the net trying to move using 2 legs essentially jammed their faces into the substrate and they only moved by thrashing around.  Once front legs develop they start to walk and it is this four legged stage while still having a large tail, that i found the most interesting.  The developing toads looked like little dinosaurs or lizards, while the other stages look only like amphibians.
For the next few weeks the number of toad tadpoles caught each day went down while occasionally there would be an eruption of toadlets as the next mating night batch finished their development and left the pond.  I included a bit of hopping away to end the toad video.
In early July the last of the Fowler’s Toads left the scene, leaving Gray Tree Frog Tadpoles hiding among the vegetation in the shallows.   I thought I developed a search profile that allowed me to consistently catch tadpoles, but as there were many fewer tree frog tadpoles than Toad tadpoles, I was only able to catch a few each day.  These I videoed in a small plastic container with a bit of water, an arrangement that i intend to upgrade next year.  With this set up I was able to intensively study the leg development in the Tree Frogs, which was the goal of the project all along, and i think the video of  Tree Frog development covers the development of rear legs quite well.  I am not quite sure about the development of forelegs and how quickly it goes.  I did not catch those stages at all, Nothing today, full blown tomorrow.  Consistently.  I am guessing it happens very quickly.  One of my favorite pictures of the whole project is the tree frog with 4 legs and a big tale climbing the plastic container.  I included both normal speed and slow motion of that clip in the video and in slow mo it is a treat.
The netting program also gave me a chance to observe the insects and other invertebrates in the water, a collection of footage I will eventually edit and release, and I got the idea to shoot video of the flying insects as well and have footage of dragonflies, bees, and other assorted flyers.  Watching the bees work the purple flowers of the water plants was a treat that only the camera allowed me to enjoy.
Three intensive months of filming are now done, and among the 47 videos now on moshassuckcritters are videos on Fowlers Toad tadpole development and Gray Tree Frog development showing all of the stages.   Comments appreciated.  It has been an educational experience, and I look forward to doing it again next year.
Fowlers Toad video



Greg Gerritt • If Central Banks are the determiner of economic conditions, which all of the above, and much of what we read elsewhere, seems to suggest, can someone tell me why so many insist that it is a capitalist entrepreneur driven system other than as a tool to steal more from the workers? If we talked about our economies as mixed, as an interplay of the public and private, we would have much more fruitful discussions, and we could get true sustainability on the table rather than lip service.

Correcting Moshassuck Critters identifications

Now that I know more about what kind of frogs, toads, and tadpoles I am looking at I went back to Moshassuckcritters and updated all of the titles and writeups that needed to be corrected.  Moshassuckcritters is available at      Thanks to all who helped in the quest.  I still have lots of footage to edit and post, so expect more videos over the course of the summer.   greg

Creating Prosperity for the 99% in Rhode Island Greg’s 60th Birthday conference

Ecological Healing, Ecological Economics, Economic Justice:  Creating Prosperity for the 99% in Rhode Island
Greg’s 60th Birthday Conference   October 12 2013  10 AM to 5 PM  Pawtucket Armory  Pawtucket RI
Contact Information
Greg Gerritt
On October 12 2013 at the Pawtucket Armory beginning at 10 AM, there shall be a conference  “Ecological Healing, Ecological Economics, Economic Justice,  Creating Prosperity for the 99% in Rhode Island.  ”  Organized by Greg Gerritt for his 60th birthday, the conference is part of an effort to open up the discussion as to the appropriate economic development strategy for Rhode Island and places like Rhode Island.  It is clear that an economy run for the benefit of the 1% does not work very well for anyone other than the 1%, but that other models of development appear ot be off the table.  As the economy grinds to a halt due to inequality, we also see ever more ecological destruction, further damaging the economy.  It is my contention that an economy that focuses on ecological healing, economic justice, and local based food security will be much more capable of riding out the turmoil of the 21st century and climate change than economies focused of the greed of the 1%.  Yet the people who direct economic policy in Rhode Island continue on the 1% path despite the traumas it brings and the general failure of development efforts over the last 40 years.
It is unlikely that we can turn the ship of state away from thrashing around for growth in one fell swoop, but it is still critical to begin a new discussion, one that lays out the true parameters of the ecological and unequal box we have been pushed into.  Hence a conference as a way to restart the discussion. This time encompassing the full range of possibilities, not just the business climate model trumpeted by the Koch brothers and their wealthy allies that we have been offered.
No one day conference can be comprehensive, but the October 12 conference will offer talks by some of the leading thinkers in the Eastern US and Rhode Island on where the economy might go if ecological healing and economic justice are at the heart of what we do to help our communities prosper.
Confirmed speakers
Keynoter  Margaret Flowers          Its Our Economy
Katherine Brown    Independent consultant on Community Agriculture
Marshall Feldman    URI
Robert Leaver   New Commons
Ken Payne     System Aesthetics LLC
Ray Perrault  Groundwork Providence
Jamie Rhodes   Clean Water Action
Sam Smith     The Progressive Review
Martha Yager   American Friends Service Committee
Greg Gerritt
Additional speakers are expected
Conference is being hosted by The Environmental Justice League of Rhode Island and Groundwork Providence.  Their websites are
Conference fee   $35.00   rising to $40 on September 15
There is a separate admission birthday dinner/dance party immediately following the conference (at 5:30 PM)  raising money for the EJLRI and GwP   Preregistration for dinner for conference attendees is a must.
For More Information or to To Register for the conference email Greg Gerritt   All arrangements can be made from there.  
Greg Gerritt is available for interviews and to explain the conference at the contact information above.  Greg’s current work on the Rhode island economy can be viewed at     and the Rhode Island economy is specifically explored in

The economic slowdown in china

Comments I made on The Economist website


I am thinking that maybe the double digit growth machine has run out of steam permanently. No country has been able to maintain the upward trajectory for long, and it appears that each new round ends up with the outcome of less income per capita than the previous round of countries climbing the economic ladder. One of the causes is ecological collapse, especially the destruction of forests. The harder it is to get wood, the harder it is to build cities. The heat is on China to reduce wood imports, and the flooding China is already experiencing, along with the droughts, remind everyone how little of its own forest China has left to protect its watersheds and climate. The smog in Singapore also reminds us.

A second cause is rising inequality, The Koch brothers and their minions tell us economies should only deliver for the 1%, but clearly that is not working too well.

I have always found that when there are fewer truly productive places to invest as modern economies grind down you get asset bubbles. These are not aberrations, they are the only way the 1% can get fast enough returns to slake their greed.

China has as many greedy people as the US, and when combined with the need to create employment to stave off civic unrest they make mistakes that bring the economy into stall faster. They grab more instead of more widely distributing income and building resilience to climate change.

We are looking at the financialization of everything, but it is no way to run an economy. Look for a long term trends towards steady state economies with all countries trending toward the global mean in income.

NBG Frogs July 3, 2013

The Bullfrog and Gray Tree Frog tadpoles have turned to frogs.  In the larger pond there are no more jumping tadpoles, now there are hundreds of frogs lining the shores.  I collected a bit of video evidence today.  It is right on schedule.

Today I found no Gray Tree Frog Tadpoles in the drainage swale/little pond.  Yesterday I found only a very few. I did find one last frog and have some nice footage of it.  I am in holiday mode and do not feel like editing footage this afternoon, but will put up some preliminary footage in the next few days, and with the changes, it is time to start putting together the developmental sequence of the two frogs.  I have only some decent footage, but have learned much about both the frogs and the video process, so while I am looking forward to putting together the developmental sequence videos, I am really looking forward to doing this again next year much better than I did this year.


I expect that I will also write up my observations and put them together on this blog and on the Friends of the Moshassuck website.


the national insecurity state letter to projo

Too Many Snowdens published on July 2 properly points out that the US keeps too many secrets.  A democracy should have almost no secrets, and a country that respects and is at peace with its neighbors will need almost no secrets.  The United States has created the largest national insecurity system on Earth primarily because it wishes to use its military to make other countries do its bidding.  Practicing peace would work much better than keeping secrets, but it would also help if we did not run national insecurity systems for profit.  The idea that we can contract out national insecurity to for profit compnaies has to be one of the stupidest things our government has ever invented.  My guess is that the US privatized its insecurity apparatus so that it coud be farmed out to low paid workers while campaign contributors make big money.
As for the comments about patriots, the most courageous of patriots are those who blow the whistle when our government does stupid, vilolent, and illegal things such as kill innocent children around the world.  Eric Snowden is a hero.  All of the leaders of the national insecurity apparatus are the ones who should be in jail for the murders they have committed in our name.

The medical industrial complex and the end of economic growth

Recently I read an article about the rise in health insurance costs, and it noted that the expectation in the United States is that medical costs will rise between 4.6 and 7.5% next year. This following years of double digit increases prior to the recession.  I also saw some  estimates on how much the entire economy was going to grow next year.  That number is 2.2 to 2.4% with the lower number becoming more prevalent.  I then did a bit of arithmetic on how much of the economic growth in the US is tied up in the medical industrial complex and how that compares to everything else.
As of 2013  the medical sector of the economy is 18.4% of the US economy.  That number has been increasing rapidly over the last 30 years, and there are estimates that it will approach 25% of the economy within 10 years.  The case I want to make is best illustrated if I use the most rapid estimate for the growth in medical costs.  You can do the math using any other variation of the numbers and it may present a slightly less extreme set of numbers, but the pattern will remain.  18.4% times 7.5% equals 1.35%    If growth is 2.2% then it means all of the economy other than the medical industrial complex will grow a total of .85%.  This says that the 82% of the economy that is not in the medical industrial complex is growing about 1.04% per year.
As there are a few industries and costs that are growing: banking, college tuitions, high tech, and spying, then vast sectors of the economy are already shrinking. And as the cost of health care continues to climb much faster than the rest of the economy the growth rate of the rest of the economy will approach zero or even negative.  We see this evolving when businesses say the cost of health care is more than they can bear and workers will not start businesses if they have to go without health insurance for their families.
Clearly we are going to have to rethink the medical industrial complex with a focus on prevention and precaution as part of our step away from the brink.   But that is difficult if we have to stop the poisoning of our communities so that prevention can have the desired effect.  The producers of poison need to stop having the right to feed poisons to us if we are to make the economy or the healthcare system work.  And so it goes as we tug on one of the unraveled threads of our economy and it leads us into ecological healing and economic justice as the road forward.

June 22 at the NBG


Video is less than 6 minutes long.  Lots of interesting stuff.  Splashed by a hunting kingfisher.  I am pretty sure in the 10 second section where george and i talk that those are bullfrog tadpoles from the drainage swale, not tree frogs.  Rest of the time in the swale tadpoles are tree frogs.  In the other pond all tadpoles seen ar yearling bullfrog tadploes likely to transform and become frogs in the enxt few weeks.  Last year overlapped the tree frogs.   Today was the first time I could really see the legs on the tree frog tadpoles..  I thought maybe yesterday, but on 1 or 2 treefrog tadpoles in the video there are unequivocable legs.  Development goes on several more weeks as there are multiple nights of mating spread over several weeks and each night’s babies are a few days younger and behind in development.  Note the different sizes that swim together, something more noticeable in previous days postings.  Behavior of the tree frogs has also changed.  For several days in the middle of the day they were all out swimming.  Now they are staying in the vegetation more and moving much less.  Becomes harder to find places where you can see any at all even though the numbers have not dropped off dramatically.  Their swarming in the mid day sun seems so counter intuitive to a mammal, but now they are adopting more cryptic behavior.  I am starting to see a study next year on when the change comes in the behavior, and could base it on some criteria of how many cross a line in x time based.  Not sure I can be that regular. But it would be great training for a budding scientist.  Anyone know a teenager in need of an outdoor study project?   greg

The Singing of the Tree Frogs

Each year for the past several i have spent more and more time observing tadpoles in the North Burial Ground in Providence RI. This year I jumped in with both feet when Friends of the Moshassuck received a small grant from the RI Rivers Council to make the tadpole video I have been pondering for the last few years.  All of the videos that have been taken and processed are available at  and more raw footage and processed footage will be added as it accumulates.

In past years I visited frequently but this year I am a bit more diligent during the day about getting over there so I can film for a few minutes. What has also happened is that I have made a more concerted effort to be out later so that the pond can be observed when it gets dark, the time that frogs mate.

There are two kinds of tadpoles in the Burial Ground, or maybe more properly there are two kinds of frogs in the Burial Ground, Bullfrogs and Gray Tree frogs.  There may be others but we have no hard evidence of that.

The Bullfrogs reside in the larger pond below the esker.  I can not begin to describe how lively a place that pond is.  Several kinds of fish, bullfrogs, at least two kinds of turtles, muskrat, an assortment of large predatory water birds, ducks, geese, and an occasional otter.

At the large pond I have started recording birds, muskrat, Bullfrogs and turtles and posting some of it.  I hope this winter to create a video collage of the wildlife at the pond.

The small pond in the burial ground is a drainage swale near the maintenance building that fills up in the rain and then slowly dries out.  It often has water for months at a time, but goes dry after several weeks of no rain.  Last year it was dry in the late winter, and filled up  beginning with rains on April 25.  This year it went dry on April 25, filled temporarily with some rains about May 10, went dry again May 20, and then filled back up on May 25.  The rains of early June have it way over its banks.  The Moshassuck runs right near the little pond, but it runs under I-95 and is underground for about 1/4 mile so it is hard to tell how much above river level the pond is, but the rise and fall of the pond is strictly based on the runoff it gets and how fast it evaporates.

Last year (2012) the first tadpoles were visible on May 12, which mating had to precede it by at least a few days.  This year we spent time observing mating on May 10 and 11th, but the the pond went dry for several days so that mating may not have been fruitful.  We observed mating on several evenings and have some great audio beginning may 25 when the pond filled up again, and the4 first tadpoles of the season were observed and filmed on May 31.

Having focused on the tadpoles the last few years, I get a renewed sense of wonder watching them each spring as they populate the shorelines by the thousands.  What I was totally unprepared for, having not really been out at night the last few years, was the mating rituals at the pond.  Here is a small snippet recorded on June 8, 2013     The recording can not do it justice.  When 20 or 30 frogs are calling, from the ponds, from the trees all around the pond, it is not only a sonic experience, it is a visceral one.   It may be the most addicting thing I know.  i get out there and just want to record and listen all evening. And vibrate.  And each time I go back and find them still there I am even more amazed.  I have a little bit of video on moshassuckcritters that in the fading light has some pictures of tadpoles while the soundtrack is the calling of the adults preparing for that night’s mating.  Here is the link


Preparatory Notes for Sustainable Communities Workshop May 23 2013

Turned out to be a different kind of meeting, so I do not need these, but feel well prepared, and think I need to turn these into the next essay to use in inviting folks to the October 12 conference, just a few more things to line up.  greg


Notes for Sustainable communities hearing  5/23/13


We all agree the RI economy could be better.  The issue I have with these reports is what it would take to achieve prosperity.  It is my strong belief, backed up by observations from around the world, that the approach offered to the people of RI by  Fourth Economy Consulting is the wrong one, and that the approach they offered does not work and should be replaced by a bottom up approach that begins with ecological healing and economic justice.  I will present a few critiques of these reports and just a hint of where we might go knowing that this is just the beginning of this process.  I am glad to participate in all appropriate ways throughout the process.



I have been reading reports like this for 20 years.   They say the same thing all the time using different buzz words for a different day or place, but the concepts have not changed.   If this stuff worked, it would have been done years ago.



A variety of issues to talk about in both reports I will start with Business climate since y’all did.


Business climate   Refer them to Good Jobs First Report   Grading Places  What do Business Climate Rankings really tell us.


Analysis from Good Jobs first


The most serious problem with BHI’s indices is that they mix causal and outcome variables indiscriminately. They claim that their index measures the “policies and conditions” in a state that make it more likely to compete successfully for economic growth, and their validity test is how well it predicts increases in per capita income. Yet a number of BHI’s variables are in fact measures of the outcomes or components of economic growth, not the causes of it, such as the share of adults in the labor force, budget surpluses, initial public offerings, exports, and firm births.


Similarly, a number of the variables are simply correlates of high income: the percent of households with cell phones or high-speed broadband, bank deposits per capita, and the prevalence of high-paid workers (scientists and engineers, high- tech workers). Not surprisingly, where people earn more money, they have more money in the bank.


The inclusion of variables that measure outcomes, or results of high or low income rather than causes, “…is profoundly circular logic and is equivalent to saying ‘we measure things that indicate how well off you are, therefore if you increase these things you will be better off.


THE TAX Foundation



The Tax Foundation here remains true

to the overriding principle governing the SBTCI: lower taxes are better no matter what. The Unemployment Insurance Tax Index rewards states for lower UI tax rates regardless of the condition of the state’s UI trust fund. States with trust funds teetering towards insolvency would be rewarded with a higher ranking for pushing the fund over the brink by imprudently lowering taxes. Such a move would, of course, necessitate higher tax rates in the future, but no matter. Fiscal responsibility does not really enter into this sub index



KEY concept  Business climates measure effects and call them causes, which makes them extremely biased.  AND


There is NO correlation between rankings in Business climate and the health of the economy.  NONE


For example


From the Mississippi Development Authority

According to an independent study by a major American manufacturer, Mississippi’s business climate ranked number one among 23 states in which it has manufacturing operations. Factors weighed included taxes, unemployment compensation, workers’ compensation, labor, transportation, energy, health care, job growth and quality of life. Mississippi’s diverse manufacturing sector produces ships, furniture, automobiles and parts, food, defense weapons, computer chips and electronics.




Mississippi is highest in teen pregnancies, infant mortality,  lowest in per capita income


Why is this the model we seek?





More on business climate:  Taxes make very little difference to start ups with no profits or low profits, so they are not an obstacle to start tying businesses, and despite everything y’all say, you admit that RI ranks high in business  start ups, so what are the obstacles?  Only in your mind.


How efficient the bureaucracy is about licensing may be an issue, but it would be a hell of a lot easier if businesses always held themselves to the highest standards of ecological and community participation.



Concept 2  following on your beginning.


Conditions have changed


The age of economic growth is gone.  Conditions for growth do not exist and efforts to bring it back do more harm than good such as austerity, roll backs of environmental standards, low taxes and the national insecurity state.  the global race to the climate nightmare is predicated in old models.  But there is no there there.


conditions for rapid growth:  Lots of immigrants from rural to urban willing to work for low wages.  Forests that can be stolen.  World is already half urban, US 80%, No new forests to exploit, or easy oil or easy iron or coal, just stuff that is harder to get, more expensive, and more polluting.


We have already run out of growth for most of the people in the west, the economies are already shrinking, if not for everyone, then for nearly everyone.  What we call growth is mostly bad news for communities.

And funny money financial manipulations.  Exactly what crashed the economy when they ran out of productive investments on this overcrowded trashed planet. Play real estate games.  Steal for their masters.


These more and more desperate efforts like Representative Melo’s ridiculous proposal to place DEM regulators under the Commerce Secretary so that there will be incentive to weaken regulation are exactly backwards for what RI needs,.  We need more ecosystem healing.  I call such efforts thrashing around for growth in which the rich skate and the poor get crushed  or poisoned.


We need both economic justice and democracy.  Listen to the world bank for a bit describing forest communities which are essentially equivalent  to our EJ communities.


The World Bank report on forest lending

WB   1.4  page 2    ”Poor forest  governance stems from the fact that forests often have a combination of capturable wealth but poor, isolated, and powerless residents. Powerful interest groups can seize this wealth, depriving poor people of access to forest resources, and sometimes contributing to corruption and poor governance … this contributes  also to environmental damage.


WB  2.82  page 57   Across the World Bank forest-related projects in the Sahel, the failure to explicitly address asymmetrical power relationships between decentralized bodies and forestry agents is likely to reduce the ability of local groups to actually exercise decision-making power in forest management.


When that happens communities suffer.



This is exactly what our low income and environmental justice communities face.  If the work on equity does not specifically address asymmetrical power in economic decision making it unlikely to help reduce or eliminate poverty.  You talk about economic equity, but it does not happen without political will to make sure the benefits  of economic development stay with the people in the community and that they NOT be displaced or gentrified out.


Full Cost accounting:  too much of your program seems to ignore the externalization of costs.  Public cost, private profit.


We pay for the development nightmares like building malls in the flood plain.  Or bulldozing beaches for luxury homes.


So I think you need a rethink of what sustainable development in communities looks like under the new conditions of the world.




Just few quick examples, focusing on some of the RI favorites for development this year. And the paradoxes involved.



Meds And Eds


this is one I talked about at an SBA conference a few years ago and was reminded of yesterday when I ran into someone who had attended at the state house where we are fighting building schools on toxic vapor sites (more economic development?)


Question how do you reconcile growing the medical industrial complex with keeping the cost of health care in check?


Would we not be better served by practicing prevention and community health rather than spending gazillions on high tech medicine that does not improve the length of life.  Biggest increases in life span are sewers and vaccinations for kids, not heart transplants or genetic research.  What are the benefits versus the costs looking like?


Eds,  How does the cost of college skyrocketing significantly faster than the cost of living work for us?  Fewer can afford to go, or more come out massively in debt.  Is this just another way to trap folks in the debt cycle.  And since there are no jobs , why? 42% of recent grads have jobs that do not require a degree.   Law schools are saying do not come, there are no lawyer jobs.



Green Economy:  Numbers on farms are wrong, and the focus on strictly energy for the Green economy shows a lack of understanding of what is going on in RI.


Housing:  RI rents are high, too high for workers to afford  50% of income or so.  But everyone in authority is always saying house prices going up is a good thing.

Complete hypocrisy.


Economies that run on debt are guaranteed ecological collapse.

Gray Tree Frogs

On Saturday night may 11 Michael Bradlee and I went to the NBG to see if the Tree Frogs were mating.  The drainage swale had filled up this week with the rains for the first time in a month.  Friday night we heard nothing, but as soon as we got there on the 11th, about 8:10 PM, the sounds were unmistakeable.  I got about 11 minutes of audio (too dark for the visuals to show anything) and I have listened to it.  At the pond it was nearly hypnotic, but on tape does not have the same power.


But all in all a good sign for the project as it means we should have tadpoles soon.  I will check again on rainy nights to see if there is any other mating.  it seems like there were about 10 frogs just from locations around the pond, but really hard to tell.  In the dim light you could see occasionally frogs swimming, or at least the ripples in the water from frogs swimming, but none of it showed up on the video.


After I left the small pond I went to the larger pond and recorded a few bullfrog calls.


May 10,  went to NBG about 7:30 AM.  The tadpole drainage swale filled yesterday in the rains.  Not completely, but pretty well.  Remains to be seen if the Gray Tree Frogs will use it this year.  it is much later than last year’s breeding already as there were tadpoles swimming by this time in 2012.


At the big pond I got my first film of a large bullfrog.  I would like to  see how that looks on  a larger screen.  I also got lots of turtle video and counted the colony.  13, Which is the most I have seen on any day this year.  I also tried to film a swallow flying around, that ought to be ridiculously out of focus and off target but it was just wave the camera in the general direction  of a fast moving target and hope that you caught something occasionally.


My goal for the next week is to put today’s video, especially the turtles, into one two minute video and get it posted.  Means I have to learn how to edit and post.  time for a new skill.

New things to read

The Prosperity For RI project is heating up, and this week I found articles on the ridiculousness of the business climate game, more folks writing about the end of growth and sustainable prosperity, and some work on true cost accounting and externalities.  I have some serious reading to do over the next few weeks.


The lower Moshassuck has had some interesting wildlife this week.  The Rough winged swallows are swooping, I have seen several (maybe the same one multiple times) schools of some sort of bottom feeding fish, and for the first time ever I saw a Jellyfish in the Moshassuck on thursday May 2.  It was in the stretch of river just north of the Citizens Bank Building.

At the North Burial Ground the turtles are out, saw a Great Blue Heron (got some video) and was told of a coyote sighting.  The drainage pond that normally hosts Gray Tree Frogs is completely dry, so I have no idea if there will be a breeding season.  Just waiting for rain.

Moshassuck wildlife

Just a quick update on various wildlife sightings in the Moshassuck watershed this spring. 9 turtles at the large pond in the north Burial Ground.  Turtles also seen at Galego Court pond.


Bull frogs seen at large pond in NBG, but no bullfrog tadpoles yet.

Merganser and Black Crowned Night Heron in the river along Canal St, Rough winged swallows just to the north on both sides of Smith St.

One school of fairly large bottom feeders (probably carp) next to Citizens Bank.


The Moshassuck wildlife video project will focus on Gray Tree Frogs but they have not appeared yet.  Have taken video footage of painted turtles, a bit of muskrat footage, and some footage of geese and ducks.  No bullfrog footage yet either.

Greg’s 60th Birthday Conference and Extravaganza The Basics

Ecological healing, Ecological Economics, Economic Justice:  Creating Prosperity for the 99% in Rhode Island

Saturday October 12, 2013 beginning at 10 AM, running until 5 PM
Location  Pawtucket Armory 172 Exchange St   Pawtucket Rhode Island the home of the Industrial Revolution
Keynoter  Margaret Flowers    Its our Economy
Cost  $35.00 going up to $40 on September 15  Sponsors welcome.
The conference will be immediately followed at 5:30 by dinner and a dance party from 5:30 to 9:30 PM in the same location
Cost  $35.00  going up to $40.00 on September 15  Sponsors welcome.
If you would like to come to both parts of the day the cost is $50.00   going up to $60 on September 15  Sponsorships start at $100
Note that your presence is important and if the cost of the events is too much for your budget, let me know and we can work something out.
The host organization is The Environmental Justice League of Rhode Island
Sponsorships start at $100 with a listing in  the program stating  “I am standing with Greg for Environmental and Economic Justice on his birthday”
Other levels of sponsorship will be acknowledged appropriately.   I am hoping many of you receiving this will wish to help sponsor the conference.
To register
Email Greg Gerritt       with contact information, which parts of the day you wish to attend and if you wish to be a sponsor.
Checks made out to the Environmental Justice League of RI  (EJLRI is fine) can be mailed to Greg Gerritt   37 6th St  Providence RI 02906
Or  pay on line at   
If you can not attend, you are encouraged to donate to the EJLRI in my honor.
Note, Most of the proceeds will be used to help keep the work of the Environmental Justice League of Rhode island moving forward. 25% of the net proceeds will be donated to Groundwork Providence.  Another organization doing great work in the community that I am proud to be affiliated with.
The keynote speaker

Margaret Flowers, co-director of Its Our Economy, is a Maryland pediatrician. After graduation from the University of Maryland School of Medicine in 1990 and completion of pediatric residency at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Flowers worked first as a hospitalist and then in private practice. She left practice in 2007 to advocate full-time for a single payer health care system at both the state and national levels.


The World Bank sort of figures it out


April 2, 2013   The World Bank sort of figures it out      Greg Gerritt
Ursula K. LeGuin, one of my favorite authors, creates in her fiction alien worlds that are not quite so alien, based on real ecological principles and a real understanding of human behavior.  One of her books is titled “The Word for World is Forest”.  Earth is not quite like that, though as a native of the forests of northeastern North America, it is easy to imagine a world of forests despite my urban childhood.    It is also important to remember that the reforesting of the planet is going to be one of our key tools in mitigating and adapting to climate change and maintaining food security.
I transferred out of forestry school when i was 18 because I figured out that the forestry school at the University of Maine had no more interest in forest, ecosystem, or community health than the corporate forest overlords who had paid for the brand new Forest Resources building on campus.  I had figured out that to keep the forests healthy we needed to focus more on what people did than the minutia of corporate forestry so it was time to change majors.  I spent the next 25 years in the woods, managing a woodlot,  keeping my eyes open, gardening, building things of wood, reading quite a bit.  My last woods job was as the Research Director and forest tour guide for the first Ban Clearcutting referendum in Maine in 1996.  It was fun going on speaking tour in rural Maine and noting that 25 years earlier I had left forestry school because the U of Maine was not protecting the forest, and they still were not.  We lost that referendum campaign, but we were right about what was happening in the Maine woods, and today the forest based industries in Maine are cutting a lot less wood than they were in the 1990’s.  They had no choice.    My forest work these days is part of a larger practice focused on the ecology/economy interface.  It includes reforesting a vacant lot down by the river as a long term experiment in suppression of invasive weeds and participating in the newly forming Providence Urban Tree Alliance.
With this background I occasionally find myself reading things like Managing Forest Resources for Sustainable Development: An Evaluation of World Bank Group Experience, prepared by the Independent Evaluation Group, distributed internally on December 28, 2012 which supposedly was discussed at a meeting of the Committee on Development Effectiveness scheduled for February 2013.   The World Bank wants to know if it successfully implemented its 2002 forest strategy.
For many activists the World Bank has been one of the bad guys of the planet, doing all it can to keep corporate globalism growing, while occasionally paying lip service to ending poverty and protecting the environment.  Therefore the World Bank document is in some ways rather remarkable.  It clearly states that the representatives of the global ruling elite who operate the World Bank have figured out one of the important things to do to keep ecosystems that feed us healthy on planet Earth, and to prevent rural poverty from getting worse, is to ensure that the communities of people who live in the forest maintain their traditional control of the land and its resources. It seems like every time big money or urban interests get control of the forest it is destroyed in the name of getting richer faster. The World Bank staff have determined that when forests are destroyed the poorest of the poor suffer the most, and that the livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people who live in and depend upon the forest are at risk. The data, a review of their own studies by an internal review team, clearly demonstrates that by every human and ecological indicator, places where the community maintained control of the forests they depended upon were healthier.
While it is cool that the World Bank is ahead of the corporate elite in my neighborhood in its understanding of the ecology/economy interface, my reaction to the World Bank’s epiphany about the relationship between ecology, democracy, and economy is more in the what took you so damned long vein, But it is another example of how the reality on Earth is catching up to the corporate global system. It is now clear that the World Bank professional staff is starting to figure out the inextricable link between ecosystem health, democracy, economic equality, and the prosperity of human communities,   I started using the slogan “you can not heal ecosystems without ending poverty, you can not end poverty without healing ecosystems” about 15 years ago, so even in the 2002 strategy document the World Bank was playing catch up to what many of us had already figured out.
Despite being late to the table, the World Bank report is remarkable enough that probably the best way to give the reader the flavor is to simply quote a few passages and  provide minimalist annotation.
WB   From the cover letter of the document
The World Bank Group’s forest interventions have contributed substantially to environmental outcomes, but
poverty reduction, for the most part, has not been adequately addressed. Projects that promote participatory forest
management have been the most successful at balancing poverty reduction and environmental aims but this
integration is lacking in other interventions.
GG  The WB has helped ecosystem health by helping to create protected areas, but overall they have financed more damage than healing.  But the finding that community involvement in decisions is crucial, both ecologically and economically, is useful.
WB    From the overview   page XV

the intrinsic characteristics of
forests make sustainable management a
challenge. The positive externalities forests
provide are uncertain, diffuse, and hard to
value. When ignored by decision-makers, the
magnitude of private net benefits of
deforestation can seem to outweigh the public
benefits of conservation or sustainable
management. As a result, deforestation and
degradation continue without much
compensating gain for economic development
or poverty reduction.

WB   1.4  page 2    “Poor forest  governance stems from the fact that forests often have a combination of capturable wealth but poor, isolated, and powerless residents. Powerful interest groups can seize this wealth, depriving poor people of access to forest resources, and sometimes contributing to corruption and poor governance at the national level. Because it is more profitable to mine the forest than to manage it sustainably, this contributes  also to environmental damage.


GG   Outside interests are good at stealing forests from their inhabitants.  They have been doing this since the beginning of cities as one can not grow cities without a ready supply of wood, wood that normally is in the hands of the people who already live in the forest.  The routine is to kill, displace, or enslave the forest people and cut down the forest.  Now it is done in the name of economic growth instead of Manifest Destiny, or some other appeal to nationalism,  but the result is the  same.  Forest dwellers die or are displaced and the corrupt elite gets richer.

In my city we do not face an exactly analogous situation, rarely are their weapons involved, but what  environmental justice communities in the US deal with comes from exactly the same impulses.   Communities are run over, to their detriment ecologically, socially, financially.  They are run over for exactly the same reasons communities in the forest are run over, and the remedy of allowing the communities control over their assets instead of assets being controlled by outside forces is exactly what helps communities become more prosperous.  Whether you learn this coming at it from the forest or coming from brownfield communities you end up in the same place.  Democracy, especially in the development process, is a critical factor if our work is to lead to ecological healing and to prosperity in low income communities..

WB  2.58  page 45   Evidence is lacking that the World Bank‘s support for industrial timber
concession reform has led to sustainable and inclusive economic development. As
stated by in recent analytical work, —over the past sixty years, there is little evidence
that industrial timber production has lifted rural populations out of poverty or
contributed in other meaningful and sustainable ways to local and national
GG   Having lived in Maine where Industrial Timber Concessions have been important since 1820 I am glad the WB has finally figured this out.  Timber concessions lead to massive ecological destruction, and impoverish communities.  The WB should just remove industrial concessions from their tool kit, and only finance community based development.  And the use of forest concessions should be more than sufficient to label a country an ecological pirate and remove their forest products and the products created on the destroyed forest lands, from global commerce.
WB 2.62  page 48     World Bank policy advice and project-level aims that have supported the reform of industrial timber concession regimes have neglected or underestimated the nontimber values and uses of the forests, with respect to the livelihoods of forest-dependent people, their sociocultural values, and their sense of security. Except in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Bank has not systematically analyzed the economic and sociocultural trade-offs associated with this model before implementing its projects, including: the employment potential of small-scale forest enterprises (versus large-scale logging), the potential loss of forest-related incomes (through the loss of nontimber forest products), disruption of food and fuel security, or effects on sociocultural or religious practices and norms


GG  The World Bank, and everyone else seem to always underestimate how valuable the forest (or the equivalent ecosystems in non forested places)  is to the people who live there, and are finally coming to the realization that wholesale stripping of forests provides little of value to communities or governments, while making a fortune for the corrupt few.  I hope they put their money where their mouth is.

WB   Box 2.7  page 49     In the Democratic Republic of Congo, the World Bank supported a well-received and often cited piece of economic sector work, Forests in Post-Conflict DRC: Analysis of a Priority Agenda (2007), which demonstrated that domestic uses of the forest for fuel wood, bush meat, other forest foods, and medicines rank higher than timber in annual economic value. The total market value of both fuel wood production and bush meat was estimated to be over $2 billion, while the economic value of watershed protection was considered to be on the order of $100 million to $1 billion. In comparison, the total market value of both formal and informal timber was estimated at only $160 million. Even if timber production were to increase in the future, the report argues, it was likely to remain modest compared to the value other forest goods and services. Concluding that there was —an opportunity for developing new forest uses and financing systems beyond the usual models of timber production, parks, agriculture and small-scale harvesting by communities and local enterprises, the report argued for a turn toward multipurpose land use planning in place of the industrial timber concessions that dominated in the past.

GG    Yup.  It is crazy to trade $3 billion dollars a year of value to the many for $160 million a year pocketed by the few.

WB   2.79  page 56   The focus on engaging local resource users in decision-making is a vital element of resource management that holds potential for increasing synergy among
the three pillars. Increased local participation in environmental management is
viewed as a means to eliminate inefficiency and corruption in administration of the
forestry sector while enhancing equity in the distribution of economic benefits.
WB  2.82  page 57   Across the World Bank forest-related projects in the Sahel, the failure to explicitly address asymmetrical power relationships between decentralized bodies and forestry agents islikely to reduce the ability of local groups to actually exercise decision-making power in forest management.


GG  Ecological healing and economic justice are simply two sides of the same coin, and putting them into practice is what allows prosperity in marginalized communities. Richard Wilkinson and Kate Picket in their 2009 book “The Spirit Level” include graphs that clear show that by every measure, including ecologically, a community is better off if there is less economic inequality, and of course economic equality is only possible with political equality.  Here in Rhode Island developers are constantly trying to reduce the power of low income communities in the development arena.  Given the lack of economic success in RI, we might need to consider that giving low income communities more power might be a better approach to creating prosperity.

WB  Box 4.2  page 90    Global Partnership for  Forest Landscape   with support from PROFOR.

The main finding was an  exciting one: About 2 billion hectares of degraded and lost forest lands are suitable for restoration. Of those, about 1.5 billion hectares would be best-suited for mosaic restoration, in which forests and trees are combined with other land uses, including agroforestry, smallholder agriculture, and settlements. These are also the landscapes with a high potential impact on poverty reduction.


This message resonated particularly strongly with the Bank because of its own successful experience on the Loess Plateau in China, one of the largest integrated landscape restoration projects in the world, where terracing, natural tree regeneration, tree planting and managed grazing have resulted in increased yields, incomes and food security, as well as improved resilience, carbon sequestration and erosion control. Today this shift in management attitudes toward forests and agriculture is very palpable inthe Bank and has contributed to steer discussion on climate change toward more cross-sectoral, landscape based approaches (minding the + in REDD+, supporting climate-smart agriculture, etc).

—The fates of forests and agriculture are bound together…Forests cannot be sustained if people are hungry or the governance of natural resources is inadequate. This was widely quoted in blogs and media stories, and echoed in what other participants said in their presentations and speeches. There is a growing consensus among agencies, researchers, donors and policy makers that forest issues cannot be dealt with in isolation and that tackling deforestation is best done within an integrated landscape approach that builds on the huge opportunities for —triple wins∥ (income and food security, adaptation and mitigation).


GG    You can not end poverty without healing ecosystems, you can not heal ecosystems without ending poverty, and you will not do either until we shut down the military industrial complex that is at the heart of the inequality on the planet and uses violence to remove the original inhabitants from the forests of the world.  That we need an integrated approach to communities, ecosystems, economies, and that we need to use the appropriate scale for all of the work we do, should be old hat,  but it is very difficult for the people in decision making roles to do that.  A recent RI conference on the economy was filled with wealthy developers who were quite adamant that communities and rules to protect communities are obstacles to development, when the truth is that communities do not want to be looted.


WB     4.24   Page 93   In addition to the credits, an area has been transformed from a degraded landscape to a lush forested one, bringing a number of benefits such as reduced erosion, increased biodiversity and improvements in income for the communities involved in the project. The project has adapted techniques demonstrated in West Africa to promote natural regeneration of woodlands and has restored more than 2,700 hectares of degraded land. The regeneration project has reportedly resulted in increased production of honey, fruit, and fodder and has provided alternative livelihoods for a number of project beneficiaries

GG  Ecological healing must be part of every development plan on the planet if we intend to eradicate poverty.

WB   4.30     page     94   A recent evaluation of the program (Blomley 2012) found that, while highly relevant, the program‘s effectiveness at the country level varied greatly between countries, especially in the extent to which the results of the participatory consultation processes were able to influence policy and catalyze legal reforms. Its main success at the country level was in —engaging new—and in many cases marginalized—voices within forest dialogue processes.∥ At the global level, the program succeeded in, among other things, identifying and defining a new concept—Investing in Locally Controlled Forests (ILCF)—which is increasingly being adopted by the Bank and the FAO. However, efficiency was undermined by a heavy administrative and financial burden under the Development Grant Facility and complex systems at the country level—in particular in terms of funding and reporting.


GG  Investing in Locally Controlled Forests is the only forest projects the WB should be involved with.


WB    4.35  page 96    Similarly, it is to be expected that there will continue to be some level of friction between the Bank and some client country governments in using some of the approaches and knowledge products developed through the partnerships given their strong advocacy nature, for example, regarding equity, indigenous and local community rights, and actions to combat corruption and illegality.


GG   More business as usual.

WB    5.5  Page 100 The evolution of   the partnerships towards holistic landscape-level approaches that combine forest conservation and SFM with climate change mitigation and adaptation, improved food security and climate smart agricultural development are important achievements. The Bank‘s efforts to integrate broader governance concerns and issues, including the efforts to protect and enhance the rights of indigenous forest-dependent communities, into these approaches are also recognized as important  achievements.


GG   The WB acknowledges that the corrupt elites ruling most of the world are going to resist, but ecological healing, community control, and ending poverty are inextricably linked and must be practiced on a large scale as well as village by village if we are to keep Earth a safe place to live.


WB 5.8  page 101   Expand support for participatory forest management with help to level the playing field for community based forest enterprises by working with clients to improve regulations and procedures and integrate small scale informal forestry activities.

GG     I appreciate this one, it is the WB saying we have been complicit with dictators and racist destruction of forest communities because we think the global capitalist game is the only alternative. Despite all of the evidence pointing out that global capitalism is killing the planet and many people, the WB continues to be a participant in the big time game, so if it  decides to alter the rules, it has some amount of leverage to deal with dictators and greed heads to protect a little forest and some forest people, and occasionally it will do it because the number crunchers finally agree it is the best alternative.
Lo and behold, the World Bank speaks of justice and ecology as integral to the economy, and that the WB and forest communities will get better results if the World Bank and the projects it funds put into practice what they have learned.  Unfortunately change is slow and the powerful are unmoved until we move them.  In the same vein it will be difficult to bring the knowledge the World Bank and researchers and activists around the world have gained in this study to the redevelopment of old industrial places like Rhode Island.  We are not usually dealing with ethnic communities that have 1000 year roots in the place they live, though often we are working in communities of recent immigrants who differ ethnically from those who lived in the neighborhood when it was an economic powerhouse, and therefore have about as much power as the forest people.  The knowledge that it is only via taking care ecologically, being aware of power relationships, and implementing systems that equalize the power and give communities members a real say and stake in the outcome is hard for the global and local elites to swallow.  But in Rhode Island (and many other places) we will have prosperous communities only when we recognize the 50 years of thrashing for growth that failed specifically because it ignored these principles.

Response to Dean Baker op ed March 19, 2013

I question the assumption that there will be economic growth and rising wages. We are already into ecological collapse and the path to prosperity is ecological healing and economic justice. If incomes around the global equalize, as they must in a just world, and if we reduce consumption to keep the worst of climate change from happening and restore the forests, we can use less and enjoy community more.

As for healthcare, it is the biggest cause of bankruptcy in the US, and only through single payer can we stop the crazy idea that we should use the medical industrial complex as an engine of economic growth. All that does is make health care unaffordable.  Good sewers and no more toxic chemicals in our food and water will provide for greater community health than the most high tech system money can buy.

A handout for the General Treasurer March 2013

The original impetus for this meeting came about when during the 2010 campaign I was at several events you were at and I thought that it would be good to have a conversation with you about my work on prosperity and the ecology /economy interface. It took this long for the follow up.  It is clear the last 50 years have not been the best for the  RI economy using traditional measures.  But it is also clear that the approach to economic development  that has been used the last 50 years is tied to a system that is failing the people of Rhode Island and has been relatively unresponsive to changes in the conditions on planet Earth.  Economic planning is based on the assumption of fast continuous growth forever.  It is my contention that growth is essentially dead in the industrial world, the conditions required for rapid growth do not exist, and that efforts to create rapid economic growth are likely to lead for a further deterioration of the conditions in our communities.  Our communities would be better served by a smart shrinkage of the economy.   It should be noted that nearly all of the low unemployment states are seeing booming employment from industries that contribute to more rapid climate change and the polluting of waters.

In regard to investments for state pension funds, one of your primary responsibilities, there are several points.  There is a growing separation between the things one would do to get higher returns on investments and what is good for the community.  A stock market valuation growing much more rapidly than the employment, and 121% of all the income gain in 2011 going to 1% of the population are merely exclamation points in this long term trend.    Investing in off shoring, investing in businesses cutting corners, investing in the destruction of ecosystems may bring the returns needed to meet investment targets (though those targets have not been met for at least 5 years) but they are not helping Rhode Islanders except for a relatively small group of retirees.  The expected returns are unrealistic except by investing in the most destructive economic practices, such as fracking, and make the overall economic situation in RI worse,  Of special note for environmentalists is that returns on investment faster than the ecosystem can operate always lead to destruction of forests, soils, and fisheries.  The forest in New England grows about 3% a year and cutting it faster than that (which a higher rate of return to investors seems to demand)  depletes the forest, harms the water, increases flooding, destroys fisheries.  Economists do not normally make that connection, but they should,

Investing directly in ecological healing in Rhode Island creates more jobs in Rhode Island with widespread benefits to communities and the economy, and even a lower rate of return on these investments than Wall St offers would provide more of a boost to Rhode Island than a higher rate of return from Wall St.  it is a bit of a different approach to prudent man investing, but in the long run more prudent.

Economic justice, a more equal economy, is inextricably linked to prosperity and ecological health.  Where the people have the right to stop inappropriate development or prevent their poisoning the health and conversely direct what kind of development is appropriate in the community, the prosperity of the community improves.  When communities have no say, when the economy skews toward the rich, when communities are uprooted for private gain and at public cost, communities become less prosperous.  The result of the skewing of the economy is always faster resource depletion, lower incomes, lower public health, shorter lives and less democracy.  The best examples of doing it right are starting to emerge in the tropics, where according to the World Bank,  when communities retain control of their forest the health of the forest is maintained while the lowest income people in the community eat better and have higher incomes than similar communities that lose control of the forest to outside logging interests.

Full cost accounting is the idea of counting all relevant information, not just the flows of money in determining what is going on economically.  Too often we count resource depletion and other damage to our communities as a growth in the economy.  Is repairing hurricane damage really something to be added to the economy, or should it be subtracted from he planetary budget as it furthers resource depletion to have to rebuild stuff that probably was in the wrong place all together, and incurs great societal liabilities if rebuilt .

I am happy to follow up further and provide references.  And I invite you to a conference on October 12 2013  Entitled    “Ecological Healing, Ecological Economics, Economic Justice:  Creating Prosperity for the 99% in Rhode Island”

Greg Gerritt     Prosperity For



Response to essay in ecoRI March 2013

As a person who is involved in efforts to boost local sustainability and agriculture, and who studies the economy extensively, part of my work is challenging the paradigm of development that has as its primary goal to keep the 1% fat and happy. The prosperity we seek can not come via the development philosophy and practices that have mismanaged the economy of RI for 50 years.

With the changed conditions on planet Earth, climate change, depletion of resources, collapsing ecosystems, as well as an economy that no longer creates middle class jobs due to advances in technology, and runs entirely on excessive consumption with borrowed money, a report like the one the Fourth Economy Consulting team produced is in the long line of reports that postulates this or that hot economic cluster with some hot technology that moves people out of the job market is the thing RI should chase.

We might want to remember that in the US all of the economic growth is funny money financial speculation money that only goes to the 1%. The rest of us are already getting poorer, and will continue to do so as the global economy flattens out and sputters as the trees run out. Therefore we need much more of our economy in areas sheltered from the global economy and capable of producing more jobs meeting local needs for productive work that heals ecosystems. Any plan that does not include agriculture as a growing force in RI is not worth the paper it is printed on, and shows the complete poverty of the economic model the 1% continue to insist is the only possible future.


Late winter musings

Writing on a rainy late winter morning.  The days are getting longer, it is light at 6 AM.  This rain will take much of what is left of the snow.  I have been very focused on events and meetings and not done much writing recently.  But I have been pondering what to say to Gina Raimondo at the meeting in 10 days.  I know i can not give her the full force of my assault on Wall St, so I have to be very clear, concise, and laid back that day.

I had a piece of it walking last night, see if I can reconstruct it.  if not today, tomorrow. I have to convey the relationship between the end of growth except for the funny money growth of the 1%, using the statistic from 2011 that the 1% received 121% of the rise in income that year while the rest of us, the 99% on average received 0.4% LESS income. So an investment strategy that focuses on growth like the stock market saw in 2012, about 6% then becomes the target for pension fund investments, investments that make money for the pension fund while at the same time harming the average Rhode Islander and contributing to excessive consumption on planet earth.  That a better strategy might be investing directly in the state in adaptation to climate change such as decentralized power, much more local agriculture.  Maybe in farmland to get new farmers into business.

I think I am going to have just about that much time.  I need to make swift concise points. No more than 5, 3 is better but not enough to make a circle. Can I include the end of growth?  The end of growth for who?  Are we headed for the next bubble? How wasteful are those?   Who benefits from bubbles are the rich. The end of more jobs with this phony growth unless we practice more economic justice and equity.  Can i convey the spirit level stuff about how clear the evidence is that economic inequality is bad for an economy, and really works less well as we approach a steady state and begin the shrinkage.  Can we shrink smart, can we accept interest and return rates at ecological speed.   2%

Can we start to account for ecology and community in our measures, using full cost accounting in our investment policies. Could we do more good here with smaller returns? Improve the situation of our citizenry, improve gross state happiness with a more level economy?  Using ecological healing as a way forward?

Not going to get to all of that.  maybe this week i write one of these  a day.  See how well I can hone the elevator pitch.




disconnected by snow plowing

I live right off one of the oldest roads in North America.  North Main St was originally the foot path used by the people of the Narragansett nation  traveling  between the confluence of the rivers in what became downtown Providence and the settlement at the falls at Pawtucket.  The reason N Main has been used by people walking the approximately 4 miles from Providence to Pawtucket for so long is  that it takes you out of the Moshassuck valley at a relatively easy place to climb up to the terrace, keeps you out of the swamps and the up and down terrain of what became the North Burial Ground, and then crosses the divide in to the Blackstone watershed at the easiest place to walk over the ridge.  Considering how long people have been walking this trail it is rather ironic and sad that when it snows the route along N Main and at its southern end Canal St is not passable to pedestrians.  The road is plowed, the traffic moves, but long stretches of it are either unshoveled or have their connectivity blocked by mounds of snow at the corners or next to driveways.

For pedestrians throughout Providence and surrounding urban communities the connectivity is broken in the snow due to the accommodations to the cars that are one of the key components in the global weirding bringing us these crazy storms,    It appears the neighborhoods are accessible, with more shoveled sidewalks, more corner cut throughs, and less crowded streets, but the connections between the neighborhoods, and the areas between the neighborhoods and downtown, especially some of bridges over the Interstate which seem to be orphans, are rather weak.  It happens that the overpass on Broad St was shoveled, but then,  and I found this in many places today, when the plows came back to widen the streets, it pushed snow back onto the shoveled out sidewalks.

Being the obligatory walker I know routes that expose me to less traffic, I avoid most of N Main St, traveling up on the hill rather than the old road I can get to downtown in one piece.   But if we are to be a walkable city, we are going to have to strike a new balance between opening the way for cars, and keeping the old trail accessible to people on foot.

Compost Op Ed published in Projo Feb. 13, 2013

The promise of composting in R.I.
By almost any indicator the Rhode Island economy is not performing all that well. The indicator I tend to focus on is food security. And in Rhode Island too many kids go hungry. The only way we are really going to reduce childhood hunger and food insecurity is to provide the opportunity for almost every family in Rhode Island to grow more food. The record is clear. Compared to their neighbors in similar straits, families with community garden plots have healthier kids, who are eating more nutritiously.
To increase gardening Rhode Island needs a key ingredient — one that we could produce in abundance if we quit tossing it into the state Central Landfill. Agriculture only thrives with a ready supply of compost and to produce that ready supply Rhode Island should quit tossing food scrap into the landfill and start composting it in backyards, community settings, and commercial scale facilities.
Currently Rhode island tosses away about 250 tons of food scrap a day, half a pound per person a day, 365 days a year. Nearly all of that can and should be turned into compost. Across America and around the world more and more communities are ending the disposal of food scrap and beginning its reuse.

When food scrap is buried in a landfill anaerobic bacteria, bacteria that live in places with very little oxygen, break down the food scrap.  In situations where oxygen is abundant a very different set of bacteria break down the food scrap.  When food scrap is digested by bacteria without oxygen the emissions include large quantities of methane, a greenhouse gas 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide.  In addition a variety of sulfur compounds are created in the decay process,   These stink, and are responsible for some, but not all,  of the odor issues at the Central Landfill.  RI Resource Recovery Corporation currently uses a methane recovery system in the landfill, selling the methane to an electric power plant, but the overall efficiency of methane capture is estimated at 50%. An alternative to burying the food scrap and recovering the methane is the building of large scale anaerobic digesters to create and capture methane.  These systems are much more efficient than burying and recapturing, dramatically reduce methane emissions and allow the residue to be used for fertilizer or feedstock  for aerobic composting.

If all of the food scrap was composted or digested under much more controlled conditions, including much of the leaf and yard waste of the Ocean State in the mix, the odor issues would be much reduced and methane emissions nearly eliminated. A huge resource formerly thrown away, would be providing Rhode Island jobs, possibly some green energy, and boost local soil fertility.
After exploring the compost industry in Rhode island for five years I can say people are much more knowledgeable, and that there is much more composting going on than five years ago. Further many people want to further develop the commercial potential of composting and digesting food scrap.
A big obstacle holding back the Ocean State compared to many other places is the very low price of disposal at the Central Landfill. We should note that in one of the few sectors where it appears that Rhode Island has a cost advantage of our neighbors and some of our competitors — the cost of trash disposal — we have a situation in which the low cost increases pollution and causes us to squander a resource that could very much help us overcome poverty and food insecurity. There is a larger lesson in there about economic development but I will leave that for another day.
The tale of how Rhode Island came to have such a low price that it impedes commerce and contributes to food insecurity is just the usual inside baseball and cost-shifting we see so often, but one that we are hoping the legislature will tackle soon. It will take action by the legislature to readjust the economics enough to kick open the door for the compost industry.
The Compost Initiative of the Environment Council of Rhode Island, as a partner with the Rhode Island Food Policy Council, the Resource Recovery Corporation, the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management and others have more recently been tackling some of the regulatory issues start ups in the industry face. We hope that while maintaining strict environmental and community standards — in other words the neighbors will not have to deal with odor or runoff from the facilities — it should be possible for community-garden-sized operations to develop without having to hire engineers and submit plans. In addition we hope very small commercial operations will have reduced filing fees as long as they demonstrate a clear knowledge of proper composting and have no adverse impact on their neighbors.
Every year Rhode Island has moved closer to a fully developed system to safely recycle the nutrients in food scrap., Maybe this is the year of the breakthrough.

Response to Jeffrey Sachs

Mr Sachs still seems to believe in the growth fairy. Developing world economies are going to grow for a while longer, but in the west, fast growth is over, and there is no real growth, just more funny money in the hands of the 1%.

Our crisis is not just ecological. It is also one of inequality. Evidence is very clear, inequality torpedoes economies as well as ecological collapse. We are in a crisis that only more democracy can heal. We can use less and share more only if the power of the 1% is checked by the community. We can not have industries blackmail a community with the old song and dance you shall have jobs if we can poison you. Communities must always have the right to say no to inappropriate development and yes to community investment.

Human beings already use way too much of the earth’s productivity to keep ecosystems healthy, we are living off the capital, not the yearly productivity of the earth. When the primary forests are completely gone, when the rural people have all been displaced, growth will be gone for everyone, not just those in the west where growth has already disappeared.

I ponder all the time whether there is a physical solution, or if changes in human consciousness about our place in the universe must come first. All I do know is that we must not do smart growth, but smart shrinkage in my neighborhood if we want to end hunger.

Response to Scott Mackay’s commentary

This morning I was listening to the radio and heard a commentary on the RI economy by Scott Mackay.  Mackay was spouting the usual propaganda offered to us by the ruling class.  We have to cut taxes and get folks working again.  Excuse me, but we have heard this before and it still does not work.

The conventional wisdom, the dominant paradigm,, the only ideas acceptable in the public square or in the commercial media are that if we could only make the world safer for the 1% we could have good times (fast economic growth) in Rhode Island and that the biggest problem that RI has is that it does not kow tow to the 1% enough because the unions will not let the corparados screw the workers.  Scott, I expect better of you, some real analysis and some real inquiry into the causes of our economic situation.

We need to ask a few new questions and have a different discussion this year.  Since we are already talking about the 1% and the 99%, we could talk about how the 99% have done under the corporate reign that began with Reagan in the 1980’s versus how the 1% has done.  There is NOTHING in the actions of workers since that time that in any way compares to the harm done to the American economy that the 1% has caused simply through rigging the system so that they get all the new wealth and everyone else gets poorer.   That is prosperity?

Would you at least ask the question about the role increasing inequality plays in messing up economies?  More and more authors are pointing out how inequality in the economy drives the growth out. Have you read any of that material?  They make a pretty convincing case that only when there is actual community participation in decisions on the economy can you achieve a sustainable prosperity in the age of climate change.

Have you tried to apply this new understanding of the role of inequality in gumming  up an economy to the standard wisdom being spouted in Rhode Island for the umpteeth time?  Have you asked how any of the proposals from the chamber of commerce, the various foundations and commissions, from the RIEDC or legislature will decrease inequality?  Or is it because no one wants to know the real answer, the one that says all of the ruling class ideas on how to fix the economy are based on a planet that no longer exists, in which true democracy is just an obstacle to prosperity.  Which Congress have you been watching for just how crazed the 1% and their lap dogs are?

Some more basic truths need to be applied to the conventional wisdom in RI.  The conventional wisdom says decrease regulations (I talked of taxes indirectly  in the previous paragraphs and will not repeat that case here).  but this morning, very close in time to your commentary there was a discussion of just how bad the air pollution in China is right now.  It is a true killer smog.  Just like places in the US got 50 years ago that caused us to try to get out of the stone age of regulations in which the rich could do anything and won every court case.  We made great progress, with cleaner technologies almost always providing for more efficient industrial processes and better profits, but to this day the loonies on the right demand less regulation and more right to pollute, destroy wetlands, over fish, and destroy the climate.  That gives us a country like China in which a small elite make the rules, they apply them selectively, and while the resistance to the rich grows every larger, the growth that the leaders crave gets eaten up  fixing the problems the over development is causing.  China may be eating up to 50% of its growth dealing with the damage each year.  Is your goal to return RI to that condition in pursuit of growth?

The road to prosperity does not pass through lower corporate taxes and deregulation, as much as I, like everyone in Rhode Island knows of rules and laws that just plain are hard to navigate and make life a bit crazy for innovators.  The road to prosperity begins with understanding that economic growth is essentially over in the west.  It is more than likely that wages in the west will start to settle down towards the global mean while incomes in the poorest parts of the world continue to rise, a bit.  We now have jobless recoveries in between bubbles.  Workers are obsolete, even college educated young people can not find jobs and are likely to be only loosely attached to the conventional job market for many years to come.

If we have jobless, bubble growth, is it actually growth?  But this is the only thing offered to us by the conventional wisdom.  So let us start to try to figure out how to create jobs even as the economy shrinks.  Two related places to start, ecological healing and food security. Which are completely integrated into the work to slow and adapt to climate change.

in other words building community resilience, growing more food, using less energy, recycling everything, is not to be the fringe or frill on the economy, it is the main course.  If Rhode Island wants prosperous communities, the only smart thing is to begin the process of ecological healing, restoring forests, soils, fisheries, watersheds, and clean transportation infrastructure.

The conventional wisdom will not get us there.  The conventional wisdom calls for austerity, deregulation, lower taxes on the rich.  Can someone tell me how that slows climate change and helps us adapt?  Can someone tell me how that does not lead to ever faster destruction of the ecosystems that feed us?   Can someone tell me how it reduces inequality in the community and allows communities to protect themselves from corporate greed and power?

Scott, I am waiting for a better analysis, one that actually asks the important questions rather than parroting the received wisdom. .




The ecology/economy interface in 2013

Greg Gerritt  1/1/13

Had a very interesting morning, reading about the next economy and walking in the woods along the Seekonk.

The reading was a mixed bag.  Some articles in the book “The Coming Transformation” edited by Kellart and Speth, an editorial in the Projo based on its long  series of articles on the economy (continuing its prescription that will not fly), and my weekly dose of ecoRI news, with reports on the Green economy and smart growth.

The trip to the river was excellent.  The mix of sun and clouds as the sun rose in the east, an eagle and a set of coyote tracks going along the same trail I was using.  In the three days since the snow the lone coyote track was the only thing on that trail.  It occurred to me that it might be nice for someone else to see the coyote trail so I tried not to step on it, but it was difficult. The trail, which I know quite well, is relatively broad, but it only has one good track for traveling the side hill.  The coyote was in that one track, so if I wanted to avoid the footprints, I had to walk off the real track, and it was clearly noticeable, I was just a bit off balance the whole time.

The eagle needs comment only because this year you see one nearly every day along the Seekonk, whereas when I moved to town 16 years ago I did not see any in this spot for several years.  Over the last 15 years they have become more and more common along the Seekonk, with at least 3 seen regularly this winter.

Getting back to following the trail, the coyote and I both followed a trail that was shaped by the contours of the hill (as modified by the trail maker).  The economic trail the Projo offers us ignores the contours of the land, offering us a vision of what the 1% would have us do to enrich them.  The environment, poverty, people, irrelevant.  We shall replace the people of RI with some mythological ready for business automatons that shall lets us pollute and steal to our hearts content.  They never explain how this benefits anyone other than the 1%.  They have been saying the same thing for at least 50 years, low taxes, bust unions and all will be right with the world.  If it worked so good, everyone would have been there years ago. There is no vast left wing conspiracy in the US with enough power to undermine the capitalists if they had anything of value to offer.  The Projo needs to understand that only economies with economic equality as a goal and practice can go forward successfully in the 21st Century.  As long as we try to enrich the rich, the RI economy is going to stay dormant.

Strike two for the Projo, and for all of the other commentators I read, is the continued expectation of economic growth.  If all the growth is pumped up funny money based on treating workers like dirt, financial shenanigans like looting pension funds and tax breaks for the rich, and the destruction of the global forest, can it really be called growth if more and more Rhode Islanders struggle to make ends meet? And the planetary systems are more and more damaged and less and less productive. 93% of the growth in income in the US over the last 5 years has gone to 1% of the population.  Do the math, If the second through the 10th percentiles did just a little better over that time, the other 90% actually lost income.  The economy being offered by the Projo, and the smart growth advocates is guaranteed to fail the community and the planet.  The fiscal cliff is just the latest farce in this tragedy.  There has to be a better way, and there is.

My goal for 2013 is to make sure that in Rhode Island the economic alternative to the global capitalist order that is eating the planet and poisoning the poor gets noticed and becomes more integrated into how we think about the economy and what we do to improve it.  Towards that end there will a conference on October 12 2013 Ecological Healing, Ecological Economics, Economic Justice:  Creating prosperity for the 99% in Rhode Island.  You should all put that in your calendar and make plans to attend.



Day length

As I get older I am becoming more familiar with the rhythms of the Solar System, the Earth around the sun, the moon around the earth and sun, and the other visible planets.  I am no expert, but have learned to find the plane of the ecliptic and more readily find planets.  I have learned to tell time by moon as well as the sun.

The last few years I have been frequently checking on both day length and the amount of daily change in day length.  One of the more interesting ways to ponder this is to note that every spot on earth gets exactly the same number of hours that the sun is above the horizon over the course of the year.  Every place on earth averages a 12 hour day, if you measured from sunrise to sunset and added them all up over the year.  At the North and South Poles there is 6 months of day and 6 months of night.  At the equator every day is 12 hours from sunrise to sunset.  It then follows that at 45 degrees north and south the longest day would be 16 hours and the shortest 8, give or take a few seconds as the world is not a perfect sphere.

Providence is at approximately 41 degrees North and has a shortest day length of 9 hours and 8 minutes and a longest day length of 14 hours and 52 minutes.  At the solstices day length changes by less then a second, 3 seconds the day before and after, 5 seconds the day before or after that, rising to 2 minutes and 48 seconds at the equinox and the days surrounding it.  For comparison I looked at the change in day length in Barrow Alaska in northern Alaska, and at the equinox day length was changing by 6 minutes and 47 seconds each day.

Makes sense as if day length is going to go from 1 hour to 23 hours in the same amount of time as day length in Providence goes from 9 hours to 15  the change each day is going to be much larger at the equinoxes than it is here, remembering that at the solstices everybody has a length change of zero.

One great thing about this is you only have to learn the numbers once.  They never change.  Next year, 15 years from now, 15000 years ago, day length at the winter solstice in Providence or what was the land upon which Providence was later planted was and will continue to be 9 hours and 8 minutes.  There are things that can change our relationship to the sun, but other than putting a motor on the planet and rocketing it to another part of the solar system, none of them can be changed by people.

I wish the same could be said about the climate. But clearly what we people have done is set the world on fire.  It is not going to be pretty, but there is much we can do to ameliorate the situation if we decide to.  I hope that learning about the sun, the planets, the moon, the tides, and closer to home the living world, will help us think more clearly about climate and what would be good courses of action.  I hope learning to look at the world, to observe, to measure, to analyze, but also to dream and imagine based on what we see will help us be more prepared for the coming storm.

Today the day length in Providence is 9 hours and 8 minutes, but tomorrow it will be 9 hours and 9 minutes, and it will be more than 20 seconds longer than the day before.  Summer is coming.