2/26/2010 4:52:26 PM
Cleveland is playing host to an exciting experiment in employee-owned business, The Nation reports. The city’s Evergreen network debuted last fall with the LEED-certified Evergreen Cooperative Laundry in Cleveland’s Glenville neighborhood, where, The Nation notes, residents’ median income is around $18,000. “After a six-month initial ‘probationary’ period, employees begin to buy into the company through payroll deductions of 50 cents an hour over three years (for a total of $3,000),” The Nation explains. “Employee-owners are likely to build up a $65,000 equity stake in the business over eight to nine years—a substantial amount of money in one of the hardest-hit urban neighborhoods in the nation.”
Evergreen is also operating a solar-panel installation enterprise, Ohio Cooperative Solar, and hopes to open at least two more cooperatives in the near future: Green City Growers, a massive urban-food operation to be housed in a 230,000-square-foot hydroponic greenhouse, and the Neighborhood Voice, a community newspaper. All in all, The Nation reports, Evergreen hopes to launch 10 integrated companies, and create about 500 jobs, in the next five years.
The overall strategy is not only to go green but to design and position all the worker-owned co-ops as the greenest firms within their sectors. This is important in itself, but even more crucial is that the new green companies are aiming for a competitive advantage in getting the business of hospitals and other anchor institutions trying to shrink their carbon footprint. Far fewer green-collar jobs have been identified nationwide than had been hoped; and there is a danger that people are being trained and certified for work that doesn't exist. The Evergreen strategy represents another approach—first build the green business and jobs and then recruit and train the workforce for these new positions (and give them an ownership stake to boot).
Community-development specialists in Baltimore, Detroit, and other cities are discussing the possibilities of adopting “the Cleveland model” elsewhere, and the story’s authors—Gar Alperovitz, Ted Howard, and Thad Williamson—dedicate some serious column space to imagining what that might look like.
Source: The Nation
Image by Wayne National Forest, licensed under Creative Commons.
2/24/2010 4:40:19 PM
Waiting lists have often been used as a sort of litmus test for judging the popularity of various service programs. As Katherine Barrett and Richard Greene point out in Governing, this is an unreliable measure.
As state, country and local revenues shrink and the need for services grows, the words “waiting list” are showing up in news reports everywhere. But what do the numbers on a waiting list mean? It turns out that they can mean all kinds of different things, and the assumption that waiting lists in any two government entities are comparable is a dangerous one. In fact, the figures are often deeply flawed and could be used quite easily to mislead the public, policy makers and advocacy groups. In an ideal world, waiting lists wouldn’t be used to measure the gap between the number of people served and the number who want to be served. . . .But it’s not an ideal world, and there are a number of ways to manipulate the lists.
Barrett and Greene asked several experts about the ways that waiting lists can be misrepresented. Publicity makes a difference, and the people most in need may not even be on a list. In the end, unless you have all the details about who is waiting on a list, it’s hard to judge just what that information truly means.
2/24/2010 3:59:35 PM
Elevators, escalators, and moving walkways are designed to minimize physical activity. Considering the rising obesity rate in the United States, urban planners are now trying to design the physical activity back into people’s lives. “It’s not necessary for us to go to the gym,” New York City’s assistant health commissioner Dr. Lynn Silver told Next American City. “Instead,” the magazine reports, “making stairwells more attractive, building ‘supportive’ walking routes, creating access to fresh produce, and ‘animating’ streets to make them more pedestrian friendly can encourage all the exercise a New Yorker needs. It’s LEED green building standards meets P.E. class.”
Source: Next American City
, licensed under
2/19/2010 2:08:24 PM
A California hospital has banned midwives from delivering babies, saying they must deliver at a larger facility 11 miles away that has a neonatal intensive care unit. The Ventura County Star reports on the controversy and the midwives’ reaction to the decision in Camarillo, California:
The two midwives who deliver at least 60 babies a year at the Camarillo hospital said they don’t understand the reasoning because they rarely have complications. …
Midwives said they’re worried that patients who want to deliver their babies at a Camarillo obstetrics unit they described as quiet and homey may not want to go a busy, much larger hospital. They also questioned why hospital leaders decided midwives need immediate access to the intensive care unit but obstetricians-gynecologists who routinely handle high-risk births do not.
Feministing suggests an answer, writing, “It’s hard to view this decision as being motivated by anything but a distrust of midwives, especially when OB/GYNs who deal with higher-risk pregnancies are still able to use the smaller facility.”
The blog On Birthing pins the midwife ban on fallout from the hospital’s contentious relationship with a doctor who assists in home births and is affiliated with the midwives. He and the hospital have disagreed over some of his methods. “So for his non-compliance with such ‘suggestions’ on how he ought to practice, they now take it out on midwives?” writes On Birthing. “This is a travesty.”
Feministing reports that the advocacy group the Birth Action Coalition is protesting the hospital’s decision.
Source: Ventura County Star, Feministing, On Birthing
2/17/2010 5:04:51 PM
Women make up about 7 percent of the U.S. prison population, a small (but growing) group that’s nearly always lost amid the male-centric coverage of overcrowded prisons and worsening conditions.
Invisible, then, are acts of resistance by incarcerated women, a colorful history explored by prison abolitionist Victoria Law in the progressive journal New Politics. Law, who recently wrote a book on the subject—Resistance Behind Bars: The Struggles of Incarcerated Women—digs deep, chronicling events as far back as the 1835 riot at New York’s first prison for women, where female inmates protested abominable conditions by “attacking and tearing the clothes off the prison matron and physically chasing away other officials with wooden food tubs.” She also reports on a range of recent and modern-day collective organizing campaigns against inedible food, abusive guards, meager libraries, and insufficient or nonexistent education programs.
Law draws an important parallel between these resistance movements and those being waged by social justice advocates on the outside:
During the 1970s, outside activists and organizers recognized that the injustices occurring on the inside were exaggerated mirrors of those on the outside and often worked in solidarity with people in prison to challenge and change prison conditions. Today, although many on the left are alarmed about the trend of mass incarceration, few are making the personal connections with people inside resisting and organizing. Why aren't we connecting the struggles for social justice outside with those on the inside?
If reading this fascinating history inspires you to make that connection, Law concludes with a list—compiled by “incarcerated women and their advocates”—of ways to support these oft-unsung resisters. She also publishes a zine, Tenacious: Art and Writing from Women in Prison, which I profile along with other prisoner zines in the brand-new issue of Utne Reader.
Source: New Politics
2/11/2010 5:15:42 PM
Republicans including Sarah Palin have taken to attacking Barack Obama as a “professor.” Palin recently told a group of Tea Party activists, “we need a commander in chief, not a professor of law standing at the lectern.” According to Inside Higher Ed, this line of attack taps into a long history of anti-intellectualism, stereotypes about higher-education, and possibly racism in American politics.
The “professor” label “implies dry, hectoring, unemotional, self important, all of the negative stereotypes of somebody who is vainly certain of his own superior mental capacities but doesn’t have a human connection,” Geoffrey Nunberg told Inside Higher Ed. The article also quotes experts who believe the attack resonates because of the racist undertones of portraying Obama as “different” and “not one of us.” The attacks may work in the short term—and among people pre-disposed to dislike Obama—but many believe the strategy won’t work in the long run. Harvard Professor Charles Ogletree says, “Do you want to tell your children we don’t want smart people in government?”
Source: Inside Higher Ed
Image by the Center for American Progress, licensed under Creative Commons.
2/10/2010 3:40:18 PM
Conservatism may be fueled in part by fear and uncertainty, according to a psychological study covered in Miller-McCune. Three researchers “have found evidence that both general feelings of threat and specific anxiety about other ethnic groups sometimes do lead individuals to embrace two tenets of political conservativism—support for the status quo and a belief that there is a natural hierarchy to society.”
Which is to say that a common liberal perception might be rooted in reality. Before your conservative brother-in-law can dismiss the research as the sketchy work of lefty social scientists, he should consider that the study was carefully constructed to track shifting attitudes over time, surveying almost 1,000 undergraduates as they went through four years of college. It went further toward establishing a causal connection than previous studies, which had found that people who were more uncomfortable with complexity and ambiguity tended to lean to the right.
The results surprised even the researchers. As one tells Miller-McCune:
“What makes it really interesting is that using very conservative methods, and looking at processes over time, we still found that there was a conservative shift in response to threat perceptions. A lot of people just treat conservatism as a personality variable that doesn’t change, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. It seems to be influenced by the situation, and it can be affected by threat perceptions.”
The magazine notes that this might be part of the psychology at work behind the recent anti-government, anti-Obama right-wing movement: “With unemployment now topping 10 percent, economic uncertainty is probably weighing more heavily.” Also, “America now has its first African American president. And as the research described here suggests, there seems to be a direct link from ‘intergroup anxiety’ [about people of different ethnicities] to political conservatism.”
Image by MeetTheCrazies, licensed under Creative Commons.
2/5/2010 4:32:06 PM
In the new issue of In These Times, John Ireland profiles a gay blogger who’s telling his story from one of the most GLBT-unfriendly countries in the world: Uganda, where a draconian “anti-homosexuality bill” was introduced last October. The proposed bill, which would mandate the death penalty for cases of “aggravated homosexuality” and require Ugandans to report any known GLBT people to the authorities, has been widely condemned by Western leaders, including President Obama.
Despite the tense, dangerous environment—and the fact that he was publicly outed in a Ugandan newspaper in December—this blogger, who uses the pseudonym “Gug,” continues to post dispatches on his website (GayUganda.blogspot.com) and Twitter account (Twitter.com/gayuganda). “It’s a risk that I have to carry,” he tells In These Times.
Closeted life is similar the world over. Gug finds a comfort zone and a way to “pass” that has kept him safe so far. He can relax within a tight-knit group of other “kuchus” in bars, after the early evening crowd leaves. He tweets:
like a change of guard. football fans out. us partiers in. and the night is young… its pleasant to be in a place of safety. where i and other kuchus can interact in relative safety. a heavy cloak lifts.
The Anti-Homosexuality Bill is transforming his circle of friends, forcing them to make difficult choices. He describes [via Twitter] how he and his partner are drawn into the battle, sometimes reluctantly:
“he is on the phone. counseling. someone being blackmailed. yeah, a kuchu. life, as normal”
“some weighty decisions on my mind. personal. I tend to mull them over.. and i have”
“would i ever leave kampala??? or uganda? not by choice. this is home”
Source: In These Times
Image by FredoAlvarez, licensed under Creative Commons.
2/5/2010 12:57:25 PM
The Innocence Project is celebrating the latest prisoner to be exonerated through DNA testing in the United States by detailing his case and the cases of each of the 249 wrongfully convicted who came before him. The report, 250 Exonerated: Too Many Wrongfully Convicted also offers a crunching of the exoneration numbers, among them:
- There have been DNA exonerations in 33 states and the District of Columbia.
- The top three states for DNA exonerations are New York (with 25), Texas (with 40) and Illinois (with 29).
- 76% of the wrongful convictions involved eyewitness misidentification.
- 50% involved unvalidated or improper forensic science.
- 27% relied on a false confession, admission or guilty plea.
- 70% of the 250 people exonerated are people of color (60% are black; nearly 9% are Latino; 29% are white).
Source: The Innocence Project
2/5/2010 8:45:10 AM
In Jailing the American Dream, reprinted in our March-April 2010 issue, investigative reporter and policy analyst Tom Barry documents the collision of profits, poverty, and injustice in America’s borderland prisons. In this episode of the UtneCast, Barry talks about his quest and the obstacles along the way.
Download the podcast at the UtneCast blog, on iTunes, or stream it here:
Tom Barry Interview
2/1/2010 4:38:23 PM
After paying for gas at the pump, your money gets distributed throughout the world. But filling your gas tank with resources from Africa doesn’t actually help Africans. This animated investigation by Oxfam follows the gas money from the pump, through the corporate profits, to the government coffers and bribes. And how much goes to ordinary people? Not much. Watch:
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