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Ken Ward's Posts

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Courage and song at Green Corps training

Last Friday, I lead a favorite Green Corps workshop on protest songs. When I first taught the session, years ago, I said that an organizer or campaigner might only be called upon to sing two songs in their career: We Shall Overcome at civil rights gatherings, and Solidarity Forever at labor conferences. The two experiences are very different. We Shall Overcome pours forth with spirit. Folks hold hands and sway in unison, while Solidarity Forever is generally plodding, the audience still, reading, the lyrics, off a program. Now it is true that the civil rights anthem is the better song …

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Three models for environmental analysis and planning

There are several fundamental areas of disagreement that underlay the ostensible topics of debate here on Grist. I have pulled together three planning and training devices used by organizers and campaigners in the PIRG tradition, as well as Green Corps, that are helpful in surfacing and naming such disagreements -- a common language for dispute, if you will. Continuum of environmental action A strength of environmentalism had been the flowering of its forms and politics. Our power has declined in direct proportion as our diversity has narrowed to an orthodox cannon of acceptable forms of environmental advocacy. At the height …

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Has EDF spun out of environmentalism?

Tony Kreindler reiterates EDF's position that the short-term targets in Lieberman/Warner are strong, that its essential framework is sound, and that we have 40 years to strengthen its weak areas ... but don't expect to do so anytime soon. In his recent Grist series, Kreindler wrote, "the political landscape in 2009 will be much like today's as far as climate change legislation goes." This is an astonishing admission about the state of U.S. environmentalism. The hard work of decades, over a billion in assets dedicated to climate action, the certain election of a pro-cap-and-trade policy president, a Northwest Passage ice …

Read more: Climate & Energy

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The 350ppm challenge to U.S. environmental organizations and the importance of McKibben’s 350.org

Bill McKibben spoke about 350.org recently at the Jamaica Plain Forum. Coming on the heels of recent talks by Ross Gelbspan, also at the JP Forum, and Jim Hansen, in Lexington, Mass., Bill's talk completed a trifecta of area appearances by climate action patriots. My friend Andrée, who attended all three events, said: "Hansen has the reserve of a scientist, and the certainty of someone who knows he is right. McKibben is just like his writing -- philosophical, wry and funny, and Gelbspan ..." she paused ... "Gelbspan is a mensch." Like McKibben himself, 350.org may be tagged as too …

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An ad campaign on climate needs spokespeople who believe what they’re saying

Idly watching TV the other day, my attention was caught by the arresting image of Al Sharpton and Pat Robertson sitting on a sofa. The artfully shot, 15-second spot is one of the first blitz of television ads from We Can Solve It, Al Gore's $300 million project to build up a public base of support for climate action. The two resemble each other, looking as sleek and plump as sea otters after a good feed. Sharpton and Robertson fence good naturedly, following the strange-bedfellows format of the ad series. Robertson puns, "So get involved; it's the 'right' thing to …

Read more: Climate & Energy

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The Climate Policy Paradigm has reached its endgame

It takes effort to suit up in the quasi-business/academic garb of the professional environmentalist and enter the lion's den of DC politics or the state houses. Our beliefs are so fundamentally at odds with the very fabric of civic life that it requires an effort of will, particularly in the early years, not to scream bloody murder and run for the door. Over decades, layers of accommodation and polite behavior have built up by accretion, while our rough edges have been worn down. The net result is a worldview -- we may call it the "Climate Policy Paradigm" -- that …

Read more: Climate & Energy

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By caring for God’s creatures, we avert a second flood

This is a speech I delivered on Earth Day, April 20, 2008, at the Unitarian-Universalist First Church in Jamaica Plain, Mass. A software glitch prevented its publication on that day, but I believe it's still worth sharing. As Kurt Vonnegut once said, "I wish I could bring light ... but there is no light. Everything is going to become unimaginably worse. If I lied to you about that, you would sense that I'd lied to you, and that would be another cause for gloom, and we have enough causes already." It is true that there are fewer bald-faced lies being …

Read more: Living

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Why this is the last election, and another look at McCain

This is the last U.S. election. Have we taken stock of the implications? There is no room for incremental thinking. The storm will fall on whomever we elect president (and isn't there a case for McCain?). Among the startling implications of breaching the 350 ppm limit is the likelihood that this is the last U.S. presidential election during which there remains a slim opportunity to take decisive global climate action. All the ordinary rules and habits of elections and campaigning have been summarily and unexpectedly tossed out the window. Building party power, advancing political careers, and addressing climate incrementally are …

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Twelve simple things green groups can do about climate change

Hey, environmentalists! You passed the energy bill -- what're you gonna do now? Here are 12 things that could be undertaken with present resources: 1. Use The Flood Threat. Our climate story should be about the civilization-busting and mass extinction threat of Greenland and Antarctic ice-shelf break-up and rapid sea-level rise. This simple and honest story is far more powerful than the shifting laundry list of climate impacts we now put forward. The fatal flaw with any plan that skips around these terrible truths is that they are discernibly dishonest, and false optimism masks the only rationale that can move …

Read more: Climate & Energy

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Somewhere in a parallel universe …

Jerry Falwell, President Moral Majority Lynchburg, VA December 25, 1978 Dear Jerry, It is altogether fitting and proper that we should be meeting at this holy time of year. Attached is the final version of the focus group analysis. Nothing new in the numbers, but we have added several recommendations since the last draft. What we are proposing is controversial, and we expect a lively discussion at the Executive Committee meeting. Also enclosed please find our fourth quarter bill. Note that we have yet to receive payment for the first three quarters. As you know better than we, miracles are …

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