Building Sustainable, Local, Equitable, Economies

Tirana, Albania, Minneapolis, Minnesota. If we build it, will they come?

In Albania, time folds, though the marching chronology of the country's last 130 years appears stark with fundamental change: The Ottoman Empire, Nationalist Monarchy, Italian Fascism, Enver Hoxha’s Stalinism, Enver Hoxha’s Maoism, Enver’s Hoxha’s Enverism— a kind of nationalist socialism, with collective enterprises, science and Marixist-based education, fear, distrust, and violent "re-education" camps.  When Enverism fell in 1990, Albania went from frying pan to fire, with political pluralism accompanied by the most corrupt version of neo-liberalism, leading to the “Catastrophe of...

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Shqiperia (Albania). First impressions.

First impressions are precious and dangerous. Precious because you see things that later you gloss over. Dangerous because you make quick assumptions based on slim evidence. Shqiperia at first glance looks to me like an in-between place: part Southern Europe, part Eastern Europe, part Middle East, part new and changing rapidly, part old and not moving, part Global North, part Global South. It seems like a good place to come if you want to understand the world. That is why I am excited to be here. I am also excited to be here because of my ignorance of this land. Everything is new to me....

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Madrid Miracles. Aging on the Run Post #4

Getting off the train in Madrid we followed the crowds into the dark city. Our train companions formed a line for taxis, but we crossed the street and miracle of miracles, got on the right bus with backpacks and naked guitar, off at the right stop, and to the right apartment. Perhaps that does not sound miraculous to you, but Winkler-Moreys are notorious for getting lost. It felt like an awesome miracle to us. The next day we were able to orient ourselves. We entered Eva Duarte Peron Park (yes, that Eva Peron), just as an outdoor aerobics class was beginning. We joined them and it was...

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AI, College Plagiarism and Existential Crises: Reimagine Higher Ed.

I spent thirty years teaching college social science courses, developing strategies for dealing with plagiarism. Receiving a copied paper was always the most painful part of the job. I tried to develop assignments so unique that it would be impossible to find something already written. Now that AI is writing college essays for students, the game is transformed. I suggest abandoning the research and essay enterprise altogether. Forget thinking outside the box: throw away that old rectangle completely. The crises of our 21st century world demand a new higher education.  Here is what I’m...

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Our Existential Crises Are More Fundamental Than AI

What does it mean to have an existential crisis? According to the World Health Organization, half the population of humans on the planet lack water for sanitation, and a third lack safe drinking water.  Surely, we can not exist without water. The World Food Programme tells us 828 million people do not have enough food. The crisis has grown since 2020.  We are moving in the wrong direction. Certianly we do not exist without food. The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists tells us the Nuclear War doomsday clock is 90 seconds from midnight, the closest to Armageddon that it has ever been since it was...

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Book Tour Journal: Tornados and Hurricanes, Human and Natural.

We were in Montgomery when tornados devastated downtown Selma, on January 12, hitting urban and rural regions across Georgia and Alabama, and killing at least eight people. In the morning we had considered riding to Selma, stopping to take in the art and public history sites erected by the National Park Service, that commemorate the three 1965 Civil Rights Marches between the two cities, but decided instead to stay out of the car. We were in the Alabama State History museum, a perfect fortress for waiting out a storm, when the tornado hit. We were oblivious to it. The tornado skirted...

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Dear Pastor Senator Warnock

  Dear Pastor Senator Warnock, I am glad you won your re-election!  I was in your hometown of Savannah on your election day, December 6, 2022. I walked by your old high school and the project housing where you grew up. I saw the economic/racial divide that was the theater of your childhood. Though you grew up in the post Jim Crow era and went to an integrated high school you did not grow up in post- racist society. I could see just how far your road to the US Senate has been. The race/class divide in Savannah, in Georgia, in the United States, is still extreme in 2022. In Savannah it...

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Bookstores are Political

Bookstores are political. Today there are the those that have banned-book clubs and offer space to Trans support groups. They feature the works of Black, Indigenous, Latine and LGBTQ authors and subjects. “Labor” is a section, and so is “AAPI.” Genocide is a fact of history, and children can learn about menstruation in a book. And then there are the ones where People of Color are absent, all characters are straight, personal failings are big and social struggle is not. And then there the ones who think they can be “neutral on this moving train.” (Zinn). You can get every Stephen King book...

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My Grandparents’ Rent Control Apartment in Queens

At a recent community forum on rent stabilization in Minneapolis, my City Council member argued that rent control was not a good instrument for addressing poverty or racism because it also benefits well-off white renters, or people who are low income when they first move in, but still benefit when they become well-off. ‘Even though they financially no longer need it,’ she said, ‘they stay in the rent-controlled apartment because it is too good of a deal.’ The comment made me think about my grandparents who lived in a rent-controlled apartment in Queens, New York City. Moving in as refugees...

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Bicyclists Should be Disability and Mass Transit Advocates

  A rail conductor and bicyclist we stayed with when my spouse and I biked the contiguous perimeter of the US, rode passenger trains up the California coast. He told us that there was plenty of room on the federal rail lands for both trains and paved trails. Bicyclists commuters, recreational riders and, especially tourers, are heavy users of the commons. We ride roads and trails. We are delighted when those trails lead to parks where we can picnic, and public arenas like museums etc. that can be shelter and entertain us.  We give bonus points for public restrooms.  If we commute, buses...

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