Building Sustainable, Local, Equitable, Economies

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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Calling up the Nineteenth Century to Understand our Own Times.  Annette Gordon-Reed’s On Juneteenth, Barbara Kingsolver’s Unsheltered and Tony Horowitz’s Spying on the South

Annette Gordon-Reed, and Barbara Kingsolver are writers grounded in history, science, and Tony Horowitz was a writer steeped in evidence, yet reading On Juneteenth, Unsheltered, and Spying on the South together, felt like a mystical retreat with three mediums, channeling the 19th century to answer 21stcentury questions. Kingsolver and Horwitz wrote during the 2016 election and early period of the Trump administration. Gordon-Reed wrote during the summer of 2020 with the early pandemic and uprising against police brutality in her backdrop. Kingsolver was reading Naomi Klein’s This Changes...

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The Aspiring Intersectional Feminist Traveler

I am preparing to be interviewed by the Intrepid Traveler. That caused me to consider, what kind of traveler am I? I am not intrepid. I travel loaded with fears and cautions. I think I am an aspiring Intersectional Feminist Traveler. What does it mean to be an Intersectional Feminist Traveler? It means I think about the use of spaces. I think about resources, access, and sustainability. I try not to accept status quo inequalities as natural. I question what is, envision a new world order, and find ways to share that vision.  When I enter a new place, I think about: Housing, Education,...

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Literary Pairing. Read Insurgent Supremacists with The Sinking Middle Class

  Traveling the spine of the United States from Minnesota to New Mexico during the Omicron surge, I have been reading two books: Matthew N. Lyons’ Insurgent Supremacists: The US Far Right’s Challenge to State and Empire and David Roediger’s The Sinking Middle Class: A Political History As I passed through urban and rural spaces, and “red” and “blue”states, these books illuminated my understanding of what is real and what is manufactured about divisions among people in the economic 60-90% bottom of the United States. In the material world, the 60% — 198 million people who own 3% of the...

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The Urban Rural Divide and Just Sustainability for the 99%

Every election cycle we hear about the urban/rural divide, pitting blue against red. There are a hundred theories about how one side or the other can emerge the winner. Rarely do any of these theories address the concerns of working and poor people.

For those committed to radical transformation, our job is to tear down the artificial barriers the billionaires create. Here are some thoughts for urban folk who would like to forge alliances in rural areas.  

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Sustainable Economies Resources

Julian Agyeman and Duncan McLaren Sharing Cities: A Case for Truly Smart and Sustainable Cities, MIT Press, 2015
A definition of Just Sustainabilities (from JulianAgyeman.com)
Institute for Sustainable Communities (from us.sustain.org)
University of Louisville Center for Environmental Policy and Management (from Louisville.edu)

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