Wednesday, January 31, 2007

5 minutes without electricity around the world

Between 18:55-19:00 UTC/GMT (that's 11:55 AM - Noon, in Calgary), people around the world will be going for 5 minutes without using electricity.

A group of French environmentalists have made the call to coincide with a major climate change meeting in France - where a new United Nations report on global climte change is to be released.

This is an effort to get the attention of media, politicians and the public - to raise awareness of the global interest in addressing climate change as a consequence of human actions. So, please join with the countless others from across the globe who will be turning off lights, unplugging appliances, and taking a calm breath in the space between our dependence on unsustainable energy.

Canadian start times: 3:25 PM Newfoundland, 2:55 PM Atlantic, 1:55 PM Eastern, 12:55 PM Central, 11:55 AM Mountain, 10:55 AM Pacific.

No one will complain if you leave things off for longer than just the 5 minutes, too...

Monday, January 22, 2007

Why I am Pro-Choice

Blog For Choice Day Let's be clear that being pro-choice does not mean being pro-abortion. The fact is, abortion is a trauma for those involved. I wouldn't wish abortion on anyone - but I recognize that in some circumstances it is the best choice available.

That said, I don't consider abortion to be a problem. It is a symptom - a response to a problem. The real problem is unwanted pregnancy.

So, rather than expending so much energy fighting against a symptom and its treatement, wouldn't it be better to go after the cause to prevent the question of abortion from even having to come up?

There are some factors have been shown to be dominant in the occurrence of unwanted pregnancies:
  • Poverty
  • Education
  • Access to contraception
  • Patriarchy
So, the best ways to "stop abortion" would be to end poverty, provide good education for all, ensure ready access to contraception (and education on its use) for everyone, and to bring an end to the oppressive culture of patriarchy that dominates our world.

These are the only "pro-life" tactics that actually serve the well-being of life.

Alternatively, we could just continue to fight over the symptom, thereby ensuring that women will continue to die in botched illegal abortions and that children will continue to be born into unwanted situations (with all the neglect and abuse that comes out of that). Along with a host of other negative impacts of our failure to address the root causes.

I guess I should actually address the question of Blog For Choice Day: Why I am pro-choice.

For me, it comes down to the basic question of "How can we minimize overall harm?" While I would much prefer to avoid abortion, I recognize that there are cases where it is the appropriate choice. I also recognize that the person in the best position to make that choice is the woman who is pregnant.

It is she who has, by far, the most at stake in the decision. It is her body that will either have to carry the pregnancy or experience the trauma of an abortion. It is her life that has already been the most affected and probably transformed by the unwanted pregnancy. It is she who will have to live with the child if she keeps it, the consequences to her of carrying a child and giving it away if she gives it up for adoption, or the trauma of the abortion if she chooses to end the pregnancy.

Whatever she chooses will shape the rest of her life to an extent far beyond the impact it might have on anyone else. So, the decision should rest with her.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Activist Network now has discussion forum

I've upgraded the software I use to host the Activist Network to my new Wayground system (running Ruby on Rails). This has allowed me to setup discussion forums (message boards) for local activists.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Blog For Choice Day: January 22

Blog For Choice Day I've signed up for Blog For Choice Day. It's "a day of activism for choice." Pro-choice bloggers are being asked to make a blog entry on that day telling "why you're pro-choice."

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Octavia E. Butler

Along with the numerous non-fiction books I usually have on the go, I still like to take time to read fiction (especially Science/Speculative Fiction). Over the past year, I got heavily into the works of Octavia E. Butler. My conclusion: She's one of the greatest SF writers I've ever read - and I've been reading SF since I was very young, so that's saying alot.

Her writing is amazingly diverse. It features such subjects dystopian futures, telepathic societies, vampires, intentional community, the near future of this world and radically different worlds from ours - not to mention an immense diversity of personalities in her characters.

A pair of her books that I read this year stand out in particular for me: Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents. They tell of a dystopian near-future and the development of intentional community to build a positive future direction. Both of these books were of the sort I can't stop reading until either I've finished them or I can't physically keep my eyes open (reading late into the night - sometimes into the next morning).

Monday, January 1, 2007

Where to focus in activism?

The mainstream of progressive/social-justice/environmental/etc. activism here is heavily compartmentalized, isolated, dissociated, ... we are divided. We all get caught up in particular issues, causes and projects - narrowing our focus onto very specific things. In this, our connections to each other - the support of community - is neglected in the extreme.

It remains very important that we work to address the countless issues we are working on as activists, but even more important is the building of cooperation and mutual support - the building of community - so that we can have the collective strength to meaningfully bring about substantial change.

I am convinced by all I have seen and done in my life, all that I have read and been told by others, that without a genuine, long-term, community of support and collaboration we will surely fail all of our causes in the long term.

This past summer I drafted a discussion of a number of interconnected projects that I see as being potential tools for building the interconnection and relationships amongst local activists to build toward that community. It brings together a whole slew of ideas and experiences I've had and been exposed to over the past couple decades of my involvement in activism.

Along with that discussion, I've setup a collaborative wiki section on activism.ca that anyone can contribute to in discussing, debating and designing the projects I've proposed.

So, please come take a look, join the discussion and feel free to contribute your ideas, concerns, questions, ... whatever.