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Category: Creativity


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Jon Rappoport
Activist Post

“What is finished is the idea that this great country is dedicated to the freedom and flourishing of every individual in it. It’s the individual that’s finished. It’s the single, solitary human being that’s finished. It’s every single one of you out there that’s finished. Because this is no longer a nation of independent individuals. It’s a nation of some two hundred odd million transistorized, deodorized, whiter-than-white, steel-belted bodies, totally unnecessary as human beings and as replaceable as piston rods.” — Howard Beale, in Paddy Chayefsky’s 1976 film, Network

But that was only a movie. Who cares about that? You go into a theater, sit there in the dark for a couple of hours, walk out, and think about something else.

For several years now, I’ve been writing about the decline of the individual. The wipeout.

Every time I write an article on this subject, I receive suggestions. I should go back and re-read Marx. I need to understand the difference between “communal, communitarian, community, communist.” I should research worker-owned businesses. What about trans-substantial transpersonal sub-brain algorithmic psychology? How about the pygmies? Ego? Superego? Id?

I appreciate these and other remarks, but I’m talking about the individual, about Self, beyond any construct, beyond citizenship, beyond membership, beyond sociology or anthropology or archeology.

The individual is enshrined in various political documents, but his rights don’t originate there. Neither does courage nor imagination.

I’ve laid out the enormous psyop designed to submerge the individual in unconscious goo. This psyop depends on the repetition of words like: unity, love, caring, community, family. And phrases like “we’re all in this together.”

The individual is characterized as: lone, outsider, selfish, greedy, inhumane, petty. Turn him into an exile, excommunicated from the great body of humanity.

Here, in the usual prose, is a familiar formulation of the grand psyop: “We can no longer afford the luxury of thinking of ourselves as individuals. The stakes are too high. Finally, we must all come together and realize our presence on this planet is a shared experience. The decimation of our resources, through hatred and divisive behavior, the denial of love and community, the cold greed and excessive profit-making, the whole range of social and political injustices—all this can ultimately be laid at the door of the individual who refuses to join the rest of humanity…”

Is this manifesto valid? It’s a deception, BECAUSE it’s aimed at making the individual extinct.

And once that happens, the collective, managed by Globalist princes, will have a clear path to the control of Earth, at the expense of the rest of us. And the cruelties we now witness will pale in comparison to what is in store for us.

When hopes and dreams are loose in the streets, it is well for the timid to lock doors, shutter windows and lie low until the wrath has passed. For there is often a monstrous incongruity between the hopes, however noble and tender, and the action which follows them. It is as if ivied maidens and garlanded youths were to herald the four horsemen of the apocalypse…The less justified a man is in claiming excellence for his own self, the more ready he is to claim all excellence for his nation, his religion, his race, or his holy cause…Collective unity is not the result of the brotherly love of the faithful for each other. The loyalty of the true believer [who surrenders Self] is to the whole — the church, party, nation — and not to his fellow true believer. True loyalty between individuals is possible only in a loose and relatively free society. — Eric Hoffer, The True Believer, 1951

Wait. Isn’t that a bit harsh? Isn’t that too “critical and negative?” Where is the cosmic share-and-care we need to spread like butter over the whole universe? I mean, Eric Hoffer was a wonderful writer, and he was a working man, a longshoreman for his whole life, so we should admire him, but today’s prophets are wired directly into the Unity that will save us all automatically—like a toaster popping up with toast every time…right?

On some mid-west college campus, a wide-eyed kid of 19, full of hope and optimism, is studying political science. His professor is running down the catalog of stunning injustices that populate far-off regions of the planet.

The boy wants to help. His professor gives him the name of a humanitarian group that runs operations in Africa. The boy, in some sort of “personal crisis,” drops out of school and signs on with the group.

Little does he know that the charity he is now working with in Africa has ties to USAID, which in turn is a solid CIA front. The real mission of the charity, unknown to most or all of its members, is gathering information that can be used as intelligence.

Under the banner of justice, help, hope, and unity of all peoples, the charity is providing actionable intell to CIA-backed “rebel forces” who are carrying out assassinations and bombings in advance of a political coup.

The coup will pave the way for new deals with multinational scum, organized as corporations, to enter the scene and plunder natural resources and labor at more formidable levels.

Five years later, the boy leaves the charity and returns to the US. He is confused, looking for another group in which he can submerge himself. He’s hooked on groups…

The naïve have given up the ghost on their own independent existence. That is the key.

Think of some of the messages of recent pathetic presidents. Bush the Elder: “Kinder, gentler.” Clinton: “I feel your pain.” Bush 2: “No child left behind.” Obama: “We’re all in this together.”

Judging by these presidents’ murderous actions, it’s clear they were selling unity and caring and togetherness as cover stories for oppressive business as usual.

The op? Make the individual extinct, present him as a useless and dangerous and outmoded construct. Then, whatever real unity that might exist between individuals will vanish, because the population will take on the shape of a coagulated mass melted down into a cosmic glob of androidal harmony.

Artists have warned about all this. Their so-called supporters say, “Oh yes, he was a wonderful writer. Misunderstood, of course, but brave in the face of utter rejection.” The usual claptrap. Point is, these gushing advocates conveniently and easily forget what the artists actually wrote.

Here is another reminder from an Outsider who was glad to be outside. He was a hero to some. He was reviled by many.

A bureau operates on opposite principles of inventing needs to justify its existence. Bureaucracy is wrong as a cancer, a turning away from the human evolutionary direction of infinite potentials and differentiation and independent spontaneous action to the complete parasitism of a virus…Bureaus die when the structure of the state collapse. They are as helpless and unfit for independent existence as a displaced tapeworm, or a virus that has killed the host.

After a shooting spree, they always want to take the guns away from the people who didn’t do it. I sure as hell wouldn’t want to live in a society where the only people allowed guns are the police and the military.

There is simply no room left for ‘freedom from the tyranny of government’ since city dwellers depend on it for food, power, water, transportation, protection, and welfare. Your right to live where you want, with companions of your choosing, under laws to which you agree, died in the eighteenth century with Captain Mission. Only a miracle or a disaster could restore it.

The author? William S. Burroughs. But not to worry, he was crazy. Of course he was. He didn’t profess utter loyalty to the mass of humanity. He didn’t prostrate himself before “the greater good.” He didn’t preach unity and togetherness.

He was an individual. Therefore, he is obsolete. A cherished memory of a time now wiped from the mind. Now we are all dancing and marching in the psyop.

Here’s another psyop and cultural theme: the distortion of money and the free market.

The psyop goes this way: The making of $ is a religious event comparable to the arrival of Jesus or the appearance of the Great Buddha. Indeed, isn’t Christmas the season measured by consumer sales?

A life justified is a life of the bottom-line cash register, a poem to make Shakespeare turn pale with envy.

It doesn’t matter what a product is. If it sells, it must be good. It must mean something profound.

Nail polish, a new plastic toy, a little robot that sings songs—they’re Walt Whitman and Michangelo and Bach because they jumped off store shelves.

Bill Gates and Warren Buffet are geniuses because they and their companies amassed billions. It has to be so.

The team that put together Goofy Bird III, the summer blockbuster hit, are the Chaucers of our time. The box office proved it.

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By Paul Rosenberg, FreemansPerspective.com

Yes, we’ve all seen scary post-apocalyptic films like Mad Max, or TV shows like Jericho. A real collapse, however, will be quite different from such dramas. And beyond that, there’s a good chance the future will be better.

From where I now live, you could draw a 25 mile arc which would include competent people of almost any imaginable specialty: The guys who know how to build and repair refrigerators, machines of all types, cars and roads and houses and windows and computers and a thousand other things.

So, I’m not overly worried about the dollar going to zero – as long as these guys have two critical things:

  1. They must be able to communicate with each other.
  2. They must be left alone, with no one telling them “you can’t do that without our permission.”

If either one of these two things are missing, we’re screwed, but as long as we have them, we’ll be okay. Sure, there will be some bad days, a few tragedies, and a surfeit of terror from the fear factories (that is, the mainstream media), but in general, we productive people will be okay.

I knew men who ran a business through the Great Depression, in precisely my specialties (contracting and engineering). We discussed the difficulties they faced and how they coped with them. They worked through the depression end to end, and did some pretty impressive projects – with absolutely no credit available anywhere.

They paid for things creatively – in sections, with barter, and on trust – but they also got the job done, from the beginning of the depression to the end.

Our period of difficulty (which most of us presume will be coming somehow or another) will be different from the Great Depression, but so long as we retain the two items mentioned above – and I will tell you precisely how we can keep them below – we’ll get through it.

The Bad Stuff

Okay, so if we have a complete dollar collapse, what can we expect? Here are a few thoughts:

  • Fear. Scaring the populace will be the first and essential tool of the rulers. Government relies far more on legitimacy than on force, so the rulers will be very keen on using their number one tool to keep people clustering around them for safety. That’s a primary strategy for them.
  • Welfare riots. This is possible, and even probable in some places, presuming that government checks either stop, or no longer matter due to massive inflation. However, we all know which areas are likely to be hit and we can avoid them. (If you’re in one, do something about it now.) And, as horrifying as such a thing may be (and should be!), Americans, Canadians and a serious number of Europeans do have guns, and will eventually shoot rioters as they are beating down their neighbor’s door.
  • Supply chain disruptions. Since the big corporations are so tightly associated with governments, they will not likely adapt as quickly as small companies do. They may lock-up while waiting for instructions. This is why stores of key commodities (like food) and communication will be necessary.
  • War. This is the traditional distraction from disappointments and government failures. Syria seems to be the leading candidate at the moment, or perhaps North Korea or some other distant monster will fit the bill.
  • No credit. As scary as this seems to some people, the reality won’t be nearly as debilitating as imagined (except for the mega-corps); people will adapt and go back to a 19th century way of buying and selling. Adjustment will be required, but farmers will still need to sell their food, and they will find ways for productive people to pay them.
  • Lack of currency. Dollars will fail in this scenario (along with Euros, Pounds, etc.), but there will be not be a debilitating lack of currency, for two reasons: 1) Lots of people have silver and gold, which are always good. 2) We have Bitcoin, which is good currency world-wide.
  • Shuttered fire departments. The rulers won’t close too many police stations, since they want to retain their image as saviors and because they need people to fear them, but fire departments and other things may be let go. (The scarier things first.) But again, so long as we can communicate and adapt, we can just arrange for necessary services in different ways. Remember, most of us are blowing 20-30 hours per week on TV – we have WAY more free time than we think we do.

The Future Will Be Better if We Take Care of THESE TWO BIG RISKS

There are very simple solutions to our two crucial issues. But remember, simple isn’t always easy. Here are the solutions:

They must be able to communicate with each other.

This one is actually easy. The solution is mesh networks. (You can find a nice PDF primer here.) These are local networks, built with simple wifi devices. These, combined with a few longer links, can create a very nice communications network. You won’t be able to use it for videos, but it will work well for basic communications. (Though you really should keep a small electric generator and some gas.)

They must be left alone, with no one telling them “you can’t do that without our permission.”

The solution to this one is very simple: Do it anyway. Whatever you think of your local government, I very much doubt that you think they have a right to starve you – which is what failing to act in your own survival comes out to. If it’s moral, do it. Stop waiting for permission.

So, while the big collapse (assuming that it does come) will be terrifying to inveterate TV watchers, the reality will be far less apocalyptic than promised… assuming that we productive people act like producers.

And as producers, we have so much more choice than the others. Indeed, in one way, we could see the collapse as an opportunity to start fresh. The future will be better if we ultimately say so.

[Editor’s Note: Paul Rosenberg is the author of FreemansPerspective.com, a collection of insights on topics ranging from Internet privacy to economic freedom, the purpose of life to alternative currencies. Join our free e-letter list to receive other articles like this one… and immediately get a report that explains in a unique way how the US Government got into the mess it’s in, the dangers that creates for us, and how to protect ourselves from it.]

Thriving economy abandons cash for commodities

With the Western world rocked by economic turmoil, we explore an alternative financial system that’s secure, stable and has stood the test of time. In Vanuatu, a different approach to money is thriving.

According to the UN Vanuatu is one of the world’s least developed countries, but no one goes hungry there. When they need money they simply make their own. “The only thing we need money for is to pay for salt, soap and kerosene.” School fees and medical bills are paid in exchange with local produce, woven mats and pigs.”Pigs tusks can hold their value against any other form of currency.” On the island of Pentecost the bank accepts deposits of pig tusks and claims to have reserves of $1.4 million. As the world frets about the fragility of its financial system, “Vanuatu is ready to teach all the other countries the road to a good life.”

A Film By SBS
Distributed By Journeyman Pictures
May 2012

March 1, 2013

 

Waking Times 

It’a an idea whose time has come, as many people are re-discovering the importance of gardening and the importance of heirloom, non-GMO seed.

NPR recently reported on an interesting new phenomenon of heirloom seeds being checked out like books through public libraries.

The program which has expanded to over 12 public libraries works something like this:

  • Local gardeners save seeds from their most successful plants and donate them to the library.
  • Library members can then ‘check out’ the seeds to plant in their gardens on the promise to then save seeds from the best plants and return them to the library.

It’s an innovative way to build a public seed bank of heirloom seeds for plants that have proven their veracity in local climates and soil.  It’s also a way for public libraries to stay relevant in an age when ebooks and Amazon are denting their necessity.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Deep underground in Poland lies something remarkable but little known outside Eastern Europe. For centuries, miners have extracted salt there, but left behind things quite startling and unique. Take a look at the most unusual salt mine in the world.

From the outside, Wieliczka Salt Mine doesn’t look extraordinary. It looks extremely well kept for a place that hasn’t minded any salt for over ten years but apart from that it looks ordinary. However, over two hundred meters below ground it holds an astonishing secret. This is the salt mine that became an art gallery, cathedral and underground lake.

Situated in the Krakow area, Wieliczka is a small town of close to twenty thousand inhabitants. It was founded in the twelfth century by a local Duke to mine the rich deposits of salt that lie beneath. Until 1996 it did just that but the generations of miners did more than just extract. They left behind them a breathtaking record of their time underground in the shape of statues of mythic, historical and religious figures. They even created their own chapels in which to pray. Perhaps their most astonishing legacy is the huge underground cathedral they left behind for posterity.

It may feel like you are in the middle of a Jules Verne adventure as you descend in to the depths of the world. After a one hundred and fifty meter climb down wooden stairs the visitor to the salt mine will see some amazing sites. About the most astounding in terms of its sheer size and audacity is the Chapel of Saint Kinga. The Polish people have for many centuries been devout Catholics and this was more than just a long term hobby to relieve the boredom of being underground. This was an act of worship.
Amazingly, even the chandeliers in the cathedral are made of salt. It was not simply hewn from the ground and then thrown together; however, the process is rather more painstaking for the lighting. After extraction the rock salt was first of all dissolved. It was then reconstituted with the impurities taken out so that it achieved a glass-like finish. The chandeliers are what many visitors think the rest of the cavernous mine will be like as they have a picture in their minds of salt as they would sprinkle on their meals! However, the rock salt occurs naturally in different shades of grey (something like you would expect granite to look like).

Still, that doesn’t stop well over one million visitors (mainly from Poland and its eastern European neighbors) from visiting the mine to see, amongst other things, how salt was mined in the past.

The religious carvings are, in reality, what draw many to this mine – as much for their amazing verisimilitude as for their Christian aesthetics. The above shows Jesus appearing to the apostles after the crucifixion. He shows the doubter, Saint Thomas, the wounds on his wrists.

Another remarkable carving, this time a take on The Last Supper. The work and patience that must have gone in to the creation of these sculptures is extraordinary. One wonders what the miners would have thought of their work going on general display? They came to be quite used to it, in fact, even during the mine’s busiest period in the nineteenth century. The cream of Europe’s thinkers visited the site – you can still see many of their names in the old visitor’s books on display.

These reliefs are perhaps among some of the most iconographic works of Christian folk art in the world and really do deserve to be shown. It comes as little surprise to learn that the mine was placed on the original list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites back in 1978.

Not all of the work is relief-based. There are many life sized statues that must have taken a considerable amount of time – months, perhaps even years – to create. Within the confines of the mine there is also much to be learned about the miners from the machinery and tools that they used – many of which are on display and are centuries old. A catastrophic flood in 1992 dealt the last blow to commercial salt mining in the area and now the mine functions purely as a tourist attraction. Brine is, however, still extracted from the mine – and then evaporated to produce some salt, but hardly on the ancient scale. If this was not done, then the mines would soon become flooded once again.

Not all of the statues have a religious or symbolic imagery attached to them. The miners had a sense of humor, after all! Here can be seen their own take on the legend of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. The intricately carved dwarves must have seemed to some of the miners a kind of ironic depiction of their own work.
 

To cap it all there is even an underground lake, lit by subdued electricity and candles. This is perhaps where the old legends of lakes to the underworld and Catholic imagery of the saints work together to best leave a lasting impression of the mine. How different a few minutes reflection here must have been to the noise and sweat of everyday working life in the mine.

 

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German Homeschool Case May Impact U.S. Homeschool Freedom

Michael Farris, J.D., LL.M.
HSLDA Founder and Chairman

THE CASE SO FAR

Uwe and Hannelore Romeike fled from Germany to the United States after their family was vigorously prosecuted (fines, forcible removal of their children, threats of jail and more) for homeschooling. Initially, the Romeikes were granted political asylum, but the U.S. government appealed that decision to the Board of Immigration Appeals. That Board sided with the government. HSLDA then appealed to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals—the federal court just below the Supreme Court.

After finishing the final appellate brief last week, HSLDA Founder and Chairman Michael Farris became convinced that the U.S. Attorney General’s argument revealed some very dangerous views of our own government toward our freedom.

Sobering Thoughts from the Romeike Case

By Michael Farris, J.D., LL.M.
HSLDA Founder and Chairman

Having immersed myself for about eight days in writing a brief for the Romeike family (a German homeschooling family who fled to the United States for political asylum), I wanted to share some insights I gained into the view of our own government toward the rights of homeschooling parents in general.

You will benefit from some context.

The U.S. law of asylum allows a refugee to stay in the United States permanently if he can show that he is being persecuted for one of several specific reasons. Among these are persecution for religious reasons and persecution of a “particular social group.”

In most asylum cases, there is some guesswork necessary to figure out the government’s true motive—but not in this case. The Supreme Court of Germany declared that the purpose of the German ban on homeschooling was to “counteract the development of religious and philosophically motivated parallel societies.”

This sounds elegant, perhaps, but at its core it is a frightening concept. This means that the German government wants to prohibit people who think differently from the government (on religious or philosophical grounds) from growing and developing into a force in society.

Dressed-up Totalitarianism

It is thought control. It is belief control. It is totalitarianism dressed up in politically correct lingo.

But my goal today is to not belabor the nature of German repression of homeschooling; rather I seek to reveal the view of the United States government to all of this.

The Romeikes’ case is before the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. The case for the government is officially in the name of the Attorney General of the United States. The case is called Romeike v. Holder. Thus, the brief filed by the U.S. Department of Justice is filed on behalf of the attorney general himself—although we can be reasonably certain he has not personally read it. Nonetheless, it is a statement of the position of our government at a very high level.

We argued that Germany is a party to many human rights treaties that contain specific provisions that protect the right of parents to provide an education that is different from the government schools. Parents have the explicit right to give their children an education according to their own philosophy.

While the United States government argued many things in their brief, there are three specific arguments that you should know about.

No Homeschooling? No Problem.

First, they argued that there was no violation of anyone’s protected rights in a law that entirely bans homeschooling. There would only be a problem if Germany banned homeschooling for some but permitted it for others.

Now in reality, Germany does permit some people to homeschool, but it is rare and in general Germany does ban homeschooling broadly—although not completely. (Germany allows exemptions from compulsory attendance for Gypsies and those whose jobs require constant travel. Those who want to stay at home and teach their own children are always denied.)

But, let’s assess the position of the United States government on the face of its argument: a nation violates no one’s rights if it bans homeschooling entirely.

There are two major portions of constitutional rights of citizens—fundamental liberties and equal protection. The U.S. Attorney General has said this about homeschooling. There is no fundamental liberty to homeschool. So long as a government bans homeschooling broadly and equally, there is no violation of your rights. This is a view which gives some acknowledgement to the principle of equal protection but which entirely jettisons the concept of fundamental liberties.

A second argument is revealing. The U.S. government contended that the Romeikes’ case failed to show that there was any discrimination based on religion because, among other reasons, the Romeikes did not prove that all homeschoolers were religious, and that not all Christians believed they had to homeschool.

“It is important that Americans stand up for the rights of German homeschooling families.
In so doing, we stand up for our own.”

—Michael Farris

HSLDA Founder and Chairman

A Conversation with Adam Campbell: A Taste For Life

by Richard Whittaker , Jan 16, 2013

Conversations.org

It was one of those bright mornings we’re blessed with so often in the Bay Area. No matter that it was mid-December. A week earlier, I’d been ambushed by Pancho Ramos Stierle and Sam Bower and told that I had to interview one of the visitors staying at Casa de Paz, Adam Campbell. Neither Sam nor Pancho twist my arm very often and when they do, I’m immediately intrigued. Both possess inspired vision—Sam is the founding director of greenmuseum.org and Pancho, a founding member of Oakland’s Casa de Paz at Canticle Farm. And both are close friends from among the servicespace.org community.
Now the morning for the interview had arrived. I found Sam and Pancho and Adam all in high spirits. But before sitting down together, I couldn’t resist a quick walk around Canticle Farm, four houses on connecting lots that stretch across a city block in Oakland’s Fruitvale District, and a great example of urban permaculture. Sam wanted to show me the latest house they had acquired. “But we have to go through the chicken coop to get there,” he told me. I take such moments as incomprehensible blessings. There is a front door, but getting to the new house from the adjoining backyards required passage through a chicken coop.
There was offbeat magic afoot, and it was picking up momentum. Bending down to get into the coop and with chickens scattering under our feet, we came to a gate in a backyard fence. And voila, we were in another world where I was startled to see two of the biggest prickly pear cactus plants I’d ever seen. One towered above a dilapidated old wooden garage. “Look at those fruit,” Sam said. We picked a ton of them and gave them away to the neighbors.” Giving away to the neighbors is one of the main activities at Canticle Farm, part of their strong community building practice.
Soon Sam and I were back in Casa de Paz with Pancho and Adam. Pancho handed me a slice of fuyu persimmon from their own trees as water for tea was reaching a boil. The energy in the room, I realize now in thinking about it, had to do with the joy of right action, of sowing the seeds of community and loving kindness. I was standing with three ahimsa warriors and feeling grateful for my good fortune.
After a while we all went upstairs to the big room to set up for the interview. No tables. No problem. We found a drum to set the recorder on. And all of the sudden, the four of us were pounding out a rhythm together. No one had to ask, “Are we having fun yet?” Finally, we got some chairs arranged and sat down, “But first we have to watch this video, hermano,” Pancho said, opening his laptop.…

Richard Whittaker:  We just finished watching this beautiful little video about a group of people in Paraguay turning trash into musical instruments. And you said, Adam —

Adam Campbell:  It reminds me of the irrepressibility of the human spirit. And that even in the midst of everything unraveling around us, in the end it will be beauty that saves us

RW:  That’s a beautiful idea and I hope it’s true. But tell me something about yourself.

AC:  Gosh, there are so many ways to tell a story. Okay. I was born in southwest Missouri in the town of Branson. The people there like to call it the country music capital of the world. I think now it has about 8,000 people. And Branson gets almost six million tourists a year. I think it’s the second biggest tour bus destination in the United States. It’s this crazy American anomaly in the hills of the Ozark Mountains next to two lakes. It’s a strange and wonderful place, really. There’s beauty and joy and wonder there. And it’s also kind of a microcosm of what I’ve seen happening all around the world. But it took me traveling around the world before I realized what I had experienced in my own hometown. I’d say that’s of people wanting an authentic cultural experience, and realizing that the modern paradigm doesn’t really provide it. So when they find a grass-rootsy, homegrown place—a group of people who have lived in a place and developed something over a long period of time—people realize its value. Unfortunately, then they often try to commodify it and destroy what was there in the first place.

RW:  Right.

AC:  So for me, growing up, it was hillbilly culture in the Ozark hills much like what West Virginia represents. I wasn’t a hillbilly growing up, but I grew up surrounded by that. My parents grew up in the city, St. Louis and Kansas City, and they moved down there before all of Branson, with a capital B, happened. We were there before that and I saw this relentless development taking over. My favorite grove of trees was taken down for a Long John Silvers. The tree that I was sitting in for my senior picture, one of my favorite trees, got taken down for a parking lot for a mall.
But it was also a beautiful growing up childhood. I look back on that with nothing but love and I realize that there was also grief and desolation, as a part of that. Going back now is really difficult. All of the sacred places I had there have been destroyed.

RW:  So for the record, how old are you, Adam?

AC:  I’m 35.

RW:  And you said that you had to travel the world before you really understood what was taking place in Branson and going on all over the world. Can you talk just briefly about your travels?

AC:  I had a public school education, Branson High School. Then I went to the University of Missouri. I went five years and got two degrees—in math and English. And I really loved my experience.

RW:  You covered both ends of the spectrum.

AC:  Yes. I was undecided and was taking all the courses I could. I would go through the course catalog and pick the courses that sounded really interesting. I was pushing for the development of the soul and following my wildest dreams and just letting it unfold.

RW:  Where do you think your confidence came from that it would be possible to follow your dreams?

AC:  I think there are three or four roads that connect, trails maybe—or maybe tributaries. That’s a nice metaphor, isn’t it?

RW:  It’s good. Tributaries, very nice.

AC:  I began to realize that there was cultural story all around us of what we were supposed to be doing with our lives: you’re supposed to do good in high school so you can get into a good college. Then you do good there so you can get a good job. And you get a good job so you can make a lot of money so you can retire early. And then you can finally do the things you want to do with your life before you die.
I just thought that was ridiculous, besides being insulting to the human spirit. Why not just do what I want to do now, and have that be in service to humanity?

RW:  That shows you could think for yourself. Now where did that come from?

AC:  I would have to attribute that to my parents. I feel like I was born into having my own spiritual teachers. Early on, at about seven or eight, I remember having this moment in church. We went to the Disciples of Christ Protestant church. We were in the belt buckle of the Bible belt down in southwest Missouri. And I remember having this realization. I felt like, well, I couldn’t send somebody to eternal damnation and punishment just because they didn’t do what I said. So would someone who was infinitely more loving and wise than I am, do that? That didn’t make any sense at all.
This was the first moment of like wait a second. So I brought that to my parents. And they just said that’s a really good question. I remember the feeling that I was allowed to ask this question, and that some questions don’t have easy answers.

RW:  That’s beautiful.

AC:  And then also, my parents had been on their own path out of a very conservative Christian tradition on both sides. By the time I was nine or ten, my mom had gotten around to reading Autobiography of a Yogi, which was so far from where she had started. There’s this really funny story. She was watching Donohue one day and he had this Eastern guru on the show. Donohue was trying to get him and he was able to deflect every question and give an answer that really made sense. My mom was like: this guy knows something that I don’t know. She had that moment. And the only thing she remembered from the interview, something to hold onto, was “yoga.”
In the mid-70’s in Branson, yoga was satanic. I mean really, it was! So she had this dilemma. Of course, this is a generation before the Internet. But my dad was a professor and so she had access to the college library. This was a very small liberal arts college called School of the Ozarks. So she went into the library and found a book on yoga, but she was embarrassed to actually check out the book. So she got like 12 other random books and stuck it right in the middle. And when she got home she couldn’t touch it for two weeks. She kept on walking by and she’s like—I can’t open it. If I open it, I’m going to hell.

RW:  For people in these fundamentalist religions there’s a tremendous amount of fear to opening your mind just for a moment to some other possibility. I mean, that’s a real journey, don’t you think?

AC:  For sure. And it’s a two-sided coin. There’s fear on one side and certainty on the other side, and both prevent us from moving into the mystery of the unknown. So either way you’re blocked off from engaging in the realm of life, the actual realm of life where the laws of the universe are immutable in a way, and also unknown to us, but we have access to it and it can flow through us.

RW:  Right.

AC:  And we don’t know how it works. All I know is that my experience has told me that we’re part of something bigger than us. There’s that power that flows through me when I feel connected to it that gives me strength beyond just my own personal strength.

Pancho Ramos Stierle:  And that’s how you describe the gift economy. The first time when I heard you saying that, I was like what? Are you serious? This is what gift economy means to you?

AC:  Yes. So the gift gives us access to that. But that’s a major tangent.

RW:  We need to talk about the gift economy, for sure. But I really appreciated your story that in Branson yoga was satanic.

AC:  Yes. You can imagine in that world the possibility of opening up that book could be a sin that’s unpardonable, that you’re going to drop through the trapdoor to hell which you’ll never escape from. What a metaphysical realm to be vying against!

RW:  Absolutely. So you had been bequeathed some tremendous gifts from your parents, as all of us have been.

AC:  Right, which I honor very much. So by time I was reaching junior high level I began to ask even more questions. Like the Bhagavad Gita and Dhammapada and the Bible were all right next to each other on the bookshelf. And we were still going to church every week, too.

RW:  Yes.

AC:  So a friend comes over to visit my mom one day and sees the yoga book on the table. “Oh, you’re interested in yoga?” And she’s like, “Oh, no. I have no idea what that book is.” And he says, “Oh, before you read that, you should talk to Bob Hubbard because there are a lot of dangers in yoga.”
Bob was part of a singing group called The Foggy River Boys, and before that, the Jordanaires, the back-up singers for Elvis Presley, and he was a respected elder in the community. So she nervously calls him up and does the dial, hang-up thing. Because what’s she going to say to him? She doesn’t know.
So finally she dials one day and he picks up, “Hello.” Dead silence. “Hello?” And finally she’s like, “Hi Bob. This is Pat Campbell. You don’t know me but, umm, we have a mutual friend who says you know about yoga.” And she’s mumbling. He says, “What do you want to know?” And then she said it just came out of her: she just said “the Truth.” There was this long pause and he goes, “Then I can help you.”

RW:  Wow.

AC:  So they started this group called the Friends of God. They would read different kinds of books which, at the time, were kind of edgy and they started diving into the mystics and the metaphysical world. So by the time I was 12, I remember telling my mom, “I want to be a mystic when I grow up. I want to do God’s work.” So I think that atmosphere had a lot of influence on me.

Pancho:  To this day.

AC:  To this day. And it’s funny, I was on the phone with them and they say, “Adam, how did you get so interested in nonviolence?” I was like, “That’s your guys fault. You’re the people who told me about Martin Luther King and Gandhi and Jesus. They are supposed to be my mentors and heroes and they were not passive, compliant people who were just kind of lying down and letting the state roll over them. They were leading campaigns of radical love. And that leads us into resistance in the empire at some point or another, unfortunately. I don’t have a desire to interfere, I just have a desire to live into the principles that I feel called to live into.
I would love to be in the world where Peter Maurin said it’s easy to be good. But I think it’s actually almost impossible to be good in our culture. That’s another conversation. One of the moments that really got me on the path I’m on came from realizing that we have absolutely no information about, or access to, generally speaking, where the stuff is coming from in our lives to meet our human needs. Where is our food coming from? Where is our shelter coming from? Whose building is it? Where is our water coming from? We actually have no idea. The average person doesn’t have a clue, which is just a reality.
We don’t know where it goes when we’re done with it, which means we’re complicit in supporting all kinds of systems of which we have no knowledge. So I have no idea who is growing my food or how they’re being treated and what they’re being affected by.  All of those relationships are severed. So, if I was going to boil down Jesus’ message that was taught in my Protestant church, it was just to be a good person. And that’s what I wanted to do. Then I realized it was actually impossible for me to be a good person in this culture. Because I didn’t know what effect I was having on the people who were supporting my livelihood. I was getting zero feedback on the people who were growing my food for me or building my shelter for me. I actually didn’t know.
If I kick Sam in the shins, I’m going to get really quick feedback on whether that was a good decision or not.

RW:  Right.

AC:  I can know, and so I can modify. In our culture today we have opacity, zero feedback. So we just move into this way of being, which is fundamentally irresponsible and immoral. We don’t even know it. We’re ignorant of our own immorality and complicity in an irresponsible system, which I think is devastating—because I think people really want to be good.
That fills me with sadness and grief, actually. Only recently I’ve realized that an incredibly important and imperative part of our healing in this culture is grieving the fact that we’ve all been complicit in these systems without our asking for it. You know? Without our knowledge of it, in some way. And we’re in it. There’s not a viable alternative. This goes back to my story earlier of realizing this cultural story, which I wasn’t interested in. So okay, I just won’t live that story.

RW:  That story. So what is the cultural story, again?

AC:  The cultural story is do good in high school so you can do good in college. So you can get a good job. So you can make money. So you can retire early. So you can do the things you want to do before you die.

RW:  Okay. Exactly.

AC:  Which is dumb. I want to live out the alternative. So I began to look around. What’s the alternative? And there wasn’t an alternative, at least growing up in Branson, Missouri. If you’re lucky enough to be able to go to college, you go to college. If you’re not, then you don’t. You do whatever else you can do. So I went to college, which I loved. But the whole time I was looking around. I had this different understanding of how I want to be moving in my life, but I had no idea what it would look like.
And I’m having these debates with my friends who think that a degree is a pragmatic direction to get a good job. Right? I wasn’t interested in getting a job—except I did apply for the Oscar Meyer Weinermobile job, which I didn’t get. And then I graduated.

RW:  Should we stop and hear more about that?

AC:  It’s not really worth the tangent. Well, you get to drive around in this silly thing; you’re autonomous. Kids love you. And you get to have a good time. Joseph Campbell said, “We never lead the life that we expect or imagine.” And sometimes I give great thanks for that. All the times I’ve been on unexpected detours have been incredible gifts.

RW:  That’s a beautiful statement.

AC:  Yes. So I graduate and I have this intuitive feeling—first, that I don’t actually know what I’m going to be doing with my life. And second, that I’m missing half of my education. I realize I don’t have any experience of what’s happening in the world—or the experience of myself in the world, which are both fundamentally important.
So I decided to go experience the world. I wanted to go to as foreign a place as I could imagine just to see what would happen, to see what would come out of me. So I went to Nepal and Tibet. I figured that would shake me up a little bit. And then I kind of figured it out from there.

RW:  Now how long were you there?

AC:  I was there for two months and then I went to Thailand and Cambodia for two months. Then I went to South Africa for two months. And then I went to Greece. I was only flying into Greece to go to the Middle East, but I got caught in Greece, and you know, adventures happen. So I was there for two months and then I went to Morocco for a month. And that was a little bit shy of a year. Then I went back and visited friends on the East Coast and eventually made my way, completing the circuit, back home to Missouri.

RW:  When I talked to Peter Kingsley, he said that in whatever place you’re in, there’s a way of thinking. It’s just in the air, and that you’re constrained by that place’s way of thinking. Does that make sense to you?

AC:  Yes. I feel like that’s undeniable. You can experience that by going from house to house down the street. And that expands to the culture, as well. And it’s true that it constrains your thinking. I mean it gives you a certain set of lenses with which to look at the world. And there is the ability to completely shift that by going to Thailand, for instance, which operates very differently—or South Africa—from what I was used to in Missouri.
And I don’t think constraint is a bad thing. It’s necessary to give us form and to move us into action. I think it was Stravinsky who, when he got composer’s block, he would limit himself to four notes. Then creativity would come out of him. So I think we’re in this actually constant balance between resisting the constraints put on us by our culture and having the deep appreciation and gratitude that there are constraints—because then we don’t have to make infinite choices every day. So I think both are in play all the time.

RW:  How did you get here to Canticle Farm?

AC:  I’ll take the short answer on that one. I was living at the Possibility Alliance, which is the community in northeast Missouri where I live now. And I came out to a wedding in Oregon.

RW:  Maybe you should say a little bit about the Possibility Alliance before we go on.

AC:  We’re an intentional community. Every person living there would probably describe it in a subtly different way and I’m not the spokesperson. It’s still forming and a really interesting project.

RW:  How many people are involved in it roughly?

Adam:  There are six or seven full-time members there. And then this coming year there are going to be seven to eight apprentices. Then we’ve been getting about 1500 visitors a year.

RW:  When visitors come, what does that mean—a visit to the Possibility Alliance?

AC:  It could just mean swinging by for the day to get our three-hour tour. Or it could be living with us for two weeks as kind of a more official visitor session. Or with some people it might work out that they stay a little bit longer. Some people just stay for a few days.

RW:  So when they are there, what do they do?

AC:  So they’re attracted, generally speaking, to visit us because we are a 110-acre farm in northeast Missouri. We’re very much inspired by Gandhi and integral nonviolence—and the idea that there is a three-tiered system for integral nonviolence. First, there is personal and spiritual transformation and ridding ourselves of violence and becoming full vessels of love. Then there is the second tier: constructing the world we actually want to see. And then, often, actually doing that leads us, as I said before, straight into the face of the modern paradigm. So often there will be political action and activism based around that, which is the third tier. That’s Gandhi’s view. I don’t want to get too far off tangent. So what we’re doing is an integral nonviolence land-based project. We are living without electricity and without petroleum, as much as possible. So we’re doing kind of a radical bio-regional and local project based around becoming full vessels of love and working for the uplifting of all beings.

RW:  Are you off the grid? Do you have solar panels, and things like that?

AC:  Well, we have zero electricity. There’s no electricity on any of the 110 acres at all.

RW:  Really? Wow.

AC:  None. Not even batteries. Well, actually we have bike lights. As we say upfront when people first come to visit, we’re an experiment. We’re trying something that, at least in the United States, hasn’t really been tried in at least the last 100 years. So we’re doing the best we can and every day we’re failing at it—and getting better at it. Anybody who comes is part of that experiment. And we invite their feedback. We don’t have cars so we’re biking around.

RW:  When you’re on the street.

AC:  Yeah. And we’re completely free of judgment about that. There is no dogma in any of this. We’re just having a great time trying to live out a different way of being that we feel like is a fundamentally better way to live, because it’s more connected. It’s more responsible. It’s more healthy. It’s more vibrant. It’s more participatory, and it’s more fun. And people who come give us the feedback that this is really true.

RW:  I’ve never met anybody until today who is living without electricity.

Sam Bower:  And no dinosaur juice.

AC:  And as little petroleum as possible. Yes.

RW:  So when the sun goes down, it gets dark. Then what do you do for light? Candles or?

AC:  We make our own candles out of a mix of beeswax that comes from a local bee place, apiary. I just call it the bee place. The industrial food system is so crazy, right?—the way that they fatten animals up on purpose. They’re feeding ruminants corn, which of course, don’t eat corn, at least that much. Then the first thing that supermarkets do when they get the meat is cut the fat off and it gets thrown away!
So we go to the local supermarket to get their trash fat and we render that into lard. Then we can mix it with beeswax.

RW:  Well, that’s amazing.

AC:  Can I say one more thing about light? [yes] I’ve experienced myself feeling very different. I think this is really interesting. Jerry Mander wrote a book called Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television. And one of his points is that the body ingests light. Like we turn sunlight into vitamin D. So the light that hits us affects us in very particular ways. And science has shown this to be true about circadian rhythms and things like this. In the world of the city there is artificial light everywhere, whether that’s from screens or whether that’s from lights that get turned on in the daytime or at nighttime. And between the natural light that I’m around at the Possibility Alliance, just from the sun and from fire, what I’ve experienced is that I feel more like a mammal.
That might sound kind of funny, but an hour-and-a-half after the sun goes down, regardless of what time of year it is, it starts to feel like midnight. And all of us, it’s like wow, we’re starting to get a little tired. In the wintertime, of course, the sun goes down about 4:30 so we’ll stay up with candles for a while, reading or just chatting or maybe playing some games or something. But my body moves into a different rhythm.
I get surprised when it’s no big deal for people to stay up until 12:30 around here with the lights on. I do it too when I come back in the city. And I realize my body is acting in a totally different way than it normally does.
It feels very different to be sitting next to candlelight and writing a letter after dark than it does to be sitting in front of a computer screen after dark. I know that after two hours in front of a computer screen, I feel gross regardless of the content that has been put through the screen into my brain. Just the feeling of it, it’s like I have to go shake it off. I need to get outside. And I don’t think I’m alone in feeling that way. So I just want to say that the feeling, the physiological experience, not just the aesthetic experience, is very different.

RW:  I wanted to ask what have you learned from this radical shift in your relationship with light? It’s exactly what you’re talking about.

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I’m not  a big  fan  of  American Idol, but this audition was beautiful.

~Desert Rose~

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Lazaro Arbos Auditions – AMERICAN IDOL SEASON 12

Published on Jan 17, 2013

Florida resident Lazaro Arbos has had to overcome a speech impediment he’s suffered with since he was six years old. Today he follows his dream of being a performer by auditioning for the judges.

When Mama Hill first opened her doors to children after school, she couldn’t have known that her program would grow into a much-loved community anchor.
January 14, 2013
Why This 73-Year-Old Is a Gang's Worst Nightmare

Millicent ‘Mama’ Hill has helped countless teenagers in Watts, Calif. find refuge from gangs. (Photo: Ted Soqui Photography).

Thriving in Watts, Calif. is a coin flip. Exactly half—49.7%—of the families on the block live below the poverty line. At the local public school, David Starr Jordan High, barely half of the students graduate, and those who do are tempted to run fast—literally, in the case of its most famous alumni, Florence Griffith-Joyner. Five years after Griffith-Joyner set a world record at the 1988 Olympics, Jordan Downs, the housing complex where she grew up, made headlines again as the setting of the gritty crime movie Menace II Society.

Watts is famous for its gangs. But it’s also famous for its dreamers, like the Italian immigrant Sabato Rodia, who spent three decades building the ten-story tall Watts Towers from discarded scrap metal, broken glass, and ceramic tiles. Mix Rodia’s ambition with a pragmatism about the hardships facing the neighborhood, and you get 73-year-old Milicent “Mama” Hill, a former LAUSD school teacher who’s turned her living room into a makeshift community center. With their parents working late to keep the family afloat (or absent altogether) and the Grape Street Gang roaming the streets looking for new members, kids in Watts need a safe place to go after school. They need someone who’s going to ask them about their homework and give them a hug. And so, at an age when most people retire and relax, Hill opened Mama Hill’s Help and started her second career as the entire block’s mentor and mother.

Over the last decade, nearly 3,000 kids have come through her door. In a house—and neighborhood—this small, there are no secrets. Mama Hill knows her kids’ friends and she knows their enemies. She knows what they did this weekend, she knows what they’re doing when they leave, and she knows who they’re going with. Everyone is accountable, from who owes his friend an apology to who left that orange peel on the piano. And the kids seem to thrive under her watchfulness, even though they don’t always smile when she orders them to clean up their trash.

Hill’s small house is wallpapered in goals, needs and rules. Goals: an inner city boarding school, adult classes, trips out of state—or at least out of Watts—for the kids. Needs are more immediate: Jell-O cups, Ziploc bags, hotdogs, bread. When the kids get out of school, they’re hungry, so after they give Hill her mandatory hello hug, she lets them crowd her kitchen to take turns fixing a Cup O’Noodles.

As for rules, there are dozens. Commands to leave their anger outside the metal security door, reminders not to touch her lotions in the house’s only bathroom, bribes that if the boys wear their pants up for a month, she’ll give them $20 to put towards a bus pass. There are even rules about following rules, like the sign that says: “Do not disobey, always obey.” Most of all, there are lists of what kids can’t say. The n-word is out. Say that and you’ll have to pay her 50 cents. There’s a quarter charge for blurting “white people,” “stupid,” “shut up,” “y’all,” and “ghetto.”

Hill likes to wear bright purple, her favorite color, though she’s so small that you can’t see her in a crowd, just the respectful wake of people allowing her to pass, which she does very slowly, a result of last year’s spinal surgery that nearly killed her twice. At church lunches, she can barely eat with all of the people coming up to shake her hand—or really, because her hands are curled inward and useless from arthritis—to embrace her hand whole as though they were cradling a bird.

A former piano player and opera singer, Hill’s hands are a perpetual annoyance. In the mornings, she has to wait for help to get dressed and curl her hair. If she drops a sheaf of papers, she can’t pick them up. She’s forced to sit in a chair and ask for favors. Her daughter-in-law now writes the wish list on her bulletin board and the kids, especially Je’Bre and Marshell, are her new hands, filing her nails and organizing her papers. Her home is so small that simple things become elaborate group events. One afternoon, Hill asked for a paper clip from a table ten feet away, and the space was so crowded, it took three people to pass it her direction.

Born in Nashville, Hill was a sickly baby who wasn’t expected to live. At eight, her asthma worsened and her father, a doctor who accepted payment in hogs and canned vegetables, uprooted the family to Pasadena to heal her lungs. It helped, but she didn’t fit in. Her classmates followed her home from school, making fun of her two long braids. “I did not look like the other kids,” says Hill. “That’s why I don’t let anybody make fun of anybody here.”

Her dad was happy that Pasadena had made her healthy, but he’d say, “You need to know who you are, you need to be with your own people.” After high school, he insisted she return to Nashville to earn her education degree at the all-black Fisk University. In Tennessee, she marched with Martin Luther King and got an unofficial second degree in anger management. As training for the sit-ins, Hill and her fellow protestors would practice staying calm while their friends shouted obscenities and threatened them with violence.

“I found that very powerful and I still use it,” says Hill. “I teach the children not to respond, not to let anybody call them out. If people can call you out, then they have control over you. When you’re angry, you’ve lost the battle.”

Hill married and moved to Oklahoma City. After giving birth to a son and daughter, she left her ex and returned to her adopted homeland of California to teach English, Social Studies and French. She logged 18 years at Crenshaw High, five at Hollywood High, and five more at Markham Middle School. During those nearly three decades, Mama Hill was popular with her students, less so with the LAUSD administration.

 

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