Tag Archives: political action

I’ve been in Seattle the last few days to attend the Passive House Northwest Conference.  The German Passive House energy efficiency standard is alive and well here in the Pacific Northwest, perhaps moreso than almost anywhere else in the country.  Beyond lectures on  earthquake stabilized R-35 foundation details and vapor open assembly design, I’ve been here to represent Zola Windows– high performance European built windows.  Energetechs represents Zola because there are no windows made in the United States that absorb more radiant energy than they release in conductive heat loss (standby for an explanation) in the Missoula climate.  Only the Europeans make these things, and surprisingly, it makes sense to bring them here.

That, is a great place to put a Zola Window.

That, is a great place to put a Zola Window.

Zola is a young company run by a brilliant Swiss Architect out of Colorado who started the company at age 26. Like many of the other awesome people I’ve met through the Passive House movement, his core motivation was to maximize the sustainability of buildings and knew that high performance windows are a key part of the equation. He saw the niche, and had the guts to fill it.

I admire him for the fact that he runs a very successful company that he built, from the ground up, and still finishes his day in time to pick up his young child from day care. He figured out that selling hours as an architect limited his impact, when he could have both more personal time, and more impact by selling what he knew was really part of the problem.  I’ve spent a lot of time lately thinking- “I’m in the wrong game.”  I am unimpressed with what I have accomplished in my life, and that frustrates me. This post had previously slammed my friend because I was, on a deep level, jealous of his success- and in a way, knowing him makes me question some of the hard choices I’ve made.

There are many parts to be played in fixing our buildings.  Zola fills an essential need.  Skilled and talented contractors are clutch.  An engaged populace is the foundation.  Manufacturer, builder, consumer- what part are you going to play to maximize your impact on the problem at hand?

The first Zola uPVC windows installed in the US, as of Thursday...

The first Zola uPVC windows installed in the US, as of Thursday…

IWD 2013

It’s more important than ever.  Sadly, we’ve had a problem in my community in the last several years, and we need to do better. For some reason, I was still at my desk with a client during this rally, and I regret not being there.

Remember the women in your life today- love them, respect them, support them.  Not just because you are a dude and feel frustrated that we live in a world that regularly denigrates  50% of our species, but because on the most basic level, it is damn important to celebrate basic human equality and decency, for all of us- right here, right now.

Silver Wattle. Traditional IWD gift.  Credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Acacia_dealbata-1.jpg  AND Eugene Zelenko.

Silver Wattle. Traditional IWD gift. Credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Acacia_dealbata-1.jpg AND Eugene Zelenko.

(yes, there will be a post on this every year- enjoy 2012, here)

Acting

Last year, a group of people raised a bunch of money for me to benefit from. I didn’t ask them to, or know that I would benefit from their work when they raised the money. They took action because they believed that what they were doing was worthwhile, and that one day I would want to thank them. They were right.

I’ve been attending weekend-long seminars called the New Leaders Council (NLC) since January. I’ve written about these seminars before (here, and here), and this past weekend was again spent inside rather than out, and once again, it was worth it. I came to Missoula with big talk about “community” and “local action,” yet my action was small. Talk << Action.

NLC has been about getting connected, and connecting is the first essential piece of acting in the community. I’ve met local leaders, built business and personal relationships, and gotten to know this community on a level that in some ways is much deeper than my involvement with “community” in Portland. Attending the seminars has made me more aware of social justice issues that haven’t been on my radar, and put me in touch with a compassionate, engaged, and intellectually stimulating people that I probably wouldn’t normally get to know via the adventure circles I usually travel in. I leave each conference feeling more alive, and more aware of what needs doing, and I’ve found that invaluable.

NLC is free if you are selected to participate, and that comes with the responsibility of raising money for next years conferences. It costs ~$500 per person to put on in Missoula. We’re having a fundraising event in Missoula this weekend and it should be a very good time- please stop by the Stensrud Building (314 N. 1st St.) between 6-8pm for live music and refreshments. If you can join me in making a donation so that someone next year has this opportunity, that would be rad (click here and select “Missoula Chapter”). If you can’t (and I understand that you can’t), I’ll ask you to consider what you might do to make yourself more alive and connected to your community.

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” (Howard Thurman)

Violence

I am reblogging something for the very first time in this space.  I no longer accept violence to be a valid response to anything, but especially not in an academic environment.  Maybe this is old news because I was away for the weekend.  I don’t care. Some might say that if violence continues to happen, our civilization is doomed but I’m quite sure that it is simply a sign that those who use violence will only find the end of their time faster at the hands of the action they inspire.  Police brutality or protestor rioting- it doesn’t matter.  Despite the absolute outrage I feel in reading this tonight, violence is violence and it is unacceptable.  I invite you stand with me in protest of it.

http://bicyclebarricade.wordpress.com/2011/11/19/open-letter-to-chancellor-linda-p-b-katehi/

Open Letter to Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi

Posted on November 19, 2011 by 

18 November 2011

Open Letter to Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi

Linda P.B. Katehi,

I am a junior faculty member at UC Davis. I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of English, and I teach in the Program in Critical Theory and in Science & Technology Studies. I have a strong record of research, teaching, and service. I am currently a Board Member of the Davis Faculty Association. I have also taken an active role in supporting the student movement to defend public education on our campus and throughout the UC system. In a word: I am the sort of young faculty member, like many of my colleagues, this campus needs. I am an asset to the University of California at Davis.

You are not.

I write to you and to my colleagues for three reasons:

1) to express my outrage at the police brutality which occurred against students engaged in peaceful protest on the UC Davis campus today

2) to hold you accountable for this police brutality

3) to demand your immediate resignation

Today you ordered police onto our campus to clear student protesters from the quad. These were protesters who participated in a rally speaking out against tuition increases and police brutality on UC campuses on Tuesday—a rally that I organized, and which was endorsed by the Davis Faculty Association. These students attended that rally in response to a call for solidarity from students and faculty who were bludgeoned with batons,hospitalized, and arrested at UC Berkeley last week. In the highest tradition of non-violent civil disobedience, those protesters had linked arms and held their ground in defense of tents they set up beside Sproul Hall. In a gesture of solidarity with those students and faculty, and in solidarity with the national Occupy movement, students at UC Davis set up tents on the main quad. When you ordered police outfitted with riot helmets, brandishing batons and teargas guns to remove their tents today, those students sat down on the ground in a circle and linked arms to protect them.

What happened next?

Without any provocation whatsoever, other than the bodies of these students sitting where they were on the ground, with their arms linked, police pepper-sprayed students.Students remained on the ground, now writhing in pain, with their arms linked.

What happened next?

Police used batons to try to push the students apart. Those they could separate, they arrested, kneeling on their bodies and pushing their heads into the ground. Those they could not separate, they pepper-sprayed directly in the face, holding these students as they did so. When students covered their eyes with their clothing, police forced open their mouths and pepper-sprayed down their throats. Several of these students were hospitalized. Others are seriously injured. One of them, forty-five minutes after being pepper-sprayed down his throat, was still coughing up blood.

This is what happened. You are responsible for it.

You are responsible for it because this is what happens when UC Chancellors order police onto our campuses to disperse peaceful protesters through the use of force: students get hurt. Faculty get hurt. One of the most inspiring things (inspiring for those of us who care about students who assert their rights to free speech and peaceful assembly) about the demonstration in Berkeley on November 9 is that UC Berkeley faculty stood together with students, their arms linked together. Associate Professor of English Celeste Langan was grabbed by her hair, thrown on the ground, and arrested. Associate Professor Geoffrey O’Brien was injured by baton blows. Professor Robert Hass, former Poet Laureate of the United States, National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize winner, was also struck with a baton. These faculty stood together with students in solidarity, and they too were beaten and arrested by the police. In writing this letter, I stand together with those faculty and with the students they supported.

One week after this happened at UC Berkeley, you ordered police to clear tents from the quad at UC Davis. When students responded in the same way—linking arms and holding their ground—police also responded in the same way: with violent force. The fact is: the administration of UC campuses systematically uses police brutality to terrorize students and faculty, to crush political dissent on our campuses, and to suppress free speech and peaceful assembly. Many people know this. Many more people are learning it very quickly.

You are responsible for the police violence directed against students on the UC Davis quad on November 18, 2011. As I said, I am writing to hold you responsible and to demand your immediate resignation on these grounds.

On Wednesday November 16, you issued a letter by email to the campus community. In this letter, you discussed a hate crime which occurred at UC Davis on Sunday November 13. In this letter, you express concern about the safety of our students. You write, “it is particularly disturbing that such an act of intolerance should occur at a time when the campus community is working to create a safe and inviting space for all our students.” You write, “while these are turbulent economic times, as a campus community, we must all be committed to a safe, welcoming environment that advances our efforts to diversity and excellence at UC Davis.”

I will leave it to my colleagues and every reader of this letter to decide what poses a greater threat to “a safe and inviting space for all our students” or “a safe, welcoming environment” at UC Davis: 1) Setting up tents on the quad in solidarity with faculty and students brutalized by police at UC Berkeley? or 2) Sending in riot police to disperse students with batons, pepper-spray, and tear-gas guns, while those students sit peacefully on the ground with their arms linked? Is this what you have in mind when you refer to creating “a safe and inviting space?” Is this what you have in mind when you express commitment to “a safe, welcoming environment?”

I am writing to tell you in no uncertain terms that there must be space for protest on our campus. There must be space for political dissent on our campus. There must be space for civil disobedience on our campus. There must be space for students to assert their right to decide on the form of their protest, their dissent, and their civil disobedience—including the simple act of setting up tents in solidarity with other students who have done so. There must be space for protest and dissent, especially, when the object of protest and dissent is police brutality itself. You may not order police to forcefully disperse student protesters peacefully protesting police brutality. You may not do so. It is not an option available to you as the Chancellor of a UC campus. That is why I am calling for your immediate resignation.

Your words express concern for the safety of our students. Your actions express no concern whatsoever for the safety of our students. I deduce from this discrepancy that you are not, in fact, concerned about the safety of our students. Your actions directly threaten the safety of our students. And I want you to know that this is clear. It is clear to anyone who reads your campus emails concerning our “Principles of Community” and who also takes the time to inform themselves about your actions. You should bear in mind that when you send emails to the UC Davis community, you address a body of faculty and students who are well trained to see through rhetoric that evinces care for students while implicitly threatening them. I see through your rhetoric very clearly. You also write to a campus community that knows how to speak truth to power. That is what I am doing.

I call for your resignation because you are unfit to do your job. You are unfit to ensure the safety of students at UC Davis. In fact: you are the primary threat to the safety of students at UC Davis. As such, I call upon you to resign immediately.

Sincerely,

Nathan Brown
Assistant Professor
Department of English
Program in Critical Theory
University of California at Davis