Posted in Uncategorized on September 14, 2009 by nick

Three Rivers Climate Convergence Call to Action

Their Strategy:
Isolate themselves behind fences, barricades and police, use millions of our tax dollars to silence dissent and repress us while perpetuating the same systems that consolidate wealth and control in their hands

Our Strategy:
World Leaders will gather to construct a supposed solution to the global financial crisis and the global climate crisis, despite being influenced by the large corporations and fossil fuel producers who created these problems in the first place.

9/21-23 – The International Coal Conference– a global gathering of Coal engineers and researchers will gather to discuss how to put a green face the black heart of coal

9/24-25- The G20- World Leaders will gather to construct a supposed solution to the climate crises that those who created the problem, large corporations and fossil fuel producers in charge of the solutions.

This September the fossil fuel industry and their political supporters are descending on Pittsburgh to put a green face on global capitalism. World superpowers, whose failed policies are responsible for the economic, environmental and human rights crises, will be convening to make major political and financial decisions. They will be met by global citizens who know we need to do things differently. We’ll break through and demand real, localized and community-based solutions that come from the 6 billion people of the earth, not 20 heads of state.
The Group of 20 Nations and members of the International Coal Conference will attempt to solve our problems with the same, failed systems that caused them — legitimizing corporate controlled “solutions” to global warming and green washing the same old dirty energy sources.

The Three Rivers Climate Convergence will focus on:
A climate camp and sustainability fair, to be held September 20-25th in Schenley Park, located at Schenley Park overlook, near Carnegie Mellon
and the University of Pittsburgh.

Nonviolent protests and creative actions around the International Coal Conference in Downtown Pittsburgh.

Public education events, including environmental justice film/video screenings as well as helping to promote environmental justice voices in the many public summits and gatherings that are taking place.

The convergence will gather together people united for environmental justice to share knowledge, attend workshops and plan actions and demonstrations in response to the International Coal Conference and G20 Summit. Through public education and action, the Pittsburgh G-20 Summit and the International Coal Conference aims to tie local and global climate issues together, and amplify efforts to create a just and sustainable world.  The convergence will be a model of sustainable living in the shadows of a 21st century city.

In our region, we’re struggling to stop longwall mining, mountain top removal, marcellus shale gas, the industrialization of the Allegheny National Forest, among many others. Landslide Community Farm, the One Hill Coalition and Free Ride are just three examples of the many progressive efforts that are sprouting up as alternatives to corporate solutions for climate change and sustainability.

We are asking you to join us in Pittsburgh, bringing along your skills and passions. Share valuable knowledge by teaching workshops and facilitating discussions, working on camp infrastructure, planning and executing actions, networking with other climate activists and showing Pittsburgh and the world that living collectively and sustainably can be done.

<big>Climate Camp Schedule</big>

Monday, Sept. 21
Welcome to Coal Country“, Events led by Southwestern Pennsylvania coal-impacted communities, focusing on longwall mining and the effects of the entire coal cycle in our region Tours of longwall mining sites led by the Center for Coalfield Justice

Tuesday, Sept. 22
Climate Ground Zero.” Rally and possible civil disobedience focused on
PNC’s national headquarters. One the nation’s largest banks, PNC
supports mountain top removal coal companies and an overall
climate/disaster profiteer.

Wednesday, Sept. 23
Carbon-free, Nuclear Free, Corporate Free“, decentralized actions from
a menu of options.

Thursday, Sept. 24
Our Climate is not Your Business“, climate contingent at the People’s
Uprising march on the G20 in Pittsburgh.

Friday, Sept. 25
March for Environmental and Climate Justice“, feeder march into the
Thomas Merton Center’s People’s March.

Please join us in Pittsburgh in standing up to corporate control of climate change solutions and in defending the earth and it’s inhabitants! For more info check out www.3riversclimateconvergence.org

During the week of the International Coal Conference and G20 Summit, groups representing countless issues will arrive in Pittsburgh with their own definitions of resistance.The Pittsburgh Principles urge every movement present at this mobilization to respect the space and tactics of other groups. www.resistg20.org/principles

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On privilege

Posted in Uncategorized on February 20, 2009 by nick

Today, hyped up on four cups of coffee and two of green tea, I had the sudden realization – out of a multitude of jumbled thoughts – that the reason I do not value money is, ironically, because of my own privilege. This isn’t actually a novel or original idea or theory in any way shape or form – as is proven by the thousands of middle-to-upper-class lifestylist ‘radical youth’ that come and go; fade in and out as quickly and frequently as the seasons, while searching for meaning about and rebelling against their own privilege.

What I found new about the idea, personally, was that I realized that because I’ve never struggled for any necessity in my life, monetarily; I have never had to worry about said necessities. These were things that I have grown up with – in abundance and surely even in excess. They were always things that were ‘just there’ and although I realized, at some point, that there was a connection between my family’s abundance of necessities and the money that my parents made through their own privilege and safety of middle-class (though not unadmirable or dishonerable) professions, the fact that since my birth I have been provided with everything needed to survive and grow made it difficult to understand the simple but also incredibly complex idea that comfort (on a basic, primal level) in our society arises from money.

It is, as I just stated, a difficult and complex thing to wrap one’s head around, and easy to overlook and over-simplify when you are as privileged as I (or millions of others like me in this nation).

The point in this jumbled, rapidly-written (you should see what it looks like handwritten) thought is that I have never truly experienced poverty for it is not the same as voluntary poverty, and for that reason I have not ever felt what it must be like to need money, to want money. Is it not easy to see how folks like me, who are raised with ‘everything’ have trouble grasping this theory, that money = life, in our society? And not just grasping it, but really, truly, understanding it.

What this all made me think was this:

It has been said many times in the conferences, meetings, and caucuses that I have attended that many working class folks are not raised with the knowledge of how to spend or save their money wisely or safely. I am not affirming or disapproving this idea, merely restating the position that I have heard proposed a multitude of times.

I raise this idea or question – call it what you will.

What does it mean to be a comfortable (privileged) radical without fully understanding currency and its current importance and influence, and the resulting social implications; in regards to working class people nationally and internationally?

I think that, at some level, it could be important to experiment with comprehending the necessity of currency-for-life within capitalism, through situations such as voluntary poverty, (not in a lifestylist, arrogant, proud, or self-absorbed way) but only if the privileged person who makes the choice to live in poverty realizes that there is something inherently different about their status, simply because it is a choice.

Additionally, I think that it is important to simply step back and think about what money means to us, what it could mean to us if our economic and societal privileges were different, and outside of and beyond all of that, considering how our privilege changes the way we think about economic systems – current and future; how we must therefore listen to each other closely and in a comradely way in order to shape a vision of something better.

So You Think You Can Be President

Posted in Uncategorized on October 21, 2008 by nick

My friend Jonathan (rebelliouspixels.com) made this great, and politically spot-on, debate remix.

Check it out!

A long break

Posted in Uncategorized on August 21, 2008 by nick

Following my (rather intense) stint with Iraq Veterans Against the War, I made the decision to take a break from organizing for the summer.  I’ve been spending quality time with close friends – at campfires, cabins, swimming holes, backyards, basements and music festivals!  I’ve also been reading and writing a whole lot, and rather futily attempting to learn how to play the mandolin.  On Monday of this week, I’m embarking on an extensive road trip with three good friends.  We’ll be visiting friends all over the US and Canada for roughly the next six weeks.  I’ll do my best to update with some stories from the road!

Iraq Veterans Against the War

Posted in Uncategorized on August 21, 2008 by nick

Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) was founded in July of 2004 by seven Iraq War Veterans. Since then, its ranks have grown to over 1,200 members – and continue to grow at an ever increasing pace – approximately 200 new members join each month.

In February of this year, I began a four-month internship with IVAW.  I was asked to come on board as an intern in preparation for ‘Winter Soldier’ – IVAW’s biggest and most successful project to date.  It is described best by IVAW itself: “Winter Soldier: Iraq and Afghanistan featured testimony from U.S. veterans who served in those occupations, giving an accurate account of what is really happening day in and day out, on the ground.”

At Winter Soldier, hundreds of veterans congregated in Silver Springs, MD – right outside of our nation’s capitol – from March 13 – 16.  Over 50 veterans testified publicly, and many more were compelled to record their experiences and submit them to IVAW’s testimonial archives.

The event was something historic to be a part of – to say the least.  The energy and seriousness of the public testimony was perhaps only rivaled in intensity by the fierce comradery that the veterans in attendance collectively experienced.  Reports of soldiers and servicemen and women watching or listening to Winter Soldier from Baghdad and an Air Force base in California added to the excitement of the event.

Following the big event, IVAW took Winter Soldier to congress.  There, IVAW members shared their experiences in front of members of the Progressive Caucus – in an event they dubbed ‘Winter Soldier on the Hill.’  Following the session, recent IVAW member Matthis Chiroux, of Brooklyn NY, announced his intent to refuse to deploy to Iraq.  Chiroux is scheduled to deploy in late June, and is one of tens of thousands of servicemen and women that have been ordered to redeploy due to ‘stop-loss’ – a policy that many are calling a backdoor draft.

Most recently, has embarked on a “State of the Union” base tour.  From their website: The State of the Union Tour will be stopping at eight military bases this summer, to entertain servicemembers and veterans with live music and BBQs, and also to provide a forum for conversation between IVAW members and troops about the occupation, GI rights and navigating the Veterans Administration.

I found Iraq Veterans Against the War to be a truly inspiring organization in the four short months that I worked for them.  Although my internship came to a close at the end of May, the lessons I learned working for IVAW will stick with me, and inspire me, for years to come.  The power of veterans’ voices is something not to be underestimated.

To learn more about Iraq Veterans Against the War, visit ivaw.org

We’re All In This Together

Posted in Uncategorized on December 9, 2007 by nick

Like the title says.

Really, this is just the name of a song Old Crow Medicine Show plays.  I’ve never written about song lyrics before.  Perhaps it’s a little cliche to do so, but the title is so true that its hard not to write about.   This simple phrase is what I’ve been trying to keep in mind for the past month, as I’ve struggled with questions and assumptions around race recently.

My wallet was stolen and my nose was broken on a Sunday afternoon last month, fairly close to my house.  The muggers were people of color, and despite my most sincere attempts to shake it off, I become tense and afraid nearly everytime I am near someone resembling the folks that attacked me.

So while I struggle with the difficulty of shaking racist assumptions in my own life, it is helpful for me to remember – “We’re all in this together.”  American Empire and Capitalism cause poverty, competition, and individualism.  We’re all stuck in this shitty system, and some of us are affected in much harsher ways than others – which in turn cause harsher reactions.

The only way out is to find a way towards collective liberation, towards a world where we are all free from the insitutional oppression that affects all of us.

We’re all in this together!

Diversity of Tactics?

Posted in Uncategorized on October 25, 2007 by nick

Out of context, the term ‘diversity of tactics’ seems reasonable. I support the use of a variety of different tactics, depending on both their effectiveness of accomplishing concrete goals and the scenarios in which they are used. But, when put in the context of the current movement against capitalism, particularly in the United States, ‘diversity of tactics’ represents nothing but the antithesis of long-term movement strategy.

Why is it that so many anti-capitalists insist on using tactics that, in the scenarios that they’re repeatedly used, are completely ineffective in moving our movements forward – both in terms of numbers and public opinion? Smashing windows and throwing rocks – in many cases, the use of these tactics seem like expressions of anger against capitalism and the State. Instead we should collectively be deciding the most effective ways to accomplish our goals in the long-term, bearing in mind the need for mass public support and participation in our movements in order to win.

I believe we should be concerned about building strong, lasting movements counter to the oppressive systems that we all are part of now, so that years down the road we’ll have the capacity to build something new.