In Praise of Fallow Fields: An architect embraces the slowdown — The economic downturn hit my architecture business hard. For years, I  had a running list of clients waiting for me to design their projects,  but now the backlog is gone. I live and work only in the present tense,  unsure of the outlook next year or even next month. This loss can be  awkward to discuss with friends and colleagues. I see pained looks  flicker across their faces when I answer “How’s business?” with an  unequivocal “Really slow.” For my part, though, I am learning to embrace  the slowdown for its cathartic qualities. The stillness holds another  kind of wealth—one of reflection, grounding, and opportunity. I have  come to appreciate the fallow period.
Keep reading …

In Praise of Fallow Fields: An architect embraces the slowdown — The economic downturn hit my architecture business hard. For years, I had a running list of clients waiting for me to design their projects, but now the backlog is gone. I live and work only in the present tense, unsure of the outlook next year or even next month. This loss can be awkward to discuss with friends and colleagues. I see pained looks flicker across their faces when I answer “How’s business?” with an unequivocal “Really slow.” For my part, though, I am learning to embrace the slowdown for its cathartic qualities. The stillness holds another kind of wealth—one of reflection, grounding, and opportunity. I have come to appreciate the fallow period.

Keep reading …

Getting Over the Growth-is-Good Myth

British economist Tim Jackson, author of the 2009 book Prosperity Without Growth, explains in a Q&A with OnEarth executive editor George Black that this previously unmentionable notion is gaining currency even among some forward-thinking business leaders:

You say in your book that “questioning growth is deemed to be the act of lunatics, idealists, and revolutionaries.” Is that more true or less true now than when you wrote it in 2009? 

Both. It’s more true in the sense that there’s a ferocious backlash against those who question the quasi-religious fervor about getting growth back. But at another level there’s this really interesting thing going on, with a whole spectrum of people beginning to question the assumption that it’s desirable, from ordinary people who have always been uncertain about why things must expand indefinitely to groups that have previously been obsessed with the idea of growth, like the World Economic Forum in Davos. It continues to surprise me that my book has had such resonance among business leaders. I was trying to say that it’s a real dilemma to structurally reorganize your economy. This isn’t an easy thing, and there are no off-the-shelf solutions. But we have to go into that place, no matter how dark and counterintuitive it seems. And I think that’s something the more visionary CEOs respond to, actually enjoy to some extent.

Immunity and Impunity in Elite America:
As intense protests spawned by Occupy Wall Street continue to grow,  it is worth asking: Why now? The answer is not obvious. After all,  severe income and wealth inequality have long plagued the United States.  In fact, it could reasonably be claimed that this form of inequality is  part of the design of the American founding—indeed, an integral part  of it.
Income inequality has worsened over the past several years and  is at its highest level since the Great Depression.  This is not,  however, a new trend. Income inequality has been growing at rapid rates  for three decades.
Keep reading …

Immunity and Impunity in Elite America:

As intense protests spawned by Occupy Wall Street continue to grow, it is worth asking: Why now? The answer is not obvious. After all, severe income and wealth inequality have long plagued the United States. In fact, it could reasonably be claimed that this form of inequality is part of the design of the American founding—indeed, an integral part of it.

Income inequality has worsened over the past several years and is at its highest level since the Great Depression.  This is not, however, a new trend. Income inequality has been growing at rapid rates for three decades.

Keep reading …

Fair Trade is a Better Brew for Anti-Capitalists: Remember when buying fair trade meant something revolutionary? These  days, purchasing fair trade products is about as subversive as wearing a  Rage Against the Machine t-shirt. Heck, you’ll even be able to add  “one-of-a-kind handicrafts made by artisans in developing countries” to  your online shopping cart on WalMart’s website, according to Huffington Post.
Coffee was one of the first—and most effectively marketed—fair  trade products. As I write this, I’m finishing my fourth cup of fair  trade coffee this morning—we usually brew two massive pots every day at  the Utne Reader office. But fair trade coffee, a certified  product meant to supplant the neo-colonial exploitation of farmers in  the global South, has done little to impress free trade skeptics and  anti-capitalists.
Keep reading …

Fair Trade is a Better Brew for Anti-Capitalists: Remember when buying fair trade meant something revolutionary? These days, purchasing fair trade products is about as subversive as wearing a Rage Against the Machine t-shirt. Heck, you’ll even be able to add “one-of-a-kind handicrafts made by artisans in developing countries” to your online shopping cart on WalMart’s website, according to Huffington Post.

Coffee was one of the first—and most effectively marketed—fair trade products. As I write this, I’m finishing my fourth cup of fair trade coffee this morning—we usually brew two massive pots every day at the Utne Reader office. But fair trade coffee, a certified product meant to supplant the neo-colonial exploitation of farmers in the global South, has done little to impress free trade skeptics and anti-capitalists.

Keep reading …

newyorker:

Over the past week, we’ve been dropping by the Occupy Wall Street camp in Zuccotti Park and taking photographs. (We’ve also been writing about the protests: read our coverage.) Click here for a closer look at what we’ve seen.

(via ireadintothings)

The data on the poor in this country announced Tuesday by the Census Bureau was not good, and due to measures already taken by Congress and those  likely to come, the outlook doesn’t provide much reason for hope. Read what commentators at Mother Jones, In These Times, The Take Away, City Limits, and The Atlantic have to say about it …

The data on the poor in this country announced Tuesday by the Census Bureau was not good, and due to measures already taken by Congress and those likely to come, the outlook doesn’t provide much reason for hope. Read what commentators at Mother Jones, In These Times, The Take Away, City Limits, and The Atlantic have to say about it …

secretrepublic:

The Suburbanization of Poverty: An Infographic

secretrepublic:

The Suburbanization of Poverty: An Infographic

(via ziatroyano)

Economic equality equals happiness. So suggests a new study to be published in a forthcoming issue of Psychological Science.  In order for Americans to be truly blissed out, it finds, we need to  close the gap between our wealthiest and poorest citizens.
“In 1980, the average American CEO’s income was 40 times higher  than that of the average worker. Today, it is well over 300 times  higher,” writes Carmen Sobczak in YES! Magazine. “Over the past four decades, according to the study, the American people have been the least happy in years when there was the widest gap between rich and poor.” Keep reading …

Economic equality equals happiness. So suggests a new study to be published in a forthcoming issue of Psychological Science. In order for Americans to be truly blissed out, it finds, we need to close the gap between our wealthiest and poorest citizens.

“In 1980, the average American CEO’s income was 40 times higher than that of the average worker. Today, it is well over 300 times higher,” writes Carmen Sobczak in YES! Magazine. “Over the past four decades, according to the study, the American people have been the least happy in years when there was the widest gap between rich and poor.” Keep reading …

On January 12, 2010, an earthquake struck Haiti. The epicenter of the quake, which registered a moment magnitude of 7.0, was only 15 miles from the capital, Port-au-Prince. By the time the initial shocks subsided, Port-au-Prince and surrounding urbanizations were in ruins. Schools, hospitals, clinics, prisons collapsed. The electrical and communication grids imploded. The Presidential Palace, the Cathedral, and the National Assembly building—historic symbols of the Haitian patrimony—were severely damaged or destroyed. The headquarters of the UN aid mission was reduced to rubble, killing peacekeepers, aid workers, and the mission chief, Hédi Annabi.

The figures vary, but an estimated 220,000 people were killed in the aftermath of the quake, with hundreds of thousands injured and at least a million—one-tenth of Haiti’s population—rendered homeless. According to the Red Cross, 3 million Haitians were affected. It was the single greatest catastrophe in Haiti’s modern history. It was for all intents and purposes an apocalypse.

Read the rest of Junot Diaz’s fantastic essay on the makings of a modern apocalypse …

(via Designboom)

The Walker [Art Center] presents the latest phase and first us exhibition of Baby Marx, an ongoing project by Mexican artist Pedro Reyes that looks at the potential for mass entertainment to operate as a radical educational tool. An architect by training, Reyes works across platforms and disciplines—including design, installation, and video—to explore sites and scenarios of collective interaction. Originally conceived for television, Baby Marx is set in a small town library where a group of precocious children have brought Karl Marx and Adam Smith back to life by zapping their influential books in a glitch-prone ‘smart-o-wave’ microwave oven. The founders of communism and the free market confront each other and their legacies, haunted by the twin specters of Joseph Stalin and Bernie Madoff, as well as the latest global economic crisis.

(via Designboom)

The Walker [Art Center] presents the latest phase and first us exhibition of Baby Marx, an ongoing project by Mexican artist Pedro Reyes that looks at the potential for mass entertainment to operate as a radical educational tool. An architect by training, Reyes works across platforms and disciplines—including design, installation, and video—to explore sites and scenarios of collective interaction. Originally conceived for television, Baby Marx is set in a small town library where a group of precocious children have brought Karl Marx and Adam Smith back to life by zapping their influential books in a glitch-prone ‘smart-o-wave’ microwave oven. The founders of communism and the free market confront each other and their legacies, haunted by the twin specters of Joseph Stalin and Bernie Madoff, as well as the latest global economic crisis.