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Other Voices: The Connexions Newsletter

May 21, 2015


This week: A Healthier Planet

With the start of the growing season in much of the Northern hemisphere, Other Voices digs up articles and resources related to urban agriculture and local food production. Urban agriculture - growing food in and around cities - is a response to the problems created by industrial agriculture, a chemical-dependent industry shipping food thousands of miles from where it is produced to where it will be consumed.

We also mark the release of Omar Khadr, the former child soldier who was abused, tortured, and imprisoned first by the U.S. government and then by Canada. Other articles look at the advances made by women in Latin America, privilege politics, and the myths of peaceful protests.

As always, we invite you to share this newsletter with your friends. You can forward this email, or send them the link to the Other Voices home page on the Connexions website at http://www.connexions.org/Media/CxNewsletter.htm.

Topic of the Week: Urban Agriculture

The growth of industrialized agriculture - the "agrifood" industry - has created an unsustainable model of food production where food is typically produced thousands of miles from the eventual consumer, in soil being progressively depleted of nutrients and contaminated by pesticides and other chemicals. Meanwhile urban sprawl devours prime agricultural land close to cities, land which should be producing food for people. Urban agriculture - growing food in and around cities - is a response to this problem. On rooftops, in laneways, in former parking lots, people are growing food and creating awareness that the food system has to change.

This Week on Connexions.org

Omar Khadr: Child Soldier Released From Jail

The release of Omar Khadr from jail is good news. But it has to be remembered that he should never have spent one minute in prison in the first place. The act he was accused of - killing an enemy soldier in the midst of a battle - is not a crime under international law. It's what soldiers do. International law is clear that he was a prisoner of war, entitled to all the rights and protections provided by international law. In fact, since Khadr was a child at the time of his capture, he should have been treated as a child soldier. Instead he was taken to the illegal U.S. prison in Guantanamo, and tortured and mistreated until eventually he 'confessed' in order to get a plea bargain. Read More

Keywords: Child Soldiers - Prisoners

Latin America's Social Policies Have Given Women a Boost

Although they do not specifically target women, social policies like family allowances and pensions have improved the lives of women in Latin America, the region that has made the biggest strides so far this century in terms of gender equality, although there is still a long way to go.Read More

Keywords: Rural Women - Women's Empowerment

The Myth of Peaceful Protest

As Frederick Douglass said, "power concedes nothing without a demand," which is why peaceful protest has so little effect against oppressive institutional power, whether government or corporations. The unspoken rule is that power and privilege will respect the people's right to peacefully express their grievances, so long as the people respect the right of those in power to ignore them and do nothing at all. Read More

Keywords: Power - State Violence

Brazil: Challenges of a Landless People

As opposed to an individualized struggle for property ownership, the landless of Brazil see themselves as a collectivity firmly standing against multiple levels of material, ideological, and physical violence. The movement navigates a landscape of misinformation by media, displacement by military police, attacks by landowners and growing right-wing militias, in addition to the dismissive attitude of government officials. The struggle of the MST is both political, pedagogical and a challenge to western notions of private property and land ownership. They have extensive networks of educators in charge of political formation through a pedagogia de la terra or pedagogy of the land. Read More

Keywords: Land Rights - Landless Workers

Food Among the Ruins

Detroit, the country's most depressed metropolis, has zero produce-carrying grocery chains. It also has open land, fertile soil, ample water, and the ingredients to reinvent itself from Motor City to urban farm. Detroit is producing somewhere between 10 and 15 percent of its food supply inside city limits -- more than most American cities, but nowhere near enough to allay the food desert problem. Mark Downie argues that Detroit has the potential to produce most of its foods within its own city limits. Read More

Keywords: Urban Agriculture - Local Food

Why the Right Loves Privilege Politics

The Right loves to talk about privilege. They attack unionized workers for being privileged because they have decent pay and working conditions; they attack the poor for taking advantage of welfare benefits that taxpayers have paid for and for having cellphones and television sets; they attack immigrants for not being grateful enough for the privilege of having been allowed into the country. This rhetoric serves to avoid class politics and obscure just where the real wealth and power lie in our society. Unfortunately parts of the liberal left have also bought into privilege politics, focusing their attention on privilege rather than power. Read More

Keywords: Class - Privilege Theory

In Home Gardens, Income and Food for Urban Poor

Flowers burst out of old tires and rows of pepper plants fill recycled plastic tubs as herbs pop out of old pipes. As utilitarian as it is cheery, this rooftop array is one of several urban agriculture projects that are improving livelihoods for the urban poor in Amman, Jordan. A slowly but steadily growing phenomenon in Jordan, urban agriculture has vast potential for reducing poverty and improving food security, and it has the added benefit of greening and cleaning up more rundown sections of cities. Read More

Keywords: Jordan - Urban Agriculture

People’s History

Brazil's MST Pays Tribute to Landless Workers Killed by Police in 1996

Landless rural workers occupy farms in Brazil to fulfill the promises and obligations of a people's agrarian reform movement and to reclaim a sense of justice. Land occupations in Brazil happen continuously throughout the year, however, the month of April - called "Red April" (Abril Vermelho) - pays tribute and remembrance to the Landless Workers Movement's (MST) fallen comrades of the Eldorado dos Carajas massacre. On April 17, 1996, 21 political militants of the MST were killed by military police. Nineteen were killed immediately and three died days after; 69 additional people were injured in the shooting. Read More

Keywords: Killings by Police - Landless Workers

From the Archives

From the right-wing to the revolutionary left

Tom Wetzel relates his political development, from a 19-year-old member of the Young Republicans, to revolutionary socialist. One of a series of articles on the Recomposition website on the topic "how were you radicalized?" Read More

Keywords: Libertarian Socialism - Radicalism

Website of the Week: City Farmer

Shoemakers, fashion models, computer geeks, politicians, lawyers, teachers, chefs … all city dwellers … all can grow food at home after work in back yards, community gardens or on flat roofs. For the past 37 years, City Farmer has encouraged urban dwellers to pull up a patch of lawn and plant some vegetables, kitchen herbs and fruit. This website is a collection of stories about our work at City Farmer here in Vancouver, Canada, and about urban farmers from around the world. http://www.cityfarmer.info/

Keywords: Urban Agriculture - Local Food

Book of the Week: The Town That Food Saved: How One Community Found Vitality in Local Food

For decades, the rural Vermont town of Hardwick (pop: 3,200) grappled with a challenged economy. Like so many small towns, the once-thriving regional industry had died, and the majority of the working population was forced to commute far beyond the town line to find work. A group of young agricultural entrepreneurs set out to develop regionalized food-based enterprises to create sustainable local economic development and break people's dependence on industrial food. In The Town That Food Saved, Ben Hewitt explores the contradictions inherent to producing high-end 'artisanal' food products in a working class community. To better understand how a local food system might work, he spends time not only with the agripreneurs, but also with the region's numerous small-scale food producers, many of which have been quietly operating in the area for decades.

Keywords: Local Economies - Local Food

Film of the Week: Le Havre

A 2011 comedy-drama film written and directed by Aki Kaurismäki, which tells the story of a shoeshiner who tries to protect an immigrant child in the French port city Le Havre.

Keywords: Child Migration - Migrants

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Connexions Calendar

May 22, 2015

Maude Barlow speaking at Trent University

Toronto, Canada

May 23, 2015

Walk or Run for Biodiversity: Fundraiser for Farmers in Ethiopia

Ottawa, Canada

May 26, 2015

Value of Water Program: Lessons fronm Abroad and the homefront: Governance, Technology and Innovation

Toronto,Canada

May 26, 2015

C2MTL

Montreal, Canada

May 30, 2015

Congress 2015 of the Humanities and Social Sciences

Toronto, Canada

The Connexions Calendar is an online calendar that exists to advertise events that support social justice, democracy, human rights, ecology, and other causes. We invite you to use it to promote your events. Adding events to the Connexions Calendar is FREE. We'll give you a username and password which you use to log on. Use the contact form to arrange for a username and password.

Read more →

Seeds of Fire

May 21 - 28, 1871

Bloody Week: The defeat of the Paris Commune. Terrified by the Commune - the first working-class-led revolution to hold power anywhere in the world - the Prussian and French ruling classes, in the midst of fighting the Franco-Prussian War, call off their war and unite to crush the Parisian working class. The Prussians instantly release the French troops they are holding as prisoners of war, and return them to the command of the French government to use against Paris. The Commune resists heroically, but after a week of fighting the Paris Commune is crushed by overwhelming military force and its defenders are massacred. An estimated 50,000 people are killed, including many who are slaughtered in mass executions after the defeat of the Commune.

May 21, 1969

Student protest in Argentina: University student groups and secondary school students in Rosario, Argentina, along with the CGT labour federation, organize a silent march, which gathers 4,000 people. Police attack the march, and kill a 15-year-old student, Luis Blanco. The protest later becomes known as the first Rosariazo.

May 21, 1998

Suharto has to go: Mass protests force the Indonesian dictator Suharto to resign. His 31 years of power, with strong U.S. support, were marked by the murder of an estimated one million Indonesians and the genocidal invasion and occupation of East Timor, as well as his embezzlement of between 15 and 30 billion dollars.


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Thanks to Ulli Diemer and Darien Yawching Rickwood for their work on this newsletter.


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