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Other Voices: The Connexions Newsletter

March 26, 2015

This Week: Agriculture, Ecology, Sustainability and Resistance

This week we're featuring a number of items related to sustainability, ecology, and agriculture, including Vandana Shiva's article “Small is the New Big,” the Council of Canadians' new report on water issues, “Blue Betrayal,” the film “The Future of Food,” the Independent Science News website, which focuses on the science of food and agriculture, and the memoir “Journey of an Unrepentant Socialist” by Brewster Kneen, a former farmer and long-time critic of corporate agriculture.

We've delved into the archives to recall the history of the Diggers, who on April 1, 1649 began to dig up ground outside London to assert, both practically and symbolically, that “The earth should be a common treasury of livelihood to whole mankind, without respect of persons”.

Seeds of Fire for March 26 recalls the birth of the Chipko movement in India in 1974, when a group of rural women, the original “tree-huggers”, surrounded and held onto their trees to prevent them from being cut down by a lumber company.

Speaking of sustainability, Connexions marks its 40th anniversary in 2015, making it something of a model of sustainable activism in its own right. All the materials on our website and in our library are renewable resources: any number of people can share them (several thousand visitors a day do.) However, money to pay the rent and ongoing expenses are always scarce, even for an all-volunteer projects like Connexions. If you’d like to help Connexions' work with a one-time or regular monthly donation, please visit the Donate page.

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This Week on Connexions.org

Bill C-51: A Legal Primer

Two lawyers examine the Canadian government’s so-called “anti-terrorism” legislation, showing that it lays the groundwork for criminalizing free speech and activism. The legislation allows police to arrest anyone whom they suspect might engage in criminal activity at some point in the future. Read More

Keywords: National Security - Police State

Blue Betrayal

Examining Canadian governments’ record on freshwater protection. This new report from the Council of Canadians shows that successive federal Liberal and Conservative governments have bought into the myth of water abundance and have allowed serious deterioration of our lakes, rivers and groundwater. Read More

Keywords: Freshwater - Water/Environmental Issues

Occupy Amazonia? Indigenous activists are taking direct action - and it’s working

The indigenous peoples of the Amazon are employing the tactics of occupying land and facilities to fight against oil companies, gold miners and illegal loggers, writes Marc Brightman. Their methods are home-grown: lacking the protection of the state, they have always had to fight their own battles. But recent campaign successes owe much to outside support. We must maintain, and strengthen, our solidarity. Read More

Keywords: Amazon - Indigenous Peoples and Mining

Small is the New Big

Vandana Shiva reminds us that the very future of food security lies in protecting and promoting small farmers. Read More

Keywords: Industrial Agriculture - Seeds

It’s NATO that's empire-building, not Putin

It’s time to set aside the ideological preconceptions and look at who is aggressively expanding in Europe. Read More

Keywords: NATO - Russia

Why I'm Saying Goodbye to Apple, Google and Microsoft

Why am I typing this on a laptop running GNU/Linux, the free software operating system, not an Apple or Windows machine? And why are my phones and tablets running a privacy-enhanced offshoot of Android called Cyanogenmod, not Apple’s iOS or standard Android? Read More

Keywords: Internet Privacy - Open Source Software

People’s History

The revolutionary roots of women’s suffrage: Finland 1906

In 1906, Finland became the world’s first country to grant full female suffrage. This watershed achievement for women was won by Finnish socialists during the revolutionary upheaval that swept the Czarist empire to which Finland belonged. Yet this important history has been overlooked by both academics and activists. Full suffrage was won through a mass general strike and anti-imperial insurgency in Finland, combined with a revolution across the empire. Female socialists led the fight for women’s suffrage, while the mainstream women’s organizations supported wealth qualifications for the vote until the end of 1905. Contrary to the common claim that Marxism ignores issues of women’s oppression, Finnish socialists simultaneously fought gender, national and class domination, decades before the emergence of theorizations of “intersectionality”. Reclaiming this lost history, says Eric Blanc, is long overdue. Read the article here

Keywords: Marxism and Feminism - Voting Rights (Suffrage)

From the Archives

The Diggers

On April 1, 1649, a group of labourers gathered on George’s Hill just outside London and began to dig up the earth. The group, known as “True Levellers” or “Diggers”, set out to plant crops to assert, both practically and symbolically, common ownership of common land. Digger Gerrard Winstanley says “The earth should be a common treasury of livelihood to whole mankind, without respect of persons”.

Landowners and the state, alarmed at this menacing threat to the sacred principle of private property, responded with raids and armed violence, and by 1650 the colony was destroyed.

The Diggers stated their vision in The True Levellers Standard Advanced: “The work we are going about is this, To dig up Georges Hill and the waste Ground thereabouts, and to Sow Corn, and to eat our bread together by the sweat of our brows. And the First Reason is this, That we may work in righteousness, and lay the Foundation of making the Earth a Common Treasury for All, both Rich and Poor, That every one that is born in the Land, may be fed by the Earth his Mother that brought him forth, according to the Reason that rules in the Creation. Not Inclosing any part into any particular hand, but all as one man, working together, and feeding together as Sons of one Father, members of one Family; not one Lording over another, but all looking upon each other, as equals in the Creation.”

Keywords:Common Ownership - Diggers - Rural Living

Topic of the Week: Agriculture and Ecology

The model of industrial agriculture that has emerged over the past several decades is starkly at odds with our need for an agricultural system that is sustainable in the long run. Industrial agriculture is modelled on the extractive industries, whose approach is to maximize short-term profits by depleting non-renewable resources and moving on. Sustainable farming, on the other hand, depends on a network of relationships between farmers, the land, the soil, the water, the community, and the wider society. The Connexions Library has a wide selection of articles, books, films, and other information on Agriculture and Ecology.

Website of the Week: Independent Science News

A website whose goal is to call attention to defects in science and in the science media and to remedy them as far as possible. The primary focus of the site is the food and agriculture system, and how science related to food and agriculture is shaped, reported, and misrepresented. Articles are typically in-depth and well-researched. www.independentsciencenews.org

Keywords: Agricultural Business/Agribusiness - Science

Book of the Week: Journey of an Unrepentant Socialist, by Brewster Kneen

Author Brewster Kneen describes this as his “political theological autobiography.” The book is a personal life-story with a focus on the 1950s and ‘60s, coming from someone who was active in the peace and social justice movements in the USA and Canada over the past 5 decades or so. It starts with an inside story of the New Left and the peace and Civil Rights movements in North America, and the Christian Peace Conference, and continues with Kneen’s life as a farmer and writer in Canada.

Note: The Toronto launch of Journey of an Unrepentant Socialist takes places on March 27 at 7:00 pm. at Trinity-St. Paul’s Church, 427 Bloor Street West

Keywords: Left History - Pacifism

Film of the Week: The Future of Food

A documentary which explores the radical changes in our diet and our food in the last half century. The film investigates the patented genetically engineered foods which have been increasingly monopolizing the food and agricultural industry and explores the negative impacts on farmers and the challenges they face with this new technology as well as the health implications of genetically engineered food. The documentary also presents alternatives to large scale industrial agriculture, such as organic farming.

More Information

Keywords: Agrifood - Genetically Engineered Foods

Your support is needed to keep Connexions going

Most of the work of the Connexions project is done by volunteers, but our expenses include rent, phone and computer costs and technical support, as well as expenses related to our ongoing project of converting printed archival materials into digital formats. You can make a one time or regular monthly contribution through the donate page on the Connexions website.


Many of us have made working for social justice a lifetime commitment. If you are thinking about leaving a legacy for social justice that will live on, you might want to consider leaving a bequest to Connexions in your will. If you'd like to discuss this option, please contact us: Connexions Archive and Library, 812A Bloor Street West, Suite 201, Toronto, 416-964-5735.

Connexions Calendar

March 27, 2015
Labour Pains, Capital Gains
Toronto, Canada

March 27, 2015
Journey of an Unrepentant Socialist -- Toronto, Canada

March 28, 2015
Gideon Levy: Israeli Elections: What next for Israel-Palestine? ------------------------------------------Victoria, British Columbia

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

March 26, 1974

The Chipko movement is born - A group of peasant women in Reni Village in the state of Uttarakhand, India, surround and hold on to trees in their forest to prevent them from being cut down by a lumber company given cutting rights by the government. The confrontation grows out of growing resistance to the commercial logging that is destroying the traditional forests that local people rely on for their livelihoods. When news of the success of the tactic reaches other villages, a movement of resistance to commercial logging quickly spreads, leading to hundreds of grassroots actions.

March 26, 2003

More than one million people demonstrate in Spain against the Spanish government’s support of the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

March 27, 1848

About 1500 Icarians, members of a French Utopian movement founded by Etienne Cabet, land in New Orleans intending to start a communal settlement in the United States

Read more →

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Copyright Connexions 2015. Contents are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License. This means you are welcome to share and republish the contents of this newsletter as long as you credit Connexions, and as long as you don’t charge for the content.

Other Voices: The Connexions Newsletter, is available online here

Thanks to Ulli Diemer for his work on this newsletter.


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