Archive for March, 2011


Deep Dialogues Monday April 4th
Capitalism and Alternative Economic Models
Landis House @ Dickinson College, 5:00pm-6:30pm
Food: Susannah Bartlow

Conversation Topic: Capitalism-is it oppressive? Why? Are there other feasible alternatives? Is there an ideal reformed version of capitalism that could work better? Please watch this movie if you would like to prepare for Monday’s discussion.  Or just bring yourself! “Capitalism: A Love Story” -a film by Michael Moore
If others have resources Capitalism that they would like to share, please post them to the blog or share here.
Thank you all so much for a fantastic conversation this week after a two week hiatus – our discussion about the role of “violent/destructive” roles in the revolution, ZapatistasThe Weather Underground, and EarthFirst! was inspiring, challenging, and as always, revolutionarily awesome.
Thanks and see you at Landis House next week!

Sarah Brylinsky

Sustainability Education Coordinator

The Center for Sustainability Education
Dickinson College

Carlisle, PA 17013
Tel: 717.245.1117

“Ecology is permanent economy.” – Sunderlal Bahuguna, Gandhian activist and philosopher

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Visit the Sustainability Events Calendar

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Monday March 21st – No meeting, do Reading!

Monday March 28th: Zapatistas! and Revolutionary Movements

Landis House @ Dickinson College, 5:00pm-6:30pm

Conversation Topic:  Zapatistas! Who were these fabulous revolutionary women, and what can we learn in our own ecofeminist movement from them?


“Teaching Women in the Zapatistia Movement’ attached

The Roles of Women in the Mexican Revolution and in the Current Zapatista Movement


Blake Blailey: Zapatista (Personal narratives)


Zapatistas in Representation

If others have resources about Chiapas and Zapatistas that they would like to share, please post them to the blog or share here.  Thanks and see you at Landis House next week!

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Thoughts on Revolution

Here are some links to documentaries and articles on revolution; please share other resources!

The Weather Underground

Every Revolution Is Revolutionary in Its Own Way” -A NewYork Times Article


The Roles of Women in the Mexican Revolution and in the Current Zapatista Movement

Blake Blailey: Zapatista (Personal narratives)

Zapatistas In Representation

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“The real work of planet-saving will be small, humble, and humbling,

and (insofar as it involves love) pleasing and rewarding.

Its jobs will be too many to count, too many to report,

too many to be publicly noticed or rewarded,

too small to make anyone rich or famous” -Wendell Berry

Wendell Berry says this quote in the context of talking about what it takes to motivate humans to do good work. He is pointing out that we cannot always be motivated by the prospect of recognition; we must be willing to make small changes that may not be glorified by others. This remark sparked my attention because it brought me back to a word that I believe is vital to understanding what ecofeminism entails: integrity.

We seek glamour and exaltation in the work we do. It feels good to make grandiose accomplishments that are acknowledged by others, and there is nothing wrong with that. However, it is important that whatever we do, whatever causes we fight for, we do with integrity. In Sex, Economy, Freedom and Community, Wendell Berry explores different types of conservation and claims that “a conservation effort that concentrates only on the extremes of industrial abuse tends to suggest that the only abuses are the extreme ones when, in fact, the earth is probably suffering more from many small abuses than from a few large ones” (Berry 30). Global warming, oil spills, extinction–these are all important issues, but we ought not disregard smaller problems because of that. There must be a balance of attention and dedication to extreme assaults and abuses with attention to smaller less impact-filled abuse, because abuse occurs on a spectrum. This is what the first quote is advocating–the necessity of acting with integrity in all that we do to protect and love the earth. It is not enough to donate money to an organization that is fighting to save the polar bears and call it a day for “planet-saving.” It is better that you make small, informed lifestyle changes that you are consistent with. Plant a garden, ride a bike, eat local foods, join a co-op, recycle, be frugal with water and electricity. Having a planet full of thoughtful human beings who think carefully about the choices they make is better than having a planet full of  human beings who act carelessly in their everyday lives but donate billions of dollars to causes they have no emotional stake in.

This idea of loving and caring for the earth through a consistent lifestyle illustrates Thich Nhat Hanh’s belief that the best thing anyone can do for everyone is to focus on what he or she as an individual can do to the best of his or her abilities; “Don’t worry if those around you arent’ doing their best. Just worry about how you make yourself worthy. Doing your best is the surest way to remind those around you to do their best” (Hanh, 64).This concept of focusing first on making your individual lifestyle sustainable, nurturing and healthy fits with the purported benefits of a local economy. As Berry says, “An adequate local culture, among other things, keeps work within the reach of love” (Berry 24). A system in which a community feels that donating money to send food to starving children in Africa is praiseworthy, but where that same local community doesn’t work to end homelessness in their immediate city or town, is a faulty system; one lacking integrity. Individuals must start from where they stand and work outwards, as far as they can reach while still feeling connected.I hate to use clichés, but it’s true that before you can truly love anyone else, you must love yourself.

Loving the earth with integrity requires a daily commitment and its importance translates to our bodies as well as the earth. Again, a lot of money, attention and energy are focused on curing catastrophic diseases and illnesses like cancer, AIDS, etc. Our bodies are abused in many other ways, not as immediately threatening, but equally as noteworthy. The current capitalist structure makes it okay for our bodies to experience minimal exposure to harmful chemicals (in tampons and other cosmetics, through fracking, pesticides etc). Unless A LOT of people suddenly drop dead, this exposure is considered minimal, therefore not harmful, until proven otherwise. In Living Downstream, Sandra Steingraber rightly advocates a system that uses what she calls the “precautionary principle” where we don’t wait for disastrous outcomes before ending destructive practices. She continues to ask, “At what point does preliminary evidence of harm become definitive evidence of harm?” (Steingraber, 9). It is important to research and study how to cure widespread diseases and illnesses. But it is again important to acknowledge that abuse of human bodies occurs on a spectrum and no abuse should be tolerated. A system in which everyone knows the widespread effects and dangers of HIV and AIDS but no one knows that tampons are toxic, is a faulty system; one lacking integrity.

The bottom line is this: do whatever you do, fight for whatever you fight for, live wherever you live, but do it with integrity. If you value the earth as a body, show your love for it every day through all your actions, purposefully. If you value human bodies, your own and others, treat them with love and respect consistently.

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Overview of Rural Underdeveloped Communities

Rural communities are faced with many challenges today, “unemployment, the price of food and other essentials, commodity prices, drugs, gambling, community conflicts, and health” (Alam, 13). Climate change is just another hurdle that will affect everyone especially those living in rural impoverished communities especially in the developing world. This is because these communities often rely on a regular supply of and access to natural resources, which could be jeopardized by drastic and increased frequency of weather changes as well as heat waves causing an infestation of pests leading to malaria and other diseases. Additionally, these communities rarely have access to emergency government weather warnings, health care, or property insurance.

The International Institute for Environmental Development  (IIED) suggests that it is imperative to rely as much on local indigenous gendered knowledge as scientific information to facilitate both short and long-term adaptation, mitigation, and resiliency to climate change (Alam, 13). According to a report published by the IIED, “community-based adaption to climate change is a community-led process, based on communities’ priorities, needs, knowledge, and capacities, which should empower people to plan for and cope with the impacts of climate change” (Alam, 13) Considering the vulnerability of rural communities and their lack of government support, they should be at the forefront of climate change research. However, this is not uncomplicated especially when communities are faced with civil or governmental crises and when donor interests diverge.  

The meshing of rural community and Western donor knowledge is difficult and rare. Many developing communities reject scientific knowledge imposed by developed countries who they declare responsible for most environmental problems. Many contend that Western countries in particular should be responsible for funding indigenous research on livelihood alternatives rather than demanding already-impoverished communities to compromise their standard of living by adopting foreign technologies. Western countries argue that these communities do not have developed knowledge and that their advanced technology would be much more efficient for any and all communities no matter the culture or region (Alam, 23). This relationship is strained and may take many forms according to the IIED including: passive participation, participation in information giving, participation by consultation, participation for material incentives, functional participation, interactive participation, self-mobilization (Alam, 24). With the possibility of climate change looming, the traditional Western top-down approach may not be viable and it will become increasingly imperative to recognize the spectrum of information sharing.


(Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change:

The report’s conclusion is that climate change consideration should be central to all development programs and plans if they hope to be upheld into the future. For this to become a reality, it is important to incorporate indigenous knowledge- especially that preserved by women.

Alam, Mozaharul, Rachel Berger, Terry Cannon, Saleemul Huq, Angela Milligan, Hannah Reid. “Community-based adaptation to climate change: an overview.” Community-based adaptation to climate change: 60 Participatory learning and action. Institute for Environmental Development. UK: Russel Press. December 2009.

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Monday February 28th

Landis House @ Dickinson College, 5:00pm-6:30pm

Topic: The Benefits of Local Economy


An essay by Wendell Berry, from his book Sex, Economy, Freedom and Community, will be emailed and available on the blog on Thursday, February 24th. The essay is called “Conservation and Local Economy” and discusses the importance of caring for our land and developing a healthy community (comprised not only of humans, but soil, water, air and non-human beings).

This essay addresses topics surrounding consumerism and capitalism that have been topics of interest thus far in Deep Dialogues. Members are asked to read the essay as a foundation for our discussion on Monday.

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