Financial Activism

8 posts

Civics Lesson?

I will preface this post by saying that I don’t want this website and blog to be political. I get too serious and on my almighty horse when I go down that path. Isn’t it more likely people will actually read these words if they are light-hearted and happy and relate to the machinations of our chickens? This is an issue I will get back to at the end of today’s post.

Earlier this week, Carl and I attended a political event hosted by Open Democracy/NHRebellion, a nonpartisan group working to heal the divide between our two opposing parties and to save the happy little experiment called democracy by getting money out of politics. Professor Lawrence Lessig was the guest speaker and presented, with his usual razor-sharp precision, the facts of our current state: there is a greater divide than ever in history between the two tribes called Democrats and Republicans. And a greater unity. Over ninety percent of Americans don’t believe the government represents their interests. The trust is gone. And without trust, a democratic system of government cannot survive because without trust, apathy infiltrates. People don’t participate or pay attention. Why bother when it makes no difference? And so they don’t vote or get involved or run for public office and the situation worsens, like a ping pong match, back and forth, the ball lowering until one day it doesn’t make it over the net because The People didn’t bother to pick up a paddle and lob the ball.

From whence flows this lack of trust? Money. Due to the undue influence of money in politics, the people elected to represent The People instead represent big businesses and deep pockets. As a result, government does not do what our Constitution demands: represent all people equally. Professor Lessig argues that we must solve this corruption of our government. We must fight for the core promise of representation and thereby restore the self-respect and dignity that this precious form of government demands: the rights of all people to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. He presented this as a moral idea, an idea bigger than the individual. We must put our country first, not our party, and be willing to sacrifice our mortal time and fight because this is more than a constitutional crisis. This is the future of our planet.

Too serious? I’ll bring in the chickens. The girls aren’t laying. I can’t blame them. The days are short. It’s dark and cold. I certainly wouldn’t want to lay an egg. And I don’t mind so much that the old hens aren’t bearing but the pullets? We have gotten five eggs out of them in total, and not one in weeks. They are eight months old. They should be producing. Carl and I have searched high and low and found no hidden cache, as we did three years ago when we found seventy-six eggs under the poop board. Strange. The most spoiled dinosaurs ever, in their relatively warm and harbored-from-the-wind bus stop.

Even Roo Schtude is wondering what’s up. Every morning he marches proudly down the ramp of the quonset hut coop and into the bus stop run and brings on the morning with his crows. He stands upright and mighty, his blond bangs dangling over his eyes, occasionally losing his balance during the passionate presentation of his daily news report: IT’S MORNING! THE SKY IS LIGHTENING!! DARK BLUES AND GRAYS TO OH!! WAKE UP! HERE COMES THE SUN!! IT IS RISING! PINKS AND ORANGES! YELLOW!! IT IS MY COLOR. MAGNIFICENT! GIRLS!! WAKE UP!! YOU ARE MISSING THE BEST PART OF THE DAY!

In response, the hens cluck and purr and snuggle closer together; time for an early morning nap.

Do you see the resemblance? Our hens are like too many Americans. They don’t participate. They could create an indivisible group, have (egg-laying) huddles, determine who might go broody, leverage an egg for more yellow cheese and mealy worms. The only significant difference is that our hens won’t endure any consequences. I’m not going to wring their necks just because they’re on an extended holiday. Their feathery butts are safe. Americans, though, are in the process of losing everything that the U.S. constitution represents.

Back to the political event. Dan Weeks—currently chair of Open Democracy’s board—presented, too. He spoke of a bill that Open Democracy/NHRebellion will be supporting at the state legislature this January that would create a “Civic Dollars” campaign financing system, a citizen-funded election system that would start to get rid of the undue influence of corporations and the extremely rich. Pipe dream? Variations of this legislation have been working, successfully, in Maine, Arizona and a few other states.

My point? Both Lawrence Lessig and Dan Weeks spoke about our democracy as passionately as Roo Schtude does the morning sun. They know what is at stake: our democracy and our world. We need no longer consider the seventh generation to determine what to do but to the next generation. Thus, in their respective speeches, ever so briefly, both these men choked up. Because every day, every hour, Lawrence Lessig and Dan Weeks have their children in mind. They want their children to have a future.

Carl and I live off-grid in the relative hinterlands of Jaffrey, New Hampshire. I have been asked by friends and strangers if we are preppers, readying ourselves for the apocalypse. My response is no. I have read my history. I know that, at times—these times—there is no hiding. The outside world will come in. I might not want to bring politics into this blog but by its very nature, my website is political. How so when so bedecked by chicken feathers? Because how we, as a nation and as individuals, choose to eat and grow and buy our food is a political act. Opting to drive or take public transportation or walk is a political act. How we treat each other is a political act; racism and slavery and sexism still exist because we have not as a country endured the deep and radical questioning that real change requires. In short, our lives, today, are political and it is Attitude Change Time. A.C.T.

If we are to save the world, we must first save democracy. It will not be a pretty fight. It will not be a short one. It is a necessary act, a moral one. As Paul Gilding writes in his book The Great Disruption: “it is no longer a case of what you want to do, but what you have to do.” 

Carl and I plan to have an informational event here at Darwin’s View for Open Democracy/NH Rebellion, their staff and board to tell us more about their work and their upcoming legislation. Drop a line if you’d like to join us.

Factoid: Six years ago to the day—December 2, 2012—Carl and I moved from the Ocean State to the Granite State. Let’s rock the rock.

CLF (Conservation Law Foundation)

CLF is an organization we supported when living in Rhode Island and one we continue to support here in New Hampshire. The Conservation Law Foundation crosses state lines, working on a regional level to protect New England’s environment. They educate, fight and have an impact on so much that is vital to our lives and our survival. Climate change, ocean health, clean water, local food economies, modernizing transportation—they cover this and much more on a regional basis, seeing the big picture: that we need to build our communities and web of connections in order to be stronger and more resilient for the future.



The Monadnock Conservancy

The Monadnock Conservancy, a land trust organization for southwestern New Hampshire, does what Carl and I strive to do at Darwin’s View. It conserves and stewards the natural resources of the Monadnock region; educates the public on the importance of conserving land, not least agricultural properties and the concomitant way of life; connects people to nature, thereby strengthening both the community and the land; and sustains a deep love and passion for our environment.

In 2006-2007, when we bought the land that is Darwin’s View, we put most of it—180 acres—into a conservation easement with the Monadnock Conservancy. We held back fifteen acres on top of the hill to allow time and space for us to determine where we would site the house, and what, exactly, we planned to do there. The easement preserves the land in perpetuity, while allowing for all things agricultural. Because we had no intention of developing the land, their restrictions are no hardship. On the contrary, at times, when we have been planning to maintain shrub land and fields for wildlife habitat, or wanted to implement one of our ideas, they have been a great resource for information, and provided us with structure so that we don’t overstep the boundaries we want to support.

Please check out their website and consider supporting their cause. And drop me a line if you have any questions!

Corporate Accountability

What is Corporate Accountability and why do we support it? You may or may not know this but I declared war against climate change in February of 2013. That soon became a two-front war against demo-n-capitalism, that nasty joining of our democracy with capitalism that has resulted in both being warped beyond recognition. Clearly, to save the world, we had to save our democracy first. Thus, Carl and I marched with to get money out of politics. But years have gone by and, as you may have noted, war is not the answer and the world is on a downward trend.

Enter Corporate Accountability. For decades they have been fighting corporate power, waging strategic campaigns that compel transnational corporations and the governments that do their bidding to stop destroying human rights, democracy, and the planet. Some of their many victories include launching the successful Nestlé boycott, moving General Electric out of the nuclear weapons business, and compelling R. J. Reynolds to retire Joe Camel. And now they have set their sites on the UN talks to combat climate change. Their strategy and hope? To get the fossil fuel industry out of those negotiations, to which end they have already achieved notable progress.

Carl and I believe that, though individuals can absolutely have an effect, yet we must all work together to fight the Too Big to Fail corporations. Corporate Accountability gives us the chance, not just to change the world but to save it.

Please check out their website and consider supporting their cause. And drop me a line if you have any questions!

I believe climate change is happening and that it is human caused. I also believe that we can change our current direction and heal the world. is “building the global grassroots climate movement that can hold our leaders accountable to science and justice.” You can get involved, too.

Farm Sanctuary & PETA (to name only two)


“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” Mahatma Gandhi

These organizations are two that I support because they protect the rights and lives of animals. This might seem precious with so many human rights and lives being assaulted but if we choose not to treat animals decently, why would we care for people? Animal farm factories. Animal experimentation. Destruction of habitat and slaughter of the wild. It is easy to ignore the chickens and geese, the cows and pigs, elephants, whales, wolves and sparrows . . .. They have no voice in the economic debates that rule the human world. But by not care-taking for animals and their environment, we endanger and degrade our own lives.

I believe all sentient creatures, whether raised for experimentation or food, living free or as pets in our homes, should be treated with respect and compassion.

Please buy only products that have the cruelty-free bunny on the label. And please consider supporting these causes or any others that provide a voice for those who have none. (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals)

American Farmland Trust

If we don’t save our farmland now, in the not distant future, there will not be enough land and farmers to provide our human population with food. Which, perhaps, won’t be a problem. Our species might have already committed unintentional suicide by doing nothing about this climate change situation. But because we can do and must do, I do. I donate to organizations that are looking to the past to provide for the future. Thus, permaculture and agroforestry. Thus, American Farmland Trust. Because if we change how we farm, we can save the world, too.

Ever heard of or seen the bumper stickers NO FARMS NO FOOD? That’s American Farmland Trust. Their mission “is to save the land that sustains us by protecting farmland, promoting sound farming practices, and keeping farmers on the land.”

Healthy soil equals healthy food equals healthy people. Please check out AFT.


CELDF (Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund) & NHCRN (New Hampshire Community Rights Network)

I love these two organizations because they are thinking outside the box. They work to bring our community rights legal authority to say “No” to Too-Big-to-Fail Corporations. Please check out their websites and learn more about them. This is how we will regain our human and environmental rights. There is less of a divide than we are led to believe.