Tags >> Ideas
Sep 20
2010

Local Businesses

Posted by Bruce Robinson in speaker , Sonoma County , research , policy , nonprofit orgs , jobs , Ideas , government , finances , employment , economy , community , business , author

Bruce Robinson
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Small businesses have a disproportionately big impact on the local economy, especially when it comes to creating jobs. But public policy has been slow to recognize that. The need for changes was a central theme at Monday's Smart Growth Symposium, presented the Leadership Institute for Ecology and the Economy.



ms.jpgOn the global economic playing field, the ongoing tug-of-war between local business and corporate giants can be distilled into competing views of how capitalism should work, explains Mike Shuman, Director for Research and Economic Development for the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE). He likes to think of them as two quite different women.


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Many consumers are already aware of and acting on the desirability of directing their spending toward local businesses. But few give much thought to taking the same approach with their retirement accounts and other investments. Shuman explains how some of the long-standing obstacles to doing that are beginning to go away.
 
Sep 09
2010

"Remaking California"

Posted by Bruce Robinson in state government , policy , legislation , immigration , Ideas , government , education , community , California , budget

Bruce Robinson

There’s widespread agreement that California’s state government is dysfunctional and “broken.”  Our constitution was adopted when the the Golden State small, homogenous and barely industrialized. What will it take to bring the mechanics of the California'’s governance into the 21st century?

In addition to editing Remaking California: Reclaiming the Public Good, R. Jeffrey Lustig, a  professor of government at Cal State Sacramento, contributed chapters framing the overall issue and spelling out the metholoogy and some suggested changes to be made in a "people's constitutional convention." Other contitutional changes are proposed in a series of essays from diverse thinkers and analysts including historian Kevin Starr, poet Gary Gnyder, and former north coast legislator Barry Keene.

mmw_ballotNothing has changed the California state constitution as much as the statewide initiative process, which Lustig explains was an early reform measure that, over time, came to be emlpoyed in ways that countermand the reformers' intentions.

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california-seal.pngProposition 14, passed by California voters last June, was presented as a reform that would reign in partisan extremism through a sort of Open Primary. Lustig, however, is not conviced that either the state issue or the adopted change is an accurate assessment of the state's current crisis of governance.

R. Jeffrey Lustig will talk about Remaking California and some of the ideas in it tonight at the Peace and Justice Center of Sonoma County, 467 Sebastopol Avenue in Santa Rosa, at 7 pm. The event is co-sponsored by the Living Wage Coalition of Sonoma County. Details can be found here.

 

 

Aug 22
2010

Remembering "The Farm"

Posted by Bruce Robinson in women , resources , lifestyle , Ideas , history , Health , Green , food , farms , families , community , children , business , agriculture , activism

Bruce Robinson

Communal living was a idealistic experiment for some back when the counter-culture was in full flower, and The Farm, a pioneering outpost in rural Tennessee, mostly managed to live up to those ideals.

The earliest origins of The Farm can be traced back to San Francisco at the end of the 1960s, recalls Robert Tepper, in a group that coalesced around a San Francisco State professor named Stephen Gaskin.

That memorable caravan, as seen in this photograph (© Book Publishing Company), was also the basis for the  poster promoting the gathering of former Farm residents in Santa Rosa on Saturday.  It’s natural that such an event would happen here, Tepper adds, since the North Bay was once home to so many of the founding Farmers.

Today, The Farm (seen below from the air) hosts a much smaller population, says Linda Rake, but it remains a hub of sustainable activity.

From the founding group of around 300, the population of The Farm quickly grew, in part, Linda Speel recalls, due to their open door policy toward visitors, particularly expectant couples.

It took a few years for the community to attain economic equilibrium, but Linda Rake notes that they soon began to marshal what resources they had to reach out and assist when natural disasters struck elsewhere in the hemisphere, through an organization they named Plenty.

 

 

Aug 18
2010

Nieghborhood Summit

Posted by Bruce Robinson in youth , speaker , seniors , Santa Rosa , public safety , politics , planning , parks , lifestyle , Ideas , government , families , current events , community , children , business , author , activism

Bruce Robinson

The basic building block for influencing local elected officials is the neighborhood, says organizer Jim Diers, because people tend to be most involved and active closest to their homes.

 What defines a neighborhood? Jim Diers, author of Neighbor Power, Building Community the Seattle Way, says there are some basic characteristics that tend to be self-selecting, and common almost everywhere.

Neighborhood Watch programs are among the best known and most widespread applications of the idea that neighbors can benefit from looking out for one another.  Diers sees that as a small step in the right direction, but advocates taking thing much further.

Jim Diers will be the keynote speaker at the Santa Rosa Neighbors Summit Friday evening in the Santa Rosa City Council chambers. Events begin with a free meeting and presentation by neighborhood organizer Jim Diers on Friday evening, Aug. 20, 7-8:30 pm, followed by the working Neighborhood Summit on Saturday  Aug. 21, 9:30 am to 2:30 in the Finley Community Center on West College at Stony Point.