portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article creative oregon & cascadia

labor | political theory

Call out for Practical, Original Ideas?

I won't steal them, I promise!
Do you have any ideas that could benefit humanity? I mean really? Are there any solutions? I've been checking out Indy Media here for about three weeks and it's fascinating. It really is. I've learned a lot, and had some almost productive conversations. I've read some interesting discussions about eliminating poverty, anarchic society, consumerism, pirates and Zimbabwe; it's really been an education. There is no doubt that Portland Indy media has a readership of very intelligent people.

Pretend I am an overweight armchair, online revolutionary with really low self esteem. I developed the ability to think critically, from watching the Matrix. I caught the Holy Ghost in my elevator and now I want to take action. I can find a flaw in everything, I can see a perfectly white wall and if there is so much as a smudge, pin hole, or spot on it, my eye's will never leave the imperfection.

Luckily I am not the only one looking at Indy media, others might be able to over look the one blemish and appreciate the other 99 point whatever, percent of your idea. I am looking for ideas which don't demand too much of me, remember I am fat, I think too much, and I have trouble sleeping.

I am looking for Ideas which can grow into a movement, not to demanding, but meaningful, real change, like the anointed Barack promised. Don't matter to me where you're coming from, left, right, green, revolutionary. The truth is I really need some hope, things are looking bleak, its 2009 and I don't see didly squat on the horizon. I am seriously considering just investing in the biggest glass manufacturers on wall street, so when people get upset and break windows I'll be able to give some of my earnings to people who are really suffering, not me, remember I'm fat.

So what say you? Just post it here on Indy media in the discussion section and maybe I, and many like me can make a new year's resolution based upon what you propose. Common Indy media viewers discuss and critique the proposals and submit your own.

Let's try to keep the negativity down to a minimum, remember I see All flaws.

constructive solutions 26.Dec.2008 11:30


Consume less, capitalize on every opportunity to help others, make spirituality your first priority, and don't take yrself too seriously (maybe lose some weight too, tubby)

Good morning Diego 26.Dec.2008 11:41

Exile portlander_in_exile@yahoo.com

I must admire your spirit. This forum has been one of the most useful soundingboards for people seeking real change. Much of the time, it feels like tilting windmills, but we're a driven group, that does have many of the answers that society is seeking.

If you want to know what's wrong, it's all traceable to greed. Greed creates the illusion of scarcity. Did you know that this country has more vacant homes, than homeless? The amount of food that is thrown out, because it's not "marketable" would feed the hungry in this country several times over?

Shatter the illusion of scarcity, and we suddenly live in the land of plenty. It's the belief that there is no limit to how much you can take away from others that is reinforcing the illusion of scarcity. This causes exploitation, and pain for those without.

greed 26.Dec.2008 13:24


"If you want to know what's wrong, it's all traceable to greed. Greed creates the illusion of scarcity. Did you know that this country has more vacant homes, than homeless? The amount of food that is thrown out, because it's not "marketable" would feed the hungry in this country several times over?"

isn't that the truth, i was just thinking this morning that the major thing that makes xmas holiday stand out is the fact that pretty much all stores are closed! It pretty much providesd the backdrop and feeling of urgency for the day. I mean I spend days before hand trying to get my sh*t together because i know that the stores will be closed on xmas day and i can't just run out and get something i need. Every other day, if i have the money and transportation i can just go to the nearest store and get whatever it is i need. greed/need...

join an organization 26.Dec.2008 16:31


by ourselves we are nothing; divided and conquered.

ideas are good of course, but they mean nothing if they are not implemented by collective action.

study history, politics, anarchism and socialism, and pick a group based on your studies.

are pick a group based on your interest, join it, then study.

Plenty of groups in portland to join and be active in:

PDX Peace: anti-war coalition

PCASC: Portland Central American Solidarity Committee

Socialist groups:

International Socialist Organization
Freedom Socialist Party
Workers Action

I think some of the best advice 26.Dec.2008 17:42

Jody Paulson

I've heard as an activist fall along the lines of Gandhi's
"You must be the change you want to see in the world."

Along these lines, here is the epitath of a 12th Century Anglican Bishop:
"When I was young and free and my imagination had no limits, I dreamed of changing the world. As I grew older and wiser, I discovered the world would not change, so I shortened my sights somewhat and decided to change only my country. But it, too, seemed immovable. As I grew into my twilight years, in one last desperate attempt, I settled for changing only my family, those closest to me, but alas, they would have none of it. And now, as I lie on my deathbed, I suddenly realize: If I had only changed myself first, then by example I would have changed my family. From their inspiration and encouragement, I would then have been able to better my country, and who knows, I may have even changed the world."

Here's the website of an original thinker who does an admirable job explaining how the inner and outter world are related:  http://www.awakeninthedream.com/

I think there's a balance required of doing inner and outter work trying to better oneself and their community. People can burn themselves out by doing nothing but rushing around doing community organizing, etc., but I think world change ultimately requires more than just sitting around contemplating one's navel, etc.

But when it comes right down to it, I've often thought that one of the best ways the people can change to world is just to stay home from work for a while.

bioregional state and its local watershed institutions 27.Dec.2008 10:29


You can build the two watershed-based institutions yourself. You are planting the seeds of a real ecological revolution that way.

Constructive Change of our Political Institutions: Toward a Bioregional state
author: biostate
This is a summary of the bioregional state, moved from a comment to a previous post:  http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2008/12/383027.shtml?discuss

"Do you voters understand why so many of us have less-than-zero faith in the electoral process now?"

Bioregional democracy, Bioregional State, 4 points

"The real problem is that we haven't managed to project a clear vision of those changes..."

Suggestions for mobilization and unification of dissent toward something constructive:

There's more than enough grievances. Just organize, particularly through the second point below.



Toward a Bioregional State

It appears in many other locations around the web, drawn originally from the Wikipedia article and mirrored around.

Bioregional democracy: From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Bioregional democracy (or the Bioregional State) is a set of electoral reforms designed to force the political process in a democracy to better represent concerns about the economy, the body, and environmental concerns (e.g., water quality), toward developmental paths that are locally prioritized and tailored to different areas for their own specific interests of sustainability and durability. This movement is variously called bioregional democracy, watershed cooperation, or bioregional representation, or one of various other similar names—all of which denote democratic control of a natural commons and local jurisdictional dominance in any economic developmental path decisions—while not removing more generalized civil rights protections of a larger national state.




BioState 2 27.Dec.2008 17:04

Lincoln Was a Dictator tylerbristow166@hotmail.com

Western States are the easiest ellections for Politician Business men to minipulate. In the early days of the United States the States actually represented the peoples culture that lived there. Whereas in Oregon our states bourndries were created long before our culutures developed; because, western states are much larger and geograhpically diverse, several distinct cultural regions exist within them. This devides us, because it forces all of these cultural regions, Like the Metro Portland area in the west and the Agricultural in the east, to settle on the same representatives and vote on the same iniciatives. I think our Federal system could work again, as it did for the Indians who first used it, if the State Repulblics actually represtented the real diffrent cultural regions that exist within our nation.

Look up Nine Nations of North America for a general idea.

federal system 27.Dec.2008 17:53

what's the point again

The "federal system" is unnecessary. The word "state" did not originally mean, and in many places and contexts still does not mean, a province of a large imperialistic country with a powerful central government. A "state" is an independent country with its own embassies around the world and its own representatives at the UN. The territory composing Idaho, Oregon, and Washington could form a perfectly good independent country, with 119 counties in it and a state capital around the Tri-Cities area or someplace like that.

In America we have been trained to believe that five layers of public institutions are normal and necessary:


Five? Why FIVE? Four would be plenty.

State 27.Dec.2008 19:16

Lincoln was a Dictator Tylerbristow166@hotmail.com

Originally, before the Civil War, States had much more power. The Federal government is supposed to be secondary to the states. Most of the power given to the Federal Government has been given unconstitutionaly. The founding fathers got the idea of the federal system from the Indians. Its not supposed to be organized the way it is, ideally. The founding fathers would be disguted in all the unjust taxes and laws americans put up with today. My point is that the Constitution, from the start, has been ignored and broken by illegal legislation. Today all that the founding fathers fought for is misunderstood by the public. The ideas of liberty, are used to corrupt politicians advantage. Blinding the public from the truth about why the government doesnt work to their advantage anylonger; however, if we had a federal system basing its electoral votes from actually states based on the ecological area, then divided up into the ACTUAL COMMUNITIES that existed (meaning even smaller than city, to neighborhood) that system could still work.

ACtually 27.Dec.2008 19:59


The initial attempt to organize the government failed--the articles of confederation lacked a central structure. This is probably reflected the desire to maintain state's rights. It did not work and the Constitution created a stronger central government.
And the founders were concerned about the problems of communities that are controlled by a faction to the detriment of others in the community. Madison liked the idea of different levels of government, different sizes so that it made it harder for a permanent faction to maintain power and control.
We have civil rights laws because the issue came to the federal level. If it was a state's rights issue, as the south argued, blacks would still be slaves.
Maybe the challenge is to get beyond the argument about form--as if small communities are necessarily and inherently better than states or national governments.
I am not sure that the form matters. It is the basic values that make all the difference. Either we create governance structures that reflect our most cherished values about the worth of all living things on planet earth and act from that, maybe the form of government is less important.

The issue is what are inherently governmental functions? And once you decide what are inherently governmental functions, then there is the issue of what level of government should perform them. Local, state, federal?
Of course, this was a much different country at the end of the 18th century than what we have now.
The form of government today--I am not sure. The old structures do not work but it is hard to figure out the way forward.
Only focusing on the community level might work but there is ample evidence that it does not inherently work. The south would still have slaves. Communities support racial segregation. Communities sanctioned the killing of Indians. Communities benefited from the use of immigrant labor.
We are also affected by the actions of other communities--so we need a way to deal with that. Just as we are affected by the actions of other countries. We need to deal with that too. China's pollution is not going stay within China's boundaries.
We need a way to stop agression between countries.
So, do we need a planatary government? But the further the government is from citizen oversight, the more likely it is to stop serving the public's interest. So, that is not an easy fix.
I don't know how to deal with the big issues of governance.
But until that becomes clear, it seems that inner work is essential, so we don't recreate the same dysfunctions around ego, greed, and coercive power.
Working at the community level makes sense to create new models of working together. We need a wholistic approach, which means rethinking political and economic systems.
It is hard to think about ignoring the larger political systems-- I am not sure they will collapse before they destroy the earth. Still, the economy is collapsing--just as the Soviet union collapsed. Maybe they only have reality because we give it reality. That makes it easier to ignore them. AFter all, what difference have we made in the last 8 years?

Clarity 28.Dec.2008 00:28


Jack it is well know that Abraham lincoln would have allowed the south to continue owning slaves if he could have perserved the union. The civil war was not fought over slaves. It was over the rights of states. Even after the war, blacks in the south still had no right to vote, were subject to the Jim Crow laws, and argueably subject to economic slavery. Any ground gained to help the Black mans position in this country was done on his own accord. Not that of a man like abe lincoln. Are you saying the Federal Government played no part in the mass killings of the indians?; I would beg to differ. The only way our societys can be sustained ecologically is if we act within the niches in or own ecological biospheres natures gives us. A strong central government only strips these areas and redistobutes them. Therefore the comminity has to be the basis for a sustainable state. Forget China what about the countrys pollution levels you live in today?!! The political systems arent going to go away. Look into the North American Union and youll learn the dollar and the US constitution is about to be a thing of the past. Our Nations Money is printed out of thin air then sold back for intrest to the Government. The economy is controlled by the Federal Reserve which is a private corperation. Its about as federal as federal express. They print all of the money then sell it back to the government for intrest, therefore controlling the economy.



Freedom is the detachment from things. By detaching you realize how much of what you thought you were is just some outline projected on the casket of your skull, and the models leak into each other (this is the "spiritual"). DABROWSKI disintegrates and skyscrapers scrape the molten core of the earth. (What is not a sphere? (Depression is good for you. (Who can afford happiness in the wasteland? (What is love but radiation!)))) Loss O' Loss. Loss is good for you.
You can never know everything until you are EMPTY.
Because until you are empty there's no room for everything.
We for sure have loved one another. We for sure have loved.
When you love there is no you to do the loving. The love is alone,
and you and the whatever are love together. Coalescing 'round one anothers' CURVES
like a cuddling seashells.
So much like seashells,
the truth invades like an army
of ants from your toes up, and they
sting you after a while... yet your eyes
are too busy to see the flickering moths feeding upon
the anthill...
You must know you love the ants,
and remember the OWLS feeding on the moths.

People's Brand 28.Dec.2008 05:59

Diego Jones

My proposal is a people's BRAND. I am tired of buying things "I need" only to make some rich person wealthier. I want a brand I can buy from, in which all profits go to helping people truly in need around the world. I will spend my money; there is no way around that. If people of conscience opened businesses and gave away all excess I would gladly spend my money with them, I am sure others would as well. So now I have to head to the store to buy some toilet tissue, a ten billion dollar industry and send my money up the chain to Wall Street.

"Be the Change"- if you want socialism practice it yourself

bow down before the constitution 28.Dec.2008 07:30

it's what you are supposed to do

You're still just talking about "fixing" the federal system because it's what you're used to.

There's no REASON to HAVE a federal system AT ALL.

The whole POINT of a federal system is to gradually usurp state power and put it somewhere else.

Practical Idea Without Shameless Self-Promotion 28.Dec.2008 11:06


Here Diego, rent a space to provide free indoor shelter for the homeless. Ignore the need to make it function or have an ongoing movement or any of that shit to start. Just provide an autonomous indoor space for the people who need it most during the season they need it most. Worst case scenario, you shelter a bunch of crackheads for a couple months, regardless you prevent drug addicted victims of capitalism from dying of exposure. Hell you can even proselytize whatever ideology you want, and every one will have to admit that despite its flaws Diegoism sheltered some needy people during 2009.

You want a PEOPLE's brand, here it is: do it yourself. Don't consume. The more you consume the less you live. Work with people to minimize what you don't need, and figure out ways you can create the stuff you would otherwise buy. It will make you think about what you buy, plus you probably will have much more fun and be much more active than if you were another zombie consumer who buys happiness.

There you go, two practical ways that seek change through both the means and ends, personally and socially. Ignore movement building and that sort of stuff, thats secondary. If you start with movement building and fail nothing is accomplished. If start with these practical ideas, and then attempt to build a movement from it and fail, at the very least you have changed your life, and a few other people's, for the better. I'm not trying to be negative but lets face it through out history most movements have failed or been co-opted by reactionaries; being practical means recognizing this but seeking to do good regardless.

Clarity on clarity 28.Dec.2008 11:20


I agree that the community is the likely level but my point is that it is not inherently better. Does Oregon's initiative process always result in positive outcomes that serve the community? That is an example of local, direct democracy. It is not a perfect system.
You are looking for a form of government that is a panacea and I am saying that the form is ultimately less important than the substance--the core values that guide how we work together and the agreements we make about governance of our interconnected lives with our social, economic, political and enviornmental systems.
The federal government could work but it does not. Why not? We need to know that so we do not create a new system with the same fatal flaws. The problem is more than it is too big.
And yes, the federal government has stepped in from time to time to stop abuses at the local levels. Not enough but are you telling that you think that it would have been even remotely possible to have an African American president of the US if the federal government did not step in the 1960s to pass civil rights laws and to protect black children on their way to school? Yes, it is true that would not have done that if there was not a strong and long-time actions by people demanding civil rights, demanding change. But note that they turned to federal government when it was clear that they could not get states like Miss, Al, Ga. to change on its own. Those states were forced to change by the federal government. You may not want to admit that the federal government ever does any good but it does have its moments. Of course, there is also no question that things have gotten increasingly worse and increaslingly dysfunctional--which is why alternatives are needed.
Again, my point is that an ideological rigity on form is not useful. No form is completely without some positives and no form is without negatives. And perfection is not possible--it is more a search for what works better for what we want to achieve, for how we want to live together. Substance matters more than form.
Given that it is unlikely that we all agree on every issue, how do we design a system to work through these differences and find agreement without resorting to might is right?

re: People's brand 28.Dec.2008 13:23

Jody Paulson

Wouldn't it be nice if communities spurned corporations altogether, and started their own barter systems? Here's a couple of examples from Britain:

The real Good Life: An entire village turns against supermarkets and grows its own food
 link to www.dailymail.co.uk

Pub beats the credit crunch by allowing punters to barter home-grown food for beer
 link to www.dailymail.co.uk

I know my friend Carol Brouillet talks about communities issuing their own money. I haven't had time to read much about it, but after hearing her speak, I know she's got some really good ideas:

National Green Arts Corps 28.Dec.2008 14:05


Go to:  http://nationalgreenartscorps.blogspot.com/

Read the proposal, join the fun!

wow...the possibilities! 28.Dec.2008 16:15


The federal reserve scandal has been in the for front of my mind recently as I have been reading and researching more (completely dumbfounded at the level of control and how soooooo many people have NO idea!), so this idea of creating a system to null it has enchanted me since I first visited the west coast from upstate NY when I was 18. I stayed with a friend in Arcata, CA and they created a barter system for the community, a newspaper where people placed ads listing their skills and possible things they were interested in exchanging for. I'm sure someone on this sight knows about it better...

I think these are all steps in the right direction - barter system, gifting system

understanding that nothing that we have is really ours anyway...

***there's also freeskool! muy importante!

F$$K $$$

broad strokes 28.Dec.2008 18:56

jody morgan

ok, for the newbie activist-come-lately...

keep in mind that the process is the purpose. beware of attachment to specific expectations and outcomes from actions and events. wildly enthusiastic organizing often fizzles out. people flake out or lose interest. forces beyond your control halt a plan of action. stay engaged, stay hungry, stay the course ... even in the case of successful outcomes, don't be deluded by the appearance of having arrived. keep going. the process is the purpose.

and yes, feel the loss, feel the pain, read the descriptions here on imc and elsewhere, listen to those who've been to gaza, iraq, niger and your own backyard. let your heart break, don't fight it. it doesn't have to end there, you won't drown in it, its temporary but necessary. joy is always still there waiting for you, and joy is devastatingly powerful resistance, but don't numb the pain - it has a function. let your despair and the passion for justice that springs from it be something personal.

please respect a diversity of tactics. the challenges we face are many and vastly complex. so too are the solutions. all-purpose, one-size-fits-all, homogenous, ideological absolutism looks just like the approach that's gotten us into this complex of crises in the first place. there's no shortage of good solutions - do yours and offer encouragement and support to the others. trust that the others aren't going to fuck up any worse than you are.

remember art, song, poetry, dance, music etc. you can't be fully informed if all you're taking in is facts and non-fiction.

peeing outside on the ground is a good place to start.

pisstivism 29.Dec.2008 01:46

stinky block

> peeing outside on the ground is a good place to start.

i don't think the neighbors like it when we do this

Consume less? 29.Dec.2008 07:47

Diego Jones

Consume less?

Aside from the obvious reason that we are pretending I am overweight, I'm not seeing how consuming less would have any impact on the environment, me or the world we live in. I've travelled in developing and poverty stricken countries everyone I've met has been watching American media and wants to live like us.

The push for globalization is fairly obvious to me, more consumers to buy the owning class's products and more slaves to produce them cheaply. Americans will not consume as much as in the past, that much is sure. The owning class has decided to abandon America for lower hanging fruit with no unions, environmental protection, or labor rights. Americans will have to get used to consuming less because others around the world have decided they want to be consumers a well. They will let their populations slave away for the multi nationals as long as some of them get to live like us. According to Norman Myers, a professor of environmental science at Oxford University, more than a billion people in 20 developing and transitional nations have recently become wealthy enough to begin consuming like Americans.

I don't know how many of you have lived in abject poverty without choosing it for yourself, but it creates panic. You see your neighbors with new cars, going to good schools and eating chicken. While you and your children are left with stale bread or some awful tasting grain you've been eating all your life. People will do whatever it takes to escape from these circumstances.

Of course in Portland Oregon we can turn away from consumerism, we know what it is and we know it doesn't bring happiness. Try to convince someone who has been eating plain rice all their lives that beef and chicken, and a new IPod or a car is something that won't make them happy. So sure I can consume less but does anyone really think that will make a difference. It's like when I was young my mother would say "eat everything on your plate there are children starving in Europe." I guess she thought if I didn't eat it, it would have been shipped to those less fortunate. The consumer market is growing; there is no way of stopping it. I think it responsible to offer people an alternative. Either through trade, barter, or products which are sold to make sure people are not so desperate.

My friends, if you don't offer people alternative, sustainable economics and eco friendly products the system that is already available will continue to grow until it collapses on top of all of our lives.

if you are ideologically committed to capitalism 29.Dec.2008 18:32

all you can think of is selling "revolutionary products"

The system is already collapsing, it does not have the resources to continue growing.

The collapse will be messy and take decades if not centuries.

Buckle your seat belts.

revolutionary products? 30.Dec.2008 07:55

Diego Jones

Whats a revolutionary product? food for the hungry? shoes? malaria medication? decent housing? Sanitation? or the seat belt you want everyone to buckle up? why don't you head to your bunker and wait out the collapse, hurry!

biggest impact on the world 30.Dec.2008 09:05

Jewel Moonlight

Listening to the Dalai Lama in a public talk about a year ago I had a special impression that the biggest impact I could have on the world would be to work for eduction in compassion and dialog skills for youth.

The Dalai Lama gave two examples.

When problems arise (as they always will - he said) a generation that has familiarity with compassion and dialog skills, will choose dialog rather than violence as the first recourse.

Also in the home, with parents fighting, a child familiar with compassion and dialog might say, this is wrong to fight, we need dialog.

alternative economy? 30.Dec.2008 11:05

Diego Jones seriousblack55@yahoo.com

For those of you who have expressed interest in an alternative economy here are some links which may be of help in planning.