Blogging Cascadia – our new news site

I have been working on a new news feed for literature, arts, environment, and progressive politics in the Pacific Northwest. I’ve been frustrated with the difficulty of finding good blog and news sources by northwest bloggers. Cascadia, for those who don’t know, refers to the Cascadia bio-region, which includes everything from the Siskiyous to southern British Columbia. There is a lot of good stuff coming from here, and my goal is to produce some consolidated feeds.

We’ve also included some feeds from Indian Country that aren’t necessarily tied to the northwest. You can subscribe to feeds by category, so if you’re only interested in arts and literature, you can limit your feed to bloggers who write about these subjects.

We haven’t gone public yet, but you can check us out at Blogging Cascadia.

EnLITEnment

and in those days
we sought enlitenment
that low calorie cool
whip of knowledge,
flagellating one another’s
bourgeois backsides
before the cameras
of the six oclock news
until the pain became
too much to bear

now we spend our days
baring our pain on the internet
watching Fox News
gotcha choppers
sky cams hovering
over half naked starlets
thinking about when
we were the actors
       thinking
if we’d only been smarter then

and in those days
we sought enlitenment
that low calorie cool
whip of knowledge,
flagellating one another’s
bourgeois backsides
before the cameras
of the six oclock news
until the pain became
too much to bear

now we spend our days
baring our pain on the internet
watching Fox News
gotcha choppers
sky cams hovering
over half naked starlets
thinking about when
we were the actors
       thinking
if we’d only been smarter then
     
     
     

The Corn Mother

Tsalagi Red in the Corn FieldSelu, The Corn Mother shed seven drops of her blood and from the spots where the blood fell grew seven stalks of corn to feed the people.

Then came the white Europeans, who took Selu’s corn and used it to feed their cattle and make plastic and sweeteners, while the people went hungry. Now they have decided to use it to feed their SUVs.

Selu, The Corn Mother shed seven drops of her blood and from the spots where the blood fell grew seven stalks of corn to feed the people.

Tsalagi Red in the Corn FieldThen came the white Europeans, who took Selu’s corn and used it to feed their cattle and make plastic and sweeteners, while the people went hungry. Now they have decided to use it to feed their SUVs.

The starving people of the world? Let them eat dirt.

America’s gas-guzzling greed will drive up the price of corn and all foods for the people of the world. Grain prices in the past year have doubled as drought has increased from global warming, and as more and more land is taken out of food production for “alternative” uses.

This is capitalism, where money determines the outcome, not the needs of people. This is insanity.

Is your Jeep Cherokee more important than your Cherokee grandmother? The fools who run the world think so.

Support the Local Community Radio Act

support local mediaOn Thursday, June 21, Reps. Mike Doyle (D-Penn.) and Lee Terry (R-Neb.) and Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) introduced the Local Community Radio Act (H.R. 2808 and S. 1675). Increased diversity of the airwaves may be just around the corner if the Local Community Radio Act passes congress.

Recent studies have shown that thousands of low power frequencies could be opened up, even in cities with dozens of radio stations, without interfering with existing signals. This bill will open up those frequencies to not-for-profit organizations in both urban and rural communities.

support local mediaOn Thursday, June 21, Reps. Mike Doyle (D-Penn.) and Lee Terry (R-Neb.) and Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) introduced the Local Community Radio Act (H.R. 2808 and S. 1675). Increased diversity of the airwaves may be just around the corner if the Local Community Radio Act passes congress.

Recent studies have shown that thousands of low power frequencies could be opened up, even in cities with dozens of radio stations, without interfering with existing signals. This bill will open up those frequencies to not-for-profit organizations in both urban and rural communities.

Organizations like ours (Elohi Gadugi) could apply for a license and offer programming on indigenous rights, environmental responsibility, local indie music and literary arts, for example. Other organizations might offer programming in immigrant languages, or local talk radio.

Even with a great progressive station like KBOO, Portland could use more voices and more outlets for diverse opinion. And many cities have nothing like KBOO at all.

You can go to Expand LPFM to sign a petition and learn more about how to become active.

You can also send a message to your congressional representative, asking them to get onboard for this bill. Portland’s Rep. Earl Blumenauer could especially be a good ally in this effort.

Also see Free Press : Local Radio Now and Prometheus Radio Project to learn more about Low Power FM.

Free wi-fi & paying the rent

One busy weekday I sat at Costello’s sipping an Americano, when a thirty-something woman at the next table engaged me in conversation. She said she was on vacation, and couldn’t figure out “what all these people do for work,” that they could just sit around at a cafe “playing with their computers.” I pointed out that some of them were on vacation, like her, some were students, others were unemployed or worked night shift or weekends. Then I explained that some of us were actually here working. In fact, all of these categories together probably make up over 50% of the city’s population.

At this point, the cafe was getting pretty busy, and an employee approached the woman and politely asked her to leave, saying that they needed to seat lunch customers. Now, let me point out that the woman, like me, had been there most of the morning, surfing the internet, drinking the same cup of cold coffee she had purchased two hours earlier.

The woman was obviously indignant, and when the employee left, she huffed, “why didn’t they ask you to leave?”

“Because, I pay the rent,” I said.

I work full-time as a writer, publisher and I.T. guy. I work out of my home, except when I am on assignment – usually I’m doing I.T. work, which I admit is my least proficient skill. Spending all day alone in a home office, for me, is an onerous task. So, I have a second office. Several second offices, in fact. This, despite the fact that I have very little disposable income (I am a writer, for christsake).

When things start to get lonely, I go to a local coffeehouse offering free wireless internet connections (wi-fi). In fact, I am writing this essay at Costello’s Travel Cafe in Portland, Oregon, my home town. Costello’s and The Gold Rush, another nearby wi-fi establishment, have provided me with my lifeline to sanity for a reasonably small cost.

We are very fortunate, here in Portland to have an abundance of free wi-fi locations, thanks to a non-profit organization called PersonalTelco, and the general D.I.Y./open source/do-it-for-love culture that pervades this city. This approach has fierce critics in our capitalist, bottom-line society. And, they make a good point we would be well to heed: free wi-fi isn’t free.

Many of the businesses which provide free services, including local collectives and cooperatives, operate on very marginal returns. When we buy a cup of coffee and take up a table during their busiest hours, we are making it difficult for them to thrive. The owners of many businesses give us these services for a variety of ideological and non-ideological reasons, including free publicity for their company to attract new customers.

Because of customers like the woman previously described, who take advantage without giving in turn, some of these businesses are cutting back on wi-fi services, making it unavailable on weekends, or eliminating it entirely. Who can blame them? They have to pay their rent.

When you take advantage of a free service, remember that it really isn’t free. Ever. Really. It doesn’t matter if it’s free wi-fi, or a free tool exchange, or free poetry reading, or a free website, like this one. Someone is busting their ass to make it happen.

Here are some tips. If you need to be there during a busy lunch hour, buy lunch. If not, go do your web-surfing during off hours. Buy coffee, and give a little something to the barista. If you go over an hour, buy a refill, if you can.

We all have to do our part or lose it! And risk losing the “free” culture, as well, that makes places like Portland so great.