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Record gasoline prices amidst hyperconsumption and slaughter
by Jan Lundberg   
28 May 2007

Culture Change Letter #160, May 28, 2007

For someone who professionally analyzed gasoline prices and the petroleum industry from 1972-1987, maybe it's a bit surprising I’ve not had much to say about May's record gasoline prices. For many years I've not been one to often make a prediction on the price of gasoline or oil. This is because I’m much more interested in bigger issues that cover more than prices and particular fuels.

With that sense of priorities, I'm much less desirable as a most-quoted U.S. energy analyst, as I once was. Up until two decades ago I spouted many a market pronouncement taken seriously by those interested in short-term economics, whether for a household or to serve corporate power. When I gave it all up to fight pollution and perhaps help improve the way people live in this country, I was freed from the data-gathering and analysis of price changes that increasingly struck me as trivial. This was partly because I became a non-driver.

Mainstream news media are nowadays a little more prepared to hear oil analysis that's more ecological, and price changes can occasionally be discussed in dollars-per-gallon changes than cents-per-gallon. So it's time for a look at gasoline prices with a whole-system approach.

 
"What a Way to Go - Life at the end of empire" Documentary
by Jan Lundberg   
18 May 2007

Review of documentary film written and directed by TSBennett, produced by Sally Erickson, 2007

Culture Change Letter #159 - May 20, 2007

"What a Way to Go" is a total rejection of the self-destruction paradigm that hard-wires our culture. Brutal honesty is applied to issues of our day.

But these aren't just issues of our day; they are issues of the universe because the planet itself is becoming altered before our eyes toward unending extinction. The film makes clear that we are caught in a broken myth of progress and technology, expecting those cultural bulwarks to save us even though they caused the crisis: climate chaos, petrocollapse and individual isolation and despair.

I get excited about very few movies, but this is one of them and is perhaps the most important media message of our time.

The movie centers around the awakening of the narrator, "a middle-class white guy" coming to grips with global issues right in his face that threaten his children's and everyone's survival. He tells the story in such a way that almost every modern human being can identify with. His expectations and world-view had been normal. He was a hard-working consumer who believed in the scientific, forward-thinking society that bestowed on him the historically unprecedented material advantages common in the First World.

 
Relocalizing Eugene
by Jan Spencer   
05 May 2007

Editor's note: In Eugene, Oregon, Jan Spencer is a well known advocate for culture change. He has transformed his quarter-acre suburban property into a permaculture Shangri-la, attracting many visitors. He collaborates with others on projects for culture change.

He's a fellow depaver and culture change advocate also named Jan -- who also knows some Italian, as I do. But enough of cosmic coincidences.

Jan leads bike tours of permaculture sites in Eugene, speaks at public events and writes articles for publication.  His realistic murals have enhanced the urban landscape at many locations around town. Jan is active with his neighborhood association and devotes a good deal of time to his garden and property.

The following is Jan's keynote speech at the Lane County Reolocalization Conference that took place April 27-28 at two churches:

Thank you all for being here. The case for relocalization is historically compelling. This talk will weave a number of strands together that will show how relocalizing the way we live offers profound benefits.

 
Until avoidance fails: system collapse brings culture change
by Jan Lundberg   
08 March 2007

Culture Change Letter #154

As conditions worsen, eventually the rich too will be brought down by ecological collapse and social upheaval. Meanwhile, we all seem to be sleepwalking in a regimented line toward the cliff, despite various wake-up calls and reasonable suggestions for changing our ways as a culture.

When the system refuses to reform itself and is bent on crashing, there is justification for taking action to dismantle and replace the system. However, inaction is the rule of the day, just as the system's destructiveness against life is the rule of the day. So, the system awaits its certain self-destruction. This is all the more reason, if possible, to hasten its end in favor of a compassionate alternative based on our long, historic success: tribal organization, local economics, smaller population, and conscious, nature-based living.

But because hastening collapse of today's system is probably impossible (and counterproductive if somehow forced), the alternative is perhaps best approached through individual spiritual practice and joining with like-minded visionaries. Part of the strategy must include anticipating collapse of Western Civilization (whether we love it or not) and its true alternative as noted above. The culture change we refer to is not the distinction between mainstream consumers who use as much petroleum as convenient compared to more conscious consumers who use significantly less, but rather: consuming versus living very lightly. This means using entirely renewable, local (or scrap/reclaimed) materials that do not require today's immense transport, packaging, power-consumption, and disposal.

 
Was Pancho Villa Framed? - The legacy of the Mexican Revolution
by Mark Walter Evans   
06 March 2007

[Editor's note: You have probably wondered why Mexico is the way it is, and you may have a fair idea. But hidden historical truth can help explain a lot more than endless news coverage and dozens of movies. Evans delivers.]

Villa

"There is nothing new in the world except the history you do not know…" - Harry S. Truman

Early in the Spring of 1983, riding an old Pinto that had carried me from the other side of the Sierra Madre Occidentale, I surfaced on the Border at the town of Palomas, Chihuahua just south of Columbus, New Mexico. I'd gone South in late January, on account of my father dying, just to get away, and find time to think in the solitudes of the mountains of Sonora.

I bought my horse in the town of Bacerac, which lies between the sixth and seventh ranges, in the high country of Sonora. Along the way, I'd met old timers who had seen Pancho Villa when they were eight or nine years old...

 
The compatibility of collapse and resistance
by Jan Lundberg   
02 February 2007

Culture Change Letter #152 - Feb. 1, 2007

In this time of more discussion about climate, war, peak oil and other major issues, debate almost rages about the relevance of resistance and activism versus accepting or encouraging total collapse. This debate is not allowed to be very public, thanks to control of the media by the corporate state, but people do discuss it if they prefer such topics to the Superbowl, for example.

Some disputants in the debate are rather compassionate and energetically optimistic, and as a result they may be more popular as dinner guests than, say, some morose, self-centered analyst of our world's dilemmas. However, who is right, and who will be left? Both, perhaps.

Culture Change has combined a dire outlook for the short term with the need for action to uphold positive models for sustainability. In this report we contrast two well-known writers' views of collapse and resistance. To bring out the best in this debate and see the commonality, let us consider the psychological factors involved in (1) surviving in large cities, and (2) why we behave as we do.

 
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