WTO Meets Occupy Wall Street

The Battle in Seattle

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Today’s blog is by Janet Thomas, author of The Battle in Seattle: The Story Behind and Beyond the WTO Demonstrations and Day Breaks over Dharamsala: A Memoir of Life Lost and Found. Thomas has written plays about abortion, sexual abuse, nuclear war, the Vietnam War, and the war against the environment, books about hostel travel in the West, and she’s been editor of a magazine about spas around the world. She lives and teaches on San Juan Island in Washington State.

In November 1999, 60,000 people poured out of nowhere to occupy the streets of WTO Seattle on behalf of global social, environmental, and economic justice. It was a week of shock and awe when farmers, union workers, students, teachers, pilots, economists, environmentalists, faith leaders, indigenous people, office workers, human rights activists, writers, musicians, artists, turtles and the rest of us showed up from the far reaches of the planet. We stunned the world and one another. Nobody saw it coming. There was no social media; there were no smart phones; cell phones were few and expensive; and the Web was not yet research-reliable.

The organization of WTO week was pocketed away in various corners of concern—all centered around the impact of the growing corporate monopoly over the resources of our planet and the lives of its people. There was a two-day teach-in about the impacts of corporate domination with scholars and policy makers from all over the world. There was a forum on the global corporate war system and another forum on the corporate impact on global health and the environment. The expanding use of genetically modified foods and the invasive nature of genetic research was a major concern. So was the corporate takeover of food production and farming. Back then, Starbucks was part of the problem. Their bottom line came at the expense of farmers in South America, held hostage by the corporate coffee bean, who could no longer grow food for their families. Organic, shade-grown, and farmer co-op coffee was not yet in the cup. In India, farmers were forced to grow cotton on their land while their families went hungry. They still are, and the suicide rate of Indian farmers, through the ingestion of the agricultural chemicals that were supposed to make their lives better, is an ongoing tragedy. Follow the food and you eat your way right into the greedy reaches of agribusiness, where a dollar reigns and a human life is disposable.

On N30, that iconic day in November, I found myself walking on the streets of WTO Seattle behind a small group of peasant rice workers from Japan. They were wearing their white peasant garb and couldn’t speak much English, but they sang their rice-worker songs and were euphoric in their gestures of delight at the communal affection and appreciation on the streets. They were being seen and their song was being heard. They were recognized, acknowledged, and respected for the integrity of their lives and their struggle.

I was walking by myself in the midst of the crowd on the streets of Seattle that day and those Japanese peasant rice workers embraced me with their joy and jubilation. But why were they there? Answering that question became the seed, metaphorically and otherwise for my book The Battle in Seattle: The Story Behind and Beyond the WTO Demonstrations.

Growing rice in Japan, as with grapes in France, is rooted in generational farming. Many families participate, each taking care of their own rows, each preserving their own seeds from year to year—seeds that adapted over hundreds of years to small bits of land and to the hands that carefully farmed. But because Montsanto identified the genetics of their seeds, the farmers were no longer entitled to own and cultivate them. And the seeds they were forced to purchase came complete with terminator genes so they couldn’t be saved from year to year. And so began the end of economic justice, the end of generations of culture, the end of safe rice, and the end of a vibrant and viable future. Theirs was a unique story on the streets of WTO Seattle—as was every story on those streets that week. What wasn’t unique was the human spirit rising in embrace of what was just and fair for humankind, and for all sentient beings, including this living, breathing planet.

Author Janet Thomas

The phrase of the week was civil society. To be civil is to be most of all respectful. A civil society is a respectful society. It honors deep democracy, where the integrity of an individual life is honored. It is fair. It recognizes and celebrates differences and unique ways of being in the world. It doesn’t quantify everything, bottom-line everything, weigh and measure the worth of a human being by a stock portfolio or bank account. Civil society is the bedrock of the future. Corporate society is anathema to civil society; its global domination means the end of our unique and individual stories—whether we are peasant rice farmers in Japan, teachers in Manhattan, or longshore workers in Long Beach.

The Occupy Wall Street movement is an outpouring of civil society. The media might wring its corporate hands over the lack of specifics and solutions, but civil society knows what’s right and what’s missing: the fundamental human right to a meaningful life for everyone on this planet. Everyone has a story and their story matters. Follow our individual, family, cultural stories and they lead to everything that’s right and everything that’s wrong with our world. Civil society knows the difference; corporate society doesn’t have to. This is where the line is drawn in the sands of global society. When 99 percent of us occupy the Wall Streets of the world, those simple words, right and wrong, come to life like those peasant rice workers on the streets of WTO Seattle. They mean something. So do we all.

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We’ll Miss You, Brynn

It was a sad day at Fulcrum, as we said goodbye to our sales assistant, Brynn.

She is one of the best.

Brynn’s dedication, kindness, and top-secret superpowers made her an essential part of the Fulcrum team. She will be missed by all, and we wish her the very best in her future endeavors.

Cheers to Brynn!

For our readers, a selection of Brynn’s greatest hits (blogwise):

Cooking at Home with the Mitsitam Cafe Cookbook

Uncompahgre Peak—A Journey in Photos

Wednesday Hiking Inspiration

Wednesday Outdoor Inspiration

Colorado Fourteeners Giveaway Contest

Homesteading Summer

Modern Homestead

This blogger’s adventures in modern homesteading took a turn for the surreal last night when a hailstorm struck. Worried about our egg-layers, we gathered up Mr. Darcy Chickenator and her sister-hen, Megan Fox, and brought the biddies safely inside to sit on a towel and watch The X-Files with us while the storm raged outside.

Though my seasoned farmer family members might scoff and say that chickens are hardy enough to weather a summer storm, I say that chickens who watch David Duchovny lay finer eggs. And, dare I say, that bloggers who watch David Duchovny write better posts?

I also have some news to share on the Modern Homestead book front:

For fans on Goodreads, I was tickled to see that the Modern Homestead cover had earned a place in the prestigious “In the Palms of Hands” group, alongside Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight and Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life. It’s nice to be trendy.

On July 30, Renee Wilkinson will be speaking on her book Modern Homestead: Grow, Raise, Create at In Other Words Feminist Community Center in Portland, OR. The event starts at 4 p.m. Perhaps some of our readers recognize In Other Words as the location of Portlandia’s “feminist book store” sketch:

Also, if you haven’t been reading Renee’s blog, Hip Chick Digs, she’s been posting some great recipes recently, and her posts on her duck Milt’s…erm…insatiable appetite have been hilarious.

Fulcrum’s News Round-up

TGIF. The view outside my window is filled with blue sky, bright white fluffy clouds, and miles of green. Perfect weather to… well, do nothing. Before I get busy doing that, let’s review another wonderful week of great Fulcrum books, events, and authors.

‘Twas a short week at the office, although a busy one after getting back from a week in NYC for BEA. See video and audio highlights from the 2011 show here, although, none of these include Dani’s and my highlights: Tyra Banks??!! Benjamin Batt??!! Ok, Benjamin wasn’t at the show, but we saw him walking down the street near Times Square, all cool and nonchalant and sending Dani’s heart racing. Tyra was at the show to publicize her new fantasy novel, Modelland. Here’s a picture of Dani admiring the book back at our booth:

Our own celebrities Richard Hetzler and Renee Wilkinson, authors of the books The Mitsitam Cafe Cookbook and Modern Homestead respectively, were also at BEA this year. They both brought in great crowds for their signings. Richard’s fans raved about the menu at The Mitsitam Cafe at the NMAI in Washington, DC (which is, by the way, amazing):

While Renee’s fans solicited her advice on planting, growing, and chicken-raising conundrums (I believe the fan pictured below is reenacting one of her chicken conundrums) and her years of experience on her Portland plot in HipChickDigs.com:

In addition to our exciting BEA news, Dani also wrote a great blog post yesterday about our memorial edition of Every Day is a Good Day: Reflections by Contemporary Indigenous Women by Wilma Mankiller. If you have not read it yet, please do. The book is not only a favorite of ours, but of many Native women, activists, libraries, and schools. And it’s a great, inspiring read for this weekend. Happy June and Happy Friday!

Fulcrum’s Friday Roundup

Happy Friday! Here’s to a warm, sunny weekend after days of cold and rain!  (Fingers crossed.) And, cheers to another great week of Fulcrum publicity!

First up: Our latest book to hit bookshelves is garnering some great publicity… Modern Homestead: Grow, Raise, Create (ISBN: 978-1-55591-748-7, $26.95) by Renee Wilkinson. Wilkinson was interviewed last weekend on the Joy Cardin Show on Wisconsin Public Radio about her blog, HipChickDigs.com, her homesteading philosophy, and her first book.

Wilkinson (above, with a bantam chicken), will be joining us at BEA next week to sign and give away free copies of her book on Thursday, May 23, and we’re sure she is going to be a huge hit! Look for Modern Homestead in bookstores and gardening centers near you to learn some great tips on raising ducks and chickens, to gardening on a small scale and with a small budget!

And… some more great publicity to end the week… Last Chance: Preserving Life on Earth (ISBN: 978-1-55591-717-3, $22.95) by Larry Schweiger was named the First Place Grand Prize Winner for Non-Fiction books of the 2011 Next Generation Indie Book Awards. What an honor!

Schweiger, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation (above, in Alaska), speaks about the causes and effects of global warming on our wildlife, ecosystems, and human life, not just as a conservation leader, but also as a parent and outdoor lover. Last Chance is witty and engaging (e.g., “What Happens in Greenland Will Not Stay in Greenland”), while still being inspiring in the face of some daunting environmental science.

If you’re not familiar with the work the National Wildlife Federation, check them out here: http://www.nwf.org/. You can learn how to help wildlife in your own backyard and around the world by donating your time, money, or by becoming a member.

Congratulations to our inspiring authors and happy weekend!

Fulcrum’s Friday Roundup

Happy Friday, and happy Friday the 13th at that! We are rounding out the week with a re-cap of the recent happenings worth mentioning in the Fulcrum world.

Awards season is upon us, and several of Fulcrum’s titles and authors were honored with awards this week. It’s always a nice feeling when hard work pays off, so congratulations to everyone that was involved in the creation of these books!

Buffalo Bill: Scout, Showman, Visionary (ISBN: 978-1-55591-719-7, $22.95) by Steve Friesen, was selected as a finalist for the 2011 Colorado Book Awards, in the Biography/History category. The winners will be announced on Friday, June 24th, during the 20th Annual Colorado Book Awards ceremony during the Aspen Summer Words Literary Festival in Aspen, Colorado. Tickets can be purchased for $10 online at the Colorado Humanities website.

Endangered: Biodiversity on the Brink (ISBN: 978-1-55591-721-0, $27.95) by Mitch Tobin tied for Gold in the Environment/Ecology/Nature category of the Independent Publisher Book Awards.

Last Chance: Preserving Life on Earth (ISBN: 978-1-55591-717-3, $22.95) by Larry Schweiger was named the Winner in the Science/Nature/Environment category of the 2011 Next Generation Indie Book Awards.

Tattooed Lady: A History (ISBN: 978-1-93310-226-1, $27.00) by Amelia Klem Osterud also received recognition from the 2011 Next Generation Indie Book Awards, as it was named a Finalist in the Historical Non-Fiction category.

Our newly released Modern Homestead: Grow, Raise, Create (ISBN: 978-1-55591-748-7, $26.95) by Renee Wilkinson has already won an award! Modern Homestead took First Place in the Gardening category of the San Francisco Green Book Festival.

And last but not least…

Buffalo Unbound: A Celebration (ISBN: 978-1-55591-735-7, $16.00) by Laura Pedersen received two awards this week. Buffalo Unbound was selected as a Finalist for the International Book Awards in the Humor category and was also a Winner in the Humor/Comedy category of the 2011 Next Generation Indie Book Awards.

Cheers to everyone on this great week of awards! Head over to the Fulcrum website or your favorite bookstore to pick up any of these award-winning books.

In the Bluff-A Blog from Wisconsin’s West Coast

(the opinions expressed in this blog are the opinions of the author only, and do not represent the opinions of the company or its employees)

“…and to the Republic for which it stands…”

I just read the newest post by former senator Gary Hart on his “Matters of Principle” blog. In it, he reminds us that our Founders (whose words and works are so often misinterpreted and misused these days, especially by those who seek to divide rather than unite us) created our United States as a republic and not a democracy, enumerating not only rights but also entailing responsibilities of its citizens. It is a must-read.

Senator Hart was very much on my mind this weekend, as a new report issued by the American Security Project, of which he is the chair, hit the news recently. Its report “Pay Now, Pay Later” (available at www.secureamericanfuture.org/pay-now-pay-later) explores the impact of climate change on the economies of each of the fifty states, and is essential reading for all citizens. It brings the issue of climate change to a local level and underscores the importance of facing this issue in the twenty-first century. I for one was very surprised by what is projected for Wisconsin, and how our economic foundation of agriculture and tourism may be altered.

I have worked with Senator Hart on three books, the latest his political memoir The Thunder and the Sunshine: Four Seasons in a Burnished Life. He is one of the most thoughtful and intelligent people I have had the pleasure of knowing, and a great contributor to the national dialogue. Reading the senator is like taking an upper level class in civics and history from your favorite professor. While I would encourage you to read all three of his Fulcrum books (God and Caesar in America; Under the Eagle’s Wing; and The Thunder and the Sunshine), I would recommend Thunder for the first-time reader. In it, the senator takes the reader through a four-decade review of his public career, in the process telling the greater story of America during this critical period. He also touches on the principles of the Founders and how they continue to shape our nation.

Is Green Printing Possible?

A few years ago, green printing was the hot topic and pet project for production managers and print buyers throughout the publishing industry. This was fueled in large part by an announcement by Random House in May 2006 that they would go from 3 percent recycled content to 30 percent by 2010. Many publishers scoffed at this, because a lot of us had been printing with 30 percent recycled content or more for a few years, but we hadn’t been bragging about it. Now it appeared that we were going to have to start bragging or be left behind.

In 2006, I could bid almost every book with 30 percent recycled content (the minimum content required to use the sacred arrow triangle logo), and other printers even had sheets available with 50 or 100 percent PCW (post-consumer waste) content that were only a little bit more expensive than nonrecycled sheets. It was beautiful. And not only did many printers do right by us with the paper, they also worked with organizations like the Green Press Initiative, the Forest Stewardship Council, and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative.

These days, sustainability concerns have been pushed into the background by an economic downturn and the rise of digital content and e-books. But on Earth Day 2011, I would like to think that sustainable practices and green concerns haven’t been sent to the landfill or shelved in the archives. The publishing industry remains a greener place than it was less than 10 years ago. Green is still here; it’s just like the firstborn child who’s feeling left out after the new baby comes along. I still think green when I bid a book with a printer. If I can make the numbers work, or even get them close, the book is going to have recycled content. And if we can’t make a book with an environmental message work on a paper with recycled content, it doesn’t get printed.

There are those who say that the printed book should go by the wayside in the name of the environment, that the e-book eliminates the need for a physical product. More e-books means fewer printed books, to a certain extent, yes. But fewer printed books means less business for printers, which means they have to cut jobs and raise prices. I’d like instead to take the middle road. I believe print and digital should exist side-by-side, that certain content lends itself better to one format or the other, and that there will always be readers who prefer one over the other. From where I stand, the mills and printers who have done the work and raised the bar on environmental standards are the ones with the best business practices, the best quality, and the best service. So in this fantasy of mine, only the green will survive, and we’ll all get to keep making, buying, and reading books in whatever format we like.

To see proof that the sustainable publishing movement is still alive and kicking, visit the website of the Green Press Initiative. These guys know their stuff, and they come at every issue from every angle. I bet they’ve tracked the carbon footprint of several e-readers in comparison with the average hardcover or paperback (if they haven’t, they should). It’s also worth looking up Eco-Libris, a really cool green publishing incentive program that does more than sell a product.

Haley Berry is the editorial and production manager at Fulcrum Publishing.

In the Bluff

a blog from Wisconsin’s west coast

(the opinions expressed in this blog are the opinions of the author only, and do not represent the opinions of the company or its employees)
April 11, 2011

Then join hand in hand, brave Americans all!
By uniting we stand, by dividing we fall.

John Dickinson, “The Liberty Song” (1768)

Well, we managed to pull back from the brink of our national budget crisis the other day. I’m guessing I’m not the only one who feels we have once more simply delayed the inevitable, and that the reckoning will come soon enough, likely with the battle over the debt ceiling. The notion that we cannot find compromise in a budget as large as ours and that neither side is willing to give something for the greater good is disappointing.

Meanwhile, here in Wisconsin, the politics have gone from the ridiculous to the sublime, with upcoming recall elections and an overly politicized judicial election marked notably by the 13th hour discovery by a local official of missing votes. The Walker administration continues to forge ahead with its agenda to end collective bargaining and make severe budget cuts (but not seek to increase revenues) at a time when we should be investing in our schools and municipal infrastructure and addressing the dire situation faced by many of the have-nots in our society (for example, cuts in Badger Care, the state-run health program, will negatively impact many farmers in the state, who are already living hand-to-mouth).

I respect Governor Walker’s desire to face into our budget issue in the state; what I have a hard time swallowing is that this is being done in an uneven manner (why no taxes?), without inviting any collaboration with those who may not agree with his proposals. Not only are the state Democrats being shut out of the process, but those of us in western Wisconsin don’t even get the benefit of a public hearing on the budget in our region (there was one planned, but it was moved to another part of the state). Moreover, while municipalities across the state are facing reduced state contributions for their budgets, these cuts are very uneven. My community, for example, is facing close to a 50 percent cut, while other communities of similar demographics are seeing aid cut by 5–15 percent, without any justification for the difference. Given the state of dialogue on the budget, it appears that calls for clarification or collaborative efforts to work toward common goals will not be heard.

So what is a good old idealist like me to do? Well, for one, continue to read my history. Our nation has faced much bigger problems than those we face today, though you might not believe it if you tune in solely to the 24-hour news channels. During the forging of our great nation, differences of opinion as to the very nature of our government consumed our “best and brightest,” and yet compromise was struck. And 150 years ago this week, the first shots in the Civil War were fired and the very future of our country was at stake (reading hat-tip of the week—1861: The Civil War Awakening by Adam Goodheart is an excellent overview of the first year of the war). Though it took a bloody war, we as a nation persevered.

We have suffered through world wars and the Great Depression, through a cold war and battles over civil rights, and yet survived, all along continuing “to forge a more perfect union” (every time I reread the Constitution, I am struck not only by the genius of the Founders, but the literary merit of their work). We have done so because citizens of this country have ultimately put aside their individual differences to work toward our shared goals, that we have listened to others as much as spoken our opinions. It hasn’t been easy, and will not be in the future. But unless we are willing to try and find civil solutions to our problems, unless we stop the name-calling and try to truly engage the other side, and unless we recognize that, in a country that is pretty much divided evenly between Democrats and Republicans, neither side has a mandate and thus the solutions must be forged together, progress will be even harder to come by.

Upcoming Fulcrum Titles!

We’re announcing a great line-up of new titles today, coming soon to a bookstore near you:

The West Wing

A literary tale of westward expansion told through the eyes of prairie chickens, and of the human who becomes one of their own. Prairie Hen Companion host Mr. Darcy Chickenator, calls it “Dances with Wolves for chickens, sort of.”

Colorado Wilderness Survival Guide: the Unexpected Edition

This wilderness survival guide doesn’t waste your time with the typical so-called survival “know-how” on edible plants, fire-making, and first aid. This fully illustrated handbook covers alien abductions, zombie attacks, werewolf bites (how to tell if your companion was bitten by a wolf or a werewolf, and why it’s important to make this distinction before administering first aid), and how to protect your camp from a Wendigo. Although many state forest services have advocated against all of the survival advice in this book, we think they’ll warm up to it, eventually.

Dusk (Book 1)

An exquisite paranormal romance for young adults. When 17-year old human/goat hybrid Luella moves to her dad’s goat farm in a small southwestern town, she is instantly attracted to Millard, a handsome senior boy, who is also a chupacabra.  The feeling is mutual, but this star-crossed romance soon becomes a struggle for survival, when a blood-thirsty outsider clan of chupacabras arrives in town and heads straight for Leulla.

Feline Colorado

This guide to cat-friendly trails, activities, LOLcat photo opportunities, and accommodations throughout the mountain state, is invaluable to both resident and visiting cat-owners. Most cat-owners do not take advantage of the cat-friendly hiking, biking, and skiing trails that Colorado has to offer, for fear that their cat will never forgive them. This handy guide includes detailed information on how to take your cat with on outdoor adventures without too much injury to life, limb, or eye.