Thursday, September 2, 2010

Sustainable September kicks off Wednesday, Sept. 2

Maybe turbo-charged is a bit hyperbolic to describe Kevin Danaher’s last 21 years stirring up the anti-globalization pot, but for Spokane residents interested in hearing the co-founder of Global Exchange go toe-to-toe with the purveyors of social, economic, and environmental justice, the kick-off luncheon for Sustainable September Spokane Wednesday might be up your alley.

The New York Times referred to Kevin Danaher as the “Paul Reverse of globalization’s woes,” but in reality Danaher advocates proactively pushing the big boys off the block through campaigns, in-your-face actions, and grassroots organizing.

This is not a ‘woe is me’ kind of leader in “the green justice movement” who will hopefully inspire luncheon guests at downtown Spokane’s Masonic Temple.

Danaher, like his wife Medea Benjamin, co-founder of Global Exchange, confronts power, and actively engages in anti-globalization and anti-war actions that in and of themselves are considered not only philosophical confrontations against U.S. hegemony and empire, but also represent physical confrontation, an assault, if you will.

Power has always viewed dissent and protest as economic and emotional battery. Danaher and others in the movement for change are backed up by legions of labor organizers, environmental activists, and social justice advocates that do not look or sound like the captains of industry, slick lobbyists or corporate heads of greed.

This is the sort of talk Danaher engages in, from a recent blog of his on Global Exchange’s web site, that to the average Fortune 500 aficionado would be viewed as treasonous:

“The world is facing two interlinked crises: militarism and global destruction of the environment,” Danaher writes. “They are obviously related, in that the U.S. military is probably the most egregious polluter and waster of resources on the planet, and the Pentagon functions to protect the dominant role of transnational corporations, which are notorious violators of human rights and environmental justice principles. This project will seek to unify the peace movement and the green movement by working together on a visionary campaign that simultaneously addresses the environmental crisis and the need for the United States to make a transition from being an empire to being just one nation in a community of nations.”

Note that Danaher isn’t just looking to dismantle 800 US military bases with bulldozers and TNT. Rather, he is promoting a program, Turning U.S. Military Bases into Eco-Development Centers that would win the battle against zealotry and briefcase bombs filled with radioactive material through a hearts and minds campaign that might inject economic development into those respective countries where the war bases are now located.

“This campaign will call for handing U.S. bases back to their respective national governments, with the U.S. government and civil society institutions undertaking a clean-up campaign during the transition in ownership,” Danaher writes. ”Through grassroots networks and donations from local citizens, the local governments will be encouraged to transform these bases into educational and experimental clean-tech centers promoting green practices that will help us address the environmental crisis, while generating good green jobs and eco-entrepreneurship.”

I spoke with Danaher on my radio show, “Tipping Points: Voices from the Edge” (take a listen at here), before he participated in a Green-Sustainability event at the Spokane’s Community Building. We covered a wide range of issues, including the illegal wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, green technology, climate change.

He talked about shifting paradigms, and, of course, the Bush Administration’s “war on terror” and the huge push toward global dominance by a few countries to put a handful of corporations in the economic driver’s seat. He wasn’t happy with then-Sen. Barack Obama supporting the free trade agreement for South Korea and Latin America.

What Danaher does best is related to his organizing work and book writing on how the world can change through innovation and powerful movements like green and fair trade advocacy, and especially through grassroots action.

He’s the executive co-producer of the Green Festival in The City, and last year’s event in San Francisco brought together more than 400 exhibitors, 125 speakers, dozens of community and nonprofit groups, how-to workshops, green chat space, hemp fashion show and live music.

Sustainable September is sort of shadowing that event along similar lines, with less of the big stuff and more events of the low-key nature spread out past 30 days. For Danaher to be on stage with our staid Spokane stakeholders in the audience and Mayor Mary Verner, as the kick-off speaker, he might inject a bit of verve and motivation into ticket holders.

It’s clear that the topics he covers in his speaking engagements might be too much for many in Spokane to handle — Accelerating the Transition to the Green Economy; Corporate Accountability and the Local Green Economy; Justice, Not War; The Case Against the World Bank and the IMF: How We Can Create A Green, Grassroots Model of Development; Corporations are Gonna Get Your Mama: Globalization and the Downsizing of the American Dream.

But for many of us in the holistic and radical sustainability movement, we are looking to not just stir the pot and create a tossed salad of real sustainability measures and actions mixed in with what the greenwashers and eco-pornographers are doing to co-opt the movement. We are looking to disrupt business as usual and force change.

His wife Medea also puts her words into action, having been involved in protests in Senate chambers, at Republican National Conventions and around the world. Danaher talked much about her, a co-founder of the “left-wing” feminist anti-war group Code Pink: Women for Peace, who has advocated for an end to the Iraq War and is associated with the organization United for Peace and Justice.

Now this would be a great kick-off event – Benjamin with the guts and radical action under her belt and Danaher with his words and lamentations about a world needing love – “Unconditional love. Not the two-person, Hollywood-in-the-sea-of-passion, miserable love. Unconditional love. Love each other.”

Or how about Benjamin and Diane Wilson on stage. Wilson is another co-founder of Code Pink, a Texas shrimper, and rabble rouser we desperately need in this movement.

On June 17, 2010 Wilson hit the nail on the head — “You should be in prison,” she yelled at BP’s Tony Hayward as she covered her hands with oil and spread it on her face at the Congressional hearing.
Wilson, Benjamin and Danaher, that would be a hell of a line up for Spokane.

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