Thursday, July 14, 2011

Can Green festivals teach us to end ‘corporatocracy’?

Gatherings blend commercial with social justice, spiritual healing

Paul K. Haeder

Note -- This is the conclusion of a look at the 10th annual Green Festival in Seattle. Read part 1 here

It was “the economic hit man” telling the greenies about “a new way” to a peaceful world that is another chink in the armor of capitalism’s loosening grip on the rest of the world.

“It’s the first time in human history we are all being impacted by the same problems,” John Perkins told 150 or so in the grandstand at the 2011 Seattle Green Festival. “We are all in this together,” Perkins continued. “It’s all our space station, except this one doesn’t have shuttles to resupply.”

Perkins once was a gung ho soldier of empire as a National Security Agency thug, and a higher-up in an international consulting firm where he ended up in Indonesia, Panama, Ecuador, Colombia, Saudi Arabia, Iran and other strategically important countries.

He was working deeply for the U.S. ‘corporatocracy’ – banks, corporations and Uncle Sam – to wedge into those areas by promulgating despotic regimes, resource plunder and gross social injustice.

Earlier this year, Perkins was also the headliner at the Green Festival, an event full of pseudo pop change of consciousness razzmatazz. He now lives in the Pacific Northwest, and his new moniker – anti-predatory capitalist – lets him look toward melting glaciers of the Himalayas and Amazonian shamans to guide the world into one of self-actualization.

Perkins professes he helped put into place the mechanisms of “shock capitalism” worldwide, and those policies led to the elements leading to Sept. 11, 2001.

Here’s what the Boston Herald says about his book, “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man:” “(His) story is so astonishing it defies belief…. imagine the conceptual love child of James Bond and Milton Friedman.”

So what could top his personal confession and 180-degree green/social justice turnaround, away from the purveyors of the industrial military, prison, oil and mining complexes he once helped prop up?

Sneakers by Ethletic? Sweatshop free, Fair Trade certified, eco-friendly, and vegan. These tennies are something else, from the – fighting global poverty and global warming one shoe step at a time.

This festival rah-rah is brought to us by Global Exchange and Co-op America – all with the triple bottom line in mind: sustainable economy, ecological balance, social justice.

Kevin Danaher is called the Paul Revere of globalization’s woes, and he’s co-founder of Global Exchange and the brain behind “green festivals.” I’ve interviewed him on my radio show, “Tipping Points: Voices from the Edge,” have been on a panel with him at the Community Building via teleconferencing, broke bread with him in Spokane, and listened to him at last year’s Sustainable September where he was the keynote speaker.

Danaher has written about the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and World Trade Organization.

“The Green Festival was kind of a secondary institution in that about seven or eight years ago Global Exchange was having one of those strategic direction discussions, this one around growth. How do we grow the organization?” he said.

He and others identified two growth models: one is to expand your membership, revenues, staff, programs, etc. The other is create a larger institution of real estate, a commercial real estate property, where your organization is a tenant, and bring in allied organizations to fill the building, and become the revolution center, “the green-global-economy-people’s-bottom-up-development center, or whatever you call it.”

“So we came up with the idea of Global Citizen Center, but I wanted the ground floor retail portion to be Green-Mart, the opposite of Wal-Mart, the entire green economy eco-mall, which nobody’s done yet, surprisingly enough, and I realized that I didn’t know the green economy movement because my 10 books were all about the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Trade Organization, all this big, global economy kind of stuff,” Danaher said. “So we figured that if we did a weekend event, The Green Festival, that would get us to know this green economy movement, build some credibility.”

What the Green Festival can do is bring the minds of people like those from Co-op America, a non-profit that works on responsible shopping by breaking the spin of sweatshop purveyors. For instance, the CEO of Kohl’s makes $5.4 million a year, yet sweatshop abuses tied to 12-hour work days, denial of medical care after on-the-job injuries, contaminated water and impossible production goals have been prevalent in Kohl’s Guatemalan, Salvadoran, Nicaraguan and Bangladesh source clothing factories.

Exchange Kohl’s with The Gap (CEO salary — $8.89 million) or J.C. Penney (CEO salary — $10.3 million), and you get the idea. While Edward Humes was hawking his pro-Wal-Mart book and blathering on about how Wal-Mart was the next best green thing since Al Gore, think of Wal-Mart’s CEO making $29.6 million annually, plus another $4.5 million in stock options, as abuses overseas and domestically persist.

The Green Festival, as is reflective of many contemporary green events, was full of contradictions, hope, and the reality that we have all been colonized by monopolists like Bill Gates and frauds like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg (as of 2011, his personal wealth was estimated to be $13.5 billion).

Danaher has been citing Jed Emerson’s philosophical vision of this “movement” – “He uses the term, ‘blended value,’ and he talks about how do you get those three sets of values to blend, so that you are healing society, healing nature, and making a profit—but you’re not making a profit so you can be Donald Trump and be a billionaire and waste money on a coke habit, but you can plow that money back into the project, which is to save humanity from itself,” he said. “That’s the challenge that’s in front of us now, not ‘save the planet.’ The planet will save itself by exterminating us. It will shuck us off like any other bad bug.”

The ideas of a global brain and paradigm shifts to the 5th power swirl around Green Festivals like granola sticks to a vegetarian’s ribs.

The future is in the hands of children, and Zoe Weil of Human Education inspired the festival audience with hope and belief that teaching kids critical thinking skills is one thing, but helping them become choice makers and change makers for the ”movement” is a whole other kettle of fish.

She talked about teaching compassion and engaging students to learn what it means to respect the work of animal welfare, environmental preservation , and social justice. She’s looking for curricula that not only motivates educators to mentor youth to acquire relevant knowledge, skills, and a commitment to live ethically, sustainably, and peaceably, but cuts to the very fabric of education – all levels should be about meaningful information that is inspiration and provides tools for creating a safe and humane world.

“Solutionaires” is what Zoe calls graduates of the new educational model, armed with vision and solutions.

That’s what we hoped would emanate from the early Green Festivals. Maybe this global brain Danaher talks about is full of the pulsating bio-polar ADD, co-dependent traits of our individual brains. Maybe we all are suffering the fatigue of economic meltdown, technological dependence and community destruction?

Maybe we need to honor both the profound and profane that comes with these Green Festivals. Maybe we need to stop perpetuating the problems and redefine how we live with each other, with our soul and heart – nature.

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