It’s been nearly 3,000 years since the Greeks started their experiment with democracy. It’s clear that other communities in other areas had been looking for ways to make decisions, but representative democracy, as it was established by the Romans, is the form of choice for all modern democracies. It took the Romans about 500 years to transition from a kingdom to a republic. This ceding of power—governance—to the people did not come easy, and people all over the globe today are still fighting for their right to vote.
Representative democracy differs from direct democracy. In a representative democracy, you mostly vote for people—i.e., representatives—who will then cast votes on your behalf for the policies and programs that shape your government. If we had a direct democracy, we’d be voting on the issues themselves, rather than the people who represent our interests. That’s why, in a representative democracy, it’s very important to vote for people you believe will work in your community’s best interest.
The US regards itself as a proud example of democracy, yet according to PewResearchCenter, the US voter-participation rates are lower than in most developed countries:
If a significant portion of citizens are not voting for their elected officials, is the country really even a democracy? It’s critical to the democratic process to have a strong participation in the voting process.
Citizens vote to shape their civic world. If you’re looking for more information on the importance of voting, the University of Minnesota Human Rights Center offers an excellent study guide on the right to vote.
Take a moment to educate yourself and inspire others about the election process. Big-ticket items, electing leaders of our countries, Parliaments and Congress—these are all important. But the people who make the day-to-day decisions about land use are the town and city councils, boards, and commissions. These down-ticket races declare the representatives who can accelerate green building policies; implement carbon-free installations and efficacies; create transportation systems that are alternatives to carbon-reliant, single-occupancy vehicles; and much more.
So take a look at who’s running locally, see what issues are on the ballot in your local area, register to vote, cast that ballot, and inspire Turn21–minded folks to do the same.
“The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret ballot or by equivalent free voting procedures.”
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 21
A Special Note to USA Voters
In the United States voter participation rates for youth, poor, and minority voters is historically lower than the turnout rates for wealthy voters. Considering this, is it any wonder that US laws favor the rich and powerful?
If you’re not pleased with the laws, policies, and enforcement you see in your community, then you should be part of the effort to get similar-minded people to vote. Voting and being involved in the election process is one of the most important ways effect change. The effort to get people to the vote is commonly called “Get Out The Vote.”
If you’re new to voting, you’ll need to first register to vote. Then, you can learn where your voting station is located, or you can choose to vote by mail. Become informed about the candidates and issues. Project Vote and Rock the Vote are two good sites to start your voting participation.
Albert A. Bartlett (1923-2013) was Professor Emeritus in Nuclear Physics at University of Colorado at Boulder. He was a member of the faculty of the University of Colorado since 1950. He was President of the American Association of Physics Teachers in 1978 and in 1981 he received their Robert A. Millikan Award for his outstanding scholarly contributions to physics education.
Dr. Bartlett gave his celebrated lecture, Arithmetic, Population and Energy 1,742 times. His collected writings have been published in the book, “The Essential Exponential! For the Future of Our Planet“.
Problem: So, you already know about the ecological damage that big agricultural business practices and bad land management has had on the soil. But you want to get in there and get your hands dirty! You want that hands-on, intensive learning environment that will teach you what you need to know. Where can you go?
Solution: With the growing interest in localizing food sources and learning better ways to manage our resources, schools and learning centers are popping up around the country. One such place receiving international attention is the Permaculture Skills Center in Northern California.
This is the place to go if you’re looking to take your ecological land design and development skills to the next level!
In the 6-month Ecological Landscaper Immersion course, students “gain the skills to earn a living regenerating the planet” through experience and the guidance of permaculture professionals. Their 10-week Farm School intensive course was created to train the next generation of urban, suburban and rural regenerative farmers. The programs is taught by Sonoma County’s most innovative food producers and focuses on hard skills, business development and land access. The 10-week intensive is followed by a 6-month mentorship to get you growing successfully wherever you plan to start farming. Check out Farm School if you’re looking for an empowering educational experience to turn your passions for land and growing healthy food into a career!
The Permaculture Skills Center is a 5-acre demonstration site and vocational training institution “dedicated to sharing regenerative land development and management practices” since its purchase in 2012. They are open to the public for tours and often host educational workshops and sustainability related community events.
Permaculture Skills Center
2185 Hwy 116 South, Sebastopol, CA 95472
Download the Permaculture Skills Center info sheet:
All over the world this May, thousands of people stepped up their work to Break Free from fossil fuels. This is what it looks like when the movement grows in courage, strength and beauty.
Our Renewable Future: Laying the Path for One Hundred Percent Clean Energy
In Our Renewable Future, energy expert Richard Heinberg and scientist David Fridley explore the challenges and opportunities presented by the shift to renewable energy. Beginning with a comprehensive overview of our current energy system, the authors survey issues of energy supply and demand in key sectors of the economy, including electricity generation, transportation, buildings, and manufacturing. In their detailed review of each sector, the authors examine the most crucial challenges we face, from intermittency in fuel sources to energy storage and grid redesign. The book concludes with a discussion of energy and equity and a summary of key lessons and steps forward at the individual, community, and national level.
We’re also very pleased this month to offer a new document, our Action Byte Handouts, which you can download by clicking here. Our Action Bytes are business card size handouts that you can use to help spread the word about turning 21. Make sure to hold some of these cards in your wallet or purse so you can hand them out to individuals as you let them know why we must all begin taking action, regular action, to create the world we must to ensure our long-term survival.
As part of Launch Turn21, we were recently interviewed for the University of Hawaii’s student paper, Ke Kalahea. Here are the answers to their questions, useful in conveying what Turn21 is about.
What is Turn 21?
Turn21 is a group of committed and concerned citizens of the planet dedicated to preserving the only world we have, here in the 21st Century. Our goal is to educate, inform, and exponentially grow in number those individuals who share this vision in order that we may take action as fast as possible to preserve the planet’s ability to sustain life.
What is Turn 21 trying to achieve?
We have put out a massive call to action every month, every 21st, urging all concerned people to be activists at least one day a month. Our hope is that this effort will spread like mycelium.
Launch Turn21, our call to action for April 21st (the day before Earth Day) urges everyone to take action now and be involved every month on the 21st in protecting our planet from further destruction, preserving it for the future.
As part of Launch Turn21 we are showcasing 7 amazing groups that are doing incredible work around the world. But mainly, our underlying purpose is to stoke the flames of activism because “business as usual” is morally unacceptable, given the challenges we are facing as a planet.
How can someone join Turn 21?
It’s not really an organization you can “join” in the sense that there are fees or membership dues. Of course, we have a website and people can sign up to receive our newsletter via email, but mainly we see ourselves as a resource—that catalyst–for getting individuals to commit to the collective action that real transformation is going to require.
How did Turn 21 form, and by whom?
It started with a group of like-minded individuals—a network of brainiacs with hearts, you might say–who were interested in articulating the realities of the situation we find ourselves in and finding ways to educate and promote radical action. Where did it start? Where did Rosa Parks start, or Darwin, folks who demanded we view things for what they are? Our culture was born from the industrial revolution and is heading towards a cliff full steam ahead. It is fair to say that our dire predicament as a human species is where this was born.
How did it get its name?
It was a catchy name that brought together the new, 21st century and the idea that it was time for each one of us to grow up, to act like we care about our home and future generations. We then tied it to the 21st of each month as an easy trigger to remember to consistently take action.
How is Turn 21 different from other advocacy programs?
The main difference is that it is not driven by membership numbers. We are advocating for action every 21st of the month, as an individual, in an affinity group, or by joining groups and organizations that are already doing great work, often in one’s own community. Being a paid activist is a job, and many live, sleep and dream about their work. We are not suggesting people quit their day-job, but take at least one day a month to be part of the movement if you are not already a full-time activist.
What are Turn 21’s plans for 21st of this month? Next Month?
As mentioned earlier, this month—the day before Earth Day, which seemed appropriate—is our huge effort, Launch Turn21. Our website Turn21.org is showcasing 7 organizations that have joined Turn21 as Affiliates and we will be doing cross-promotional work with them for the month of April and beyond, encouraging folks to plug in and help out wherever they can. In May we will be expanding and showcasing new Affiliates as they join us and we will have a special focus on the Resiliency Challenge, a project of Daily Acts, during the month of May
How wide is Turn 21’s reach? Small groups here and there, statewide, national, global? If it isn’t widespread, are there any plans for promotion?
We are in a global crisis. We’ve been involved with groups and actions in places like Kenya and Greece, but because the U.S. is such a major polluter and believer in growth above all costs, our efforts have initially centered on U.S. organizations and actions. Actions speak louder than words, and through increased collective action we can promote this globally.
Plastic Pollution Coalition is a global alliance of individuals, organizations, businesses and policymakers working toward a world free of plastic pollution and its toxic impact on humans, animals, the ocean and the environment.
Get started living plastic-free
Disposable plastic items are so common that it’s easy to not notice them. But disposable plastic is everywhere—the ubiquitous plastic bottles of water or soft drinks; the plastic straws delivered in our drinks; the plastic bags offered to us at stores; the plastic cups, bottles and utensils at nearly every social event; the plastic packaging of nearly everything in the supermarket. Once you see it for what it is—plastic pollution—it’s simple to just REFUSE it. Here are some tips to reduce your plastic footprint.
“Resilience” is the ability to absorb shocks while continuing to function. It’s a word that has gained a lot of currency in recent years as more and more people realize that we have some big shocks headed our way: financial shocks, energy shocks, environmental shocks, as we as social unrest and international conflict.
This video is the last in a four-part series by Richard Heinberg and Post Carbon Institute. The themes covered in these videos are much more thoroughly explored in Heinberg’s latest book, Afterburn: Society Beyond Fossil Fuels.
Evolution, which tends to build organisms that are “just good enough” to get by, has left us ill-equipped to deal with spans of time longer than a human lifetime. We need some help in this visualization exercise, and help is just a click, or three clicks, away.
First up, this 3-minute animation maps the 4.54 billion year history of our planet onto a great circle arc from Los Angeles to New York City. Hat tip to Rob for this one!
And finally, 300 Years of Fossil Fuels in 300 Seconds talks and sketches us through the last 200 years of our incredible journey—the industrial revolution—and asks us to think about what’s next. Created by Post Carbon Institute.