Thomas P. Healy

September 4, 2005

Richard Heinberg insists he's not an oil nerd.

Yet his latest book, Powerdown: Options and Actions for a Post-Carbon World, further develops his thoughts on successful strategies for sustainability and reduced fossil fuel use that he first articulated in his bestselling book The Party's Over: Oil, War and the Fate of Industrial Societies.

And he will discuss the depletion of global oil reserves during his keynote presentation to this year's Simply Living Fair, at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 14, at the Buskirk-Chumley Theatre in Bloomington.

July 10, 2005

Australian rain forest activist John Seed wields his talents as a musician, filmmaker, and writer to articulate the Deep Ecology vision that humans are not the center of the universe and that life on Earth thrives on interdependence.

Seed is perhaps best known for his co-creation (along with Joanna Macy) of the Council of All Beings — a powerful tool for creating awareness of the sacred in all life and healing the alienation of people from the planet.

Seed, who will make several appearances in Southern Indiana between July 19 and 24, took time during his current North American tour to talk with The Bloomington Alternative about his passions and his principles.

May 15, 2005

Howard Zinn's latest book, Voices of a People's Hisory of the United States (Seven Stories Press, 2004), features several contributions from folks with roots in the Hoosier State, including Eugene Debs and Kurt Vonnegut.

But it is Zinn's co-author, Anthony Arnove, who provides the most direct Hoosier connection. Arnove grew up in Bloomington and his parents still live here. His father, Robert Arnove, is Chancellor's Professor Emeritus of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at IU. His mother, Nita Levison, is IU's coordinator of Diversity and International Programs.

Now based in Brooklyn, Arnove spoke by phone with The Bloomington Alternative about the influence Bloomington had on his activism and about what it's like to work with Zinn.

May 1, 2005

Democracy Now! beams its signal to more than 330 radio and TV stations nationwide from a converted firehouse in lower Manhattan's Chinatown. Beginning June 1, Bloomington residents who have had to catch the show on CATS, the Web or satellite TV can tune instead to WFHB 91.3 FM to catch the daily news program.

The recent decision to air Democracy Now! is the culmination of a lengthy process at Bloomington's community radio station that dates back more than two years.

Gina Weir first heard Democracy Now! during a visit to Madison, Wis., in late 2002. "I thought people in Bloomington would be able to connect with the voices and stories that we don't hear on any other news program," she said.

May 1, 2005

Channel surfing and scanning the radio dial in search of the fabled "liberal media" in the United States is likely to be as much of an exercise in futility as the Bush Administration's search for weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in Iraq.

Instead, the country's airwaves are dominated by strident shout-fests uncritically promoting war and soothing voices celebrating mindless consumerism. The public is fed a steady diet of the media equivalent of junk food: infotainment programs devoted to the cult of celebrity worship.

Thankfully, another viewpoint exists in the mediascape. A singular woman's voice breaks the cycle of misinformation and distraction. It belongs to Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman, whose daily news program is a powerful force in the independent media revolution sweeping the nation — including Bloomington (see sidebar).

April 3, 2005

Author Derrick Jensen writes passionately about the systemic abuses by industrial society of people, land and culture in acclaimed works such as The Culture of Make Believe and A Language Older Than Words.

His most recent works include Walking on Water, a look at teaching creative writing in college and in prison, and Welcome to the Machine (co-written with George Draffan), a frightening survey of the impact of privacy invasions on civil liberties. He spoke with The Bloomington Alternative from his home in northern California.

What is the importance of creativity and the life of the mind for people who are incarcerated?

My job in that classroom was to help the people become who they are by loving and accepting them. I was teaching both Level 1 and Level 4 prisoners — Level 4 is maximum security, where many were doing life or life without chance of parole — and someone said to me in front of my Level 4 students, "Don't you prefer teaching Level 1 because you know that they're going to get out and these people are here forever so it's a waste of your time?"

I thought it was a really horrible thing to say in front of them. My response was no! First of all there's a long list of brilliant and important writers who have come out of prison — Dostoyevsky and Jean Genet, for example. Second, it doesn't really matter. Remember the old line, no matter where you go, there you are? So whether the students were in a university and going to end up in the cubicles of IBM or whether they were at Pelican Bay State Prison, my main job as a teacher was to accept them and help them to become who they are in those circumstances.

March 20, 2005

"Corporate power is in fact the heart and motor engine of empire today," progressive political analyst Michael Parenti said in the powerful summation of his Plowshares Lecture delivered March 19 at the 1st Annual Midwest Peace Summit, held on the campus of Indiana University Purdue University-Indianapolis.

Parenti's devastating critique of U.S. imperialism was titled "Democracy vs. Empire" and detailed the brutality of U.S. global economic and military hegemony during the past century.

"United States foreign policy is not timid or confused or misguided," he said. "It is remarkably resourceful and effective."

February 27, 2005

"He was an old, sick, and very troubled man, and the illusion of peace and contentment was not enough for him. ... So finally, and for what he must have thought the best of reasons, he ended it with a shotgun. — Hunter S. Thompson

These closing words from a 1964 National Observer piece about a pilgrimage to Hemingway's Ketchum, Idaho, seem remarkably prescient. The man who wrote them would, like his hero, take his own life, in a different mountainside town, a few hundred miles to the south, some four decades later.

But his fans need not grieve over his final defiant act. Read long-time collaborator Ralph Steadman's tribute in the Guardian. "It wasn't a question of if, but when," Steadman wrote in his moving essay.

Thompson leaves behind a remarkable journalistic legacy, unrivaled in the modern era, that chronicles the closing decades of the 20th century as well as the dawn of the new century in a raw, savage style that manages to squeeze out truth in brutal honesty without a trace of nostalgia or romanticism.

February 20, 2005

Since May 2004, a group of IU students has collected food that would otherwise have been thrown away and turned it into meals that they share for free with anyone interested.

Part of the national Food Not Bombs ( FNB ) movement, the Bloomington group serves from 1 to 3 p.m. Sundays at Trinity Episcopalian Church during the winter months. In warmer weather, the cooks share their food in People's Park.

Steve Lane and Jayme Jenkins are two members of the loose-knit group of young people who produce what Jenkins calls a community potluck. "It's not just about feeding the hungry," Jenkins said recently over tea at Soma. "It's all about slowing urban waste." She said most of the FNB materials are "dumpstered" — retrieved — from the overflowing waste bins in the community. "A lot of the veggies we've dumpstered are in better condition than the food we buy!" she exclaimed.

February 6, 2005

INDIANAPOLIS - It might interest Hoosiers outside of Indianapolis to know that we're being held hostage here.

Those of us who live in Marion County are dimly aware of our captivity but seem to be suffering from a kind of cultural Stockholm syndrome. We've bonded with our oppressors, seeking their continued presence and favor, and resisted any suggestion that we've lost control of our community and our tax dollars.

Loyal fans of the Indianapolis Colts "Believe" and "Go Horse" in support of their professional football team. But Colts management doesn't necessarily reciprocate that loyalty, issuing not-so-vague threats to leave Indianapolis if they don't get a larger stadium to keep them "competitive."

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