The Secret of the Fulcrum Principle

Yesterday, I posted something on Facebook about reaching a real, and sympathetic, human being on the White House Comment Line. Since the US election last November, I’ve called my elected officials a lot more than in the past. Someone wrote back, saying I was “like the Energizer Bunny” with my consistent activism.

My reply revealed the secret:

Actually, [his name], it’s less Energizer Bunny and more a matter of what I call “the fulcrum principle”: doing not all that much but doing in ways that leverage and multiply the impact…I use my time strategically so the 10 to 15 hours or so I spend on activism per week has a big ripple. Of course I never know when a meeting or demonstration is going to be worthwhile and when it will be a waste of time. I have guessed wrong on a few meetings lately—but then I go to one that’s so energizing and activating and inspiring that it actually recharges me. I went to one like that Saturday and hope the ones I plan to attend Wednesday and Thursday (and the socially responsible business conference next week where I’m MCing two sessions) will be just as awesome.

A fulcrum is the bump underneath a lever that allows that lever to magnify its force—to quite literally create leverage. This concept inspired Archimedes to say, more than 2200 years ago, “Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world.”

Three men on river structures with ladders and levers. Retrieved from http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/06e13eb0-8a8e-0131-0778-58d385a7bbd0

Three men on river structures with ladders and levers ” New York Public Library Digital Collection.

I’ve played with this metaphor for a long time. I was able to find rejection letters I received for my original The Fulcrum Principle: Practical Tools for Social Change, Community Building, and Restructuring Society book proposal as far back as 1992—and a printout of the proposal itself, though not the electronic file.

Looking at this proposal 25 years later, it would have been a big, ambitious, world-changing book. And other than

  1. Adding in recent developments such as the Arab Spring, Climate Change activism, Black Lives Matter, and of course the massive resistance to the new US president, and
  2. Technology shifts including the Internet and social media, smartphones, 3D printing, and the amazing breakthroughs in green design,

The proposal is still remarkably relevant. Let me share a few highlights:

  • The Fulcrum Principle lets us “achieve the greatest result with the least amount of effort,” including finding others to do some of the work
  • Change happens as fast as possible, but as slow as necessary
  • Why we need both “shock troops” and “put-it-back-togethers”
  • We build momentum for change by presenting the possibility (and manageability) of positive change, finding points of agreement with our opponents—and then expanding those points, changing enemies into allies
  • This momentum can change the world—and it has, many times
  • It’s accomplished more easily when you remember to have fun
  • Grassroots organizers can learn a lot from business (and with 25 years of hindsight, I’d add that business can learn a lot from grassroots organizers); similarly, Left and Right activists have lessons to share with each other
  • Economic and environmental goals can work in tandem (did I really understand that all the way back in 1992? I’ve gone on to write five books that explore this idea)
  • Organizers have quietly developed lots of tools we can harness to make this journey easier: new approaches to everything from how to facilitate productive meetings to how to get the most information in the least time by dividing up a book among different readers who report their insights

The proposal also touched on a raft of social issues, among them:

  • Nonviolent alternatives to the military
  • The role of multinational corporations
  • True democracy going far beyond elections
  • Does it even make sense for change organizations to chase after funding?
  • New ways of looking at drugs and crime, housing, healthcare, transportation, parenting, world distribution of resources, and even sexuality

Interestingly, without revisiting this proposal, I essentially put it into practice when I founded the movement that saved our local mountain in 1999-2000. And I think that’s a lot of why we won in 13 months flat. The “experts” thought we couldn’t win at all. I felt sure that we would succeed, but even I thought it would take five years. I didn’t realize at the time that I had already created the roadmap years earlier.

Perhaps I should dust off this proposal, update, and resubmit.

Posted in Activism, Business-general, Corporate Social Responsibility, Democracy, Energy & Sustainability, Environment, General Commentary, Innovation, People Helping People, Politics, Shel's Personal Life, Social and Economic Justice Tagged with: , , , , , , ,

ACLU Turns Activist: Notes From a Training Livestreamed to 200,000 People

With a full auditorium in Miami, and 2000 livestream sites reaching 200,000 people (according to ACLU’s Executive Director, Anthony Romero, who opened the March 11 session), the American Civil Liberties Union moved beyond the courtroom and into community organizing. While ACLU lawyers have often been present (and advising) at actions in the streets, I personally don’t remember a time when the group—founded in 1919 in resistance to the notorious Palmer Raids, rounding up activists at the behest of the Attorney General of the time—actively worked to create a mass movement of resistance.

While it also covered the Republicans’ proposed replacement for Obamacare and attacks on Planned Parenthood, The training—really, more of a presentation, other than Lee Rowland’s remarks—focused largely on the administration’s attacks on Muslims and immigrants and ACLU’s Freedom Cities initiative developed in response—working to gain local law enforcement officials to adopt a nine-point platform of non-cooperation with federal ICE anti-immigration actions.

Following are the notes I took. I didn’t take notes for the first couple of speakers, which included Romero, ACLU National Political Director Faiz Shakir, and I believe there may have been one other.

ACLU's PeoplePower.org screenshot

ACLU’s PeoplePower.org screenshot

Lee Rowland, Senior Staff Attorney: Your Rights in Protesting

We will stick up for controversial, even abhorrent points of view. We believe none of us should be silenced. There are people who think Black Lives Matter is a terrorist organization.

Public forum spaces: streets, sidewalks, parks—you have the right to protest. But in the street, you do not have the right to block traffic unless you have a permit specifying that. A permit gives you a bunch more rights, and you can work with government to work out a parade route, use amplification.

1/21/17 was the single largest day of protest in American history. Let’s give that a run for its money!

The sidewalks outside Trump Tower have become a very popular place. Sidewalk protests are automatically legal as long as you don’t block access to doorways.

Parks. You can sing, pray, dance. But each park has a trigger number for attendees. Exceeding that number requires a permit. Know that number. Breaking news is an exception. Spontaneous protests in response are not restricted by number.

Other government property that aren’t designed as public spaces. The general rule is that the government has more ability to shut you down if they can argue that your presence is disruptive. Airports can stop you from disrupting but not from expressing speech (including sign holding). The farther from the core of facility’s purpose, the more rights. So you won’t have a lot of rights at the departure gate, but maybe at arrivals…or outside. [Editor’s note: I participated in protesting the immigration ban at Bradley (Hartford) Airport just after the first Executive Order banning travel from seven Muslim-majority nations. We had about 3000 people in the baggage claim area.] If you’re organizing at an airport, get a liaison from the airport staff if you can.

Congressional Town Halls. They can’t shut down buttons, small signs. They can regulate the size but not the content.

The government can’t censor you just because it disagrees with your opinion.

But these high-fallutin’ rights on paper don’t always translate to the streets.

Watch your surroundings. Being armed with your rights empowers you. You can yell to demonstrators being arrested about their rights including right to remain silent and to refuse a search. You have the right to photo/video anything in public view. Officers will lie, but make notes and tell the ACLU.

We as Americans have to go out and grab that moral arc and turn it toward justice.

 

Louise Milling, Deputy Director

Health Care: Affordable Care Act is the most significant civil rights/civil liberties legislation in this century. It has saved and changed people’s lives. 20 million were lifted out of the ranks of uninsured. It bars discrimination on preexisting, gender, transgender. Gave us no-cost birth control. More services for people with disability. To live out the civil right of not being in an institution.

The Republican replacement bill attacks the structure, the financing. It kicks the legs out from underneath of the stool. American Medical Association, AARP, hospitals have come out against it. This bill jeopardizes millions of us and the people we care about. We’re going to step up for this one.

Planned Parenthood: This bill says Planned Parenthood can’t be part of the Medicaid program. And that people on Medicaid can no longer go to Planned Parenthood for cancer screening, birth control. 1 of 5 women turn to Planned Parenthood for health care at some part of their lives. Planned Parenthood is targeted because Planned Parenthood provides abortions. But not through the Medicaid program. Their vision is that Planned Parenthood should be stripped of participation in Medicaid because it provides a constitutionally protected service that allows women to protect our lives. Is that what decency looks like?

Medicaid: It’s an entitlement program. The federal government promises it will contribute money to pay for the services it covers. It’s going to take care of you. This bill would be a radical transformation. It says we are going to cap the money we will give toward any particular person. That means fewer dollars, fewer services for the most vulnerable, for the most essential thing—our health. The harm will be felt most acutely by people with disabilities. Medicare provides payment for support to go to work and live independently.

This was unveiled on Monday. By Wednesday it was already in committee for markup. They want it for a full vote in March and on the president’s desk n April. Less than two months for a program that would deny health coverage for millions? To totally radically restructure a program that’s been in place for six decades?

We saw four senators change their responses (AK, OH, CO, one other). We need you to tell your reps why this matters, the values that motivate you to come forward. It matters to the members of Congress, to the woman on Medicaid who goes to Planned Parenthood, to the man in a wheelchair who is able to go to work, to the rural woman who’s able to get insurance. This is for the people, by the people. I’m asking you to pledge to come together and stand up in the name of decency, care, dignity, fairness for all. Game on!

 

Andre Segura, staff attorney in national office

Trump administration is launching an assault on immigrants and people of color. In his first week, he released really bad Eos (executive orders), calling for the border wall, more ICE agents, and the Muslim ban. This hit home. We are immigrants and children of immigrants, people of color, of different faiths, with accents. That’s what makes our country great and we’re seeing this assault. I think of my two boys. Are they going to be called racist names? My parents with their beautiful Columbian-American accents?

3 Issues

  1. Muslim ban. Friday afternoon after he took office, and there was immediate chaos. ACLU and partners worked overnight to challenge that. We filed at 5 a.m. the next morning. We filed to put a stop to that order. I drove to JFK in the morning. There was a small but loud protest, and a dozen attorneys inside. Over the next few hours, more and more attorneys came. And I looked out the window and saw a sea of protestors. And that’s what became the story. Regular people came out and said this is not the country I want to live in and I’m going to go protest. We now have the second ban. Trump rescinded that first ban after numerous lawsuits. But the second one suffers from the same flaws and it needs to fail. We need you to come out and voice your support.
  2. President Trump is trying to bully cities and states to become part of his deportation force, by threatening to withdraw their funding. So this means when a police officer pulls someone over or knocks on a door, they have to think, is there some issue with their immigration status. This is damaging to local law enforcement. We need to stand up so people don’t fear going to the police to report crimes. All the best law enforcement departments are saying this. We are bringing criminal charges against Joe Arpayo [extreme right-wing/anti-immigrant former sheriff in Arizona]. The lesson is that when local law enforcement takes immigration into their own hands, you will see more profiling and more discrimination. So we’re asking you to push more cities not to roll over and give up good policies. We need to demand that they protect our immigrant neighbors.
  3. Immigration/deportation raids. ICE comes in wearing helmets and bullet-proof vests, it’s like a military operation. Trump wants to add 10,000 ICE agents to the 5-6000 already there. They will not be accountable or transparent. You will not know what they are up to in your town. But we’ve seen excessive force, guns drawn, children scared. Trump is saying we’re going after only the most violent. But we’ve seen the reality. It’s parents, Dreamers [undocumented people brought to the US at a very young age], domestic violence victims. People are being questioned coming off domestic flights. We have to stop it.

We can do some things. We have know-your-rights materials if ICE shows up at your door. They need to have a judicial warrant. Otherwise, don’t open the door. Get out and educate people about their rights. We do not want you engaging with ICE and their raids. If you hear of a raid, go out, document, film it. We need that information.

 

Padma Laxmi, immigrant from age 4

Joined her mother two years after her mother arrived in America in search for a better future, with $100 in her pocket. “She sculpted the mist, willing a life into existence. And I love this country for allowing that to be possible. America has shaped our dreams, values, and insecurities for three generations. There is no story of ours that is disconnected from the American story. But lately I’ve begun to feel like an outsider.” I grew up in NYC, our neighbors were Peruvian and Filipino, doctors and cab drivers. Seeing all those faces from around the world is what kept me from feeling I didn’t belong. Through my work on Top Chef, I’ve met people from all over America, meeting people in Charleston, New Orleans, Miami. What makes these cities great is the diversity of the people living in them—and that makes the food delicious. I am so grateful I ended up here. And that I can pay it forward by mentoring and employing other young women and starting a health foundation.

What makes America great is our culture of inclusion. We all are a superpower because we’ve managed to create the best of each immigrant culture and create our own uniquely American culture. For all its faults and felonies, our country has been, until now, admired world over. We’re squandering that good will and reputation globally and here and home. What happened to ‘give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses’? I am standing here in defense of liberty, freedom, and true equality.

My mom came here in the ’70s inspired by the feminist movement. She wanted a better life for me than she had, equal opportunity. Today, we have a state of emergency. Rights and freedoms we’ve taken for granted are being eroded daily. I am alarmed by the rising hatred and violence. But even before, I’ve been horrified by images of black and Latino boys being bludgeoned to death by the very system we were told would protect us. Our system is two systems: one for the white establishment, and one for those unlucky enough to be born brown, gay, trans… I want my daughter Krishna to live in a country governed not by fear but by compassion.

I didn’t see my mother for two whole years. I know that pain of separation. Tearing undocumented parents from their children doesn’t help anyone. Giving refuge to a Syrian family teaches the very American principles of empathy and tolerance.

I don’t have to be Muslim or Mexican to be offended. We should all be offended. We shouldn’t have to walk in someone else’s shows to see that those shoes hurt terribly. This January at the Women’s March, I protested for the very first time. I was holding my little girl’s hand, she’s 6. It felt wonderful. I realized we are all powerful and we must exercise our power now. There’s a sign in the NYC subway, ‘if you see something, say something.’ I’m saying something now—to all of you. Providing shelter to refugees in need is not a partisan issue. It is a human rights issues. Letting folks use what ever bathroom they want, as we do in our own home, is just common decency.

I watch Krishna play with her African American friend Cassius. She’s biracial and can pass for white. When our kids, a few years from now, go to the store for butter, they will surely be treated differently. That’s not right. They are equal in the sandbox. Shouldn’t our policies reflect this too? Now is not the time to close our eyes and think ‘this, too, shall pass.’ We must do more than march. We must consistently resist discrimination of any kind. We must not tolerate the intolerance. To do nothing is a crime against our nation. We owe it to those suffragettes, those who refused to sit at the back of the bus, to our fallen soldiers to preserve what they fought so hard to defend.

Democracy isn’t a static thing. It’s an ever-evolving organism and we must not let it or ourselves devolve. Yes, we are brown. And we too are American And yes, we are Muslim, Hindus, Jews. That Sikh father shot in his own driveway, he was American too. And over half of us are women, and we deserve equal pay. And the right to choose what we want to do with our own bodies. We too are the United States of America. Let’s remember that first word in our country’s name. Let’s not forget who we are.

 

Faiz Shakir

ACLU’s National Political Director  came back on stage for a quick recap of the action plan:

  1. Request a meeting with local law enforcement officials, put it on PeoplePower.org. Some of them just need a pat on the back and great job. Some need more persuasion.
  2. Let’s live our values.
Posted in Activism, Democracy, Diversity, Politics, Protests and Crackdowns, Socially Responsible Investing Tagged with: , , , ,

How Thailand Looks at Environmental Issues

By Shel Horowitz

During a trip to Thailand, I kept my radar up to see how this small but sophisticated country deals with a number of environmental issues.

Disclaimer: This is not intended to be an in-depth look. It’s based on just two weeks in the country, much of it with an escorted tour—so I’m not pretending to be an authority. But still, I’m trained as a journalist, and with a combination of observations and interviews, I was able to get a pretty good sense of both the good and the bad. Here they are, in no particular order.

Forest Conservation and Biodiversity

The Thai government was a pioneer in forest conservation, outlawing the harvest of most teak all the way back in 1938, when the US and Europe hadn’t given the matter much thought at all. And even though much of the land has been cleared either for rice paddies and other agriculture or for construction, I didn’t see a single commercial lumber truck. I did see one pickup filled with thin branches (no trunks), but that might well have belonged to a tree pruner.

The older teak houses and temples show some signs of deterioration, and there are apparently some ways around the harvest prohibition. We met with the owners of a teak mansion built in 1999, now housing a cooking school as well as several family members. They told us that the house used new wood, legally obtained; they had purchased licenses for each individual teak tree in the project.

Quite a bit of rainforest habitat remains, with its wonderful biodiversity of palms, bananas, fruit trees (especially mangos), strangler figs, and epiphytes, and birds happily enjoy this ecosystem. Much of this is part of the various national parks, one of which we visited (and had a great hike).

Most farms are small. Some are quite diverse, with many types of fruits, vegetables, and staples like tapioca and sugar cane. However, monocropping of rice (and sometimes other crops) across multiple neighboring fields is common. In rural areas, it’s more common to see homes built of natural materials such as bamboo and thatch.

Roof made of traditional bamboo and thatch in the multi-tribe hill village. Photo by Shel Horowitz.

Roof made of traditional bamboo and thatch in the multi-tribe hill village. Photo by Shel Horowitz.

Smog and Noise

Thailand gets a C+ here, and Bangkok gets an F. Many areas are choked with traffic and with fumes spewing untreated from two-stroke motorbikes and tuk-tuks. Four-stroke gasoline-powered cars and diesel truck and bus engines run cleaner, but not clean enough. Many “long tail” tourist boats are powered by old V8 automotive engines with neither smog control nor muffler. Thailand’s cities have very poor air quality, and they are LOUD. Hybrid vehicles are relatively rare, though they do exist. While not nearly as common as Beijing or Shanghai, many people wear surgical masks when they’re out and about (and in Bangkok, we wished we had them—though everyplace else we went, even the metropolis of Chiang Mai, smog was not a noticeable problem).

In Bangkok, smoking is common, which doesn’t help the air quality; smoking was much less popular in the north. We didn’t pass many factories, but those we did encounter seemed relatively clean. I can’t remember seeing any belching smokestacks.

Still, there’s a lot more work to be done. Pollution control on the two-stroke engines would be an excellent place to start.

Organic Agriculture, Crafts, and Natural Foods

To our surprise and delight, there seems to be a substantial movement toward organic agriculture, some of it driven by the late King Rama IX. Several of the rural hotels we stayed at grew many of their own vegetables, all of them organic. In the cities, it’s easy to find organic food in the larger supermarkets. In the north, we ate at several organic restaurants out in the country, some part of resorts and others all by themselves. Thailand has a rich and diverse cuisine that we’ve been enjoying since the 1970s, and Thais put enormous value on freshness. This trip was the first time I’ve ever experienced bamboo shoots or baby corn fresh. In the US, they’re usually canned (and awful), though I’ve occasionally found dried or pickled bamboo shoots.

Most restaurants were willing to accommodate vegetarians and many offered vegan options. When our tour stopped to eat as a group, our tour leader would always make arrangements and the restaurant would prepare close equivalents to the food everyone else was eating—even special soups with vegan bases. Much of Thai cuisine, including several wonderful curries, is based on rice and noodles (made from wheat, rice, or beans) with fish sauce, meat or fish, and vegetables added, so it was easy enough for restaurants to pull some aside before adding the parts we didn’t want.

When we were on our own, though, we avoided the curries unless we were in vegetarian restaurants, since pretty much any prepackaged curry paste is going to contain fish sauce. But we were able to find choices both at sit-down restaurants and in the stalls lining the alleys of the local markets, where we easily found healthy snacks like buns filled with taro, pumpkin, or sweet potato…coconut pancakes…terrific fresh fruits and smoothies…tofu dishes…and quite a bit more.

Local crafters are everywhere, though it takes an experienced eye to steer visitors to the right places. Our tour leader was very good at this, and took us to many crafters, including an organic coconut farm, a 76-year-old woman who showed us how to dye fabric naturally with indigo (she sells to Japan Air Lines’ duty-free stores), and various other cottage industries. Our leader also let us sample many of the local snacks, including a stop at a shop that sold about two dozen varieties of banana, taro, and sweet potato chips.

As a visitor, I feel some obligation to support these types of places as much as possible, and not buy much from the big malls that are beginning to crowd out the independents. And as a shopper, I found the prices low and the quality high. So everybody wins.

Water Conservation

Although water is ample (sometimes too ample, as flooding is a problem in many areas), Thais seem to have high awareness of just how precious water is. Many toilets are dual flush, taps are designed to be workable with low flow, and water-saving showerheads were very much in evidence. One four-star hotel not only displayed the usual sign about washing sheets and towels but another one explaining that water is precious and suggesting turning the water off while shaving and brushing teeth—yay!

Energy

Thailand has 22 operating hydroelectric plants with capacities ranging from 0.13 to 749 megawatts —four of them 500 MW or above (and several more in the planning stages). I saw almost no solar or wind. The solar I saw was all very decentralized, powering one building or part of one. I may have seen one wind farm but it could have been something else. Interestingly, one area that did use more solar was the village in far-northern Thailand where members of several different hill tribes live together and sell beautiful crafts to travelers. This is one of the late king’s numerous social betterment projects, and features running water and other amenities, while allowing the tribespeople to live a more traditional life than they could in a city.

I understand that commercial solar panels are expensive. But given Thailand’s subtropical to tropical climate, solar would be a natural, and some technologies (including solar water heating) can be done quite cheaply. Insulating more of those cheap houses and stores might be another good step. It wouldn’t make much of a difference in the energy picture because most of those homes, at least, aren’t air conditioned. But it would make a lot of difference in people’s comfort.

Despite the paucity of hybrid cars (I think I saw three Priuses and one Honda Insight), the vehicle fleet is dominated by small, high-MPG cars. As in much of Europe and Latin America, most of the trucks are also much smaller than the US fleet. However, there’s clearly an influx of new money, and one of the ways it shows is the rapidly increasing number of luxury and sports cars. I noticed several BMWs, a couple of Porsches, one Ferrari, and lots of Lexuses, as well as quite a number of Japanese-made SUVs and minivans. But the vast majority were small or mid-size Japanese and Korean sedans.

Bangkok has two separate rapid transit systems plus several kinds of city buses. Everywhere else, we saw no buses at all, just collective taxis: either converted pickup trucks with a bench along each side and one up the middle (called song thaew), or tuk-tuk minivans, called etans. We saw bus stops in Chiang Mai, but never saw a bus. Of course, there were thousands of regular tuk-tuks (which hold three passengers if you squeeze) and hundreds of metered taxis.

Trash and Recycling

Separation stations for glass and plastic bottles show up occasionally, but aren’t widespread. We saw no paper recycling at all—but we did see employees hand-sorting trash and removing and crushing plastic bottles, several times. Many of the farmers and gardeners compost, and we even visited an elephant refuge that collected the poop not only on land, but even while the animals were bathing in the river—crew members were stationed a hundred yards downstream, with nets and pails. They sold some of it as fertilizer and used some to manufacture paper. The fiber content is high enough, and the paper doesn’t smell. I actually know someone in the US who sells a line of specialty gift papers made largely of elephant poop, and they’re lovely.

Litter exists and in some areas is considerable, but much less than in many other countries we’ve traveled through.

Urban Oases

Every city we visited had plenty of parks, some of them stunningly beautiful. But even more than the parks, many of the thousands of Buddhist temples are urban oases, places where you can relax, distress, and meditate in front of the Buddha. Sometimes the plazas inside the gates are lively and noisy, but always, the temple interiors provide respite. And often the courtyards and gardens do as well.

Other Urban Planning

If Thailand has zoning, it doesn’t seem to be much enforced. Towns and cities grow in a tangled sprawl, using cheap construction materials and without regard for infrastructure. This leads to massively overcrowded roads and a sense of loss as the very beautiful indigenous architecture gives way to “anywhere” buildings.

As an example, during World War II, the area around Kanchanaburi—where the bridge over the River Kwai was built—was jungle wilderness. Now the main road is strip mall central, all the way from Bangkok.

Posted in Demographics/Psychographics, Energy & Sustainability, Environment, travel Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

If You Kick the Press Out, It’s Not a Press Conference!

A reality check for Mr. Trump:

If you have a press conference, you have to let the press in to cover it. Otherwise, it’s not a press conference.

Blocking CNN, the New York Times, Politico and the Los Angeles Times from attending only serves to shred the thin slivers of credibility you have remaining. It gives the mainstream media permission to call you out for your totalitarian tendencies—or to not cover you at all. Oh, and don’t think it’s going to get in any serious reporter’s way of covering the event.

New York Times logo

New York Times logo

Here’s the New York Times article on this action, which cites a younger-and-wiser Sean Spicer last December:

In December, he told Politico that the Trump White House would never ban a news outlet. “Conservative, liberal or otherwise, I think that’s what makes a democracy a democracy versus a dictatorship,” he said.

Posted in Democracy, Ethics in Government, media-general, propaganda, Publishing Tagged with: , ,

Can We Get This Movie Into Every History and Social Studies Class?

My wife and I were both deeply moved watching a filmed performance of George Takei’s Broadway musical, “Allegiance,” set primarily in an isolated internment camp holding Japanese-Americans during World War II.

"Allegiance" musical-logo

“Allegiance” musical-logo

While according to Wikipedia, the play exaggerates the anti-Japanese racism and conditions at the camps in pursuit of the salable story, it has a whole lot to say about ethics, families whose values conflict, and prejudice—98 percent of which still applies even if that is true. Each major character pursues his or her own truth, and acts in the way s/he feels is best for both the person and the wider Japanese-American community. But those ways are in such conflict that a family is torn asunder for 60 years.

Even if the story hadn’t been so engaging, the quality of singing is amazingly high, especially from Lea Salonga (Keiko) and Christopheren Nomura (Tatsuo).

Takei (who is absolutely brilliant as the grandfather and also plays the very emotional role of the male lead as an old man) says he worked on this project for 10 years. But the show ran only several months. Fortunately, it was preserved on film.

It is worth remembering that the Japanese-Americans, many of them citizens, were rounded up during the administration of FDR, a liberal Democrat. That their property was confiscated, their freedom taken away, and the conditions in the camps were often miserable. And that once they were allowed to enlist, Japanese-American men were put in situations where massive numbers would die.

Now, under a right-wing Republican president Takei could not have anticipated when he and his colleagues started work, other ethnic and religious groups are being targeted. We who are not part of those groups must ensure that what happened to the Japanese in America and their Japanese-American US citizen children must never happen again to any ethnic or religious group.

I would like to see this movie shown far and wide. At the moment, I can’t find anything about future showings, but http://allegiancemusical.com/article/allegiance-film-encore/#DPrWhbgSL6O53Ckf.97 would be the place to request that.

Posted in Arts & Entertainment, Democracy, Diversity, Ethics in Government, Ethics: General, Events, Peace and War, Politics, Social and Economic Justice Tagged with: , , , , , , ,

This is What DICTATORSHIP Looks Like

At almost any protest event these days, you’ll hear the chant, “Tell me what democracy looks like. This is what democracy looks like.”

Unfortunately, the targets of our protests—the new US federal government that came into power in January—show us almost every day what democracy DOESN’T look like. It’s looking more and more like dictatorship.

Caricature of Donald Trump by DonkeyHotey, Creative Commons License: https://www.flickr.com/photos/donkeyhotey/5471912349/sizes/m/in/photostream/

Caricature of Donald Trump by DonkeyHotey, Creative Commons License: https://www.flickr.com/photos/donkeyhotey/5471912349/sizes/m/in/photostream/

The list of every bad thing the government is doing would be far longer than would fit on a blog, but it’s important to keep the overall “doubleplusungood” (as George Orwell coined it in his antitotalitarian classic 1984) trend in mind. A reminder of a few lowlights:

As I said, I could go on for a long time. The above is not even close to a comprehensive list. Even the right-wing site LearnLiberty sees DT as a serious threat to our liberties.

Posted in Ethics in Government, Politics, propaganda, Protests and Crackdowns, Social and Economic Justice Tagged with: , , , , , , ,

Will Budweiser’s Gamble Pay Off?

Being political can be a very good thing for a business—look what it’s done for Ben & Jerry’s. I believe that social/environmental responsibility is what made B&Js a player with 40% or more of the superpremium ice cream market. Without it, it would be just another among the hundreds of minor players with slivers of market share. Many other companies have also benefitted by their strong stands, including Patagonia, The Body Shop, Interface (flooring company), and many others.

But there has to be a good match between audience and messages.

Which is what makes Budweiser’s “Born the Hard Way” Superbowl ad so surprising, almost shocking.

The football-adoring working-class male Bud drinker (a big part of their audience) is one of the demographics most likely to have voted for DT. Many voters in that demographic had enough comfort with the anti-immigrant rhetoric and action that they cast that vote, even if their motivations were on other issues (such as believing that DT would create more jobs). In other words, this ad could anger a large segment of Bud’s core market. Taking that risk is an act of courage.

Budweiser bottle (photo credit Paul Fris)

Budweiser bottle (photo credit Paul Fris)

Those out in the streets for immigrant rights who are not themselves immigrants or the children of immigrants probably skew rather heavily toward craft beer. I don’t think as great a percentage of them will be going for Bud, Coors (BTW, heavily associated in the 1970s with right-wing causes, before it merged with Molson), or any other industrial beer. It’s also worth pointing out that Islam is a no-alcohol religion (though that commandment is not always followed). So Anheuser-Busch is being quite courageous. If right wing elements (or DT himself) call a boycott, it’s going to be hard to get those who support their position to also support their beer.

I speak out of my own tastes here. I am delighted that Bud took this stand. The company says this ad was prepared in October, before the anti-immigrant candidate eked out his Electoral College victory. That may be. But that also left them two months following the election to decide not to run it. Going forward raises my respect for A-B. But until an American Bud tastes as good as the incredible Czech Budwar (originated by the same family), I still won’t want to drink it. I might talk about them in my speeches or even invest in the company, but I’m not likely to be a customer, let alone a brand loyalist.

Wouldn’t you love to be a fly on the wall when A-B discusses this commercial at its next high-level strategic marketing meetings?

If you like to study Superbowl ads, BTW, here’s a reel of someone’s choices for the top 10 of this year. (My comments are underneath the video.)

The “Born the Hard Way” Bud ad didn’t make the cut, though another Bud ad did. I don’t know who curated this, but I don’t share that person’s sensibility. As a group, I found them disjointed, way too violent, and for the most part not focused on selling (other than the McDonald’s “Big Mac for That”). Why does Mercedes spend 3/4 of their ad on a play fight among motorcyclists in a bar? Why was it such a struggle to even make the connection between the Humpty Dumpty ad and the product that less than half an hour after watching, I can’t even remember what the ad was for? Considering how many millions of dollars go into producing and airing each of these ads, it just makes me scratch my head. Is this really a successful marketing strategy?

Posted in Advertising, Branding, Business Ethics, Corporate Social Responsibility, Demographics/Psychographics, language, Marketing Trends/News, Psychology, Social and Economic Justice Tagged with: , , , , , , ,

Does Your Passion Still Leave You in Poverty?

Does your work fulfill you? (And I mean, really fulfill you?)

Do you go to bed smiling each day because you know you’ve made the impact you were put on this planet to make…and wake up excited and ready to do it again?

If you just answered, “No,” you’re not alone. In fact, a staggering 90% of the global working population is unsatisfied with the work they do, according to a Gallup study.

What if I told you that you CAN identify – and monetise [yes, we’re using Aussie spellings today, because our summit host is Australian] – your passion…so you live a life you love, making the impact you were born to make?

You can!

My friend Rita Joyan has been exactly where you are, if you resonate with the above. She’s cracked the code on monetising your passion (by doing it for herself!). Now, she’s bringing together top experts from around the world (including me) to share our best secrets and tips for doing exactly that, in a brand new virtual event: Monetise Your Passion, beginning 13th February, 2017.

Skip the reading and sign up to join us, here:

Monetise – Your Passion <<< Sign Up Here – NO CHARGE >>>

Shel Horowitz and other speakers at Rita Joyan's Monetise Your Passion Summit

Speakers at Rita Joyan’s Monetise Your Passion Summit

When you go to the link above and sign up to join us for this powerful, complimentary interview series, you’ll hear personal, real-life stories of total transformation from experts who have all found and monetised their passion.

We’re living each and every day around our passion – which means we’re also living highly-fulfilled, complete and joyful lives!

Now, we want to help you do the same.

Join us, and:

  • Discover your passion, and how to get past the blocks that may keep you from monetising it.
  • Learn the #1 mistake most people make that keeps them stuck — struggling to make money with their passion — while others (in the same business) make consistent money doing what they love.
  • Find out how to crack the code when it comes to monetising your passion, so you can spend more time with your family, be your own boss, and make an impact.
  • Get proven methods to stop being ‘busy,’ and start being productive, so you can make big strides toward earning a living with your passion.
  • And more!

Plus, you’ll receive amazing gifts and resources designed to assist you on this incredible journey toward making money with your passion!

Click the link below and take the first step, by reserving your spot – GRATIS – for Monetise Your Passion here, now:

Live Your Most Fulfilled, Happiest Life <<< Reserve Your Spot >>>

I want you to know, I believe in this message (I’m a living example of it) and Rita’s library of training, and I highly recommend this interview series. Rita practises what she teaches (including escaping a miserable 9–5 in order to create a life and business that allows her to give back and make money at the same time), and it’s now her mission to support other existing and aspiring entrepreneurs in doing the same.

I can’t wait for you to join us 😉

Warmly,

P.S. Sign up now and start creating a new, happier, more fulfilled life for yourself! You can’t imagine how EVERYTHING changes, when you live and monetise your passion.  Plus, this virtual event (which has the potential to change your life!) is completely FREE! Why wait another moment? Reserve your spot by clicking the link in the next line:

Your Passion Is Waiting – Claim It! <<< Join Us Here 13th February 2017>>>

[reprinted from my newsletter with permission from guest author Rita Joyan]

Posted in Abundance and Prosperity, Business-general, Entrepreneurship, Events, Marketing Techniques and Philosophies, Networking, Shel's Personal Life Tagged with: , ,

George Lakey: DT’s Repression is a Huge Opportunity for the Movement

Nonviolent action theorist/activist/author George Lakey published a fabulous essay, “A 10-point plan to stop T***p and make gains in justice and equality” last week*

George Lakey, activist and author (most recent book: Viking Economics)

George Lakey, activist and author (most recent book: Viking Economics)

George has been a hero and mentor of mine ever since I first heard him speak around 1977. His presence at Movement for a New Society’s Philadelphia Life Center was a big part of why I moved to that community for a nine-month training program in nonviolent action, back in 1980-81.

He argues that this is our moment to break out of reactive protests and into big sweeping social and environmental demands. He notes that the LGBT movement was one of the only progressive movements to gain traction under Reagan—because its agenda was so much bigger than just fighting cutbacks. Twenty and thirty years earlier, the Civil Rights movement accomplished sweeping social change as well.

So instead of defending the weak centrist gains of the past 30 years, we go beyond and organize for our wider goals. We refuse to play defense against DT’s shenanigans and instead take the role of pushing for a new, kinder, people- and planet-centered normal. With direct-action campaigns that link multiple issues, such as Standing Rock, and with alternative institutions like the Movement for Black Lives, we create a nonviolent invasion of deep social change (this is my metaphor, not George’s).

In short, we think bigger—and act bigger. and instead of crawling to the politicians, we force them to court us as they see us come into our true power.

I’ve been saying we need to think bigger and more systemically for years. George says it succinctly and eloquently, and with a lens I hadn’t looked through.

How does this apply in today’s world?

  • The Republican attack on what George calls the “medical industrial complex-friendly Affordable Care Act” (a/k/a Obamacare) is a chance to bypass the witheringly bureaucratic and unfair insurance system and push for real single-payer, Medicare-for-All plan of the sort that’s worked so well in Scandinavia (he explores the Scandinavian social safety net in his latest book, Viking Economics)
  • The Standing Rock Water Protectors have linked multiple issues into a coherent whole: clean water, the environment generally, the rights of indigenous people (among others)
  • Movements around creating a meaningful safety net, such as the $15 per hour minimum wage, can reach disaffected white working class voters as well as people of color; when those who voted for DT on economic grounds realize he has betrayed them, we can win them over (I would add that this will only work if we have mechanisms in place to defuse the racism and nativism that DT used to attract them, and have meaningful ways to integrate the lesson that all colors, races, and religions can be allies to each other and are stronger together—and Lakey does point out that the United Auto Workers has been successful organizing on these unifying principles)

I could add a lot to George’s list. As one among many suggestions, let’s push to not only end all subsidies to the fossil and nuclear industries but let’s push for a complete transition to clean, renewable energy—whether or not we get any help from the government.

Read his essay. Come back the next day and read it again. Then share it with friends, social media communities, and colleagues and discuss how you personally and your group of individuals with shared positive purpose can make these changes happen.

*Why did I replace DT’s last name with stars? And why do I call him DT rather than by his name? Because I am doing my best not to give him any search engine juice. I don’t want him showing up as “trending” or driving traffic to him.

Posted in Abundance and Prosperity, Activism, Democracy, Demographics/Psychographics, Diversity, language, Marketing Techniques and Philosophies, People Helping People, Politics, poverty, Protests and Crackdowns, Psychology, Shel's Personal Life, Social and Economic Justice Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Not My SCOTUS Justice

One one level, I’m pleased that DT has chosen a very smart guy for his first Supreme Court Justice nominee.

Supreme Court, 2009 (Photo)

In this 2009 portrait of the Supreme Court, Scalia is third from the right.

But on the other hand, Neil Gorsuch is as much of a right-wing ideologue as his late mother Anne, who attempted to eviscerate the Environmental Protection Administration when she ran it for Ronald Reagan. And then there’s the little matter of timing: A nominee was already selected by President Obama when his term still had nine months left. I thought Obama was making a huge mistake in not pushing hard on this. Even if Clinton had won in November, it was a terrible precedent. Merrick Garland is every bit as smart as Neil Gorsuch, and is not an ideologue for either side. He belongs on the Court.

Thus, I wrote the following email this morning to my Democratic Senators, both of whom have already made public statements opposing this nomination—feel free to use it as the basis for a personalized letter to your own Senators:

Thanks for Opposing Gorsuch nomination–Please Organize Other Democratic Senators

Dear Senator Warren (Senator Markey):

Thank you for being such a strong advocate of justice in the opening weeks of the Trump era. As a constituent and a citizen, I’m very grateful–and I ask you to step to the plate again to lead the fight against Neil Gorsuch. I see that you’ve already said publicly that you will not support this nomination, and thank you for that as well. I urge you not only to publicly oppose this nomination, but to build opposition among your fellow Democratic and Independent Senators. This latest unacceptable nomination must be stopped. Here are two talking points that may help:

1. There is already a nomination on the table: the moderate centrist Merrick Garland. The Senate’s disgraceful failure to act on that nomination should not invalidate it, and the horrible precedent that a president in his last year isn’t entitled to nominate has to be undermined.

2. Trump did not even get a majority, or anything close to a majority. There is no mandate to install SCOTUS justices with a radical right-wing ideology such as Judge Gorsuch’s. He is obviously very smart and scholarly, but has been an adamant champion of some of the worst judicial decisions while regularly sharing his view that the courts should not be used to expand the rights of ordinary citizens. As examples, he has written decisions that favor Christianity against other religions, and has called corporate campaign contributions (presumably including those allowed under Citizens United) “fundamental right” that should be afforded the highest standard of constitutional protection. All of this is well-documented in his Wikipedia profile: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neil_Gorsuch . I repeat: there is no mandate to appoint a right-wing ideologue.

Shel Horowitz – “The Transformpreneur”(sm)

If you feel as I do, please contact your Senators. Again, I freely give permission to modify what I’ve written to send your own message.

Posted in Activism, Democracy, Politics, Social and Economic Justice Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,

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