Albert Bates, Naomi Klein, and Late Winter Green Acres News

Here’s a stimulating post from the indefatigable Albert Bates that includes a subtle, critical, and yet respectful, review of Naomi Klein’s new book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. Climate. Via Keith.

This Changes Nothing — Naomi Klein’s Climate Prescription

I haven’t read her book yet, but from the new interviews I’ve seen with her that talk about it, I have felt puzzled and vaguely disappointed, without knowing why. Albert Bates may have put his finger on the problem.

I get the feeling about Naomi Klein the same as I get about Chris Hedges, that they are great, in fact, extremely articulate and passionate spokespersons in terms of identifying what’s gone wrong, but that neither of them have really, personally, sunk their feet into the highly co-creative, open-sourced alternative atmosphere that many of us are busy building from within the ashes of the old world, and from the ground up.

Albert Bates, BTW, is one person who has been doing this kind of work, for decades, at The Farm in Tennessee. Here’s an indie-go-go campaign that he ran, called The Hippies Were Right that, unfortunately, didn’t make its funding goals, but did a great job in showing what he’s been up to all these years. Or maybe I should say “down to,” because Albert Bates is definitely grounded.

Let’s emphasize here that one syllable word, “ground.”

Etymology (from

Screenshot 2015-02-24 09.27.49

Ground: The bottom of anything. Where we come into contact.. .

Back in the early ’70s, when I was (so others thought) “going crazy,” what I longed for more than anything was what I called the “clashing of reality with my dream.” Sensing that I — my mind and spirit — was in danger of going too far “out there,” I realized I needed to find a way back — back home, back into my body, my senses, to experience the thunk that would bring me up short, make me gasp with a huge sigh of relief, an enormous AHA! I knew I needed to recognize my boundaries, limitations, where I began and others left off. So that I could know: Aha! So I’m NOT the center of the universe!

But of course, I was and AM the center of the universe, as is everyone the center in a universe with no circumference, expanding from each dimensionless point as its center infinitely in all directions . . .

This little riff reminds me of now, when I sometimes need to remind people that I don’t really trust a person’s friendship until he or she can feel free to criticize me, bring me up short, with that same aha! I still need this kind of feedback. I need to see my own shadow, the parts of myself otherwise hidden from my awareness. And other people are of immense help in this intense, ongoing pursuit to make what is unconscious conscious, to bring the darkness to light, to continuously identify and integrate all parts of my evolving self so that I may share that self fully and generously with the world.

When someone just mealy-mouths a bloodless “yes” to everything I see/feel/hear/say, then I simply don’t trust them. “Don’t know my way about” with them, as the philosopher Wittgenstein, an intensely lonely man, would have said. Unless someone “speaks up,” I don’t know what’s “really” going on inside them — when they give me no clues!

I used to say to my dear, departed husband Jeff Joel, “Meet me, Jeff! Just meet me!” This never failed to startle him. He too, tended towards solipsism, and our process together was in part, a frisson that periodically drew out the insides of the other so that the “worst” could be seen and absorbed, as food.

This reminds me of my favorite definition of “Crone” as “She who eats her own shadow.”

Without that meeting, even that clashing, I’m left inside my solipsistic, self-centered, narcissistic universe of one, crashing about, doing my own thing, with not nearly enough sensitivity to the prevailing winds.

Unless someone takes me to task, I’m only on my own, and often as not, foundering.

Unless someone says “NO” to what I see/feel/hear/say, then I simply have no need to change my ways, and no way to figure out why they did that, why they disagree, why they set up that boundary, that form that defines reality as other than I imagined.

Simply, I thrive on the creative coming together with folks who sometimes disagree and do so with both verve and detachment, in a loving atmosphere of mutual trust.

And that does seem to be the culture we are cultivating here in the Milkweed Pod of the Green Acres Neighborhood Ecovillage.

It just gets better and better, richer and richer, as time goes on. Even in the so-called “dead” of winter, when snow covers everything outside.

GANG garden winter

— and nobody even thinks about going into the GANG garden.

GANG sign, winter

All of which brings me back to Albert Bates, his review of Naomi Klein: let’s hope she takes his critique to heart, and grounds her own critique of capitalism in something beyond mass demonstrations against it.

Meanwhile, in this little corner of the world, we’ve been busy, busy, inside, with I can’t be sure how many meetings held in this house during January and February —six, eight, ten? Well, let’s see, there’s the Grant Writing Group, which meets weekly, for first, an elaborate breakfast and then work, sometimes here, sometimes a couple of blocks away, at either Heather’s or Melissa’s house.

grant group

Sometimes a subcommittee of the Grant Group might meet to edit a final draft of a grant.

grant writing

So far, one grant has been turned in, to buy berry bushes for three workshops Rebecca wants to give to help people in Green Acres learn how to plant, care for, and preserve the harvest of perennial plants.

The Grant Group has been working on a much bigger grant, “Healing Our Borders,” for which we have met twice now, with city officials in my living room, and after the second meeting decided to scale back the project for this year and instead do it in three annual phases. This year, to concentrate on getting a grant for five signs at entrances of the neighborhood.

Meanwhile, another group, the Development Group, is revving up, again with Katarina as its leader, in fact, we have now given her the official title, “Community Development Director” for Green Acres Neighborhood. I’ll speak more about that as time goes on, but it’s good to know that Mel, who lives just barely beyond a stone’s throw of here, volunteered at Sunday’s afternoon meeting to take on the job of putting the GANA, GANG, and GANE websites together in one place as we persist in this long-range plan to transform an existing suburban neighborhood into an ecovillage.

Until the website switchover happens, you’d be well advised to check in periodically with Katarina’s social utiility work on the facebook page: Green Acres Neighborhood Garden.

There’s also a closed group on facebook, the Green Acres Community Supported Kitchen, where people sign up for the thrice-weekly dinners . . . but you know what? I’m still in my mid-winter doldrums, and need to stop talking about any of this for today.

I’ll end on a light note. Poor Shadow. Back during the last storm, we dressed him up in a new outfit podmate Kryssa got for him, including little mitts (to protect his paws from salt on the roads). But he didn’t like the outfit, in fact, refused to even go outside as long as it was on. Mea culpa.

poor Shadow

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1 Response to Albert Bates, Naomi Klein, and Late Winter Green Acres News

  1. laurabruno says:

    Oh, my goodness! Shadow looks so stylish. 🙂 I especially love the slippers! Thanks for being you, and thanks for all that you and everyone at the GANG are doing.

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