Thursday, January 31, 2013

SIN ... Tide to Go stick!

I think that a pastor can use almost anything as

material for a sermon. My husband had just gotten

a new white shirt. He was wearing this shirt as the

worship team gathered around the piano to go

over some music. One of the team members asked

my husband what was on his shirt; he looked down

and realized that he had spilled coffee with cream

down the front of it. Since I carry a Tide to Go

stick in my purse, I quickly rubbed it over the huge

stain. Within seconds, it was gone! The shirt was

spotless and ready for the morning service!

Later in the service, my husband reflected on

what had happened earlier with his white shirt.

"It's a reminder of what Christ has done for us.

We come to him in desperation, knowing that

there is nothing we can do on our own to remove

the stain of sin. "Every time I use my

"miraculous" Tide to Go stick, I will be reminded

of the real miracle Christ has performed in my


Ashley J. Taylor

















GREEN cities!!

From the book "More Good News"  by  David Suzuki and Hooly Dressel


Make the community able to invest in itself by maintaining its properties, keeping itself clean

 (without dirtying some other place), caring for its old people, teaching its children. 

 Number 11 of Wendell Berry's 17 Rules for a Sustainable Community17

As we noted in Chapter 1, municipal governments all over the world are leading the growing movement for sustainability. Organizations like the Mayors' Hemispheric Forum and the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group are simply bypassing presidents and prime ministers like George Bush and Stephen Harper, who dragged their feet on climate change legislation. It's surprising to see who's really getting on with the business of hard goals and multilateral agreements. But it makes sense if you know the rules of sustainability—that the best solutions will always come from the less powerful, from people on the ground, and from local communities that are closest to individual ecosystems and most aware of their needs. In the world of elected governments, that's municipalities.


Today both the city of Portland and the state of Oregon are recognized as having some of the most progressive environmental legislation on the continent—legislation that helps jobs, businesses, and cities go green. Portland has managed to make itself probably the most car-unfriendly city in car-crazy North America, without angering residents or slowing down its tourism industry. That's because it approached the situation with carrots instead of sticks. Its methods have won over even hard-core motorists with an excellent (and free) system of light rail in the downtown core. Large parking lots are located strategically outside of and around town to make the transition from car to transit more attractive, and the trains come so often that a laden shopper need hardly wait three minutes. The city's narrow, tree-lined streets give electric buses, bicycles, and pedestrians priority in two lanes out of three. All these friendly nudges have inspired both residents and visitors to leave their cars and cycle, walk, or use public transit. Not surprisingly Portland has one of the most beguiling downtowns in North America, filled with friendly pedestrians enjoying the shops, restaurants, and pretty side streets, and especially enjoying the fresh air and lack of traffic noise.


Less than a decade ago, car sharing, which we had found only in Europe and Portland, was a new way for urban residents to share a fleet of small and fuel-efficient cars for an annual fee. Today car sharing has spread all across North America. In addition many cities also have partially free bike services, with tough city bikes parked in strategic shopping, school, or entertainment areas, so you can leave downtown, ride to your girlfriend's, drop off your bike, have a long dinner, and get yourself home by grabbing another bike after the buses have stopped. Montreal's service is so popular it was expanded almost immediately.


Even neighborhoods within cities are beginning to take control of their surroundings. In the 1980s the Dudley Street neighborhood in Boston had become one of the worst urban war zones in the U.S., a result of racism, crime, and neglectful and absentee landlords engaging in speculation and using arson to collect insurance. In the 1970s realtors had forced minority white homeowners out of the neighborhood, even orchestrating break-ins to do so, in an effort to play cards with properties being sold at a fraction of their value. When collapse followed, the scammers passed the costs of foreclosure on to the federal government, and Dudley became a wasteland of abandoned houses and vacant lots—hundreds of them.
The remaining residents didn't want to be cleared out for "urban renewal," however, so they organized the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative (dsni) and started gathering the low-hanging fruit, beginning with a simple campaign to prevent garbage dumping in their burned-out, vacant lots. That success quickly led to the creation of a comprehensive revitalization plan, presented to the city of Boston only two years later. Boston accepted it, making Dudley Street the first community group in the country to "win the power of eminent domain to acquire vacant land for resident-led development." Absentee-owned properties were seized and awarded to the new Dudley Neighbors community land trust. Residents got to choose to stay and develop their vacant lots as homes or gardens, but the speculators from outside lost theirs, DSNI proceeded to rebuild this vacant land with low-income housing, and created a commons, green spaces, a farmers' market, playgrounds, and more community services.
When the sub-prime mortgage crisis came along in 2008, this thriving community was able not only to withstand it but also to help homeowners beyond its borders avoid foreclosure. Dudley lot owners aren't allowed to gamble or speculate with their land-trust properties; they have to agree that all future sales will be made to a low- or moderate-income buyer and follow a resale formula that permits price appreciation—but at a modest and sustainable rate. These restrictions also get them a lower property tax rate from Boston and allow dsni to support tenants' rights in apartments. Today the initiative is working with the city of Boston to buy and repair foreclosed properties and add as many of them to the land trust as possible.
The social effects of such policies are profound. Kids who grew up in Dudley have become community leaders, politicians, and teachers. John Barros only left his home neighborhood to go to Dartmouth; now he works on the dsni board. He says the main "sign of progress [is] that so many kids move up [in society] and stay in Dudley." And Dudley is spreading its model, showing other inner-city neighborhoods how to forestall "the storm of predatory lending, fraud, and foreclosures sweeping the country." Its approach, countrywide, has seen only two foreclosures in a sample of more than three thousand land trust homeowners.18


As we've emphasized in examples throughout this book, Europe still has the greatest number of truly green cities. What European cities have in common is citizens who have all agreed that their ecosystem needs, as well as their garbage and wastes, must be dealt with; and the efforts they make will enable them to have decent lives for a long time into the future. Their efforts are causing neither personal suffering nor national economic problems. Despite them, or arguably because of them, Germany and other countries with exemplary green cities are among the most prosperous nations on Earth. Striving to do what European cities do already has to become the norm across the planet because it's the right, just, and most prosperous way to build the future. Painstaking studies undertaken by the Wuppertal Institute in Bonn in the mid-1990s demonstrated that real, equitable sharing of the planet's natural resources could enable every starving,,sick human on Earth to live just as well as middle-class Germans did back in the early 1970s. That is, we could all share a future with comfortable, private homes, good diets, nice clothes, and electronics. With serious efforts toward steady-state economies and populations, the only real sacrifices would be less per capita in terms of private transportation, luxuries, and waste. That doesn't sound too bad for anybody—even those of us currently taking more than our fair share.19

HYMNS...Great is Thy Faithfulness...story

Great Is Thy Faithfulness
Thomas Chisholm, 1877 -1957
Great is thy faithfulness!
Great is thy faithfulness!

Morning by morning new mercies I see;

All I have needed thy hand hath provided

Great is thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

The text was inspired by pivotal lines of Jeremiah's Lamentations. After a long litany of disaster and woe, Jeremiah gives a reason for hope: God is faithful and his compassions are new every morning.
Bob Lytle recalls the day when Chisholm's hymn and Jeremiah's point was indelibly stamped on his consciousness. It was 1945, the year he and his wife, Louise, and infant son left New York State for their first missionary tour.
The Lyfles flew to Colombia, but they couldn't board with much baggage, being restricted to sixty pounds for each paying passenger. And most of that allotment, Bob says, "was claimed by diapers and baby necessities. Mom and Pop had little room for their clothing and household articles"—including many items unavailable in the Third World. Bob and Louise packed all but the bare essentials for shipment by sea. They were told to expect the boxes and barrels to arrive at their door in three weeks. "
In Medellin the Lytles moved into a mission apartment outfitted with basic furnishings. But weeks, then months, passed, and Bob started to wonder if the slow boat had sailed to Calcutta. He recalls, "Our son lived comfortably with plenty of diapers and rompers. But the parents—we watched our insufficient clothing become damaged, worn out, and detested. We longed for the useful "gadgets" packed away and gone only God knew where.
Bob and Louise prayed for God's merciful will, and finally, six months later, the unaccompanied baggage arrived on two rickety, two-wheeled, horse-drawn flatbeds. Though battered, it had survived its sea voyage, the sun-baked docks, the customs inspection, and the train trip up the Andes from the coast.
The morning those tired horses stopped in the street, "it happened—no, God ruled it-—-that a fellow missionary in a neighboring apartment was playing 'Great Is Thy Fdthfulness' on her vibraharp." Bob remembers the moment: "My spirit rose with that song as I thought how good, how faithful God had been. In hindsight, I see that the cartons may have contained only a few trinkets, but he had brought them in blessing to us."
Bob sees God's faithfulness not only in "providing" the long-delayed possessions but also in the timing of a neighbor's song of praise. "It was more than a fortuitous happening," he says of the music vibrating through the thin walls. It was God's not-so-subtle reminder—strong enough to last a Lifetime— that he is Jehovah-jireh, the God Who Sees and the God Whose Provision Shall Be Seen. That event has been followed by uncounted encores, daily blessings, small and large, that reinforce this lesson learned as a young man.

And yet there have been days, weeks, when Bob could have written his own litany of lamentations. And that's when he chooses to take Jeremiah's tack—relying on recollection of previously acquired knowledge and understanding: "This I recall to mind, therefore I have hope."

As you face a new morning, recount God's faithfulness. Recollect his mercies. Recall the small and large miracles of your life. The material provisions. The orchestrated interventions. The reasons for your hope (Jeremiah 3:21 KJV).

Lord, when my hope and faith falter, remind me of specific times when I have been keenly aware of your faithful love and provision.

From the book "Spiritual Moments with the Great Hymns" by E

Evelyn Bence

STAYING fit...staying young...and WHEY!


Study: Both Exercise and Whey Augment Human Growth Hormone Production, Which Can Keep Your Body Young

February 01, 2013 | 6,664 views | 

By Dr. Mercola
Exercise is one of the “golden tickets” to preventing disease and slowing the aging process.
One reason for this is because exercise is one of the most effective ways to regain insulin and leptin sensitivity and reverse insulin and leptin-resistance, which is a key to staying healthy as you get older.
But another reason why exercise is sometimes regarded as a real-life fountain of youth is because, when done intensely, it boosts your body's natural production of human growth hormone (HGH), a synergistic, foundational biochemical that addresses the serious muscle loss and atrophy that typically occurs with aging.
Intermittent fasting has many of the same benefits, including dramatically boosting HGH and optimizing insulin- and leptin sensitivity, which I’ll discuss more toward the end of this article.
Recent research1 also shows that ingesting carbohydrates (sucrose) with added whey protein isolate during short-term recovery from 90 minutes of treadmill running increases the growth hormone response to a second exhaustive exercise bout of similar duration.
However, I’ve previously discussed the issue of implementing an exercise and diet plan based on your desired goal, either:
  • Athletic performance, or
  • Health, longevity and reproductive success
If you are seeking to optimize competitive athletics, then carb-loading as used in the featured study can be useful. However it is not a wise strategy if you’re seeking long-term optimal health, as that requires a different approach. Avoidingcarbs then becomes paramount, along with making sure you’re using only high quality protein sources. (Clearly, competitive athletes could also improve if they used high quality organic, grass-fed whey rather than the far inferior whey protein isolate.)
Interestingly, in the wake of Lance Armstrong being stripped of his seven titles and banned from cycling for life after being found guilty of doping, one study known as the Goldman Dilemma, showed that more than half of Olympic-level athletes would gladly use a drug that would kill them within five years as long as it guaranteed them a gold medal.2
To most people, however, this would be an unacceptable exchange. The featured approach clearly will not kill you in five years, and I suspect most of the adverse longevity consequences are reversible, but in my opinion carb-loading is not ideal for long-term health.

Why Carb-Loading is Not Recommended if You Exercise for Longevity

The idea behind carb-loading is to saturate yourself with carbs so your muscles will have plenty of glycogen to go on while you exercise. This works fine for really fit athletes that have an intense workout regimen. They also have the muscle mass that could accommodate large glucose surges as muscles can rapidly utilize glucose. Additionally most athletes have optimized insulin and leptin signaling and are exercising which also allows them to better use the carbs.
However, I believe it is totally inappropriate for the vast majority of non-athletes that exercise casually, or just to get healthy as their muscle mass isn’t as well developed and their insulin and leptin signaling is typically impaired. Another point to consider in this study is that, while whey is great for stimulating muscle protein synthesis, I disagree with the use of whey protein isolate as whey protein concentrates are clearly superior.
As I'll discuss below, the focus on carbs is one of the most detrimental pieces of advice that is still widely promoted to athletes and non-athletes alike, and there are FAR better ways to boost HGH production than what was tested in the featured study, in which participants ran for 90 minutes with a four-hour long break in between repeated session.
First, it’s important to remember that what you eat can either add to or detract from your exercise benefits, and if you're devoting the time to exercise for health and longevity, you'd be well advised to harness your meals to support your goals, not detract from them.

First and foremost, contrary to popular advice, to maximize the benefits of exercise you'll want to avoid fructose and other sugars unless you are engaged in intensive and prolonged cardio exercises that will allow you to burn these sugars, especially fructose, and not store them as fat.
However, exercise, which in and of itself improves insulin and leptin sensitivity, will NOT completely compensate for excessive use of fructose.
This means that most casual exercisers and those seeking to improve their body composition and optimize health and fitness rather than boost athletic performance or competitiveness, need to ditch the energy drinks, sports drinks, most energy bars and even "healthy" drinks like vitamin water, as these will effectively sabotage your exercise benefits.
Fructose, which is found primarily in the form of high fructose corn syrup, is particularly detrimental as it tricks your body into gaining weight by turning off your body's appetite-control system. This happens because fructose does not appropriately stimulate insulin, which in turn does not suppress ghrelin (the "hunger hormone") and doesn't stimulate leptin (the "satiety hormone").
The end result is that you end up eating more, causing uncontrolled accumulation of sugar metabolites in your liver, which then leads to insulin resistance. Fructose also rapidly leads to decreased HDL ("good" cholesterol), increased LDL ("bad" cholesterol), elevated triglycerides, elevated blood sugar, and high blood pressure – i.e. classic metabolic syndrome. And if that's not bad enough, fructose has shown to increase the levels of TNF-α, a pro-inflammatory cytokine known to inhibit fat burning and promote muscle wasting.

Eating Whey Protein During Your Exercise Recovery May Boost HGH

Your production of vital human growth hormone increases by up to 771 percent during a high-intensity, interval workout like Peak Fitness because you are stimulating your fast twitch muscle fibers, which are rarely used during most exercise programs. The higher your levels of HGH, the healthier and stronger you will be.
Once you hit the age of 30, you enter what's called "somatopause," at which point your levels of HGH begin to drop off quite dramatically. This decline of HGH is part of what drives your aging process, so maintaining your HGH levels gets increasingly important with age.
Some athletes choose to inject HGH for its performance enhancing potential, though it is a banned substance in nearly every professional sport. I do not recommend injecting HGH however, due to the potential side effects, the cost and, more importantly, its potential to cause more long-term harm than good. Besides, as we now know, taking such risks is unnecessary because if you eat and exercise correctly, you will naturally optimize your HGH.

What You Eat in the Two to Three Hours After You Exercise is Extremely Important

After an intense workout, there's an exercise recovery phase of two to three hours during which you have to be somewhat careful about what foods you choose to eat. Specifically, in order to promote HGH release, you do need to restrict sugar intake post-exercise (although carbs can benefit those more interested in fast recovery, such as professional athletes). Fitness veteran Phil Campbell explains:
"What we recommend... is to get 25 grams of protein afterwards within that 30-minute golden window. There is a lot of research to support that, but there's also some research done by Dr. John Ivy of the University of Texas, a great researcher on a young cyclist who made recovery. They're not looking at growth hormone or maximizing growth hormone. They're trying to get to recover as quickly as possible so they can cycle several days in a row.
They showed that getting a ratio of 4:1 carbs to protein is better for recovery... 4:1 starts recovery faster. If you're going after recovery, that's the best strategy... [if] you're not looking for growth hormone, that is.
But on the other side, if your goal like most middle-aged adults and older is to maximize growth hormone, and to get this wonderful hormone circulating for that full two hours in the surging window for going after body fat (just about like you're doing cardio for two hours), you can do that. ...if you throw too many carbohydrates in... then that releases the hormones called somatostatin. That, for whatever reason, just shuts down growth hormone. That's clear in the research."
So it's important to avoid carbs, especially sugar or fructose-containing foods, in the two hours after your workout, and this includes sports drinks, to be sure you're getting the full HGH benefits. Consuming whey protein, however, appears to be nearly ideal, as it is a protein that assimilates very quickly, and will get to your muscles within 10-15 minutes of swallowing it, supplying your muscles with the right food at the right time to stop the catabolic process in your muscle and shift the process toward repair and growth.

Whey Helps With Muscle-Building, Too

An important review found that consumption of ~20–25 grams of a rapidly absorbed protein, such as whey protein, may serve to maximally stimulate muscle building after resistance exercise in young healthy individuals;3 high-quality leucine-rich proteins, such as whey, may be particularly important for the elderly to maximize muscle protein synthesis as well. Further, consuming whey not only immediately following your workout but also for up to 48 hours after resistance exercise may still offer some benefit:4
"...since resistance exercise increases MPS for up to ~48 h [hours] consumption of dietary amino acids 24-48 h post-exercise recovery would also likely convey the same synergistic effects on MPS [muscle protein synthesis] as those that are observed when amino acids are provided immediately after resistance exercise. The synergistic enhancement of pre-existing resistance exercise-induced elevations in MPS by protein provision is greatest immediately post-exercise and wanes over time, but may still be present up to 48 h later.
We have recently shown that feeding 15 g of whey protein, a less than optimally effective dose of protein for maximizing MPS, ~24 h after acute resistance exercise results in a greater stimulation of ...protein synthesis than the same dose provided at rest. ...We propose that there is, at least in young individuals, an extended 'window of anabolic opportunity' beyond the immediate post-exercise period that persists for at least 24 h..."
A recent study published in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports & Exercise demonstrated that consuming whey protein (20g protein / serving) 30 minutes before resistance training also boosts your body's metabolism for as much as 24 hours after your workout.5 In practical terms, consuming 20 grams of whey protein before exercise and another serving afterward will most likely yield the double benefit of increasing both fat burning and muscle build-up at the same time.

Intermittent Fasting: Another Way to Boost HGH Naturally

Just as combining whey protein with high-intensity exercise appears to work together synergistically to boost HGH production, so too does exercising while in a fasted state. Research has found that fasting raised HGH by 1,300 percent in women and 2,000 percent in men!6 And the combination of fasting and exercising maximizes the impact of cellular factors and catalysts (cyclic AMP and AMP Kinases), which force the breakdown of fat and glycogen for energy.
It’s important to realize that this fitness-enhancing strategy is more about the timing of meals, as opposed to those fad plans where you essentially “starve” yourself for several days in a row.
On intermittent fasting, the longest time you'll ever abstain from food is 36 hours, although 14-18 hours is more common. You can also opt to simply delay eating. For example, skipping breakfast may be just the step to get you off a plateau in your fitness routine. Personally, I've revised my own eating schedule to eliminate breakfast and restrict the time I eat food to a period of about six to seven hours each day, which is typically from noon to 6 or 7 pm. On the days that I weight train I will have one scoop of Pure Power Protein (20 grams of protein) about 30 minutes after the workout to provide nutrients, especially leucine, for muscle growth and repair.

Intermittent Fasting for General Health and Longevity

There's plenty of research showing that fasting has a beneficial impact on longevity in animals. There are a number of mechanisms contributing to this effect. Normalizing insulin sensitivity is a major one as insulin sensitivity is critical for the activation of the mTOR pathway, which along with IGF-1 plays an important part in repairing and regenerating your tissues including your muscles and thereby counteracting the aging process. The fact that it improves a number of potent disease markers also contributes to fasting's overall beneficial effects on general health.
Even if you take the exercise component out, modern science has confirmed there are many good reasons for fasting, including:
  • Normalizing your insulin sensitivity, which is key for optimal health as insulin resistance (which is what you get when after prolonged periods of over-secreted and elevated insulin) is a primary contributing factor to nearly all chronic disease, from diabetes to heart disease and even cancer
  • Normalizing ghrelin levels, also known as "the hunger hormone"
  • Promoting human growth hormone (HGH) production, which plays an important part in health, fitness and slowing the aging process
  • Lowering triglyceride levels
  • Reducing inflammation and lessening free radical damage

Tying it All Together

Whether you seek to optimize your athletic performance or health and longevity, incorporating 1-3 sessions of high-intensity exercises per week will help you achieve your aims by significantly boosting HGH production. Adding intermittent fasting can kick it up another notch. The same cannot be said for your diet, however.
Whereas carb-loading can be useful for professional athletes, those seeking health and longevity will not benefit from this strategy. On the contrary, severely limiting sugars and grains is part and parcel of any diet designed to optimize overall health and prevent chronic disease. Furthermore, it’s important to note that consuming fructose within two hours prior to or after high-intensity exercise will nullify HGH production... So carb-loading while doing Peak Exercises will amount to wasted effort.





Keith Hunt

Just for SISTERS....

Those of us who have a close relationship with a sister ate so fortunate to have someone we can share laughs, tears, and quiet moments with in a special way that might not be possible with anyone else.
There's the wonderful love of a beautiful maid,

the love of a staunch true man,

the love of a baby who's unafraid

all have existed since time began.

But the most wonderful love,

the Love of all loves,

even greater than the love for Mother,

is the infinite, tenderest, passionate love

of one dear sister for the other!






From "Inspiring thoughts from the Simple Life" - published by Barbour Publishing Inc.
Used by permission.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

DO something.....

We don't have to wait until we are asked to do something or to help someone out. It never hurts to just go ahead and offer your help when you see a need and are able to assist.
The world is waiting for somebody, waiting and

 watching today— somebody to lift and

 strengthen, somebody to shield and stay. Do you

 thoughtfully question, "Who?" 'Tis you, my friend

 'tis you,

If  we  love  one  another,  God  dwells  in  us,  and  His  love  is  perfected  in  us.
(1 John 4:12)

Life without love is like a day without light.

From Inspiring Thoughts from the Simple Life - published by Barbour Publishing Inc. 
Used by permission.

Economies ... Co-ops...correct way #2

Continued from previous post:

People are beginning to recognize the folly of having only one system of markets, finance, and business. Because of the 2008 downturn, however, many cooperatives are amalgamating. Many farm co-ops in particular, such as Land O'Lakes, have done so recently, even merging with conventional corporations. This is no time to let our proven alternatives be eaten up by the same old corporate model. Is there a way for alternative businesses to get big enough to protect themselves but not fall into the corporate trap? The answers might be found in South America, where a massive business revolution - invisible to most of us in the north—is well underway.


European immigrants first brought the idea of cooperative businesses to South America. It meshed well with the indigenous peoples' familiarity with collective work and resource sharing, and it received, ironically, a boost in the 1960s, when the U.S. Alliance for Progress promoted worker-owned cooperatives "in an attempt to isolate growing support for Cuban-inspired guerilla movements." Subsequent U.S. backed dictatorships did their best to dampen the enthusiasm for this model, but when the terrible economic.crash of 2001 hit Argentina, Uruguay, and Brazil, thousands of factories in the region closed their doors. Their managers and boards said they were too small, badly capitalized, and labor intensive to remain globally competitive and stay open.
 Undeterred, the disenfranchised workers at these companies, especially in Argentina, broke into the boarded-up factories and turned them into co-ops and worker collectives. "We began to say, the buildings are here, the machines are here, and so are the workers. The only thing missing is the boss. Let's, continue to produce; and that's what we did," says Jose Abelli, cofounder of Argentina's National Movement for Recuperated Businesses and president of FACTA, the Argentine federation of self-governed worker cooperatives. "During the 1990s," says Diego Rosemberg, "in Latin America, they said that the problem of economic development was above all else the cost of labor... What the workers have discovered with this type of [cooperative] organization is that the true cost that made these businesses unviable was the cost of the owners."15 This realization spread, and people began to form new alliances in every imaginable industry. Around the same time, MST, the landless worker's movement in Brazil (Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra), began to organize rural worker and producer co-ops to sell their products through agrarian reform stores. This helped support their core efforts to get land tenure reform across Brazil.
The widespread South American alliance between urban and rural workers is also seen in northern Italy and is probably the most vital component in the creation of truly green jobs. If urban workers do not support rural workers, the latter are left without political allies and are generally overwhelmed by business interests that see farm and forest landscapes as extraction and dumping sites. Because it is the rural areas that supply all cities with clean water, air, and food, seeing the two areas as completely separate, as we normally do now, undermines the efforts either area makes toward resource and eco-services sustainability.
An article on South America's co-op movement in a recent issue of Third World Resurgence points out that the cooperative movement there spans not only urban and rural but all types of work. "Each of [their] experiences is unique, shaped by the home country's diverse history." So Uruguay is best known for its housing cooperatives, which were a factor in the overthrow of a repressive Uruguayan dictatorship in the 1970s; "Argentina is known for its service cooperatives and recuperated factories; Paraguay has a rich tradition in savings and loan cooperatives; Brazil has important numbers of worker collectives and agricultural co-ops." Venezuela, has, of all things, vibrant cooperative funeral services and is now branching out into worker collectives. Less than ten years since this movement was kick-started by disaster, it's beginning to integrate production and marketing branches—the way Land O'Lakes and the Mondragon co-ops have done—but in a completely different spirit.16

Cooperatives across the continent are grouping together in small, local networks, medium-sized national ones, and cross-border international umbrella groups. An example is Justa Trama, a local network of Brazilian cooperatives, recuperated businesses, and home artisans making organic clothing. They've managed to integrate every step of their supply chain, cutting out corporate intermediaries. Univens, one of their smallest members, with twenty-six workers, produced fifty thousand bags for the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre in 2005. The only way they could do that was to join with thirty-five other textile co-ops and similar businesses in their part of Brazil. Without corporate distribution overhead, the co-op's unity with others enabled it to get twice the price its bags would have fetched in the open market, and its client still paid less per bag than they had at other venues. Inspired, Justa Trama brought in organic cotton farmers, thread-spinners, and weavers in the rural-urban configuration that makes this movement fundamentally sustainable. Today, "Every step of the supply chain is in the hands of local producers, cooperatives, recuperated or. small businesses." Seven hundred workers are being supported by this integrated organization, producing 10 tons of organic cotton clothing a year for markets as far away as Europe. Rather than increasing the size of the individual co-ops, they've increased their ability to access markets, all without having to deal with multinational corporations or adopting their business model. Part of this growth in alternative business models is due to the unsustainable power of oil money Venezuela has helped fund the co-op movement with fairs and teaching sessions, and some commodities are being exchanged across borders, like buses produced by a cooperative in Venezuela, tied to a trade with Argentine coffee producers. There's still chaos and a lack of coordination in many places, with rural cooperatives in particular competing with each other for market access. There isn't yet the kind of state support for cooperatives that Italy's constitution has bestowed on theirs. And, just as elsewhere, many cooperatives are still tempted to adopt a corporate model as they grow bigger.

For now, however, it's no small accomplishment that across the entire region, this alternative model has enabled landless peasants and laid-off factory workers to take charge of their own livelihoods and create stable, decently paid, and, most of the time, sustainable green jobs as well. These benefits to the individual workers and their families radiate outward. Reborn factories mean reborn housing and revitalized neighborhoods; and that has enabled entire cities to recover from a devastating economic recession and to expand government services.


Keith  Hunt

ECONOMIES...Co-ops....correct way #1

FROM  THE  BOOK  "MORE  GOOD  NEWS" by David Suzuki and Holly Dressel

Barry Ford, recently retired as Collins Pine's head forester at their Almanor Forest, was in charge of making sure the forest was healthy, which, to any well-trained forester, should mean that it's absolutely bursting with diverse plant and animal species. Ford rejoiced in thefact that "We have the great gray owl feeding in our meadows. There are only a hundred pairs left in California; we're the southern end of their range, and because of that, the regulations stipulate that we have to leave a 600-foot-wide strip of trees around all the meadows." He also was proud that this economic disincentive for the company did not require him to abandon his values as a forest professional. "In order to have those trees available for our use, I could have said there were no owls, and frankly I haven't seen any. But I know that's the right habitat, so I've said yes.because they could be there now, or if we save the place, they could be coming." There's a moral component to green jobs that researchers have discovered means as much to people as profits. Vice-president Wade Mosby says, "I'll be sixty-two next fall, but I don't want to retire. The satisfaction of knowing you've improved things is really important. I saw my dad clear-cutting these forests, destroying the places he loved, that he depended on for a future. [That's why] I waited for years for a chance to work at Collins Pine. That's typical of many of the people who work here."
Such economic disincentives would cripple a publicly traded company in Collins Pine's situation. Its entire 298,000-acre holdings take a hit from government regulators for the very reason that its practices are so good and its forests are more ecologically rich. "Because we're good managers and have more species, we get more stringent regulations on our lands to protect the fish and game species we've managed to bring back. You'd think that kind of practice would earn a company tax rebates or some other kind of encouragement, but it's just the opposite. You have to shoulder economic and regulatory liabilities if you also want to protect the resource for the future!" And yet, like organic farming—despite no advantages and considerable disadvantages—Collins Pine still remains the most economically viable lumber company in its part of the country. One can only imagine what would happen if more businesses were encouraged to operate the same way.


As a co-op developer, making the pilgrimage to Mondragon was like I had died and gone to co-op heaven. 
Margaret Bau, visitor from Cleveland, Ohio 6
We are not angels and this is not paradise.
Mikel Lezamiz, Otalora, Mondragon training cooperative7

.....Most green business ventures are created by inspired individuals like Judy Wicks or Truman Collins; but to realize their goals, their work has to shift to the cooperative and collective level. Individual green activists like Maude Barlow and Paul Watson have certainly taken personal responsibility for the Earth, but they have also built huge, international cooperative organizations to turn their personal commitment into on-the-ground-, collective reality. Like most environmental ngos operating today, the Council of Canadians and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society rely on a mixture of grassroots democratic and top-down corporate management. But there's another business model, besides the top-down or the bottom-up ones of corporations and ngos, that's much more common than we realize: the cooperative. In North America, we mostly think of co-ops as small nonprofits that might provide organic food or run a used clothing store. But the co-op model can work for any kind of business imaginable, from construction and fisheries to laundry services and banking. Today the biggest ones have turned much of northern Spain and northern Italy, not to mention nearly all of South America, into showcases for what can be achieved with cooperative, worker-owned, and worker-managed business, and what directions truly green business finance might take.
The Mondragon Cooperative Corporation in the Basque Country of northern Spain is certainly the largest and most successful of cooperative business models. The region of its birth was part of the anarchist movement in Spain that was brutally suppressed by Francisco Franco in the Spanish Civil War and also by the Communists, who resented the fact that they couldn't control it. A young priest named Jose Maria Arizmendiarrieta arrived in 1941 and decided that economic development would be his contribution to the war-torn local society. The Basques had a long tradition of self-help and cooperative work, and after starting with the student-managed Polytechnic School to train the workers, Arizmendiarrieta set up the regions first co-ops to manufacture heaters and cooking appliances. Cooperatives, like all alternative management methods, are not easily recognized by banks and other conventional financial systems, which are still set up to serve nineteenth-century oligarchies and corporations. So a co-op's biggest problem is usually getting initial capital and subsequent financial services. Mondragon had to create its own credit union in 1959 to allow its members to access finances and provide start-up funds for new ventures. Today over 100,000 people are directly employed in 160 large cooperatives, doing mostly manufacturing work. Eroski, the largest Spanish-owned retail food chain, is a Mondragon cooperative. Statistics show that these businesses are twice as profitable as the average corporation in Spain, with employee productivity surpassing any other company in the country.8
Mondragon turns over in excess of $5 billion a year-through electronics and linen companies, auto parts, and appliances; it runs a bank, research institute, entrepreneurial division, insurance and social security divisions, several schools and Mondragon University, and health maintenance and health insurance cooperatives, all "dedicated to the common good." It has enshrined some solid social values, donating 10 percent of profits to charities, with 40 percent retained to provide an account for members. The 50 percent remaining profits are open for use by owner-employees, who pay interest rates only a point or two above what the account earns. Individuals may not start a Mondragon business; several friends are what's preferred, since the "natural bonds of friendship" are considered to be a better foundation for long-term success.

Despite Mondragon's bedrock ideals, in which "people are given priority over capital," it is probably
the most business-oriented cooperative venture in the world.9 When faced with globalization and the new environment of the European Union in the late 1980s and early '90s, Mondragon chose to compete directly with conventional multinationals, joining the economic system of ever-growing profits, a decision that has resulted in many paradoxes. As it expanded its businesses beyond the borders of the Basque Country, only a third of its employees have remained worker-owners. A somewhat snide article in The Economist in March 2009 assessing the co-op model's ability to cope with recessions pointed out that, "People have been hired in far-flung places, from America to China; [Mondragon] now has more subsidiary companies than co-operatives... when recession bites, non-member employees suffer most... Like capitalist bosses, the Mondragon co-operativists must, indeed, occasionally handle strikes and trade-union trouble."10 The Mondragon website claims such imbalances will be seriously addressed by 2010, when it hopes to bring co-op membership back up to 75 percent.11 

As Mondragon's story illustrates, cooperatives can descend from heaven to hell—or at least to purgatory. If co-ops get too big and powerful, they tend to lose their democratic character. Like big labor unions, "Large co-ops become unaccountable to a disorganized, complacent membership, moving away from worker control toward conventional capitalist practices." Mondragon's difficulties show that even with an improved business model, there is no sustainability so long as your goal is constant growth. Trying to fit into an endless growth model that does not reflect natural system capacities always brings with it a loss of local contacts, both with people and ecosystems. Mondragon has tried to address this problem by setting up "cooperative congresses" to figure out how to deal with the massive challenge of globalization; however, its key competitors in its production of machine tools, car parts, and appliances are multinationals, and Mondragon couldn't see how to get into other businesses fast enough without competing with these companies head-on. This means that it's made the fundamental error of adapting the multinationals' unsustainable model. As its local supply chain extends to Thailand and other poor countries, Mondragon is losing its ability to demand the same values from its suppliers, values that are central to greening any corporation. Its story illustrates that as long as they don't address the goal of "endless growth," industrial co-ops can also only go so far in creating truly green jobs.12

What this and other examples teach us is that regardless of a business's legal structure, it has to stay small and local, at least in terms of management, in order to hold on to any values it may have, whether they're social, environmental, or even religious. It's important to note the one big advantage of the cooperative model, which is that, unlike conventional corporations, it can set up business requirements that are based on values other than profits. In the case of Mondragon, the values were social equity and job security, but they could just as well be keeping a small carbon footprint and helping maintain natural systems. By supporting and paying attention to all the new approaches people are using to green their industries, their jobs and their cities, we can learn to recognize who is really operating, and cooperating, sustainably—and heading toward truly desirable goals.

To be continued