Swiss TV RTS Un takes my tour

Had a great time for a few hours with this journalist and her crew. I chose CELLspace to give a tour and film the shots. Good to see some final clips of murals that have already been taken down before the wrecking ball takes the rest. On and off camera, I spoke of my reservations with the share economy. Called it a euphemism as well as a warning about how one sees work and the ways that the share economy’s work ethic leaks into personal and private time. I also spoke on how AirBNB does NOT pay into the Hotel Tax Fund, which funds the arts here in San Francisco.

Watching this piece, with almost no French comprehension, feels fluffy. Maybe the butterfly and flower animations gave it away. Those are still beautiful shots of the art at CELLspace. And the journalist and crew were very nice, lefty Europeans.

Why am I an activist? Weeds from the cracks.

I could probably go on and on about why I am an edutainer (a word Jonathan Youtt though up, that aptly fits what we do with the Sustainable Living Roadshow’s Conscious Carnival). It’s something to do. It sometimes pays. It’s an amazing way to be involved in the conversations that matter. Many folks get confused when I tell them what I do, which can also be described as an environmentalist carny activist. Huh?

After working for Ben Cohen’s Business Leaders for Sensible Priorities (in VT, IA, and NH… see the blog posts here) as a carny activist (“spokesperson”), I came back to San Francisco and plugged into Jonathan’s version of eco-themed games. We only had Toss Out Fossil Fuels at first, but then Jon added Recycle Swish, Eco-opolis, the GMO Freak Show, Seeds for Change and then the rest of the Roadshow.

But today, at BART’s Blue Sky Earth Day celebration, I have two clear examples of why I love bringing games with a message to the general public. One would think that San Francisco and the Bay Area is an educated place where we are all lefties that live the liberal dream of hybrid cars, organic food, and biking to work.

Today, while working Eco-opolis (The Model Green City. The city of tomorrow today.) a young woman came up to the game asking about GMO foods. She had NO IDEA what genetically modified foods were. She was shocked to find out that corporations like Monsanto genetically alter all kinds of foods and vegetable products (we do not eat cotton, but it is GMO). She learned that organic means, for the most part, not GMO, and that there is no law to label food as GMO in the USA (though this might change if California gets a proposition on the ballot for November). She learned to ask about where the food comes from and if it is GMO. She learned that local farmers markets are the places to go to talk directly to the farmers about their produce. And I personally learned that what I do with the SLR actually matters for those people who don’t keep up with this.

Secondly, a blue collar worker came up to the Eco-opolis game and started asking me questions about bike lanes. He was dressed as a carpenter, with another guy dressed the same way, wearing canvas overalls, big boots, and a work shirt. This guy lived in Hayward and biked to work every week via the dangerous frontage roads near the Coliseum BART station. He hated the commute but is a committed cyclist. He asked me how he could get bike lanes in Hayward and so we had a great talk about Bike Coalitions, Safe Routes to School, and organizing local cyclists to pool their resources and get the local government to direct funds towards safe cycling routes. I personally learned, once again, that you can never judge a person by their appearance. This is always a sweet lesson to receive again and again.

So why am I an eco-carny? Simple: because of these two people. In a matter of 30 minutes, I made a difference for these two folks. They walked away from my game empowered and more informed. I saw them walk away happy to be where I was and as passionate about what I do. I have a few analogies that I use to tell myself that I am helping shape the future. One analogy is about urban vegetation.

Where there are cracks in concrete and asphalt, weeds and flowers will grow. And, over time, those cracks widen and become more green. This is a simple way of staying optimistic for the future, and for the progress of humanity.

Sweet Freedom at Occupy Oakland, General Strike


In “Gattaca” director Andrew Niccol’s new movie “In Time,” time is literally money. Somehow, humans live time free until they turn 25 and then they are literally on the clock until they die. Given a year to live, they must work, beg, borrow, and steal time to get ahead in the rat race of their time zone ghetto of Dayton. Charity exists where the poor can form a time line in hopes that the free time is not out of time.

I know I know, these puns bring a chuckle. But what if a hero emerged from the 99%? A lucky bastard that tried to help a rich fellow out, and was given a century’s worth of time for his troubles? And what if he falls in love with the richest of the 1%’s daughter? The time banker holds all the time from the manicured zone called New Greenwich. He also has a cadre of bumbling guards that try to protect his family and their ridiculous piles of minutes.

What would happen if this sharply dressed, sci-fi Bonnie and Clyde started to steal time from the man and give it to the poor in Dayton? Convinced that their dystopian society, where the masses work for the puffy few, is foolproof, the total lack of any effective security allows these futuristic heroes to do the unimaginable. “How can you steal what is already stolen?” they ask each other as they rob from the 1% and give it to the 99%? How indeed!

Continue reading “Sweet Freedom at Occupy Oakland, General Strike”

Occupy SF: Urine, Feces, and Vomit

Living in San Francisco, I have an intimate relationship with bodily fluids. I stencil hunt and give tours down stinky Mission District alleys, and have seen urine, feces, and vomit all over public streets and sidewalks. I have seen mothers hold their children up to public trash cans to urinate into. I have seen drunk women crouch between cars while friends take photographs. My Western Addition neighborhood has a daily dog feces problem, making Harvey Milk turn in his grave. Since I have to look down at, and over to, the sidewalks while riding my bike, in order to discover stencils, I have seen very private matters play out on the streets of this City.

Funny that the SF Health Department decided to give Occupy SF an eviction notice because of urine, feces, and vomit. I haven’t seen any of these bodily fluids during my visits down to Justin Herman Plaza (the recent appearance of Porta-Potties was a pleasant surprise). I even spent some time picking up litter and intimately seeing and touching the ground, but saw no fluids. Yet this is why Mayor Ed Lee’s San Francisco government decided to raid Occupy SF last night. Well, at least he decided.

Ed Lee’s eviction plan ran into problems Wednesday morning. If the Oakland city government spent a week organizing a huge reaction to Occupy Oakland on Tuesday, then Lee and SFPD Chief Suhr had probably spent just as much time on the Wednesday night action. Oakland’s eviction of protesters got messy, so Lee and Suhr probably had a political hot potato to pass around the day after Oakland’s mess.
Continue reading “Occupy SF: Urine, Feces, and Vomit”

Wet Paint and the San Francisco Model at Occupy SF

I didn’t go down to Justin Herman Plaza today because Tom Morello from Rage Against the Machine was planning on performing. I went down because I realized that my Tuesday visit wasn’t really at Occupy SF. Tuesday evening, I biked down Market Street and stopped at the Federal Reserve building. There, I saw infrastructure for the Occupy folks, but only about four crusty people on site. I was embarrassed and left a bit disillusioned. Last night, I chatted with my friend Al about this, and he was confused. He’d been down there over the weekend and saw a huge crowd… at Justin Herman Plaza.

So, with my weekend schedule full, I made a window of about three hours to go down again and try to plug in. Their website said that they needed a “warehouse.” I happen to be connected to a warehouse so hoped to find someone to talk to about what they needed. When I got there, I found the seasonal ice skating rink under construction. I found the vendors selling tourist schlock, and I found Occupy SF over by the bocci ball courts (when did those show up?!). On the Eastern side of the Plaza, a line of tents and tarps made an encampment for those who were spending the night. A dozen people sat in a circle and met on the grass, a radio station was set up on the corner at Market, and a piece of yellow canvas was on a 40-foot long table.

Continue reading “Wet Paint and the San Francisco Model at Occupy SF”

October Political Oddities

Perhaps the 1% have been on this planet for centuries. I have not lived that long, but if history is any indication, then the Banking Crisis of 2008 is but another hiccup along the 1%’s trail of capitalizing the planet. I started reading Gray Brechin’s Imperial San Francisco this week, and I am beginning to understand the dirty foundation that my fair city is built upon.

The 1% clawed their way into and out of swindles and cons, starting with the myth that the placers (aka 49ers aka the mythic gold digger found on all the government symbols and statues) brought prosperity and growth to California. The actual truth entails millionaires and politicians who were inside on deals that bought land and resources. Unfazed by massive destruction, they developed the technology to wash mountains down and bring out the metal beneath the surface. California looked like a different place before the first tech boom brought mining into the modern era. Then there’s the water, and the drive to grab, dam, hold, and sell the precious resource to a thirsty populace. Again, the 1% had their hands all over these deals, the real estate booms that followed, and just about everything else that clear cut and washed down the lands and rivers around San Francisco.


According to Rush Limbaugh, working the system is an American tradition that the 99% are stupidly protesting. They’re duped pigs who are all part of some vast left-wing conspiracy. As Limbaugh cites answers to a reporter’s questions, and replies that the Occupy folks are idiots, I can’t help thinking about how Tea Partiers would answer the same questions. When I read venom from pundits, I always flip the key words over to their side. In this case, “Democrats” become “Republicans,” “Obama” becomes “GOP president,” “99%” become “Tea Party.” Try this trick with this quote from Limbaugh:

“Stupid, ill-informed, uninformed?  This is exactly the kind of voter the Democrat [Republican] Party seeks.  Dumbed down, in a haze, knowing nothing, believing nothing other than the cliches and the BS that represents traditional Democrat [Republican] Party policy.  They’re just stupid, and you notice how smug they are about it.  They are arrogantly stupid.  This is what we’re up against.  These are model citizens as far as the Democrat [Republican] Party is concerned.”

Can’t debate the dead-end logic of a jack ass, even if I am a lefty pig!


I did the Saturday Occupy SF march with my friend Daniel. My mom called me in the middle of it, on Powell Street, and got upset at my marching in the streets (this is nothing new). She kept telling me that the folks protesting didn’t know what they were talking about. I had met several people who had clear ideas about the 99%, the banks’ failure to support their customers, and the myriad ways that large corporations had let down normal people. One of the Occupy SF people I was impressed with was SFFD! I left the debate with Mom for another day and celebrated the thousands in the streets with me by blowing a whistle, chatting, and chanting. The march was refreshing: hand-made signs, no Stalinist branding at a large stage with the same message. At the end of the march, hundreds of us sat and stood in front of City Hall and listened to some folks on a bullhorn. The woman speaking said too much, but it sure beat the same rallies of the past 10 years.


Today, I tried to make it down to Justin Herman Plaza today to see what the 99% were up to. There was supposed to be a meditation at 5:30. I would have to miss it, but still wanted to show up and be part of things. I assumed that the encampment was at JHP. Saturday, in front of City Hall, they announced that they were going to move it there. They have since been raided (again) by the SFPD, who are having zero tolerance for camping. And they appear to be hopping around from JHP to the Federal Reserve to Union Square.

Today, however, I happened to see about four media vans in front of City Hall. I stopped and noticed about six or twelve folks with an “Occupy SF” banner in front of the building. “Is this the encampment now?” I wondered. The crowd was too small and my time was too short. I ran an errand and then headed to Justin Herman. I stopped at the Federal Reserve, where the encampment had been on Saturday and only found about ten folks there. Most of them were crusty street kids. One woman with a sign yelled at me to donate into a bucket. The infrastructure was still there: food, info, sign-making, but there was no enthusiasm. I felt embarrassed. With little to do, and no meditation, I sadly biked back up Market Street to head to class.


On Market at Fourth, I got off my bike to walk in to SFSU. I noticed a homeless woman in the middle of the street. A large, well-dressed man had her in a compliance hold and then pushed her back. I saw a badge flash on his belt as his suit jacket pulled open. Curious, I looked around to see why this was happening. Appointed Mayor Ed Lee stood in the middle of Market Street, on the MUNI stop, getting photographed. Another large man in a suit stood nearby, keeping an eye on the homeless woman. A biker rode by and stuck his downward-pointing thumb into the photographer’s frame. The homeless woman lurked close to the mayor, holding her begging cup and flipping the security detail a bird. Before I could yell “Avalos for Mayor!”, the entourage walked across the street and got into a Chevy hybrid. The photographer wandered off with his shots and the woman staggered into the throngs of tourists and shoppers.


I haven’t kept up with the November 1 election. After promising not to run for mayor, Ed Lee decided he’d run. John Avalos has visited the 99% encampment and even spoken on TV about the actions. I have friends helping with his campaign. David Chiu bikes to work and was chosen by the Chronicle to be their Number 1 pick (we have ranked-choice voting in SF).  I think I have an idea of my top three for Nov. 1.

As for the propositions, I spent the last three days reading over the mailer that San Francisco gives to all registered voters. After a year of legal classes, I know that all is not black and white in political/legal land. But I flipped through the proponent and opponent responses and easily sided with the politicians that I respect. I was a bit surprised at how I saw a name and went “I’m with you!”.  Tom Ammiano’s name appeared a few times on one side or the other. He’s my man, so I’ll take his opinion seriously. Still waiting to hear from a few other sources before I set my opinion. I like to compare and contrast.

And, though Limbaugh believes otherwise, this public-schooled, college-educated (but mostly by right-wing professors), unduped American is not part of any political-party conspiracy.

My head is out of my ass! How about yours?

July 29 :: SLR: Launch Party at CELLspace

Come out and support my Sustainable Living Roadshow eco-carny people later this month. They will launch their tour with 2/3 of Beats Antique (and yours truly running house).

Friday, July 29 from 6pm to 2am

A evening of performance, speakers and getting our groove on to benefit the 2011 National Tour of Sustainable Living Roadshow.

– Zoe Jakes (Beats Antique)
– David Satori (Beats Antique)
– DJ Shawna
– DJ Clay (Yoga Tai Chi)
– Fossil Fool The Bike Rapper
– Pamela Parker
– Yari Mander’s Particiformance
– BALLYHOO Carny Crew

Pedal Powered Ice Cream from Rock The Bike

From August through November 2011, Sustainable Living Roadshow will be traveling across the country producing educational eco-villages at community events, college campuses, and music festivals. Our productions focus on creating main-stream platforms for local and national “green” communities to gather under a collective banner to empower attendees with options for a sustainable planet. In addition, SLR will be working with the Right2Know March, a national campaign to label GMOs.

Why I (News) Fast

Words. Thousands and millions of words. Constantly getting churned out from keyboards around the world. A never-ending stream of thoughts and details, facts and admissions. Spilling out into the Web at a Class 5 rapid rate.

History. Analysis of the past in the present. Constantly changing, being reframed, deconstructed. Not necessarily too far back and possibly instantly expounded upon. Usually avoided by the technical elite as not worth remembering or thinking about.

Choice. Where do you stand on a subject? What words have you picked to explain something that has happened? What parts of history have you chosen to remember and how clear are your details? What has been LEFT OUT of the word stream? How do you choose to fill your time in the present moment?

News. Must get click-throughs. Must appease advertisers and corporate bosses. Must not upset fragile political alliances. Cowers at lobbyists who scare advertisers. Selectively edited to cause a flood of emotions and then moves on to the next potentially dammed site. Hopefully opens the flood gates before other sources push their own buttons. No topic too banal or useless, especially if it gets click-throughs, thus appeasing advertisers and corporate bosses. News cannot keep up with the speed of words these days. News can only follow social media at times to keep pace with history. News has very few filters with stories that do nothing but waste time for readers.

Readers. Have phones. Read phones. Demand instant words. Usually do not understand history. Get caught up in latest breaking news. Tsunami. Then movie star scandal. Whatever appears in phones is what is discussed with friends. In the flood of words, they skim the surface like insects. Only what is instant is gleaned. Little historical analysis is added to the words. Making a choice about news from a small, consolidated corporate pile of sources. A small percentage of readers go against the stream, but their efforts are large and their needs unattended.

………… Continue reading “Why I (News) Fast”

17 Dec :: Celebrate People’s History in Oakland, CA

Not sure if I will be able to attend this East Bay event, a second Bay Area event supporting Josh MacPhee and his partner Dara Greenwald’s current health crisis. Hope you all can make it. This is a perfect time to buy a copy of the book for holiday gift-giving.


Poster Exhibit – Book Release Party – Artist Panel

CELEBRATE PEOPLE’S HISTORY: the Poster Book of Resistance and Revolution

Edited by Josh MacPhee

Foreword by Rebecca Solnit

Published by the Feminist Press

7pm – Friday Dec. 17

AK Press,

674 A 23rd St

Oakland 94612

Since 1998, Celebrate People’s History posters have documented feminist organizers, indigenous uprisings, civil rights leaders, union struggles, LGBT activism and much more. The Feminist Press has just released over 100 posters in hardback – Celebrate People’s History: the Poster Book of Resistance and Revolution, edited by Josh MacPhee with a foreword by Rebecca Solnit. The book’s West Coast premiere includes a poster exhibit, book signing by Bay Area contributors and artist panel.

Featured Speakers:

Sabiha Basrai, graphic designer, Design Action Collective,

Lincoln Cushing, poster historian,

FREE admission. Donationsgo to author Josh MacPhee and his partner who is battling cancer. This event is wheel-chair accessible.


Giving Thanks on Alcatraz

The last time I got up early to take the ferry to the Indigenous People’s Thanksgiving, I had many things weighing heavy on my mind. This 2005 day of thanks gave me little room to be thankful beyond the fact that I was alive and able to feel all the intense emotions coursing through me. Getting up that early didn’t brighten my mood either, until I was on the ferry and able to feel the power of community, song, and radical native medicine. As the ferry trolled over the Bay, I thought of all the troubles that the Native North Americans had seen over the generations. I thought of the troubles my Irish ancestors probably faced against the English occupation forces. I thought of all the many struggles for justice and peace that take place every day across the world. This opened my heart up a bit, just a small amount, allowing me to sit with my own present struggles and fell the common thread of humanity’s suffering.

Continue reading “Giving Thanks on Alcatraz”

20 Nov. :: Celebrate People’s History Release Party/Exhibit


Poster Exhibit – Book Release Party – Artist Panel

CELEBRATE PEOPLE’S HISTORY: the Poster Book of Resistance and Revolution

Edited by Josh MacPhee

Foreword by Rebecca Solnit

Published by the Feminist Press

7pm – Saturday Nov. 20

The Center for Political Education

522 Valencia St, SF

Since 1998, Celebrate People’s History posters have documented feminist organizers, indigenous uprisings, civil rights leaders, union struggles, LGBT activism and much more. Bay Area history stands out with posters on Los Siete de la Raza, the 1969 Alcatraz occupation, the International Hotel and the 1966 transgender riot at Compton’s Cafeteria. The Feminist Press has just released over 100 posters in hardback, and the book’s West Coast premiere includes a poster exhibit, book signing and artist panel.

Featured Speakers:

Lincoln Cushing, historian,

Favianna Rodríguez, artist,

FREE admission. Donations go to MacPhee’s partner, Dara Greenwald, who is battling cancer.