This is Issue 72.2 of Digestable, your thrice-weekly mouthful of things happening in the world.
Today’s news, fermented:
There are so many theories of change, off-ramps from this tangle of damaging systems to others. Enemies abound, but even in ~the movement~ there’s plenty of disagreement about the best way forward.
Today, coming to you live from a dark pit of lost faith in humanity’s ability to organize ourselves, I’ve sought out some examples of people and organizations making things that work against a backdrop of everything else that doesn’t.
Let’s start with the unlikely: Angela Merkel. Of late, her policy to admit nearly 2 million asylum seekers has been a success. I don’t know or care much about German politics, but it seems like the strategy here is to just let immigration be a non-issue.
Inflammatory politics about who “gets” to be anywhere—especially when destination nations are behind political unrest that forces people to move—makes immigration a hot topic. Letting people arrive works, in a pleasant proof that often the simplest solution to a problem is the right one.
Next up: less unlikely, but still a part of the establishment. India Walton, Buffalo NY’s Black socialist mayor, has cleared endless hurdles thrown up in her path by the white supremacist capitalism at the heart of the American experience. Now, she’s building relationships across ideologies and working to cut the police budget.
No politician is perfect, and it’s essentially impossible to embody a completely transformative vision while also operating within electoral politics. But: someone’s got to be the mayor of Buffalo while we plan the revolution and the US government continues to crumble, and seems like Walton is up to the task.
Further along the lines of shifting who holds institutional power, there’s a growing movement to create a public bank in Massachusetts. According to Massachusetts Public Banking,
“A public bank is a bank owned by the people through their representative government and operated in the public interest. Government revenues are deposited in the bank. The bank then makes loans to benefit communities and businesses.”
Why is this important? Private banks (JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, etc) fund stuff—like fossil fuel infrastructure, private prisons, so on—and are only accountable to the big money assholes (a technical term) behind them. Public banks, as noted above, are run by and accountable to the people whose money they hold.
When projects like the Trans Mountain pipeline lose insurers, those projects become less viable. Moving money en masse away from entities that would/do insure/fund horrible things we don’t need is a powerful way to shift our troubled economic system.
Last and most likely is this sweet article about East New York Farms!, an incredible urban farm and food justice project in Eastern Brooklyn. Most likely not because folks here aren’t working against the odds: the difficulty of protecting NYC land from development, corporate control of food systems, the racism running through that all. Rather, the effectiveness of a food justice effort led by folks of color based in the neighborhood the project is serving is unsurprising.
I think that’s about all the good news I can handle in one day. Here’s a potentially to-be-reincarnated woolly mammoth.