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Social Impact Assessment is Necessary Before Fracking

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Housing Frack (8)For almost a decade a new energy boom has been underway using new technology known as “Fracking.”  This invasive and disruptive technology is already having negative impacts on people and the environment.  Most of the public and regulatory attention has focused on human health impacts through drinking, breathing and other means of exposure.  Real life experience in communities across the country also demonstrates the social and economic problems that come along with fracking as just as uncertain and unwanted. This is particularly true for those states where the Fracking boom has been underway the longest (i.e., North Dakota and Pennsylvania.)  States like North Carolina that are rushing into Fracking should slow down and learn from the troubles of others!

This article compiles the most insightful and credible news stories and research reports about documented social problems that go along with Fracking.  This is not surprising to Rural Sociologist (like yours truly.)    For over three decades, sociologists and others have systematically evaluated the social and economic impacts of a wide range of actions – particularly related to mining.  In fact, the formal practice of Social Impact Analysis (SIA) was mandated under the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) signed by Richard Nixon in 1970.   This required Federal government agencies to conduct Social Impact Assessment as part of their Environmental Impact Assessment (e.g., Army Corps, NOAA, Depart. of Interior and others.)  In addition, SIA has become strongly established in Europe, Australia and elsewhere.

Click Below to Learn about the Social Impacts of Fracking.

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More Play and Less Work Makes Us Happier and Healthier

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Americans tend to not be as happy as we should be – especially considering our disproportionate share of the world’s wealth and resources.   Having been one for almost 60 years, I can personally and professionally attest to the fact Americans tend to be among the most up-tight and least content of all cultures.  We have been conditioned to expect more, better, and cheaper – a real sense of entitlement and ego-driven arrogance. One of the problems is that most Americans equate having fun (i.e., play) as something they need to pay for (e.g., new gadgets and games; tickets to sporting events; fast cars and more.)  As a culture, we need to rediscover our willingness and ability to have fun (play) that does not cost so much.  We need to play our own music and dance our own dances.

In this article I focus on the important role that play has in keeping us happy and healthy – as well as hip and high.  In particular, I review a wonderful book entitled “Play” by Dr Stuart Brown.  You can also read interviews with the author.  He is also the founder of what must be a great place to work:   The National Institute for Play which uses science to discover all that play has to teach us about transforming our world.   Then I have collected a “Top 40” awesome quotes about play – why, how and when to do it.  Then I present a series of articles about how  and why we need to play moreBTW – when reading about how play affects children recognize that the information generally applies to adults and children of any generation.  Click below to read how to play more now – and Why it OK to do it!!

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Dr. King’s Legacy Demands Innovative Social Activism

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martin-luther-king-jr-day-L-xGOagMI originally wrote this article five years ago on April 4, 2008 which was the 40th Anniversary of the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Like now, that was a day to reflect on Dr. King’s largely unfinished work for justice and equality.   At the time I wanted to speculate about what he would say and do about today’s issues had he not been assassinated in 1968.   Dr. King would still be fighting against racism, poverty and war.  In particular, he would be leading the criticism of the United States – not just for our involvement in wars; but for the whole way in which corporations have taken over the global economy.    I also wrote this article originally to support Obama’s campaign for president – which he fortunately won!!

Dr King’s patience would have likely worn thin by now – particularly with the Bush administration (and even President Obama.)  There would have been a lot more civil disobedience and protest if he had lived.  I also believe that the War on Drugs would have been stopped and there would be far fewer prisoners.  I also want to stress how Dr. King’s comments during the last year of his life were much more radical than the sanitized picture the establishment has created of a passive dreamer.  He was an activist and community organizer who never stopped fighting for the poor and powerless (both groups have increased dramatically in past decade.)  Like Jesus and John Lennon he also held firm in his belief in the Power of Love! 

Also you can read his Playboy interview and the testimonial from James Brown.

Click below to learn more about Dr. King’s legacy and lessons for life!!

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MSNBC Provides Welcoming Community Center for DNC Visitors

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n_hardball_1obama_croppedI was fortunate to visit the Democratic National Convention (DNC) in Charlotte on Wednesday, September 5.  This was a great experience, thanks largely to the cool community center provided by MSNBC.   The city was very well-prepared in terms of security and logistics.  However, for those of us without credentials, there really was no public welcome center or place to get an orientation.  Fortunately, MSNBC was ready, willing and able to serve as a community center for the thousands of convention delegates and international media, as well as for plain-old citizens like me.

MSNBC’s efforts paid off very well.  Read here about how and why their ratings rocked during the DNC (and will continue to grow.)  You will also learn about the positive experiences they provided daily for thousands of people in Charlotte, as well as millions of viewers around the world.  Their nearly constant coverage and the overall MSNBC experience have clearly cemented their position (in many minds) as the world leader in all form of news – not just progressive politics.   It was also the one place for thousands to turn on Thursday night after the big speeches were moved indoors (see right.)

Click Below for a Behind-the-Scenes look at the MSNBC Experience and their Coverage of the DNC.

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Steve Jobs would not have Succeeded without Supportive Counterculture

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newsweek-went-throwback-as-wellWith the death of Steve Jobs we have lost one of our most brilliant minds and successful entrepreneurs.  Many tributes are being written about his impacts on the computer and communication industries.  To really appreciate the genuine genius of Steve Jobs, we need to understand the cultural climate in which he grew up.  He was a self-identified “child of the sixties counterculture” who attributes much of his success to the Silicon Valley and San Francisco communities in which he spent his early years (same time and place where the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane and others started.)  This article explores the nature and extent of the counterculture’s influence over the development of the computer in general, and on Apple computers in particular.  This type of insight is vital if we ever hope to find “the next Steve Jobs.”

This article collects most of what has been written about Steve Jobs’ early life.  Particular attention is paid to how extensively Steve and other computer pioneers were greatly influenced by the values and vision of the hippie counterculture.  Steve came of age in the epicenter of this social movement.  He clearly embraced the hippies’ practices and philosophy.  Many of the tributes included here show how his business behavior was shaped by his distrust of authority and willingness to expand his mind in many directions.  To provide further context, I include a seminal article written by Stewart Brand in 1995 called “We Owe it all to the Hippies.”  I also collect detailed reviews of an important book called “What the Dormouse Said.”  This article also includes a letter sent to Steve Jobs from Albert Hofman (discoverer and proponent of LSD).  Steve Jobs acknowledged the importance of this psychedelic compound in shaping his own life and career.   It is entirely possible that we will never see “another Steve Jobs” unless another form of “hip counterculture” is allowed to flourish.  Given the conservative and corporate nature of modern American society, that is very unlikely.  Click Below to Learn More:

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Bruce Springsteen and UNC Law School Shine Light on Serious Poverty Problems

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End PovertyTwo events warned us about the serious social problems associated with poverty in the US.  First, Bruce Springsteen sent a letter to the editor of his local paper warning about the impacts of Republican budget cuts on the poor.  Also last week, I attended a great conference sponsored by the UNC School of Law.  You can read a summary of the conference and download some helpful publications.  Some common themes emerge from the Boss’s letter and the UNC conference.  Right-wing conservatives in many states (including New Jersey and North Carolina) are aggressively pushing pro-corporate economic policies.  Their give-aways to big business will be paid for on the backs of the poor and less fortunate who can least afford such cuts.

This is a symptom of the massive wealth gap between the richest families and the rest of us.  In fact, just one percent of Americans now control 40 percent of the nation’s wealth.  Just 25 years ago, the top 12 percent only controlled one-third of the wealth.   These articles also point to the importance of educating the public about how the problems of poverty affect us all.  Clearly, these issues will be important during the 2012 political campaigns.  It should be an area for the Democrats to win the debate– particularly with stronger White House leadership.  However, these stories also stress the important role that state-level politics and budgetary problems have in making the problems of poverty even worse.  Click below to learn why poverty problems are more serious and important now than ever.

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Madison Remains Recognized Leader in Social Innovation

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This article evaluates what makes certain communities like Madison, Wisconsin more likely than others to become socially innovation and ecologically sustainable. People who live in such places also tend to be happier, hipper, and healthier than the average.  Bottom line is that Madison has developed in sustainable and socially innovative ways.  This articles also highlights the important roles played by the liberal politics and progressive culture that has made Madison famous.
Click below to Learn More.

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