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Aprovecho America
State / Regional Reports
State / Regional Reports
Feedback from the road...
Favorite Links
Book Recommendations
Contact Us
About Us
A Revolutionary Program
Gandhi is an Anarchist
The Toiletization of the West
On Becoming A Radical Social Reformer
The Thesis here is that the American Empire is in Decline
Goodbye Oakland and Capitalist America
Battling Your Inner Capitalist
Notice to High School students

Dated January 31st during the right time... the night time.... 
ODYSSEUS, returned home to a land of turmoil. The suitors were idiots. Penelope tried her darnest, but wasn't able to keep order in his absence. I remember a lot of my schooling. I have a good long term memory for school knowledge, which I think is kinda rare. My high school english teacher (not the one obsessed with frogs, nor the aging one in complete delusion) was really insightful. I realized this past summer that a lot of his points, he stole a lot from Wendell Berry's book "The Unsettling of America", but anyways, he talked about Odysseus, and said that it was about a king, but also to look at him as an everyperson. He was a man on trial finding a home, going through obstacles without and within, and the physical trials and social adventures were metaphor for the mental and the personal. Odysseus. When I think back at all the crap I learned in high school... Hopefully, I'll have the same success cleaning up the mess upon returning home, and growing into my kingdom of maturity. I am quoting Gandhi who quotes Tolstoy to say that the Kingdom of God is within you. I read 3 pages of the Odyssey in New York off the shelf of the house of Roshni's friend, the house that Roshni's friend broke the bathroom door in... 

I was thinking today about how I need a TRADE. Thinking about how Al Haber balances his activism / lifework with his woodworking. It provides a living, solace, and concrete satisfaction. My uncle suggested being a teacher. Maybe high school.

I sometimes get reminded of ROBBERY AND THE CREATION OF WEALTH. Walking around yuppie Seattle, I noticed many people that don't create anything, but consume large amounts of resources and i could not help but think: robbers!! Your stealing from someone!! I think that someone is largely THE THIRD WORLD.

DETROIT's poverty statistics make me think of the images of New Orleans. Poor black people. An industrial disaster. Someone on the road told me that they are grazing goats in the grass covered dilapidated buildings in Detroit. The newspapers seem to think that the Super Bowl being played in Detroit, will make it a better city. 

My family has this wierd thing for THE NEWS. They watch it. My grandparents watch it everynight. I really believe that it is a problem, even if you know that its sensationalist, blind, and focused on bullshit, but "still interesting to see what they are saying."  

I've come to understand some quotes from WOODY GUTHRIE recently. He travelled around, dust bowl refugee, musician, bard, union man, author of "this land is your land", followed the footsteps of Joe Hill, but escaped death row, but got blacklisted, before he inspired the folk revival from Seeger, Weavers, Odetta, Dylan, etc. Anyways, Woody travelled around  like a hobo, because he could do it no other way, singing to inspire other people to do their good work, to feel good about their work, to keep their spirits high, to organize, TO SING AND TO STUGGLE for the betterment of their lot. I think that people with vision; travelling around, singing music, keeping each other going is important. APPRECIATING each other is important. Good work: jon, abbie, rachel, joseph, josh, chris, jeremy, desta, shane, sarah, jd, molly, eggplant, richard, joni, mitchell, michelle,  michael, charlie, brandon, marc, monica, scott, antony, sid, elizabeth, jenny, jackie, sean, katie, sam, cara, isabel, robin, kyle, susie, miguel, kristina, kristin, caitlin, roshni, nick, caryn, al, kiran, ama, lev, ceci, bob, maneli, dave, len, denae, berkano, matt, carol, pocket, fletch, tez, darryl, megan, leah, george, alex, donny, fred, ben, jacob, lauren, laura, zach, todd, jimmi, murray, rebecca, travis, and many more... if you think that i appreciate you, but i forgot to mention, would you send me a reminder! 


I call this "puttin-the-pieces-together" time. A lot of loose ends, and rearranging reality so that it becomes art. Denver provided a wellspring of thought, generosity, and fresh perspective. Marc and Monica have three kids; this filled in a missing piece of the puzzle. Reproduction--not just sustainable production, but reproduction! Marc's parental perspective really personalized the abstractions of oppression, disaster, and societal idiocy: it is just people making decisions, people with personal baggage, emotional baggage, emotional rupture... the process of healing, making whole, transcending the negative individuals histories is essential for a just world. How can broken people make a healthy society? Right. Children are a source of hope, but "hope is just a word maybe you said, maybe you heard, around some windy corner or wide angled curve... and that's what you need... the problem is you know it too good...."

When the guy in Westcliffe, Colorado was reminded of the three principles of Permaculture: care for the earth, care for people, and share the surplus, he scoffed at the third. Radical theories and progressive rural folk are far from each other. Wendell Berry advocates strong private property 'due to the current circumstances.' Len Lankford, our host in Westcliffe has big ambitions, with a lot of overlap with a vision articulated by Chris: local forest mills and value added product for the good of the people and land. Kinda like it was in the 1920s---NO! not really. Although there was a lot more local production before WWII, people were still producing by the profit criteria. Problem.

Somewhere, Chris bought the book, "the Prophet" I've seen it on lots of book shelves. I don't know if he talks about this, but I doubt it: Will a system run by the profit motive outlast the prophets?

Sorry Santa Cruz, and the Pacific Northwest, but for all intents and purposes, it seems that the presentation at the Long Haul on the Berkeley / Oakland border was the finale. Because it makes sense for the story of our trip, we can change reality. Or is it the other way: reality changed to make the story more poetic. Al who really propelled the learning curve for the trip in Ann Arbor, helped establish the Long Haul in the 1980s. As we mentioned that in closing for the closing presentation of Apro America, a head perked up from the corner eating some food and told us even more history to Al and the place. I think everyone was smiling for a moment there... Anyways, lots of friends and newbees showed up. Lots of people looking for free food and they found it--and even some two buck chuck vino. People there were very engaged, their ideas for a new society had to be cut short, so did their brainstorm of the reasons for that society not existing now.

We spoke about the road trip, and in puttin-the-pieces-together, I've come across an important understanding: people's personal, local, small-scale struggles are really really important: in some ways, that localized struggle (be it psychological, or with a small group of people) is everything.

Complementary, looking at the same reality, we cannot help to realize that we are but a small speck of matter in a sea of vagabond atoms. For this reason we look at ourselves and realize that "we need a movement" to quote the song that Al but on for us in Ann Arbor: that is, we need organization, coordination, support networks, collaboration, etc...

In short, seeing our own struggles (or "participation in life" if you prefer) as worth our full effort, and simultaneously realizing that our efforts are but a part of a schema designed by no one and to only be directed by everyone together is very powerful.

This realization would be important to people who either think that their life is not really that important so why should they care about the small decisions. Or it would be important to the person who thinks that their life is sooo important that they needn't worry about the rest of the world so much.

There is still more, as i stay up late night at my aunt and uncle's house in Seattle, and Vancouver, Vipassana, and vanquishing all the enemies lay ahead, it seems that this trip will really touch all the important bases... hopefully to lead to home base, says Odysseus.

Its time for the sword solo, which, when he runs away turns into a trumpet
solo. Here in Denver Colorado. Football played indoors with a 2.5 year
old, he gets hit in the face, is fine, but then runs to his mom and rubs
his head until she gives him some empathy. Snow falling, first time since
Ashland, Wisconsin which was our last stop. At some point yesterday we
left and at some point this morning we arrived.  Just driving by Lincoln,
Nebraska makes me think how wonderful some people are. Today we are
resting. Give Sex a break. Sex is the name of the car.

The country just seems to expand west. Looking at the map and the mind.
But that statement is of the bias kind. No denying that we are west. No
more "mid" no more "great lakes region" or whatever you call it. They all
say pop instead of soda at McDonalds when you order the Big and Tasty
(which is number 3, while the nuggets are number 9). The next big time
with Sex is going to be on Saturday morning when we try to make the 22
hour trip to the Oakland.

In Pittsburgh there was a 1980s dance night, and it inspired a good idea:
an early 1990s party. Thanks to Nick's girlfriend's parents who I'm not
sure knew we were staying at their house.

In Dayton, they invented the pop top--a way to open the soda can without a
can opener, and family members kiss each other on the lips.

Once upon a time, in Berkeley, there was a man who needed to pay his
dentist so he built him a table. A nice table. It is to become the peace
table at Megiddo, Israel in mid-April this year. It is the place that
Armagennon is supposed to happen. The table is the first step to come to
peace, the table must be receptive, and it is.

Al Haber, no only built the table, but helped build a movement since the
60s. SDS, students for a democratic society, dot org. Check it out, it is
starting again, its a way for people to unite around the common thought of
a democratic society. SDS, students, slackers, socialist, surgeon,
sidekicks, surrealists, etc. for a democratic society. He and Odile
inspired us deeply as hosts in Ann Arbor. When there are generations of
wisdom around, I realize that I have to be a little lucky to stumble
across it.

Lev was the connection for us. Lev did woodwork with Al in Ann Arbor. Lev
and parents were beautifully hospitable to us in Boston. The vision for
Boston town is rooted in tradition for Levvers. His opening prayer, the
second verse of the Shema, has stayed with us and the students at
Northland College in Wisconsin loved it. People gathered at the democracy
center, and inspired us though it was supposed to go the other way. People
are as ripe a brown fig about to be eaten by ants to organize to find
meaning in peace and justice in Babylon. In the moment of blacklisting
terrorists, I am coming to realize that the darkest hour is right beofre
the dawn. Hopefully, the clouds will pass by and dawn will be a bit
clearer than it was this morning riding into Colorado.

Al says that the nationwide network of SDS was started and maintained by
personal connections around the country of small groups of commmitted
people. Jimmy and Ceci, fantastic cats you have. Constant entertainment;
one of the few nights that I couldn't drink. Somehow you two come to mind
when I think of commmitted people.

We forgot our ties, but had our jacket on the sunny pastures of Harvard University. I think that finals time is tough there for those people. But
I think that they will get through like the domesticated dogs make it
through the winter indoors.

The presentation is coming together since our first day in Union College,
Schenectady, NY
--where we were perhaps unworthy of pancake stacks and
beautiful chocolate fudge. Feeling comfortable talking about Aprovecho and
understanding the connection to the vision which we have envisioned and
which is becoming almost a religious mission to bring into non-fiction the
superstitions of idealists.

Articulating connections is becoming the name of the game. Whomever can do
it can make sense of alienation, the system, bosses, decadence, idealism,
play, and organization. The Wobblies (IWW or Industrial Workers of the
World) attempt it. Their macroeconomics reasoning as the rationale for
local currency has helped flesh out the competitive "grow or die" economy
that is central to cultural decay and material impoverishment.

The banks issue out money as loans with interest. This means that when
they create money they ask for more money back---which of course doesn't
exist yet!! Therefore money is scarce in our economy. This makes people
want to borrow money, it is the engine of unending growth. Growth
regulated is nicer, but either way the perpetual motion machine is a

We visited JUST COFFEE and listened to a nutritionist on the radio tell us
that coffee is not bad for you, it has antioxidants. Dark chocolate is a
lot better than milk chocolate too. JUST COFFEE is a union organized
collective making money with fair trade coffee, but they try to extend the
notion of fair trade domestically with Madison, Wi HOURS (local currency).

We also checked out WORT the Madison Community Radio station. Local radio is in, and has become a good ending point to the presentation
when J-diddy and Myself celebrate the year anniversary of the Cottage
Grove community radio, KSOW with our show Rhythms and Resistance.

Community radio and independent media is big in Urbana, Illinios. Where we
learned of the ignoble peace prize held annually for straight up nerds,
and we learned about the hierarchy of "birds" where a high school student
flicking off a ph.d. student can be superceded by the ph.d. returning the
higher "bird".

Bar Harbor was beautiful, had free yoga, and a nice small small small
college feel. Leaving folders there must have been a fruedian attempt to
return to the island off of the Maine Coast.


"Take it easy, but take it"
-Woody Guthrie