Ida B Wells, Science Fiction Writer

Ida B Wells deserves her place in the canon of journalism and social change. In the science fiction, not so much. I found her “A Story of 1900”, written in 1886, while digging for other things. It may not be a classic, but not only was it written two years before Edward Bellamy’s epochal Looking Backward, but the story lives and breathes Octavia Butler’s thoughts on the use of science fiction for black people.

Continue reading

A Window in the Cathedral of the Green Revolution

When the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations announced it was going to take agroecology sufficiently seriously to hold a conference on it, reasonable people were pleased, and sceptical. Pleased because the FAO has been agnostic about agroecology’s scientific developments in addressing problems that the FAO itself is charged with tackling. Sceptical because the reason’s for the FAO’s historical reticence are hardly going to be fixed by a conference. Nonetheless, the great and the good from agroecology made the case in front of a bevvy of senior officials. After the event, José Graziano da Silva, Director General of the FAO, proclaimed that “today a window was opened in what for 50 years has been the cathedral of the Green Revolution.”

Continue reading

Thoughts on Land Reform Summits in San Francisco

In San Francisco, from April 25-28, 400 people from across the country and around the world gathered to discuss an awkward problem – land reform in America. Land reform is a loaded term, one that reeled conference participants’ imaginations toward the antics of Third World dictators and communist zealots. It’s hard to conceive a more un-American activity than thinking about an alternative to private property. Yet here were the Friends of the Earth next to the NAACP west coast region, alongside the Archdiocese of Kansas doing exactly that.

Continue reading

Haiti: Horsemen and hoarse women

It’s already bitterly ironic that Bill Clinton is the United Nation’s special envoy to Haiti, after the economic policy he imposed there to transform it into the Caribbean’s sweatshop. Now, President Obama has asked George Bush to lead fundraising efforts for relief in Haiti. After Bush took part in an international coup to overthrow Aristide. It’s like sending in the horsemen of the apocalypse to negotiate peace.

There are, however, more sensible ideas. Here’s some analysis curated by Dan Moshenberg that reinstates that most hidden perspective in disaster – gender. More below the fold. Continue reading