The curse of the modern office

SUBHEAD: The sustainable image of the information age is a product of office work, hiding the true nature of office work.

By Kris De Decker on 22 November 2016 for Low Tech Magazine -

Image above: Financial District, Downtown Toronto. Photo by Paul Dex at Wikipedia Commons. From original article.

These days, it's rather easy to define an "office worker": it's someone who sits in front of a computer screen for most of the working day, often in a space where others are doing the same, but sometimes alone in a "home office" or with a few others in a "shared office". In earlier times, many office workers were used not for their knowledge or intelligence, but for the mere objective capacity of their brains to store and process information.

For example, "computers" were office workers who made endless calculations with the help of mechanical calculating machines. This category of office workers has become comparatively less important, because inanimate computers have taken over many of their jobs. Most office workers -- so-called "knowledge workers" -- are now paid to actually think and be creative.

There's a big chance that you are one of them. Roughly 70% of those in employment in industrial nations now have office jobs. The share of office workers in the total workforce has increased continuously throughout the twentieth century.

For example, in the USA, the information sector employed 13% of workers in 1900, about 40% of workers in 1950, and more than 60% of workers in 2000. [1][2]

The spectacular and so far unstoppable growth in the number of office workers is believed to have led to a so-called information society, an idea popularised by Fritz Machlup in his 1962 book The Production of Knowledge in the United States, and since then repeated by many others. [3]

Downtown chicagoImage above: Downtown Chicago. Photo by Charles Voogd at Wikipedia Commons. From original article.

Interestingly, there's no agreement as to what an information society actually is, but the most widely accepted definition is a society where more than half of the labour force engages in informational activities and where more than half of the GNP is generated from informational goods and services.

Some say that the information society is characterized by the use of modern IT equipment, but that does not explain the growth of office work during the first half of the twentieth century. Others have argued that there is a transition from an economy based on material goods to one based on knowledge. Their claim is that this shift from the "industrial society" to the "information society" would make the economy less resource intensive. [3][4]

Indeed, unlike workers in manufacturing, service or agricultural industries, office workers don't really produce anything besides paper documents, electronic files, and a lot of chatter during formal and informal meetings.

However, the rise of office work has not lowered the use of resources, on the contrary. For one thing, supporters of the sustainable information society ignore the fact that we have moved most of our manufacturing industries (and our waste) to low wage countries.

We are producing and consuming more material goods than ever before, but the energy use of these activities has vanished from national energy statistics. Second, modern office work has itself become a large and rapidly growing consumer of energy and resources.

The Energy Footprint of Office Work

The energy use of office work consists of multiple components: the energy use of the building itself (office equipment, heating, cooling and lighting), the energy used for commuting to and from the office, and the energy used by the communications networks that office work depends on. It also includes people who are not working in the office but who plug in their laptops in a place outside the office, which is also lighted, heated or cooled.

As far as I could find out, nobody has ever tried to calculate the energy footprint of office work, taking all these components into account. We know more or less how much energy is used by commuting and telecommunication, but we don't know how much of that is due to office work.

Most information is available for the energy use of office buildings -- the icons of today's global knowledge economy. However, even in this case information is limited because most national statistics do not distinguish between different types of commercial buildings.

The main exception is the US Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS), which is undertaken since 1979 and is the most comprehensive dataset of its type in the world. It further categorises offices into administrative or professional offices (such as real estate sales offices and university administration buildings), government offices (such as state agencies and city halls), banks and financial offices, and health service administrative centers. [5]

Moscow business districtImage above: Moscow International Business Center. Picture: Wikipedia Commons. From original article.

The modern, American-style office building -- a design increasingly copied all over the world -- is an insult to sustainability. Per square metre of floorspace, US office buildings are twice as energy-intensive as US residential buildings (which are no examples of energy efficiency either). [5-10]

In 2003, the most recent year for which a detailed analysis of office buildings was presented (published in 2010), there were 824,000 office buildings in the USA, which consumed 300 trillion Btu of heat and 719 trillion Btu of electricity. [8]

The electricity use alone corresponds to 210 TWh, which equals a quarter of total US electricity produced by nuclear power in 2015 (797 Twh with 99 reactors). In other words, the US needs 25 atomic reactors to power its office buildings. [11][12] From 2003 to 2012, the number of US office buildings grew by more than 20%. [5]

How Did we Get Here?
The US office building, which appeared with the arrival of the Industrial Revolution, was initially quite energy efficient. From the 1880s until the 1930s, sunlight was the principal means of illuminating the workplace and the most important factor in setting the dimensions and layout of the standard office building in the US. According to the NYC-based Skyscraper Museum:
"Rentability depended on large windows and high ceilings that allowed daylight to reach as deeply as possible into the interior. The distance from exterior windows to the corridor wall was never more than 28 feet (8.5 m), which was the depth some daylight penetrated. Ceilings were at least 10 to 12 feet (3 - 3.65 m) in height, and windows were as big as possible without being too heavy to open, generally about 4 to 5 feet (1.2 - 1.5 m) wide and 6 to 8 feet (1.8 - 2.4 m) high. If the office was subdivided, partitions were made of translucent glass to transmit light." [13]
Many office buildings had window accomodating H-, T-, and L-shaped footprints to encourage natural lighting, ventilation, and cooling. This changed after the introduction of fluorescent light bulbs and air conditioning. Produced at an affordable price in the late 1930s, fluorescent lighting provided high levels of illumination without excessive heat and cost.

The first fully air-conditioned American office buildings appeared around the 1930s. The combination of artificial lighting and air-conditioning made it possible to design office space much deeper than the old standard of 28 feet. Light courts and high ceilings were ditched, and office buildings were reconceived as massive cubes -- which were much cheaper to build and which maximised floor space. [13][14]

Air-conditioning also enabled the most characteristic feature of the modern office building: its glazed façade. From the 1950s onwards, under the influence of Modernist architecture, glass came to dominate in America -- early examples of this trend are the Lever Building (1952) and the Seagram building (1958).

The US Modernist office building, a cube with a steel skeleton and glass curtain walls, is essentially a massive greenhouse that would be unbearable for most of the year without artificial cooling. Because glazed façades don't insulate well, energy use for heating is also high. In spite of all the glass, most US office buildings require artificial lighting throughout the day because many office workers are too far from a window to receive enough natural light.

Canary wharf londonImage above: Canary Wharf, London. Photo by David Iliff at Wikipedia Commons. From original article.

The arrival of electric office equipment from the 1950s onwards further increased energy use. According to the CEBECS survey, "more computers, dedicated servers, printers, and photocopiers were used in office buildings than in any other type of commercial building".

According to the latest analysis, concerning the year 2003, American office buildings were using 27.6 million computers, 11.6 million printers, 2.1 million photocopiers, and 2.5 million dedicated servers. In addition to electricity consumed directly, this electronic equipment requires additional cooling, humidity control, and/or ventilation that also increase energy use. [5, 8]

While heating was the main energy use in pre-1950s office buildings, today cooling, lighting and electronic equipment (all operated by electricity), use 70% of all energy on-site. Note that this ratio doesn't include the energy that is lost during the generation and distribution of electricity. Depending on how electricity is produced, energy use at the source can be up to three times higher than on-site. Assuming thermal generation of electricity (coal or natural gas), the average US office building consumes up to twice as much energy for electricity than for heating.

Cultural Differences
Technology alone, however, does not explain the rise of the typical air-conditioned office building, nor its high energy use today. Although fluorescent light bulbs and air conditioning soon became available in Europe, the all-glass, cube-like office building remained for a long time a uniquely North American phenomenon. In the 1920s, office work in the USA came under the influence of Frederick Taylor's 'Scientific Managament'. Time and motion studies, which had been carried out in factories since the 1880s, were now applied to office work as well. Men with stopwatches recorded the actions of (mostly female) employees with the aim of improving labour productivity.

Taylor's ideas were translated into office design through the concept of large, open floor spaces with an orderly arrangement of desks, all facing the direction of the supervisor. Private office rooms were abolished. By the late 1940s, American offices resembled factories in their appearance and methods. Although Taylorism left its mark on European offices, it was taken up with less enthusiasm and faced more resistance rooted in tradition than in the US. In the 1960s and 1970s, the Europeans rejected the application of Taylorist principles to office work more strongly, and developed their own type of office building. British office expert Frank Duffy calls it the "social democratic" office. [15, 16]

The curse of the modern office la defenseImage above: La Défense, Paris. Wikipedia Commons. From original article.

These buildings, "groundscrapers" rather than "skyscrapers", were designed like small cities, cut into separate "houses" that are united by internal "streets" or "squares". They were built with corridors and spacious rooms on either side, all naturally lit and ventilated, with employees working next to a window.

The social democratic office building focuses on user comfort, a consequence of the fact that office workers in Europe, unlike those in the USA, obtained the right to form democratically elected workers' councils that could participate in organisational decision making. The UK, with its more American style of business, embraced the US approach in the 1980s. [15, 16]

An important difference between the "social democratic" office building and the "Taylorist" US/UK office building is that the first is usually owner-occupied, while the latter is generally a speculative building: It is built or refurbished to provide a return on investment, and rented by the room or floor.

The speculative model is gaining ground: over the last two decades, US/UK-style office buildings have finally started spreading all over Europe, and beyond. Roughly 50% of new office buildings under construction in France and Germany -- the largest European markets outside the UK -- are now speculative buildings, roughly double their share in the 1980s. [15][18]

This is bad news, because speculative office buildings exclude lower energy alternatives and raise energy use. First, in order to maximize the return on investment, they are usually designed as square or rectangular buildings with deep floor plans and low ceilings, and built as high as planning regimes allow. Naturally lit and cooled buildings require a more horizontal build and higher ceilings, both aspects that conflict with maximizing floorspace. Second, those who design speculative office buildings don't know who will occupy the finished spaces, which leads to an over-provision of services.

"Developers and letting agents focus on the 'needs' of the most demanding tenants, and hence what is required for an office to be marketable to any tenant", write the authors of a recent study that looks into the energy demand of UK office buildings -- and concludes that 92% of such buildings are over-provisioned. Lighting, cooling and heating systems are attuned to unrealistic occupancy rates and are consequently producing more light, heat and cold than is necessary. [19][20]

The Promise of Remote Working
If the high energy use of office work is questioned at all, it's usually followed by the proposal to work outside the office building. At least since the 1980s, home working has been touted as a trend with potential environmental benefits.

Alvin Toffler's The Third Wave (1980) predicted that in the near future it would no longer be necessary to build offices because computers would enable people to work anywhere they wanted. In 1984, when personal computers had become common equipment in offices, Frank Duffy stated that "many office buildings quite suddenly are becoming obsolete". [15]

Obviously, no such thing happened: in spite of the personal computer, there are now more office buildings than ever before. However, the utopian vision of a radically changed work environment is still among us.

Since the arrival of mobile phones, portable computers and the internet in the 1990s, the focus has shifted to "remote" or "agile" working, which includes working at home but also on the road and in so-called third places: coffee shops, libraries or co-working offices. [20]

These concepts suggest that offices will become meeting places for 'nomadic' employees equipped with mobile phones and laptops, how the office will become a more diverse and informal environment, or how in the near future offices may no longer be necessary because we can work anywhere and at any time. [15] According to a 2014 consultancy report:
"The term 'office' will become obsolete in the coming years. The modern workplace evolves into more of a shared workspace with flexible working arrangements that acts as more of a hub for workers on the go than an official place of work. The vast majority of jobs in most organisations can be accomplished from virtually any PC or mobile device, from just about anywhere". [21]
Frank Duffy, building further upon his 1980s predictions, writes in Work and the City (2008):
"The development of the knowledge economy and achievement of sustainability will both be made possible by the power of information technology... Office work can be carried out anywhere... In the knowledge economy more and more businesses, both large and small, will be operated as networks, depending at least as much on virtual communications as on face-to-face interactions. Networked organisations do not need to operate, manage or define themselves within conventional categories of workplaces or conventional working hours." [16]
Does it Matter Where We Work?On the face of it, more people working outside the office has obvious potential for energy savings. Home workers don't have to travel to and from the office, which can save energy -- after all, commuting has also become energy-intensive since the democratisation of the car in the 1950s. Furthermore, home office workers tend to use less energy for heating, cooling and lighting than they do in the office, a finding that corresponds with the fact that office buildings consume double the energy per square metre of floorspace compared to residential homes. [22]

However, there are many ways in which the environmental advantages of remote working can disappear or become disadvantages. First, remote workers make use of the same office equipment, the same data centers and the same internet and phone infrastructure as people working in an office -- and these are now the main drivers behind the increasing energy use of office buildings.

In fact, a networked office would surely increase energy use by communication services, because face-to-face meetings at the office are replaced and complemented by virtual meetings and other forms of electronic communication.

In Work and the City, Frank Duffy recalls his participation in a videoconferencing talk, expressing his awe for the quality of the experience. What he doesn't seem to realise, is that the Cisco Telepresence system that he was using requires between 1 and 3 kW of power (and 200W in standby) at either side [25], plus the energy use of routing and switching all those data through the network infrastructure.

FrankfurtImage above: Frankfurt, Germany. Wikipedia Commons. From original article.

Second, if work is done not at home but in third places, people might actually increase their energy use for transport when they visit different working spaces during the day. They might work from home in the morning and drive to the office in the afternoon, or they might go to the office in morning and to a co-working space later in the day.

Likewise, if organizations shorten the distance between the office and the office worker by inviting them to work in shared spaces closer to their home, employees might actually decide to go live further away from their new working space, and keep the same time budget for commuting. [20]

Third, for an employee working at home, on the road, or in a third place, the heating, cooling and lighting of that alternative workspace is now often an extra load because his or her now empty space in the office is still being heated, cooled and lit. In most cases, today's home and remote workers occasion additional energy consumption. [22]

This problem is recognized by the supporters of remote working, who stress that office buildings have to adapt to the new reality of the networked office by reducing floorspace and increasing the occupancy rates. This can happen through "hot-desking", sharing a smaller amount of desks between office workers who decide not to work at home -- and hope that not everybody will show up at the same time.

Noel Cass, who investigates energy demand in offices for the UK's Demand Centre at Lancaster University, has his doubts about this approach:
"Hot-desking" requires the depersonalisation of the desk, as if it was a coffee bar or a library, and that's easier said than done. Internet companies such as Google and Yahoo, who pioneered hot-desking arrangements and whose productivity is the rationale behind this trend, have gone back to giving each employee their personal space. In fact, these companies not only left behind the "non-territorial" office, they also have recognised that productivity is best secured by physical co-presence, discouraging telecommuting.

Office spaces now tend to be conceptualised as a 'destination' with increasing amenities on the job, in an effort to attract and retain talent and encourage them to spend more time there. Examples are domestic-like interiors, gym facilities, indoor swimming pools, dry cleaners, or dentists on site. So, who knows, instead of working at home, the future could be living at the office. Obviously, increasing amenities at the office might negate the energy savings obtained by fewer and shared office desks. [20]
In sum, office work will always include buildings, commuting, office equipment and a communication infrastructure. The focus on the location of office work -- at home, in the office, or elsewhere -- conceals the real cause that impacts energy use: the high energy use of all its components.

Lujiazui shanghaiImage above: Lujiazui, Shanghai. Photo byPatrick Fischer at Wikipedia Commons. From original article.

If the commute happens, or could happen, by walking, biking, or taking a commuter train, instead of by car, the energy use advantage of working at home would be zero or insignificant. Similarly, if an office building is designed in such a way that it can be naturally lit and cooled, like in the old days, working from home would not save energy for cooling and lighting.

Finally, the use of low energy office equipment and a low energy internet infrastructure would lower the energy use regardless of where people are working. In short, for energy use it doesn't matter so much where office work happens. What really matters is what happens at these places and in between them.

How Much Office Work Do We Need?
In his 1986 book The Control Revolution, James Beniger states that there is a tight relationship between the volume and speed of energy conversion and material processing in an industrial system on the one hand, and the importance of bureaucratic organisation and information processing, in other words, office work, on the other hand:

Innovation in matter and energy processing create the need for further innovation in information processing and communication -- an increased need for control. Until the nineteenth century, the extraction of resources, even in the largest and most developed national economies, were still carried out with processing speeds enhanced only slightly by draft animals and wind and water power.

So long as the energy used to process and move material throughputs did not much exceed that of human labor, individual workers could provide the information processing required for its control. The Industrial Revolution sped up society's entire material processing system, thereby precipitating a crisis of control.

As the crisis in control spread through the material economy, it inspired a continuing stream of innovations in control technology -- a steady development of organisational, information-processing, and communication technology that lags industrialisation by perhaps 10 to 20 years. By the 1930s, the crisis of control had been largely contained. [1]
Although Beniger makes no reference whatsoever to sustainability issues, what he suggests here is another strategy to lower the energy use of office work: reduce the demand for it. If office work depends on the material and energy throughput in the industrial system, it follows that reducing this throughput will lower the need for office work.

A slower, low energy, and more low-tech industrial system would decrease the need for control and thus for office work. An economy with smaller organizations operating more locally, would need less office work.

CTBA MadridImage above: Cuatro Torres Business Area, Madrid. Photo by Xauxa Hakan Svensson at Wikipedia Commons. From original article.

By the 1900s, all management techniques and office tools that would be used for the next 70 years had been invented. James Beniger was not impressed by the arrival of the digital computer, which was becoming ubiquitous in offices when he wrote his book:

Contrary to prevailing views, which locate the origins of the information society in WWII or in the commercial development of television or computers, the basic societal transformation from industrial to information society had been essentially completed by the late 1930s.
Microprocessing and computer technology, contrary to currently fashionable opinion, do not represent a new force recently unleashed on an unprepared society but merely the most recent installment in the continuing development of the control revolution.
Energy utilization, processing speeds, and control technologies have continued to co-evolve in a positive spiral, advances in any one factor causing, or at least enabling, improvements in the other two. Furthermore, information processes and flows need themselves to be controlled, so that informational technologies must continue to be applied at higher and higher layers of control -- certainly an ironic twist to the control revolution. [1]
Our so-called information economy mainly serves to manage an ever faster, larger and more complex production and consumption system, of which we have only outsourced the manufacturing part. Consequently, without the information economy -- without the office -- the industrial system would collapse.

Without the industrial system, there would be no need for the information society or the office -- in fact, office work could be like it was before 1850, when the biggest bank in the US was run by just three people with a quill. [1]

The sustainable image of the information society -- as contrasted to the dirty image of the industrial society -- is built on an obsession with dividing energy use into different statistical categories, fiddling around with figures on electronic calculating tools. In other words, it's a product of office work, hiding the true nature of office work.

This article was written for The Demand Centre, one of six academic research centres funded by the Research Councils UK to address "End Use Energy Demand Reduction". This article is a shortened version of the original piece, which is on Demand's website. The Demand Centre focuses on the use of energy as part of accomplishing social practices at home, at work and in moving around. It investigates how energy demand is shaped by material infrastructures and institutional arrangements, and how these systems reproduce interpretations of normal and acceptable ways of life.

Good news for Mahaulepu ecosystem

SOURCE: Ken Taylor (
SUBHEAD: Friends of Mahaulepu have gained standing in case against Hawaii Dairy Farm.

By By Bridget Hammerquist on 3 December 2016 in Island Breath -

Image above:  Dramatic view from Mahaulepu shoreline hike with the Sierra Club. Photo by Juan Wilson.

Friends of Mhaulpe (FOM) was interviewed for coverage tonight by both KGMB-Hawaii News Now and KITV. Apparently we are going to be covered several time this evening and here's why:

Judge Kobayashi finally issued her ruling, an Order on the Summary Judgement Motions that were argued 9/12/2016. As you may recall, each of the Defendants (Ulupono Initiative, Hawaii Dairy Farms and Grove Farm's Mahaulepu Farms LLC) filed a Summary Judgement Motion seeking a Court Order to Dismiss FOM's Clean Water Act Complaint on the ground that FOM had no standing to file such a claim.

Judge Kobayashi denied the Defendants' Motion and found that Friends of Maha'ulepu does have standing and our Clean Water Act Case was validly filed.

FOM filed its Summary Judgement Motion on the ground that the evidence of Clean Water Act Violations is sufficiently clear that the court could make findings of fact in favor of FOM by way of  Summary Judgement, saving the need to prove those facts at trial. In fact, the Judge did just that.

Attached is a copy of FOM's Press Release with a link to Judge Kobayashi's Order/Decision. Watch for us on TV tonight. For those who are unable to view it, we will try to capture a link and forward it in our next hui news letter.

We will be going to trial but the issues to be proven are limited to the likely discharge as a result of their violations and the damages. The Judge found for us on three quarters of our complaint.

Thanks to all of our generous supporters who have funded this effort. Our attorneys did an exceptional job. Any donations you can make between now and the end of the year will make certain we are adequately funded (see GoFundMe/Mahaulepu link) for the upcoming trial, attorney fees and expert witness fees and costs.

Bridget Hammerquist
Friends of Mahaulepu
P.O. Box: 1654
Koloa, HI 96756

See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: Mahaulepu Dairy Farms Draft EIS 5/26/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Hawaii Dairy Farm faces lawsuit 6/3/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fed up with factory farming 3/25/15
Ea O Ka Aina: NZ dairy model isn't Mahaulepu 3/10/15 
Ea O Ka Aina: Ugly show at the Cow Palace 3/1/15  
Ea O Ka Aina: Dairy polluted groundwater 1/17/15
Ea O Ka Aina: No Moo Poo in Mahaulepu 10/27/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Hawaii Dairy Farm Factsheet 10/11/14 
Ea O Ka Aina: Disquiet over CAFU in Mahaulepu 9/16/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Kauai Grassfed Dairy Fraud 4/13/14 

Mainstreaming alternative agriculture

SUBHEAD: What it will take to mainstream small size local farming practices in America.

By Maywa Montanegro & Alistair Isles on 20 July 2016 for Ensia -

Image above: Kauai Farm Connection in Kilauea, Kauai, Hawaii is a two acre permaculture farm supplying a variety of produce. From (

Ensia Editor’s note: This Voices piece is published in collaboration with the academic journal Elementa. It is based on “Toward thick legitimacy: Creating a web of legitimacy for agroecology,” a peer-reviewed article published July 20 as part of Elementa’s New Pathways to Sustainability in Agroecological Systems forum.
The industrialized food system, studies have shown, is linked to greenhouse gas emissions, algal blooms, pesticide pollution, soil erosion and biodiversity loss, to name a few ecological troubles. Add to this a long list of social ills, from escalating rates of obesity to the demise of the family farmer and deadening of rural landscapes and rural economies across much of the U.S.

In 2010, the National Academies of Science updated its seminal 1989 publication “Alternative Agriculture” with a fresh look at the state of food and farming in America. Its expert panel concluded, “Growing awareness of unintended impacts associated with some agricultural production practices has led to heightened societal expectations for improved environmental, community, labor, and animal welfare standards in agriculture.”

Yet that growing awareness and those heightened expectations haven’t led to alternative agricultural systems becoming the norm in the U.S. Organic has made some headway, but many organic growers have been forced to imitate industrial farming.

That is grow bigger and resort to monocultures instead of truly diversified fields, and sell to large supermarkets — forgoing many of the benefits alternative agricultural systems offer, such as natural pest control, pollination from native bees, and a smaller production scale conducive to family farmers and local food economies.

So, what gives industrialized agriculture such staying power despite its adverse impacts, even as alternatives offer such benefits? And how can more wholesome food production methods such as agroecology become conventional instead of alternative? To achieve real change in how food is produced and eaten, we need to change people’s expectations of what “normal” agriculture should look like.

What Is Normal?
The industrial food system is considered “normal” and remains intractable for many reasons, including consumer habits.

For example demanding perfectly shaped, vine-ripe tomatoes year-round, or political and economic interests like agribusinesses wielding influence through election donations and lobbying

Also because of the priorities of government departments and universities. For example, research programs favoring biotechnology over agroecology and classical plant breeding.

International trade plays an outsize role too.

Partnerships among U.S. government negotiators, multinational food companies and groups such as the Biotechnology Innovation Organization help shape deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership to smooth the way for corporate-friendly trade agreements.

But beneath the global tomatoes, research budgets and trade pacts, there is something less visible that makes the industrial food system powerful: something called legitimacy.

Legitimacy is what makes one food system more credible and “normal” than another. Legitimacy is what makes it commonsensical for consumers to buy soda in Big Gulps and for companies like Walmart to advertise everyday low prices as a good thing, ignoring the hidden costs behind the cheapness. Legitimacy can be tricky to define because, while it is obvious once something has it, how to get it is not so clear.

Legitimacy is what makes it commonsensical for consumers to buy soda in Big Gulps and for companies like Walmart to advertise everyday low prices as a good thing, ignoring the hidden costs behind the cheapness. Legitimacy can be tricky to define because, while it is obvious once something has it, how to get it is not so clear.

Like a spider’s web, thick legitimacy is created by multiple strands that reinforce one another.That’s partly because legitimacy isn’t even a single thing, but depends on multiple bases.

Something can be scientifically legitimate if it meets the standards of research. It might become politically legitimate through legislative backing or government grants. Legitimacy might also result from the civic legitimacy of social trust, or the practical legitimacy of a proven practice. And people can accept something as ethically legitimate — agreeing it’s fair and right.

Industrial farming is supported by all of these types of legitimacy at once, giving it what we call “thick legitimacy.” Like a spider’s web, thick legitimacy is created by multiple strands that reinforce one another.

How can truly alternative alternatives — those that support localized food economies, biologically diverse production, and just distribution of land, water, seed and knowledge resources — gather thick legitimacy? As a start, they must not simply criticize industrial agriculture. They also need a proactive strategy for reshaping people’s expectations about what agriculture should look like and do.

Three Steps to Thick Legitimacy
Here, we’ll focus on agroecology, but what we sketch below also applies to diversified organic, biodynamic, permaculture, local, slow and other forms of alternative agri-food systems.
Agroecology can attain thick legitimacy through three interconnected pathways:
  1. build on and revise existing research practices, developing scientific legitimacy; 
  2. garner legitimacy in policy, practical and civic arenas; and 
  3. focus attention on the ethics and values of food systems themselves, which will feed back and affect all other forms of legitimacy.
Scientific Legitimacy
Agroecology is already a thriving science. Universities with agroecology departments and training programs, journals dedicated to agroecology research and international societies such as the Latin American Scientific Society of Agroecology show that agroecology science is increasingly accepted around the world, at least within research communities. Still, a criticism sometimes levied at agroecologists is that their science is more ideological than empirical, more aspirational than applicable.

Agroecologists can bolster the empirical basis of their science. A long-running criticism of agroecological farming is that it cannot possibly “feed the world.”

However, research is still only beginning to establish “agroecological yield.” University of California, Berkeley scientists are showing that organic systems can lag behind conventional systems by just 19 percent when it comes to productivity, and just 8 or 9 percent when farmers alternate crops year-to-year or grow several crops together in their fields.

In other words, adding more agroecological practices results in yields that are significantly better than “bare-bones” organic. And this is the case even though organic and agroecological research has been systematically underfunded. With further research into agroecology on tap, industrial food supporters will find it harder to refute evidence that agroecology is yield competitive.

While we can joust on the productivity battleground, thereby strengthening agroecology’s credibility in agricultural science and policy, we don’t have to copy the same logic that supports industrial food.

Many inventions of agribusiness, such as large-scale monoculture, are the outcome of what is known as a “productionist” mentality: the philosophy that food output should be prioritized at the expense of other agricultural values.

This productionist science has apparently accomplished a great deal (e.g., supplying pesticides, mechanized harvesters and genetically modified organisms), and it now promises to provide solutions for climate change (e.g., efficient irrigation, crop-sensing drones and GPS-driven harvesters). Such effectiveness makes industrial agriculture highly legitimate — for now.

However, it neglects a critical part of the equation: While an output-first ideology seems on its face legitimate, it disregards the fact that agricultural landscapes are complex human-nature ecosystems.

Farms that ignore or discount the connections among abiotic (minerals, nutrients, wind, precipitation, energy), biotic (living) and social (needs of farmers, habits of eaters, political economies of local and global markets) components are less resilient to unpredictable changes like California’s now frequently recurring drought.

By moving beyond the simplistic science of industrial farming to a science that embraces this complexity, we create systems that produce not just food but also resilience, stability and sustainability — in the long run a far more valuable output than the one-dimensional yield of industrial agriculture.

A final strategy to increase the scientific legitimacy of agroecology is to capitalize on the broader trend of science embracing multiple ways of knowing.

The National Science Foundation has begun awarding grants to researchers who want to pursue “transdisciplinary” science — research that combines social sciences such as ethnobotany, sociology and philosophy with natural sciences such as agronomy and ecology, and puts them into conversation with the traditional and indigenous expertise of farming communities — and other funding organizations will likely follow suit.

Agroecology is already well poised to gain traction and scientific legitimacy in these emerging programs.

Policy, Civic and Practical Legitimacy
To achieve political, policy, civic and practical legitimacy, we must learn to discuss agroecology in a way that diverse people will understand. This means putting agroecology into the frames and language of legislatures, government departments, corporations and the public at large. Right now, for example, a particularly powerful language that government officials use is “cost-benefit.”

When deciding whether to control a pesticide or whether farmers should house pregnant pigs in bigger boxes, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Environmental Protection Agency often employ cost-benefit analysis, a method that quantitatively compares the monetary costs and benefits of a given thing.

We could start using the language of CBA to push for more support of agroecology. For instance, if even a few million dollars more were invested in agroecology research and development, there may be ripple effects in credibility.

Long-term studies, like those of the Rodale Institute that show that ecological farming yields can match — and, in drought years, exceed — conventional yields across a period of 30 years, could persuade skeptical scientists, the media, legislators and consumers to take agroecology more seriously.

But this strategy of speaking to power is successful, in part, because of the structures of power and knowledge that currently exist. In fact, most agroecologists would say using CBA is the wrong approach. To disrupt the locked-in systems of technology, capital, policy and science, we must rethink the very criteria societies use to evaluate agricultural outcomes.

Currently, these criteria emphasize ever-growing crop and animal yields, turning fossil fuel inputs into highly productive “labor,” maximizing profit, and feeding large populations at a low cost. By these standards, industrial food is highly efficient.

Evaluated according to different criteria, however, our current food system, led by industrial farming, becomes terribly inefficient on almost all counts. In the U.S. alone, up to 40 percent of food produced is wasted somewhere from on the farm field to the household refrigerator.

Much of the food thrown away on farms is rejected because of supermarket specifications or consumer preferences. Globally, it’s thought that around a third of the food produced for human consumption every year — some 1.3 billion metric tons (1.4 billion tons) — is lost or wasted. We also do not count the “externalities” of industrial food — that is, the hidden economic costs of current production and consumption.

According to researchers at the Universidade Estadual de Londrina, for example, the cost of soil erosion in Brazil is US$242 million per year in the state of Paraná and US$212 million per year in the state of São Paulo. Meanwhile, researchers from the McKinsey Global Institute estimate that excess weight and obesity comes at a price tag of US$2 trillion in global health care costs.

Prominent international initiatives like The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity and conferences such as the True Costs of American Food have begun to make headway in exploring and tallying these externalized costs.

But we need more creative and more comprehensive criteria with which to size up our food systems.

These could include: Do farmers have food security and stable livelihoods? Are rural economies systematically replenished rather than siphoned dry of people, capital and biodiversity?

Does a farm treat its workers fairly and recycle its natural resources? Do urban and rural populations have access to affordable, culturally appropriate and nourishing food?
Although there is certainly room for improvement, agroecology is already much more likely than industrial agriculture to perform well according to these whole-systems criteria.

Ethical Legitimacy

Historian Taylor Branch’s trilogy about the evolution of the Civil Rights movement offers insights into how focusing attention on the ethics and values of food systems can begin to pare away the thick legitimacy of industrial food, and build up new thick legitimacy for agroecology. Accustomed to a culture of racist oppression,

Blacks didn’t believe they could vote, ride undisturbed in the front sections of public buses or sit on city councils.
Only when they began rejecting the normalcy of this culture — a painful process that included watching their own children beaten while they stood by — did they start exercising their moral power.

Similarly, we can withdraw our tacit consent to industrial agriculture as something normal, weakening its moral legitimacy.

We can simultaneously accept agroecology and other alternative agricultures as “conventional” — indeed, ethically better — food systems.

We can say that while we like the cheapness and availability of industrially produced food, we don’t want the pervasive labor abuses, obesity and hunger crises, environmental pollution, and resource extraction that come with this way of eating.

We can say we want something that will truly persist over time, instead of contributing to Earth’s growing burden of overstressed ecosystems and people who are unevenly stuffed and starved.

By contrast to the extractive focus of industrial farming, an ethic of renewal urges that societies revive and mend the environmental cycles on which they depend.

An ethic of renewal could help societies pivot toward a new, sustainable normal. Rejecting human dominion over nature, renewal insists upon the interdependency of all living things. Renewal means moving away from systems of input and output that equate with extraction and pollution.

It means recycling biomass, nutrients and biological resources, and regenerating cultural and ecological knowledge among communities and from one generation to the next. It means treating humans and nature as co-evolving rather than as discrete parts.

This ethic can be backed up legally and politically, enshrined as an environmental right. One example is Bolivia’s proposal in 2009 that the United Nations General Assembly enact the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth (“Pachamama”). The declaration would oblige governments to “respect, protect, conserve and where necessary, restore the integrity, of the vital ecological cycles, processes and balances of Mother Earth.”

While the U.N. hasn’t yet passed this declaration, Bolivia, Ecuador and other Latin American countries have taken the lead on inserting similar clauses into their constitutions and laws.

The human right to food is another way to strengthen a regenerative ethic. Olivier De Schutter, former U.N. special rapporteur on the right to food, says that agroecology is an essential part of achieving the right to food globally. Agroecology can enable societies around the world to make rapid progress in meeting the needs of many vulnerable peoples while maintaining the ecological and social foundations of food systems.

Many governments are now beginning to introduce anti-poverty programs aimed at those without sufficient food, such as Brazil’s Zero Hunger policy, which connects family farms with schools in some regions.

Meanwhile, La Via Campesina, a global peasant coalition, is demonstrating the practical, civic and political legitimacy of a new moral moment for agroecology. Formed in 1993 in response to free trade and globalization, LVC has grown into the largest social movement on the planet with an estimated 250 million smallholder farmers, pastoralists, fishers and indigenous peoples in 164 organizations from 73 countries. Agroecology has become an important tenet of the LVC movement, which says,
“Agroecology is the answer to how to transform and repair our material reality in a food system and rural world that has been devastated by industrial food production and its so-called Green and Blue Revolutions. We see Agroecology as a key form of resistance to an economic system that puts profit before life.”
 Gathering Momentum
The good news is, agroecology is already beginning to make headway toward thick legitimacy across the U.S.

In Ohio, David Brandt is showing skeptical neighbors that cover crops — plants such as rye, radishes and hairy vetch — can feed the soil during the corn off-season and save on fertilizer and land erosion costs. In West Oahu, the Mala Ai Opio Organic Farm is growing rows of lettuce, collard greens, oriental cabbages, beets, radishes, kale, chard and eggplants next to fruit trees.

Its student farmers are convincing other farmers across Hawaii that this indigenous intercropping technique can control the island’s plentiful pests.

In public libraries around the country, citizens are saving and exchanging seed, while gardeners are learning to remove toxic metals from urban soils. Indigenous elders and university students are practicing subtle acts of resistance with participatory research that envisions reclaiming land for public agriculture.

Very importantly, the transformers are not only or even primarily those of the white elite. Many agroecologists are Black, Latino and Asian farmers reclaiming their heritage in places from the Southern plantation states to the South Bronx.

A number are indigenous communities restoring seed and knowledge diversity. Some are formerly incarcerated individuals making new futures for themselves in urban tilth; others are entrepreneurs, busily connecting agroecological farms with food deserts, from Baltimore to Dallas.

At the moment, most Americans still accept industrial food practices as credible and authoritative, and in doing so consent to the use and existence of such practices. But movements are underway to change that.

With a focus on what’s right about agroecology, not just what’s wrong with industrial agriculture, we can turn the alternative into the everyday and the undervalued into the legitimate — and give agroecology the credibility and authority it well deserves.

Maywa Montenegro @MaywaMontenegro is a food systems researcher, University of California, Berkeley.

Alastair Iles @AlastairIles is a rofessor of environmental policy and social change, University of California, Berkeley 

My Whole Heart is With You

SUBHEAD: We have survived this USA’s plan for us because we are a fire that their water cannons cannot extinguish.

By Kelly Hayes on 30 November 2016 for Yes Magazine -

Image above: The Standing Rock front line. Photo by Rob Wilson. From original article.

A letter to the Dakota Access Front Line

I write these words on what’s a cold night in my city, and a much colder night where my heart is—with my friends in Standing Rock. My writing, which typically centers movements, often sways between news and analysis.

My coverage of #NoDAPL has been no exception. But this piece is neither news nor analysis, because these words are for you, my people, for our protectors and resisters—for those who aren’t seeking to be heroes but who are nonetheless members of heroic movements and communities.

To you, I write these words on the night the governor of North Dakota has issued you an eviction notice, like so many notices issued to so many displaced people.

One of the ironic distinctions, of course, is that marginalized people are usually pushed out into the cold by eviction, whereas you are being threatened with rescue, due to your own decision to face the elements. While that menace has thus far masked itself in concern, we know better, and we know what stage is likely being set—one of forcible removal, consistent with the history of colonialism.

I hope people see your determination and know that the future isn’t set. Myself, I am not mourning today’s news, as I am sure you wouldn’t want me to. We know despair heals nothing, builds nothing, and further empowers our enemies.

We live in a disciplined state of hope and have done so for centuries. I didn’t always understand what that meant for me or my own freedom, but I do now, and I feel it more deeply because of you.

We all take joy and comfort where we can, but my whole heart is with you tonight. Whether you are afraid or not, whether you are staying or not. I know a good many of you will hold the space you’ve grounded yourself in, and that on every front this struggle will continue. I know we are not stifled by their proclamations.

I am grateful to you all—those who will stay, those who feel they must leave, and those who made that space a home for as long as they could. There is something revitalized in the air we breathe because of you.

In this moment, I believe in us as I never have, not because I didn’t believe in our potential, but because I had only witnessed snapshots of its expression.

I have not been alone in my years of resistance, but I have never felt far from loneliness in what it means to struggle as a Native person—even as an “urban NDN,” because I believe we have found something there, too—a connection of the dots in our collective constellation, and in some moments, where those lights branch elsewhere.

I believe in us, and that we are ready, more so than I have ever envisioned, to rise up against every threat to our survival and self-determination. We have survived the rise of a nation-state—a “super power”—grounded in our genocide.

This country, built on death and human bondage, has not extinguished the lives it meant to snuff out nor fully subverted the lives it has strived to control. It has accomplished much toward these ends, but our ancestors have risen, time after time, to prove what we are made of.

We have survived this nation-state’s will for us because we are a fire that their water cannons cannot extinguish.

I am so many miles away from you tonight, but I feel your fire, burning in the freezing cold in a place I’ve visited but have not managed to live. You have fed that fire with every hour you have held that space. I know you’re not done yet, but I want you to know that your victories have come in stages, all building to this moment and whatever trial or climax comes next.

I want you to know that you have moved us and will continue to move us, bringing us closer to the united front we must form with ourselves and with those pushing against every other pillar of White supremacy.

I am here for you and this.

My disability and responsibilities keep me from joining you in that cold, beautiful heart of resistance that your blood—the blood of what couldn’t be killed—has kept beating.

But I am living in this moment with you so that our peoples may live and until we all get free. I will live for that, now and always, until we uproot every pipe they try to lay through our land, until we halt their violence and empty their cages.

I want you to know, and have to tell you, that I will live for you, for us and our co-strugglers until we are living our freedom dreams—whether I live to see that day or not—and that in this moment, you give me life.

See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: The Loving Containment of Courage 12/1/16
Ea O Ka Aina: The Beginning is Near 12/1/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Feds to shutdown NoDAPL Camp 11/25/16
Ea O Ka Aina: NoDAPL people are going to die 11/23/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Hundreds of vets to join NoDAPL 11/22/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Obama must support Standing Rock 11/21/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Trump's pro oil stance vs NoDaPL 11/15/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Kauai NoDAPL Demonstration 11/12/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Obama to Betray Standing Rock 11/12/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Trump impact on Standing Rock 11/12/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Ann Wright on Standing Rock 11/8/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Turning Point at Standing Rock 11/6/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Jackson Browne vs DAPL owner 11/5/16
Democracy Now: Boycott of DAPL Owner's Music Festival
Ea O Ka Aina: World responds to NoDAPL protests 11/5/16
Ea O Ka Aina: NoDAPL victory that was missed 11/5/16
Ea O Ka Aina: DAPL hid discovery of Sioux artifacts 11/5/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Dakota Access Pipeline will leak 11/5/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Route of the Dakota Access Pipeline 11/4/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Sanders calls for stopping DAPL 11/4/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Obama hints at DAPL rerouting 11/3/16
Ea O Ka Aina: New military attack on NODAPL 11/3/16
Ea O Ka Aina: How to Support NoDAPL 11/3/16
Unicorn Riot: Tweets from NoDAPL 11/2/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Standing Rock & the Ballot Box 10/31/16
Ea O Ka Aina: NoDAPL reclaim new frontline 10/24/16
Ea O Ka Aina: How far will North Dakota go? 10/23/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Amy Goodman "riot" charge dropped 10/17/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Amy Goodwin to face "Riot Charge" 10/16/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Shutdown of all tar sand pipelines 10/11/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Why Standing Rock is test for Oabama 10/8/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Why we are Singing for Water 10/8/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Labor's Dakota Access Pipeline Crisis 10/3/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Standing Firm for Standing Rock 10/3/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Contact bankers behind DAPL 9/29/16
Ea O Ka Aina: NoDAPL demo at Enbridge Inc 9/29/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Militarized Police raid NoDAPL 9/28/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Stop funding of Dakota Access Pipeline 9/27/16
Ea O Ka Aina: UN experts to US, "Stop DAPL Now!" 9/27/16
Ea O Ka Aina: No DAPL solidarity grows 9/21/16
Ea O Ka Aina: This is how we should be living 9/16/16
Ea O Ka Aina: 'Natural Capital' replacing 'Nature' 9/14/16
Ea O Ka Aina: The Big Difference at Standing Rock 9/13/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Jill Stein joins Standing Rock Sioux 9/10/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Pipeline temporarily halted 9/6/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Native Americans attacked with dogs 9/5/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Mni Wiconi! Water is Life! 9/3/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Sioux can stop the Pipeline 8/28/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Officials cut water to Sioux 8/23/16    


The Loving Contagion of Courage

SUBHEAD: American military veterans are coming to Standing Rock to protect the Water Proctors facing a police state.

By Four Arrows on 1 December 2016 for Truth Out -

Image above: Teepee town in the snow at Standing Rock. From (

In spite of freezing weather and orders from the North Dakota governor to curtail emergency medical services to Standing Rock and deem people's mere presence there illegal, thousands of veterans are coming to take part in a massive, peaceful operation December 4-7 at Standing Rock, the site of ongoing Indigenous resistance to the construction of the Dakota Access oil pipeline (DAPL).

At this point, 2,000 veterans from Veterans for Peace and Veterans Standing for Standing Rock have registered to take part in this operation, and more are continuing to sign up. I am one of them. Together we will help the Water Protectors and give them a break from the brutality they have suffered.

 Initially drawn together by Army veteran Wesley Clark, Jr., and former Marine Michael Wood, Veterans Standing for Standing Rock has circulated its invitation far and wide since early November, calling for veterans to "assemble as a peaceful, unarmed militia" and "defend the water protectors from assault and intimidation at the hands of the militarized police force and DAPL security."

In what appears to be a counter-move in response to this impending mobilization of veterans, the Army Corps of Engineers, which has the power to disallow DAPL from crossing the river, gave an eviction notice on November 25 to the tribal chair to have all the campers at the main oceti sakowin camp move to 40 acres on Corps of Engineers land on the other side of the cannonball river.

The order document is full of obvious contradictions. For example, it expresses a "sincere" concern about the ability of emergency services to take care of those in the camp, but the Corps has done nothing to order DAPL to remove barriers on the short route to Mandan and Bismarck that have forced emergency services to go nearly two hours out of their way to get from Standing Rock to a hospital.

The Corps has decreed that the thousands of campers who have set up elaborate survival systems and dwellings will be arrested for trespass if they have not left the encampment by December 5. Meanwhile, no such eviction has been given to the pipeline workers who appear to be violating the Army's order to halt work. Is it a coincidence this eviction is planned for the first day of the Veterans Standing for Standing Rock action?

Standing Rock Tribal Chair Dave Archambault has already expressed regret and disappointment in response to the eviction notice and has said it will be met with an even stronger resolve. Meanwhile, our Veterans for Peace and Veterans Standing for Standing Rock are conferring this weekend to strategize possible modifications to some original plans.

As was always the case, any response is all about peaceful, courageous resistance to an illegal, immoral and unnecessary pipeline with significant risks to local and global life systems.

Wesley Clark and the other organizers of the Veterans Standing for Standing Rock operation are carriers of the highly contagious emotion we call "courage." After serving a stint as a peacetime Army officer, Wesley Clark, Jr., wanted to re-enlist for the Iraq war after 9/11.

His famous father, General Wesley Clark, Sr., wisely talked him out of it. General Clark understood that the war was a mistake. Wesley Clark, Jr., is now full throttle for his new mission at Standing Rock. Even after his father cautioned him about the risks of this planned peaceful civil disobedience, Wesley Clark, Jr., was not deterred.

Although he may have some Osage ancestry, Wesley Clark, Jr., has had little exposure to the ways of "Indians." However, when Standing Rock tribal elder Phyllis Young explained the history of Standing Rock's conflict with DAPL and its global importance, he had a transformational epiphany.

Young met Wesley Clark, Jr., in Washington, D.C., where they were both working on renewable energy ideas. When she talked about the courageous commitment of the Native people to "all their relations," he said a memory from his early childhood about the idea that "what you do to your brother you do to me" suddenly fanned the simmering "fire in his heart."

Almost to tears, he told me during a recent phone conversation that he is no longer an atheist. He said he has understood for the first time that the Great Mysterious (he used the word "God") has taken his hand and is guiding him. With his military background and his respect for veterans, he feels that organizing and leading veterans to stop the abuse of the Water Protectors at Standing Rock is his destiny.

As I wrote in a previous Truthout article this past Veteran's Day, Indians honor veterans not for participating in wars per se, but for their learned wisdom about the sacredness of life. We respect veterans for their willingness to serve as protectors, even if this is not what they wind up doing in their various deployments.

Veterans have a great potential for understanding that everything is related and sacred, even the "enemy." Ultimately, the virtue Indians revere in the veteran who has willed herself or himself to be available to die for others is courage.

Michael Wood -- another co-organizer of Veterans Standing for Standing Rock and former Marine who is also a retired Baltimore police officer fighting for police reform -- refers to this operation as "the bravery business."

Both Clark and Wood are willing to take a live round to stop the human-caused destruction that threatens all life on this planet. That they would connect with the Lakota/Dakota/Nakota with such courage is no coincidence.

My father was also a decorated combat veteran. He flew 35 missions in B-24s as a bombardier/navigator in WWII, crash-landing twice. I used to sneak readings of his always hidden combat diary, before it was lost in a flood to the Mississippi River.

He wrote about the bloody red "blood popsicles" hanging from fuselage ledges and the loss of so many of his friends. Nonetheless, I joined the Marines during the Vietnam war. I was commissioned after Quantico and then entered the aviation program at Pensacola.

Blindly gung-ho and ignoring the "hippie" protestors on TV, one night in a bar a South Vietnamese officer I was working with got drunk enough to tell me about what the US was doing to his country. I just barely stopped myself from punching him when I saw the look in his eyes. He was telling the truth.

At that moment I joined the anti-war movement and used my grandfather's political connections to gain an honorable discharge just before a possible court martial. Many years later, I cofounded the Northern Arizona chapter of Veterans for Peace. Dad was against the war himself and supported me.

Six years after my discharge, however, he died at age 52 of post-traumatic-stress-related alcoholism.

The courage recognized in many veterans seems inherent in all Indigenous peoples who have managed to follow traditional ways. This is why especially courageous veterans seem to get along so well with American Indians. In the Indigenous worldview that guided all of us for 99 percent of human history, generosity is the ultimate expression of courage and fearlessness. (The latter phenomenon comes after courage prompts resolute action and one "trusts the universe" without further need for maintaining courage per se.)

Martin Brokenleg talks about this when referring to educational programs for youth at risk when he says, "The highest expression of courage is attained when children learn to show compassion for others and to give a higher priority to relationships rather than possessions."

I first learned this from wild Bureau of Land Management mustangs I trained in the 1970s. When wild horses that are not violently broken submit to being handled, it is both the generosity of the animals and their respect for the generosity of the handler that overcome their fears.

I have often believed that the amazing relationship between the Lakota and the horse is related to this phenomenon. Indeed, woohitika (courage) is a cardinal virtue in Lakota philosophy and almost always refers to taking care of others.

Similarly, in the Anishinaabe language, aakode'win literally means the state of having a fearless heart and doing what is right, even when the consequences are unpleasant or dangerous.

In my latest book, Point of Departure: Returning to Our More Authentic Worldview for Education and Survival, I talk about the natural legacy of courage and fearlessness that is in all of our potentialities and how it has been stifled by the dominant worldview.

It is no coincidence that Indigenous peoples who have managed to hold on to this legacy of Nature are on the front lines around the globe in the stand against destroyers of Mother Earth.

It has taken courage and fearlessness to hold onto Indigenous ways against all odds. In spite of being less than 6 percent of the world population, Indigenous peoples hold 20 percent of the planet's land mass, harboring 80 percent of the remaining biodiversity.

Of course, they continue to pay a great price. In most countries, those hired to stop Indigenous environmental and water protectors don't use rubber bullets. At least 185 confirmed activists were killed in 2015 alone.

In her Truthout article, Alycee Lane reminds us that what we will be up against in the December veterans deployment is not just a corporation and its unawakened accomplices but also the global energy behind colonization itself.

The colonizers of all kinds will fight the Indians because the pipeline project actually requires the exploitation of other than whites. She continues:
Ultimately, "climate change" must be a commitment to undertake a radical politics of decoloniality -- to dismantle the murderous, nihilistic colonial power matrix against which the Sioux are courageously fighting and which is assailing Indigenous communities wherever fossil fuel exists, all the while driving millions of life forms to extinction.
The Indians at Standing Rock from the hundreds of tribes there know this, of course. Most have struggled their entire lives against such colonization and the historical trauma from previous generations is in their DNA.

Yet they also have amazing courage and fearlessness in their blood. When I was sitting around a fire for a safety meeting with 14 medics at Standing Rock a couple of weeks ago, one of the medics passionately revealed why courage and fearlessness are vital for such a radical "decoloniality." He looked around and asked, "How many Natives are here in this group?"

There were only two others, in addition to him. He nodded, then slowly talked about the importance of helping one another out on the forthcoming action "no matter what."

Then, as he proceeded to talk about the great difficulties of his life as an American Indian growing up in a foster family in an urban setting, he talked about the courage to survive and to be there for others. He spoke with such emotion and passion that everyone was spellbound.

Looking at the dedicated and courageous EMTs volunteering their time, he thanked them but predicted that the Indians would be the ones to run toward the bullets. "This is what we must do to save our living waters for future generations," he concluded.

We do not know yet what will happen next week when the Veterans Standing for Standing Rock are engaged in their operations.

We do not know if there will be a forceful eviction or how peaceful actions will occur strategically.

We do not know what strategy DAPL will employ or how they will instruct their state and government allies.

We do not know the effects of weather or what will happen after the Veterans Standing for Standing Rock and large numbers of people return to their homes.

Whatever will happen will require the utmost in loving courage and fearlessness on the part of the Water Protectors.

Send them your prayers, and please also send prayers that our brothers and sisters who are in the National Guard and the police departments will catch this spirit of loving courage.

We must pray that these officers, who are in danger of conducting more terrorism, will instead set down their weapons to join us all in remembering who we really are, as we transition away from the dominant worldview and toward a worldview of interconnectedness.

• Wahinkpe Topa (or Four Arrows), also known as Don Trent Jacobs, is currently a professor in the College of Leadership Studies at Fielding Graduate University. Of Irish/Cherokee descent and a made-relative of the Oglala, he previously lived and worked on the Pine Ridge reservation where he served as director of education at Oglala Lakota College on Pine Ridge. 

See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: The Beginning is Near 12/1/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Feds to shutdown NoDAPL Camp 11/25/16
Ea O Ka Aina: NoDAPL people are going to die 11/23/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Hundreds of vets to join NoDAPL 11/22/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Obama must support Standing Rock 11/21/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Trump's pro oil stance vs NoDaPL 11/15/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Kauai NoDAPL Demonstration 11/12/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Obama to Betray Standing Rock 11/12/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Trump impact on Standing Rock 11/12/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Ann Wright on Standing Rock 11/8/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Turning Point at Standing Rock 11/6/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Jackson Browne vs DAPL owner 11/5/16
Democracy Now: Boycott of DAPL Owner's Music Festival
Ea O Ka Aina: World responds to NoDAPL protests 11/5/16
Ea O Ka Aina: NoDAPL victory that was missed 11/5/16
Ea O Ka Aina: DAPL hid discovery of Sioux artifacts 11/5/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Dakota Access Pipeline will leak 11/5/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Route of the Dakota Access Pipeline 11/4/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Sanders calls for stopping DAPL 11/4/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Obama hints at DAPL rerouting 11/3/16
Ea O Ka Aina: New military attack on NODAPL 11/3/16
Ea O Ka Aina: How to Support NoDAPL 11/3/16
Unicorn Riot: Tweets from NoDAPL 11/2/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Standing Rock & the Ballot Box 10/31/16
Ea O Ka Aina: NoDAPL reclaim new frontline 10/24/16
Ea O Ka Aina: How far will North Dakota go? 10/23/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Amy Goodman "riot" charge dropped 10/17/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Amy Goodwin to face "Riot Charge" 10/16/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Shutdown of all tar sand pipelines 10/11/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Why Standing Rock is test for Oabama 10/8/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Why we are Singing for Water 10/8/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Labor's Dakota Access Pipeline Crisis 10/3/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Standing Firm for Standing Rock 10/3/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Contact bankers behind DAPL 9/29/16
Ea O Ka Aina: NoDAPL demo at Enbridge Inc 9/29/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Militarized Police raid NoDAPL 9/28/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Stop funding of Dakota Access Pipeline 9/27/16
Ea O Ka Aina: UN experts to US, "Stop DAPL Now!" 9/27/16
Ea O Ka Aina: No DAPL solidarity grows 9/21/16
Ea O Ka Aina: This is how we should be living 9/16/16
Ea O Ka Aina: 'Natural Capital' replacing 'Nature' 9/14/16
Ea O Ka Aina: The Big Difference at Standing Rock 9/13/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Jill Stein joins Standing Rock Sioux 9/10/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Pipeline temporarily halted 9/6/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Native Americans attacked with dogs 9/5/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Mni Wiconi! Water is Life! 9/3/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Sioux can stop the Pipeline 8/28/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Officials cut water to Sioux 8/23/16