a New Year's Revolution
by Kimberley McCoy
are all familiar with the standard New Year's resolutions: join a gym, cut down
on red meat and caffeine, save more, spend less. But as activists we often think
about change a little differently. We look beyond ourselves, our appearance
and our abs, and make choices that not only benefit our own lives but which
also work towards a more sustainable future. We make personal choices such as
riding our bike to work or eating organic not only to stay fit and healthy,
but also because we understand how individual actions connect to global justice
Most of us can think of at least
a dozen small steps to take to improve our current activist lifestyle. These
individual actions are important and do have an impact, but it is collective
action that brings about systemic change. As we strive to make personal changes
we must also work for social change as organized groups. Social change can seem
more difficult than making small individual changes, but it can also be broken
down into small, achievable steps. You don't have to build the whole revolution
yourself - just figure out how to contribute to it. Using your valuable time
and energy to support collective action will multiply your efforts.
When we connect our personal choices strategically to a larger movement we are working to create revolution. Inside are a few examples of how personal resolutions can become movement building collective actions.
Start your own garden.
If you try to buy local it doesn't get any closer than your backyard. Growing your own food means cutting down on pesticides, packaging, transportation, and refrigeration. Buy organic seeds from groups such as Fedco or Seeds of Change. A selection of these seeds is also available at the Syracuse Real Food Coop when the weather gets warmer. Purchasing your seeds from places like these guarantees Monsanto doesn't patent your seeds.
create city community gardens.
In some areas of Syracuse, as in most cities, residents have little access to grocery stores with a good selection of produce. Often these areas have many abandoned lots. These lots are perfect spaces for community gardens. They become community assets once turned into a garden and help bring healthy food into the neighborhood. Help work with SUNY ESF and residents of the Near Eastside in their project to transform vacant city lots into community gardens. Contact ESF through Heather Brubaker at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Don't feed the oil war.
In our cry for 'no more oil wars' we must take responsibility for curbing our consumption and dependence on Middle East oil. While not owning a Hummer seems like a doable sacrifice, our efforts can't end there. Most anti-war activists strive to drive less, but purchasing gas from Citgo seems like a good choice when driving is unavoidable. When you buy gas from Citgo your money goes primarily to Venezuela. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has agreed to use the nation's oil revenue to benefit the poor.
Demand safe technology.
Four nuclear reactors are located in close vicinity to Syracuse. While George Bush tries to sell nuclear power as a clean renewable energy, activists know that it generates greenhouse gases, deadly radioactive waste and poisons surrounding communities. Join with CNY Citizens Awareness Network (CAN) in their work to close the existing nukes and to ensure that proposed new plants in Oswego will never be built. Doing so helps make way for real renewable energy in CNY such as wind and hydro. Contact local organizer Tim Judson at 425-0430 or www.nukebusters.org.
Pull the plug on corporate media.
Once we turn off the nightly "news" we need to find ways to keep ourselves informed. While The Daily Show may seem like a viable option for some, those who want real content and the full story should turn their attention to independent sources. Syracuse is home to local independent media such as The New Standard, available at www.newstandardnews.net; Syracuse Community Radio, which can be heard online at www.wxxe.org; and of course the publication you are currently reading. Call the Peace Council to get a subscription if it's not already mailed to you at home. Make it a goal to become an expert on at least one current issue, and impress your friends with your new knowledge.
airwaves in public hands.
A group of activists are working with the Syracuse Peace Council to publicize the current FCC relicensing procedures for local radio stations. Stations are up for relicensing in the Spring of 2006. The goal is to use this opportunity to reclaim the airwaves as public and work to make sure stations hear the need for more progressive programming such as Democracy NOW! Contact the SPC office to join this group (see SPC in Action for details).