A “shelter for all” policy sounds good, but it takes resources away from long term solutions

Supervisor Rafael Mandelman and former Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer stood outside The City’s first Safe Sleeping Village at Civic Center to announce legislation on Oct. 20, 2021 to establish a Safe Sleeping Sites Program for unsheltered people. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Supervisor Rafael Mandelman and former Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer stood outside The City’s first Safe Sleeping Village at Civic Center to announce legislation on Oct. 20, 2021 to establish a Safe Sleeping Sites Program for unsheltered people. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

By Jennifer Friedenbach

Homelessness is on the brink of exploding in San Francisco. But a proposal the Board of Supervisors is considering would cost an outrageous amount of money without ending homelessness for one person.

“A Place For All” requires the creation of enough safe sleeping sites and shelter within 18 months to warehouse every person living on the streets in need. On the surface this legislation sounds great, sanctioned encampments can provide a great alternative to congregate shelter; but dig a little deeper and you find a deeply flawed, tried and failed policy that only exacerbates homelessness.

While the use of safe sleep sites is unique, the idea of implementing a “Shelter For All” policy is not. In fact, the outcomes from this 80s retro policy are well known. In other cities “Shelter for all” policies have been ineffective and disastrous, sucking unrestricted city dollars away from preventing and solving homelessness into building and maintaining shelter.

One can simply take a look to New York City. Their department spends about $1.3 billion dollars of its budget on providing shelter for their unhoused population while thousands remain on the street. This huge sum detracts from the ability to provide long term solutions, namely permanent supportive housing, perpetuating the cycle of homelessness and entrenching people in a system of congregate shelters, with little hope of ever accessing permanent housing. As a result New York City has a higher rate of homelessness then San Francisco.

The timing of this could not be worse. We have a rare opportunity with incoming state and federal revenues and softening real estate market to move the dial on homelessness, but this horribly timed legislation would hobble our ability to secure the permanent solutions to homelessness we so desperately need, leaving unhoused San Franciscans stuck in the shelter system with no available exits from homelessness. With more people entering homelessness each day, the system would have to expand infinitely to keep up with need.

According to San Francisco’s Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing, the cost of the city’s safe sleep programs over the last year amounts to about $61,000 per tent. This is well over the cost of a private market subsidy with support services for a single household, priced at about $40,000 per year, and over two times the average cost of rent for a one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco, The total price tag of this legislation is $244 million, equal to our pre-pandemic homeless department’s entire budget.

National experts on homelessness strongly recommend “right sizing” our shelter system and investing heavily in homeless prevention and permanent housing. This allows for movement out of homelessness as opposed to forcing impoverished people to be stuck in long bouts of sheltered and unsheltered homelessness, where they see their health deteriorate and their economic mobility stifled.

In addition, the author refused to put in protections against using this legislation as a “work around” for existing federal protections of homeless people. In fact, he has often talked about it as a way to justify the criminalization of homeless folks through enforcement of anti-homeless laws such as sit-lie. According to the Ninth Circuit ruling in the landmark case Martin v City of Boise, “municipal ordinances that criminalize sleeping, sitting, or lying in all public spaces, when no alternative sleeping space is available, violate the Eighth Amendment.” “Shelter for all” policies provide a cheapened loophole in Martin v. Boise for local governments, using the availability of tent sites and mats in large warehouses to justify sweeping and displacing unsheltered residents with impunity.

In this context, “A Place For All ” could act as a dangerous restriction of the self determination of unhoused San Franciscans, using the threat of a criminal misdemeanor to forcibly round people up off of the streets and into crowded, city-run camps regardless of their individual needs. This approach to homelessness reflects a prioritization of policing over dignified, less costly solutions, and prioritizing the needs of well-heeled housed people who wish to avoid witnessing poverty over the needs of the most vulnerable people to have safe and decent housing. This shockingly large legislated investment would lead to greater inequity, denying the disproportionately Black and Brown unhoused community members the right to thrive, rather than investing in the permanent systemic change that will keep our neighbors off of the streets for good.

While it would be flawed even in the best of times, this legislation is being discussed at a time when the opportunity is ripe for San Francisco to set ambitious goals for increasing it’s permanent housing stock, including the creation of 10,000 units authorized by Prop. K and the Mayor’s ambitious Homelessness Recovery Plan for over 2,500 new permanent housing units for homeless people. Between the millions of expected federal relief dollars specifically slated for addressing homelessness, the hundreds of millions of available Prop. C dollars, and the new funds provided by Prop. I, the city has the opportunity to invest in the acquisition and construction of thousands of units. In combination with the over 1,700 people currently in SIP hotels with the guarantee of being moved into housing, this could put a huge dent in the skyrocketing population of unhoused San Franciscans.

A policy like “A Place For All” would immediately drain the city of these resources and confine the city’s options to tents, rather than housing. An overpriced tent is an exceptionally low bar to aim for.

Jennifer Friedenbach is executive director of the Coalition on Homelessness.

STEWART BRAND PORTRAYED AS TECH FUTURIST AND PUBLISHER IN ‘WE ARE AS GODS’

Jessica Zack April 15, 2021 Updated: April 17, 2021 (SFChronicle.com)

Stewart Brand, writer and founder of Whole Earth Catalog, portrait inside the Mirene, a converted 1912 tugboat where he and his wife Ryan Phelan call home in Sausalito.Photo: Stephen Lam, The Chronicle

For a devoted futurist like Stewart Brand, who is famous for his projections about technology and the environment, looking at his own past doesn’t necessarily come naturally.

Given his fame as creator of the iconic 1960s DIY handbook Whole Earth Catalog (described by Steve Jobs as “Google in paperback form”), and later as an influential technologist at the forefront of the personal computing revolution, numerous filmmakers have asked the Marin cyberculture legend to make a movie about his life. But Brand never wanted to waste precious time or energy on nostalgia. He said no to the idea of a biopic — until filmmakers Jason Sussberg and David Alvarado approached Brand in 2017.

Now their fascinating docu-portrait “We Are as Gods” is screening at this year’s San Francisco International Film Festival, available to stream through Sunday, April 18.

“We pitched Stewart the idea that instead of just looking backward, we’d create a portrait of the futurist as already living in a future” others can’t yet quite see, said Sussberg in a video interview from his San Francisco home.

“We Are as Gods” directors David Alvarado (left) and Jason Sussberg.Photo: Brendan Hall / Structure Films

Sussberg and Alvarado, based in Brooklyn, N.Y., had already made a short film in 2014 for Time magazine about “de-extinction,” Brand’s late-in-life passion project promoting the use of biotech to bring back extinct species — like the passenger pigeon, the American chestnut tree, even the woolly mammoth.

They planned to make Brand’s zeal for genetic engineering central to their proposed feature-length documentary. To their surprise, over an extended conversation with Brand at Skywalker Ranch following a screening of their last film, “Bill Nye: Science Guy,” Brand said yes.

In “We Are as Gods,” the two filmmakers travel with Brand, now 82, to Siberia, where he’s attempting, with geneticist George Church, to “re-wild” the ecosystem, and to west Texas, where his Long Now Foundation is building a 10,000-year clock inside a mountain to foster long-term thinking.

Stewart Brand tours a seed bank in Siberia in a scene from “We Are as Gods.”Photo: Brendan Hall / Structure Films

“Looking forward and looking back are pretty connected, actually,” Brand said during a recent afternoon on Sausalito’s waterfront.

He and his wife, Ryan Phelan, welcomed The Chronicle onto the Mirene, a 64-foot 1912 tugboat they’ve called home at Waldo Point Harbor, Sausalito, for almost 40 years. There Brand explained that when he launched his 1980s think tank, Global Business Network, he started to consider himself a “professional futurist.”

Stewart Brand, Whole Earth Catalog founder, walks on a ramp from the Mirene.Photo: Stephen Lam, The Chronicle

“I got really interested in what the French call the longue durée, the long view of things,” he said. “You can only feel even remotely comfortable thinking about the future if you have a lot of knowledge of the deep past.”

It’s a very Brand-ian answer, both surprising and philosophical, to the question of what it felt like to watch his life’s high and low points unfurl onscreen in the new film. (Brand is candid in “We Are as Gods” about battling depression in the ’70s.)

Ryan Phelan, wife of Stewart Brand, speaks in an interview aboard the Mirene in Sausalito.Photo: Stephen Lam, The Chronicle

There’s a lot of life to pack into the 94-minute film that gives audiences a whirlwind tour through his irreverent mind and numerous incarnations.

Brand was a self-described “free-range kid” from Illinois who studied biology at Stanford with notorious doomsayer Paul Ehrlich. He pioneered LSD use with Ken Kesey and co-produced the 1966 Trips Festival. In 1968 Brand launched the Whole Earth Catalog with an iconic cover photo of Earth from space, and a slogan: “We are as gods and might as well get good at it.”

Brand pivoted to technology after seeing promise and the cool factor in early Stanford gamers’ excitement. (“Ready or not, computers are coming to the people,” he wrote in Rolling Stone in 1972.) He put on the first Hackers Conference, and founded the proto-Facebook online community the Well during the dial-up modem days of the mid-’80s.

Stewart Brand communes with people at the Whole Earth Truck Store in Palo Alto.Photo: Courtsey of Stewart Brand

“I think Stewart is naturally pulled toward things on the fringe of what could be a possible future, and then he rushes toward it, obsesses about it and feeds off the excitement for about five years, and then gets bored and moves on to the next thing,” Alvarado said. “That pattern was so interesting to us, and a through line in the film.”

Brand has never shied away from controversy, especially when it comes to his belief in using technology to save our planet. The film includes footage of him taking heat from Peter Coyote and others for following his techno-optimism to dangerous lengths. It’s a criticism he and Phelan counter persuasively and with heart.

“I’ve been a conservationist since the 1950s, and I saw the environmental movement go down some primrose paths that blinded them to some important capabilities,” says Brand, referring to the knee-jerk environmental backlash against any kind of technological intervention in nature.

“But only by trying new stuff can you maybe find a better solution. Think of the alternative – trying nothing?”

Brand is all too aware where complacency leads on a planet that’s growing hotter, more flammable and less habitable by the year.

Stewart Brand on the Furthur bus with the Merry PrankstersPhoto: Ted Streshinsky

While still a true futurist, Brand admits to feeling more reflective in his 80s. He’s been working closely with his biographer, John Markoff, and spent hundreds of hours with Alvarado and Sussberg.

The filmmakers were so overwhelmed with material they said they easily could have made “an entire film about each part of Stewart’s life,” and revealed they’re planning on launching a podcast “so we can go into even more detail.”

In one of the most captivating sections in “We Are as Gods,” 28-year-old Brand became so fixated on the need for humankind to see a photo of the whole Earth from space that he hitchhiked across the country selling buttons for a quarter each that said, “Why haven’t we seen a photograph of the whole Earth yet?”

He was confident that if NASA released the image, people would appreciate the Earth’s fragility and do more to protect it.

“The image of the mushroom cloud from 1945 on dominated everybody’s thinking about the world,” Brand says. “It’s a really simple image, and as a symbol it was a powerful framing device.

“What’s interesting is there is so far not one iconic image of climate change. If I could devise one, I would gladly do it.”

“We Are as Gods” is available to stream for $12 as part of the San Francisco International Film Festival through Sunday, April 18. sffilm.org

©Copyright 2021 Hearst Communications, Inc.

How Jeremy Lin juggles 2 goals: returning to the NBA and ending anti-Asian violence

In nine games at the recent G League bubble near Orlando, Santa Cruz Warriors guard Jeremy Lin averaged 19.8 points on 50.5% shooting (42.6% from 3-point range), 6.4 assists and 3.2 rebounds.
In nine games at the recent G League bubble near Orlando, Santa Cruz Warriors guard Jeremy Lin averaged 19.8 points on 50.5% shooting (42.6% from 3-point range), 6.4 assists and 3.2 rebounds.Courtesy of Santa Cruz Warriors

Jeremy Lin spent much of his 42-night stay at Walt Disney World’s Coronado Springs Resort reading 15 books.

One called “The Burden is Light,” in which a New York-based pastor details the merits of freeing oneself from the pressure of accolades or comparisons, particularly resonated with him. Since returning from the G League bubble near Orlando five weeks ago, Lin, 32, has revisited the book often to remind himself how he wants to live.

For nearly a decade, he was consumed by the desire to recapture the success of that unforgettable month in 2012 known as “Linsanity.” Now, as he waits to see whether his recent stint with the Santa Cruz Warriors was enough to land an NBA contract, Lin feels at peace with whatever could happen.

His January decision to forgo a seven-figure deal in China and sign with Golden State’s G League affiliate for $35,000 was rooted in a need to show himself that he still belongs at the sport’s highest level. After averaging 19.8 points, 3.2 rebounds and 6.4 assists in nine games with Santa Cruz, Lin heard from his agent that he had eased NBA front offices’ concerns about his age and efficiency.More on Jeremy Lin

Whether he gets a roster spot in coming days will depend on whether a team needs an offensive-minded backup point guard capable of mentoring younger players. But even if Lin doesn’t receive another shot at the NBA, he’ll continue to establish himself as a leading voice against the surge in anti-Asian violence.

Nine years removed from the three-week stretch with the Knicks that made him an international phenomenon, Lin boasts nearly 17 million followers across Twitter, Instagram and Chinese platforms Sina Weibo and Douyin. Over the past two months, as reports surfaced of more and more violent episodes against people of Asian descent, Lin pleaded numerous times on social media to “#StopAsianHate.”

In late March, less than a week after eight people — including six Asian or Asian-American women — were shot and killed at Atlanta-area spas, Lin co-wrote an 852-word piece with his sister-in-law for Time detailing his anger over the recent spike in animus toward Asians. In it, he expressed regret over not doing more during “Linsanity” to advocate for Asian-Americans.

“I just wanted to play basketball during that time in 2012,” wrote Lin, who is Taiwanese-American and a Palo Alto native. “…It’s one of my biggest failures.”

In the wake of that rise to international prominence, Lin recognized why Asians and Asian-Americans had connected so deeply with his story: They were desperate for more stereotype-defying representations in mainstream media. Over the next seven years, as he maintained a global following despite bouncing among six NBA franchises, Lin met with community leaders and advocates to learn more about Asian-American history.

What he found was that, though Asians in the U.S. are widely considered one of the country’s most successful minority groups, elderly Asians — the ones who moved across the world in search of a better life — were often struggling on society’s fringes. As he saw then-president Donald Trump’s penchant for calling the coronavirus the “Chinese virus” last year contribute to a rise in anti-Asian bias, Lin decided to further educate himself.

When he checked into Room 3296 at Coronado Springs Resort in late January, he brought with him more than a dozen books about everything from civil rights leaders to self-help to the Asian-American experience. Jon Tyson’s “The Burden is Light,” which he read in a day, reinforced for Lin the need to rethink how he viewed success. It shouldn’t be measured in how many points he scored, but rather the positive influence he can have on others.

This was a driving force behind Lin’s decision to post to social media in late February about the rise in violence against people of Asian descent. Within hours, his call for action became a national story, with many focusing on a 16-word line toward the end of his message: “Being a 9 year NBA veteran doesn’t protect me from being called ‘coronavirus’ on the court.” The G League opened an investigation into the matter, and Lin became discouraged that the focus was suddenly on him instead of the people he was trying to help.

Some coverage portrayed him as a victim of racism, which frustrated Lin because he considered the real victims those Asians and Asian-Americans who had been pushed, beaten, kicked and spit on. Other stories and TV news segments trumpeted Lin as a hero, which in his mind was also unfair because he viewed the people who had dedicated their lives to racial equality as the true heroes.

“I sent one tweet,” Lin said. “I drafted a caption, wrote a tweet, posted a picture, but there’s people on the ground who’ve spent years and years working to bring about change. To me, it was like, ‘If you want to talk about a hero, it’s these types of people.’”

Such attention could have easily been a distraction during perhaps the most crucial time of Lin’s basketball career. In the G League bubble, Lin — more than 1½ years removed from his last NBA game — had less than a month to convince NBA front offices that he deserved another chance.

It hardly helped that he missed six of Santa Cruz’s 15 games with back spasms. A string of injuries, most notably a ruptured patella tendon in the 2017-18 opener with Brooklyn, had hastened Lin’s NBA exit, and he knew even a minor ailment could give teams pause.

To help him tune out the chatter about his social-media posts and health, Lin set aside time for what he calls his “devotional.” For about an hour each morning in Room 3296, he sang Christian songs, read his Bible and wrote in his gratitude journal.

When Lin returned to the court, he played with a joy that had been missing in his last couple NBA seasons. His shooting percentages — 50.5% from the field, 42.6% from 3-point range and 87.9% from the foul line — were the highest he’d posted at any professional level. Younger teammates Jordan Poole and Nico Mannion lauded him for his mentorship. With Lin leading the way, Santa Cruz reached the G League semifinals.

Since getting back to Palo Alto last month, he has continued to juggle his activism with workouts and pickup games. During an Instagram Live three weeks ago with the Mental Health Coalition, Lin opened up about how therapy sessions last year helped him come to terms with the emotional baggage of being an Asian-American in a sport with few other players who look like him. A week later, he appeared on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” and shared a story about an opposing team shouting, “Go back to China!” at him when he was in sixth grade.

Much of Lin’s free time has been spent meeting with local non-profits committed to racial equality and catching up with old acquaintances from differing backgrounds. When someone says something about race relations that he hadn’t thought about, he pulls out a pen and jots down notes.

Lin’s goal is still to get back to the NBA, but his reason for that pursuit has evolved. No longer does he merely want to prove to himself that he is still good enough to play alongside the world’s best. By returning to the NBA, Lin aspires to offer a measure of hope to a group of people in need of some uplifting.

“I can’t talk enough about how cool that would be,” said Lin, the only player who ranked among the top 11 scorers at the G League bubble who has yet to play in the NBA this season. “What it means to see Asian Americans succeed and excel in different fields, the impact is beyond words.

“But even if I don’t get that opportunity, I’m just happy I was in the U.S. while all of this was going on. I don’t regret my decision to go to the G League at all.”

Connor Letourneau moved to the Golden State Warriors beat in September 2016 after a year covering Cal. Previously, he spent two years covering the Oregon State Beavers for The Oregonian. Letourneau is a University of Maryland alum who has interned for The Baltimore Sun and blogged for The New York Times. A Portland, Ore., native, he is interested in telling the stories that extend beyond the field or court.VIEW COMMENTSTop of the News

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The first blockchain-based democracy awakens ✊

Dear Humans,

The time has come: the first blockchain-based democracy is live! 

A truly decentralized experiment, with members coming from all four corners of the Earth 🌎 to assert their right to having a political voice, a Universal Basic Income, and true digital sovereignty.

Here’s a quick intro video:

We know that’s a lot to unpack, so we’ll walk you through the basics below:

Proof of Humanity

Joining Proof of Humanity is the first step to participate in the DAO, and we highly encourage you to register!

In order to join, you need to make a video of yourself with your Ethereum wallet (here’s a short tutorial on how to get one), certifying that you are a unique human being and that you are not yet a part of the Proof of Humanity registry. You will also need to make a deposit which will be returned to your wallet once you are approved.

After submitting your profile, someone who is already in the list needs to vouch for you. If you know anyone from our team, please reach out to us either by replying to this e-mail or directly on our social media, and we will gladly vouch you in. If you don’t, our amazing community has organized this crowdvouching group on Telegram to help. 

Here’s more detailed information about the registration process.


$UBI💧

A blockchain-based registry of unique human beings enabled us to deploy $UBI, a Universal Basic Income cryptocurrency. At every hour 1 $UBI drips 💧 on the wallet of all registered members of Proof of Humanity!

An inalienable right to liquidity, to be bestowed upon every Human on Earth. This is already redefining everything we knew about decentralized, digital economies, and we have a thriving market on Uniswap with over 1 million USD in our liquidity pools!


Proof of Humanity DAO

Ok, so we have a registry of unique Humans, and Universal Basic Income on the blockchain. Now what? 

That is for us to build together. The “Proof of Humanity DAO” (the official name will be decided by the community) is a decentralized democracy, governed by everyone who is a member of the registry. It’s an opportunity to create new, deeply deliberative and participatory governance systems, as well as to fund public goods using innovative methodologies! We also need to continuously adapt our token issuance rates and registration requirements over time. And last but not least, there are 4,000,000.00 $UBI in our common pool, to support projects that will benefit humanity. Anyone may submit a proposal on how to allocate these funds. Here’s a Twitter thread with more info.

This is an unprecedented political experiment, which drastically expands the locus of possibility for democracy. We want you, who has been with us all along, to be a part of it. 

It has been a long and fascinating journey, but we are only getting started. Thank you for being there for us over the years.

Be well, and stay in touch.

The Democracy Earth team

Democracy Earth Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit in San Francisco, California. Democracy.EarthOn twitter.
Donate: opencollective.com/democracyearth

$UBI contract:

BTC Support:

GREEN NEW DEAL XI: COSTA RICA DEMONSTRATES ONE PATHWAY TOWARD A REWILDED WORLD

SUN, 4/11/2021 – BY STEVE RUSHTON   (Occupy.com)

This is the eleventh installment in a series about extending the Green New Deal to confront multiple global crises. Read Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, Part VI, Part VII, Part VIII, Part IX and Part X.

“The health of ecosystems on which we and all other species depend is deteriorating more rapidly than ever,” warned Sir Robert Watson, chair of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, following the publication of the group’s landmark 2019 report on the state of nature.

“We are eroding the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide,” Watson said. According to the IPBES report, unless humans go through “transformative change,” the planet will no longer support life as we know it.

The IPBES is for nature what the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is for climate. Its purpose is to provide guidance to the international community. In its view, the climate catastrophe is intertwined with ecosystems destruction, for instance, the oil industry decimates ecosystems while deforestation increases carbon.

For over a year, the pandemic has shown clearly just how connected and interdependent we all are. In September 2020, the IPBES made clear how pandemics are yet another symptom of our planetary crisis.

Fortunately, there are alternatives to the sixth mass extinction. Rewilding is as essential as keeping fossil fuels underground. To stop the ecological crisis we cannot simply stop pollution; ecosystems need to be allowed to reflourish. They can do this themselves or nature can be given a helping hand, with the potential to create millions upon millions of green jobs.

WHAT IS REWILDING?

The need to rewild the planet is a concept that was popularised by Michael Soulé and Reed Noss at the dawn of the 21st century. Differing from conservation, rewilding is not just about saving one animal or the richest sites of biodiversity. Instead, the philosophy emphasises that life is a complex, interdependent web: break one part and the whole thing collapses. Both science and our lived experience only substantiate this as the new century unfolds.

Rewilding is about promoting large flourishing areas of wildlife, protecting keystone species (for instance, predators that keep these areas in balance) and, importantly, it is about connectivity. The biodiversity-rich areas of the world are now too fragmented. These cannot be isolated islands; they need to be connected by green corridors.

In their breakthrough 1998 paper, Soulé and Noss wrote: “The greatest impediment to rewilding is an unwillingness to imagine it.”

Now we need to envision rewilding on a grand scale: it must be at the heart of a Green New Deal. Luckily, around the world there are already many examples, including reforestation efforts in Bhutan, where forests are bound by law to cover 60 percent of the Himilayan nation, and mass replanting efforts by farmers in Niger and surrounding West African countries.

THE CASE FOR COSTA RICA

From a GND perspective, Costa Rica is pertinent. Alongside rewilding, the country is often cited as a case study of supporting both people and planet.

In 1948, Costa Rica abolished its military, something that would save it money and resources, not to mention human life. Instead the country has invested in public goods, such as health, education and renewable energy. Green energy and rewilding means Costa Rica has among the world’s leading targets to decarbonise.

During the 1970 and 80s, Costa Rica had some of the highest rates of deforestation anywhere in the world; forests only covered as little as 25 percent of its land area. Since then it has regrown much of its tropical rainforest to over 50 percent coverage.

Three government actions were essential for this. Firstly, Costa Rica now has over 25 national parks and other protected areas for rainforests, cloud forests and tropical dry forests. Despite being the 129th largest country by area, Costa Rica’s position between the North and South American continents, and its longstanding ethos of environmentalism, means the country holds over 5 percent of the world’s biodiversity.

Secondly, in the mid-1980s, the country ended a subsidy that encouraged cattle ranching, where rainforest was often cleared by slash and burn. Worldwide, beef production is the top commodity driving tropical deforestation, followed by soy, palm oil and wood products.

Thirdly, instead of subsidising the destruction of the rainforest, the Costa Rican government started to pay for its protection. In 1996, the government set up a payments for ecosystem services (PES) scheme. This means that farmers and landowners can only cut down a certain number of trees, and must replant more trees in their place – in fact, seven times more.

In 2020, farmers were paid $64 for every hectare of land they protected. In a country where the average monthly wage for middle-class people ranges from $450 to $750, the payout to farmers is not an insignificant amount.

This government subsidy is mainly funded by taxing fossil fuels, especially those used in transport. The government is attempting to decarbonise its transport economy even further by  upgrading the country’s railways.

One way Costa Rica is rewilding is through agroforestry, which means farming within forests rather than growing monocultures where only one commodity exists across the landscape. An example of this is twinning two crops, such as bananas, which grow tall, with coffee or cacao, which grow below. Cultivated together, the crops become interwoven back into forest, rejuvenating what was at one time pasture.

COSTA RICA NEEDS TO IMPROVE

Even though Costa Rica is leading the world on reforestation and climate commitments, like anyplace, it has environmental problems. For one, the country uses large amounts of harmful pesticides, especially for producing pineapples. Yet Costa Rica earns little tax from this trade, making the industry a potentially low-hanging fruit for ecological transformation.

A deeper, systemic problem is the treatment of the indigenous nations of Costa Rica, who represent around 2 percent of the population. Journalist Ana Lucia Lxchiu writes about how the state continues to be complicit in land grabs against indigenous peoples.

As with all first nation peoples of the western hemisphere, indigenous people in Costa Rica have suffered centuries of colonialism, genocide and oppression. Unlike many countries, Costa Rica has recognised indigenous rights, including by ratifying the important Convention 169, the international treaty that enshrines indigenous rights.

However, too often, Costa Rica’s actions do not back up its pledges. For instance, indigenous people are brutalised and killed trying to reclaim their lands while the state fails to intervene.

This begs the question: to what extent does the government grant support to farmers that are occupying indigenous land, and how could the government instead repatriate land while also supporting rewilding? No one knows more about their lands than indigenous peoples.

It also raises a dilemma about Costa Rica in a global context: can we showcase the country, even though it has a poor record on indigenous rights?

On the international stage, the small Costa Rica is also expanding the Overton window. It has some of the most far-reaching national climate commitments, which overlap with its rewilding efforts. The small nation is pushing for other countries to rewild, including leading international efforts for countries to make 30 percent of their areas rewilded by 2030.

The world needs this blue-sky thinking for life on Earth to continue in the long-term. Costa Rica offers great lessons about how the world can get on this path. To continue further, Costa Rica must radically transform its relationship with its first nations. Building on this theme, the next part of our series will explore calls for an indigenised Red Green New Deal on Turtle Island: the U.S. and Canada.

Read Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, Part VI, Part VII, Part VIII, Part IX and Part X.

KILL THE BILL: UK FIGHTS TO PROTECT THE DEMOCRATIC RIGHT TO PROTEST

MON, 4/12/2021 – BY GABRIELLE PICKARD-WHITEHEAD   (Occupy.com)

The long Easter weekend saw thousands of demonstrators join rallies and marches across Britain as part of a high-prolife censure of a proposed new law that would give police extra powers to curtail protests.

Protestors gathered in 25 cities across England and Wales to support the “Kill the Bill” movement, which opposes the 307-page Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill that would hand the government and police greater powers to crack down on peaceful protests.

In Manchester, more than 400 people joined the rally on April 4, shouting, “Kill the bill!” and carrying “Defend the right to protest” banners. Similar scenes took place in London, where hundreds gathered in Parliament Square to protest what they believe is a step towards authoritarianism and an erosion of individual freedoms.

“PROFOUNDLY DISTURBING”

In Bristol over that weekend, more than a thousand people rallied for the city’s fifth Kill the Bill demonstration in two weeks. The series of protests in Bristol were fraught with violent clashes between demonstrators and police. While police defended their tactics at the protests, where riot gear and horses were deployed, observers labelled their actions “police brutality” and described them as “profoundly disturbing.” 

The passions demonstrated in the nationwide protests were an acknowledgment of the extent people are willing to go to defend hard-won democratic rights. Without a fight, many fear, their very democratic rights to assemble are at risk of erosion.

The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill is a huge piece of legislation, consisting of major government proposals related to crime and justice in England and Wales. At the heart of the bill – and the hostile reaction it has created – are changes to the rights to protest.

If the bill is fully legislated, police officers will be able to put greater conditions on static protests. They will have the power to impose a start and finish time on protests, set noise limits, and apply the same rules to one-person demonstrations.

The proposed law includes the offence of “intentionally or recklessly causing public nuisance,” which is intended to prevent people from occupying public spaces.

Another notable and particularly criticized measure of the bill asserts that damage to monuments could lead to a 10-year prison sentence – meaning the defamation of statues would translate into heftier sentencing than some sexual violence offences.

The proposals are significantly tougher than current legislation which stipulates that police need to be able to prove protestors knew they had been told to move on before they can be accused of breaking the law.

Despite the draconian anti-protest clauses, March 16, 2021, saw Members of Parliament vote in favour of the government’s contentious policing bill. The bill was passed by 359 votes to 263. Having got over a significant hurdle, the bill will now enter a committee stage where it will be assessed further before it is passed in full and handed over to the Lords.

A THREAT TO DEMOCRACY

The passing of the bill in parliament ignited anger among opponents who believe such legal measures could pose a threat to democracy, quell freedom of speech, and hand the Home Secretary Priti Patel and the police more discretionary powers that will undermine civil liberties.

The timing of the passing of the bill to boost the policing of protests could not be worse.

Opposition toward the legislation rocketed following the police’s handling of a vigil to honour Sarah Everard, a 33-year-old woman who disappeared when walking home in South London on the evening of March 3, 2021. On March 10, Sarah Everard’s remains were found in Kent. Wayne Couzens, a Metropolitan Police officer, was arrested on suspicion of Everard’s kidnapping and murder.

The story took an even more sinister turn when the vigil on Clapham Common in remembrance of Everard turned violent. Mourners had attended the vigil to lay flowers, cards and notes in tribute to Everard at the Common’s bandstand.

Attendees described the mood at the vigil as turning quickly sour. Footage and images of police officers manhandling the women and pinning them to the ground went viral, with observers describing the police action as “violent, aggressive and intimidating.”

“It’s sickening given that women had just come together to grieve a woman who had allegedly been killed by a police officer. And then the police felt they had the right to brutalise the women who had gone to Clapham Common that day,” one attendee told TIME. 

‘BITTER FEMINIST IRONY’

In what’s been described as “bitter feminist irony,” the brutal police reaction to the women who gathered in South London to remember Sarah Everard was presided over by the first female Metropolitan police commissioner, Cressida Dick.

Dick defended the police’s response to the vigil, pinning the police intervention on concerns about the spread of coronavirus.

Antagonised by the appalling treatment by police of women gathering to mourn a young woman allegedly murdered by a police officer has led to escalated protests against the proposed policing bill.  

Following a week of demonstrations against the police crackdown on the vigil for Sarah Everard, a peaceful march in Bristol against increasing police powers turned violent on March 21 as protestors clashed with police and threw fireworks into the crowd.

In response to the clashes, Home Secretary Priti Patel described protesters’ actions as “thuggery and disorder by a minority.” 

To many, the most infuriating and frustrating element of the violence in Bristol is that it could serve as bait to move forward and officially legislate the contentious policing bill. Bristol’s mayor, Marvin Rees, warned that such violence is counterproductive, saying that rather than stopping government proposals to increase police powers, the “lawlessness on show” will be “used as evidence and promote the need for the bill.” 

The violent scenes and disorder may have marred the Kill the Bill protest in Bristol, providing Priti Patel the “evidence” she needed to argue why the draconian new measures should go through.

The bill has been criticised for doing very little to target male violence and protect women. Instead, its authors chose to focus on penalising those guilty of damaging statues and monuments in Britain with greater force.

The growing, impassioned movement to preserve the right to free speech and protest has shown that the UK government’s drive to silence people – through a bill that undermines civil liberties and the centuries-old, deep-rooted tradition of peaceful dissent in Britain, especially against government policy – won’t be won without a fight.

Sinema And Manchin Headlining Event For Anti-Union Group Fighting $15 Wage

The pair will discuss “finding bipartisan solutions” at the conference of the major lobby group fighting Dems’ minimum wage and labor legislation.

David SirotaAndrew Perez, and Joel Warner
Apr 16, 2021 (The Daily Poster)

Sens. Kyrsten Sinema, left, and Joe Manchin (Photo credit: Zach Gibson and Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

This report was written by David Sirota, Andrew Perez, and Joel Warner.

Weeks after voting to kill a $15 minimum wage, Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin will headline the national conference of the restaurant lobbying group that led the battle to block the wage increase and is fighting a separate Democratic measure to make it easier for workers to form unions. Both lawmakers have also recently raked in campaign cash from corporate interests that have been fighting a minimum wage increase.

Sinema and Manchin will join disgraced former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel next week in speeches at a conference held by the National Restaurant Association (NRA), according to the conference agenda. The NRA has been aggressively lobbying against Democrats’ proposed minimum wage hike and labor legislation.  

Manchin and Sinema, who represent West Virginia and Arizona respectively, will be featured on panels entitled “Seeking Unity: Conversations on Finding Bipartisan Solutions.” The event is the NRA’s annual “public affairs conference,” which in Washington-speak means it is for lobbyists and focused on shaping legislation. 

The conference event registration page says it “is an off the record event closed to press.” The schedule says it will also feature former George W. Bush spokesperson and Fox News personality Dana Perino.

Senators Added To Event After They Blocked $15 Wage

The two Democrats, who were not on the NRA’s original event schedule, have been workingrecently with Republicans to replace Democrats’ $15 minimum wage proposal with a lower wage — reportedly $11, which is lower than Arizona’s current minimum wage. It’s not clear yet whether their proposal, which hasn’t been released, would eliminate the lower subminimum wage for workers like restaurant servers who rely on tips. 

Manchin and Sinema will each appear at the virtual conference for conversations with NRA vice president Sean Kennedy, who has been the public face of the opposition to federal minimum wage legislation.

“The Raise the Wage Act imposes an impossible challenge for the restaurant industry,” Kennedy said in a statement earlier this year. “A nationwide increase in the minimum wage will create insurmountable costs for many operators in states.”

Meanwhile, executives of the NRA’s own member restaurant chains — including Denny’s, McDonald’s, Domino’s and the Cheesecake Factory — have been telling their investors that they will not be significantly harmed by a higher minimum wage. 

To the contrary, Denny’s chief financial officer, Robert Verostek, said in a February earnings call that California’s law raising the minimum wage to $15 by 2023 has been good for the diner chain’s business. 

“As they’ve increased their minimum wage kind of in a tempered pace over that time frame, if you look at that time frame from us, California has outperformed the system,” Verostek said. “Over that time frame, they had six consecutive years of positive guest traffic — not just positive sales, but positive guest traffic — as the minimum wage was going up.” 

PAC Cash From Corporate Interests

In the weeks after Sinema and Manchin cast their votes to block a $15 minimum wage, another group lobbying against minimum wage and labor legislation, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, rewarded them with campaign contributions. 

Last year, the Chamber awarded Sinema with their inaugural “Abraham Lincoln Leadership for America Award” as well as their “Jefferson-Hamilton Award for Bipartisanship.” Her Senate office noted in a press release that “Sinema was the only Democrat to win both awards.”

Both senators are also opposing calls for Democrats to eliminate the filibuster, a stand that will likely block Democrats’ landmark labor reform legislation, the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, that would make it easier for workers to form unions. 

According to The Intercept, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has told labor leaders that he will bring the PRO Act to the floor as soon as it has 50 cosponsors. Manchin and Sinema are two of only five Democrats who have yet to sign on. 

Sinema recently received donations from political action committees for Barnes & Thornburg, Cozen O’Connor and Steptoe & Johnson — three law firms that advertise their services helping corporations halt union drives among workers. Data compiled by OpenSecrets show that during Sinema’s career, her seventh largest collective source of campaign money has been contributors from Snell & Wilmer, a law firm whose website says it has “advised clients and provided management training on lawful union avoidance strategies, strikes, union corporate campaigns, and litigation with unions.” 

Manchin’s eighth largest collective source of campaign cash has been donors from Steptoe & Johnson, whose website says that “on behalf of some of the largest employers in the world, our highly regarded labor relations team handles collective bargaining, union organizing campaigns, representation elections, unfair labor practice charges and other [National Labor Relations Board] proceedings.” 

Sinema became the public face of the Democrats’ failure to implement the minimum wage when she blocked Sen. Bernie Sanders’ already-doomed attempt to add the provision back into Democrats’ COVID-19 relief legislation with an overly dramatic thumbs-down

Only a few years ago, Sinema was an outspoken proponent of a higher minimum wage, tweeting that an increase should be a “no brainer.” 

Prior to that, she told a progressive group that she went into politics because she was angry that underprivileged people in her community “just weren’t able to get past that place of poverty and dependence to a place of self-sufficiency and interdependence.”


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CCSF layoffs may cut English as a Second Language in half, inciting virtual rally

The cuts would gut up to 52 percent of the ESL staff.

by ANNIKA HOM APRIL 16, 2021 (MissionLocal.org)

City College San Francisco, Mission campus. Photo by Annika Hom on April 14, 2021.

As City College San Francisco threatens to lay off nearly 200 full-time faculty by mid-May, students and teachers from the school’s English as a Second Language program pleaded the college to save it during a virtual protest on Thursday.

Hundreds joined District 4 Supervisor Gordon Mar and the American Federation of Teachers Local 2121 union at a Zoom press conference where they argued that gutting the English as Second Language (ESL) program would harm the thousands of immigrants who rely on the courses to gain citizenship, socially assimilate, or find better paying jobs. 

If the layoffs go through, advocates suggest that the ESL department would suffer a particularly “crippling hit.” At present, there are 69 full-time staff and 52 part-time staff in the ESL program, and Local 2121 vice president Mary Bravewoman said the cuts would gut up to 52 percent of the staff. 

The union said 44 part-time faculty will be gone, and 19 full-time ESL staff also got handed pink slips.

“Further cuts to the ESL program will really close a door to opportunity for limited English speakers at a time when they need it most to recover from the economic impacts of the health pandemic,” Mar said. “[These programs] are important, just more generally for building skills and capacity for everyone to participate in civic life.”

“It’s so devastating that my professors will lose their jobs and I will lose my education.”DEBORA BADAIR, BRAZILIAN IMMIGRANT AND CITY COLLEGE SAN FRANSICSO STUDENT SINCE 2017

In March, City College of San Francisco officially announced that its Board of Trustees passed out pink slips to 163 full-time faculty and 34 administrators which will affect the ESL program, the nursing department, aircraft maintenance and Philippines Studies.

The College pointed to a $33 million budget shortfall for the 2021-22 fiscal year as the reason for the layoffs, which was largely the result of staff and pension costs and deficit spending for more than 10 years. In 2021, CCSF withdrew $21 million to cover retiree expenses for two fiscal years and, at present, 93 percent of the College’s budget goes toward salary and benefits, the college stated in a March press release.

“The magnitude of the budget challenges means that City College is reducing the number of classes it will offer, as well as curtailing some student services. These reductions, while painful, are necessary to ensure the long-term stability of the College,” the statement said. 

The salary for a full-time professor with a bachelor’s degree starts at $63,230 and increases by approximately $2,000 each extra year they work, according to the July 2020 pay scales. Those with a master’s initially earn $65,900.

Bravewoman responded to this on Thursday, and said the 93 percent staffing budget was necessary, as “the classroom doesn’t run without faculty.”

Local 2121 president Malaika Finkelstein, who works at the Mission campus, agreed, citing that San Francisco is an expensive city to live in. “[The college] really [doesn’t] have money, that’s true. Our pay scale needs to be able to allow us to live here, otherwise we have no college,” she said.

Finkelstein said the college and union are exploring a plethora of options to keep the classes funded: possible local or state funding in the short term “to stop the bleeding;” federal Covid-19 money that union members argue can be used to extend class sections and rehire staff; or possible wage concessions (no specifics have been put forth).

READ:

Hundreds virtually protest CCSF layoffs that will affect nearly 200 faculty

by ANNIKA HOMMARCH 12, 2021

Already, City College has endured a myriad of issues and controversies, including almost losing its accreditation, closures of other campuses and class cuts, and padding six-figure administrator salaries an extra $100,000. Much more recently, the college shut down its Fort Mason campus and experienced a shortage in enrollment during 2020, following the start of the pandemic.

The ESL program, too, downsized 20 percent after the Spring, 2020, semester, when about 15,000 students attended English classes in the program. 

Tenaya Lafore, who taught at City College since 2016, was among those laid off for the summer and fall of 2020. Though she was offered some hours in summer of 2021, she said she worries the potential cuts could rob students of the ability to choose a class that fits their schedule, as many are working-class immigrants who lived in the Mission. 

“If they were working nights, they’d go to morning classes,” Lafore said. “There were classes all day and on Saturdays from 8 to 8, multiple sections of every level, so they could find a class and a location that worked for them.”

Daniel Halford, a part-time teacher at the ESL program at City College since 2006, was laid off along with 24 others for one semester in 2013, he said. But he finds the current situation much worse, as he believes the cuts might obliterate the specific courses geared toward citizenship, and vocational classes, such as nursing and janitorial services. 

“There’s people who come to noncredit ESL who had a great job in their country,” Halford said. “But for example, for nursing, you have to pass an exam here, but the exam is only in English. There are people who want to continue the wonderful careers they already have, but need the language to do so.”

In San Francisco, 35 percent of the population is foreign-born. About 12 percent of all households speak a foreign language at home, and speak English less than “very well.” In Spanish-speaking homes, this shoots up to 21 percent; Asian households, 36 percent; and European households, 17 percent; and 13 percent speak “other languages,” according to 2016 city data. 

Thursday’s rally appeared to reflect this in some capacity: students of all ages and English levels revealed they had immigrated from Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, Vietnam, China, Brazil, and more.

Many said that halting classes would do the same for their learning.  “[These] gave me the freedom to say what I want, to go where I want, “ said Brazilian immigrant Debora Badair.  “It’s so devastating that my professors will lose their jobs and I will lose my education.”

Other former and more advanced students said how mastery of English and other skills changed their lives. One was a current member of the grassroots immigrant organization PODER SF, and another was a newly bilingual student who read poems titled “How City College Saved My Life.” 

Maria Rivera said City College enabled her to work her way up from non-credit English classes to her associate’s degree. This year she acquires a degree in mathematics from the University of California Berkeley. 

Participants from the virtual protest of City College San Francisco cuts and how it will affect the English as a Second Language program. Taken on April 15, 2021.

And it made a leader out of Tania Estrada, the current Community Programs Director of the Women’s Building, who immigrated to the United States nine years ago.

“I’ve seen firsthand what a successful life looks like when you have the accessibility of these resources,” Estrada said in English and Spanish, noting the classes encouraged her to take leadership roles and volunteer at the Women’s Building eight years ago. 

“The peers and community motivates you. I met my first friend there, who is from Bangladesh, who I still talk to every day,” Estrada said. Now, she refers Women’s Building participants to the CCSF ESL non-credit classes. 

Layoffs won’t be official until final layoff notices come on May 15, 2021, a March statement from the college said. The statement added that college leaders and union members were speaking weekly to save some jobs. The college did not respond to request for comment.

Finkelstein said that the college had asked department chairs to draft a potential fall 2021 schedule which included only two to three full-time faculty cuts, though several part-time jobs remained on the chopping bloc. It is unclear whether that will be implemented, but Finkelstein said the union is “not closed” to the idea of wage concessions, which the college offered to consider in lieu of less layoffs. Finkelstein also said that, in the past, the union attempted to negotiate wage concessions with the college, but nothing came to fruition.

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ANNIKA HOM

Annika Hom is our inequality reporter through our partnership with Report for America. Annika was born and raised in the Bay Area. She previously interned at SF Weekly and the Boston Globe where she focused… More by Annika Hom

Hundreds march through the Mission in protest of police killings of Daunte Wright and Roger Allen

by JULIAN MARK APRIL 15, 2021 (missionlocal.org)

An alter on the steps of Mission High School for Daunte Wright and Roger Allen. Photo by Julian Mark

Approximately 200 demonstrators gathered at Mission High School on Thursday evening and marched to Mission Police Station, shouting “fuck the police” and chanting the names of Daunte Wright and Roger Allen — two unarmed Black men killed by police in recent days. 

Wright, a 20-year-old unarmed Black man, was shot by a Minnesota police officer on Sunday during a traffic stop. Allen, a 44-year-old Black man, was shot by an unidentified Daly City police officer, who purportedly mistook a pellet gun in Allen’s possession for a firearm. 

Although the men were killed 2,000 miles apart, their images sat side-by-side on the steps of Mission High School Thursday on a makeshift altar where protesters lit candles and set down flowers. 

“We can’t get distracted by reform,” said Aditi Joshi, a 26-year-old organizer with the group Defund SFPD Now, in front of a crowd at Mission High. “Abolition is the only path to justice.” 

It was a common refrain: Defunding and ultimately abolishing the police was the only way to stop the police killing of Black men. “I don’t think abolition is super radical,” said Samantha, 20, standing near the tennis courts at Dolores Park. 

Protesters gather at Mission High and prepare to march through the Mission. Photo by Julian Mark.

The demonstration began around 6:30 p.m. and slowly built up to a crowd of about 200 marchers, many of whom wore black clothing. It began as a largely solemn affair, with a moment of silence and speeches on the high school’s front steps. But the protest grew in intensity as demonstrators began marching down 18th Street toward Valencia around 7:30 p.m., chanting “No justice, no peace — no racist police!” and “Stand up! Fight back!” 

Marchers turned onto Valencia Street, heading north, and stopped in front of Mission Station, where they were met with police guarding the building in riot gear. As the protesters chanted and sometimes heckled the police, the police largely watched them stoically. Some protesters accused the cops of smirking and rolling their eyes. 

Marching down 18th Street, chanting “No justice, no peace!” Photo by Julian Mark.

A key moment came at Mission Station when Talika Fletcher, Allen’s 30-year-old younger sister, addressed the hundreds gathered in front of the police station — including the cops. “My brother is in the morgue right now,” she said through a bullhorn, her body pressed against metal barricades set up at the police station. 

Allen was reportedly parked on Niantic Avenue between Citrus and Westlake avenues, when police asked him if he needed help with a flat tire. A struggle ensued, and police purportedly mistook a pellet gun in Allen’s possession for a real gun and shot Allen in the chest, the San Francisco Examiner reported

“My brother was my heart,” Fletcher said, addressing the police officers. “I can’t even look at ya’ll. I’m terrified of ya’ll.” 

“Say my brother’s name,” she continued. 

“Roger Allen!” the crowd yelled back. 

Talika Fletcher, Roger Allen’s younger sister, speaks to police through a bullhorn. Photo by Julian Mark.

It was a sparse crowd compared to the demonstrations in June, 2020, when some 15,000 protesters gathered at Mission High School and marched through the city following the killing of George Floyd, who died after Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for more than nine minutes.  

But almost a year later, with the murder trial of Chauvin drawing to a close and a new round of police killings in public view, people who marched on Thursday said momentum for a change should not be lost. 

“Last year I saw more people than I’ve ever seen come out and protest against injustice, and I want to see people keep that same energy,” said Xla, 18, who said she grew up in Bayview.  “Just because last year was more publicized doesn’t mean it was the first murder to happen at the hands of police — and it’s not going to be the last unless we keep … making our voices heard.” 

Protesters burn a “Blue Lives Matter” flag, among the final actions of the evening. Photo by Julian Mark.

JULIAN MARK

Julian grew up in the East Bay and moved to San Francisco in 2014. Before joining Mission Local, he wrote for the East Bay Express, the SF Bay Guardian, and the San Francisco Business Times. More by Julian Mark