NYC GF: “The first job of a citizen is to keep your mouth open.”
On Sunday afternoon of the NYC Green Festival, in his trademark cowboy hat, and with his trademark style of Texas wit and poetry, Jim Hightower encouraged green New Yorkers and other Festival guests to stand up to corporate and political power to build a greener world. For inspiration, he told a story about Harold’s Hardware store in his native Austin, TX. At Harold’s, Hightower said, you can buy two nails, if that’s what you need, without buying the whole box. You can borrow a tool and bring it back, if you need to. And if you need help with a project that’s beyond your expertise, Harold’s will sit down with you and help you pencil it out. Harold’s motto? “Together, we can do it yourself.”
“Together, we can do it, New York,” said Hightower, “It’s up to you and me.”
Hightower praised three of his most recent green heroes in the world:
1) Nancy Zorn — As President Obama debates his decision whether to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, construction of that pipeline is already underway in Oklahoma. It’s a little further behind than it would be because of the actions of Nancy Zorn, who recently chained herself to a massive earth-mover, with a bicycle lock around her neck. And she’s not the only one. “Go to Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance dot org,” Hightower told his audience. “They’re at the forefront of the movement.”
2) Fort Bliss, Texas — According to Hightower, we could all learn a thing or two from the 35,000 army soldiers stationed at Fort Bliss. “They now have rooftop solar totaling 13.4MW on all base housing,” said Hightower, listing off an impressive number of green improvements: wind, geothermal, and efficiency projects underway; a 200-acre solar farm coming online next year; 15,000 new trees planted by the troops; new bike-lanes for the soldiers to get around the base; and $1M per year in revenue earned for the base from selling recycled items. “Change is happening if it’s happening in the army,” he said.
3) Food activists of all kinds — “I call this the upchuck rebellion,” said Hightower, “And it’s happening because of everyone who realizes that our industrialized, corporatized, chemicalized, placsticized, heavily subsidized, manufactured food system is not working for anybody but those at the top. With appreciation for the nationwide rise in CSAs, farmers’ markets, and food artisans, Hightower reserved special praise for the Blackstar Pub in Austin, TX, which he called the first cooperatively organized beer pub and brewery in the country. “There’s no tipping at Blackstar, because everyone shares the profits.”
Hightower’s latest book is Swim Against the Current: Even a Dead Fish Can Go With the Flow.