Friday, October 31, 2008

Festive Halloween

Zombies took over the stock market in Am*dam today. Bloodied undead brain-eating specters traversed the distance between the Vrankrick squat bar and the Am*dam Stock Exchange via a couple ATM machines (the side picture, taken by Robin is at an ATM).

Often yelling "Where is my money?" these anti-capitalist activists crawled, clamored and crumbled thru street markets and various banks until the were met by 3 police in front of the Stock Exchange. Local passers by were quite good natured as a whole and some high contrast spectacle occurred (See Kassia's blog for the best photo).

The Stock Exchanged closed itself and the police closed the road, accomplishing the protesters objectives for control of the space, without them having to risk arrest to achieve these goals.
Yet again the power of costume dress.

You can see more and bigger photos of this protest at Indymedia

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Time Compression

"Why dont you know how to cook?" Robin chastised me a couple of days ago. I've actually been feeling unusually guilty about it. Almost all my intimates make something of a deal out of cooking. Hawina, Patty, Caroline, Tree, Angie and Sky are all quite good cooks and care about it, in most cases as a community building tool. But by dinner, my guilt was gone.

Dumpster diving Video Will Be Here

We invaded Emily's Straat. The open air street market today early enuf to successfully dumpster (having missed it twice this week for being late). There was lots of produce to pick from and the vendors responded well when Lena asked in her high dumpster style of long pointy leather boots, frilly blue short skirt and bright Polish smile.

The lovely Lena and i argued about how much we were taking. Even tho it is not illegal, i still believe in a hit and run strategy, which is why i was so happy there were so many of us. But Lena was convinced we would use an eggplant each. So we captured ample tomatoes, mangoes, plums, papayas, cucumbers, kiwis, green beans, peppers, oranges, lemons and lots of avocados.
We were quite discriminating, because there was so much to choose from we could be picky.

Karden (a soft spoken, but clearly clever young German activist) spoke directly to vendors and collected many of our treasures. Karden went to the market most afternoon for years where he used to live in Germany and he developed relationships with the vendors, who stopped throwing their waste away and just put it aside and gave it to him directly, which he was appreciavite of and they in turn felt generous. Creating this type of ongoing relationship with street vendors and elevating the status of trash is perfect for TrashWiki. Karden will likely come with me to Gorleben next week.

It was a huge dinner, which when you added the two bottles of wine and large bar of chocolate cost 1.50 Euro/person. And the reason that i feel fine about not cooking, was that i facilitated getting the big group out there, encouraging scouting which increased our haul and coordinated the massive prep cooking effort. But what really got me was when i tried to find someone to be the chief cook from our 11 person group, there was not really any candidates. Robin arrived back from work and i pressed him into cooking, him reminding me he had cooked for the last 3 days as well. Then he cooked the eggplant (which i think we ate one of), but i basically got the rest of the dishes started and prepared, with lots of help. It is not cooking, but it is organizing which creates meals from self identified non-cooks. That is close enuf for me.

We had a helicopter land right in front of the Casa today, when we were all going to the afternoon market. We saw it land in the playground across the street. a lone local policeman cleared the playground as they were landing. A guy in a bright orange suit jumped out with what i assume was a medical bag and was nearly instantly picked up by a cop on a motorcycle and was whisked off. The time compression was amazing - if all the connections were that fast, you could conceivably have a doctor by your side within 20 minutes almost anywhere in the city. Nitia the photographers image will replace this one, when he sends it to me.

As the helicopter took off, we were just under it and the wind blew through our hats and hair. And within 60s of the take off, dozens of kids were back on the playground, running around and jumping. The Dutch are not just time compressing, they are space compressing.

Surreally, moments after the helicopter took off we walked by two kids about Willows age who had a quite realistic remote controlled helicopter toy, which took off right before us. Nitia got pictures. After a perfect and controlled take off and rise to perhaps 3 meaters, they drove it into the side of a nearby building and it crashed to the ground.

i dont know who this woman is, except that she identifies as from the Dennis Collective. She sent me a couple of nice pictures and said she was reading my blog. Kassia thinks it is not Israel, because there is too much graffiti. I think it might be Greece. Mark and Nitai - who flew in from Jerusalem today to the Casa, both think it might be Israel, tho the front right Temple is unusual. Nitai, who lived in Jerusalem for 15 years, thinks it might be Nazareth.

Earlier in the day, when i asked Nitai how the war affected him personally he said it heightened his awareness - and while he would not wish it on anyone, it does make him more serious about how he lives. "But at the end of the day, it is all about my last name, Peace." He is Nitai Shalom - from Israel, Poland, the US and Iraq. An ambassador for peace.

This is one of Nitai's Photos

Quite Handy

In 1991, Wam Kat convinced me that e-mail was the future, he was right and i've never gone back (tho i still write some love letters on paper).

One of my favorite tools is It creates short web addresses for these tremendous strings you sometimes get. When there is a webpage that is hard to get to TinyURL can help rescue you and they just made this utility more handy, by giving you the option to propose your own name for it. These are the ones i have created so far:
- this blog - my Twin Oaks vanity website - The polyamory primer - "With Open Hands"
- Super meme construction kit - thoughts on self replicating ideas and cultural constructs - Amory Lovin's latest short article slamming nuclear power. - Pictures of the amazing "Dancing Forest" near Kaliningrad. Lucifer says they dont know why these trees do this.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

What you can do with 700 people

Sky and Kassia just watch some pretty intense stuff go down in Copenhagen around the states attempt to shut down the long standing large community of Christiania.

But the back story is classic. As i understand it when the negotiations between the city and the community break down, the state comes in and reclaims part of the property. These actions were in response to the police destroying a house. Over 700 people showed up and the result is they repulsed the police. But building was largely destroyed.

Of course the other thing you can do, if you have some skilled fraction of those 700 people. Is you can come back the next day and rebuild the building. Which the Christianians are doing.

Christiania is much mroe famous for its cargo/multi passenger bike designs than it is for protests.

Radical Hospitality

"How can the house have a bike?" Kaudry asks me as we walk home from the gezellig squat cafe at the Partick Fredrick Straat. I am wheeling one of the Casa Robino collective bicycles as we walk thru the well lit and rainy streets of Am*dam. She has just hitchhiked in from Estonia. 5 rides, 48 hours, one difficult driver who would not let her out, nearly no sleep. But her question does not come from exhaustion.

I explain that Robin has a hospitality mission, which she already knows, because he is putting her up and they have never met before. That part of that mission is to provide durable resources to the guests of the house. He does not think of these as his bikes, he thinks of them as our bikes - more precisely, the houses bikes. Sky repaired them all three before he and Kassia went to Copenhagen, their care and upkeep relies on the generosity and handiness of the endless cycle of guests who come thru the Casa.

It seems a somewhat foreign notion to her. i mention that it is like communism, recognizing that it is a weighty word from a person from Estonia. I tell her i was in Estonia, in 1991, when they kidnapped Gorbachev and her country declared independence. I spare her the longer version of our exciting escape with our Lithuanian bus drivers switching seats while driving to make sure we did not have to stop. Of Russian helicopters circling the Riga radio station and us hearing the animated Latvian news announcer reporting on the invasion getting cut off in mid-sentence and replaced with classical music as the tyrants stormed the station. Nor did i speak of us passing Russian tanks which closed off the very roads we were on moments after we passed. We rushing towards the west, to escape the unknown fate of the dissolving Soviet Union. She was perhaps 3 then, it is ancient history.

Earlier, back in the squat cafe i am talking with the charming German anarchist Kristian. He is completing his PhD in security architecture. He tells stories of how military police who are beating protesters in Geneva were shortly before using the same tactics in Kosovo. He points out that when we use civil liberties arguments to try to stop this type of repression we are disabling our ability to access a more revolutionary and rightious position, that the very idea of military police being turned on their own population is wrong. Rather than they screwed up by being too oppressive in this particular case.

He is telling me about the "New Anita" which is the cafe/bar which he helped remodel 3 years ago. Which somehow has managed for 2 decades to operate right off a main street in Am*dam without a liquor license, by negotiating with the authorities. These days are ending here, but they are well established now. A German woman sings a haunting song, in English - simple in lyrics, rich in expression. She is behind the circular bar, which Kristian and friends designed cleverly to double function as a stage for performers.

Kristian tells me that the New Anita is filled with artists types. "As opposed to activists?" i ask. And we agree that we wish they were the same group, yet somehow they are mostly not. And i flash on the brilliance of Casa Robino again. Where the activists and non-activists share the same crowded little space. Where the ideas of people dedicated to making the world a better place, come up over Cruesli with people who are just looking for a place to stay for free for a few night.

Kaudry will learn about communism here. Not the kind that ruthlessly oppressed her country for decades, but instead the kind that great memeticist Marx envisioned. [Robin rightly objects, it is not communism, but anarchism - no state and no private property.]

And long after she was long in bed, and Robin and Anu and i had finished our wild rambling conversation - so common after midnight here. And Kasper had sent back instructions from Syria on how to start my first wiki. i very appropriately, got the first few pages of up and running.

It has all the feel of the beginning of a revolution.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Eight Lanes and High Class Problems

The traffic pattern in this city is quite clever. Very often on middle sized center city streets there are 8 lanes of traffic, four in each direction. Most of my Yankee comrades are doing a double take here, because i have failed to identify these lanes: 2 sidewalk pedestrian, 2 dedicated bike lanes, 2 for cars and trucks and faster motorbikes and 2 for trams, active emergency vehicles and taxis which are carrying fares.

The effect is liberating. You can almost always cross the street, because generally these lanes are separated and there is not consistant traffic in any given lane. Bicyclists dont need to wear helmets and can go at a bike appropriate speed safely, worrying only about passing other bikes. The cars most often dont need to pay much attention to either the trams or the cyclists. The tram lanes are generally clear, tho the trams run as frequently as every 6 minutes during peak hours and adding taxis to these lanes gives the taxis a tremendous time advantage in traversing the city and make them faster than the trams or other cars and are operated by professional drivers.

There is also some level of color coding, the bike lanes are typically crimson in color. Thanks to Sky for the above picture. which shows better than anything on Google images the 4 distinct types of lanes in each direction.

Of course my darker green friends will not be happy about special privileges for affluent taxi riders. But for me what is key is the structure is already in place for peak oil driven petrol price spike. And the local gasoline prise is already $6.30/gallon here (something like $4/gal higher than the US?) And if gas doubles here, then the traffic/ridership on 6 of the 8 lanes will get a bit heavier and we will have fewer personal cars. Very civilized. In most US cities, doubling gas prices will have largely inelastic effect on personal car use, in part because there is little capacity of these streets to convert to other traffic modes - what you will get is pissed off car drivers.

The problem with Am*dam is that there are too many possibilities. i recently produced a document called Plan 9 (email me or enter a comment if you want a copy) which outlines 10 different projects i am excited about (Honest Seduction snuck in there as the 10th after the document was named.) And i sent this to some friends asking their help in paring it down with me. Already some great responses have come in, including an offer funding. But the problem is that there are still ideas not in Plan 9 that i am considering - like the urban farmers and sky dry (look for the 5 minutes of Bambi entry) which were being wonderfully thrown around at the Casa last night.

As the CEO of Federal Express said to the Cornell investment committee (when he and i both sat on the Board of Trustees, back in 1979) when we were looking at holding bonds which were yielding nearly 20% or selling them at a significant premium: "That is a high class problem."

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Todays dangerous idea

Mike and i are going back and forth about nuclear power and its desirability. I appreciate Mike because unlike a some pro-nuclear folx (and a fair few anti-nuclear folx as well) he is civil is his approach (and we are not talking engineering here).

So here is our challenge. To take the nuclear debate off these personal blog pages and put it up for the public to see. There are some features for this system that make sense:

1) Supports people loging in and making public postings
2) for there to be multiple topics determined by moderators (cost, climate effect, safety, pollution, waste, etc)- in conjunction with the group
3) For it to be possible to pull down posts which are abusing
4) For there to be user profiles - or links to them, no anonymous postings

So a possible would do it as a wiki - where people could go in and edit and enhance arguments that support their position. The problem is that the wiki format is not well suited to issues that are argumentative. At least i thin it is not. You dont want someone to simply pull off or deface the arguments they dont like. But perhaps it is a all registered wiki with somewhat harsh rules for posting - destintly different from Wikipedia in this sense where experimentation and crashing around is encourage.

There are other web formats that we have been using for project support which might be appropriate. I'll check with me group mind expert and lover Tree about groups and tools that are out there. I know she has worked with these groups that specialize in contentious issues. Time for nuclear advocates and opponents to work together to present our best arguments and let the people decide (or the leaders, if we have to do it that way).

i will brush this up in a bit. But it is beautiful today in Am*dam and that is too rare to sit inside on a computer. Come on Mike and the other pro-nuclear folx reading this blog (who i am sure if we do this right, some of them i will call my friends) let's make this happen!

Enuf to make bus drivers laugh

"Do you speak Dutch?"
It is a completely reasonable question.

I've lived here of and on for almost 2 years now, i even took a Dutch language class when i first got here and learned some of the basics. But i am terrible with languages. i blame laziness.

And of course the Netherlands is perhaps the easiest country in the world to not speak the official language. English is taught in the schools from an early age. Most young people are in to English language pop music. Anka who is staying here at Casa Robino is from Romania, she learned English watching the 5 minutes of Bambi cartoons she was permitted each day, before "the changes" took place there. And then like many in the former eastern block MTV became her tutor.

So every day i use my minimal Dutch and almost everytime the person i am talking with takes pity on me and switches to English. I do have long record of keeping mass transit operators and ticket collecters amused.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Poltical Paradoxes

I am the Am*dam chair of Anarchist for Obama. I have to go down to the generous WISE offices and get my ballot and fax it in. Virginia is polling between 3 and 8% for Obama as i write this, but i read a pretty horrifying article in the New Yorker magazine about racists simply refusing to vote for Obama and refusing to participate in polls - who knows how many there are in Virginia, but more than a few.

"Anarchists voting ? But i thought you guys were anti-government?" Sure are. And i hold no illusions about Obama giving up the industrial capitalist/"Free Trade" policies which are accelerating the degradation of the planet and creating wage slaves both at home and abroad. And the political realities are that McCain is much worse, and Palin down right scary. McCain started his campaign repeatedly talking about "Other Wars" - i think 2 is quite enuf, actually about 2 too many.

In 1988 my dearest comrade M and i argued for hours about the presidential election, with him ultimately convincing me that voting was the wrong thing to do. In 1992, M showed up at my Am*dam flat and informed me that "You voted for a winner." After i disavowed voting for Clinton he informed me that he had snuck into my polling place, claimed to be me and voted for me.

I protested "You were the one who convinced me that voting was the wrong thing to do, 4 years ago." He shot back "Things are getting really bad, we needed to do something." The irony lost on neither of us.

It was former US Gen Sec Boutros Boutros-Ghali who famously said "Only stupid peope dont change their minds." Not that anarchists are often inspired by the head of the world government.

PS my North Anna co-defendants appeal went well, their fines were seriously reduced.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Viva la Casa

Sometimes you just luck out. Casa Robino has the same magical "why isnt the whole world working this way?" feel to it i experienced when i visited the brilliant Barcelona squat Can Masdeu. Robin is working a straight job and sharing the wealth in the form of hospitality. Picture couch surfing, but on steroids.

When i showed up Kassia and Sky had just finished making a dinner which was composed almost completely of things which were gathered at the end of the farmers market. This is a step more civilized than dumpster diving. Produce vendors simply give the people who show up at the end of the market, things that are perfectly good, which they can no longer sell for cosmetic reasons. Vendors directed Sky and Kassia to where their left over food was and they made a wonderful and slightly eclectic meal. Which was videoed by Lily for her Free Food short movie.

The dinner was lusciously international: Lily from Vanuatu/Australia, Anu* from Finland, Anka* from Romania via art schools in Milan and Bremen, Aisha from the Netherlands via the Amma the hugging saint out of India, Kassia who is a yank, but her dad is Iranian, Mindy and Robin* are Dutch balanced by Sky and i holding down the fort for YankeeLand.

* indicates photo above

The conversation was animated, multifarious and fun - from hitch wiki (which i loved at first sight and promptly wrote and entry on hitching on sailboats), to internet facilitated sharing systems, to anarchists with straight jobs ("job" is a swear at Casa Robino, often being spelled out instead of said). To starting an Ashram in Am*dam. To voluntary adventures thru To the nature of tough punks defending squats. To clown armys. To the bike crowded streets of Am*dam and the lack of Critical Mass actions here. And entire event laced with the sense of possibility which comes from someone being unusually generous. The conversations went late with switching participants - the last finishing well after 3 AM.

Robin pulled Casa Robino from because he was looking for something less transient, people who were looking to stay and create temporary community for weeks rather than days. Robin hosted a conference of internet hospitality sites and now works thru the site.

And they just invited me to be part of their secret Facebook group - dont even bother looking.

Monday, October 6, 2008

God Play

One of the biggest advantages of being an international activist is you get to meet some honest-to-goddess heroes. I call him Lucifer. He looks like a punk version of Rasputin: chain smoking, scraggly hair, a disarming sideways glance. He is one of these rare people who was doing direct action politics in the Soviet Union before it collapsed, locking himself to the top of smokestacks when one could easily be disappeared by the government for this type of work. He navigated that mine field only to find the current democratic illusion in Russia makes Putin's repression more effective than Khrushchev's could ever be.

Unsurprisingly, he calls me goddess. Even with all my immodesty it does not quite sit comfortably, but i take it in the spirit it is jokingly offered. When i landed in the Netherlands i was quick to reconnect with him. He is one of the only highly active international anti-nuclear activists in Russia - if you want to work in the dark empire you need to go thru Lucifer.

He is working on stopping the shipment of uranium tailings to Russia from France, Germany, and the Netherlands. There is an EU and an international agreement on not exporting toxic wastes. The Russians and their western partners get around this by claiming the tailings are a resource - an input into uranium fuel fabrication. It is clear that with over 500K tons of tailings untouched, Russia does not need more.

The interesting thing is that we may well be on the way to winning this fight. Rosatom has said they will stop after 2009, and amazingly attributed this decision in part to public protest. The German giant power utilities RWE and EOn have said they will drop out of the German consortium, which still has other major utilities in it. This is the result of Lucifer and some German allies fine work.

The effect of this is significant. Thru a chemistry i must admit i don't yet fully understand, raw tailings must be treated to be moved IF they are not considered a resource in their untreated form. Pull Russia out and this incredible quantity of Dutch, German, and French waste needs to be handled and processed, skyrocketing the costs. Another break on the nuclear relapse.

Recently, curiously, both Lucifer and Honza are attributing to me something i did not quite say in the 90s. "Besides hard work, the only things you need to stop a reactor is to be brilliant and to be lucky."

But i will take credit for it. As was pointed out repeatedly this year at Burning Man, the truth is not what is ultimately important, but rather it is the compelling story that we seek.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Gidy in Am*dam

It is like a huge clock with a mechanism made of canals and trams and hobbit like bridges. I am thrilled to be back - in part because the city itself is the best of contemporary civilization - successfully multicultural, low crime, great mass transit, decriminalization of victimless crimes (like soft drugs, gambling and prostitution) and quite clean. And in part because some of my favorite people in the world live here.

Honza tells a story of his neighborhood association picnic, where some city representative asked what they would like changed and how they were willing to help. They said they would like to have a front garden on their flat, like some of their neighbors had. Within two weeks the municipal work crew with some local volunteers came and pulled the concrete out from in front of their house and delivered planting soil. Honza and Hanka said they would plant and support a garden and they have. Where else does this happen?

Honza also talked about the European Football (soccor) championships. When ever the Dutch team played, the city brought out these large display screens and set them up in some public squares. No big surprise here, the sport is very popular. But what is a surprise is that the city also brings these huge screens out when ever the Moroccan or Turkish national teams are playing, because these groups are a significant part of the local culture.

Strange Religions

Xavier and Irene (Hawina's niece who lived at Twin Oaks for some month a couple years back) have been gracious hosts to the crashing Star family - which is constantly reconfiguring, but currently is Sky, Willow, Hawina and myself. We are staying in their small apartment in Heerlen, about half an hour walk from the German border on the southern edge of the Netherlands.

It costs 29 Euros to take the train from Heerlen to Am*dam (about $45). And we have had good news recently about our recent choice to become community supported activists. People have been inspired by our various projects and are being generous in supporting us. Despite Wall St crashing, activist stocks seem to be rising (some might argue because of it). So 29 Euros would seem accessible, especially since we want to support the efficient, comfortable, comprehensive Dutch mass transit system.

But it misses the point - the point which is about radical sharing. And about story telling. And about dropping social barriers. And about taking useful risks. And about modeling behaviors for a more sustainable future.

i am talking about hitchhiking.

The Dutch weather is perfect today - it is cloudy and threatening. So even if i am not now wet, i could be in moments. You get to be a hero for picking up someone at the edge of a storm. Many people wave, some indicate that they are only going a short distance or that their vehicles are filled with family or junk. One woman gives me a thumbs down, but she is the exception.

After perhaps 45 minutes (i am without cell phone these days, so my clock is gone), a car stops on the wide breakdown lane entering the highway to the north. He is going to Eindoven and on to Tilburg - this is far enough along my way to give up my good spot, for what might be a poor one further on.

He is totally charming. Speaks good English. He is an art lecturer, who amazingly makes his money from the entry fees to his lectures. He rents out auditorium space, self promotes and makes enough to live relatively comfortably. I can't conceive of someone doing this in the US, unless they had a huge name - and then thy would not do their own promotion.

We talk about Jackson Pollack who i have never understood (my lover Caroline, now in art school in Barcelona, has offered to explain him, but i wanted to do this face to face). And Andy Warhol (who he respects the intellect of, but is not impressed with his art). I ask him about Rembrant and the Night Watch and why it is so important. He talks about artists as revolutionaries, as challenging our perceptions of the world. In Pollacks case, he talks about revolutionizing the tools artists use- throwing out the brush and the eisal. I tell him stories, talk about the commune and of course memetics. He is enchanted, very glad he took the risk of picking up a hitchhiker.

We part in Tilburg. We never shared names - often it is part of the culture of hitching - to be vulernable and nearly intimate with someone and never know this label on their identity.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Op Ed piece for the Richmod Times Dispatch

I was surprised and amused to read the RTD's linking of my reasoning for protesting nuclear power with a source above law: Al Gore (Opinion from Sept 28th, "Power Play"). I was surprised because the RTD rarely covers anti-nuclear protests. I was amused because Gore has flip flopped on nuclear power- in 1992 he dismissed nuclear power as an obsolete technology, yet after he was elected vice president he was the key decision maker in lending of money to the Czech Republic to complete a Russian designed reactor. I worked against that reactor in the Czech Republic for 6 years. When asked why the US was funding this nuclear power plant, said, "If we don't do it, the French or the Germans will." [Angie edited out - I have to wonder if he would say the same thing if they wanted to build concentration camps.] Now Gore does not want reactors built because of his nuclear weapons proliferation fears.

My principal critique of nuclear power is one of fairness. The current generation receives the energy benefit from nuclear power and many future generations have to pay the significant costs. The decommissioning funds set aside for reactors won't cover the costs of cleaning up the messes these devices create. One small reactor in France has cost over $750 million dollars to decommission, over 20 times higher than original estimates and the work is still not complete after 20 years. The British are looking at a 73 billion Pound Sterling decommissioning tab for their reactors, more than they cost to build.

Every "low level" radioactive waste dump operating in the US is leaking, and there is no place to store the "high level" radioactive waste. If the Yucca Mountain facility in Nevada is ever licensed, which I doubt, it is only designed to hold 70,000 metric tons of "high level" waste. By the time the proposed third reactor at North Anna is completed, in 2012 if all goes according to plan, Yucca will be full. Nuclear advocates promise that they can reorganize Yucca fit in more waste. Nuclear boosters originally promised nuclear power would be "too cheap to meter". The respected British conservative newsweekly The Economist said in 2008 that nuclear power was "too costly to matter." Nuclear supporters will say almost anything to get a new reactor built, their jobs depend on it.

The appeal of my 15-day sentence is not an effort to avoid jail time, but to bring the issues of nuclear power into public debate. I have been working against nuclear power in Virginia for a decade. I have gone to every Dominion shareholders meeting for the last 4 years (I own one share) and challenged the president and the board chair on this proposed reactor, met with Virginia's secretary of Natural Resources Preston Bryant on North Anna, spoken at almost every NRC and county supervisors meeting on this reactor over the last 5 years. Still, it was not until I was arrested that the RTD decided to cover any of my anti-nuclear efforts, despite consistent press releases.

I am prepared to go to jail for my actions, and it is quite likely I will. I would like to think that Martin Luther King, who you invoked in your editorial, would approve. I know my 6-year-old son, Willow, does. He and I both want to live in a toxin free greater Richmond area, and his future is the biggest reason why I do this work. I hope the RTD will print my letters from the Louisa County jail.

Paxus Calta is a Louisa County resident and serves on the Steering Committee for the Peoples Alliance for Safe Energy (PACE) and is the Chair of the Board of the Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS) an umbrella group for 300 grassroots organizations in the US.

Below is the Richmond Time Dispatch Opinion piece which sparked this response

Paxus Calta and the other activists who staged a protest against Dominion's plans for a third nuclear reactor at the North Anna power plant may be taking their cue from a higher authority than the law: Al Gore.

Speaking at the recent Global Initiative on climate, Gore proclaimed, "I believe we have reached the stage where it is time for civil disobedience to prevent the construction of new coal plants that do not have carbon capture and sequestration."

Sure, Gore was talking about coal, not nukes. But the outer reaches of the environmental movement are not noted for piercing clarity in ontological thought.

Perhaps that is why the activists are appealing their convictions on the grounds that they are not guilty by reason of necessity. But the essence of civil disobedience consists in accepting an unjust punishment in order to highlight the iniquity of a circumstance. King's "Letter From Birmingham Jail" would have lacked some of its resonant power if it had been his "Letter From Room 106 in the Birmingham Howard Johnson's, Where I Await Injunctive Relief From My Arrest for Non-Violent Protest Against Racial Segregation." By filing an appeal, the anti-Dominion protesters undermine the appeal of their cause.