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Global IMC Network

Amazon vs Local Business

November 23, 2015 by pegjohnston

reprinted from Institute for Local Self Reliance

Amazon is on a building spree, and many local officials are eager to bring one of its giant fulfillment centers to their own backyard. They are so eager, in fact, that some have resorted to offering the company lavish tax breaks and other public assistance. Between 2012 and 2014, Amazon picked up $431 million in local tax incentives to finance its warehouse expansion.

Searching for Peace, Once Again

November 13, 2015 by pegjohnston

By Tim Wolcott

         Soon before the beginning of the current school year, Bob Graves, the Maine-Endwell High School Spartan Theater Company Director, was asked what they were going to present in 2015-2016.  “Would it be another musical or a tragedy?”  The questioner (which was not me) went on, “I really liked when you produced those little plays about peace.”  Bob wasn’t yet sure what the company was going to do, so he honestly admitted, “we haven’t decided yet.”

         Mr. Graves recounted this story in his introduction to this season’s first presentation, “Searching for Peace”, a collection of one-act plays and songs with peace as the central theme.  He went on to say, and I paraphrase, “after thinking about all the current wars that are putting American lives at risk, maybe it is time to revisit the theme of peace.”  I am glad he made that decision.  Too often the courage to trumpet peace is drowned out by the false majesty of war.

         The present production was very similar to the 2006 production, but had musical interludes and a couple of additional theatrical acts.  The November 7th, 2015 performance was, depending on the piece, poignant, audacious and/or inspirational. 

         I also had the pleasure of seeing the production in 2006.   This production was a reprise of the four original acts – “How Violence Is Ended”, “The Christmas Truce”, “When the Twins Went to War” and “The War Prayer”.  The staging was different, but the text was the same.  In the Buddhist legend, “How Violence Is Ended”, the clarion call was repeated, “Do not be short-sighted” (seek impulsive revenge) and “Do not be long-sighted” (hold grudges).  “The Christmas Truce” recounts the spontaneous cessation of war on Christmas Eve by German and English troops during W.W.I.  Hearing “Silent Night”, hauntingly sung, in German, offstage while the English trench soldiers become visibly mesmerized by its serenity was very powerful. The message of Mark Twain’s “The War Prayer” could not resonate more.  In that act, a preacher in the pulpit is rallying the congregation to war through biblical passages and patriotic slogans when he is interrupted by a female messenger from God.  She proceeds to translate the preacher’s uplifting rhetoric to its barbaric reality.  After a prolonged silence of rapt understanding, the congregants declare her insane, and the preacher continues his sermon as the play ends.

         During the interludes, talented musicians within the cast amplified the powerful content from the dramatic acts.  A faculty member sang, in French, a WWI protest song (while a translation was shown simultaneously) that included the words, “President, if blood be shed, let it be yours.”  John Lennon’s “Imagine” and “Let It Be” were sung to echo the non-violent sentiment of the production.  The evening ended with the entire cast and audience singing Lennon’s “Give Peace a Chance”. 

         We all do have to participate in giving peace a chance.  This production surely helped us see and hear how.


Let's Study Recycling for Profit: Nov 14th

November 7, 2015 by imc-editor

A local group of community members and students will explore recycling and re-use of materials in Broome County to see if there are opportunities both for increased recycling and for creating jobs. Nov. 14th, 2 pm on BU campus--Library second floor, it is LS2523A South Study.

According to EPA there are over 250 million tons of solid waste generated in the US every year. Over 4 lbs per person per day. With nearly 200,000 people in Broome county that's 800,000 lbs per day or divided by 2000 lbs per ton 400 tons or 10 tractor trailer loads of garbage per day.

Rubber, textiles and leather are about 9% or 72,000 lbs per day. Nearly 2 tractor trailer loads every day.  

To give you some idea of value: Recycled clothes from collection boxes are valued at 20 cents per lb or $8,000 per 40,000 lb load. Let's say that 50% of the rubber, textiles and leather are clothes  that's $4,000 every day. That's the approximate value of just 4 1/2 % of the solid waste going into Broome counties landfill as clothing every day.

According to Les Platt, one of the organizers, "I've sold Credential clothes, that's clothes collected in community boxes, for as much as 38 cents per lb or 2 1/2 times current values." Most materials have nowhere near these values. Some are more valuable. The point is that there are millions of dollars being buried in Broome Counties landfill every year at the cost of other millions of dollars.

Platt says, "Our job is to see how much of this value we can reclaim, at what savings and to direct whatever value we can into productive activities. From my point of view that will be street kids projects, creating jobs for people coming out of jail and of course careers or business opportunities we find for ourselves. There are thousands of other possibilities."

There are hundreds of recycling activities going on in every community all the time. These include scavengers who rummage through dumpsters searching for redemption containers and individuals who search the country side or curbs on garbage days looking for useful items to resell or scrap. There are thousands of people right here in Broome county who have ongoing rummage sales, garage sales or year around flea markets.

There are independent garbage collectors who provide recycling services to commercial enterprises, industries and institutions or scavenge their own collections for anything of value easily separated.

Local municipalities and the county have instituted recycling projects. Catholic Charities, the Salvation Army, the Rescue Mission and many other non profits and churches have thrift stores and rummage sales. There are dozens of profit making thrift stores, consignment shops, used vehicle and equipment dealers. There are many junk yards, scrap dealers, professional materials collectors and brokers of all sizes from local collectors to national and international dealers.

There are local, state, federal and international agency's and institutions set up to promote and regulate recycling activities.The organizers are saying, "Our job will be to study them, learn to understand them, find ways to improve their situations increase their effectiveness and reassure them, that overall we are a credible team member."

"We will need to get involved at all levels. We will need hundreds of people. To attract them we will need to recruit those who are interested, identify or create incentives for those who are ambitious, define infrastructure for the general public to participate and start physical projects, large and small to illustrate viability. We will need to create cash flow, inspire entrepreneurs and attract investors."

For more information, visit the calendar on this site, or email


Fighting for $15 Nov. 10th

November 6, 2015 by imc-editor

On November 10, we’re holding a national day of action to support $15 an hour and union rights. Believe me, you want to be there.

RALLY FOR $15 WAGES FOR ALL WORKERS! November 10th 2015 @ 12 noon Across from Walmart in Johnson City At the CFJ Park

As fast-food workers across the country go on STRIKE on November 10, people across the country will be coming together to stand with them, with child care workers and with all 64 million underpaid workers making less than $15. Because it’s TIME for $15. Together we’re turning the tide in favor of working people and our families. And we’ll need everyone’s help – including yours – to make this a reality.

United Cultural Funds Available

November 3, 2015 by pegjohnston

Broome County Arts Council is accepting grant applications for its 2016 United Cultural Fund (UCF) Project Grants and will hold free seminars on eligibility and how to apply.  Hosted by executive director Sharon Ball, the seminars are scheduled throughout Broome County and will also offer information on the UCF and other potential funding sources for Broome County artists and arts organizations.  There is no cost to attend a seminar, but reservations are strongly advised.  Call 607-723-4620 or e-mail to reserve a seat at any of the following seminars:
• Wednesday, November 4
5:30 pm – 7:00 pm
Windsor Whip Works Art Center
98 Main Street, Windsor
• Tuesday, December 8
5:30 pm – 7:00 pm
George F. Johnson Library
1001 Park St, Endicott
• Wednesday, December 9
5:30 pm – 7:00 pm
Broome County Arts Council
81 State St, Suite 501, Binghamton
• Wednesday, December 16
5:30 pm – 7:00 pm
Mary Wilcox Memorial Library
2630 Main St, Whitney Point
BCAC’s United Cultural Fund (UCF) Project Grants are intended to promote cultural development and expand the public impact of the arts in Broome County. The maximum grant request is $1,000. To download eligibility guidelines and application forms, visit .  For more information, contact Broome County Art Council at 723-4620.

Fear Mongering on Police Modernization

November 1, 2015 by pegjohnston

It’s election season so no one should be surprised that partisans are throwing fear of crime into the mix.  The Police Modernization Bill, initiated by the Binghamton Human Rights Commission, would codify documentation of police encounters by ethnicity, would create training in cultural sensitivity, and encourage for diversification of the police force. It is similar to legislation in other cities where the relationship between police and minorities has created inequities. Even top cop YC Police Commissioner Bill Bratton has favored the esentials called for in this legislation.

The police union opposed the bill and spread disinformation that police will no longer be able to respond to information provided by the victim of a crime and will no longer be able to present suspects to crime victims for identification.  According to Sean Massey of the Human Rights Commission, “These statements are completely false and this memo appears to be an unfortunate scare tactic intended to shift public support away from passage of the law.”

Support for the police is the third rail of GOP politics and also a handy bludger to scare the electorate.  An eleventh hour mailing by Joe Mihalko illustrates this perfectly, calling supporters of the bill “special interests” even though it has enjoyed widespread community support. “Bad policy”, “handcuffing the police” are other phrases employed to scare people.

Massey and Democratic council people have acknowledged that the bill may need tweaking to be sure that it doesn’t hamper police, but the opportunity for fear mongering was too convenient.

Sadly, fear mongering has had great success nationally and locally. The best way to prove that it doesn’t work is to not be frightened of legislation that hasn’t even been written.

Recycling Opportunities: What do we need to know?

October 27, 2015 by imc-editor

Throughout every community, in the US and the world, there are individuals, commercial enterprises and industries that service segments of the many recycling activities. These segments are called niches.

With 7.2 billion people on the world there are tens of millions of people actively involved in some aspect of recycling. Those willing and able to actually perform recycling services come in many guises. They are scavengers, finding value in items put out on curbs or tossed in garbage bins. They are independent garbage haulers, cherry picking worthwhile items their clients toss away or providing recycling services for individuals, commercial enterprises or industries who want to save money disposing of unwanted materials.

They can also be people who work for municipalities or counties providing garbage or recycling services, picking up garbage and recyclables transporting them to landfills or transfer stations, where the easy stuff is collected into separate piles, to be transported to scrap dealers or intermediate processors.

Scrap dealers come in all sizes, from the little guy who handlers $100,000 or so a year to multi billion dollar operations like Weitsman who is buying up scrap yards all over the east Coast. Scrap dealers sell to intermediate processors or refineries who separate materials into higher value and more pure categories.

Metals are ferrous and non ferrous. Non ferrous are aluminum, brass, copper and many other types; these are sold as “clean” and “contaminated.” The same is true of other materials, primarily plastics and glass, which have markets although glass is more limited.  There are many materials that could be recycled if they were separated into more homogeneous, cost effective piles that industry could use and if primary materials suppliers could depend on a continuous supply.

“That's what I hope to do in this area,” says Les Platt. “Identify and put in place mechanisms that will give the general public a vested interest in accumulating cost effective lots of recycled materials.”

There are currently many pieces already in place. Individuals, organization's and churches have rummage, lawn and garage sales. Many non profit and profit making operations have thrift or second hand stores. Used equipment and vehicle enterprises are prevalent in every community. Clothing collection often involves donation bins; some of these pay clubs, groups and organizations to help promote them.

It's easy to see from all this the many jobs, occupations, careers, business opportunities, and industries currently involved with recycling enterprises. Less obvious are the obstacles to more effective recycling.

It's human nature to take the easy road. So it's no surprise that that's what happens with recycling. From the scavenger on up the chain the more visible, profitable, easy stuff is recycled.

Reuse, Repurpose, and Recycle are buzzwords that encompass everything from battleships to paperclips, and yet we need a rhetoric that average people can  relate to.

In general, nearly everything is made of materials that can be reused. In reality most products are made of a variety of materials in too small quantities to be cost effectively recycled. Broad categories are excess production, overstock, used products, ferrous and non ferrous metal, plastics, glass, wood, and composite materials. These, in turn, break down to undamaged or damaged goods, clean or dirty materials, mixed or pure materials. Most of these have market values that reflect their usefulness or value.  With the exception of finished goods these values are some percentage of  virgin materials. Virgin materials are those materials supplied directly from the mines, refineries, lumber and textile mills, petrochemical producers or composite manufacturers.

“We need to set up a system that highlights the opportunities and helps interested individuals perform the services necessary to optimize recycling. To do that we need to understand the processes and economics involved, which is why I am calling for students and community members to create study groups to understand the economics of recycling,” states Les Platt.

Les and others are planning a meeting to discuss a Recycling Study Group. Watch this space for details.

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