Monday, August 2, 2010

Stop by One Fair World on this August First Wednesday

One Fair World was part of the Ten Thousand Villages chain of fair-trade stores, and One Fair World is still a 100% fair-trade store, still run by local Salem-area volunteers, still providing artisans in developing countries a way to market their goods for a fair price that provides them with opportunities to house and feed their families and send their children to school.

The local group running the store decided to leave TTV because they wanted to continue bringing Salem more diverse goods from more certified fair-trade sources than they could had they remained with TTV. The price is losing a little bit of name recognition that had built up for the TTV name -- but, on the other hand, changing to become a fully independent fair-trade outlet means that you not only have the opportunity to deal directly with the local management, but you can also volunteer to help in myriad ways, from working at the store (and getting first crack at new things offered) to working on the board or speaking in classrooms about the fair trade ideals and practices.

So if you haven't been for a while, stop by (474 Court St. -- just west of the Court and High intersection where Grand Vines is) -- maybe this Wednesday evening, when you can register for a drawing for a gift certificate and enjoy some refreshments. Should be fun, and it's another Salem gem well worth your support --- so if you're one of those types who likes to do your holiday shopping all year round, when the mood strikes and you see something wonderful, One Fair World should be a regular stop on your rounds.

The Looming Third-Bridge Nightmare

Although it's less likely to be funded or occur than its bigger Columbia River sibling, anyone who cares about Salem should know that there is still a lavishly funded effort afoot to destroy downtown Salem's livability to promote more auto commuting (to what?) by ripping a gargantuan third auto bridge right through the heart of Salem.

You just need to go to the Gilbert House on Front St. to get a sense of what a charming addition this bridge would be -- a brutal, looming monstrosity that would not only cause the destruction of many homes but also of the waterfront.

The photo (from the linked story) is probably a good predictor for Salem --- because of our railroad tracks and the existing buildings near the Willamette, a third Salem auto bridge would essentially be a gigantic flyover bridge that would look like a piece of central LA from a gangster thug movie plopped down into Salem.
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What the future has in store for Salem

Train Wreck Near Vivian, SD, 5-13-1990 - 20 Ye...Image by Welfl via Flickr

James H. Kunstler hits it over the wall again (all illustrative links added here at LOVESalem, not part of JHK's essay):
. . . The true destination of the US economy is to get smaller and for two reasons mainly:

1.) Capital ("money") is vanishing out of our system steadily and rapidly due to a massive collective failure to repay money owed on loans, mortgages, debts, and assorted obligations.

2.) Access to the primary resource we depend on for powering the economy (oil) is increasingly beyond our control -- even worse, under the control of people who would like us to eat shit and die.

We really have a choice between two ways of dealing with this. We can downsize and re-scale consciously and coherently, or we can continue to chase after the phantom of growth and allow the nation to fall into a shambles of desperation. So far into this long emergency of an economic fiasco, we seem to have chosen the pursuit of a phantom. That's what President Obama was doing last week in Detroit, shilling for a new electric automobile which, he said, will make us "energy independent." If Mr. Obama believes this, then it isn't a very good advertisement for an Ivy League education.

I'd like to know how many Americans believe that electric cars run on virtually free energy (but I don't have pollsters on my payroll). I'd bet a lot of them do, including President Obama. Sorry to rain on this uplifting parade. At best, such a car fleet would run on coal -- that is coal-fired electric power plants -- but even that is a ridiculous fantasy when you actually pencil-out the details. Not to mention that a nation full of people with dwindling or vanishing incomes won't be in a position to fork over forty-grand for one of those new pseudo "green" vehicles. Also not to mention -- wait for it -- that due to rapidly vanishing capital there will be far fewer car loans available. The only thing growing in this part of the picture is the number of Americans who cannot possibly qualify for a car loan under normal terms that would require regular repayment of interest-and-principal. (Plenty of Americans qualify for the new "innovative" kind of loan -- the kind that you never have to make payments on, but for the moment, the banks are choking to death on them, so additional approvals may lag for a time.)

It's instructive that so much current hoopla about economic growth revolves around the issue of cars. For, if anything, reality is telling us very clearly that the mass motoring paradigm is near its end. Our determination to prop it up at all costs, despite the grave impairments of available capital and energy resources is a symptom of our detachment from reality. It's also a fine illustration of the psychology of previous investment, which prompts a desperate society to squander its scarce remaining resources on the very things that are putting it out of business.

We don't need need more highways. We're about to find out that we don't have the money to keep up regular repairs on the highways we already have. The hundreds of millions of "stimulus" dollars that President Obama flung into "shovel-ready" highway projects was among the more tragically dumb mistakes he made early on, and he has apparently learned nothing along these lines since then.

Interestingly, NPR ran a local story over the weekend -- an obscure little item -- saying that Amtrak was determined to raise the average speed of its passenger trains running north from Connecticut through Vermont from 40 miles-per-hour to 60mph. That would be some triumphant accomplishment! It would bring us back to about an 1860 level of service. Of course, I happen to believe that we will be lucky in a few years if we are able to enjoy an 1860's standard-of-living, so maybe this little side venture in public transport is perfectly in tune with America's future. . . .
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