Category Archives: Organizing

Bangkok and Burma

marble_temple_bangkokSilver Springs It’s the time of year when the Organizers’ Forum (www.organizersforum.org) begins to send out the call for the international dialogue to community and labor organizers who are interested in learning about the work of their counterparts in other countries and sharing their own experiences.  This year the board has approved the international dialogue as a visit to Bangkok and border area between Myanmar/Burma and Thailand during the period from October 4th through October 9th .  Early discussions indicate this is going to be an exciting and significant experience for the delegation.

Needless to say in the tradition of past dialogues, Thailand has been in the news over the last year.  At various times either yellow shirted or red shirted marchers have been leading huge protests, including shutting down the international airport for days at one point over the legitimacy of various governments. This is complicated stuff, but fortunately our old friend, Rudy

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Simeto Incinerator

P1010041Catania After an engaging number of hours with a collection of officials from neighboring towns, activists, students, professors, and others discussing the principles of community organization and the “burning issues” they brought to the workshop, I caught a lift with Paolo Guarnaccia one of the driving forces behind ViveSimeto to use the wireless at his farmhouse not too far away.  Joining us was the head of the Zero Waste Movement for Italy who lived not far from Florence.  The real point of the journey turned out to be showing me where their fight to save the river and its communities was really joined in a long campaign opposing incinerator construction.

First we saw the “old school” way in which one of the small river towns was simply piping waste into the Simeto, seemingly without a care in the world or any concern for their own health and well being.  Another couple of kilometers away in a non-descript acreage between two low-lying hills no signs marked the proposed site of a landfill that would hold ash from incinerator operations.  Moving along a rougher road another few kilometers brought us to what looked like an abandoned industrial site, which was part of the incinerator operation itself.

Paulo help me piece together the Italian words on the sign.  The project was started and expected to be in full operation by 2006, but here we were in 2009 looking at the skeleton of an operation.  In this long running campaign the incinerator had rushed into operation but then had been stopped by the opposition because the private developer had failed to bother to get the necessary permits to allow the operation.

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