Tag Archives: Travel

Talking Organizing in Atlanta

New Orleans  Having not flown in months, I was curious what was up in the airways.  My 6:15 AM on a Saturday to Atlanta was the first flight out of New Orleans.  That was already strange.  It used to be one of many.  Where was the 5:28 AM to Houston?  The 6:00 AM to Chicago?  The early flight to New York?  Nowhere, that’s where.  The next surprise was that everything went faster.  I was the only one in the TSA-PRE line.  They screen for temperatures at the gym, but not on the airlines.  Better have a cup of coffee at home, because there was nothing open anywhere in the airport.  Not leaving at least.  Only Chili’s coming back.  It was a ghost town.  On Delta, zones were on the boarding pass, but the boarding was by rows, back to front.  Bringing back the old school, and I liked it.  When the bell rang on landing, I jumped up.  I was surprised that everyone ahead of me kept sitting down.  Social distancing, I guess?

But that was all about what’s up in the air, the real takeaway from Atlanta in my meeting with folks about organizing there, is the on-the-ground benefit of being in the same room in a different city taking part in the valuable cross fertilization of ideas that comes from face-to-face-mask-to-mask conversations.   I’ll give you a couple of examples to prove the point.

  • Talking about the long lines in Georgia polling stations and the similar problems around the country in Louisville, Milwaukee, and elsewhere, a constant refrain in the excuses of election authorities is that the reduced number of manual polling sites was because they didn’t have the poll staff willing to work. Anyone who has ever voted has seen the crew at the polling stations.  This is like the waiting room of a Social Security office.  The ones without gray hair are political cronies making an extra day’s wage complete with donuts for breakfast and fried chicken for lunch.  Talking to my colleagues and new friends in Atlanta, here was an idea for a quick campaign:  an organization should mass file names of “volunteers” willing to be trained to handle the polls in November so there would be a full force.  Who could turn that down?  In states trying to run from the mail ballot, it matters that we have as many open polling locations as possible!
  • In cities like Atlanta and Memphis where the rent amnesty is ending July 31st, local activists are predicting a tsunami of evictions. In New York City on July 1st for example they are expecting 50-60,000.  In these cities the new big landlords are connected at the hip to huge Wall Street private equity companies, so it’s a twofer.  In the wave of resistance now, how about a mass protest and campaign to block the landlords from filing to evict that puts pressure on courts and civil sheriffs to refuse to process evictions?  Supplemental unemployment will still be good, so the troops are out there.  Given the massive support of grassroots donors this day for new activism, it might even hit a cord and raise some money.
  • Training? People are suddenly desperate for a way to up skill for this moment!

See what I mean?  The back and forth of listening, discussion, and synthesis is not something that the Hollywood Squares of Zoom is best at handling.  As hard as it always is, and as virtually impossible as it is now, there’s a reason that organizers have to travel to get closer to people who want to make things happen and help them along.  Atlanta was calling, and it was hard not to pick up the phone.  We’re open for business again!


Frequent Fliers and Carbon Banks

New Orleans       Visiting with old friends from Montana and Texas the other night, out of the blue one of my buddies asked me what I thought about the “carbon bank?”  I’m not a big fan of corporations not actually reducing their carbon and polluting footprint, but buying credits to claim they are doing something rather than really doing something.

I’m not saying it’s evil, but I’m skeptical, especially when close inspection of some of these deals often indicates that they are piggybacking what governments and nonprofits were doing anyway.   The Organizers’ Forum found that to be the case when we visited Paraguay a couple of years ago.  In those cases, it’s just public relations and greenwashing spin, rather than a real commitment either way.  My immediate response to the question was a quick and intemperate, “I think it’s probably baloney,” although I didn’t actually say the word baloney, but instead referred to deposits from an esteemed member of the animal kingdom known well in Montana and Texas.

Another one of the group mentioned the problem of flying and its carbon footprint.  He had seen something that suggested flights needed to be offset with a fifty-dollar purchase of a carbon credit.  He had raised it with his environmental nonprofit, and they had nixed him allocating it because it would set a precedent in their national organization.  He was committed to the concept though and controlled his office’s budget, so was determined to press forward with his demand with his bosses.

If my friend was this serious about all of this, in fairness, I thought I should take another look.  I’m a frequent flyer and have been for decades.  ACORN’s work in fifteen countries also means that often when I’m in the air, there are serious distances involved.  I have way more than a million miles on United, so I’m sometimes a Premier Gold interloper on upgrades.  Delta sent me their mileage program since I have 350,000 miles with them.  Maybe I shouldn’t be so “what me worry, this is my work” about this flying and carbon thing.  I read recently that JetBlue even now allows their mileage program users to buy carbon credits rather than another trip.  Something is happening here.

Looking around I first came to the World Carbon Bank.  They claim…

The World Carbon bank is a non-profit platform whose mission is to accelerate the carbon sustainability goal by using individual carbon exchanges. Citizens can purchase carbon credits at much lower prices from Individuals and businesses worldwide, who earn extra carbon credits from the CUDC by offsetting carbon emissions using their own methods. Instead of offsetting carbon emission by themselves or paying high carbon bills to the Carbon Union, people can purchase carbon credits at much lower prices from the World Carbon Bank, a nonprofit individual carbon exchange platform. It connects you to individuals and businesses worldwide, who earn extra carbon credits by offsetting carbon dioxide. The World Carbon Bank provides new job opportunities for climate refugees and turns heavy carbon emitting businesses into sustainable ones.

The Carbon Union claims that everyone gets a 5.5-kilogram carbon credit to spend daily, and should buy a credit for usage that exceeds that level.  They also argue that the average carbon usage in the United States is 48.4 kilograms a day.  Their argument is that everyone over should be paying to buy a credit.  The amounts on their website were confusing.  In one place it said one should pay $49 and in the diagram is said one should pay $42.90.  Probably doesn’t matter which number is right, because few people or businesses are going to pay almost $50 a day on this side of the one-percent, and they sure aren’t paying either, despite profiting from the problem.

My friend thought the number was $50 for every flight, but he may have been assuming he was way below the US average.  This is complicated, but interesting.  Maybe it’s not baloney, but suggesting that our membership organization of low-and-moderate income families should start paying $50 every time I board a plane, I think we’d have to do a lot more research than my quick Google search about what that money was buying and whether or not it was the real deal.