a political manifesto


"A man’s heart away from nature becomes hard" - Luther Standing Bear


The Contrarian: No. 2

by Rami Elkhatib

Rami Mohen Elkhatib is a writer and tiny-house homesteader in North Georgia. He finished a Green Business Certification and Social and Behavioral Studies Associates Degree at City College of San Francisco.

In the last decade, Americans have been inundated by the bad news of the world, the political mischief of the country, and the struggles of those close to them who may have gotten laid off or taken a hit by the volatile economy. In that spectrum, I see a complex intersectionality that cannot be denied. We are doing things wrong, living our lives in an unsustainable manner, and we've allowed ourselves to ignore life-threatening facts and bad logic so that our daily comforts are not impeded. Real effective change needs to be undertaken.

Our livelihoods are vastly dependent on nonrenewable resources, an acute situation of which everyone is aware nowadays, and though it may seem solar[1] and other renewables are taking a real foothold in our culture and infrastructure, it's unrealistic to assume such sustainable technologies could completely supplant dirty energy without a major global crisis transpiring first[2].

If you drive a car (and I'd say almost everyone in America is dependent on cars[3] even if they never drive them) then you know that paying for gasoline challenges people to make budgetary decisions[4]. Imagine for a moment everyone had to pay double what the current price is. That would cut back on frivolities in our daily lives for sure, including what each of us might consider necessary diversions from the daily grind. Less theater visits, less in-person shopping, less ventures of all kinds, which would cut into social engagements and thereby increase stress for the average citizen. Corporate magnates from the oil industry likely make it their goal to keep gas prices low so more people use it rather than decide to go electric or take public transportation, which is becoming greener every year. And of course the economy would collapse without it[5]. That thousands of citizens sit in traffic for hours means nothing to the executives of oil companies[6] as long as they're burning gas.

So what I'm saying is, buying gasoline affords these companies the rationale that building a low cost pipeline across the country is better for their profits. And what is the alternative anyway? An expensive one: that they truck the gasoline or build the pipeline hundreds of miles out of the way due to topographical impediments? Maybe I'm not aware that the planning of this pipeline could have easily been routed through other less sacred lands, but I feel like that would have been addressed in the Dakota Access legislative interim during Obama's presidency. Why haven't there been compromises or reasonable suggestions brought to the public attention if they exist?[7]

If you enjoy driving and being mobile, as I myself do, maybe we're just as culpable as the companies building these pipelines, because our dollar votes give them the power. 

The very heavily armed juggernaut of American militancy is unflappable in the face of modern protest movements, most especially because the uniformed men with guns are being funded by the very people protesting! Make a statement by decreasing consumption of gasoline, walk more, use less plastic, and change your lifestyle so that the companies, lobbyists and politicians all in league to turn this planet into a black sky garbage heap will have to adjust their course.

[1] http://www.ucsusa.org/clean_energy/our-energy-choices/renewable-energy/solar-power-technologies-and-policies.html#.WTNkIRiZORs

[2] http://energypost.eu/phasing-fossil-fuels-renewables-may-straightforward-swap/

[3] https://www.citylab.com/transportation/2014/02/9-reasons-us-ended-so-much-more-car-dependent-europe/8226/

[4] https://www.forbes.com/sites/prospernow/2013/07/31/rising-gas-prices-influence-consumers-spending/#2158ce7c4bf1

[5] http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2017/02/biggest-gasoline-glut-27-years-crash-oil-markets.html

[6] http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2017/02/ceo-kelcy-warren-dakota-access-pipeline-energy-transfer-partners-country-music/

[7] https://www.quora.com/What-are-the-alternatives-to-the-current-routing-of-the-Dakota-Access-Pipeline


a meditation series

filmed & edited by Masha Karpoukhina


Our modern, busy lives rarely afford an opportunity for introspection, solitude, and appreciation of our surroundings, yet this is how humans connect with the outside world, understand their own place in it, and maintain emotional, physical, and psychological wellbeing. 

This series of films is designed as short bursts of active meditation that can help awaken our connection to nature and bring about a state of reflection, rest, and awe.

For full effect, please watch full screen and with sound, while seated in a comfortable position. Allow your mind to wonder into The Placeness.  

Yuma, Arizona.

Newport Beach, California.