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Laugh Your Blessings

How Satire Can Save the World.

In some of the world’s most dangerous, politically-stifled geographies — from Azerbaijan to Russia — activists are using comedy to say publicly what would otherwise be unspeakable.

In all the recent debates about whether social media was responsible for movements like the Arab spring or the Tea Part [sic], we’ve forgotten that sometimes humor matters more than the straight news and information, especially in closed media environments. Those who have the ability to make fun of their leaders have the ability to lead a free life in many more aspects.

Here are six key examples from around the world to demonstrate how satire can move the needle on difficult issues that are otherwise unmovable.

Pronoia at the Heart of the Lost City

Work, Reimagined: Detroit Gets Creative. How residents of America’s most famously down and out city are building livelihoods that also rebuild their communities.

And so began We Want Green Too, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to “re-educate, re-train and re-build a 21st-century, sustainable Detroit.” [Former Ford Motor Company employee] Gloria [Lowe] is working to assemble various teams with all the basic skills to make crumbling homes liveable: dry walling, painting, floor repair, and so on.

In addition to veterans, she’s finding craftsmen among former prison inmates, recovering addicts, and other un- or underemployed Detroiters. “You have people who are challenged, they don’t have jobs. Why not make their jobs re-structuring their own communities?” says Gloria.

Uniting Behind Pronoiac Goals

Nicaragua’s push to generate 94 percent of its own electricity from renewable resources by 2016 without damaging the environment has united the country.

“The energy issue is an essential component for our sustainable development to assure the wellbeing and progress of the current and future generations,” says Emilio Rappaccioli, Nicaragua’s minister of energy and mines.

Ortega worked with Nicaragua’s private sector and Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez to fix its immediate energy problem by installing an additional capacity of 343 megawatts of power – 41 percent more power than Nicaragua was producing five years ago.

That means that for the first time in more than a decade, Nicaragua is producing a comfortable surplus of energy.

Don’t Stop the Pronoiac Pressure Now. It’s Working

Corporate Rule Is Not Inevitable. 7 signs the corporatocracy is losing its
legitimacy — and 7 populist tools to help shut it down.

In a recent poll by the Pew Research Center, 77 percent of Americans said too much power is concentrated in the hands of a few rich people and large corporations. In a poll by Time Magazine, 86 percent of Americans said Wall Street and its lobbyists have too much influence in Washington.

And 80 percent of Americans oppose Citizens United, the pro-corporate Supreme Court ruling that turns two years old today. Eighty percent — that’s among Republicans, Democrats, and Independents.

Some say corporations have such a strong grip on politicians and big media that it is impossible to challenge them, no matter how many of us there are.

But I believe we can do it. In the past few months, YES! Magazine has been researching ways that ordinary people can challenge corporate power (look for strategies in our spring issue, out in February). And we found that there are actually a lot of tools at our disposal..

Pretty Much All Play Is Pronoiac

Bottlenose dolphins playing with humpback whales

I’d like to introduce a paper published last year in the journal Aquatic Mammals, which reports on two separate playful and – as you’ll see – uplifting encounters between bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) and humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae).

The first took place on a January afternoon off the northwest coast of Kauai, when a group of eight bottlenose dolphins met up with a pair of humpback whales. Two of the dolphins — apparently adults — approached one of the whales, first appearing to surf the pressure wave created by the whale’s head as it swam, and later taking turns lying perpendicularly across the whale’s rostrum when it surfaced to breathe. Then, while one of the dolphins lay balanced over the end of its rostrum, the whale stopped and slowly lifted the dolphin high into the air. The dolphin maintained an arched position and made no effort to escape, allowing the whale to continue lifting until it was nearly vertical in the water, at which point the dolphin slid down the whale’s rostrum, dove into the water, and porpoised back to its fellow dolphins.

Activism Works at Least Some of the Time

How the Pipeline Died — And How to Bury It For Good. Grassroots strategies paid off for the climate movement in a big way.

This Wednesday afternoon, the Obama administration rejected the permit for Keystone XL, a 1,700 mile oil pipeline that would have run from the tar sands of Alberta to refineries on the Gulf of Mexico. The announcement is a huge victory for the grassroots climate movement. As writer and Keystone XL protest leader Bill McKibben wrote this afternoon,

“This isn’t just the right call, it’s the brave call. The knock on Barack Obama from many quarters has been that he’s too conciliatory. But here, in the face of a naked political threat from Big Oil to exact ‘huge political consequences,’ he’s stood up strong. This is a victory for Americans who testified in record numbers, and who demanded that science get the hearing usually reserved for big money.”

Slowly but Surely, We’re Creating an Energy-Efficient Future

A new solar cell that achieves 41 percent efficiency

The 41-percent efficiency rating is one of the highest recorded at this (light) concentration, and is challenged only by Stanford University spinoff Solar Junction’s multijunction GaAs cells, confirmed at 43.5 percent efficiency. The company is hoping for a DOE loan guarantee to expand production.