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World Wide Work - March 2009
Source Matt Witt
Date 09/03/16/11:18

This edition of the free bulletin, World Wide Work, is published by the American Labor Education Center, an independent nonprofit founded in 1979.


The makers of an outstanding new documentary about a major "green" building erected by union construction workers in South Boston are offering the film free for showings to union members or community screenings during Earth Week, April 18-26.

This highly unusual 82-minute film, "The Greening of Southie," is a terrific discussion starter for all audiences, regardless of class background or attitude toward efforts to deal with climate change.

It follows construction workers from the first meeting where the green building techniques are discussed through completion of the 14-story luxury apartment structure.

While serving as an excellent introduction to the value of green building to society, the film does not shy away from showing doubts, glitches, and contradictions that emerge along the way.

For a review on, click here.

For more information or to schedule a screening, contact Aimee Arvan at, 631-664-3375.

Worth noting:
Thinking Big edited by James Lardner and Nathaniel Loewentheil (Berrett-Koehler). Progressive organizations from throughout the U.S. collaborated on a small paperback filled with practical ideas for real change in the Obama era, with a focus on the economy, green jobs, health care, and education.

Agenda for a New Economy by David C. Korten (Berrett-Koehler). Does bailing out Wall Street benefit most Americans? The author of "When Corporations Rule the World" steps back and examines how Wall Street actually works, proposing both short- and long-term reforms.

The Great Financial Crisis by John Bellamy Foster and Fred Magdoff (Monthly Review). Explores the shift from production to "financialization" of the U.S. economy and the roots of the current crisis.

Notes from No Man's Land by Eula Biss (Graywolf). These refreshingly original and lyrical essays have a common theme -- race in America. Drawing on her experiences teaching school in Harlem, writing for an African American newspaper in San Diego, studying Spanish in Baja California, observing Katrina from afar in a college town in Iowa, and living in a mixed neighborhood in Chicago, Biss uses unusual juxtapositions and literary and cultural references to link the personal and the political.

To Siberia by Per Petterson (Graywolf). In another skillful novel from the author of Out Stealing Horses, a teenage girl in Denmark narrates as she and her brother come of age in the time of resistance to the Nazi occupation.

The Accordionist's Son by Bernardo Atxaga (Graywolf). A Basque teenager growing up in the 1960s gradually becomes aware of social issues in a very personal way as he learns about his father's involvement with the Spanish fascists and about the separatist movement.

Hijacking Sustainability by Adrian Parr (MIT). Corporations like Walmart and British Petroleum, as well as the U.S. military, have adopted the rhetoric of sustainability without the substance, according to this study written in academic prose.

Climate Change by Jon Clift and Amanda Cuthbert (Chelsea Green). While climate change and related energy issues require big systemic solutions, this well-presented booklet helps increase awareness by providing small but immediate steps that individuals can take.

The Case for Collaborative School Reform by Ray Marshall (Economic Policy Institute). This case study of the Toledo, Ohio schools argues that both school district managers and teachers' unions need to change in order to improve public education.

Grading Education by Richard Rothstein (Teachers College Press). Accountability in education is crucial but it must take into account the ability to think critically, preparation for skilled work, social skills, and other factors in addition to knowledge of specific facts. It also must recognize that student outcomes are affected by many influences besides the schools. This Economic Policy Institute researcher proposes ways to rethink standardized tests and to add a meaningful inspection system to promote accountability.

The Teaching Penalty by Allegretto, Corcoran, and Mishel (Economic Policy Institute). While political debate often focuses on the structure of teacher pay (such as proposals for merit pay), the total pay and benefit package for teachers continues to fall further behind compensation for comparable professions, making it harder to attract and retain the highest quality educators.

Legacies of Brown edited by Carter, Flores, and Reddick (Harvard Educational Review). Fifty years after the Supreme Court ruled that separate schools are not equal, these essays review developments since then involving desegregation, bilingual education, and the impact of the decision on other areas of the law.

Embedded with Organized Labor by Steve Early (Monthly Review). A collection of book reviews and articles, mainly from the left media, by a 27-year staffer for the Communications Workers of America, long-time contributor to Labor Notes, and fierce critic of SEIU President Andy Stern.

Mexico Unconquered by John Gibler (City Lights). This left journalist who lives in Mexico argues that the battle over conquest that began when Cortes arrived from Spain hundreds of years ago continues today as a struggle between the country's poor majority and a small elite of billionaires.

Snowmobile for George. For this 95-minute, entertaining documentary, the filmmaker visited Americans impacted by battles over deregulation. Republican ranchers in Wyoming wake up one morning to find Texas oil companies drilling under their land and ruining the surface for cattle grazing in the process. Yurok fishermen on the Klamath River discover that Karl Rove had rewritten the rules about how much water a fish needs to survive. Firefighters in New York get life-threatening diseases from 9/11 exposures but the government looks the other way. Snowmobiles pollute at 27 times the rate of cars, yet the government and manufacturers refuse to use cleaner technology that is readily available. In an unintentionally revealing interview, the chief lobbyist for the snowmobile industry describes how influence peddling works in Washington, DC.

Instead the Forest Rose to Sing by Danny Schmidt (Red House). Schmidt is still a work in progress but his songs about working people in a time of change show potential.

Classic Protest Songs (Smithsonian Folkways). A collection of 22 songs that lives up to its title for those with a historical interest in political music from the €˜60s and the civil rights movement. Some are performed by well-known singers such as Seeger, Guthrie, Leadbelly, and Big Bill Broonzy, and others are famous songs sung by relative unknowns.

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