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Tereza Coraggio

Third Paradigm is an out-of-the-box thinktank on community sovereignty and regenerative economics.

We look at how to take back our cities, farmland and water; our money, production and trade; our media, education and culture, our religion and even our God.

We present a people's history of the Bible and a parent's view on how to raise giving kids in a taking world.

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Past Shows


Radio is Community–Forming

Sunday, November 23, 2009

3P-045 Show Information (includes MP3 download link)

Welcome to the 45th episode of Third Paradigm. Our title this week is Radio is Community–Forming. In episode 3P–024 We Interrupt This Commercial, we discovered the surprisingly democratic and socially–oriented beginnings of radio before the soap–opera formula took over, and was applied to everything from sports to the news to politics and economics. This past week, I met with Ben Einstein, who's teaching the UCSC class, Intro to Radio. In our wide–ranging discussion, we touched on the future of radio. His sense was that it was on its way out, to be replaced by more personalized media like I–pods or Pandora, which takes the performers you like and tailors new selections to your taste.

My daughters listen to Pandora and I've tried it out. I put in David Rovics, excited that it would help me find more activist singer–songwriters like him. It started playing acoustic guitarists. I input Ani de Franco to nudge it along, and it added female folk singers. Then I added Michael Franti and it blew a fuse. It decided that I really didn't care what I listened to and just played anything. Either it couldn't discern the common thread of socially conscious lyrics beyond he/she done me wrong, or it knew what I wanted was subversive and wasn't going to deliver.

My prediction for the future of radio was the opposite of Ben's. I think that radio is not only making a resurgence, but is the medium of the revolution. It's cheap: to produce, to broadcast, and to hear. Any computer with a built–in mike will let you record, and many come with editing software like Garage Band. In terms of broadcasting, if it weren't for legalities, anyone with a large tree in their backyard could with an antenna and a couple of computers. For listeners, it's the grand equalizer because you can pick up a transistor radio for 10 bucks, and a Walkperson for under $20.

Radio liberates us from the ubiquitous screen. We all spend too much time sitting on beds, sofas and chairs looking at boxes. Radio frees your legs, hands and eyes to move around and do something useful while your mind stays occupied. In Cuban factories, workers will pay a different person each day to read to them. In silent monasteries, they substitute a reader at dinner for the usual chatter. Thomas Merton had tricks for making meditation pass painlessly, but some of the reading selections drove him bonkers. It must have been like a concert pianist being forced to listen to muzak during her day job.

Now that my producer, Skidmark Bob, is back to programming five days a week, my computer productivity has taken a nosedive. Once again, I can't figure out a good time to turn the radio off! From 7:30 on there's al Jazeera, This Day in History, News from Occupied Bethlehem, Worker's Independent News and the 420 Drug War News. Democracy Now comes on promptly at 8. At 9, there's Sonali Kolhatkar's Uprising, Counterspin, Making Contact, David Barsamian's Alternative Radio, Sprouts, Between the Lines, the Shortwave Report, or LBGT global news with This Way Out. Just when I'm feeling it's safe to push the power button, he's been putting on great music with a social message — Chumbawumba, Muse, Bruce Cockburn, and oldies like T. Bone Burnett. Maybe we should call him Pandora Bob, with his magic box releasing clarity, justice and reason into the world.

When we return, we're going to look more at why radio is community–forming, but first let's hear two poems, one by Rumi and one by Mary Oliver. These are dedicated to my daughter, Olivia Paloma Coraggio, for her 15th birthday. Here's a photo of her that Joe Riley put with this poem, when she was five and looked merely angelic, rather than the freckled Audrey Hepburn she looks like now.


The Way Wings Should

What will
our children do in the morning?
Will they wake with their hearts wanting to play,
the way wings

Will they have dreamed the needed flights and gathered
the strength from the planets that all men and women need to balance
the wonderful charms of
the earth

so that her power and beauty does not make us forget our own?

I know all about the ways of the heart – how it wants to be alive.

Love so needs to love
that it will endure almost anything, even abuse,
just to flicker for a moment.  But the sky's mouth is kind,
its song will never hurt you, for I
sing those words.

What will our children do in the morning
if they do not see us

~ Rumi ~
From Love Poems From God: Twelve Sacred Voices from the East and West by Daniel Ladinsky

* * * * * * *

The Summer Day

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean––
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down,
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life? 

~ Mary Oliver ~
From New and Selected Poems, Volume I

We're talking about how radio is community–forming in a way that the internet complements but doesn't replace. I registered my "complaint" that Bob's playing so much good radio that I can't turn it off. So while I'm not keeping up my end of the website design, my kitchen is really clean. I've canned plums, pear butter, and strawberry jam. I've pulled up the vegetable garden and mucked out the chicken coop. I've also made a new friend over the workout bench at Gold's Gym. During an engrossing part of Democracy Now, I was listening intently instead of doing sit–ups, when a neighboring woman caught me at it. I took off the headphones and explained. She replied, "Isn't this a challenging time to be a progressive?" I never expected that Gold's Gym would a meeting place for independent news junkies but you never know. Since then, she's offered herself and her merry band of retired activists to be the gofers for our radio movement.

This week I had two tremendous opportunities. On Tuesday, Capitola Book Cafe brought in Peter Richardson, author of A Bomb in Every Issue: How the Short, Unruly Life of Ramparts Magazine Changed America. As if that wasn't enough excitement for the week, on Thursday, I was invited to co–interview Charles Eisenstein, author of Ascent of Humanity. I've been an avid follower of Lyn Gerry's readings of it on Unwelcome Guests, listening twice to each chapter when I can. If I were to pick the half–dozen people I most wanted to talk with, Charles Eisenstein is top of the list. So it was a great surprise and pleasure to have him brought to me, thanks to my friend Janea, who does the Free Radio show, Tickling the Belly of the Beast. Unfortunately, we lost the recording. I was having a Luddite day, and I think it rubbed off on Janea. But we'll have links to his writings on the website, and I'll recount some of part of the conversation between us.

But to start with the Ramparts reading, for those as unaware as I was, Ramparts began in 1962 as a Catholic literary quarterly. By 1967 it had won the George Polk Award for its "explosive revival of the great muckraking tradition." One article led Martin Luther King Jr. to speak out against the Vietnam War. They published the diaries of Eldridge Cleaver and Che Guevara. Contributors included Thomas Merton, Noam Chomsky, Cesar Chavez, Seymour Hersh, Angela Davis, and Susan Sontag. When it folded in 1975, contributors went on to found Mother Jones and Rolling Stone.

At the Q&A a member of the audience asked where someone would go today to get a punchy muckraking article published. Besides the spin–offs, Peter Richardson directed them to internet sites like Daily Kos or Huffington Post. But I suggested that the questioner try radio. Radio, I said, creates a community. With radio, you have the best of both worlds. You can self–publish at sites like, and make it available purely on its merits all around the world. Like anything online, however, your tribe will be scattered throughout time and space, and consist of people with the leisure and tech–savvy to know where to look. Chances are, these people already know the information and sources you're drawing together.

But a burgeoning network of sovereign stations brings these shows to the rest of us. These are pirate, college, and low–power fm stations full of independent programmers looking for good content. Each of these stations has a community that trusts the programmers to bring them honest news and interesting things. When listeners run into one another, they might talk about a particular show. It moves the conversation forward.

And for those of us who can't work a remote control and lose precious recordings, it's slow tech. Plus it creates functional leisure — time that I plan my chores around and look forward to. If we're going to return to being a community of producers and not just consumers, we need to make peace with manual labor.

There's an intimacy also to the human voice. Studs Terkel talked about this on Democracy Now. No matter how many people are listening, it's a one–to–one relationship. Sometimes you're as close as being the voice right inside the person's ear. A book called The Art of Voice–Acting taught me to imagine one person you're talking to, who gets everything you're saying and wants to hear more. I've been fortunate to have listeners who've manifested that fantasy in flesh and bone.

Let's break for Peter Gabriel with In Your Eyes. This goes out to Olivia, but also to everyone else who keeps reflecting back to me that we're on the same side here. We're going to succeed, and have fun doing it, because what's in us is bigger than we are.

[Peter Gabriel – In your Eyes]

That was Peter Gabriel with In Your Eyes. The video of this song was made in 1986 and seems technically primitive by today's standards. But the concept is as current as Charles Eisenstein. In it, two shadow figures merge to become one amorphous shape, and then divide again. Two faces are superimposed on each other, like a mirror I once saw that half–reflects and half shines through. Here Charles writes about the same concept:

"The Ascent of Humanity is about Separation: its origins, its evolution, its ideology, its effects, its consummation and resolution, and its cosmic purpose. What is the purpose of the grandeur and the ruin we have wrought? If civilization is to collapse, Why? and What for? Will we then go back to the Stone Age, or will we be born into something entirely new?

...More than anything, The Ascent of Humanity is about how to create the more beautiful world our hearts tell us is possible. I have long found most prescriptions for 'what you can do' to reverse humanity's trajectory of ruin quite empty. Recycle your bottles and turn off the faucet when you brush your teeth. Write your Congressman. What are these tiny individual actions against the juggernaut of destruction that consumes oceans, trees, soil, and culture? This book offers an entirely different approach that begins with the reconception of our very selves. It invalidates the logic of despair that so many activists have felt, that arises inescapably from the conception of ourselves as discrete and separate subjects in a world of other. This is the ideology of separation. ...This may be the only book you have ever read that fully gets the enormity of the crises facing us, yet responds neither with despair nor with fantasy suggestions about what 'we' should do about it."

Now, for me, Ascent of Humanity wasn't the only book I'd read that begins with the reconception of our selves. For the last seven years, I've done my early morning meditation studying a Course in Miracles. The premise, in a nutshell, is that if we're not really separate, discrete individuals, what we perceive as external, objective reality may be in fact the internal, subjective experience of our single, dreaming mind. As I'd been listening to Ascent, I'd wanted to ask Charles if he was consciously teaching the Course, or just thinking along the same lines. His answer was that other people had commented on this, and he thought that he'd intuited the Course and didn't need to read it.

I had the same experience myself when I first encountered it. Since it turns the world as we know it outside–in, if I hadn't reached many of the same conclusions myself before I picked it up, I would have dismissed it as crazy. But my own logic and observations had led me to ideas that I felt sure had validity, but no other person I talked to could see it. Not that I didn't try. I was a pariah on the playground. The other parents watching gymnastics were a captive audience. Some parents still give me a wide berth ten years later.

At first when I did the exercises, I thought, oh I don't need this. I already get it. But now, on my fourth slow time through the 1200 or so densely–written pages, I could almost swear the book changes with me. I've ended up underlining every other sentence. It started with underlining the important points, and then I decided that would be every sentence, so I did every other to change the emphasis each time through. It's not that it's something I believe in, which would imply that our beliefs about reality change reality. It's that the more I suspend my belief in the dogma of a separate self, the more my experience shows me we're not. This week has been generous proof of that.

But perhaps Charles is right that he's channeling the Course directly. His articles appear on Reality Sandwich, a blogosphere that's "evolving consciousness bite by bite." One of his posts, called, "In the Miracle," states:

"Faith is not a prerequisite for miracles — the universe is more generous than that. When we grow up against the limits of our world, our growth exerts an unstoppable pressure that creates, in the words of Joseph Chilton Pearce, a 'crack in the cosmic egg.' The light that shines through this crack takes the form of miracles, visitations from a brighter and larger world. Now is time to begin pecking and pushing, striving toward that light, widening the crack."

The egg metaphor only goes so far. Ours is a collective birthing, in which the emergence of each of us encourages the rest. You might say, we tear at the eggshells of our brothers and sisters. Some emerge before the rest, inhabiting the world of miracles; their continued sanity and effectiveness reassures us that these inexplicable events are not glimpses of madness after all: a sane and intelligent person can live among them.

I discovered that the common nexus between Charles, Lyn Gerry, Ken Dowst of New World Notes, and me is a guy in Bangladesh named Robin Upton. When I emailed Lyn that my Bangladesh listener told me I'd like her show, she said, "Oh, Robin was the one who told me I might like Charles Eisenstein and he was right!" Although Charles didn't know him, Robin's life and work, reflected on his website Altruists International, is right up Charles' gift economy alley.

Yesterday I turned on Unwelcome Guests to hear Lyn Gerry read the last chapter of Charles Eisenstein's Ascent of Humanity. But first, she said, she was going to include a couple of other voices that resonated with his message. She started talking about a topic dear to my own heart: how people see the Constitution as a bulwark of the people's rights but history shows a quite different perspective. She then asked, "Was the Constitution an Act of Treason?" I thought, "Oh that's great! She used the same phrase as the title of one of my shows. Doesn't this show the synchronicity of the communal mind!" Then, to my shock, she played it.

This has been Tereza Coraggio. Thank you to Skidmark Bob for production and editing, and to Mike Sirocco for the Third Paradigm ultimate website. If you sign up for the blog now, you'll receive summaries as they happen, starting with the first show as each multimedia transcript is finalized. A special thanks to Peter Richardson, Capitola Book Cafe, Charles Eisenstein, Janea, and Lyn Gerry for inviting me to sit at the dinner table and join the cosmic conversation. We go out with a song from the CD that's top of Olivia's current playlist. From The Wreck of the Day, this is:

[Anna Nalick – Forever Love]

Thank you for listening.