When Renee and I started going vegan circa 2015 we did so for two reasons: ours and the planet’s health. When I say vegan I mean health, the environment, and the well being of all.
The first thing I noticed on our journey was that it didn’t connect to anyone but well-to-do white people. We watched Forks Over Knives, it’s great. But I didn’t see any connection to those outside the bubble.
I can’t recall which came next; watching Cowspiracy or buying Rich Roll’s book, The Plantpower Way. Cowspiracy presented “fuck yes they’re right” facts and Rich’s book laid out recipes that were yummy.
May 1 2015 was day 1 for Renee and I going vegan. We were in, we’ve been in and got deeper in, since. We make everything we eat. If it has a face or a mother, we don’t eat it.
I started being highly critical of Rich and this crowd we were part of. My words weren’t always well chosen, but my intention was then and is now to help everyone. Doing so helps Mother Earth.
So it was about our health and the health of the planet. But it was also about helping others. Not well-to-do white folks, they were doing fine. I wanted to help those having a tough time making ends meet. I wanted them to have this.
I started writing Rich emails, most of which were highly critical. Most of the time I used a tone my Dad used with me. Never mind the fact that I ran away from home when I was 15, to get away from my Dad’s abuse.
I wanted Rich to know his message, and just about every other message being used in this movement was all wrong. I tried to point out all they were doing is making each other — and their friends — better off. It bothered me that their message had zero appeal to people of color, those who are hurting, and the people who needed this (health and wellness) the most.
Here’s a few posts I wrote:
Rich wrote back a few times. He was curt, but kind. He called me a “giant pain in the ass” and an “iconoclast”, high compliments. But then he stopped responding. And he removed my comments echo’d in the above posts from his website. My last attempt was not long ago, to send him a donation. No reply.
What I’ve written juxtaposed to the election, was right. In fact I nailed it. In most cases, way before anyone else saw it.
Democrats, liberals like Rich and the guests on Rich’s podcast, just about everyone in the organic/vegan/grass fed/environment movement, don’t see that by preaching to the choir they come off as being snobs, elites, selfish, self-serving, and giant hypocrites. They don’t see the dropped connection to millions who’d otherwise benefit from what they’re about.
I saw Rich as what he is, a conduit. I thought if I could get to him, he’d do podcasts dedicated to what the legions were doing wrong. His “people” would get it, change their ways, repurpose their efforts towards those who need it most. It didn’t happen. Instead, Rich cut me off.
Last May I read Thomas Frank’s new book, Listen, Liberal: Or What Ever Happened To The Party Of The People. Thomas had me in the first few pages. I knew that for years, Democrats were missing it each time they blabbed, “middle class”. I knew tech was killing more jobs than it was creating. I could see a time coming soon that entire populations of people here in the USA would become unemployable. I knew Obama had missed it. But I was okay, because my man Obama was President.
It wasn’t just Rich. I was bitching at friends and neighbors here at home, some of whom we buy from.
Last summer I was telling my friend Brook LeVan at Sustainable Settings that he too, had it wrong. Brook and his awesome wife Rose are really good people. But I drew a short line from their message to NIMBYism.
One day last summer I was at Sustainable Settings. Tyler Moebius was there, from Crystal River Meats. I wrote to Brook that Tyler was everything I’m against. My view was his company was selling consumers a false bill of health. I sent Tyler a nice email (really, I was nice) but he never replied. Tyler is a typical Aspen snob, I wasn’t surprised.
Not long after or maybe that same day, Brook told me about a film friends of theirs were making — How We Grow. I checked it out, then sent the producer this:
A friend sent me a link to your film.
I watched the trailer. Your film is nothing more than Aspen people celebrating each other.
You’ll showcase wealthy people from the city, now wearing Carhartt’s in the mountains. A bunch of white people claiming a connection to the common man, when really all they’re doing is playing dress up.
Your subjects are growing food that’s only available to the .01%. People of color, the disenfranchised, the disconnected, will never eat at your table. Oh you think they will. Surely you’re convinced that somehow, some way, people will be “inspired” and then voila — something from Pitkin County will be sold at a Whole Foods somewhere. Then, you’ll have done well. Haley, that’s trickle down transformation.
You live nearby people who have tremendous influence and power. Instead of planting in their backyard and flowing their landscape, I encourage you to do something worthwhile such as bringing Brook’s soil and your influence to the inner city. But that would mean you’d have to give up a few hikes up the bowl, sit in traffic, and come face to face with people who probably make you really uncomfortable. Because after all, you live in Aspen. The whole reason why you live there is to get away from it all, right?
All you’re going to accomplish with your film is to make you and your friends better looking. You’ll all feel better about yourselves. Your film is a selfish and self absorbed celebration of the elite.
My bet is that some of Tyler’s grass fed meat will be served at the premier? Meanwhile meat is doing more harm to our environment than fossil fuels. Grass fed meat is even worse for the environment than factory farmed meat. You’ll be having a meal with what I call unconscious liberals. In fact I’m even going to make a movie about y’all. When I do, may I please come interview you?
You know when the violence will end? When it makes its way to the gates of Cherry Hills and the foot of Mt. Sopris. Not until then.
Harsh? Yep. Did they deserve it? In the big picture, yes.
I was a Bernie supporter. But the DNC machine jacked him. From there I was going to do a write-in vote. Because like so many others on the left, I bought into the canard’s ‘goin round. I veered far left and started paying attention to my friend Arn’s campaign for United States Senate.
I did vote for Hillary — to take a vote away from Trump. But I realized I’d bought into group think. I should have known better.
How did Trump win? In large part, because Rich’s people and the rest have no message for Mary, a caricature I made up to represent millions who are struggling.
But don’t confuse “no message” for bad intentions. Rich, et al., they’re well meaning. Some of them started with nothing. When they’re standing around in Malibu or Aspen, they feel those who’re struggling to move up from the depressed conditions they’re in.
They’re also powerful people who can make a difference.
Still with me? Hang in there.
Mike Gecan wrote this in his piece today:
The party of algorithms, data and imagery must become the party of meaningful work and living wages for millions.
Finally, the party should make three books mandatory reading for all operatives and and candidates. “Makers and Takers: The Rise of Finance and the Fall of American Business,” by Rana Foroohar, Time magazine’s chief financial writer, describes the dominant position of financial institutions in the American economy and political realm and why the Democrats chose to save big banks and deserted millions of homeowners who lost their houses and hard-earned equity. It would be interesting to see the voting patterns in the nation’s foreclosure belts — Florida, Michigan, Ohio and elsewhere.
“Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right,” by Arlie Russell Hochschild is a remarkable account of the way conservative residents in southwest Louisiana choose to vote on the basis of what Hochschild calls their “emotional self-interest” — their need to feel respected and affirmed — rather than their economic self-interest.
And “Listen, Liberal: Or, What Ever Happened to the Party of the People?” by Thomas Frank, is a scathing dissection of the drift of the Democratic Party toward “the best of the best of the best,” as the character played by Will Smith in the movie “Men In Black” sarcastically described a group of well-credentialed and clueless competitors.
It will be painful reading, but a necessary corrective to a party that has embraced the economy’s wealthiest takers, has treated the working class with special contempt, and valued elitism and professionalism over the quality of life of so many marginalized Americans.
I’ll add a 4th book to Mike’s list: “let my people go surfing“, by Yvon Chouinard
For everyone to have prosperity, clean air, food and water, Rich, et al., need to reboot. What good did all the money they gave to fancy institutes or NGO’s do? What good did all the dinner parties or fund raisers for politicians full of mumbo jumbo do? Hello, President Trump.
Now, it’d be really easy for some of them to say “Fuck it. I did what I could, Trump still won. We’re fucked. Carpe Diem, baby!”. It’s easy to conjure up a worse case scenario that short of a nuclear attack, they’ll be fine. Their money will insulate them. They’re wrong.
Because they breathe the same air, drink the same water, and eat from the same trough we all do. They can’t stop the bastards from polluting our air. Unless they’re planning on some sort of fear based plan to only drink water they’ve cultivated, they’re gonna drink the same water we do. What good will their Organic food be if the water table is contaminated? Nada.
Yes, Trump will make a few concessions on Obamacare. But if you look at who he’s pitching for his Cabinet, Mother Earth is in for a beating. Count on fracking rigs going in anywhere and everywhere. Then the inevitable contamination of our water supply. Count on Monsanto and their pals taking control of our food. GMO’s? Organic? Trump brags about eating at McDonald’s. Looks to me like The Donald don’t care about what we do.
What needs to happen next is that Rich’s people, Brook, Tyler, anti-fracking causes such as Citizens for a Healthy Community and Thompson Divide Coalition recognize that what they’re up to goes nowhere until they connect with Mary, and all the communities in America that are hurting. That their message needs to reach out and grab hold of the family in PA dealing with opioid addictions, wondering where their next meal is coming from.
I’m an alcoholic and a stoner. My sobriety date is 4.16.07. I go to A.A. meetings. In A.A. we say “you have to give it away in order to keep it”. These folks need to understand that if they want to keep what they have, they gotta help others. Not just their friends or neighbors. People they don’t know or might not ever meet. People living in concrete jungles and dirt shacks. Folks who today, see the world way differently. Not because that’s how it’ll always be, because it’s all they know.
Trump is President. The Republicans control the Senate and the House. Soon, they’ll control the Supreme Court. Republicans control 37 states. Republicans don’t believe in climate change or seeing to it that Mother Earth thrives for generations to come. They’re indifferent to clean air, food and water.
What Rich’s crew and the rest need to understand is that when Mary goes to their websites, or comes into contact with their brands, all she sees is privilege and glam. When Mary reads about climate change, something in the mountains of CO or Malibu, it’s a turn off. Because, there’s nothing there for her. Organic? GMO? Grass fed? Climate Change? Why should she care? Those issues are way off her radar. Not because that’s how it’ll always be, because Mary has no reason to care. Democrats abandoned Mary years ago, as Thomas Frank so well describes. Therefore anyone or anything associated with them is a turn-off.
Rich’s gang, well connected folks like Haley, Tyler and Brook need to get they won’t be able to build a wall big enough to keep Trump’s policies out of theirs or their kids lives. They’re continuing the lie if they think the answer is some yet to be found politician who’ll say all the right things.
The only way forward now is to do an end-around the politicians. The entire plan should be to bring prosperity, clean air, food and water to those who need it the most. Mary voted for Trump not so much because she believed him, because he was her last hope.
I’ve got a plan to bring prosperity, clean air, food and water to Mary. The name of the company is MercanThrive. MercanThrive is a Benefit Corporation. Our mission is: business to improve people’s lives. Mercan, comes from mercantile – “of or relating to the economic system of mercantilism”. Thrive, because we want to help all people prosper.
I’m not talking about a podcast, email newsletter, some one-off website or social media platform that no one really needs. No. You need to meet Mary where she lives. Yes, the connection includes digital — but the spirit of MercanThrive is old-school analog.
MercanThrive is a big idea that starts with young people, primarily females. It moves up.
MercanThrive will bring a better life to Mary. We’ll do for Mary what no one’s ever done. Because of us, Mary checks the blue box on election day. Then anyone and everyone who cares about prosperity, clean air, food and water is a winner.
In order to make MercanThrive happen we’re going to need funding. I’ve sent a link to this post to Rich and company. I hope they put what I’ve written about them into context and understand I’m on their side.
All anyone has to do to understand what I’m about and stand for is read the last 6 years of posts on my blog. It’s all there, I’ve never once taken down a post. Everything connects. We live it.
Not as some sort of plan I concocted back then, to be some kind of social media star and get on Oprah. No. I think social media is a social disease. But Renee would love to meet Oprah. It’s because I figured out a long time ago that the truth is easier than remembering lies. Besides. I’ve done so many drugs. Short term memory was shot a long time ago.
I was never against Rich, et al. I just didn’t agree and let ’em know. If they practice honesty and self-reflection, it’s easy to see I got it right.
Right now we’re working on a presentation. We’ll share it with anyone interested in providing funding.
If you’re someone who can help right now and want to know more, drop me a line. If not and you know someone who can help, please send this post to them.