About Steady State College

CONTACT: Editor & Publisher Katherine Watt (KW BioCVAdvice to Activists)

Steady State College is an independent online news source launched in late 2013 covering public governance, public finances, land,  water, food & energy during the transition to a steady-state economy in Central Pennsylvania. The online coverage began in 2010 under the name Transition Centre County, which evolved to Spring Creek Homesteading Fund (2011), which later spun off Energy Sovereignty (2013).

Bailiwick News is a print newspaper, compiling reports and analysis for print distribution, launched on September 2, 2016. More details available at the About Bailiwick News page.


Why is it called Steady State College?

Context – Global Energy, Economy & Environment


Penn State University Park Enrollment 1860 to 2010

Penn State University Park Enrollment – 1860 to 2010

Oil Production and Consumption in the United States - 1860 to 2010

Oil Production and Consumption in the United States – 1860 to 2010

USEFUL LINKS

2006 Tompkins County Relocalization Plan – Outline

Municipal Officials Directories

State College Borough Council

Ferguson Township Board of Supervisors

Patton Township Board of Supervisors

College Township Council –

Harris Township Board of Supervisors

Laws

QUOTES

E.F. Schumacher

“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius — and a lot of courage — to move in the opposite direction.”

Johann Hari

“In a conflict between political reality and physical reality, physical reality will win.” (Spring 2014 Democracy Now interview)

John Michael Greer:

“Given that the universe is simply not interested in pandering to the fantasies of omnipotence currently fashionable among influential members of our species — given that no special providence is going to rescue us from the consequences of our assorted stupidities, no resource fairy is going to give us a shiny new energy source to make up for the resources we now squander so recklessly, and the laws of nature are already sending the results of our frankly brainless maltreatment of the biosphere back in our faces with an utter lack of concern for our feelings and interests — how should we then live? That’s the theme that I’ve been trying to explore, in one way or another, since this blog got under way.”

Saul Alinsky

“…If people feel they don’t have the power to change a bad situation, then they do not think about it. Why start figuring out how you are going to spend a million dollars if you do not have a million dollars or are ever going to have a millions dollars – unless you want to engage in fantasy?… [T]he first requirement for communication and education is for people to have a reason for knowing. It is the creation of the instrument or the circumstances of power that provides the reason and makes knowledge essential.” (Rules for Radicals, 105-106).

John F. Kennedy

Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.

Rabbi Tarfon

Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.

Rebecca Solnit

“…There’s the people’s history, the counterhistory that you didn’t necessarily get in school and don’t usually get on the news: the history of the battles we’ve won, of the rights we’ve gained, of the differences between then and now that those who live in forgetfulness lack.

This is often the history of how individuals came together to produce that behemoth civil society, which stands astride nations and topples regimes — and mostly does it without weapons or armies. It’s a history that undermines most of what you’ve been told about authority and violence and your own powerlessness.

Civil society is our power, our joy, and our possibility, and it has written a lot of the history in the last few years, as well as the last half century.

If you doubt our power, see how it terrifies those at the top, and remember that they fight it best by convincing us it doesn’t exist. It does exist, though, like lava beneath the earth, and when it erupts, the surface of the earth is remade…”

Robert Jensen

“…There is no escape from political judgment, and mainstream journalism’s claim to be non-ideological and apolitical simply means the profession has absorbed the political assumptions of the dominant culture. That’s not rising above politics; it’s sinking more deeply into an unreflective politics.

The appropriate question isn’t, ‘Is there a politics to your approach to journalism?’ but ‘Can you defend the politics of your approach to journalism?’

I do not believe there is a decent human future possible within capitalism, which is inhuman, anti-democratic and unsustainable. Most of mainstream journalism assumes such a future is possible. Whichever position proves to be most prescient, both points of view – an overt challenge to capitalism or the belief that capitalism is stable and/or just – are political to the same degree.

The main difference is that an anti-capitalist position challenges the position held by powerful people/institutions and appears politicized, while a pro-capitalist position lines up with power and hides behind the illusory claim to not be political but simply working within the way things are.

This is not a contest between journalism based on facts and journalism based on values; all journalism should struggle to describe the world accurately and all journalism comes with value judgments.

Nor is it about neutrality versus advocacy. Starkman supports a journalism that assumes regulation can solve problems in the financial system, and I support a journalism that questions the assumptions inherent to the financial system.

The real questions are: Which kind of journalism does a better job of fitting the facts about the world into a coherent picture of how the world works, allowing us to imagine a better world? Readers can disagree with any particular position, but no position can be eliminated from the discussion simply on the claim that it is ‘politicized…’

What is the role of journalists today? In a society that is in deep denial about the impediments to achieving social justice and ecological sustainability – denial that is especially deep in the relatively privileged sectors where affluence insulates from the immediate consequences – perhaps journalists should not be barking at people who break the rules of existing systems, but sounding an unpleasantly loud alarm that we have to change our existing systems in profound ways.

To alert society to such threats, journalists have to face – and tell – the truth about how our social, political, and economic systems operate. To do that, journalism first has to face – and tell – the truth about itself… ” (March 2014, Resilience.org)

Bill Moyers

…what happens when PR turns a profit and truth goes penniless? One of my mentors told me that “News is what people want to keep hidden, everything else is publicity.” So who will be left to report on what is happening in the statehouse or at the town hall?…

As Tom Stoppard writes in his play Night and Day, “People do terrible things to each other, but it’s worse in the places where everybody is kept in the dark.”

A free press, you see, doesn’t operate for free at all. Fearless journalism requires a steady stream of independent income…

In an oligarchic era, you can be quickly marginalized by a corporate media and political class so comfortable in the extravagantly blended world of money, politics and celebrity that they don’t bark at the burglars of democracy, much less bite the hand that feeds them.

Wrestling with these questions is unavoidable. It requires on the part of journalists a high tolerance for public or private cuffing, as well as qualities of inquiry, observation and understanding that are either supported by the organization you work for or assured by an independent stream of income… (May 2015)

George Orwell

“If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”

Charles Hughes-Smith

“…My B.A. is in philosophy, which has a similar market value to your degree in English, i.e. near-zero. But this doesn’t mean my training in philosophy has no value; it simply means you can’t walk up to a potential employer and say, “Hi, I have a degree in philosophy, hire me.”

The value is only reaped by applying what you have learned. Studying philosophy taught me a number of specific analytic skills: to seek out false assumptions and identify problems and potential solutions. If you can’t frame the problem accurately and coherently, it’s impossible to identify any useful solutions.

These skills have served me well, despite my “worthless” degree. Though nobody had any sound reason to pay me a lot of money simply because I had a B.A. in philosophy, life presents a constant flow of problems that need to be analyzed in ways that enable the development of solutions…

Problems don’t solve themselves; problem-solving requires analysis, diligence and a willingness to learn from others, to experiment and fail – not once, but continually…” (February 2016, Of Two Minds)

Bob Schieffer via Austin Beutner

“…Veteran reporter Bob Schieffer was recently asked what he thought posed the greatest threat to the future of journalism. His answer, surprisingly, was not the hostage-taking of journalists by ISIS in Syria or the polarizing programming on Fox News or MSNBC, but the death of local journalism.

He said that, “unless some entity comes along and does what local newspapers have been doing all these years, we’re gonna have corruption at a level we’ve never experienced. … So many papers now can’t afford to have a beat reporter. … To cover city hall, you have to be there every day and … know the overall story, not just report what happens on a particular day.” (CNN)

Jeremy Dear

“Sixty four per cent of editors believe they are not scrutinising local councils adequately. Eighty per cent of judges believe courts are not subject to adequate scrutiny. Journalists are increasingly stuck in offices rewriting press releases – relying ever more on corporate or celebrity PR…” UK

The National Union of Journalists in the UK has called for:

“…an economic stimulus plan to reinvigorate local journalism with action aimed at encouraging a variety of voices, across all platforms, a greater plurality, maximised through a combination of different ownership models – commercial, public, mutual, employee, co-operative, for profit and not for profit…”

Chris Cillizza

“Sure, national media swoops in on occasion when some local story gets huge — but the reason those stories get on the national radar in the first place is because of the spadework of local reporters.  The best example of this in my time as a reporter is the San Diego Union-Tribune’s reporting on the eye-popping corruption of then Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham (R) in the mid-2000s…

It’s hard to imagine any local newspaper being able to devote the sort of time and resources to such an endeavor in 2015.  And, politicians know that. That’s the hidden cost in this decline of local news coverage. Not only are there fewer eyes watching politicians, legislation and the like but also the pols are all-too-well well aware of that fact.  More things are tried — in a bad way — by politicians because they know there is a far smaller chance of them getting caught or even called on it.” (Washington Post)

Robert McChesney and John Nichols

David Simon, who left his job as a Baltimore Sun reporter to make televisions shows like The Wire, told the U.S. Senate in May 2009: “The next 10 to 15 years will be halcyon days for local corruption. It’s going to be a great time to be a corrupt politician.”

Princeton media historian Paul Starr makes the same point: “Goodbye to the Age of Newspapers,” his piercing essay in The New Republic is titled, “and hello to a new era of corruption.”

The question that demands an answer: can we allow our politicians to go unaccountable if Wall Street has decided there isn’t enough money to cover the activities of our elected officials and government agencies?

Even this does not do justice to the gravity of the situation, as it may suggest to some that the problem is primarily local in character or that it is largely in front of us. In fact, we are far along in this crisis of unaccountable leadership, secrecy, corruption and hollowed-out democracy, with the news media having played all too complicit a role…It both creates and responds to a demoralized and disengaged citizenry, the very existence of which is an affront to our news media and its self-image as a democratic institution…

If what remains of our news media disappears or survives in flaccid form, matters will get worse, possibly much worse, but enough of the crisis is already present to make this concern anything but hypothetical. (The Death & Life of American Journalism)

McChesney and Nichols:

…As Ed Herman, professor emeritus at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and an expert not just on the media but on Philadelphia, told us, the sense of civic connection that should be nurtured by a great newspaper is instead fraying. “Newspapers were once thought to bring communities together. That’s not the case anymore,” he said. “People aren’t stupid. They recognize when their local newspaper loses interest in them as anything but consumers of advertisements.” (The Death & Life of American Journalism)

Charles Hughes-Smith

“Fraud as a way of life caters an extravagant banquet of consequences. This can’t be said politely: the entire status quo in America is a fraud…We have come to accept fraud as standard operating practice in America, to the detriment of everything that was once worthy. Why is this so?

One reason…is that centralized hierarchies select for fraud and incompetence. Now that virtually every system in America is centralized or regulated by centralized hierarchies, every system in America is fraudulent and incompetent.

Truth is a dangerous poison in centralized hierarchies…And so the truth is buried, sent to a backwater for further study, obfuscated by jargon, imprisoned by a Top Secret stamp, or simply taken out and executed. Everyone in the system maximizes his/her personal gain by going along with the current trajectory, even if that trajectory is taking the nation off the cliff…

We’ve lost our way, and lost the ability to tell the truth, face problems directly, abandon what has failed and what is unaffordable, and accept personal risk as the essential element of successful adaptation.”

Senator Ben Sasse, writing about the New York Times Magazine profile of Ben Rhodes, Obama’s “foreign policy guru,” which details how Rhodes and other government officials manipulate compliant journalists to spread propaganda.

…[T]his story is about whether or not we take truth seriously—whether or not we care about the public trust…

Newsrooms are still struggling with how to do independent and vigorous reporting in the digital age. But it will remain true that freedom—that ordered liberty—will remain dependent on an informed citizenry, and that requires a serious and free press.

Good journalism, serious journalism—that takes actual facts seriously, and grapples with them honestly—is an important calling. (ZeroHedge)

Ben Norton:

…The Times stressed that “40 percent of newspaper-industry professionals have lost their jobs over the past decade — in part because readers can absorb all the news they want from social media platforms like Facebook.”

What the newspaper did not underscore is how public relations flacks are filling the void left by the laid-off journalists.

In 2000, there were two PR jobs for every reporting job in the U.S. In 2015, just 15 years later, there were nearly 5 PR workers for every reporter.

Commenting on this trend, David Simon, former Baltimore Sun journalist and creator of the TV show “The Wire,” quipped, “This is how a republic dies. Not with a bang, but a reprinted press release.”

…“All these newspapers used to have foreign bureaus,” Rhodes explained in the Times feature. “Now they don’t. They call us to explain to them what’s happening in Moscow and Cairo. Most of the outlets are reporting on world events from Washington. The average reporter we talk to is 27 years old, and their only reporting experience consists of being around political campaigns. That’s a sea change. They literally know nothing.” (Salon)

Dan Sanchez via AntiWar.com

…Power isn’t simply about the exertion of unjust force. It is about what happens next, after the exertion. Does the perpetrator generally get away with it, or not?

Systematically getting away with it – or impunity – is where power truly lies.

And that is what makes agents of the State different from any other bully. State agents can violate rights with reliable impunity because a critical mass of the public considers the aggression of state agents to be exceptionally legitimate. Impunity is power, and as Lord Acton said, power corrupts…

Nick Bernabie at AntiMedia

…work with…others locally to create community-run institutions that serve the people and address the societal problems we are facing. This is the most important aspect of continuing the revolution.

Creating independent news organizations to combat the corporate media…; building community gardens; holding teach-ins to help people learn new skills; organizing community energy co-ops to bring sustainable energy to your community; starting community kitchens and food banks that provide food for those in need; creating community defense groups to reduce the need for overbearing police forces; creating employee-owned business; and even simply supporting existing local businesses are just a few of the things you can do.

By working outside the political system and taking matters into the revolution’s hands, you circumvent the corrupt political process and wasteful bureaucracy — and you eventually undermine the very need for corrupt government institutions once your community becomes self-sufficient.

Joanne Poyourow – “Rethinking Jobs

Two Moving Sidewalks

Ever feel like you’re zipping through the fast-paced hours of your day, the crowded pages of your calendar, like you’re on a swiftly moving sidewalk?

Then you learn about alternative lifestyles, other ways of living and pacing one’s life.  As you learn about the Transition movement, perhaps you get caught up in community events and activities within this other way of viewing life.

It begins to feel like you’ve hopped off that swiftly moving business-as-usual sidewalk onto a second moving sidewalk — one that isn’t necessarily headed in the same direction as the first one.

This image of two moving sidewalks — each headed in a different direction — was posed by Sophy Banks in our Training for Transition in Los Angeles in December 2008.  The image has stuck with me, and come back to me many times since.

Sophy counseled us that we will feel for a time like we’re hopping back and forth between sidewalks.  We hop between mainstream life — perhaps with a competitive corporate job, perhaps with children to get off to college — and the new ways of the future:  the garden, the chickens, the bicycles, the ways of The Great Turning.

As time goes by, Sophy told us, we’ll spend more and more time on the sidewalk that is headed toward the saner future: more and more time in local food production, local economies, community events.  We’ll find less reason to hop back to the old-paradigm sidewalk.  It wasn’t headed where we wanted to go anyway.

Erik Curren – If You’re Not Overwhelmed, Something’s Wrong With You:

It’s not that people don’t know or don’t care. It’s that they are in denial — they just don’t want to face it. The problem of melting ice caps, oil wars and economies crashing are overwhelming.

“People feel helpless and we can only do so much,” psychotherapist Kathy McMahon says.

The answer? Help people see that this Huge-O-Rama problem can be broken down into a very manageble chunk.

“There are 71,000 communities in the US and Canada. All you have to do is worry about one of them that’s yours,” McMahon advises.

Draw a circle around your home with a five- or ten-mile radius. Then, get busy getting to know your neighbors within that circle. Offer them help. Even better, start asking for help. This is tough for middle class people who are used to being self-reliant. But it’s a skill you’ll need to build a community and a little practice will make it less awkward…

8 thoughts on “About Steady State College

  1. Just want to thank you for this local effort. I just stumbled upon this site. . .not even sure how. I and my family are avid local food supporters and in my work at Penn State I try to encourage local everything. Thanks for your leadership. I particularly like the reskilling workshops idea. . . .fills a real niche I don’t see anyone else responding to.

  2. Really glad to find you here – via the PSU Campus Sustainability Office’s Greenwire. Looking forward to keeping up with what you are doing, and participating. May I recommend that you put an RSS feed on the site?

  3. Holy cow! I am amazed at this website’s bounty of riches–or rather, the bounty of riches in the state college area that this website suggests and advocates. I live over the mountain in the susquehanna valley–i returned here to my homeland last year after farming in california’s bay area for about 5 years. I never had the thought that I wanted to make central PA more like the Bay Area, but now I am seriously considering the thought that I want to make my part of Union County more like your part of Centre County. How unfair! And yet so tempting…

    There are a number of people smattered about doing awesome things, but there’s not a sense that things are really cohering.

    I have so many questions to ask. I am suspecting that we have friends in common & I will be able to learn more about you very soon.

    Thanks thanks thanks!

  4. So glad I found this! Great resources to be found everywhere. The site is so organized and well done. I like the connections to like-minded folks too! Love the previous comment about the lack of coherence. We just need a place/forum to connect. I am particularly interested in urban homesteading and would like to meet people doing that very thing. Thank you:)

  5. “WAYS TO SUPPORT OUR WORK: Land: Provide your privately-owned, sunny land parcels and a water source for an aspiring landless gardener or urban farmer to plant crops for sharing or personal consumption.”

    How do we sign up to help? I have a garden plot and a water source that I have been unable to prepare and plant this year. The fence needs a little TLC and reinforcement to keep the dogs out, otherwise I would be thrilled to share the space with one or two homesteaders. I live near the high school and CATA bus routes.

  6. Pingback: Bailiwick | Steady State College

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