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Monthly Archives: January 2012

New Art by Eddie Colla available at fiftyseven-thirtythree!  Click on photos for more information on artwork.

Epilogue, 8″x 6″, image transfer on wood panel (collection of 20)

Gaze, 8.25″x 8.25″, image transfer and shellac on wood panel, (collection of 20)

Japanese School Girl Flag, 10″x 10″, image transfer and paint on wood panel (collection of 20)

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via SFist

In a press event at San Francisco International Airport this morning, airport officials announced the grand opening of what they believe is the world’s first in-airport free yoga studio. Because, of course San Francisco should have the first airport yoga studio.

Clocking in at a minuscule 150 square feet, the studio was apparently a suggestion of an SFO traveler who felt the pristine new Terminal 2 had everything one could want except a place to practice the ancient spiritual discipline. The studio also features free mats (gross?), serene blue walls, and endless freedom from the hustle and bustle just outside the door.

Although there’s a standard set of international symbols used in airports throughout the world, the folks at SFO are the first to come up with one indicating “Yoga Room”. (Airport officials seemed particularly proud of that one.) In lieu of a ribbon cutting, there was a celebratory sun salutation followed by a small reception featuring fresh fruit, yogurt and granola. (Obviously.)

These have just been finished!  Artist, Eddie Colla is working on a small number of wood pieces which will be sold on www.fiftyseven-thirtythree.com .  This is the first of three.

The Japanese School Girl Flag design is 10″x10″ image transfer and paint on wooden panel.  The photos above show some close ups of the detail.  For those of you who are feelin’ the hoodie we made of this design you might want to check this out.

Click on the photos to send you to the website for more information.  You can also click here: Japanese School Girl Flag.

via Good.is

Just as France was being chastised for excessive national borrowing with a sovereign debt downgrade, thousands of lucky French people had their financial obligations forgiven after the country’s oldest bank decided to simply wipe their slate clean.

Granted, it’s a small slate. The 3,500 clients who benefitted from the bank’s largesse had debts of 150 euros or less (about $190) with the Crédit Municipal de Paris, also known as the “Mont-de-piété,” the bank of the poor, which has for centuries allowed the needy to get loans against their valuables—a kind of ethical pawnshop, or the original microlender. The small kindness was welcome for many.

“I’m very happy, it’s the first time I get something for nothing,” said Geneviève, an elegant woman in her fifties who was at the bank to get back a gold coin and a small wedding band she had pawned three years ago. “There came a point when I needed money. They’re not worth much but they’re important to me.”

The unexpected gift is a way for the bank to celebrate its 375th anniversary. The Crédit Municipal de Paris was created in 1637 by Théophraste Renaudot, a doctor, journalist and philanthropist who wanted to combat poverty by giving the needy access to fair banking.

“The goal was to combat usury,” explains Thierry Halay, who authored a history of the Mont-de-piété. “Interest rates at the time could go up to 130 percent,” which quickly turned small loans into unmanageable debt.

The good doctor’s idea was to give the poor people of Paris loans they could reasonably hope to repay, at decent rates for the time (about 10 percent annually) against whatever collateral they could produce: pots and pans, linens, silverware, artisans’ tools. Halay found evidence of a 19th-century woman so destitute her only possession was her mattress. Every morning, she would carry it to the bank and pawn it. With that money, she’d buy potatoes, sell them for a profit during the day and buy back her mattress at night.

Today, the bank stores more than a million objects, from the puny piece of jewelry to the grand masterpiece, in headquarters covering a city block in the historical center of Paris. With a capitalization of 60 million euros, the bank had 93 million euros in pawn-broking loans outstanding in 2010. Its 2010 profit of 1.3 million euros was partly assigned to improving shelters for the homeless.

“It was the country’s first secular, welfare institution. It was a safety net,” Halay says.

Similar city-owned, not-for-profit banks opened all over the country on the same principle: Pawn an object and you get a yearlong loan. Pay off the interest (4 to 8.9 percent annually) and you can extend the loan; pay off the principal and you get your property back. If your valuable is sold for more than you owe, the profit is yours. These banks were eventually granted a state monopoly on pawn-broking loans, which continues to this day; France is thus a country without pawnshops.

Celebrities of the day secretly used the bank: Victor Hugo, Claude Monet and Napoleon’s first wife, Joséphine de Beauharnais, among others. Prince François d’Orléans, third son of King Louis-Philippe, once pawned his watch to settle a gambling debt. Ashamed when asked what happened to his precious timepiece, he answered, “I left it at my aunt’s (ma tante).” To this day, getting help from “ma tante” is a discrete way of saying one’s been going to the “poor people’s bank.”

“People were never very proud to go to the Mont-de-piété,” Halay says. It may be why people turned away from it: With the prosperity of the 20th century, people wanted to forget this symbol of poverty.

But it is no longer forgotten. As the economic crisis rippled through Europe, the Crédit Municipal de Paris saw a 29-percent jump in attendance in December 2011, compared with the same month in 2010. France’s economy grew about 1.75 percent in 2011, but economists expect less than one percent in 2012, maybe even a recession. Unemployment is at 9.8 percent, reaching 10-year highs and still climbing.

“We get more and more young people, students and retirees, too,” says Florence Marambat, a spokeswoman for the bank. “People used to get their property back after 11 to 13 months; now it’s closer to 24 months. But nine out of 10 still get it back.”

“Our director likes to say our waiting room is like that of a hospital emergency room,” she adds “Everyone comes to it at some point.”

Nearly 700 people come through here every day, on awkward hallways and too-small waiting rooms. Some are clutching a jewelry pouch, others have a letter, which the bank started sending out last week, notifying them to come claim their valuables for free. The operation will continue in waves through the end of February.

via The Portland Mercury

Occupy Portland is finally be getting its first political candidate.

Cameron Whitten, a 20-year-old who’s been a fixture of the local movement, emailed this morning to say he “has entered his name into the race for Mayor of Portland” and has scheduled a news conference for tomorrow morning to talk about his candidacy. No, the city auditor’s office still doesn’t list him—not yet, at least—as an official candidate, but Whitten’s also already got a live campaign website up where he explains why he wants in.

“Portland and Oregon has a history of economic and racial oppression which is still apparent in its rural areas and highly segregated neighborhoods,” Whitten says in his email. “Although the city flaunts its liberal, progressive politics, it is lagging behind in employment and education in comparison to the rest of the country. It’s time for Portland to experience a reawakening.”

Whitten first served notice of his intent to run back in November, soon after Occupy’s eviction from three parks near city hall, and has been going back-and-forth with the city over producing and then verifying the 100 signatures a candidate needs to make the ballot. If he doesn’t get the signatures, I’m told, he’ll just end up paying the filing fee.

So far, Whitten has been arrested three times while protesting as part Occupy Portland. He helped plan the Jamison Square occupation in October, and was arrested when police cleared it out. He was arrested during some occupiers’ last stand in Chapman Square. And then he was arrested during a theatrical occupation of tiny Mill Ends Park downtown.

Whitten also has been a fixture at police accountability hearings in city hall in recent weeks, making that one of his issues, along with economic equality, political transparency, and foreclosure reform, according to his announcement. Whitten “asks that all person and non-person identities contribute no more than 200 dollars to his campaign, giving all income levels proper access to their public officials.”

Which, weirdly, is still more than Commissioner Amanda Fritz, running for re-election, will accept from donors. Whitten’s whole statement is below the cut.

Portland, Ore.— On (Date) Cameron Whitten, 20, an Occupy Wall Street activist has entered his name into the race for Mayor of Portland. Whitten gathered the papers to register on November 14th, the day after the Occupy Portland demonstration was evicted from Lownsdale and Chapman parks. He convinced staff to give him access into City Hall, although current Mayor Sam Adams ordered the entire building to be under lockdown. Whitten says he is running because City Council is on uneasy terms with many Portland residents, “Portland and Oregon has a history of economic and racial oppression which is still apparent in its rural areas and highly segregated neighborhoods. Although the city flaunts its liberal, progressive politics, it is lagging behind in employment and education in comparison to the rest of the country. It’s time for Portland to experience a reawakening.”

Whitten’s vision is to help Portland address this crisis, ranging from economic equality, police accountability, political transparency, and foreclosure reform. He asks that all person and non-person identities contribute no more than 200 dollars to his campaign, giving all income levels proper access to their public officials.

While Portland politicians voice support with concerns raised by the Occupy Movement, they have done little in action, with behaviors that include promoting unlimited campaign contributions despite state laws which prohibit corporate fundraising and enforces individual fundraising caps, calling for massive budget cuts to vital programs while spending millions in pet projects, and blaming poor policy decisions on unarmed civilians, resulting in over $1.76 million wasted on the overtime of a federally investigated police force.

Whitten states, “We are in a state of crisis, both locally and globally. We have been deceived by career politicians who answer to their paycheck before listening to the people. We must influence the culture of our government, and embrace the standards of direct democracy in order to empower our community for our own survival. I run as a candidate of the People, for the People. In office, I will reduce my own salary to Portland’s minimum wage, because public office is not a profession, it’s a civil service. The People need to make more demands of their politicians and reject their private agendas.”

Occupy Wall Street continues to be a nonpolitical, leaderless movement, encouraging the creative actions of autonomous individuals to nonviolently advocate for change.

Press Conference: January 20th, 10:00 AM on the steps of the Multnomah County Justice Center. 1120 SW 3rd Ave Portland, OR 97204

For more information:
http://www.cameronwhittenforunity.com