News: Take Back Your Self

'Global 3' teaches community and alternatives to consumerism

Apr 6, 2005 at 2:06 pm

Consumption is the engine of the economy. This weekend the conference "Global 3: Reclaiming Community and Environment" will examine problems with that engine.

Global 3 is a gathering of more than 40 local, national and international organizations to share information, skills and experiences. Caucuses and workshops meet at the University of Cincinnati Tangeman University Center from Saturday morning to Sunday evening.

Artists of various trades will provide do-it-yourself exercises to re-use and repair resources and community connections, with arts and entertainment for all ages, according to event organizer Ya-sin Southall.

"The conference doesn't promote any single political or ideological views," Southall says. "It's for everyone to offer their ideas, skills and experiences to make communities more aware and involved with the world around them."

Perils of deregulation
The conference opens at 4 p.m. Friday on Fountain Square, with a demonstration against the proposed Central American Free Trade Agreement and a march to Procter & Gamble headquarters. Participants will express opposition to economic globalization and the privatization of natural resources.

Andreas, a UC student who asked that his last name not be used, leads a discussion of neo-liberalism Saturday morning.

"This is a personal subject for me, from the politics I've seen from going abroad to Third World countries like Mexico and seeing the negative attitudes from people about globalization deeply affecting them and that the policies are generally written by companies and institutions of the United States," he says. "The Third World nations are suffering from these policies because laws are being written to indirectly keep people from being able to own their own land in these nations for international corporations to establish international monopolies for trade of food, medicine, clothing and construction materials."

Americans might be too comfortable with material conveniences to perceive the dangers of globalization, but they will feel the backlash of these polices, Andreas says.

"The problems are being brought home through deregulation of international trade, such as new organisms generated for genetic farming and medicines where we don't have the technology to test how safe they are for long term use," he says. "The deregulation policies of these trade agreements allows the nations involved to adopt and accept lower standards of other nations for their own policies — meaning our government institutions, like the FDA, will no longer have authority to protect people from under-tested products imported from other nations."

Many corporations' sole interest is generating profit rather than building stronger communities, according to Global 3 organizer Nathan Schneider, a sociology student at UC.

"Whether it be new markets or new sources of cheap labor, some manner of global expansion is an intrinsic and obvious desire among many corporations," he says. "Aside from the rhetoric of public relation efforts and misleading high school textbooks, a corporation's only focus is generating profit. So there is ultimately no hope that a significant number of corporations will voluntarily strive for social or economic justice."

Caucuses such as "Introduction to Sweatshops" and "Animal Rights and Wrongs" will discuss the effects of consumerism on communities and the environment.

'Motivate people to act'
Health educator Faith Groesbeck of Brooklyn, N.Y., will discuss medical abolitionism and the effects of consumerism on health care. Pharmaceutical companies will continue to pump out pills as fast as we can swallow for the promise of weight-loss and better sex, Groesbeck says. But such excessive medical consumption is irresponsible and unhealthy for health care, she says.

"It's become a dangerous, consumerist health-care system, and people need to question why health care costs so much," she says. "And why do I have to spend so much money to buy a bunch of medicines to fix little problems I think I have when I could take care of myself with better choices?

"Medical abolitionism is the concept of ridding of the consumerist system of consuming medicine and learning to take care of ourselves, rather than having to rely on this system where we pay rising costs for excessive health care under capitalism, where the poor have to rely on the same system as those with money — only poor people have limited choices for their own health and can't afford health care because they are poor."

Workshops will offer do-it-yourself alternatives to consumerism and solutions for rebuilding communities. They'll also provide hands-on training for community organization and leadership, bridging gaps between community organizations, alternative diets, healthcare and traveling.

The conference is a chance for organizations to introduce themselves and for people to become more involved in the world around them, according to organizer Alice Stringer.

"What are government and our societies made up of? People — and people aren't inherently evil," she says. "Part of human nature is being able to feel each other's pain and happiness. So the goal of the forum is to reach out to people, raise questions that need to be asked about our global societies and economies and motivate people to act with concern for others in the world, because we are all connected as human beings; and just as violence against others generates a cycle of violence that circles back, helping others is bound to reflect and revolve around us. Change is only going to happen through people."

Admission to the conference is free. MC Homeless and Requiem are among the local artists who will perform. Art workshops for children and adults and free vegan or vegetarian food will be served. Organizers encourage participants to prepare veggie dishes and to provide their own reusable utensils.

"There were about 250 to 300 people at the Global 2 conference held at the University of Cincinnati," Southall says. "We're expecting about the same, maybe more, of people from around the nation, Africa, India and Canada who have e-mailed us about attending."

For more information and a full schedule for Global 3, visit cincyglobal.