Next meeting:
February 12, 2006, at the S&L on Main
   (after the economics lecture)

There's been a great offer to host BANG meetings next door to the museum (maybe even in a room with windows)—but... it won't happen quite yet. Here's why: The next meeting will be on Sunday, February 12, right on the heels of Chris & Becca Martenson's economics lecture (with a little break for something to eat and a leg-stretch in between). Since some of us will be taking in the lecture, it made sense to keep the meeting in the same venue. THE ECONOMICS PRESENTATION HAS BEEN POSTPONED DUE TO THE IMPENDING SNOWSTORM.

Admission to both meetings—BANG (which is freeform this month), and the economics one before it (given by a guy with an MBA from Cornell, a PhD from Duke, and the karma of working in corporate finance for a fortune 50 company)—are free and open to the public.

Head over to the back door of the Brattleboro Savings & Loan, at 221 Main St., on Sunday, February 12 (the second Sunday of the month), and join us! The BANG meeting starts at 6:00, and is preceded by the economics presentation from 3 - 5.

The bank wants the outside doors kept locked. Ring the bell at the back door and someone will come up and let you in. Then it's your turn: go up and let the next person in when the bell rings—and ask them to do the same for the person after them. Arriving on time is an act of kindness.

A presentation about permaculture is in the works for a March 5th BANG meeting. Permaculture is a design system for ecological living that integrates plants, animals, buildings, people, and communities for productive and beautiful environments. David Holmgren, co-originator with Bill Mollison of the permaculture concept, has described it as "consciously designed landscapes which mimic the patterns and relationships found in nature, while yielding an abundance of food, fibre, and energy for provision of local need."

The presentation will be given by Jono Neiger of Leverett, MA (Permaculture teacher, ecologist/biologist, NOFA Accredited Organic Land Care Professional, and owner of Ecological Landscape Design and Land Management), and our own Brattleboro eco-engineer, Tad Montgomery (Tad Montgomery & Associates, Ecological Engineering).

Make a note on your calendar!

Thanks to Amanda for January's fascinating presentation! A couple excerpts:

Jonah Vitale-Wolff writes:
Hudson Valley Natural Building (HVNB) is offering a workshop on fine clay and milk-based paints, known as alis (pronounced "a lease"), Sunday, February 19, 2006, 9:30am - 4:00pm in the Mansion Neighborhood of Albany, NY.

This is a start-to-finish project where you will learn to:
     prepare materials
     mix alis from raw materials
     apply the paint on a variety of surfaces
     customize the mix meet the needs of your project

Cost for the workshop is $50-75 sliding scale. Includes lunch, tea, coffee, and snacks. A portion of full-registration fees will go to a scholarship fund for future HVNB wokshops.

What is Alis?
We are yet to find surface that alis does not cover. Succesful wall and ceiling applications include drywall, latex and oil paint, cinder blocks, and wall paper. I was actually just invovled in alising a room with fake wood panelling. And it turned out beautifully!

Alis paint is a beautiful traditional finish for adobe buildings, ranging from the southwest USA to north Africa that has lasted for centuries. Now, alis is far more than just a traditional wall covering. It is used on conventional and naturally built projects. Alis can be spiced up with the addition of natural pigments, different textures of sand, and mica to get a custom looking finish. In addition to being beautiful, alis is also completely non-toxic, incredibly cheap to make, and easy to do.

Contact Jonah at 518-434-8010 or for registration and any questions. A $25 non-refundable registration fee holds your spot and goes towards your workshop fee.

Hope to see you there.

Jonah Vitale-Wolff
Hudson Valley Natural Building

Hudson Valley Natural Building
Based in urban Albany, NY, Hudson Valley Natural Building (HVNB) is a community-based artisan company that focuses on the application of natural building in the urban setting, through custom renovation and landscaping, educational workshops, and community work. HVNB uses natural building practices and materials as a sustainable alternative to conventional methods.

At HVNB we use local clay, sand, straw, recycled paper, salvaged wood, and other reclaimed construction waste to make our custom projects beautiful and sustainable. As a result, our projects are completely non-toxic, safe, and inclusive of anyone who wants to join in the fun.

From earthen plasters to garden walls, all of the work of HVNB is customized to reflect the needs of each client, community and project.

Chris Martenson is repeating his four-part presentation about money and the economy. Highly recommended.
From: "Chris Martenson" <>
Subject: Economy talks resume!

The economy discussion/lecture series held last November will take place over four consecutive Sundays beginning February 12th.

The Dates: 2/12, 2/19, 2/26 & 3/5

The Time: 3:00 pm - 5:00 p.m.

The Place: Brattleboro Savings and Loan (221 main street—plenty of parking in the back near or entrance door). As before, if someone is not attending the door, just ring the bell.

The Material: While covering much of the same material as before, a variety of changes have been made to the program based on feedback and new data. So if you have already attended, you should still find it crisp and informative. See also below.

Who's Welcome: Anybody and everybody. Cynics, skeptics, and heretics especially welcome.

Cost: As always, it's free.

Please pass along this information to anybody and everybody you think might benefit from attending.

Here's a description for you to pass along:
If you are concerned about the direction of the economy, or simply want to know more about how our financial and economic systems actually function, you should attend this four part series.

I can visualize your eyelids drooping already... "did he say economics zzzzZZZzzzz...?"

But don't worry! This will be a brain twister, for sure, but not because it will be droll or boring.

Rather, you will find yourself stunned and asking "Holy cow, how can this be? How can the situation be this dicey without any sort of national discussion from either party?"

Dicey, he says?

Luckily, you don't have to take my word for it:

The economy of the United States is, in the words of former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volker, "skating on increasingly thin ice." From a former fed chairman these are powerful words and, unfortunately, all too true.

Poorly taught in school, and even more poorly covered by a complacent U.S. press, it is little wonder that a working understanding of our economy is hard to come by.

We will fix that.

WHAT: Four sequential (and additive—best if you can attend all four), economic presentations and discussion sessions covering the following:
  1. What is money? How is it 'created'? What do you mean 'all money is debt'? [This is much more profound than you might imagine.]
  2. History and Consequences of US Monetary Policy. [Subtitle: "uh oh."]
  3. Recent data—consumer & government debt, energy (oil, refined products, & NatGas), housing, stocks, & bonds.
  4. Scenarios and options—"what might happen, when, and what steps should be taken?"
WHO: Dr. Chris Martenson has an MBA from Cornell and PhD from Duke, worked in corporate finance for a fortune 50 company, is an extremely active investor, and has led this economic lecture twice in the past receiving excellent feedback. Dr. Martenson follows a wide variety of financial markets on a daily and sometimes minute-by-minute basis. Becca Martenson, co-founder and bedrock of support for these talks and former school teacher, will provide hands-on learning demonstrations.

If you have any questions about content or timing, please call 413-648-0542 and ask for Chris or Becca.
Here's more:
From: "Chris Martenson" <>
Subject: Here's what we'll be covering in the first two sessions...

The excerpt below is taken from a statement written by Republican Congressman Ron Paul and released early this week. The subject of the essay is the Abramoff scandal but he quickly points out that there is a far larger (economic) scandal that is virtually ignored.

After the first two sessions of the upcoming Economy Series (perhaps we should call it Peak Economy?) you will have a better understanding of why his powerful charges are, in fact, true.
The biggest rip-off of all—the paper money system that is morally and economically equivalent to counterfeiting—is never questioned. It is the deceptive tool for transferring billions from the unsuspecting poor and middle-class to the special interest rich. And in the process, the deficit-propelled budget process supports the spending demands of all the special interests—left and right, welfare and warfare—while delaying payment to another day and sometimes even to another generation.

The enormous sums spent each year to support the influential special interests expand exponentially, and no one really asks how it�s accomplished. Raising taxes to balance the budget is out of the question—and rightfully so. Foreigners have been generous in their willingness to loan us most of what we need, but even that generosity is limited and may well diminish in the future.

But if the Federal Reserve did not pick up the slack and create huge amounts of new credit and money out of thin air, interest rates would rise and call a halt to the charade. The people who suffer from a depreciated dollar don�t understand why they suffer, while the people who benefit promote the corrupt system. The wealthy clean up on Wall Street, and the unsophisticated buy in as the market tops off. Wealth is transferred from one group to another, and it�s all related to the system that allows politicians and the central banks to create money out of thin air. It�s literally legalized counterfeiting.

Here's the article.
Counterfeiting? Wealth transfer? Money out of 'thin air'? What in tarnation is he talking about? Come to the series and find out.

In parts III and IV we will discuss the similarly powerful concepts recently raised in an exceptionally forthright and nuanced editorial by the Brattleboro reformer. Thanks to Todd Murchison for passing it along to me. I urge you to read it—it's less than one printed page—and to pass it along to anyone else you know who should read it.

Here's the editorial.

In short, great changes are afoot and forewarned is forearmed. It behooves us all to be as educated as possible and not leave our futures to "the experts."

All the best,

Chris Martenson

photos by Mark Piepkorn
and Sarah Machtey