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Worker-owner at Agaric web development collective, co-author of the Definitive Guide to Drupal 7, and person who gives a damn about justice, liberty, and gaining the most power possible for all people over our own lives.

benjamin melançon

Any Minneapolis / St. Paul people, including and especially the youth who are our future, interested in breaking into web tech? I've got an extra ticket to Twin Cities Drupal Camp June 7-10,

benjamin melançon

Minneapolis is too dependent on fees and fines, with the result that people with the least money bear a disproportionately high share of city costs. I suspect that unfair enforcement makes fines even more of a burden on the poor. (Fines, in general, are meant to be a deterrent and so should be proportional to income or wealth.)

The worst, as far as unfairness built right into the structure, is the "base fee" included in services. This fee should be paid through property taxes, which are proportional with local property wealth at least. To make matters worse, the base fee for trash (solid waste services) for instance includes all sorts of unrelated things that are blatantly unrelated services that should be paid for through general revenue:

* Graffiti response coordination
* Dirty collection point cleanups
* Illegal dumping cleanups
* Neighborhood CleanSweeps
* Litter container collection, maintenance, placement, and removal
* Requests for litter clean-up supplies
* Coordination of Adopt-a-Block, Adopt-a-Litter Container, Adopt-a-Recycling Container, Adopt-a-Street, Adopt-a Highway, Adopt-an-Ash Receptacle, and other community involvement programs.
* Customer service staff, fielding 1500-2000 calls per week for information, and complaints.
* Coordination of special events such as Hennepin County Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) collections, University move-out enforcement (Marcy Holmes, Southeast Como, Prospect Park), etc.
* Education program with direct mail pieces, maintenance of website, involvement with neighborhood and community meetings, and presentations to schools and civic organizations, etc.

Then there's the things built into the base fee that will mostly be used by wealthier people, like six vouchers per year for disposal of 2,000 pounds of excess garbage or debris, and two vouchers per year for disposal of 8 tires each time.

And finally, to add insult to injury, the cost of enforcement, which is really intrusive and yes i have personal complaints, is included in the base fee.

All detailed at

benjamin melançon

One more way @GitLab could be better than GitHub: Give creators more tools to manage their communities, and generally work to encourage a culture of appreciation of open source free software.

Per @johnonolan and @ErisDS of on a recent podcast, discussion starts at the 40 minute mark on this podcast, and goes just over three-and-a-half minutes:

This is definitely of relevance for - we want to be fully open, we definitely don't want to be driven into a private issue to discuss a feature that will be in the open code, but we cannot have our energy drained by help vampires or anything like that.

It's not currently possible to let everyone see the code and issues, but only people who are in the group/project edit issues. If that were made possible, a relatively minor tweak to GitLab's permissions, then we could lock participating in issues to people who have joined the Drutopia Software Cooperative, with the $5 entrance fee (and agreement to the code of conduct, ) will surely be plenty of a filter to ensure quality and respect in contributions.

benjamin melançon

Electricity cooperatives do better than capitalist electric utilities at building local solar power:

Utility cooperatives historically predominate where their capitalist cousins considered providing services unprofitable. The coops provide better service at lower cost, and are more open to innovations that make people's lives better— including adding broadband internet. See and for example.

Now it's time to bring utility cooperatives into cities and suburbs that have monopolistic capitalist corporations siphoning off needed dollars. Maybe Minneapolis is a good place to start? There's precedent, of a sort, just a few miles South, with coops finally taking over the slices Alliant Energy had in their area:

I'm not certain about the geographical scope of each but i don't think any utility cooperatives are available in the Twin Cities right now, despite the high concentration in Minnesota as a whole:

benjamin melançon

Two police SUVs were parked on our street, and the Minneapolis police officers were interrogating four young black men, almost certainly teenagers, with at least two of them *handcuffed behind their backs*, and the police had them sitting on the curb, with the ants (trust me— there are a lot of ants). After talking to them forever, pointing flashlights in their faces, and running at least one license, the police let the boys go.

Is there anything i could have done, should have done? Walked up and said "What seems to be the problem, officer?" Recorded the scene? Mentioned during the detention, or only after the police left, that there might be a case against the police for using excessive force in putting on handcuffs at all without sufficient cause (seriousness of crime, resistance or risk of flight are mentioned in for instance)?

benjamin melançon

Twin Cities Drupal Camp— the web development event that's so good, it's why i moved to Minneapolis. Get your tickets now!

benjamin melançon

Freedom-loving United States government continues over-the-top prosecution seeking to imprison 58 political protesters for more than 60 years (and that's down from 187 people before the federal prosecutors lost their first trial)

benjamin melançon

Donated $100 to bail out mamas on mother's day in honor of my mom (next year Mom i'll get you a card also, and who knows maybe prisons will be abolished)

benjamin melançon

This technological leap to put the means of production in local community hands is very close to what Kali Akuno of works on:

benjamin melançon

In a world at risk of still more wars illegally started or supported by the United States, a ray of hope for rule of law at home: