Carbondale Spring

Required Listening for Carbondaliens #3: Carbondale Spring featured on Ashes Ashes Podcast

Well, this is an honor. Ashes Ashes is one of the best educational podcasts on the ecological, social, medical, and other crises of our time. It is a strangely hopeful show about the end of the world, and we’re very excited that their most recent episode features the Carbondale Spring!

Check it out:

(p.s. just a note, like many people looking up Carbondale on the internet, they think we’re in Colorado….)

Response to Mayor Henry regarding Police “Calls for Service”

The Carbondale Spring has helped shape the current mayoral election debate. At the most recent Mayoral forum, hosted by Women 4 Change, numerous questions were posed to the candidates regarding the size of the police budget. We have argued that Carbondale is significantly over-policed, based on a comparison between Carbondale and the national average, as well as similarly sized college towns in Illinois. Our argument is based on the ratio of police to residents, and we use statistics from the FBI, which apparently believes that is a relevant comparison.

Mayor Mike Henry, however, dismissed population as a relevant factor in evaluating the size of the police department. During the forum, he said that the city of Carbondale paid a “handsome fee” to get an outside consulting firm to evaluate the police department, and that firm concluded that they were understaffed. The basis of their evaluation was, first, the amount of “community policing” the city wanted, and second, the number of “calls for service.”

We’ll leave “community policing” for a later post, but for now we want to focus in on this concept of “calls for service.”

When you think of “calls for service,” what comes to mind? Very likely, you imagine a 911 call, right? And it makes sense that you would imagine that, because, according to the Police Data Initiative (“a law enforcement community of practice that includes leading law enforcement agencies, technologists, and researchers”),

Calls for service to law enforcement agencies generally include calls to “911” for emergency assistance and may also include calls to non-emergency numbers.

So, calls for service usually includes not only 911 calls, but also things that might be solved by people who aren’t police. As we’ve suggested in our Care Worker initiative, many 911 calls may also be better handled by people who aren’t police. But that’s not what we want to point out here.

The Carbondale Police Department seems to have, let’s say, a very expansive definition of “calls for service.” According to the Novak Consulting Group’s report (pg 59), referenced by Mayor Henry,

Typically, calls for service could be distilled based on priority, since higher priority calls (Priority 1 and Priority 2) are reactive in nature, but that is not the case in Carbondale. Some report writing, car wash, and other administrative and proactive activities are categorized as Priority 1 in the system

That is, not only do activities like “car washing” and administrative tasks count, according to the Carbondale Police Department, as “calls for service,” but in fact they count as Priority 1! The Novak Consulting Group even notes that this is not in line with how things are typically measured.

But let’s take a step back, shall we.

In 2008, the Carbondale Police Department recorded 33,589 total “calls for service.”

In 2015, the Carbondale Police Department recorded 77,032 total “calls for service,” as cited by the Novak Report — which used “calls for service” as one of the major components for evaluating the size of the police department.

Isn’t it interesting that in the years leading up to this evaluation, the number of “calls for service” more than doubled. Those were also years, of course, during which the population of the town was very likely declining.

We’ve been told — but can’t confirm — that the Carbondale Police Department actually greatly expanded its interpretation of the concept of “calls for service” during these years. Why? That would be a good question for Mayor Henry, who seems to have not looked very closely at the consulting report he commissioned, and for which the city paid a “handsome fee.”

For what its worth, Nathan Colombo has admitted that the police department is way too big, and endorsed the Carbondale Spring as a way to right-size the police force while finding creative and compassionate ways to improve quality of life in the city.


Required listening for Carbondaliens #2 — interview with Professor Micol Seigel

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The police also do many things that don’t have to be violence work. You don’t need a gun to deal with a pothole or a noise complaint or help a lost child or direct traffic. In talking about the police as ‘violence workers,’ I am highlighting how much work they do that they don’t need to do. — Professor Micol Seigel

Our proposal for a team of Care workers was in part inspired by the insights of American Studies and History Professor Micol Seigel, whose recent book Violence Work: State Power and the Limits of Police, unravels a series of myths about the police and points to a contradiction in what municipalities ask of their police forces. On the one hand, they are asked to be violence workers, while on the other hand they are asked to be ‘all-purpose-problem-solvers’ for situations that do not require the threat of violence.

Below is an interview with Professor Seigel on WFHB Community Radio out of Bloomington, IN. It is entitled, “The Myth of the Municipal Police Force.” Check it out:






Washington Street Garden Endorses the Carbondale Spring


For four years now, a previously vacant lot has been being transformed into a lush space of community food production. Dozens of dirty hands have created one of the most beautiful and free spots in Carbondale, contributing to the creative, caring, and even rebellious vibe on Washington Street. The Garden’s actions were an inspiration — maybe even the inspiration — for our Food Autonomy proposal. When you see a sliver of the world transformed into something astounding, its easier to ask yourself: what if everything were more like this?

We are very grateful for the endorsement of our project by the Washington Street Garden. They are currently having a fundraiser for this coming growing season. Please check out their website and help them out if you can!

One Step Closer to Food Autonomy

Beck-HomesteadWe are pleased to announce that one of the world’s leading permaculture design experts and educators, Wayne Weiseman, has endorsed the Carbondale Spring and agreed to lead our Food Autonomy initiative.

This is a big step for the Carbondale Spring, and for the future of Carbondale. There is so much wisdom here, just waiting to be unleashed to build a city that isn’t just crossing its fingers waiting for the University to turn around, that isn’t just waiting for some industry to take an interest. We can build a self-reliant city.

We can make Carbondale a model for a compassionate, ecologically restorative form of development. But we need your help.

Wayne Weiseman has lived in Carbondale since 1995, and spends much of his time traveling the world teaching courses in permaculture and helping communities to grow sustainable food systems. His own yard in Carbondale has an orchard, a water catchment system, and numerous other ecologically friendly features. You can keep up with Wayne’s blog here, and purchase his first book, Integrated Forest Gardening, here. Wayne’s second book is forthcoming.

The Care Deficit

A brand new article that perfectly expresses why we need to redirect the outrageous Carbondale police budget into care workers.

[O]ur communities aren’t offering us the support system that they once did. A lack of community care, crucial to providing a sense of unity and belonging, has spurred poverty, loneliness, social isolation, gun violence and rising suicide rates. Compared with people in other developed nations, Americans are dying at a younger age and quicker rate. Studies indicate that “despair deaths,” or deaths related to alcohol, drug and suicide, are a root cause. Our lack of community is killing us. Yet in a nation with less and less care, issues such as isolation are a mere drop in the bucket, quickly lost in the sea of social shortcomings vying for our attention.

Read the whole article by Eve Blossom here.

Read about our plan to respond to the challenges we face by turning Carbondale into an innovator in compassion here.

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Required Listening for Carbondaliens

Its Sunday. If you’re hanging around the house or driving around or whatever, please take a listen to this interview from Thursday’s Greenhouse Rebellion about the Carbondale Spring.

*This interview was edited to exclude about 10 minutes of music at the beginning. Sorry for folks who were previously confused by that.

Remember how you started ignoring climate change?

Remember when it happened? When it just became too painful to keep up with the news about it? When you realized that they would just let the planet burn, and that we were powerless?

It is time to change again. It is time to realize that we have an opportunity to push back hard against extinction, right here in our town. We can hope the higher levels of government take action, but we can also set a precedent here, right now, at a scale where we — you and me, here in Carbondale — actually have agency.

Join the Carbondale Spring. Let’s do this.


“[I]t’s also important to understand that climate change is not a binary system. It’s not a question of whether it’s happened or not. It’s not a question of whether we’ve passed a threshold of catastrophe or not. Every tick upward makes the impacts worse, and every tick upward we avoid will make them better. So, at 2.5 degrees, we’ll be considerably worse off than we were at 2 degrees; at 3 degrees, worse than two-and-a-half degrees. And while the scale of some of these possible horrors is, therefore, a kind of almost paralyzing horror show, it’s also a reminder of just how much power we have, and will always have, over the climate. If we get to 4 degrees, it will be because of action we take now. And if we—but that means that we can avoid getting there if we take action quickly.”

Interview with the author of The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming.

Carbondale Spring on WDBX!

It has been only two days since we launched the Carbondale Spring, and we’ve already received an overwhelming amount of support and feedback. Thank you everyone for reading and sharing! Keep it up!

This morning, Nick Smaligo (Flyover Social Center) and Beau Henson (Planning and Zoning Commission Member) talked with Glenda Greenhouse on WDBX FM’s Greenhouse Rebellion. Listen to the interview here: