Green Imagination

Your Blog for Sharing Green Ideas.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Jason West & Green Party Celebrity

According to this Washington Post article from yesterday, Jason West is becoming the new symbol for the national Green Party. The Post notes that Jason was recently written about in People magazine, and is essentially challenging (in a non-confrontational way) Matt Gonzalez for being one of the most recognizable faces in the Green Party. Despite what any of us might think about People magazine, Jason's face and information about the Green Party reached 30 million people, plus those who read the article in the Post! That's not bad publicity. This makes getting Jason down here to Baltimore and Maryland to help us campaign all the more appealing.

How does this tie into the numerous campaigns running in and around Baltimore? What could someone who lives nearly 300 miles away possibly contribute to a bunch of races in a city and region that has little to do with central New York State? In one word: Celebrity.

In today's hyper-media world, celebrity can play a key factor in a campaign's success. At a social science conference I attended last year, a young poli-sci grad presented a paper on what he termed the "megacampaign." The megacampaign is briefly defined by celebrities using name recognition to garner widespread support for their campaigns, as well as conduct massive fundraising and spending. Schwarzenager's campaign is probably the best recent example of this; indeed, his campaign unfolded as though this paper was its playbook. (I have an electronic version of this paper, if anyone would like to read it. Just email me). And perhaps it is celebrity that helps Ralph Nader garner continued support from many Greens nationwide.

Of course, Greens are generally opposed to or, at the very least, mistrust such manic cash flows. However, I think there are political lessons to be learned from campaigning in the "celebrity" style. Having someone like Jason down would certainly attract a great deal of media attention, not only locally but potentially nationally as well. Despite the fact that all politics are allegedly to be local, much of our constituencies only pay attention to national media. Moreover, much of our local media wants national recognition; they want to have that super-savy, cutting-edge look of national media.

Interestingly, I think this approach may also support the full-slate campaign strategy being formulated at the state level, at least in some combination. Jason could do for both the Baltimore City and congressional campaigns what Matt Gonzalez did for the nominating convention: help to put us on the map and in people's minds.

If the media can stand up and take notice that there is an immense political change going on in this state, as indicated by the sheer number of candidates running this electoral season, and that this political change is part of a national trend, ALL of our candidates have a better shot of making waves.

Monday, June 28, 2004

Campaign synergy

With so many Green candidates running in Maryland, there's been some discussion about joint campaigns and the potential attention that these campaign could and should receive. In particular, there has been some speculation over how a congressional campaign would work when overlapping a city campaign. Some city candidates are concerned, and rightfully so, that congressional campaigns will receive all the press as well as local support in terms of at least human resources. But that should not be a reason to shy away from the idea all together.

The fact of the matter is that joint campaigns can work very effectively on all levels, but only if the campaigns do a good job at coordination. Not only do joint canvasses save time and wo-man power (i.e. canvassing for two candidates in the same neighborhoods at the same time), but it also presents a sort of unified front to voters. It says to voters that we're a real party with real candidates on all levels of government. To this end, joint literature can also be useful, but it's not necessary as it might get expensive.

Another great way that campaigns can work together is fundraising. I've heard some concerns that campaigns don't want to share any funds they raise with another campaign. I've also heard concerns any joint fundraising events would raise less money because potential donors would possibly give less money to both candidates rather than one larger sum to one. However, joint fundraising is indeed possible if there is a general admission price which people pay (say 10$) that includes entrance, maybe some food, drink, music, activities, whatever your campaigning heart desires. If people who go to the event would like to contribute more money to a particular candidate, they are welcome to do so. After the event is done, the campaigns divide the profits from the entrance fee.

This approach could work really well if done with the right amount of finesse and coordination (I think this is a key word I'll be referring to a lot on this page). A joint event would most likely draw more people than any one candidate could probably muster. If one candidate brings in say 100 people, and the other brings in say 50, then maybe the profits would be shared proportionately. The point is that there would be 150 coming rather than just 100 or just 50. The overall cost of putting on such an event would also probably be less expensive. Since I'm no accountant, I leave the financial details to the campaign treasurers.

Politics and political campaigns are all about networking. Getting people into your network, extending the reach of your network, etc. The more you network, the more people your messages could potentially reach. So, why not combine networks?

Have any other ideas about how campaigns can work together? Share them here!

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Green Imagination: Imagining a Green World

Yesterday, I was at my local mall's food court when I realized what a Green mall it is. The ceiling throughout the mall's main thoroughfares have huge skylights; on sunny days it's almost eerie how how its corridors are illuminated with natural light. The irony of using a Green friendly lighting system at the consumer's locus of global capitalism was delicious. I began to wonder how the mall could be made even more environmentally friendly (offering recycling bins to start) and how the experience of mall shopping could be transformed in ways that make consumption less catastrophic (I'm still contemplating this one).

On a related note, I've recently become active in several Green locals (namely Baltimore County and Baltimore City) where we're in the outset of a historic era: We are running 15 local and congressional Green candidates this election cycle. Through various listserves, discussions about campaign strategy, Green ideals and other related topics have made their way into my consciousness. One poster commented how users of the listserve tend to become more active during discussions of national politics rather than important local issues. This was such an important point that I felt compelled to do something...Hence the birth of Green Imagination.

I invite all Greens from across the US and in other countries to contribute to this blog. That is, I hope this page becomes a forum for Greens to not only share local challenges and successes, but also to collectively imagine how a Green world would truly look like and to collaborate on making concrete progress towards the achievement of our goals (political, social, name it).

Because I'm a busy person (as busy as everyone else I know at least), I would like this to become an open forum. Feel free to use this blog to share your ideas on how to put our ideals into action on the local or even state level. Generally speaking, I'd like to avoid discussing national politics as there's plenty of that already both online and offline.