Green Imagination

Your Blog for Sharing Green Ideas.

Monday, July 26, 2004

A Story that Warms My Heart

Normally on this blog, I only discuss general Green ideas and ideals.  I tend to eschew direct discussions of national current events.  But this story just warmed my heart and made me smile:

The streets around the Democratic National Convention site resembled an armed camp on Sunday - helicopters overhead, bomb-sniffing dogs and their handlers, police officers and soldiers lining the intersections, many kinds of barriers, and an officially designated "Free Speech Zone" sealed off with cyclone fencing and razor wire.

It looked like an empty cage.

Apparently, the 3000 protestors at the Democratic National Convention refused to use the ironically named "Free Speech Zone," which one protestor said looked like a concentration camp. 
It was shocking and terrifying to see  and hear that protestors were going to be "forced" into using this area.  Free-speech my foot, right?  As a symbol of the current political situation in this country, nothing could have spoke louder than a designated spot for conducting a protest.  As if freedom was only limited to one geographic area.

Of course, this highlights the problem with a possible Kerry administration.  Protect our rights?  Yeah right.  Repeal the Patriot Act?  Yeah right.  I'm sure the list could go on. 

But what happened offers us (or at least me) a lot of hope:  Freedom was not, could not, would not be confined.  Protestors took their march around the Boston Commons and in front of the Fleet Center.  And it went smoothly.  No violence (well, just a little); no bigger disruptions to everyday Boston life (at least no more than the convention is itself). 

I'd like to say this is a sign.  I'd like to think we're on the cusp of something big.  A large reshaping of American politics.  Joe Trippi thinks so.  I tend to agree with him.  Imagine if it was 30,000 or even 1,000,000.   I doubt the "Free Speech Area" is even big enough to that many people.  They can't stop us even if they tried.

Speaking of Joe Trippi, there's a new feature on his website called "Your Story."  There you can submit stories of how you are getting involved to make this country a better place.  I encourage all Greens to submit their stories to this site and show the Democrats what real grassroots democracy looks like. 

Friday, July 23, 2004

Post Press Conference Wrap-Up

Whew!  That was a lot of work, but clearly worth it.  WBAL in Baltimore and WJLA picked up the AP story (the WBAL version is longer and more complete).  WYPR also sent someone, so hopefully some time next week we'll get a piece done.  The Sun hasn't picked it up yet, but we'll see what happens over the next 3 days.  If they don't pick it up, we can always bombard them with letters and calls!  We'll make sure they pay attention to us.

So, aside from the coverage, how did our candidates do?  Like I was writing during some of the speeches, they did pretty good!  Overall, they stated their points, their reasons for running, what they want to do if elected. (I hope I got everyone, but my apologies if I missed some candidate's speeches--it was really busy keeping time, taking pictures and blogging at the same time).

During the Q&A, the WYPR correspondent asked the candidates how they thought they'd do.  Theresa gave a particularly good response, saying to ask her that on election night to see how much her campaign has grown between today and then.  Maria boldly said, "I'm running to win."  Damn straight she is. 

Anyway, all the speeches were pretty good.  There were a few nerves, but that's no surprise as this was the first public exposure for some of the candidates.  But hey, it can only get better from here!

Several of the candidates thanked me for putting today's conference together.  I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to all the candidates for running.  Without them, I wouldn't have had a press conference to put together!  Congrats to all those candidates who are putting their faces and names into the public on behalf the Maryland Greens.  It takes a lot of guts and I for one am proud to be working with so many brave folks. 

It's time for Baltimore City's people.

Today we have Myles Hoenig & Glen Ross from the City.  Nowhere else in MD does it make as much of a difference as it does in Baltimore.  They represent a microcosm of what's going on in this country. 

Myles is pointing out how Baltimore is a "well-oiled machine" as in impersonal, precise, and not open.  He's tired of special interests taking over the council.  He's not anti-development, but pro-smart-development.

Finally, we have Glenn!  I'll be campaigning with him soon.  He's a great candidate.  He's been a community activist for 30 years.  He's talking about being close to the people of his community, and he's involved with some projects in the city.  He states he was actually fired from some jobs in the city because of his political activism. 

I didn't know that he'd run for city council before as a democrat.  That makes two candidates that have changed parties so that they can run.  They're values are Green, and now their campaigns are Green too.


Theresa Dudley is the newest member of the Greens and she's proud.  "If you don't play by their rules, you don't get to play!" she says. 

She's a civic activist, who wants to improve the quality of life:  overpopulated schools, failing infrastructure, shrinking police forces. 

She's impassioned (the key word in today's blog).  She wants to know how the current administration is "working" for the residents of the 4th district.  She wants to represent the people of her district, in comparison to her opponent who takes PAC money, development money, corporate money. 

Patsy's on

Patsy's telling us about her experiences in the Green Party.  She wants to restore the faith of voters in our democratic process.  She's calling for Verifiable Voting!  She's calling for IRV (! She's calling for better representation!  She's calling for public financing of campaigns!  She's stressing getting money out of politics.

Her eyes are partially shut, which gives her presentation spirit, emotion, and passion.  "We need to show that people are important."  And she wants a living wage to do this.  Way to go Patsy!

More on Keith

Keith wants to get out of Iraq now.  He wants to focus on real threats.  He's also connecting it (smartly) to better energy policy, which includes renewable energy sources.  He wants money out of politics, calling for real change.  Be Bold, Vote Green is his message.

Live from Annapolis

I'm blogging live from the Maryland Green Party Press Conference, announcing the candidates for congress.  We have Keith, Maria, Patsy & Theresa.  Also joining us is Myles Hoenig & Glenn Ross. 

Fred just gave a great speech about the history of the progressive movement, stating how democratic it is. 

marriage going now.  She's doing fantastic.  She's calm and her delivery is even, direct, and honestly concerned.  She's going off on Iraq.  She's upset, clearly, without going crazy.  She's got ideas, and she's sounds very reasonable. 

Now she's talking about terrorism at home.  War on drugs, healthcare, you name she's going off.

Keith is now on.  He's excited he said.  He wants to provide a real progressive choice.  He wants to end US dependence on oil.  "We have no choice.  We must transition..." He says and proudly.  He's pushing for change in energy policy.

more to come.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Live from Annapolis

Tune in tomorrow for live blog coverage of the Maryland Green Party press conference in which we will meet several of the candidates who are running for Congress in MD as well as some of our great Baltimore City Council Candidates.


Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Healthy Lifestyle Linked to Alzheimer Prevention

This article in yesterday's Baltimore Sun states that leading a healthy lifestyle reduces individuals' risk for getting Alzheimer's.  The article pulls together the results of several studies that link an active physical and social life to lower risk levels.  But I ask, how can we possibly live healthy lives within the physical and social environments in which we live?

Most of us drive everywhere, particularly if we live in the suburbs.  The average commute time to work is something like 1 hour one way.  That's a lot of time in the car for just one day.  Plus, many of us sit at desks to work.  That's another 8-10 hours.  When we come home we sit for dinner (not that we should eat standing up), we sit in front of computers and we sit or lie down to watch TV.  This is nothing new--Americans generally live sedentary lifestyles. 

I live in the suburbs and honestly, I don't find suburbia conducive to social engagement.  That's not new either. 

Not to mention the fact that the Baltimore-Washington metro area is one of the most polluted areas in the country.

How could we possibly live better lives in such a crappy environment?  I'd say we need to make some serious structural changes to our lives, to our societies, to our environment.  Here's what I suggest (and many of these aren't really new either, but I figure I'd put them out there):

Let's first stop suburban sprawl.  Let's stop the developers from ripping up farmlands and woodlands and wetlands. 

Let's better public transportation so we can get people to walk more (like from their house to the bus or metro stop). 

Let's stop widening our roads!

Let's institute more public health programs that actually encourages people to GET OUTSIDE.

I'm sure there's plenty of ways we could restructure our society and even our culture (like banning McDonalds from advertising on TV).  Share your ideas on this here.

Sunday, July 18, 2004

The NAACP's Choices

In this weekend's Sun, Kelly Brewington wrote "...the Republicans offer blacks little alternative" in summarizing Charleston, S.C.'s NAACP president Dot Scott's reaction to President Bush's refusal to engage the NAACP in dialogue.
While Scott notes that the Democratic Party "isn't all we need, it's just the closest," it's good to know that African American voters have several good alternatives to both the Republicans and the Democrats:  the Green Party. 
From environmental issues in urban communities to promoting a living wage and protecting voters from disenfranchisement at the hands of technology, Green Party candidates in Baltimore City, across Maryland and throughout the country are working to support issues that African Americans care about.  More than any other party, Green candidates are working for a more just political and social system, something all voters care about regardless of their demographic.
And as Green Party Presidential candidate David Cobb says, if your conscious does not permit you to vote for him, you can always vote downticket.  Contrary to Ms. Brewington's statement, there are in fact plenty of alternatives. 

Thursday, July 15, 2004

What an Ego

So, because Ehrlich can't lull people to Maryland with slots, he instead uses...himself.  This is truly sad.  Does he really think spending $1.4 million plastering his mug over Maryland TV will get people to come here for tourism?  I mean, have you seen his hair??
According to this editorial, the idea is to broadcast these commercials across MD in the hopes that people who live in other states but within local broadcasting reach will be enticed to come visit.  It seems like a shady way of putting his face up before the public, using public money mind you, in advance of the 2006 governer's election. 
$1.4 million buys a lot of school books, Uncle Bob.  It could also help pay a few teacher's salaries for quite a while.  But, instead, you'd rather be vain.  Go figure. 
Has anyone seen these commercials?  If so, please comment!

10 Partisan Myths

This is an interesting yet somewhat weakly written article. The author appears to be trying to debunk myths that Democrats and Republicans hold about government entitlements and tax cuts respectively.

For the Dems, he suggests that they come to terms that government entitlements don't help those who need them the most. For Repubs, he suggests that supply-side economics really doesn't work and that there's no way tax cuts will really be able to prevent congress from spending and overspending (as they've certainly done over the past few years).

This leads me to wonder what a Green tax/economic system would look like? Would it heavily tax SUV drivers & big polluters? Conversely, would we provide big tax breaks to people who recycle, compost, live ecologically, work towards bettering the community? Where does commerce fit into this puzzle?

I know the Baltimore City Greens have suggested coming up with a sound economic plan. I urge you all to take up this discussion on our new bulletin board system:

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Congrats to

There was a highly successful rally today in Annapolis for the voter-verified paper trail. This was a true display of non-partisan, grassroots democracy. To be sure, this issue will persist, and we should all thank Linda Schade for her hard work at bringing this issue to the forefront of this election season.

My one complaint about this Sun article is that it doesn't mention Theresa Dudley, a new Montgomery County Green who is running for US House of Representatives. It's possible that she wasn't mentioned as a candidate because she hasn't been approved by the CC. In any case, I'm glad to hear that she was there.

Monday, July 12, 2004

The Day After Tomorrow

If there ever was a movie with a Green message it's this one. I saw it this weekend and although the acting and writing were only fair, the movie still had a prescient message: stop global warming or suffer the consequences. For those of you not familiar with the film, "The Day After Tomorrow" tells the story of a climatologist whose warnings of a possible massive, cataclysmic climate change caused by global warming go unheeded. His predictions come true sooner than expected and the northern hemisphere is deluged in a storm that ushers in a new ice age for half the globe. According to the film, global warming causes the polar ice caps to melt and break apart, disrupting the flow of the Atlantic current. I don't know if the science behind this film's premise is accurate, but the idea itself certainly is chilling. But that's just the main text.

There's also a subtext that requires a closer reading to uncover, and that is this film's cataclysmic events' subtle analogy with the events of 9-11. The characteristics are all there: New York city is utterly destroyed; a president seemingly incapable of making a decision relies on his VP to call the shots; the VP is proved utterly wrong in his assessment of the situation; families (including the main characters) are separated but searching desperately for each other; and finally at the end the glimmer of hope that society will be rebuilt.

I might be over-reaching in this analysis, but to me, the similarities are glaring. The only main difference is that the VP, who has assumed power because the president's helicopter crashed in the storm (possibly our own real-world nightmare) apologizes for his arrogance at the end. Imagine if Dick Cheney apologized!!

Anyway, with the reading of the sub-text, there still seems to be Green lessons to be learned aside from the obvious environmental concerns. Many, including myself, argue that 9-11 was the result of our government's own misguided foreign policies. The movie portrays a possible terrorist dream of wiping out 3/4 of the US wiped out. In fact, the movie seems to gloss over the fact that this storm-to-end-all-storms has utterly destroyed the US economy. For all intensive purposes, America is plunged into poverty (along with Europe), it's resources possibly unobtainable, leaving the "developing" countries in the southern hemisphere (Australia possibly excluded) the surprise reverse role of having direct power over American's lives. It begs the question of what this country would do if something so cataclysmic as a new Ice Age disrupted everything we take for granted in our way of life. Even though many of us are against the American brand of capitalism, we can't deny being a part of it or affected by it.

I'm not trying to be a doomsayer or a fear-monger, but it is a question that desperately needs to be asked and addressed in our foreign policy. So, what can Green policies could be put into place to "pre-empt" the 180 shift extolled in this film?

Monday, July 05, 2004

Who do we want to vote for us?

Sorry for not posting in a few days. I've been pondering the paradox of grassroots democracy these past few days. Matt Gonzalez said something very interesting when he spoke at the BGP's nominating convention. He suggested Greens actually go after their opponents' voters rather than try to get draw new voters.

On the one hand, I really like his gall. This is politics in a somewhat unadulterated form. Gonzalez obviously has a lot of political capital in San Francisco and was able to mobilize a rather large electorate during his race. More power to him.

On the other hand, is this truly grassroots democracy? By going after a population that already votes, what are we doing to affect bottom-up democratic changes in our city, state, and country? Isn't grassroots democracy about mobilizing people in new ways, getting new people involved in politics and the larger society around them?

And herein lies the crux: Only about half the population that is eligible to vote actually exercises this right. While this should not surprise any of us, it does pose a challenge for us to define what we mean by grassroots democracy and exactly who we think we should be engaging. Let's face it, there's a certain portion of people who are eligible to vote but never will.

Get out the vote initiatives have been somewhat prevalent every election cycle for the past 15-20 years (at least that I can remember). This election cycle will hopefully draw out more voters than in the previous election; hopefully people will remember 2000's lessons that indeed every votes counts. Thanks to Bush's (mis)deeds, the electorate appears to be more charged and ready to move to keep him or boot him. Public relations practitioners call these people a "hot issue public," meaning that they are energized when a problem is in the news but their interest & enthusiasm fades once the news stops covering the issue.

While we might be able to locally catch a few rides into offices from this hot issue public, the question remains whether we can maintain their interest once the dust of national electoral politics settles.

Meanwhile, we need to identify and connect with like-minded individuals and voting blocs, people who are indeed truly Green and not only those hot issue publics who might swing in our direction. Sure, we might be able to capitalize on hot issue publics in the short-term, and maybe we should. However, true party growth (the goal of many of our campaigns) will come from finding like-minded voters.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

A Waste of Water

Richard recently suggested tying some of my posts more heavily into Green Values, so today's post has to do with Value #1: Ecological Wisdom.

My family and I had walked to a nearby park this evening. On the way back, I noticed one of my neighbors had turned a sprinkler on. It was past 7, so it wasn't the typical waste of water (you know, when it evaporates as fast as you can spray it on a hot summer day?). What was a waste was the area this neighbor was watering.

I live in a townhouse complex with only 17 units. In front of each house is a one-car driveway and a concrete walkway bordered by two garden areas about 3x7 feet or so. As you might imagine, using a sprinkler for this minute parcel of land is ridiculous. the sprinkler sprayed more water on the street, the driveway and the walkway than on the area that needed it the most: the gardens!

It gets me riled up when I see wasteful behaviors like this (I should add that my neighbor was nowhere in sight, and judging by the amount of water everywhere, the sprinkler had been left on for a considerable amount of time). Not only is it unecological and selfish for someone to abuse our water source like this, it's expensive. The cost of water in our area has risen pretty steadily over the last few years (something like 20-30%). Since our community association pays the water bill, I don't know exactly how this has affected my pocket.

Think about this: We now pay an average of $1.10 for a single 20 oz bottle of water at a convenience store (at least, by my estimates). Imagine if this was the only drinkable water available (putting aside home filtration systems); how much would that bottle cost? $10? $20? The more we waste now, the more we'll be dying of thirst tomorrow.

So, what practicle policy could the GP advocate that would possibly prevent people from wasting water like this? How about permanent water restrictions? We in Maryland have only just recovered from a draught. Places like Colorado have been in a drought for over 10 years! They're getting good rainy weather this year (leading some people to call for an end to their water restrictions), but that doesn't mean they're out of the clear yet. A friend in college once told me that in LA, the water restrictions are so serious that people can only shower at certain times of the day.

Surely this isn't freedom. Then again, I'd rather be able to shower when I want/need to and drink that vital fluid when needed than be able to water my garden whenever I want. Water restrictions, however, will not change the "lawn culture" in this country that drives my neighbor to over-water something that isn't even a lawn but mostly concrete.