Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Be the change...

Ghandi told us to 'Be the change you want to see in the world. " It was that admonition that came to mind as I have been watching Obama twist and squirm over the Reverend Jeremiah Wright's recent return to the political spotlight. San Francisco blogger Stephen Smoliar defines Obama's problem better than most television talking masks.
Some interesting conundrums continue to boil up in the stew the media have cooked over the charge of elitism leveled against Barack Obama. Given that one of his messages has been that of uniting groups with many different interests and values under a single "umbrella," under which they can discuss their differences as well as their agreements, an accusation of elitism is tantamount to an accusation of hypocrisy. Thus, as I had previously speculated, this attack may have been concerned more with finding and piercing Obama's most critical point of vulnerability than with weighing the many issues relevant to deliberating over who would make the best successor to the Oval Office. My reasoning is simple enough: The American electorate may not fully grasp all the intricacies associated with the rights and duties of the Executive branch of their government, but they know hypocrisy when it bites them. If they are convinced that, for all of his "audacity of hope," he is as hypocritical as any other politician, then there is a strong chance that they will turn away from him.
It is this question of hypocrisy about which we need to be mindful. Even Republican pollster, spin meister Frank Luntz reminds us that Americans want a sense that their candidates are "genuine." This This is particularly necessary when one tries to stake out a position on some high moral ground. To the be found wanting is fatal to any aspiration to political power. Greens should pay special attention as we have not political power, only the moral high ground.

If Obama eventually loses and Clinton wins the nomination, it will not be solely because of his association with Rev. Wright, but rather because in the final analysis Americans have judged him just another politician.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Savoring the Irony

I can not help but quote this entire letter to the editor of the San Francisco Chronicle today. Penned by DORIS MENDEL of Albany, it is as good of a suggestion as any over what to do with your rebate check, assuming you get one.

Savoring the irony

Editor - On learning that the American Civil Liberties Union was the primary instrument in exposing the Abu Ghraib scandal, I'm donating my windfall check (due this week) from the Bush administration to the ACLU. If nothing else, I will enjoy the irony of my choice.


When Green is in.

Even neo-con NY Times Columnist Tom Friedman is beginning to sound more like a Green than like John McCain. Take this from his interview reported at Grist today.
... [B]ig energy companies? They're not on Facebook. They're not in your chat room. They're in the cloakroom, and they're in your face. So unless you get off of Facebook, unless you get out of the chat room into the cloakroom where the rules get made, you're not going to have an impact. So I'm all for the blogosphere; I love it. I love the fact that my column gets spread all over the world thanks to the internet, and that I can have this dialogue with so many people. And I love the blogosphere for all the wild, crazy ways it enriches the conversation.

But do not confuse that conversation with having an impact. At some point, the conversation has to stop and the lobbying and the arm-twisting has to start.
It makes me wonder why I keep writing this blog. I guess it is in the hope that some readers just might take the next step and start opening the door to the cloakroom, since the time for that has surely passed me by.

So, if your are reading this... stop... shut off the computer and go do something Green. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Attend the next meeting of you local planning commission. That is where developers have their way with your future.
  • Send a letter to your congress critter telling them that we don't want Federal Subsidies of Big Agriculture or of Bil Oil. The current farm bill and energy bill are embarrassments designed for short range, future be damned, political advantage.
  • Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper supporting a Green Party Presidential Candidate: Johnson, McKinney, Mesplay or Swift.
  • Plant a garden.
  • Send a letter to the Chairman of Home Depot asking them to remove Monsanto's Roundup from their shelves. Here are some reasons why and here are some more.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Is Pop Culture Going Green?

If Vanity Fair magazine is representative of pop culture, then it is going Green in a very strange way.

Some my have noted that I will, on occasion, reference a post by David Roberts at Gristmill. He has a guest blogger role at Vanity Fair (Green Beat) going on and today's makes an interesting point about Global Warming and the Media. The short piece is here:

But is is worth posting in it's entirety.
What I Learned from the Mainstream Media About Global Warming

1. Efforts to address climate change will be enormously expensive, and will raise costs for ordinary families.

2. Politicians are B.S.’ing about it; none of them will tell the honest truth about the enormous costs.

3. Everything we’re currently doing to address the problem is utterly futile.

4. Most solutions, like driving a Prius, are mere affectations of do-gooding elites.

5. The public doesn’t care about global warming; they find it dispiriting and disempowering.

What nobody in the mainstream media ever seems to do is pause and wonder whether their relentless repetition of points 1–4 has anything to do with point 5.

(For the record—and more on this later—No. 1 is false. Nos. 2 and 3 are half-true. No. 4 is false. No. 5 is about 75 percent true.)
Well so much for Roberts' opinion. Now, where you you put Vanity Fair in the list of Green publications? Well, they did put out a Green Issue with a photo of Madonna on the cover. Huh?

On the other hand, Vanity Fair does do some good investigative reporting and this week's story entitled "Monsanto's Harvest of Fear" should be required reading.

Still, going back to David Roberts and the Green Beat, it seems that Vanity Fair is convinced you have to use celebrity to sell everything. e.g. the following:
You get the picture by now. I wonder just how much this use of celebrity to carry the Green Message helps the cause and how much it trivializes is. I guess that we will not know because no one will do the research and report on it.

(Posted earlier today to EcoAction Committee Email List.)

Saturday, April 26, 2008

What does it take to become an environmental hero?

According to this article in the Sacramento Bee, it takes a lifetime.
You have to give 75-year-old Felix Smith of Carmichael credit for tenacity.

A quarter-century ago, Smith became the conscience of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service when he blew the whistle on the selenium poisoning of the Kesterson National Wildlife Refuge in western Merced County.
I am not sure how many of you understand exactly what is going on. This was a major story and it has, for the most part, slipped into the background and that is where the leadership of the Westlands Water District would like to see it stay. Smith is still active and still involved in this major effort.
In a Jan. 10 letter to water board Chairwoman Tam Doduc, Smith wrote, "Many of the impacts documented in my past letters/complaints continue today. In addition, there are other more ominous concerns and environmental impacts coming to the forefront."
What we really have is the grand lady of compromise, Sen. Feinstein, meeting behind closed doors with the Westlands Water District and trying to shape another compromise like her failed Cal-Fed Plan for exploiting California's Water Resources.

It amazes me that Feinstein can retain her popularity while demonstrating such a lock of integrity or concern for the people of California, that she can gain the attention of the press any time she wants and real hero's like Felix Smith can spend a lifetime fighting for us all and getting little ink.

Global Warming: Why it all matters

Let me call attention to a couple of different stories today.

The first came to me when I looked at Dave Roberts' Gristmill blog this AM. Dave makes it a Friday Night practice of blogging a particular piece of music that caught his attention. This week, it touches on global warming, Mountain Top Removal in West Virginia and the connection is Coal. In fact, that is the name of the album from which this selection is taken. Coal, by country singer Kathy Mattea.

One might be tempted to take all of this as an intellectual exercise. After all, how many of us have really had much to do with coal mining. I know that my late sister-in-law, Mary Barnes Rolley, had her MS in Coal Geology from the Univ. of Illinois. That is about as close as I got and I am drawing Social Security.

It is often frustrating when we deal with issues like climate change that are so easily abstracted. I remember with some nostalgia my college days when Dylan was just a rumor of some young guy singing great stuff around the coffee houses and The Times They Are A-Changin' had not yet been recorded. There is no coffee house circuit anymore and potential young Dylans want to jump right to the top as an American Idol. But let me call your attention to the way that Mattea's Bend, OR concert was hyped by the local paper, the Bend Bulletin. The story begins this way...
Here’s a depressing little exercise for you to try: Hop on the Internet, visit Google Maps, and search for “Danville, W.Va.” Once you’re in Danville, click over to “Satellite” view and zoom out a little bit.

See that giant, grayish area west of town? That’s where a coal-extraction company has blown off the top of a mountain to make its job easier.

Now, zoom out more, and follow the trail of grayish spots that pockmark the rolling, green hills of the Appalachian Mountains to the southwest of Danville, extending across West Virginia and into eastern Kentucky.

Every one of those spots represents what used to be a mountain. The mountains are now flat, thanks to the extraction method known as mountaintop removal.

I challenge you do do that exercise.
Here is another challenge. Make a contribution to the West Virginia Mountain Party. They are the Green Party affiliate and they have been fighting this battle since the beginning. Anthing helps, even $10.

Friday, April 25, 2008

The wolutions for world hunger? Not GMO.

We all look for affirmation of our own notions of how the world works. I was rather pleased to find such an affirmation this week, though I didn't get it from the US Press, obsessed as it is with Hillary, Barack and Rob Lowe's nanny.

In a comment to an earlier post, Richard indicated that the solutions for world hunger were to be found in the technology of Genetic Engineering.
Genetically modified foods promise improved agricultural production and food value.
We know that this is what they promise, but it is not what they deliver. Case in point is the article that appeared in a UK newspaper, The Independent, about studies of Roundup Ready Soybeans from Monsanto.
The study – carried out over the past three years at the University of Kansas in the US grain belt – has found that GM soya produces about 10 per cent less food than its conventional equivalent, contradicting assertions by advocates of the technology that it increases yields.
Now the Independent got the story if not the details. Professor Barney Gordon is an agronomist at Kansas State University, not the University of Kansas. However, do not let that cast doubt on the message, because a similar finding came from a more carefully controlled study at the University of Nebraska.

Most soy grown in the United States has genetic modifications. Brazil is a major producer and there it is nearly 100%.

Tofu anyone?

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Farming the front yard.

My Earth Day Messages post generated a bit of discussion, most of it good. Steve mentioned the manner in which some are taking the step of re-introducing self sufficiency in food production. I would like to note two great examples of this sort of thinking. They are from those famous neo-Luddite publications, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.

As I referenced before, Michael Pollan's New York Times article suggests that planting a garden, rather than installing CFL's, is the perfect response for someone who is concerned about global warming. With a CFL, you buy it, you replace the old bulb and they you walk away, forget about it but you feel like you have done something. If you plant a garden like Pollan suggests, it has a more lasting affect. You may even begin to notice the cycles of the weather, to think about where the water will come from in a dry month, year, decade. It will substantially change you, even to allow yourself to shed the "cheap-energy mind".

The Wall Street Journal gives you an example of a man who did just that, and in his own front yard yet...they call it Green Acres II. Like the original, you can watch it.

Individuals acting for the collective good.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Why bother?

Faced with the overwhelming scope of the problems that face us because the world is getting warmer and the seeming futility of small actions, some would ask "Why bother?" In a recent Green Issue of the New York Times Magazine, Michael Pollan tries to answer that question. He starts from a bleak point of view.
I don’t know about you, but for me the most upsetting moment in “An Inconvenient Truth” came long after Al Gore scared the hell out of me, constructing an utterly convincing case that the very survival of life on earth as we know it is threatened by climate change. No, the really dark moment came during the closing credits, when we are asked to . . . change our light bulbs.
Pollan ends up asking you to do something just as simple, but philosophically more profound... go plant a garden.

You may not believe the "go plant a garden" bit, but read it. Pollan is very convincing.
The single greatest lesson the garden teaches is that our relationship to the planet need not be zero-sum, and that as long as the sun still shines and people still can plan and plant, think and do, we can, if we bother to try, find ways to provide for ourselves without diminishing the world.

Perpetual Campaigns

One of the realities of contemporary political life is that the campaign for the next election cycle begins even before the last one completed. We are in a time of perpetual campaigns and, along with that, of perpetual fund raising. Case in point: When Jerry McNerney defeated Richard Pombo in 2006, his series of "thank you" meetings in communities across the 11th CD was really a series of fund raisers for 2008.

I don't think that most Greens are really comfortable in this mode. Long range planning rarely gets beyond next month, let alone the next year. There is something about the culture of the Green Party where perpetual fund raising must be unseemly. Maybe we would rather keep picking at the wounds of the 2004 election cycle than to plan for the next one, an exercise that I would rather see carried out as a personal mental process.

Given that, I was excited on seeing the suggestions for a 2010 election that Mike Feinstein posted to an internal Green Party email list (California Green Forum). Mike is saying that we need to start paying attention to the election of 2010 now, not in 2010. That we need to begin to study the causes of our problems now, not like a college student trying to cram for a mid-term and stuffing it all in at the last moment.
I believe that in addition to running and winning more municipal races, we need to focus upon becoming more relevant in partisan races in 2010, which I believe is more likely if we are committed to running primarily for state legislature (Assembly and Senate) instead of Congress, combined with a coordinated message with our statewide constitutional office candidates

Towards this end, I believe we need to demonstrate that we understand how land use and tax policy coincide in this state.
I fully agree with this.

Some observations on political behavior. The American voter responds well to those who provide a vision of a new future and not so well to those who dwell on the past. This country was settled by people who were looking for a new beginning. The is still part of the mythology of America and we ignore that at our peril.

The current election cycle started out to be about Iraq. It is now about paying the mortgage and keeping your job. To quote James Carville's scrawled message from 1992, "It's the economy, stupid." So why do we make a big deal about the ultimate truth of 9/11? That is never about the future. It will never win voters.

In California, we have an education system that does not meet our expectations, yet takes 50% of the state budget. We have an escalating cost of living and a declining tax base. We want to attract and keep good teachers and are cutting school budget by 10%. It does not make sense.

We are not going to become a player at any level until we start dealing with what is relevant to voters now. I think that we would all do well to follow Feinstein's advice and prepare ourselves for the battles ahead. It starts understanding just how Proposition 13 has worked (for some) but has basically failed as the guiding principle for tax policy in California.

Feinstein suggested reading the following series of articles from the LA CityBeat web site. I second the suggestion and post the same links here. Each could be the subject of a thread from which to weave a tapestry of victories in 2010.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Earth Day Messages

With all of the coverage of Earth Day, in a time when even local governments may quote from Tom Friedman and proclaim that "Green in the new Red White and Blue", I find it useful to contrast two Earth Day OpEds, one that ran in my local paper (Morgan Hill Times) and one that did not.

The one that ran is by Michael Berliner of the Ayn Rand Institute. You can, if you have a strong BS filter, read it from the ARI web site.

Berliner pulls not punches in his attack on environmentalism, deeming deeming the goal of environmentalism as a 'subhuman world where "nature" is worshiped like the totem of some primitive religion.'

While I don't think that many pay a lot of attention to the Ayn Rand Institute any more, there are aspects of this that are picked up, distorted and used, maybe subconsciously, in order to justify the continued robber baron attitude about world resources that was the foundation of American prosperity in the 20th Century and could well be the down fall of it all in the 21st.

At the other extreme, is the challenge today from Wallace J. Nichols* to become an EcoDareDevil.
Today, we face more serious crises—loss of biodiversity, a warming planet, collapsing fisheries, looming food and water shortages, and pollution in every corner of the globe. Scientists forecast a “2050 Scenario” in which Earth is hotter, dirtier, and overcrowded with nine billion people who are left to wage wars for what little remains.
Using the metaphor of Evil Knievel, Nichols is challenging young people, really all of us who still remember what it was to be young and full of energy, to "jump the chasm" and to act.

Needless to say, this one did not appear in my local newspaper.

For myself, I admire the spirit of Pete McCloskey, who was along with Sen. Gaylord Nelson, a CoChair of the first Earth Day. He has not quit. He never will. In fact, McCloskey is helping with the legal challenges to the remaining shell game that Charles Hurwitz is trying to play with Pacific Lumber Company, the remaining old growth redwoods in California and the livelihood of the citizens of Mendocino and Humboldt Counties.

We have a lot of work to do. We need to make sure that those like Berliner who would put some idealize man, supreme over nature and free to loose his avariciousness on the world unchecked. Nichols has given us the picture of the world where Berliner and his rank and file of takers prevail. We must not allow that to happen.

* Dr. Wallace J. Nichols is a Senior Scientist at Ocean Conservancy and a Research Associate at California Academy of Sciences.

Arizona Republic on Green Party Ballot Access

The Arizona Republic had an article Sunday on the fact that the Green Party has won ballot status in that state. Thank you to everyone who made the trip over to Arizona to help in this effort or who contributed financially to the effort.

The Republic's story included an interview with Arizona Green Party CoChair Angel Torres, one that began with a simple questions...
Question: Why be a Green Party member?

Answer: Look at our platform - go to our Web site,, our national party Web site. No matter what the issue - on the environment, the economy - our platform is far and away better than Republican or Democrat.

We're campaigning for a progressive tax policy, for good government, to eliminate corruption, for renewable energy. Arizona should be leading the world on renewables (resources for energy production). That will provide good jobs for Arizonans and Americans. We should be retooling our factories to build solar panels and solar electricity. We need to put the American people back to work.
There is a real contrast between this and what I see from GPCA. In a time when the major concern of the electorate, when energy costs are rising, when people talk of no longer being able to afford commuting to work, when home prices are plummeting and the equity that people counted on for retirement is disappearing, Torres is talking about "putting the American people back to work."

Where is the economic program from the GPCA?

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Debate that we need to have, but won't.

A wide group of science advocates attempted to stage a presidential debate this week in Philadelphia. The subject would have been science and the manner by which science would be used to inform public policy in the administrations of a President Clinton, a President McCain or a President Obama. Since these three candidates for office would have had to deal with substantive matters, of course the all declined to participate.

One reaction ended up in the Wall Street Journal today, where I really did not expect it. The OpEd, penned by Nobel Laureates and Cal Tech faculty members David Baltimore and Ahmed Zewail. Baltimore is President Emeritus of Cal Tech.
Apparently the top contenders for our nation's highest elective office have better things to do than explain to the public their views on securing America's future.
Instead we have had we had Democrat Obama complaining about the lack of substance in the debate that did take place.
Last night we set a new record. It took us 45 minutes . . . before we heard about health care. Forty-five minutes before we heard about Iraq. Forty-five minutes before we heard about jobs. That's how Washington is.
I don't feel any sympathy for Obama. He had a choice. He could have accepted a debate that would have been focused on substance and he chose not to participate. That's how Washington is.

We are still waiting for the change that will happen.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

New boss, same as the old boss.

The great hope of The Who was that we "Won't Get Fooled Again." Well, I guess that we did.

I rarely find an editorial in any paper with which I am in complete agreement. However, today's editorial in the San Francisco Chronicle, "Bumper crop of big spending", is one where I have absolutely no disagreement.

This follows a series of well-researched, well-written articles by Carolyn Lochhead in the same paper.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's staff sees the bill as the best possible bargain that could be won. They argue that Pelosi pushed for spending reforms, but southern Democrats prevailed. Now critics should be happy with the increases in food stamps and fruit and nut subsidies Pelosi supported - as the best deal that can be won in a political world. The Environmental Working Group and other reform-minded organizations have argued that it actually would be good politics for Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to cut off Big Farm's spigot. But Pelosi and Reid are smart politicians. If spending less were good politics, the farm bill would not be a pork sandwich.

The $286 billion farm bill is good politics only because the millions of taxpayers who are paying the bill are not pushing as hard as the relatively few people who benefit. (emphasis mine)
It is interesting that the target here seems to be Pelosi's two-faced lack of courage. How many things will she bargain away in order to get "the best possible bargain"?

I wonder just how many people in San Francisco will break with Pelosi in the coming election? If people actually read the Chronicle that number might be growing.

What should Greens be doing? At the very minimum we should be speaking out, in our forums, through our candidates, directly to our legislators, that enough is enough and we need to stop subsidizing big agriculture just like we need to stop subsidizing big oil. It is all the same game of power.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Recurrent themes

There are a number of themes that will recur, over and over again on this blog until I get tired of beating the same drum, the drum turns into a dead horse, or something finally changes.

One of these is the way that certain corporations, specifically and foremost, Monsanto, work to gain control of the dna of everything. Ever since someone made the one headed decision that a corporation could patent DNA sequences, Monsanto has been working to gain control of the seed supply of every plant that might be useful to humans, especially those that we eat.

Finally, the tide is beginning to turn and, thanks to the hard work of Erica Martenson, the Green Party of California has taken an official stand that makes sense. At the latest plenary a new platform position was approved. You can read the text that was passed by consensus here. It took some time and a learning curve, but this was the last productive thing to make it from the Green Issues Working Group to the Platform Committee and then to be enacted. Thank you Erica.

Another recurring theme involves the fact that I have next to no patience for those who spend so much energy working against something and no energy on building the alternative. The latest case of this involves the war against WalMart and other big-box stores.

I wrote a column for the Morgan Hill Times that focused on the fact that one of the root causes for global warming is the American Consumer. Yet, we are being told by our government that the way to get out of every negative economic situation is for Americans to use more, buy more, exhaust our savings and our planet at an even faster rate that we are doing. This, of course, will only accelerate the expenditures of energy that are causing global warming in the first place. The solution to one problem, accoring to our government, is to make another worse. That does not make sense.

In the middle of this, I made the following statement that has drawn a lot of flack from my green friends.
The largest corporation in the U.S. is no longer a manufacturer but retail giant Wal-Mart stores. There are only three ways that this company can grow in the U.S.: open new stores in areas not yet served, have the population grow, or for us to just consume more.

There are many who fight Wal-Mart on the first issue. I am not one of those hawks. There are times and places where Wal-Mart makes sense.

There are other times and places where it does not. It should be up to each local area to decide.
For these friends of mine, the essence of being Green is to fight everything WalMart and an evil second only to Dick Chaney. At least the editor of the MH Times was able to see that the column was not "pro WalMart" but very much anti-consumerism. She headlined it "Consumerism will permanently damage our planet".

Now, I have no problem with anyone finding good reasons to stop WalMart from coming into their town. What bothers me is that so many progressives seem to be regressive, working to stop something rather than working to creating an alternative.

What is the alternative to WalMart? If we just let things go as the flow along, it might be failing mom and pop stores where you have to drive from store to store, burning gas each time, rather than going to a shopping center where they are all in one place, even if the do all look the same.

Since I have been associated with the GPCA, I have only had discussions with a couple of people on the question of Community Based Sustainable Economics.
The keystone of the Green Party's economic program is community-based economics. As an alternative to an economy owned by either government or gigantic corporations, Greens favor a Jeffersonian model with ownership and control spread as widely as possible among Californians.
That is right from the Platform. But, we get all excited about fighting WalMart and I have yet to see a session held about doing anything positive in regard to furthering our goals.

There is a sense in which the current economic problems in America will shape the presidential choice we make next November. So, what is the Green Solution? How do we move from where we are now to the point where we have something to fight for rather than fighting against?

You might make a case (a weak one, I admit) that the fight against WalMart displays a lack of Green Values in that it does nothing to support our own platform position. But then, proposing things that actually have to get done is so much harder than just going out and fighting the Evil Empire.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Abramoff is out, but the corruption remins

I want to give everyone a warning and ask a favor. One of the issues that we used to unseat Richard Pombo was his connection to the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands (CNMI). It often elicited a shrug, as if to say who cares about what happens half-way around the world. Maybe, if you read all of this, you might understand that we should care and that the corruption has not gone away just because Jack Abramoff has had his career cut short.

This was triggered today by a story in the Denver Post concerning a Colorado Congressman named Bob Schaffer. Shaffer has long been a suporter of all of the corruption in the CNMI.

One of the key elements of the CNMI scheme was that, as a Commonwealth, they were allowed to have their own immigration policy. This allowed the Governor Benigno R. Fitial of the CNMI to set up a program whereby private contractors and companies could sign up foreign workers and import them into the CNMI to work in industry. Most of these were women from China and the Philippines. Many were allowe to work long hours in sweatshops making clothing for the US Market (goods manufactured in the CNMI were allowed to say Made in the USA) and the rest were forced into prostitution. This established a loophole whereby anyone who had been admitted to the CNMI could not travel freely to the US mainland.

NOTE: Governor Fitial was previously an executive with one of the major offending companies.

What the good Mr. Schaffer wants is to use the CNMI as a model for our own "guest worker" program. You know, like the bracero programs of the past. The abuses of that program were bad enough in the US. They are horrible in the CNMI.

Now, I am not asking anyone here to work against Mr. Schaffer. I do, however, want to get all of you to contact their Senators and make sure that the support getting Senate Bill 2739 on to the calendar and passed. It may happen today. If not, then we know that behind the scenes schemes are preventing this bill from comint to a vote. The Marianas Islands issues in this bill are only a small part, but it is a very important part.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Catching up so I can be sustainable.

What a contradiction! I have to catch up so that I can be sustainable? There is just too much happening and too many issues that need to be dealt with. It makes me appreciate more when someone takes just a single GEneric issue and follows it to it's logical conclusion, as Erica Martenson has done with GE crops in California.

Many Californian's love their wine. Some drink California Wine just because it is local, even if it is Two Buck Chuck. This story in the San Diego Reader, is about Erica, and the wine business and why Erica founded Preserving the Integrity of Napa's Agriculture (PINA). , may make you change your mind unless we find out that all the hops available is also GE. So far, I hear it is only the rice used in some beers and we don't drink those, do we?

Then, I find a fairly recent column about Community Supported Agriculture by David Cobb (yes, that David Cobb) in the Eureka Standard. For those who want to help sustain local agriculture, who like to eat fresh, Cobb gives a good introduction and helps you understand that you can help sustainable agriculture without blowing your budget.

Finally, let me add two things that I have written. One, was a column for the Morgan Hill Times last January in which I talked about becoming a locavore. The other is in the most recent copy of Green Focus (p.9) and discusses both my (along with my wife) approach to sustainable eating as well as the experiences of Brian and Sanda Everette in establishing San Mateo Ecovillage.

Unfortunately, it took me so long to write this that I fell behind again.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

We havn't got the time.

With the plenary coming up next weekend, I have given some thought to the whole idea of using that time to "fix" the problem with the Coordinating Committee (CC) of the GPCA. I have to put that idea on the level of re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

Folks, it does not make any difference. There is nothing that will be solved by changing the number of members of the CC. There is nothing that will be solved by changing the manner in which they are selected. There is nothing that will be solved as long as the same leadership, by virtue of their virtue, their focused intent, or even just their longevity, as in a position to influence what we do.

But, power is every addictive, especially when one can rationalize using that power on behalf of some noble cause.

I was not present at the beginning of the GPCA. In fact, at that time I was a registered Republican becoming disillusioned with Reaganomics. However, from reading the comments of that who were, I have the impression that they were drawn together by the sense that something was wrong in the world and that there was a better way to find a solution. Thus, the Green way.

What I see now, is that we have lost the sense that this party can have any affect at all on the problems of the world, so we turn inward to solve the problems of our organization. As a result, we forget about the problems of the world. We spend time at plenary after plenary (Northridge, San Francisco, Riverside and not Alameda) debating who should really represent LA, or the structure of the CC, or how many angels can dance on the had of a pin.

Similarly, we chase after a very few issues, some of which mean a lot and others that do not. While we are doing this, the world is changing around us and we are not reacting.

In the news this week, we are told that in many cities, the number of high school drop outs exceeds 50%. In Detroit, the number of students who graduate was put at 24.9%. On the Early Show (CBS) this morning, they trotted out Harvard Professor Alvin Poussaint and Bill Cosby to repeat their call to action from "Come On People." Thank goodness we have Greens like Mark Sanchez (School Board). John Rizzo and Hilary Bradbury-Huang (Community College Trustees) getting into position to do something about education.

On a local PBS station (KQED-San Francisco) last night, they repeated the September, 2007 program call Dimming the Sun and made the point that we have not more than 10 years to actually do something about Global Warming.

The spectre of gang violence in the street, not unconnected from the problems in education, is no long just an issue for large urban centers. Salinas just had 2 gang related murders in 11 hours this week. The neighboring community of Gilroy had a gang related drive-by shooting last night and the television coverage showed that those who had been injured by shotgun pellets were showing off their injury to television as a badge of honor rather than being treated.

My point here is that if try to fix the problems we seen in the GPCA before we tackle the bigger issues in society, we will run out of time because there will always be problems in the party. And, frankly, most of society does not give a rat's ass about about how many people are on the CC. This internalization of focus is, to my mind, the single biggest reason that we are losing membership.

It is easy to blame it on the Democrats for framing us as spoilers. Does that affect the results? Yes, at the presidential level. But, lets start doing something about what is going on in our communities first. It is my sense that if we do that, the internal conflicts we might have will look trivial.

So, I am calling for a Green Day of action by everyone who does not attend the plenary. Pick one major issue in your community this week and figure out what you think needs to be done. Then, do something. Anything positive. Set up a Neighborhood Watch if the issue is Crime. Find a youth center and volunteer to tutor if the issue is education. Write a letter to the editor of your local, community newspaper. Just do something.

Then, when they finally decide how many angels we need for the head of the pin, keep on doing what you have begun.