Greener Times

Promoting a sustainable society…one day at a time.

GT for October 13 – 19, 2008

Posted by Trey Smith on October 14, 2008

Greener Times for the Week of October 13 – 19

Volume 3 No. 26
an e-publication for Greens anywhere and everywhere
Trey Smith, Publisher/Editor
Tom Herring, Columnist

Anything emailed to GreenerTimes@wagreens.us is subject to be published in a future edition. If you wish to contact Trey personally, for whatever reason, please send correspondence to nwtao@centurytel.net.

In This Week’s Issue

* Bylaw Amendment #1 Passes
* Changes Big & Small Coming to GT
* Help Promote the McKinney/Clemente Ticket Throughout Washington
* Diverse Voices: Barbara Ehrenreich
* Thoughts By the Way: A Green Rhizome
* This Week in History
* Letters to the Editor
* Pencil Shavings: Being Green
* News You May Have Missed

Bylaw Amendment #1 Passes

By a vote of 21 – In Favor, 9 – Opposed and 2 – Abstained, Bylaw Amendment #1 received the necessary 70% and was passed. The upshot of this is that there is no longer a State Coordinating Council for GPoWS for the next 14 months. In its place is a Caretaker Committee made up of a Tom Barnard – Locals Liaison, Kelly Lind – Treasurer, and Nelson Cone – GPUS Liaison. There will also be an Advisory Board made up of reps selected or elected by local parties. As of press time, David Coons (GP of Seattle) and Nelson Cone (GP of Clallam County) have already been chosen by their local parties to serve.

As the Caretaker Committee is more a facilitation body than a leadership/decision-making one, any member who would like to take part is welcome. If interested, contact Tom Barnard. Tom is busy setting up some new listserv’s to facilitate communication during this period. I’ll provide more information on this in coming editions of GT.

With the Caretaker Committee now in place, I think we all owe a lot of gratitude to the former State Coordinating Council. They were each extremely committed individuals who worked there buns off for the party!! This has been a trying year and they weathered quite a few tempests with dignity. So, if you’d like to send a word of thanks to these Green heroes, here’s the info:

Chair Maryrose Asher
Vice Chair Marilou Rickert
Secretary Brian Lynch
Deputy Treasurer Dave Jette
Member at Large & Web Mistress Janet Jordan

Changes Big & Small Coming to GT

As we transition into the next phase of the life of GPoWS, there will be one significant and a few small changes to Greener Times. For starters, my contract with the party was through the now-defunct State Coordinating Council (SCC). Since the SCC no longer exists, neither does my contract! All this means is that I will continue to publish GT, but not as an “official” publication of the party. It will just be me and, of course, Tom Herring.

One criticism that some readers have lodged against GT over the past two plus years is that the editorial slant is rather one-sided. My response to this charge is: Well, of course it is!! When you have the same 1 or 2 writers per issue, their opinions will predominate. And since GT has been my endeavor from the beginning, you all get a belly load of my perspective on things.

As I’ve done in the past, I want to encourage readers — even those of you who disagree with me 90% of the time — to submit commentaries, op/eds and news items. The chief reason our editorial slant is so one-sided is because few readers with a different opinion send anything for inclusion. This is and will continue to be your opportunity to make your voice heard to over 480 Greens from around the state. So, quit whining and get writing! 🙂

In some ways, GT won’t change that much. I will continue to share with you news from GPoWS, our local parties, GPUS and, every once in a while, the Green Party of Canada. I will also continue to highlight important progressive events and activities in the state. That said, one change is that we will turn more of our attention to environmental issues and concerns, while not neglecting the other important issues of our day.

The Green Party was founded in Germany in the early 1970s as a strictly environmental party. In many parts of the world today, the Green Party, through its work, is still connected strongly with the environmental movement. In the US, however, that tie is not as strong as in other places. Since climate change is one of the most pressing issues of the day, when we say Greener Times, we want people to think of the day when our society is managed in a sustainable manner.

Help Promote the McKinney/Clemente Ticket Throughout Washington

Thanks to the efforts some dedicated greens we have the opportunity to promote a presidential candidate who will be on the ballot in Washington State, Cynthia McKinney. Can you thank them by donating time and or money to the campaign they got rolling for us? I AM!!

We have yard signs, buttons and bumper stickers available as well as a lit piece to distribute around your neighborhoods. There is no charge for these materials. Please donate to these efforts.You can contact me with a credit card number or make out a check to Green Party of Washington State.

We will be changing treasurers in mid-October, so send any checks to me and I will get the donation to the proper treasurer so we can continue printing materials.

Please contact me if you can help or want some materials: Dave Coons – member GPOS and GPoWS, 4308 Eastern Ave N, Seattle, WA 98103, 206-769-9776.

Lets keep the ball rolling!!

Diverse Voices: Barbara Ehrenreich

Note: This is YOUR space! If you’ve have written an article or commentary that you want to share with Greens from around the state, I encourage you to send it to me. If nothing is submitted each week, then I’ll find a voice to place in this slot.

How Positive Thinking Wrecked the Economy — Barbara Ehrenreich

Greed – and its crafty sibling, speculation – are the designated culprits for the ongoing financial crisis, but another, much admired, habit of mind should get its share of the blame: the delusional optimism of mainstream, all-American, positive thinking. As promoted by Oprah, scores of megachurch pastors, and an endless flow of self-help bestsellers, the idea is to firmly believe that you will get what you want, not only because it will make you feel better to do so, but because thinking things, “visualizing” them – ardently and with concentration – actually makes them happen. You will be able to pay that adjustable rate mortgage or, at the other end of the transaction, turn thousands of bad mortgages into giga-profits, the reasoning goes, if only you truly believe that you can.

Positive thinking is endemic to American culture – from weight loss programs to cancer support groups – and in the last two decades it put down deep roots in the corporate world as well. Everyone knows that you won’t get a job paying more than $15 an hour unless you’re a “positive person” — doubt-free, uncritical, and smiling—and no one becomes a CEO by issuing warnings of possible disaster. According to a rare skeptic, a Washington-based crisis management consultant I interviewed on the eve of the credit meltdown in 2007, even the magical idea that you can have whatever you truly want has been “viral” in the business culture. All the tomes in airport bookstores’ business sections scream out against “negativity” and advise the reader to be at all times upbeat, optimistic and brimming with confidence—a message companies relentlessly reinforced by treating their white collar employees to manic motivational speakers and revival-like motivational events. The top guys, meanwhile, would go off to get pumped up in exotic locales with the likes of success guru Tony Robbins. Those who still failed to get with the program could be subjected to personal “coaching” or of course, shown to the door.

The same frothy wave of mandatory optimism swept through the once-sober finance industry. On their websites, scores of motivational speakers proudly list companies like Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch among their clients. Angelo Mozilo, the former CEO of Countrywide Mortgage whose subprime ventures precipitated the entire crisis, was known for his congenital optimism and described in the Guardian earlier this year as “absurdly upbeat” even as his industry unraveled. No one was psychologically prepared for hard times, when they hit, because, according to the tenets of positive thinking, even to think of trouble is to bring it on. In May, the New York Times reported that Merrill, caught up short, was suddenly trying to “temper the Pollyannas in its ranks,” and force its analysts to occasionally say the word “sell.”

For those at the very top of the corporate hierarchy, all this positive thinking must not have seemed delusional at all. They actually could have almost anything they wanted, just by expressing the desire. CEO compensation has ballooned in recent years, creating the new class of billionaires and centi-millionaires who inhabit Lear jets and four-figure a night hotel rooms, who can dispatch a private plane who pick up a favorite wine, or a pet, they happen to have left in the Hamptons. According to a new book from the UK, Unjust Rewards by Polly Toynbee and David Walker, these masters of the universe tend to be seriously uninformed about how the other 99 percent lives and, Toynbee told me, often uncomprehending of the financial operations – the derivatives, CDS’s, etc. – that their wealth is derived from. If you live in a bubble of perfect wish-fulfillment, how could you imagine that, for example, some poor fellow in Cleveland might run up against unexpected medical bills or car problems that could waylay his mortgage payments?

Americans did not start out as deluded optimists. The original ethos, at least of white Protestant settlers and their descendants, was a grim Calvinism that offered wealth only through hard work and savings, and even then made no promises at all. You might work hard and still fail; you certainly wouldn’t get anywhere by adjusting your attitude or dreamily “visualizing” success. Calvinists thought “negatively” as we would say today, carrying a weight of guilt and foreboding that sometimes broke their spirits. It was in response to this harsh ethos that positive thinking arose– among mystics, lay healers, and transcendentalists – in the 19th century, with its crowd-pleasing message that God, or the universe, is really on your side, that you can actually have whatever you want, if the wanting is focused enough.

When it comes to how we think, “negative” is not the only alternative to “positive.” As the case histories of depressives show, consistent pessimism can be just as baseless and deluded as its opposite. The alternative to both is realism – seeing the risks, having the courage to bear bad news, and being prepared for famine as well as plenty. Now, with our savings, our homes and our livelihoods on the line, we ought to give it a try.

Thoughts By the Way: A Green Rhizome

A weekly column by Tom Herring from Vashon Island.  Catch more of Tom’s thoughts on his blog.

As this appears in e-print the GPoWS will have approved amendment #1, survived a week tacked to a bulletin board, and be ready for diversion. But all you’re going to get here is a root canal job.

With #1 passed, the state party will be an aggregation of locals, GPoWS becoming GPsoWS. How the locals will operate will be new, but their goal will still be to put good people into office. The wisdom of that should be questioned, because it so far has gotten us nowhere: us, the Party, nowhere. Findings are listed, and then a different goal offered.

Electioneering at the national level will continue to fail because the two-party system was designed by professionals to keep a third party out.

Electioneering by labor movements in the past has eviscerated them, e.g. the Workingmen’s Party faded after it diverted energy into electioneering. We are smarter?

Corporate control of national offices has severely limited options for good works.

It’s the money, right? The higher the level of office, the lower the ethics; and here we are, all ethics and no money trying to put our people into high office. I’m reminded of that cartoon of vultures in a dead tree where one says, patience my ass, I’m gonna kill something. Menwomen, let’s get some clout, and it better come from the ten values ‘cause it’s never gonna come from the five percent. Which presents a small problem in that precious little in the ten values tells the vulture where to kill what. The closest is Decentralization, which, stretched a lot, might mean do it to your neighbor. Regardless, let’s march off at ninety degrees from our present course. Don’t worry, Gary and Howard, you’ll get more votes this way.

Granted that explicit instructions are not included in the ten values, what we should do is set to work creating nuclei of wholeness. Enough preaching, enough “elect himerher because heershe will do good”. Time now for us, the erstwhile Green voters, to do good works, and that means make our communities whole. Most are not whole, instead have lost the roots they used to have in the common turf of a walking, face to face, old fashioned town. Rootless, we have been conned into complicity with the heinous acts of a lawless administration. To show how this might develop, here’s an example.

The town is a bedroom community in rural XYZ county and is unincorporated. The rich are gaining ascendance, gentrifying the shops and putting up huge stick-built homes. It has defeated hospital and public utility district proposals, then proposed no alternates. It has no solar retrofit program and its groundwater management is meddled with in Olympia. It has a low-level vandalism problem. Its real estate taxes subsidize an already rich county. It has no town hall meetings, and its County-chartered Council restricts itself to a list of cold-button issues. It votes overwhelmingly Democratic and has not participated as a community in State or National issues. Now apply the ten values. The town would:

  • Hold regular Town Hall meetings of which the first would address priorities of survival. What will it do if its banks fail, when food prices become a widespread hardship, and when its police turn on it? Should it hold referendums in order to make its collective will known up the line? Does it have a collective will? How important is it to change its commuting?
  • Have its Council promote collective action on affordable solar hot water retrofit, on increased agrarian production (used to have large berry and chicken farms), on remote water use readouts, on electric trams, on a teen center.
  • Eliminate political party presence. Substitute town hall meetings for those yard signs.

You get the drift. By dropping the trappings of Party, local Greens could blend into their community distinguished only by their common values, and known by their deeds. Membership in the Green Party would be earned by working to put its values into effect.

Some such radical change in the party is needed fast. Our Party has become a pariah. I hope that many of you are as tired as I am of getting grass stains on my knees.

A rhizome is a root growing sideways looking for sunlight.

P.S., a somewhat similar idea will be found at Organic Consumers.

This Week in History

This Week in History, published by Carl Bunin and edited by Al Frank, is a collection designed to help us appreciate the fact that we are part of a rich history advocating peace and social justice. While the entries often focus on large and dramatic events there are so many smaller things done everyday to promote peace and justice. Find more info at http://www.peacebuttons.info/E-News/thisweek.htm.

October 14, 1979: The first national gay and lesbian march for civil rights in Washington, D.C., drew over 100,000 demanding an end to all social, economic, judicial, and legal oppression of lesbian and gay people.

October 16, 1901: Pres. Theodore Roosevelt invited Booker T. Washington, founder of the Tuskegee Institute and the most prominent African American of his time, to a meeting in the White House. The meeting went long and the president asked Washington to stay for dinner, the first black person ever to do so. Newspapers in the both the South and North were critical, but the South with more venom. The Memphis “Scimiter” said that it was “the most damnable outrage that has ever been perpetrated by any citizen of the United States.” Roosevelt claimed he had invited a friend to dinner with his family and it was no one else’s business.

October 16, 1968: During medal presentations at the 1968 Summer Olympic Games in Mexico City, winning sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised their black-gloved fists while the U.S. national anthem was played. They were suspended from the team by the U.S. Olympic Committee two days later. Smith later told the media that he raised his right fist in the air to represent black power in America while Carlos’s left fist represented unity in black America.

October 20, 1962: A folk music album, “Peter, Paul and Mary,” hit No. 1 on U.S. record sales charts. The group’s music addressed real issues – war, civil rights, poverty – and became popular across the United States. The trio’s version of “If I Had A Hammer” was not only a popular single, but was also embraced as an anthem by the civil rights movement.

Letters to the Editor

Got something you want to get off your chest? Did an article in a previous edition of Greener Times make you madder than a hornet or cause you to stand up to say, “Right on!”? Well, this space is reserved each week for your comments and opinions.

No letters received.

Pencil Shavings: Being Green

Pencil Shavings appears in this space most weeks and solely represents the opinions of the publisher. If you’d like to read more of Trey’s ruminations, visit The Rambling Taoist.

As we set off on a new path for the structure of our party, I think it’s important to remember that being Green is much more a personal commitment to a set of ideals than a collective one. Because people form the basis of any organization, it’s how we each choose to live our lives that makes collective solidarity possible.

Our world and society are in disarray predominantly because we live our lives in unsustainable ways. Most of us use far more than we create — Our carbon footprints are gigantic. We drive off in our vehicles without thinking about the overall impact of this daily decision. We regularly buy products from corporations that lay waste to the world around us. We pay taxes that are turned into weapons that kill and maim hundreds of thousands each year. We vote for political candidates who do not represent our interests nor the interests of our planet. The list goes on and on…

Far worse, because so many of us are beaten down by the complexities of this “shop ’til you drop” modern world, we circle the wagons around our friends and families. We try to shutout the outside world and its cacophony of competing soundbytes by withdrawing into ourselves and our narrow inner circles. Heck, it scary out there and, sometimes, it’s just easier to watch the calamity in motion than to try to avert it.

So, this presents a dilemma for the Green individual. On the one hand, to be truly Green is to live one’s own life using the 10 Key Values as a general guide. None of us can go around telling others how to live their lives if we don’t individually embrace the very mantra we’re espousing. Yet, at the same time, it’s not enough for each of us as singular individuals solely to live our lives in sustainable ways because a few bad apples can spoil the cider. If almost everyone in your neighborhood protects the local creek, one solitary polluter can foul the water used and enjoyed by everyone.

For me, the answer is to lead by example. Actions generate a greater impact than words. It is by being A-C-T-I-V-E Greens that we can accomplish both the individual and the collective at the same time. So, if you live in a household that recycles, teach others how to do it as well. If you bike to work or school, show others how they can continue to lead busy lives and leave the car at home. If you grow your own organic food, help others to learn how they can do this too. In other words, we each need to be the catalysts for the changes we seek.

The old adage rings true: If a person is hungry and you give her a fish, you merely satisfy her ephemeral hunger. If you teach her to fish, then you provide her with a means to ward off future hunger, not only for herself, but others.

We each need to teach our fellow sisters and brothers to be Green by example and, in doing so, will we come to understand the true depths of what it means to be genuinely Green ourselves.

News You May Have Missed

4 Views of the Financial Crisis From a Green Perspective
The financial crisis that”s shocked world markets, sapped retirement accounts and dried up credit for businesses and individuals alike is about the only headline that seems to matter recently. It”s the dominant theme in the presidential campaign, and has its fingers in every pocket book, bank account and business deal in the U.S., and the world. Even while the enormity of the crisis, and our ability to prevent calamity, remain uncertain, analysts are beginning to consider the implications of the crisis for the environment…

The Problems on Our Plates
British researchers are suggesting that those of us in the world’s developed nations limit our weekly intake of meat to only four modest portions—and milk to just one liter—if we are to avoid “runaway” climate change. A new report from the UK-based Food Climate Research Network concludes that humans’ increasing demand for livestock and other food items—especially “low nutritional value” treats such as alcohol, sweets and chocolates—is exacerbating global warming worldwide…

It’s Not about Polar Bears Anymore
We are now dangerously close to a number of tipping points, thresholds beyond which scientists fear global warming could accelerate on its own and lead to runaway, catastrophic change. The atmosphere, the ocean and the land are rapidly heating up, melting the icecaps, snow and tundra. At the same time, rising sea levels and land desertification are leaving fewer resources for an increasingly crowded planet. This isn’t just a problem for the polar bears. This is going to affect you, me, grandma, our baby cousins … everyone…

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