[John Rensenbrink Speech to MA Green-Rainbow Party Convention in Worcester, Massachusetts, November 15, 2014]
Thank you Roni.
Greetings, very excited to be here with you. One piece of excitement: last Sunday the Maine Green Independent Party's Steering Committee unanimously endorsed the Green Alliance to Stop the Pipeline. GASP! Indeed! That's good news: "As Maine Goes ....!"
When Roni asked me to give the keynote, I was delighted to be invited and asked her what she and the Planning Committee had in mind for my speech. She said the Committee suggested the theme of "The Big Tent."
My speech, accordingly, centers on the rainbow as a Big Tent model for the vision and accompanying strategy of the Green Party.
For contrast and critical comparison to the rainbow model, I begin by commenting on a Big Tent strategy promoted by Ralph Nader and others.
I will then go on to describe how and why the rainbow is the model of choice. Thereafter, I will finish by outlining two strategies that fit in with the rainbow model: a versatile strategy and a jolt strategy.
(it would be a step in the right direction to create a non-adversarial police force in our communities. - promoted by eli_beckerman)
We are going into our fifth month of demonstrations and actions all over the USA about police violence and sanctioned summary judgment. Hearing, reading, seeing the news, it seems as if brutality, terror, and torture are breaking out worldwide, with beheadings and mass killings happening at, perhaps, a quickening rate. Violence meeting violence to make more violence, intertribal problems stuck on stupid, here and abroad.
Recently, I saw a DVD of "The Interrupters,"
( http://interrupters.kartemquin... ) on an open cart in the library and I took it home. It's a documentary about a group called Ceasefire which "interrupts" street violence between gangs and violent individuals in Chicago. CeaseFire's founder, Gary Slutkin, is an epidemiologist who believes that violence spreads like an infectious disease and uses a "medical" treatment: "go after the most infected, and stop the infection at its source," to stop it. One part of that treatment is the "Violence Interrupters" program, created by Tio Hardiman, a group of street-credible, mostly former offenders who defuse conflict before it becomes violence. They can speak from experience about consequences and how "no matter what the additional violence is not going to be helpful."
About the same time, a friend wrote me about a radio interview
( http://www.ttbook.org/book/ref... ) with Constance Rice, a civil rights attorney and cousin to the former Secretary of State, who has trained 50 LA police officers over the last five years in "public trust policing" at Nickerson Gardens, an LA public housing project.
I picked up "The Interrupters" because I was wondering why we didn't hear about this group in relation to what has been happening with the deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamar Rice and others. I listened to the interview with Constance Rice for the same reason. Why haven't I seen Ms Rice, Gary Slutkin, or Tio Hardiman on my TV screen and all over "social media"? They are doing some things which have proven to work in their own communities. How much of what they've done in Chicago and LA can apply to NYC and Boston and other places all around the world? Can they teach us all how to interrupt our own violence and to build a system of public trust policing? As Tio Hardiman says in the DVD: "We've been taught violence. Violence is learned behavior." Can these people and the others like them teach us how to unlearn our violent behavior?
We'll never know unless their voices are part of the conversation.
Thrive Solar Energy Pvt Ltd is a leading solar powered LED lighting solutions provider from India, offering
"14 types of solar powered LED lights that cater to the lighting needs of children, women, households and villages. Its lights are used by tea estate workers, farmers, weavers, vendors, dairy and any other village level vocation that is in need of a clean, safe and reliable light. Thrive Solar partners with NGOs, women Self Help Groups (SHGs), Micro Finance Institutions (MFIs), funding agencies, banks, donors, educational institutions and businesses to promote and distribute its lighting products to bottom of the pyramid (BOP) communities, located in off-grid and intermittently grid connected geographies."
Thrive is making 2 million lights per year at a price as low as $2 per lamp and are projecting 4 million per year production soon. They do not sell directly to consumers but through the different agencies with which they work. Nearly half of India still uses 12 lumen candles and 40 lumen kerosene lamps which can be replaced with 60 lumen solar lights. Currently, the Indian government subsidizes kerosene and paraffin prices by $6 billion per year. Thrive says it can provide solar lights to every Indian family now for about $1 billion.
WORCESTER - At their state convention at the First Unitarian Church Saturday, Green-Rainbow Party leaders expressed hope that national discontent with the major parties could lead to their long-sought breakthrough.
"The Democrats and Republicans really have a circling firing squad here, and are continuing to take each other down," said Dr. Jill E. Stein, party co-chairman and 2012 presidential candidate. "It's really created the opening we have known about for quite some time."
The Green-Rainbow Party of Massachusetts is part of the larger national Green Party, and Saturday's event drew party members from all over New England.
"I think the Green Party is on the way," said Linda Thompson, co-chairwoman of the Connecticut Green Party. "We have to think big."
Nationally, the Green Party won some important victories and took some small steps forward. Most importantly, the Green mayor of Richmond, CA, Gayle McLaughlin, won her bid for City Council despite Chevron's massive campaign against her. And New York gubernatorial candidate Howie Hawkins received nearly 5% of the statewide vote, making the Green Party THE third party in New York. Other highlights across the country have been posted by Green Party Watch.
In Massachusetts, the Green-Rainbow Party regained major party status on November 4th when each of its three statewide candidates surpassed the 3% threshold, each gaining more votes and higher percentages than the well- and self-financed Evan Falchuk campaign, which also received more media coverage. Since Falchuk's campaign also surpassed the 3% threshold, his United Independent Party will join the official party ranks along with the Green-Rainbow Party.
Discrepancies between federal and state recognition of political parties along with Secretary of the Commonwealth Bill Galvin's apparent contempt for the Green-Rainbow Party have made it difficult to consistently organize a progressive political alternative to the Democrat/Republican national duopoly, or one-party rule in Massachusetts. The latest example was Galvin's dismissal of Green-Rainbow Party candidate Jason Lowenthal's nomination papers to challenge incumbent Democratic Congressman Michael Capuano, who went on to run unopposed on the November ballot. Galvin, with a proud history of ducking debates despite being the state's elected overseer of elections, took a cheap shot at the Green-Rainbow Party for the party's stubborn refusal to continue on in electoral politics:
Secretary of State William Galvin said the state will be required to print primary ballots for all the parties, even if there are no competitive races. In the past, the state has used paper, rather than the more expensive cardstock, to print ballots for the Green-Rainbow Party or other third parties. "We'll have to kill many trees," Galvin told reporters on Monday. "We do this all the time with the Greens, which is ironic."
Isn't it ironic, don't you think? Coming from the man who mailed all registered Green-Rainbow Party voters, twice now -- at taxpayers' expense -- postcards that made it sound like the Green-Rainbow Party no longer existed (it did, both as a political designation and as the state affiliate of a federally recognized political party) and that if they wanted to vote in a primary they would have to change their registration? Or the man with so much contempt for the democratic process that he oversees that "scheduling difficulties" and various other phony excuses have prevented him from agreeing to debates against his opponents, other than last-minute sham debates. Spare us the sermonizing, Bill.
On a more positive note, GRP State Auditor candidate MK Merelice's letter to the Brookline Tab, does a nice job of summarizing the highlights for the Green-Rainbow Party slate and the pockets of strong, local support they received, so I'll leave you with that:
(Great stuff. Be there or be rare. - promoted by eli_beckerman)
Just wanted to make sure people know about this upcoming conference which may be the start of something really exciting. I know from my monitoring of Harvard, MIT, and other universities that ecosystem solutions to climate change are not only not on their radar but met with antagonism when brought up. The conference organizers can use your help (and mine) in getting the word out.
Restoring Ecosystems to Reverse Global Warming
We have solutions!
More of our man-made carbon emissions to date have come from land mismanagement and the resulting loss of soil carbon than from burning fossil fuels. The good news is that we know how to remove that atmospheric carbon and store it back into the soils where it belongs, by harnessing the power of nature.
Restoring Ecosystems to Reverse Global Warming is a 3-day conference with the goal to bring the power of biology front and center in the climate conversation. We are bringing together a stellar roster of speakers-scientists, land managers and activists-and participants from around the world to learn from one another and to devise strategies to expand vast natural soil carbon sinks around the world. To learn more about the speakers: http://bio4climate.org/confere...
Help us support the conference!
http://www.razoo.com/story/Con... Donations will keep tickets affordable, provide scholarships, pay for materials, assist with major outreach efforts before and after the conference, and help support our hard-working and dedicated staff. Any contribution is greatly appreciated!
Restoring Ecosystems to Reverse Global Warming is hosted by the Tufts Institute of the Environment and the Center for International Environment and Resource Policy at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts.
(the answer's been right under our feet all along? - promoted by eli_beckerman)
Something is happening in the organic farming community. This year the Northeast Organic Farming Association has been exploring carbon farming, "regenerative organic agricultural techniques for sequestering atmospheric carbon in stable soil aggregates." The NOFA Summer Conference at the beginning of August (http://www.nofasummerconference.org) had a Soil Carbon and Climate Track with eight presenters, including the keynoter, Dr. Elaine Ingham, who gave workshops about farming methods that take carbon from the air and add it to the soil while improving fertility and tilth.
In September, the MA chapter of NOFA (NOFAMASS) (http://www.nofamass.org) held two seminars in Amherst and Newton with the Australian soil scientist, Christine Jones explaining the science of soil systems and talking about practical ways to sequester carbon in soil:
https://www.dropbox.com/sh/lvp... My notes from the Newton workshop
On Monday, November 3, 2014, NOFAMASS will have an all-day workshop on Succeeding with Grass-Fed Beef: Human Health, Carbon Sequestration, and Farm Viability at Heifer International, 216 Wachusett Street, Rutland, MA led by Ridge Shinn, an expert in grass-fed and grass-finished beef with experience in all parts of the industry.
"What we are learning from the presenters recorded above is that not only is the world in enormous danger from climate disruption, but also the regenerative organic agricultural practices that NOFA promotes offer genuine promise for a livable future on this planet."
Organic farming saves the world. Rebuild soils while producing more and more nutritious food all while taking carbon out of the atmosphere. Sounds to me like ecological systems design or geotherapy.
The lead article on Bluemassgroup, the Democratic Party blog, is telling everyone to get behind Martha Coakley for Governor. It is entitled "Coakley for Governor: The Small Differences That Matter."
It starts with this telling comment:
"I understand the frustration with the candidates. The differences between Coakley and Baker don't seem to be the yawning chasm that we'd like. But in the immortal words of Donald Rumsfeld, you go to war with the army you have."
In other words: "The Democratic Party candidate is only marginally better than the Republican. She doesn't really provide leadership on the things important to us. But she's the only choice for those of us with a two-party mentality. So shut up and vote to endorse business-as-usual."
Thank goodness the Green-Rainbow Party doesn't engage in such shameful attempts to talk people into abandoning their values.
(Voting (and not voting) your conscience. - promoted by eli_beckerman)
My Green-Rainbow Party voter registration is a stronger statement on the issues that I care about than are the votes that I cast for various candidates. My Green-Rainbow Party affiliation is a public record and is in effect every day.
So what does that mean for the Democratic Party primary on Sep 9, 2014? It means that I will not vote in it.
Not very many other voters will vote in the primary, either. The Lenox Town Clerk predicts an extremely slow day (less than 20% turnout). In my case, I do not participate in that primary because I am not a Democrat (and I would not be given a ballot to cast even if I showed up). Not participating in other parties' primaries is one of the statements that I made with my registration as a Green-Rainbow Party voter.
For the 2014 state elections it's too bad that a Green-Rainbow Party gubernatorial candidate did not surface, although the party has nominated three fine candidates running statewide for the offices of Treasurer, Auditor and Secretary of the Commonwealth.
Our small party does sometimes have primaries of its own, which voters registered in other parties may not vote in. When we have had primaries our voter turnout is much higher than it is for other parties.
Softball advocacy for GMO labeling is the kind of boneheaded strategy that several of us were invited to play this morning.
We must play hardball, instead. We are up against food manufacturers who are oppose GMO labeling and who provide lavish funding to Democratic Party political leaders like House Speaker Robert DeLeo, who then block the legislation despite its popularity. DeLeo and the lobbyist donors fully understand the game of political hardball. DeLeo wants the industry lobby money and he knows securing the money is conditioned on doing just the sort of blocking he's doing. Votes that bestow power on his office, though, are taken for granted.
Against this backdrop is a ludicrous game of softball being espoused by MoveOn.
(Good stuff, thanks George! - promoted by eli_beckerman)
I've been going to public lectures on climate change at Harvard, MIT, and other places since at least 1980. Lately I've been thinking that I have yet to hear an ecologist talk about the subject. I've seen climatologists, atmospheric chemists, atmospheric physicists, glaciologists, rocket scientists (thanks, S Fred Singer), oceanographers, and geologists address the subject. But I can't recall hearing an ecologist talk about climate change and ecological systems. This becomes even more frustrating to me when I attend a lecture on geoengineering. In the last couple of years, a joint Harvard and MIT group has been meeting to discuss this topic and the enormous intellectual effort devoted to rather simplistic solutions to complex systems problems is astonishing to me, especially since there seems to be such a great reluctance to engage on the systems issues.
Recently, some friends and colleagues have begun trying to remedy the situation, focusing on the global carbon cycle and, in particular, soil carbon. Part of this is through the work of Allan Savory and his practice of Holistic Management in relation to livestock grazing patterns. Another part is through the work of Tom Goreau protecting and, in some cases, restoring coral reefs. Through their efforts, this year's Northeast Organic Farming Association Summer Conference will have an extensive "Soil Carbon and Climate Track" introducing practicing farmers to ways in which their daily work can sequester carbon from the atmosphere for years, decades, and even centuries, becoming an important tool in diminishing climate change and, just possibly, reversing it.
A few weeks later, the NOFA Massachusetts chapter will host two day-long workshops with Dr. Christine Jones, an Australian soil biologist, on "Practical Options for Food Production Resilience in an Increasingly Variable Climate." One workshop will be in the Boston area and the other will be in Western Massachusetts.
Lastly and certainly not least, they are organizing a conference at Tufts University at the end of November on "Restoring Ecosystems to Reverse Global Warming." Not only will the conference bring together experts from all over the world to talk about ecosystem solutions to confront climate change and global warming but it is also designed to start a global conversation and network to begin practicing these systemic solutions, sharing what works and understanding what doesn't and why.
This is a development I have long waited for and will participate in as much as I can.
Switzerland came to the Boston area a week or so ago. There was a conversation with one of the political leaders of the country, Doris Leuthard, Councillor of the Swiss Federal Department of Environment, Transport, Energy, and Communications, at MIT on "Future Energy Supply and Security in Switzerland" and the next day a seminar on Watt d'Or, the Swiss award for the best energy projects in the country ( http://www.bfe.admin.ch/org/00... ), at Northeastern University to celebrate the opening of an exhibit that will stay up at Northeastern's International Village until September.
I attended both events and learned quite a few exciting ideas from the Swiss and, inadvertently, something more about the limitations of MIT's view of the energy future.
For the first time since Jill Stein ran as the Massachusetts Green Party candidate for Governor in 2002, endorsed by the Rainbow Coalition Party, the merged Green-Rainbow Party is not running a candidate for the Corner Office.
But that doesn't mean that the party is sitting this election out. Instead, three candidates have put themselves forward for statewide office, receiving the party's endorsement and running as a slate. As we announced earlier, MK Merelice, Danny Factor, and Ian Jackson are running for the constitutional positions of State Auditor, Secretary of the Commonwealth, and State Treasurer, respectively. Needing 5,000 certified signatures to get on the ballot, the slate had collected 6,646 raw signatures as of July 4, and is aiming for 9,000 by July 27th to protect against challenges by the Democrats and Republicans. For details on how to help ensure the slate makes it onto the ballot, see www.green-rainbow.org.
While Stein is the party's female co-chair, she opted to continue organizing at the national level, following up on her 2012 campaign as the Presidential candidate of the Green Party of the U.S. along with Vice Presidential running mate Cheri Honkala. The Green-Rainbow Party needs 3% of the vote in one of their statewide races in order to regain major party status in Massachusetts, which would result in ballot access for a Presidential ticket in 2016.
How do you, dear readers, feel about not having a Green-Rainbow Party gubernatorial candidate this year? How do you feel about the chance of having a slate of candidates for Auditor, Secretary and Treasurer instead? What do you think any of this means for independent politics in Massachusetts?
(The Green-Rainbow Party standing up and standing out compared to Governor "Chevron/Texaco" Patrick, who as recently as May called for "a future free of fossil fuels." If only he put his money (read: political capital) where his mouth is. - promoted by eli_beckerman)
It has been difficult for those of us fighting the proposed Tennessee Gas Pipeline, educating the public and lobbying policy-makers to get a clear message from our elected representatives and candidates on where they stand on the issue. Will they publicly fight it, will they support it, or will they straddle? At the top political leadership we know clearly where the governor stands; he's on the wrong side. Governor Patrick adamantly and vocally supports this fossil fuel expansion that is a huge step in the wrong direction.
Local politicians like Ben Downing, Paul Mark, and Smitty Pignatelli make statements on the subject that are tempered and carefully parsed. They express no vision or resolve. They instill little confidence that they are willing to stick their political necks out in a very difficult fight. They tell us they are 'torn' and that it's a 'difficult issue,' that it's the feds who are the authority, that the issue must be further 'studied,' and that they will follow the developments 'with interest and concern.' They may suggest that the pipeline should be situated on a different route, but they do not use their leadership position to broadly address the real issue of our continuing dependence on fossil fuels or to challenge the governor or the fossil fuel energy interests who pump money into the coffers of the Democratic and Republican parties.
Candidate Martha Coakley's position statement is no better:
Martha is committed to building a clean energy future in Massachusetts and, while natural gas currently represents a critical piece of our energy mix, she continues to see it as a bridge to cleaner, renewable energy sources. She is also committed to doing everything possible to protect both homes and fragile environmental resources.
As you may be aware, the ultimate decision on this project rests with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and, like Governor Patrick, Martha believes FERC should ensure an open, substantive discussion with local residents before making a decision on the future of the project.
One gets the feeling that, once again, our political expectations are being managed down.
How refreshing, in this context, to hear clarity and firmness in a statement that was issued by an organized, growing, and feisty political opposition to establishment politics, the only political party in Massachusetts whose leaders and candidates neither solicit nor accept funding from private energy interests. This opposition party is the Green-Rainbow Party.
On Friday, May 2, 2014 FossilFreeMIT
( http://www.fossilfreemit.org ) declared a flood zone all around their campus at Hurricane Sandy strength plus projected 2050 sea level rise to publicize their divestment campaign. It was also a good advertisement for the same weekend's annual Sustainability Conference focusing on resilience and coastal cities. Here's how the David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer looks under this climate change scenario.
Green Mass Group is an online forum for Green thought and collective action in Massachusetts. It is a community forum for justice, sustainability, democracy and health in the Commonwealth and beyond.
"The sad reality is that we are in danger of perishing from our own stupidity and lack of personal responsibility to life... to create a mess in which we perish by our own inaction makes nonsense of our claim to consciousness and morality."