Gettin It Together
Tennessee -- Veteran and acolyte activists from Tri-Cities, Knoxville, Nashville, Chattanooga and Memphis locals convened on the Cumberland plateau's Standing Stone State Park, Friday through Sunday (June 1-3), for the
first annual meeting of the Green Party of Tennessee. Katey Culver, guiding spirit and (along with Joshua Low) ASGP (Association of State Green Parties) representative to the national party, organized accommodations, food, entertainment, speakers and plenary sessions. Through sharing group cabins, meals and music, formal and informal discussions, disparate members found consensus on some issues and tabled others for future resolution. Local chairpersons detailed their experiences in working toward a real and virtual
bio-regionalism energized by informed citizenry. With state headquarters located in Nashville, the Green Party has ready access for lobbying state legislators on behalf of those who feel disenfranchised by the two major parties. Additionally, there is a Campus Green USA affiliate concentrating on issues of particular interest to students.
The Essence of Democracy
"We can compromise on this or that but voting is
the essence of democracy. If we don't have that, unencumbered
by rampant crime and apathy, we have a fascist state." -- Catherine Danielson,
United Progressive Citizens for Action
VOTERS BILL OF RIGHTS
Strict enforcement and extension of the Voting Rights Act to prevent the disenfranchisement of voters and require full investigation and criminal prosecution of any offenders
Standardized, easily understandable federal election ballots
Funding to replace old and unreliable voting machines to ensure that every vote is counted fairly and accurately
Genuine campaign finance reform that bans campaign contributions from special interests
Replacement of the Electoral College with a majority-rule election, or substantial reform of the Electoral College to allow for proportional representation
Measures to increase voter participation by eliminating bureaucratic hurdles to voter registration and turnout, including language barriers, physical barriers, archaic equipment, and lack of resources
Instant runoff voting
Voting rights for former prisoners
Easier access to the ballot, the media and debates for candidates
Creating independent and non-partisan election administration bodies
Statehood for the District of Columbia
A Perfect Ten
"The purpose of the Green Party of Tennessee is to advance the Ten Key Values in the political arena, and to put forward candidates for political office who support and promote these values...."
1. RESPECT FOR DIVERSITY....We must honor cultural, ethnic, racial, sexual, religious and spiritual
diversity within the context of individual responsibility to all beings.
2. FEMINISM....We must replace the cultural ethics of dominance and control with more cooperative ways
3. SOCIAL JUSTICE....We must respond to human suffering in ways that promote dignity. We must
encourage people to commit themselves to lifestyles that promote responsibility.
4. GRASSROOTS DEMOCRACY....We must develop systems that allow and encourage us to control the
decisions that affect our lives. We must learn from traditions of civic vitality, voluntary action and community
5. COMMUNITY BASED ECONOMICS....We must develop new economic activities and institutions that
will allow us to use our technologies in ways that are humane, freeing, ecological and accountable and
responsive to communities. We must restructure our patterns of income distribution to reflect the wealth
created by those outside the formal monetary economy: those who take responsibility for parenting,
housekeeping, home gardens, community volunteer work, etc.
6. DECENTRALIZATION....We must encourage the flourishing of regionally based culture, rather than a
dominant mono-culture. We must have a decentralized democratic society with our political, economic and
social institutions locating power on the smallest scale (closest to home) that is efficient and practical.
7. ECOLOGICAL WISDOM....We must live within the ecological and resource limits of the planet, applying
our knowledge to the challenge of an energy efficient economy. We must promote respect for self regulating
natural systems. And we must further biocentric wisdom in all spheres of life.
8. NONVIOLENCE....We must develop effective alternatives to our current patterns of violence at all levels
from the family and the street to nations and the world.
9. PERSONAL AND GLOBAL RESPONSIBILITY....We must be of genuine assistance to grassroots
groups in the third world. We must promote these ten GREEN values in our day-to-day lives as well as in the
reshaping of a new peaceful global order.
10. FUTURE FOCUS*....We must make the quality of life, rather than open ended economic growth, the
focus of our future thinking. [*#10 is also known as SUSTAINABILITY.]
A significant proportion of members indicated their affiliation with the Democratic Party. They expressed feelings of dismay and disgust, however, with corporatism entrenched in both parties at the expense of quality of life for citizens in this country and around the world. TGPT plenary sessions -- opened with original "working song" lyrics and guitar by Howard Switzer -- were guided by principles of consensus whereby any member who could or would not "stand aside" on a principle or issue resolution being discussed had absolute veto power. As a result, By-laws for the state party were retired to committee for re-presentation later this year. Special sessions held on Party Building, Strategies for Outreach to the African-American Community, Running a Campaign, Election Reform, and State Platform Development elicited grassroots experiences and insights to build upon.
Saturday evening "Loose Change," an unusually artistic soul group (Debby Beaver electric violin and vocals, Jeff Poppen and Dan Rossman guitar and vocals, Rich Zeller bass and Lloyd Tewksbury percussion) entertained as members talked and danced to a near-full moon.
[Editorial note: Along with Scott Banbury of the Memphis local, the author is co-chair of the Green Party of Tennessee and a member of the TriCities local. They, representatives from the five Green locals, a student and a college rep, and four at-large members constitute the State Coordinating Committee.]
"The written by-laws are not the eternal by-laws." -- sb
"Great spirit, give us courage and light to stay in your path." -- jh
Paper the walls with poetry. Break them down with song.
Green's On the Run
Among modern nations, we are number one
We've got the most billionaires, most folks killed with a gun
Military spending more than anyone by far
On the couch watching a head in a glass jar
Its time to make a change in our priorities
non-violent conflict resolution should be one of these
Decentralizing wealth and power, greed is a disease
Health and education as pretty as you please
Chorus: The green grassroots are growing the party's just begun
The green grassroots are growing Green's on the run. (com'on it could be
Every single citizen should deserve a say
In all the decisions that affect their lives someway
Government should be participatory
That is what we mean by grassroots democracy
People should all know they are part of Nature too
So must live in balance, it matters what we do
Those who think that humankind was made to dominate
Don't know natural systems, extinction is their fate
Republicrats are running their two party heads
And I think they should be arrested by the feds
Our government is owned by a bunch of corporate crooks
If you don't believe me take a look at their books
Americans we need more than the right to shop
Privatizing everything public has to stop
Our printing press is owned by the barons of the buck
If you want to know what's happening, you're out of luck
I know there are some who think politics is dirt
Never think of policy as long as they're not hurt
Never take a stand, want to buy everything
Listen very closely, can you hear the truth ring
There are more than half of us that don't go out to vote
Its high time that we did, its time to rock the boat
Its time to make the economy work for everyone
I'd love to see their faces when the Green Party's won.
-- ©2000 Howard M. Switzer, "an ecologyy-miinded architect in middle Tennessee
as well as a Green Party activist and bard"
Warrior's Prayer: Grant me a worthy opponent
"Time has come to write the Constitution with our poetry...." -- Let Us, from Who Are We? by Alan Kaufman, (published on-line in Conspire)
"...Such noble warriors led the charge.
...Let no man stand between us and freedom.
...It demands we take a stand.
...It's our heritage, a moral imperative.
...Call the kinsmen far and wide."
-- Raise the Clans, Scottish Influence, lyrics and music by Alan Ross, Monteagle TN