Almost exactly 20 years ago, a group got together in Berkeley to put the Green Party of California on the ballot. Partly they were inspired by Petra Kelly and the German Greens, partly they were inspired by the same books that got her. They had been building their movement and learning political lessons for years. Mike Feinstein, who must have been a leader then, organized a 20 year reunion in the same church for the first Saturday of February. I heard about it in a rare phone call from the guy himself.


When we got there we found out there wouldn't be any food until evening. The entire carpool (Carol, Tom, and I) was hungry, so we headed for this Thai food place that Carol knew, just a few blocks away.


When we got back from lunch, Jimi Castillo was in the middle of doing the opening invocation. That slap-stick he was wielding was clicking out  a nicely tuneful beat that went along with is spiritual skat singing. Kind of a "Hu! wa-wa! Huh! Wah-wah! hu wa wa..." that went on for a few minutes and centered us in the moment.


Mike Feinstein of Santa Monica opened it up for people to say a few words about whatever it is they want to say.


Jimi Castillo said he is running for Lt. Governor because he had decided the time had come to "take a few shots for the Green Party." He explained that he is well known in the Labor, Veterans, and Native American communities.

Deacon Alexander said he is running for Governor as a leftist candidate. He gave out copies of his flier. Click here to see mine.

Erica said she had joined the Green Party as Matt Gonzalez's press spokesperson. The San Francisco Green Party is still quite busy.


Christina Tobin said she is running for Secretary of State as a Libertarian, partly because she was asked by Richard Winger. She had been in charge of coordinating ballot access for Naders campaign in 2008. She is going to run an aggressive campaign, and hopes to win.

Somewhere in there Carol Brouillet said she wants to make a Green Party bill, featuring websites and ideas central to Green politics. She invited everybody to send her their ideas for such a bill.


The woman from Arizona said "If you look back down the road, and you see nothing but pain; then you look up the road and see nothing but pain ahead, then it's time to step off that road and take a different path." Then she explained that to get Green Party candidates on the ballot they need to do a huge amount of signature collecting. If you can get yourself to their state they will feed you and give you a place to sleep while you work on the signature drive. They need the help and would be grateful for it.

Dave Heller said he is running for Congress in the 9th District.


Bill Elk Whistle Neal said he is going to be helping Jimi Castillo with his campaign for Lt. Gov. Later I heard him tell stories about how much he likes wide open spaces. All I could think was "I'm such an urban dweller compared to him." In my world it's rare to not hear human voices. Sounds like it's not like that for him.

Sandy asked us to come from a place of ignorance and bring people into the Green Party by meeting them where they are.

Marne Glickman said she will be working on Dan Hamburg's campaign and

Laura Wells said she is running for Governor.

Somewhere in there I took a turn to tell people something like "I'm working on putting the change in change."


They broke into a "press conference", just to show the rest of us how it's done. Cres said such thing as "If this was a real press conference, you would have scheduled it before noon so that the press would have plenty of time to organize their material and submit it before the deadline" and "have speakers prepared with no more than three or four minutes of material you want them to focus on." He cautioned that if you make it a press conference about everything it will become a press conference about nothing. What the press wants is a story they can grip the audience/readers/listeners with. Give them that and you will be covered. Be quick, be clear, and then let them go do their thing.

Dan Hamburg said that he had been a Marin County Supervisor when he ran for Congress in 1992. Once he became a Congressman he found that the constant fund raising grind was something he just didn't like. He took some time out after helping Nader get to know the Green Party. Now he is running for Supervisor in Marin County. He wants our support.

Erica lost me. Her comments were like a basic primer on how to orchestrate a press conference.


I became one of the people on the fringe that wasn't listening. I showed the activist formerly known and Joe Louis Hoffman the "GREAT LAW OF PEACE" on the new Sacajawea dollar and he pulled this button out of his pocket. He's still quick, whatever his name is now.

Browsing the internet, I couldn't find any pictures of Deacon Alexander. I got this one as he was going out about then.

I should have added Barbara Eniti to that list. I remember Kent Smith's funeral. Brain cancer got Eleanor Lewellyn. She and her husband John Lewllyn were the first gender balanced Gov. campaign team to be beaten by NOTA. Ira Rohter was Hawaii's Mike Feinstein, or so it seemed to me. Marla Ruzicka died in Iraq documenting civilian casualties because the Pentagon said "we don't do body counts", or something like that. I remember Bill Patterson saying he was going to win a City Council seat. I know he ran, but I think he suddenly died of a heart attack or something before he had a chance to build on the first try. Where's Nancy Broyles? I haven't seen her for years... So many others have come and gone. Are they really all still alive? That's hard to believe to.


Larry Bragman was talking about how critical it is to beat PG&E's ballot initiative with the warm fuzzy name [misnomer?] that will kill utility reform.

About then Richard Winger, who is mainly a Libertarian Ballot Access guru, had to go. I grabbed him for a second on the way out to get his picture. I've not talked to him since maybe '95 or '96 in DC. He taught me (us?) many things about how to frame stories, just by explaining how ballot access fits into the picture. I am very grateful for the impact of his insights.


The next order of business was a brief flute recital by Bill Elk Whistle Neal. He would bring out a flute, tell us a story about it, maybe what somebody said to him the first time he played it, or why it had a bear shaped bird. Then he would explain how it makes him feel and play a song that proved it. The tunes were great background music for quiet reflection.


Beth showed me some snapshots she had. This one was taken maybe a decade ago.

Barbara Blong was the first California Green to win a contested U. S. Senate Primary. She beat Kent Smith. At the time I knew him but I didn't know her. It was eye opening to me that somebody whose name was utterly new to me could crush the most incredible activist in the Central Valley without even debating.


There was a break, so I just took pictures for a while. Did some mingling to.



Linda did a comedy skit based on The Wizard of Oz, poking fun at some of the more entertaining things about our politics. She imitated Meg Whitman as the wicked which, Laura as Dorothy, and Arnold with his cigar. Then she did impressions of the Green Party. She did Peter Camejo with his Avocado Declaration and charts showing taxing the rich is a good idea. She reminded us of the time when Mike Feinstein was "the highest elected Green Party member in the USA." She held a virtual joint to her mouth and toked on it to illustrate the guy had been highest in more ways than one at least once or twice.

Then we had a history panel. Mike explained that the first time they tried to do it, in 1986, they had failed miserably. I think they came about 76,000 signatures short of the number required for ballot access. They had sent in another request in '88, but another group had beat them to the Secretary of State's desk. That group didn't succeed in getting a Green Party on the ballot either. In 1990, in this very room, another group had come together, this time vowing to succeed. That day had lead to this.


Ross spoke first about those days. He had to because he had a young kid and wife at home that needed his attention.

Beth started by listing the different names she has used in the past twenty years. They all started with "Beth", but ended differently. She and Kent Smith were the backbone of the Nevada County Green Party during the ballot access drive. Later she was our press spokesperson for many years.


Wildman (tan clothes) said working on that ballot drive is still the most incredible thing he has ever done. It's just not that often a drive succeeds, and even rarer is it done by people without significant financial backing. We did use some money, but the volunteer component was what drove it. His first big project was a manual for organizing Velcro County. Then they got together the Green Focus Newspaper, with contributions from all over the state so people could see that the Party they were joining was more than just an idea in minds of radicals foaming at the mouth. After that he just worked hard, doing everything he could to keep teams on the streets registering voters. His parting thought was "If we were still following that Velcro County template, we would have about 650,000 members in California." He thinks the low hanging fruit of people that agree with us and are willing to register Green is about 650,000 Californians. Right now there are maybe 100,000 Californians registered Green.

He also talked about None Of The Above (NOTA). In the beginning they had petitioned the Judge for rights to control their primaries, being a new Party on the ballot and all that. The judge had disallowed much of it, but had given us NOTA instead. After the 1992 season he decided to run NOTA for Governor next time. Then he talked about being campaign manager for "Nobody for Governor" in 1994. He recruited a slate of candidates to run for Governor, including one whose ballot statement boiled down to a ringing endorsement of voting for None Of The Above (NOTA). He also fund raised to all of the people that supported Big Green and a few other things, raising several hundred thousand for the mailings that asked people to "vote for nobody!" The candidate vote was split three ways, so he won with something less than half the vote. 

Right after the election I saw him quoted in the paper saying "I wish I could vote for Nobody in November." Unfortunately they (the status quo) took NOTA away from us because we were having too much fun with it at their expense. It hasn't been on the ballot since 1994.

The electronic activist (Mitra or something like that) talked about how that registration drive was the first large scale political thing to be organized using email and spreadsheets. It made our costs a tiny fraction of what others would have had to invest to do the same things.


Hank talked about how it was pulling teeth to get voters to register Green until they got articles about why it was a good idea in the press. This cover story in the Guardian for which he and Regina had posed with a clipboard and pen had changed the tide. After that it was a matter of keeping up with the demand for registration forms. Hank has been going through his archives lately. One thing he found out was that a lot of people that had come to our statewide meetings had later run for office as Greens. We've had 208 candidates so far.


The woman in green had words so light I felt like I was watching that feather drift around at the beginning of the movie about the guy who shook hands with President Kennedy. She just shared a couple of impressions, moments she had found meaning in. Wish I could remember them.

She was followed by the first guy that lost to NOTA. He talked about how they had worked hard to put out the mailing that got the voters to do it. Later he heard stories about people that got the mailing three days after the election. His team was grateful (or was it lucky?) enough of them had gone to the polls and voted him off the ballot. I remember him being the only candidate in the batch of us that got any press right after the election. (Typical headline: NOBODY BEATS CANDIDATE!) It was a great "only in California" story. I enjoyed reading it to.

Danny Moses called in and spoke for a few minutes. His ideas strengthened my feeling that green politics on all levels, from movement (from using less toilet paper to voting our dollars in the marketplace) to electoral activism (from symbolic to incumbency) at the local, State and national level, are all part of moving forward together. Charlene Spretnek said a few words to. She talked about her work as campaign press spokesperson, laying out her evening's FAX blast on the bed, and then sending them out one by one after the phone rates went down in the evening. They talked about how exciting it was when the Guardian endorsed Danny Moses for Lt. Gov. After that, the rest of the campaign was a real whirlwind.


Now I'm wondering why I wasn't on that panel. I was as much a part of that year's campaign as anybody else. I went to Kent Smith's campaign meetings when Barbara Blong was beating us. But then I'd said a few words about my story earlier. Maybe I just felt shy when Feinstein asked everybody to step forward and sit down. Anyhow, I was there then.

I think Heller mentioned gathering signatures back then.


About then Ross had to leave. He showed us his son's picture on the way out. I told him my new line, "now that there's PEACE in the change, you to can have peace in your change for a buck." He liked it.

Daniel talked about gathering signatures during the ballot access drive. He said "that was when I learned how to manage six clipboards at the same time." I gather he did a lot of it. What I remember him for was organizing that Statewide Green Party meeting in Marin. The one where Caroline Casey put mooti on some of the chairs (including mine) before her speech. I looked at it when she explained its magical powers. Looked like a pinch of an underwhelming green powder.

Daniel said that after Audie Bock got elected to the State Assembly they had put together a Green Focus issue featuring her on the front page. The plan was to send it out to the fund raising list, and then pay the office expenses including staff off of that. The only problem was that right about the time the mail went out Audie Bock scandalized the Alameda County Greens by taking money from big oil and bid tobacco. When she heard from them about it she quit the Green Party and joined the Democratic Party. People didn't give us money because of that mailing. Instead we had to pay the printer and post office with money we needed to use for rent and salaries. His conclusion: "We weren't ready for prime time."

I remember somebody asking me about the first guy that got beat by NOTA. I explained his campaign had asked voters to vote for NOTA because they didn't have the resources to be competitive in the fall. "He withdrew from the race" was my friends conclusion. The look on that face said "what a concept."


After that there was a lot of mugging for the camera. I would have liked to have S. Deacon Alexander in these pictures, but he had left.





I think the guy in that picture is Evan. I think I forgot to get an individual picture of Emery.

Dana won her race last fall. I was glad to get another picture of a green incumbent.

I like the world of ideas radiating between Carol and Cameron.