This time my plan was to
participate in the entire convention. I got there just after
they took possession of room 237. That meant all I got to see
was this backdrop, the registration table had moved upstairs. An
hour or two after checking in I'd settled into my room, washed
away three days on the Greyhound bus, and figured out that the
first workshop I wanted to attend was the one titled
"Confronting Oppressive Behaviors". When I got there it was a
fairly full classroom with a slender woman organizing a go
round, where everybody said something about who they were, where
they were from, and what they wanted out of the convention.
There were long time Greens,
"Bernie or Bust!" activists that wanted Plan B to work, Houston
Greens that wanted to learn more about the rest of the Green
Party, and some other random individuals. She kept it going, but
there were many of us. Most of the rest of our 90 minutes went
into learning through a show of hands how many had experienced
many things. Some were oppressive behaviors, things like "Do you
know anybody that is in jail?" That one got most of the
African-Americans and Latinos to raise their hands, but nobody
else. It did my heart good to see a large number of hands go up
for "Do you have lots of books in your home?" It felt good to
know I wasn't the only reader there.
The next session I went to this
guys talk. I was there for about ten minutes before I realized
he was just going to lecture at great length about the physics
of climate change. Got that "I've seen this movie before"
feeling and went out to schmooze with other Greens that were
just getting in.
Greg turned out to be the "oldest"
Green among us this year. I say "oldest" because there are still
quite a few of us that have spent more years circling the sun.
He is oldest in the sense that he registered with the Green
Party in Rhode Island back in 1984. Among us there is one who
has spent more years registered Green, John Rensenbrink of
Maine. Unfortunately, he got home from his previous trip sick,
and hasn't yet recovered enough to travel to Texas, so he didn't
show. Greg was our oldest member that got there this time.
One thing I liked about the
University of Houston is their water bottle filling stations.
Every water fountain had one at the back.
There was an opening evening talk
that started with this woman from the host committee. She
welcomed us to Houston, "Where the weather is hot and humid but
the air conditioning is great!" Then she introduced the hot
speaker from occupy wall street, YahNe Ndgo.
Her name sounded like "indigo". I
remember being struck by her ability to bring people along with
her vision. I remember it as a "We won't be fooled again!" talk.
There was also stuff like how hard it is when you're a single
mother worried about where to get your kids next meal. By the
end of it everybody was on their feet clapping and cheering.
Viva the occupation!
Mike Feinstein wants everybody to
go out and make a video of a couple going into some local
eatery. They sit down and the waitress gives them menus and asks
who they want to vote for. They look at their choices. A donkey
or an elephant. One of them says "What we want isn't on the menu
here. We want to vote for the leaf!" The other one pulls out a
Jill Stein for President flier and says "My vote is for Jill
Stein!" Fade to black as the couple walks out and starts
unlocking their bicycles or whatever. He's hoping the idea will
go viral, and everybody will find a way to bring their take on
things into their version. Make it a decentralized movement! I
like that idea.
Approval voting starts with the
idea "I like voting for good options". Informally, the way it
works is the speaker asks for a show of hands for each of an
agreed upon list of choices. We vote for every option we like.
The option with the most votes in the end wins. Click the
picture to find out more.
This Ohio Green enjoys tabling,
and had his table set up for all to see. He did everything
right, including customizing it with his own issues and favorite
They had lots of Green Party
shirts for sale. The prices were reasonable. Hope they got
lots of them out there. I traded this sticker for the photo op
of having her brandish it back there. I also got one of the
shirts that says Green is the party of revolt.
Colorado in the house!
Rob Sherman said that in
Illinois he is a famous Atheist. He knows more than most about
theology and the public there. The 5th District in Illinois is
part of the Chicago thing. Oak Park is part of it, from what I
remember of what he said.
There was a hubbub of activity
out in the hallways. Different people were doing different
things and talking about it. Debbie was live casting from that
chair. She interviewed me for a couple of minutes. Arn Manconi
was evangelizing for his Colorado Senate campaign. (Click his
picture to see the picture I took of his flyer.) There was a
whole bunch of other people wandering around, but they were
the ones I got a chance to photograph.
The next workshop I attended was
"Building the Revolution with Social Media". The name involved
was Dave Schwab, Communications Director with the Jill Stein
for President campaign.
He said stuff like "If you're on
Facebook please limit yourself to under five posts a day at
the most." People are busy, and it's hard enough to get one
idea from someone else out there. Posting too much gets you
ignored by many. Best results come from a word to a paragraph
with a picture. By all means, develop a long friends list. How
many likes your last few posts got will heavily influence how
many people see your next effort. Don't expect it to get to
everybody just because you sent it. Shares can get something
way more hits.
Twitter is completely different in the way it works. For one
thing, you're limited to 144 characters. For another, everyone
on your list will get everything you post. He wanted us to
keep in mind that social media done right is somewhere between
yelling in public and getting published. Don't post things you
don't want repeated (shared).
The next workshop was "The Role
of Art in Revolution" with Ruthi Engelke. David Cobb started
it, speaking of his deep feelings for art. He reminded us of
many times artists had captured the moment with political
memes. Stuff like "tank man" from Tiananmen Square in the
The curator began by saying "We
wanted to hang a political banner outside to attract everybody
to this art exhibit, but The University forced us to take it
down. Instead, you see it on the floor. We'll pass that later
in the exhibit." Then he explained that in resource
constrained environments artists play a key role in getting
the word out for change. All of the exhibits have something
like that about them. Then he brought out the artist that
tried to find meaning in the forgotten cremated remains of
long ago forgotten people.
The artist explained that
funeral homes keep the ashes of the cremated remains that
weren't picked up after the service for a long time. Then they
get rid of them. He was the trash man there, and it grieved
him. He decided to make art of the remains to raise awareness
that too many of us are being forgotten like that. Turns out
everybody burns down to a different color of ashes. He found
ways to bind the ashes to canvas and the dollar sign behind
him and the McDonaldsish arches were made using 100% forgotten
human ashes for pigments.
The crude oil and shredded money
in those corporate icon bottles are real. That "cardboard
sign" is a bronze casting. That American flag is made of old
cigarette butts found on city streets.
This was the banner that the
university had taken down. Mutters of "Censorship!" went
through us as we heard the story.
After the guided tour of the art
gallery we were ushered into the next room over. It was a
classroom with pages urging us to download good reads on all
the tables. Here are a few that I crossed paths with. There
were far too many for me to visit, but somebody mentioned that
Ted Kazinsky's manifesto was one of them.
Each of us sat down with two or
three different texts in front of us. It wasn't long before
Darryl Cherney took the stage as an example of a political
song writer. He did a couple of songs from his Redwood Summer
years. Stuff like "Where's Bosco?", which was about how the
congressman was too corrupt to show up for normal people
because the big money had bought both of his ears and all of
After Darryl sang a couple of
songs David Cobb came up and explained that back near the turn
of the millennium, when "teamsters and turtles" got together
in Seattle, he had been the labor organizer and Darryl had
been the turtle organizer behind that grouping.
It was a well attended workshop.
Then Cobb gave us the readers
digest version of his rap about corporate personhood and
constitutional rights. He wants a Constitutional Amendment
that corporations are not people and money is not speech. He's
out of the Baptist Preacher tradition, so it was riveting
Since 2010 he's gathered 408,000
supporters, 17 states have come on board, and 600 government
resolutions have been passed supporting his call for a
constitutional amendment. If you haven't seen him do this rap
you should. It's good art, to say the very least.
The evening was capped off with
a "Greens Got Talent!" variety show. You should have been
there. It was all good.
One of the acts was this New
York Choir that were with us via video who did a stirring
rendition of Eric Gardener's last words. It was an operatic
collage of many heaving sounds with "I can't breathe" in five
part harmony with good orchestration. Not the kind of thing
untrained voices can do.
The last act was this chorus
that lead us in a sing along version of that song that goes
"We are the world... We are the children, so let's start
By the end everybody was singing
along and doing the wave. I went to bed feeling awesome about
the whole green thing.
Waiting for the elevator to go
down to breakfast the next morning I took this picture. A
beautiful day was starting.
Tony Affigne is super excited
about being involved with the first offshore wind turbine in
the USA. He showed me this front page article about it in his
State's paper of record. Click his picture to read that
The first show was a Hiroshima
Day remembering. It was a poem with live action mime
As a California delegate, all I
had to do was be there through the counting of the votes.
Then it was time for the
Presidential Candidates to each give a brief pitch to those
Darryl Cherney said you can find
out a lot about his issues and background from his website,
FeelTheChurn.org. At the end he said he will help with the
Jill Stein campaign during the fall.
Sedinam Kinamo Christin
Moyowasifza-Curry is battling racism. It's easy for her to
find it, and she gets loud calling it out. Her campaign was
all about using the bully pulpit of a candidacy to push the
struggle forward and build the Green Party in the Black
community. After this candidate we switched to approving the
platform for some reason.
There were a few people that had
issues with specific planks in the platform that needed public
airing. Rule 842 or something like that got particular
attention. So did the racism of some other part. Gotta admit I
didn't pay much attention during the platform discussion. We
adopted it by consensus after all the problems had been aired.
Then it was back to listening to Green Party candidates that
rate such time on the national stage as we can give them.
I think this guy was only on the
ballot in Florida. His campaign was mostly about youth rights,
he's too young to get on the ballot for President in
California, where you have to be at least 35 years old.
Kent said his campaign is all
about helping the Green Party grow and honoring his Blackfoot
Rodolfo Munoz is running for
Justice on a platform of "You guys don't have jurisdiction to
do the pushing around you do." I liked it so much I donated a
dead president to his campaign during the break.
Jill Stein talked about
campaigning all around the nation during the primary. She
wants to be our presidential nominee so she can object to the
large student debts that today's young people are being
saddled with. She wants to see a foreign policy based on
diplomacy not militarism. She wants to grow the Green Party to
the point where we're a real choice for everybody so the
duopoly can't get away with the corruption we're seeing now.
By the time she walked off everybody was enthused about the
idea of voting for her.
Then we took a break. The guy in
the green Army dress uniform said he was one of the last
people that got issued a green dress uniform. The new uniform
is another color, I forget what. Sounded like all the ribbons,
pins, and so forth mark him as one of the guys that has seen
lots of active duty.
David Cobb took the stage to
have a live chat with Julian Assange via skype. While they
were sorting out the technology issues involved with getting
the link working and the TV feed synchronized I found out that
Jill Stein had joined us in the audience. I turned around and
she shook my hand. One of my more unusual moments. Finally
they sorted it all out.
Cobb began by thanking Assange
for doing more than anyone knew was possible to expose how
much oversight the government was getting on all of us. Then
they talked about the political situation. Assange is still
holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. He thinks
choosing between voting for Hillary and voting for Trump is
like deciding whether to get one venereal disease or another
venereal disease. He hopes we can do something, although
getting the word out will be challenging.
We gave Assange a good hand just
before the interview was over. Then a couple of Latin American
Greens took the stage.
I was hoping the TV people would
help me with the names and titles of these guys, but they
didn't get it either. They were South or Central American
Greens. The first one to take the stage spoke good English and
translated for the other guy after he came up to. They talked
of the many years of exploitation by the Yankees their regions
have suffered, and of their hopes we can change that somehow.
They wished us good luck in the fall election.
YahNe Ndgo gave another barn
burner of a speech. She started by reading the definition of
"revolution" from an authoritative source. Then she gave us a
list of "that revolution needs to include" type things before
she was going to get involved. She explained that "Black Lives
Matter" is the correct phrasing because rich lives already
matter, and only when black lives also matter will all lives
matter. Hello? Being at the back of the bus means we need to
be mentioned for the whole bus to matter. It worked. People
were on their feet by the time she was done.
Cornel West is something like a
theologian. He explained the moral imperative in the need to
vote Green this year.
Lots of other people capturing
the event. Bet you can find a very detailed description of the
speech contents if you look. Maybe even the whole thing on
Then it was time for the roll
call. That's the ceremony where every state delegation makes
some brief comments and casts votes. They went in alphabetical
First up was Alabama. Right
away, SKCM-Curry had an objection. That racist state had not
let her put her name on the ballot. The rules committee was
called out, and a whispered negotiation was followed by the
guy announcing that we would get to the bottom of this later.
Then the roll call really started.
To make a long story short, we
nominated Jill Stein as our Candidate for POTUS. Cheri Honkala
lead us in nominating Baraka as our Vice Presidential
candidate by acclimation. Then she introduced him as a human
rights activist she has been following for years.
Baraka began by saying he's not
the fan of being arrested for Justice that Cheri Honkola is,
but he will work hard on the campaign between now and election
day. He is grateful for the analysis of an author who exposed
the "sheep dogging" strategy of the Democrat Party that made
it possible for many to see Jill Stein as an alternative after
Bernie was bullied into line by the establishment insiders.
She used all the good lines from
her stump speech. "We need a foreign policy based on diplomacy
not militarism." was my favorite line. There was something
there for everyone to cheer for. By the end my hands were sore
from clapping enthusiastically.
This flier they gave me at the
after party represents the things she mentioned very well.
When the speech ended the crowd
really went wild.
Everybody was on their feet. It
was a great moment. When the enthusiasm was highest I was
cheering to, but this was soon after that.
Before anybody had time to go
anywhere George came out and led us in this great OWS style
George: mike check
Crowd: MIKE CHECK!
George: system change not climate change!
Crowd: SYSTEM CHANGE NOT CLIMATE CHANGE!
George: leave the oil under the soil
Crowd: LEAVE THE OIL UNDER THE SOIL!
George: leave the coal in the hole!
Crowd: LEAVE THE COAL IN THE HOLE!
George: leave the gas under the grass!
Crowd: LEAVE THE GAS UNDER THE GRASS!
George: peace and love for all!
Crowd: PEACE AND LOVE FOR ALL!
Then it was all over except for the celebrating....
It was mostly schmoozing and
drinking beer and listening to music, but after a while Jill
Stein took the stage and I had to snap a few pictures. She
covered a lot of the same issues she had earlier, but this
time it was in a call and response format. She'd say "Do we
want a medicare for all system?" Everybody would yell "YES!"
Then she'd ask "Do we want a foreign policy based on diplomacy
instead of militarism?" We'd all yell "YES!" Every time we
went around the cycle I could feel the "we" building a bit
more. It was good when she started, but it was music by the
time she finished.
Half of the band was members of
the Colorado delegation. The rest of them drove down just to
play for us.
I liked them enough to get a CD
at the end of the evening.
Sunday morning I attended the
seminar on bringing Jill to your town for the campaign. While
I was waiting for it to start I met this guy. He'd run for
Congress in Illinois in the primary and lost to another guy
that was also at the convention. I couldn't find out who
because he refused to say the other guys name. I took the
picture of the crowd just before the meeting started.
George warmed us up with the
same chant he ended the previous plenary with. System change
not climate change! Keep the oil in the soil! Keep the gas
under the grass! Keep the coal in the hole! Peace and love for
everybody! By this time I knew it by heart.
The woman in the green dress is
schwag order fulfillment at the campaign HQ. She said dot your
i's and cross your t's and we'll get the stuff to you as fast
The guy in the blue shirt is a
honcho in Jill's campaign. He said that with all the press
Jill is getting because of the nomination online donations
have been coming at a $10,000 per hour rate. He doesn't know
if that will continue, but right now it means money isn't the
problem he's used to it being. The objective is to use Jill's
campaign to grow the Green Party as much as possible between
now and November 8th. That means she is going to spend a lot
of time on the road spreading the word. For her to come to
your town we need your help to make it work out. Then they
passed around these Jill Stein visit worksheets.
They explained that without at
least three or four volunteers willing to put real work into
the tasks on the sheet you can't get Jill to visit. Experience
has shown that she needs all of those things done well for a
visit to be a success. The campaign will work with you to make
it happen, don't worry if you think you can do it because
you've done it before.
These guys (Adrian and Joshua)
spent a lot of time reiterating points mentioned on the
worksheet. Jill's time is valuable. She needs down time, she
needs cooking time, she needs access to a good kitchen because
she's on a special diet. She doesn't have time to listen to
your pet project endlessly because she is under your roof. She
has to know what's going on in the news because she will be
asked to respond to it by the press, and probably soon. Please
respect Jills time while she is in your world.
Jonathan explained that he would
be coordinating non Jill appearance related campaign
activities. He's starting by finding state coordinators in
each state to get the two way communications between the
campaign and the grass roots going.
Cheri Honkala remembers many
occasions when she was on the VP ticket where she'd go to an
appearance and the food would be good, the volunteers revved
up, but the crowd almost nonexistent. She's learned some
tricks to keep that from happening again this time, and once
you submit a good worksheet she will work with you to make
sure the event is a success.