>Tian Harter
>A Green Senate Campaign
>The Green Party is an international party with strong positions against pollution,
>war, and many colonial behaviors. Silicon Valley, being where many forms of
>exploitation meet the limits imposed on oversight by the laws of physics, is the
>ideal background to examine the political implications of such old sayings as
>"think globally act locally." This is particularly true in light of the fact that
>Corporations got human rights starting with a Supreme Court opinion on Santa
>Clara County vs. Pacific railroad, and the remarkably well trained workforce here
>that continues to innovate in many fields of endeavor.

>Tian Harter has been a Green Party activist since 1991, when the Party was
>working on getting on the ballot in California. He has been involved with
>Technology and Society groups since the mid 1980s, and will talk about the
>relationship between changing technology, climate change, and his political


Tian began by talking about the summer before the first Gulf War, when he had talked the IEEE-SSIT society (Silicon Valley Chapter) into holding a conference on how to make the Bay Area economy more energy efficient, and his father into holding a conference on Oil and Foreign Affairs at the State Department in Washington, DC. It had been pure beginners luck that
the Gulf War had come along at that moment. Even so, it was quite a thrill to be in the audience at an event on the top floor of the State Department where government and industry wonks were talking to each other about oil thinking "I had something to do with making this happen" while bombs were falling in Iraq just before the invasion of Kuwait.

Highlights from that conference included one consultants recommendation that we think in terms of
the structural linkages between "energy, the environment, and the economy", and a steady drumbeat that our energy supplies are going to continue to be imported from volatile regions for the foreseeable future. The fact that domestic oil production in the lower 48 states of the USA has been in decline since the 1970s and will continue to decline was also discussed.

Because of the excellent program put together by David Arctur, at the SSIT event we learned about hybrid cars and telecommuting for the first time Tian could remember. The benefits of urban planning at the density of San Francisco's Mission District were also explained in some detail, as were synchronizing train and bus schedules so commuters don't have to spend much time waiting. The many ways we subsidize the use of cars through paying for roads and bridges via taxes on land and income that could be used for other things were also discussed.

Tian's other anti war project that year was pushing stickers that said MEND
YOUR FUELISH WAYS at public events. He made a thousand of the things, and by the time he took a job in Sacramento at System Integrators he still had 700 left. Since there wasn't any group like the SSIT in Sacramento to put his hobby time into, he joined the group working to put the Green Party on the ballot. When they succeeded nobody wanted to be a Green Party Candidate, but Tian was opposed to political parties without Candidates, so he put his name in the hat as a Candidate in the 5th Congressional district. His main job qualification was that he had a pile of stickers to make oil use into an issue with.

System Integrators is a company that sells newspaper publishing systems to major metro dailies like the Sacramento Bee, Washington Post, and San Jose Mercury News. Tian's day job was further automating the news business, and his hobby was learning about the social implications of this process as a Green Party activist. What he learned was that large staffs of reporters were being (or had been) replaced by small staffs of editors pasting wire
service copy into the newshole. The net effect was that the Bee didn't cover local interest stories like his campaign. It was much easier for them to just print AP stories about Presidential news conferences or whatever the New York Times was putting on its front page.

Later in the '90s Tian worked at AOL in their information compression lab in Orange County. When he joined the company its main revenue stream was the subscription fees it got from users, and the focus was on giving them an experience so good they would bring in their friends. Unfortunately, during that time a new management team was brought in, and they shifted to more of an advertiser based revenue stream. This had the net effect of making the company a lot more like newspapers, as far as whose opinion they cared about went.

During that time his hobby was helping Christina Avalos campaign for Congress in the 47th District, a safe Republican seat. She was running as
a Democrat. What he learned from that was that she generated about as much interest '98 as he had in '92, but because of the large institutional inertia of the Democratic Party she got many more votes (about 30% instead of about 2%).

Since coming back to Santa Clara County in '99, Tian has continued to
work on the role of media in change. He has a photo blog where he "shares the reality he sees." His main goal in this Senate campaign is to get as many people as possible to think about buying gas as a democracy issue. Since the oil companies paid good money for the Republican Party, he asks that we "stop voting for oil companies at the gas pump."

During Q&A the following came up:

Q: What message to you want the Democrats to take mainstream from
your Campaign?

Tian replied he thought that "if they had wanted to steal his thunder they would have done it by now. They have had plenty of opportunity. I would rather see green politics to become a "per capita" thing. After all, it's not much you get for turning off the lights, but it's better than thinking there is nothing you can do. Also, if you really want to vote against climate change and nuclear waste, that is the way to do it."

Q: Around here we put a lot of thought into saving water. In Sacramento they don't even seem to care at all. It's disgusting.

Tian: When I met Rod Donald, who at the time was co-leader of the New Zealand Green Party and an elected member of their Parliament I gave him a Tennessee quarter. You know that old saying "politics stops at the waters edge?" Please notice I got through that whole anecdote without saying "water." One of the things I learned in my travels was that the kind of people that work on legislation in Washington, DC work on product placements in Hollywood. You can have just as much impact on tofu sales getting Sandra Bullock to eat the stuff in a restaurant
scene as you can getting a tax break for soybean producers. We need to let justice go through us like water (as water?) on a per captia basis.

Is the Green Party doing anything about their own primary?

Tian: So far I've been to a candidate forum in San Francisco put on by the San Francisco Green Party. Upcoming next week is one in Santa Cruz. The Fresno Greens are doing something on April 19th. I expect there will be more later.

For more information, please visit TianHarter.org

Tian Harter

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