>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
>exploitation meet the limits imposed on oversight by the laws of
physics, is the
>ideal background to examine the political implications of such old
>"think globally act locally." This is particularly true in light of
the fact that
>Corporations got human rights starting with a Supreme Court opinion
>Clara County vs. Pacific railroad, and the remarkably well trained
>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
>Technology and Society groups since the mid 1980s, and will talk
>relationship between changing technology, climate change, and his
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
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
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
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