2008 Winter Features


Veteran Jeff Bartelli is more Green than ever
David Doonan, Green Party of New York State

Greens are often described as “tree hugging hippies.” The only accurate description of a ‘typical’ Green is a commitment to a cleaner planet and a freer, peaceful society. Because of the Green value of peace and a strong counter-cultural heritage, many people would be surprised to learn many members have served proudly in the United States Military. During last year’s Green Party convention in Reading, PA, Green Pages spoke with one veteran. Here is his story…

After advanced training, Jeff Bartelli’s first day of active duty as a member of the United States Army was September 11, 2001 at Fort Polk, Louisiana. This was not how Bartelli, currently a member of the Montana Green Party, expected his military service to start.

Growing up in Montana, Bartelli decided to enlist, when, after finishing high school and trade school, he found himself without money to go to college, “I knew I was taking a chance joining, but at the time the prospect of going to war seemed slight. Besides, it was the only way I could afford to go to college.”

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Trained for computer aided drafting, construction surveying, and soil analysis, Bartelli and his engineering unit were sent to Kuwait prior to the invasion and they spent one tour of duty in Iraq. “There was no way anybody could relate Iraq to September 11, nobody had any illusions as such … everybody sitting on the ground hated how hot it was.” Being the first engineering unit in Iraq, their mission included making adjustments to the pre-war plans for POW camps. Due to the then reigning optimism at the Pentagon, his unit’s tour was cut short, just five and a half months in theatre.

After a brief return home, Bartelli spent 16 months in Germany, followed by a year in Afghanistan. During his time there, Bartelli became outspoken against the war and on environmental issues. At one point, he decided to organize an anti-war rally at Bagram Air Base where he was stationed. After the Judge Advocate General officer denied him permission to organize a rally, Bartelli changed his approach.

Shortly before dawn, on a day he knew U.S. correspondents would be on base, Bartelli climbed one of the radio transmission towers and hung a large “Impeach Bush” banner. Asked why he hung the banner, Bartelli said “I was just trying to make waves; trying to piss people off… maybe it was empowering to people, as they ran down the road, and it would be like wow, people are still thinking here, maybe I can keep thinking”.

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The banner remained hanging for seven hours, which speaks volumes about the sentiment among enlisted personal on the base. The fact this incident wasn’t reported also tells something about the attitude of the press.

The accomplishment of which Bartelli feels most proud from his service was when he was assigned to design an infrastructure that would bring low cost power, solar and wind, to remote Afghan villages. “I spent a considerable amount of time writing and talking with vendors from Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, coming up with a plan that was affordable and as locally based as possible. By giving them solar and wind, fully sustainable, we could bring electricity to the villages.” While the chain of command eventually rejected it, there was little doubt Bartelli’s commanding officer chose him for this project because of his outspokenness on the environment.

Before joining the military, Bartelli was not active politically, but from the age of twelve onwards was anti-republican and anti-democrat. By 2000 Bartelli became very interested in politics and tried to convince his friends to become active and vote “Not knowing much about the Greens or Nader, the political party that most appealed to me at the time was the Libertarians.” It was during his time stationed in Germany that Bartelli came to realize he was a Green.

“My time in Europe exposing me to a more socialized form of government, I think, really influenced my transition from the Libertarian Ideal to the Green Ideal. … There’s things I disagree with, but in the end, it (the Green Party) still represents the vast majority of the ideals that I have. So I’ll stick with it, there’s power in numbers.”

“The Libertarians appealed to me originally because I had the most information about them, and I didn’t know so much about the Greens. Just the whole idea of de-centralization, more self-accountability, more power in the hands of local government instead of federal government, all of it appealed to me. I didn’t believe in the Libertarian economic ideas. Once I found Anthropology and decided to pursue it as a career, more re search in that field revealed to me that humans are a social species and our means of controlling ourselves as a culture should be bent around that social aspect, not this whole individualist, isolationist bent in the Libertarian Party where they say you’re by yourself, you take care of everything on your own if you can’t do it, then you can go beg from some friends and hopefully they’ll cover your ass. I can’t subscribe to that idea.”

Based in Germany during the 2004 elections, Bartelli remembers the officers as being either completely apathetic or afraid to talk about politics. The Armed Forces Television ran notices about ab sentee voting “but there was no obvious bias” for either the Republicans or the Democrats. Yet many enlisted personal found absentee voting demoralizing because of the widespread belief the ballots wouldn’t be counted unless it was an extremely close election.

Bartelli’s advice to a Green who is thinking of joining the military: “Don’t do it.” When asked how he thought a Green could morally accept being in the military, he replied, “My viewpoint of it is when you’re in a wartime situation you adopt whatever ideas will keep you alive. If you have to … lie to yourself in any way to make it seem worthwhile to stay alive, you’re going to adopt it. Then afterwards you’ll go back to your previous state of mind and you’ll be like ‘Wow, I hate it even more because it lowered me to such a grade. I think that’s all people do.”

“If Greens go in, they could try to seek out jobs that would keep them from going to war … but in the end they’re still supporting the whole machine. I’d say all they could do would be to organize on base. Try to find like-minded people. You’re not going to stand up to the war on base; there’s nothing you can do. You can organize a Green local. If successful, it would be all the more noteworthy if you could pull it off. That Green local would filter through to other people … just like any other organizing effort, you’re spreading ideas. … You have a potent idea and when people see there’s a network and an organization that’s backing them, it’s all the more empowering.”

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Clifford Thornton acknowledged for efforts in drug policy reform

Clifford Wallace Thornton, Connecticut Green and present co-chair of the national Green Party, this December received an achievement award for his leadership to reform drug laws. Thornton co-founded the drug law reform organization Efficacy, Inc. and has done much nationwide to present an alternative to the current drug laws, which focus heavily on incarceration.

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“We certainly do not claim to have a complete vision of a more workable alternative drug policy, but we are confident that we must move boldly toward the provision of effective treatment, now offered to only a small fraction of those who need it, and away from an excessive use of the criminal sanctions that have caused more harm than good,” Thornton said on his organizations website, www.Efficacy-online.org.

In addition to his achievements in drug reform, Thornton is an outspoken Green. Besides co-chairing the Green Party of the United States, he ran in 2006 for governor of Connecticut with much of his campaign centering on drug policy reform.

“Cliff Thornton’s work for the reform of U.S. drug policy is in line with Green opposition to the War on Drugs, unjust and draconian drug laws, and the use of drug laws to fill up prison cells with black, brown, poor, and young Americans. We’re proud that Cliff is a member of the Green Party,” said Alfred Molison, co-chair of the Green Party’s national Black Caucus.

The Drug Policy Alliance gave the Robert C. Randall Award for Achievement to Thornton in the field of citizen action. The nationwide alliance announced, “The award honors citizens who make democracy work in the difficult area of drug law and policy reform.”

Thornton said, “While drug-related penalties have been drastically increasing, the number of hard-core drug users, whose use poses the greatest societal problems, has also increased, which is only one measure of the failure of criminal sanctions as an effective way to deter use of illegal drugs.”

Thornton has been tireless on this issue, doing over 400 radio shows on drug policy. He has spoken to over 300,000 people in some 450 venues about the drug war as it relates to health, economics, race, class, and white privilege, and has taught a graduate-level course on drug policy at Trinity College in Hartford. In 2001, Efficacy facilitated the end of the D.A.R.E. program in the Ocean City, New Jersey school system, with presentations to the school board showing that the program is often counterproductive in drug use prevention for youth.

L.A. Greens Wow Thousands at Youth Environmental Conference
Lisa Taylor, L.A. Greens

The flyer handed out by the Los Angeles Greens was popular with the thousands of young people attending the conference on climate change.

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Kids immediately put the buttons on their hats and stickers on their folders. It was energizing seeing all the interest!

The Green Party gained considerable exposure and recognition at a gathering for kids. The turnout was tremendous at the Los Angeles Environmental Youth Conference on Climate Change on December 8th. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced at 9 a.m. there were already 3,500 young people registered. Out of 70 booths, the Green Party was the only political party exhibiting. It also received extensive television coverage.

The conference is part of a citywide tree-planting project—Million Trees LA. In its efforts to be a greener city, the conference goal was to bring environmental nonprofit organizations together with young people to educate them on what can be done to reduce global warming.

Greens gave away a slew of bumper stickers and buttons. Many commented that the Green Party booth had the best stickers at the event and early in the morning supplies had to be put away so there would be some for later in the day. Kids immediately put the buttons on their hats and stickers on their folders. It was energizing seeing all the interest! They stayed at the booth, talking, but mainly listening since they were not familiar with the Green Party. I must have repeated hundreds of times, “When you get to be 18, you can register to vote with the Green Party.”

While the advertised audience for the conference was 12-21 year olds, the majority of attendees were between 12-16. A hopeful sign was that the 17 year-olds were more familiar with political parties and planning to register Green when eligible. Some adults registered Green at the booth and several teachers discussed arranging for future Green Party speakers.

Attendees screamed like it was a rock concert for Tyrese, the hip-hop and R & B star, who did not mince words. He told them, “We are all gonna die unless we do something fast; so you better get texting and talking to your friends about global warming.” There were child stars too, from the Disney channel.

Since it was known the dozens of nonprofit groups would dole out the usual individual lifestyle advice, a flyer was prepared to emphasize what young people could do “politically” to affect climate change. Some of the tips were:

  • Encourage school officials to pursue environmentally friendly policies (e.g. buses that run on cleaner fuels).
  • Create student groups on campus and educate peers about environmental issues. Contact campusgreens.org.
  • Beware of Greenwashing, the actions of a corporation, government, or organization, which advertises positive environmental practices while acting in the opposite way.
  • Become a locavore—eat locally grown foods, shop at farmers’ markets and support local business. Locavores.com
  • Register Green Party and vote for candidates that reflect environmental values.

Christine Pinto designed a great flyer and the L.A. Greens steering committee came up with tips more thorough than those on the city’s website. The flyer can be used easily for generic tabling as well, and is posted online at: cagreens.org/sclara/resources/flyers/GreenPartyYouthFlyer.pdf.

Lisa Taylor is the L.A. Greens Volunteer Coordinator.

Getting to Know People of Color Across the Country Active in the Green Party
an interview with Pete Van Jr.

Why have you joined the Green Party?

As a politician, author, community leader,educator, business partner, spiritual leader, coach and activist, I said It was time to take a leadership role in the political landscape of this country. People want leadership in government, not party safeness or aloofness. I decided twelve years ago to step up. The Green party platform and my values align at every level and they address the concerns I hear people talking about today.

The Green Party Platform deals with more than ecological concerns, though they are critically important. They have a long-term view on all aspects of life as well as a passion around diversity, equal rights, peace, individual and global responsibility, local business development and decentralization of government to be closer to the people.

What do you think are the pressing issues of the country?

Most importantly we need leadership with a long-term view. We should locate the wisdom of the generations before us and learn from those leaders who have already led this nation.

The economic system needs to be quickly repaired.Congress must begin this repair by: addressing how economics impact energy, clean up ethics on Wall Street, and have more accountability with our trades with China.

We must re-think, de-think, and un-think our definition of what is illegal and the human worth of an immigrant. We must locally promote an ideology that has the ability tolove people and use things, instead of using people and loving things.

There needs to be a high priority on new strategies for educating the whole person. Stressing the core competencies of global repair as well as economy.

Funding needs to be allocated to allow low-income, working adults to qualify for medical insurance. We must also make health care more affordable for small businesses and their workers, and free health care for seniors and infants.

For global warming, there must be funding for traditional and non-traditional scientists to conduct research looking at the controversy around the effects of these changes on our natural systems and our lifestyles.

We must become more diplomatic while we are fighting a war with other humans. The real war is the one we are raging against the environment. We are losing it. The environment does not respond to threats or bombs or missiles. It responds to common sense and thoughtful use of resources.

What do you think should be the focus of the Green Party?

The Green Party must focus on the right thing its values. Therefore we must break up the love affair that America has with racism, sexism, class exploitation, bureaucratic domination, war and all other forms of social domination, and efforts for total mind control. We must focus on becoming a sustainable society, in order to harmonize society with nature, which will lead to a natural progression, harmonizing humans with humans.

What can Greens do to enhance diversity within the party and in general?

We must provide a global voice on what are the best practices for diversity. Then create a diversity management team. We must partner with other national programs aimed at increasing diversity in a third party platform.

We must recognize and consult expert consultants to advance equality based on sexual orientation and gender identity, ensuring gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered Americans can be included in the democratic process.

The Green Party must mobilize grassroots action in diverse communities to lobby congress and invest strategically to elect a fair-minded congress.

We must design a comprehensive training and education program preparing Green Party members for leading, managing, and nurturing other Greens in an inclusive political party environment.

The Green Party should create a ten, fifteen, and twenty-year strategic plan for the development of the first U.S. eco-city. The Green party of the U.S.should purchase a substantial piece of real estate and create a Green city. I have a vision of an eco-city focused on the right thingpeople. Imbued with a synergistic value of doing no harm, people would serve the beautiful planet we have been entrusted to sustain for its raw material, natural resources, driving the process with renewable energy sources.

We must nurture,recognize, respect and love again Mother earth, our survival is depending on it. She cannot hold up under the poor health, distress, misuse, abuse and lack of love from her children any longer.

About Pete Van Jr.

Pete Van, Jr. was born in Arizona but grew up in Kansas City, Kansas. He has a Bachelors of Arts in Theology rom Mid-America Nazarene University. Van is divorced and has two daughters who are his continuing inspiration. In 1992, one week after the Los Angeles riots, he moved his family to Long Beach, California to work in a faith-based community that emphasized racial reconciliation. In 1996 Van became the Discipleship Pastor at the Shepherd of the Hills Church, Porter Ranch, California. In 2000, Van earned his Masters Degree in Educational Technology from Sonoma State University. He is also a jazz singer and author.

He became politically active as a board member of Sunburst Project, a national nonprofit for families affected by HIV-AIDS. Van ran as a Green in 2007 for a seat in the House of Representatives Allegan County 88th District. He now devotes much of his time towards long term plans for the Green Party and will continue to run for political office.

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Congratulations to Matt Funiciello of the Green Party of New York State and delegate to the national Green Party. The regional newspaper recognized him as one of a few “people who make a difference.” In their annual review, the Times Union Newspaper, circulation approximately 140,000, recognized Funiciello for his work as an activist, and business owner who continually contributes to his community.

As the owner of a renowned bakery, Rock Hill Bakehouse, Funiciello has created a popular place for people to access alternative media. At his café, he almost daily shows independent films and documentaries. His café also hosts international speakers, has an art gallery, and is a meeting place for all kinds of political discourse. The Green Party is commonly featured in everything Funiciello does. Funiciello was an editor of Green Pages and wrote about being a Green businessperson in the Summer 2007 issue.

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