by David C. Schwab, Green Party of New York

 

The Green Party of the United States (GP-US) is full of dedicated, bright and hardworking people. Despite this, young Greens in the country have yet to organize themselves into an effective group for advancing the Green values of grassroots democracy, social justice, peace and ecological sustainability. This year, however, young activists in the Green Party are working hard to fill the need for an effective youth organization. To ensure that the organizing process is as democratic as possible, these young organizers are inviting all Party members, especially those between the ages of 16 and 30, to get involved.

Young Greens often have the time and energy to work at the grassroots as well as the fresh perspective that can win new voters to the party. Other Green Parties around the globe have benefited from youth wings, typically known as Young Greens in the English-speaking countries. Young Greens organizations have been vital to the recent success of Green Parties in Canada and the United Kingdom. These dynamic organizations give promising young leaders a chance to take responsibility and help their party grow. In the interests of greening our country’s future, work is under way to inaugurate a Young Greens of America, including a Youth Caucus to the GP-US.

The intention behind Young Greens is not to replace Campus Greens and other existing Green youth organizations, but rather to coordinate, expand and improve them. Early in the planning process, Greens who had been active in Campus Greens identified a number of areas for improvement. Young Greens need forums for communication and networking, such as periodicals and online communities like the new Greenchange.org. There should be greater coordination among chapters and with the state and national organizations, so that Green parties all across the country have a sense of belonging to a greater whole. Both students and graduates should be included, so that newcomers can learn from experienced organizers and vice versa. Most importantly, young Greens should always have the resources they need to get involved with Green campaigns, no matter where they are.

     The structure that is currently being envisioned for Young Greens would consist of fifty state chapters, as well as an elected national leadership that would be responsible for coordinating organizational activities. On a local level, there would be Young Greens chapters centered around campuses, as well as regional chapters that would be integrated with existing Green Party locals. The elected state and national officers would comprise the Youth Caucus, which would have functions identical to current Green Party caucuses like the Women’s Caucus, Lavender Caucus, and Black Caucus. These functions include casting votes in the Green National Committee, voting as a delegate to the Presidential Nominating Convention, and having the authority to introduce proposals to the Green National Committee. 

The organizers of Young Greens are doing everything they can to make youth Green organization more inclusive and effective without insulating young people from the rest of the party or creating arbitrary divisions. The upper age limit of 30 is based on the precedent of international organizations like Global Young Greens, and that 30-year old Americans are eligible to run for U.S. Congress. To this end, the people organizing Young Greens are eager for input and participation from their fellow Greens in order to ensure that any new organization represents a positive step forward for the Green Party.

If you would like to help make Young Greens and the Youth Caucus a reality, there are several ways to get involved: 

Spread the word among your fellow Greens and start organizing state chapters by gathering contact information (name, address where registered to vote, phone, email, and date of birth). 

Join the conversation about prospective bylaws for Young Greens. Come to the 2008 Green Party National Convention in Chicago, where Young Greens will be electing officers to finalize the bylaws and get the organization rolling in time for campaign season. 

To become a part of this dynamic organizing team, please email Adrian Frost, euphoricpisces21@aol.com.

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By Brian Bittner, Maryland Green Party

The next generation of Green Party organizers is on thousands of high school and college campuses around the country.

Brian Bittner

Brian Bittner

  Hundreds of groups are already organized and holding events, recruiting students, and offering hope for training future leaders of Green Party states and locals and the Green Party of the United States. They have spearheaded efforts for fair wages and labor standards for university employees, advocated for fair trade in university stores and dining halls, fought for improved environmental policies in residences, and resisted military recruitment on campus.    

  Yet there is no committee, caucus or working group within the structure of the GP-US whose purpose is to organize on their behalf. We have left the coordination of these hundreds of groups to an independent body called Campus Greens—an unaffiliated non-profit 501(c)(4) organization, which has provided some level of support, but is legally prohibited from partisan political organization. 

Many students know they have an affinity with Green Party values and want to make an impact, but have no experience in setting agendas and leading campaigns. National organization can provide advice from experienced Campus Green leaders and contact with existing student groups who can serve as models for successful campaigns. Campus Greens leaders can only contribute until they graduate. A network of contacts of experienced individuals who can facilitate this turnover of leadership or revitalize a once-organized group is absolutely necessary. National coordination can turn several separate projects into a regional or national success story. 

Organizational support from the GPUS can help Campus Greens thrive. Campus Greens can also help organize support that our national and state Green Parties need. College campuses are a massive, mostly untapped pool of progressive, creative energy looking for options beyond the corporate alternatives. Student groups can strengthen our local and state Green Parties by inviting candidates to campus, holding voter registration drives on campus, and sponsoring educational discussions, film screenings, and debates. A few volunteers can collect several hundred ballot access signatures in an hour in a student union during lunch.   

  The GPUS’s lack of campus organization is based partially on an idea that political groups are not allowed to organize on campus. This is not true. While hundreds of Campus Greens are organized across the country, thousands of college Democrat and college Republican groups have been working for decades. Karl Rove himself chaired the College Republicans as a student in the 1970s. If Greens remove themselves from campus organization, politically minded students have no choice but to join the campus affiliates of corporate parties. 

  There are a few simple steps students, faculty members, parents, and local Green Party leaders can take to provide opportunities for Campus Greens.   

  1. Contact your state and local Green Party and the Green Party of the United States. They can provide contacts to existing groups and resources for getting others involved.    

  2. Contact school administrators about the policies regarding new student clubs. Most universities have an office that coordinates student groups. The main office at your local high school can provide guidelines for starting a student club. Many offices have written the requirements up as an easy-to-follow checklist.    

  3. Find students who are interested in joining a Campus Greens group. Admin istrations may require a number of students to sign a petition to form a group. Talk to friends or use social networking websites to organize a group of students. Many members of a school’s College Democrat club might be willing to join. Look for members at environmental clubs, service groups, Amnesty International chapters, philosophy clubs, and GBLT groups. Most students who live on campus have their mail delivered to the same post office on campus—use state and local contact lists to find groups of people who are registered to vote from this address.   

 4. Advertise. Hang fliers around campus. Many schools allow groups to use university facilities to hold interest meetings. If not, advertise interest meetings at a local coffee shop or bookstore.    

  5. Most groups will need a faculty advisor to sponsor a Campus Greens group. Call local Greens you know who teach at universities or high schools and ask them to sponsor a group. If you don’t know anyone at your school, ask department heads or administrators to suggest someone who might be interested. 

  6. Ask your representatives to the Green National Committee to support efforts to organize Campus Greens under the framework of GPUS. If the Green Party works together to support the next generation of Green leaders and activists, no student will fall victim to Ralph Nader’s warning to the youth of America: “I hear you saying often that you’re not turned on to politics. The lessons of history are clear and portentous. If you do not turn on to politics, politics will turn on you.”

 

Brian Bittner was a faculty advisor to Towson University (Maryland) Campus Greens. He is Maryland Green Party membership coordinator and GPUS office assistant. brian@gp.org. 

Greening The Campus
College Trustee Advocates For Environment And Justice
by Mike Feinstein, Green Party of California

With the increasingly pressing dangers of global warming, and with buildings places where great progress can be made in the reduction of energy use, more and more Green Party candidates are promoting ways to ‘green’ the built environment.

With the opportunities for change inherent in public policy choices, some of the best chances to do this come on college campuses, as board of trustees are often able to directly approve green building standards for new construction.

Apparently many voters agree. On April 3, Vahe Peroomian became the second Green Party member in 17 months to be elected to a college board in Los Angeles County. Peroomian won re-election to the Glendale Community College (GCC) Board of Trustees, having first assumed the seat through appointment in June 2005.

Glendale is a community that has already embraced green building, and Peroomian’s presence on the Board further affirms that. With GCC poised to spend bond money approved in 2002 for campus expansion, Peroomian supports all new buildings being held to LEED Platinum standards. LEED — Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design — is the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction, and operation of high performance green buildings. Platinum is its highest rating.

In addition to the environment, Peroomian is also about equity of opportunity. He seeks to find innovative solutions to the prohibitive cost of textbooks for students, including directing the College to standardize textbooks for introductory courses and identifying free/online resources for as many classes as possible.

He also advocates more online courses for students unable to attend college during traditional class hours, as well as vocational programs that serve the needs of students and the Glendale business community Ñ and has taken the initiative to better identify how to do just that.

Peroomian also believes that College faculty and staff should better reflect Glendale’s diversity. While GCC’s student population almost exactly reflects the ethnic proportions in the city: 35-40 percent Armenian and 20 percent Latino, he feels the number of Armenian and Latino faculty members is too few, and advocates advertising open positions in ethnic newspapers and TV programs, so those respective communities would be more aware of existing opportunities.

Understanding that education is dependent upon state and national government support, Peroomian pointed to the endorsement of his candidacy by both local State Assemblymember Paul Krekorian and Anthony Portantino, Assembly Chair of Committee on Higher Education Ñ whose districts coincide with the that of GCC Ð as well local Congressional member Adam Schiff.

Looking to next year, Peroomian supports Californians for Community Colleges, a statewide constitutional amendment for the June 2008 ballot. The three-pronged ballot measure would 1) address structural deficits in the funding of community colleges by providing them an independent source of funding; 2) reduce student fees to $20 per unit and put a cap on future increases and 3) give local Board of Trustees more authority by establish California Community Colleges in the state constitution.

Outside of elected office, Peroomian, 42, obtained his Ph.D. in Physics from UCLA in 1994. He is an Associate Research Geophysicist at UCLA specializing in space plasma physics and space weather, with funding from NASA and the National Science Foundation. He also teaches freshman physics in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at UCLA.

Peroomian became a Green around the time of the 2000 election, because he felt that “neither the Democrats nor the Republicans are properly serving our people. Many of my beliefs are exactly those advocated by the Green Party, including universal health care, social justice, and living wages.”

Coming from an Armenian family, Peroomian is also active in the Armenian National Committee, which is the largest grassroots Armenian-American political entity, and he sees a parallel between his involvement there and the Green party’s grassroots efforts.

Glendale has the highest percentage of Armenians of any city in the United States, and is home to the third largest Armenian community (approximately 80,000) outside of Armenia overall, after Moscow and Los Angeles.

Between 2002 and 2006, Peroomian traveled back to Armenia seven times. A talented photographer whose works have been featured in several exhibitions, he chronicled that experience on his web site http://www.vahep.com. Evidencing his love of nature and landscapes, his site also features numerous photos of Yosemite National Park and other such places.

Next door to Glendale is the city of Pasadena, where in November 2005, fellow Green Hilary Bradbury-Huang was elected to the Pasadena Community College Board of Trustees. Also an advocate for green building standards and better connecting the business and education community, Bradbury-Huang beat a 27-year incumbent Republican to win her seat. Born in Ireland, she was originally introduced to the Green Party while living in Germany in the 1980s.

With Peroomian’s re-election, eight Greens holding now elected office in Los Angeles County. Along with Jackson County, Oregon this is the second-highest in the nation behind Cumberland County, Maine which has ten.