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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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.