Tuesday, February 19

Greens convene, party on at UCLA


Statewide members meet for political workshops, celebrate group's recognition

  JANA SUMMERS Green Party member Laura
Wells
speaks at UCLA.

By Teri H.P. Nguyen

Daily Bruin Contributor


Introducing their full slate of candidates for the 2002 state
elections, the Green Party of California convened at UCLA over the
weekend, where they ate tofu, listened to jazz and got down to
politics.

The conference signified not only the 10th anniversary of the
Green Party’s presence in California politics but was also
the first state meeting since the party’s official
recognition as a national party from the Federal Elections
Commission.

The event joined statewide registered greens, from politicians
to community members, for an evening of music, dinner and
celebration.

As part of the weekend event, the party offered four workshops
to the general public that were attended mainly by registered
greens. The topics included criminal justice, living wage,
renters’ rights and political theater.

Kevin McKeown, former KROQ DJ turned mayor pro tem of Santa
Monica and a member of Santa Monicans for Renters Rights, moderated
one of the workshops. He became a Green Party member when he began
feeling the Democrats had started to move toward the corporate
world, McKeown said.

“The values of the Democratic party are no longer
progressive,” McKeown said. “I am appalled by
them.”

Mayor of Santa Monica Mike Feinstein, a co-founder of the Green
Party in California, attended the celebration.

Although sharing similar sentiments as McKeown regarding
Democratic politics, Feinstein said the Green Party has matured in
spirit but now needs to run a campaign.

“Many believe that money was part of the
corruption,” Feinstein said. “But we must learn to ask
for money, and that honest politics is possible in a rough and
tumble world.”

Feinstein was inspired to create an organization offering
alternative political activism in California after attending a
spiritual conference in Scotland. This conference was started by a
family after the people claimed to see certain plant spirits.

The conference Feinstein attended ““ “Individual and
the Collection of Politics as if the Whole Earth Mattered”
““ gave Feinstein the idea for a political party that combines
politics, economics and the environment.

Many people define Green Party members as environmentalists. It
is also this environmentalist mentality mixed with one of social
justice that is turning many green, including 2003 Sixth District
L.A. City Council member hopeful Sheila Bernard, who attended the
conference.

Affordable housing and the living wage are important issues the
Green Party is addressing, said Bernard, a teacher. This is a
principle reason for her leaving the school system for
politics.

“Each day my students bring in problems that go beyond
education, problems that I cannot fix as a teacher,” Bernard
said of student’s financial and rent issues. “I feel I
can do more to help by going into politics.”

Saturday’s event proved to be quite a spirit-lifter for
the party. Attendees were entertained by speeches made by fellow
Greens and music played by fellow party members.

“It is important for party members to feel ownership of
the party,” Feinstein said. “This event did
that.”

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