This week and next week is the short but intense period of time that political parties have to get their candidates on the ballot this session. Our party, called the Ecology Democracy Party, has 3 candidates running: Roderic Olsen for State House in District 64 B (Highland neighborhood in St. Paul) and Ken Pentel for Governor of Minnesota and Erin Wallace for Lt. Governor. For State House, 500 signatures are required, while for Governor it's 2,000. In the entire state, that's not much, right? But we are a small party, and we are all gathering signatures on our own free time.
Here's Ken Pentel, on his bicycle that he rides around MN campaigning:
The pic is from this past May Day parade. Two of us held the banner while Ken rode in circles around us talking to the crowd. I thought I had a picture of me holding the banner (super hard in the wind that day!) but I can't find it.
The Ecology Democracy Party platform is now basically the same as the Ecology Democracy Network, whose website can be found here: http://www.ecologydemocracynetwork.org/ How is this different from the Green Party? I don't actually know a lot about the Green Party, but I like smaller, more tight-knit organizations that keep the original vision strong. I'm learning a lot from working with this Network and Party, and I think that the Party's platform is the strongest I've ever seen. There are three main mandates of our platform:
1. An ecologically sound economy not based on the growth model. We cannot continue to grow on a finite resource base. Our economy's health will be measured directly with the health of our environment.
2. Change the electoral system to be proportional. Proportional representation is the system used by most democracies in the world, and it is the best way to ensure that the most votes go towards electing an official. A great book I'm reading about it is Real Choices/New Voices by Douglas J. Amy.
3. Create a currency specifically for Minnesota that will be used for local environmentally-sound projects that also can be used to pay State Taxes. This is the mandate that I don't understand as well as the others, but I do know that our Federal currency is currently being used by the banks to charge us interest and get rich. We can never get out of debt in this country with the currency system we use now.
These are great ideas, and all true, but they will never happen, you might say. That might be true, but I'm tired of hearing about how we continue to mess up our home, Earth, and not hold those responsible accountable, and we have the worst natural disaster ever in history happening right now in the Gulf Coast and I am fed up, along with many others. So our Party is attempting to challenge those in power with our ideas (that are not unique to us!) and keep chipping at the cement block of our system.
Meanwhile, in my other life news...my new job with Prairie Restorations Inc. is so far really good. Everyone is so much more into the work than the other place I was at--almost everyone knows their plants, and is passionate about healing the land. I have had a couple of herbicide application days, not my favorite to be sure, but not too bad. And I have seen the difference between areas not sprayed and areas that were sprayed the first couple years--big difference. I guess there are some more organic chemicals out there, for the same price, and I think the owner of the company and the higher ups might need a little nudging in that area.
Shigeki went to the boundary waters with a group of guys he knows from school, and he'll be gone a week, then almost straightaway he's going back to Japan for 2 months. It sucks, but he does need to make money. And learn his dad's business for after he graduates. The future is somewhat uncertain; after he graduates in December (he's 24, so not quite as young as you might have been thinking...but still younger than me) he wants to work in Colorado for a year at one of the ski resorts, doing either rentals, ski patrol or both. That fits somewhat with what his dad does, which is making custom insoles for athletes, usually for ski boots, and doing boot adjustments. It seems pretty specialized, and Shigeki has a lot to learn. He says he came to America to learn English and possibly use it to someday open an international branch of the company in another country. He's from a really small town in Japan, and I think it's good that he wants to stay in his little town more than live in a big city. His parents and all his grandparents still live in the same town, too. Sounds like they have wild bears in the nearby mountains! Crazy. So, I don't know if I want to someday move to Japan with this guy, but things are going well now and I will just take it one day at a time and try not to think too far ahead too much, even though I already sometimes do. For example, it might seem cool to live in a small mountain town in Japan, but I don't know if his family would like me, or how quickly I will get homesick, etc. Anyway, for now, when he goes to Japan we have Skype so we can talk, and email too.
Here's a picture of my jack-in-the-pulpit this year:
I've been so involved with my little grasses and flowers this month that I completely didn't notice that the Japanese lilacs had started blooming!
Isn't this season the best?