A breath of fresh air

Introductory remarks at a Jill Stein rally in Providence

Good afternoon, I am Greg Gerritt, and today I am wearing my Green Party hat,    As you know, we all fulfill a variety of roles in the community, Today is Green Party, tomorrow I lead the fence building party at the community garden we are building in my neighborhood. I note the garden because some of the other hats I wear to RIC in my work in the community, hats related to sustainability, food security, and compost, led me to people who were willing to invite Jill Stein to speak on campus, and made the process of organizing the event much easier.  Thank you to the RIC Environmental Club for inviting Jill Stein, and thank you club adviser and compost conference partner Jim Murphy for smoothing the way.  Truly appreciated.  And thank you to the administration of RIC for allowing Dr Stein to speak here.

I want to tell you how much of a treat you are in for this afternoon.  Dr Jill Stein is a breath of fresh air in the campaign season.  Yes, I am biased.  I helped found the Green Party 32 years ago, but even if you are not a supporter, Jill Stein is running the type of Presidential campaign that all Americans long for.  A candidate that is out on the stump meeting people, talking with people about what is really going on in their lives and communities, and offering common sense proposals that work for communities and the planet rather than the war machine and Wall St.

Do we not all long for a candidate with transparency, compassion , intelligence, common sense, good judgement, and the ability to connect with crowds and people’s higher sense of purpose and values.  A candidate who personifies American virtues in a way we wish all of our presidential candidates would.  I could say much more, but I an not introducing Dr Stein, I am just a warm up act, and have a different task today, The task of suggesting why you might want to work with the Green Party here in Rhode Island  post November 2016.  Besides, you are actually going to see Dr. Stein speak this afternoon.  Tell me after if it is not a breath of fresh air in the rancid landscape of American politics. Even if you are not voting for her.

Here are a few things that may inspire you to work with the Green Party in your neighborhood going forward

I hope everyone who is in the room votes Yes on question 6 this November.  It is the bond to create a $35 million fund to build Green Infrastructure projects, Manage stormwater, build new parks, reduce sedimentation and pollution. The Green Party came in to the world of Green Infrastructure twenty years ago, with the Green Party forcing the Narragansett Bay Commission to put in a public document, the documents that allowed the Combined Sewage Overflow project to go forward, a long term commitment to Green Infrastructure, though no one knew what to call it back then. As usual, we were just slightly ahead of our time, but the world has followed.

8 years later the NBC called me up and asked me to come back and help them finally start to implement GI in the last phase

When the conmen came to town in 2004 they convinced Governor Almond, the Economic Development Corporation, and all of legislative leadership that if the state of Rhode Island spent a billion dollars to build a port they could get shipping companies to turn it into one of the biggest ports in the world.  It was touted as the economic miracle rhode Island had been waiting for since 1920.  You think 38 studios was a disaster, this one would have been epic.  People all over Rhode Island rallied against the monstrosity on the bay, and finally we pushed hard enough for the con men to be exposed as shysters who had been running this scam, to no avail, all over the world.  What the Green Party brought to the discussion, was the exploration of unfair trade, deforestation around the world, climate change, the murder of the indigenous to steal the forest to build the products in the containerships, and how a container port would undermine Rhode island workers.  Again the first ones to put out the call on issues that have become the main currency of the resistance to globalization.  And to put it to practical use when working on policy issues in our community

And that is why we need you now.  More than ever the empire is heading us for the rocks.  The frackers are destroying both the water and the air.  Wall St. continues to steal.  The economic development strategy offered by Governor Wall St is riches for the 1% and greater poverty for most of us.  We have the worst health care system in the industrial world.

But the most hopeful thing is the resistance.  The resistance to pipelines and fracking, the resistance to militarism, the resistance to Wall  St and real estate speculators continuing to loot us and create another bubble and crash rather than a sustainable economy.  The two party system , as George Washington noted, is the worst of all possible worlds.  The people always lose.  There is already a political party completely lined up with the resistance, one open to all the members of the resistance. Maybe it is time to help it evolve into a more potent force.

As the Jefferson Airplane sang “We are all outlaws in the eyes of Amerika”.  There is a warrant on Jill for resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline.  Any other presidential candidates on the front lines?  When Black Lives Matter was evolving in Providence, the Green Party did not play a leading role, we played a supportive role, bringing a few people together to smooth planning the early rallies, and offering up our bullhorn for them.  We also encouraged members of the resistance to think broadly about the nature of the resistance and all of the different ways we could synergize.

Finally, in an age in which the 1% are grabbing more and more and the rest of us get poorer,  we need to directly confront the economic development strategies that elected officials offer us on behalf of their Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate industry donors.  You know the FIRE sector, it is the one that burnt down the economy in 2008.  The Green Party of Rhode Island is the only organization in Rhode Island participating in the development discussions that makes sure that the end of growth, dealing with climate change and food insecurity, and the transformation to clean energy are recognized as the only practical the economic development strategy for the future.  An economy based on real estate deals by downtown developers and builders of suburban office parks, or catering to the medical industrial complex is a dead end.

Right now only the Green Party is pointing out that there is no correlation between a state’s “ Business climate” and the health of its economy, and therefore easing the regulations that keep the planet and our communities a bit healthier than they might otherwise be is actually the WORST development strategy if we want a widespread and shared prosperity. The current strategy is focused on enriching the the 1% by giving them ever greater shares of the natural and built wealth often using debt to bind communities to destructive projects and practices.   Maybe 10% of the population does well economically with this strategy.  Everyone else is being replaced and displaced.  Robots may be signaling the end of work.

So the Green Party offers both a critique of what is wrong and the Green New Deal. A program to put everyone to work fixing the infrastructure, the food system, and the energy production system  and transforming it into a totally clean Green system.   Informed by the idea that “you can not heal ecosystems without ending poverty, you can not end poverty without healing ecosystems, and if you do not close the war machine all else will fail”,  nothing less will help us transform our relationship with climate change into one of true prevention and healing while creating communities that work for everyone

Join the party of the resistance.  We have flyers, sign up sheets, facebook pages, twitter.  Find us.  And vote Green in 2016.

Greg Gerritt
Providence, RI
September 23, 2016