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Green Party Convention

It's not easy being green. The Green Party First National Convention, June 24th and 25th 2000. I was wary after the travesty that was the Colorado State Democratic Convention. However we did a lot of planning and preparation. So of course many things went wrong.

We talked to the facility and were assured that they had a T-1 line so access would not be a problem. 2 days out our CNO did a walk through of the facility, and it turned out that they only had ISDN lines. OK, we can still stream video at 128K, it just won't be as smooth. One day out we are told that getting the ISDN lines turned on won't be a problem, as they are always on. Great, things are looking good. We've just finished colocating our servers and cleaned up the website a bit. We arrive to find that the ISDN line is internal to the facility and do not connect to the internet at all. The uselessness of that concept aside, we realize we are very screwed because the facility had no idea what they were talking about. We are able to commandeer a phone line or two, so we can stream audio (badly, as the phone lines are horrible and keep dropping out). Our solution for the video? Quite simple. Our streaming media guy heads home. Every hour or so we send a runner to him with a tape to stream to the site, meaning that people can watch the convention at a one hour delay. This is less than ideal, but we pretty much have no option at this point.

The people at the convention. A true cross section of American society. Hippies, yuppies, Hispanic activists, Indian activists, African-American activists, environmentalists, progressives of all types. Suits, shorts, and tie-dye mingle freely and without judgement. In spite of the fact that I'm the only one in sight with blue hair and unusual body piercings, no one even blinks and I am treated with as much respect as the blonde future trophy-wife from CNN (maybe more). I am really astounded by the feeling of solidarity. Even when people disagree about platform issues (and those debates take the majority of Saturday) they are civil and polite to each other. They appeal to logic and reason to try to convince those who they oppose rather than the emotional and virulent attacks I saw at the Democratic convention. I was impressed.

The convention itself. Now, this was a national rather than state convention, so perhaps that is why it was so much better organized than the previous one. The facilitator was clear, efficient, and knowledgeable. There were people with mikes ready to carry around into the audience so that questions, points, and complaints could be heard. The press room was well organized and there was a schedule of conferences which were spaced (usually) so that they did not conflict with the keynote speakers in the convention hall. Another thing I noticed was the sense of humor. At one point the facilitator called for a representative from a small state and someone from Texas stood up to much laughter, only one example of the many impromptu moments of fun.

The candidates. I did a press conference withRalph Naderwhich was reminiscent of his 1996 acceptance speech in Los Angeles, and he andWinona LaDukeanswered some great questions from the press (most of the questions were answered by reps of small local papers, especially alternative weeklies).Stephen Gaskinsat down with a small group of us for about 20 minutes and he was quite riveting. Personable, entertaining, and very sharp. He was highly critical of Gore (whom he knows personally), and he gave his opinion that the only difference between himself and Nader was their position on marijuana (which, according to Gaskin, is that marijuana is a defective consumer product.). The difference between himself andJello Biafrais that Biafra deeply understands how to use the media, noting that even Biafra's name is a media coup. We were told that Biafra and Nader would not be available for one on one interviews, but I was able to grab Jello for 10 minutes afterManning Marable's speech. What can I say, he's Jello. It was like getting a personal performance of one of his famous spoken word bits. Definitely a high point of my year. Shortly thereafter, I taped Biafra's press conference, which was again like one of his gigs. He walked up to the podium, and said "Any questions". No speech, no fluff, just got right into it.

Day two was much more packed. I got to talk toDavid BarsamianandHelen Caldicott, which was awesome (Caldicott said that if she had the guts, she'd dye her hair blue as well). There was a very intense press conference with Nader that took some finagling to get into but I did manage. This was a serious campaign piece, he gave a stunning speech and answered a lot of tough questions. All of the quotes you've seen on CNN etc (if you've seen any) were from this conference. Biafra and Gaskin got up and spoke a few moments, then Nader was endorsed byJim Hightower, and then the voting process began. The voting process is highly entertaining, if you've ever seen a convention. Once the states have decided how they plan on voting, they line up in alphabetical order and a spokesperson casts the votes for their state. It got quite emotional at times, and was fascinating to watch. The inevitable nomination of Nader was followed by a tremendous 2+ hour speech by Nader. And he doesn't use a teleprompter! All in all a fascinating weekend!
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May the path before me be lit by the bridges I've burned behind me
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