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Grassroots Greens

There is a touch of irony in The Independent's John Yewell's insistence [Nov. 15] that, in the wake of the Nader campaign, the Green Party should return to a strategy of building from the ground up. From the formation of the Orange County Greens in 1985 through 15 years of grass-roots organizing, to the best of my knowledge, The Independent ran only two articles on the group: a Front Porch piece on the 1996 Tenth Anniversary Celebration and a sidebar that same year on the Nader write-in campaign. By contrast, this year alone, you have run four or five pieces on the Nader candidacy. There were no articles on Greens member Joyce Brown's three successful Chapel Hill Town Council bids or on the Greens Mark Marcoplos' 1992 run for Orange County commissioner. You ignored Green initiatives that might have been considered no-brainers for Indy coverage: our living wage initiative for Orange County, our call for sanctuary for war resisters during the Gulf War or our coordination of regional Chernobyl+10 actions in 1996.

Similarly, The Nation ignored the Greens until 1994, when the prominent former Democrat Roberto Mondragon threatened to "spoil" New Mexico's governor's race for the Democrats. This year, The Nation has also run a spate of articles on Nader. The message from the so-called alternative media to the Greens has been clear and consistent: If you want our attention, you will have to start at the top, despite our editorial insistence that you ought to do the opposite.

There is a further and more compelling irony here. In 2000, the Green Party ran 266 candidates for office in 31 states. In the spring, 12 were elected, and this fall, 18 Green Party victories are so far in place. If The Independent's readers have never heard of these candidates, their source of news can be at least partly blamed.

The Greens cannot "return" to a bottom-up strategy, since we never left it. In 2001, you can expect to find Greens in North Carolina and around the country working on a wide range of issues and running candidates for local office, as we have since the mid-1980s.


Unfair comparison

Godfrey Cheshire goes nuclear on Red Planet by comparing it to 2001: A Space Odyssey [Nov. 15]. But that's like comparing, say, George W. Bush to George Washington and damning Bush for his failure to measure up. Red Planet doesn't even attempt the goals of 2001, and so it's pointless to criticize its failure when it obviously isn't even trying. But the defense of low expectations does not translate into high praise.

I, like Cheshire, would like to see Hollywood make more science fiction movies that try to deal with profound ideas. Of course, sometimes you get something like Mission to Mars, which tried, but failed (oh, did it fail). Yet it's even more dispiriting to see science fiction movies like Red Planet that not only don't try to work on higher artistic and intellectual levels, but don't even seem to recognize that higher artistic and intellectual levels even exist.


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