It's a decent start: We had ten people in attendance last night, about as many as could comfortably fit in the conference room at SHAPE. Most of the ten have been regular attendees at the organizing sessions.
As the facilitator, I wanted to start off with an actual prepared speech instead of just winging it, which would be customary for this crowd. It's a way of setting the tone for how we'll be aim to do things differently rather than settling into comfortable routines. I thought the speech was good enough to post here (below the fold) for posterity; you may hold a different opinion as to its worthiness.
I am happy to report that I did fit the speech within my five allocated minutes, we did finish the meeting in just under two hours as planned, and a few of us did repair to Axelrad Beer Garden for adult beverages and conversation (but very little political talk, for which I am thankful). Also, we collectively exercised sufficient restraint to keep our sometimes-reflexive bitching about the current state of HCGP to a bare minimum.
Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the inaugural membership meeting of Green Party Houston, a Green-action group for the city of Houston and the eight-county metropolitan region. My name is David Collins, and I am your facilitator for tonight's meeting. Along with Alfred Molison, I have agreed to serve this new organization as co-chair pro tempore. We also have Janis Richards serving for now as secretary, along with a small but sturdy crew of organizers.
Some of Green Party Houston's organizers have been elected to the Steering Committee of the Harris County Green Party or the State Executive Committee of the Green Party of Texas—in fact, we have the two current state co-chairs here tonight, Alfred and Janis, and Don Palmer the GPTX treasurer. Others have been active with Green Party groups in other states. Collectively, we have been gestating this organization for the past few months, and tonight we give it birth.
For my introduction to this meeting and to Green Party Houston, I am departing from my usual practice of improvising to read a prepared speech. Don't be shocked or worried: I do intend to keep it under five minutes. I have written myself a script because I place great importance on the formation of GPH. While I cannot speak for the rest of the group, I imagine that they feel the same way.
As an active Green since 1995, I have never lost sight of the importance of having a truly progressive, ecologically-minded political party in the United States and other nations. Many of us who self-identify as Greens joined the movement out of disillusionment with the two major parties, which we often call the Partisan Duopoly, and the undemocratic political and economic systems that they have perpetuated.
In the face of such disillusionment, giving in to apathy would be the easy route; millions of Americans have taken that route, deciding that they have nothing to vote for, and thus giving up. Our nation's largest political bloc is the Non-Voters. Greens do not see giving up as an option. We typically have a temperament that prioritizes doing things the right way, rather than the easy way. It's a bit like what John F. Kennedy said, right here in Houston in 1962, about getting to the moon by the end of the '60s: We choose to do these things because they are hard. As the philosopher Kermit the Frog put it, “It's not easy being Green.”
Given the critical state of the planet and the human environment, we have joined this movement because, from our perspective, it is the only political movement that takes these crises seriously enough to propose real solutions. Reversing climate disruption, making our society more equitable and just, and other such monumental undertakings are indeed difficult, and they will require a level of commitment that not everyone can sustain. Even if our efforts fail, we comfort ourselves in the knowledge that we are on the right side of history—or, perhaps, the left side.
The purpose of this group is not sitting around and complaining about the Republican and Democratic Parties or their candidates—although we certainly could. We could also lament the Green Party's apparent lack of effectiveness at all levels in its 20 years as a national party, or the way the mass media portray the party as the lefty lunatic fringe (when they bother to talk about the Green Party at all)—but we won't. We are not here to promote the candidacy of any progressive Democrat, no matter how we might admire them for having the good sense to plagiarize the Green Party's platform—although we cannot stop anyone from promoting their favorite non-Green candidates outside this meeting.
So why are we here? OtherGreens in this room may have different ideas of what GPH's purposes actually are, and what we hope to accomplish on the electoral front and elsewhere. I hope that they all agree with me that we have formed this group to make progressive-minded people in Greater Houston feel good about being Green. How will we achieve this? Primarily, we will create a community, an intentional political family if you will, knowing that no one can (or should even try to) save the world alone.
Secondly, we ask our members to take on some responsibilities, and to revel in the sense of accomplishment that results from completing them. You may be the only person accountable for a given task, but you can always turn to your comrades for assistance and support. We are firm believers in task forces, workgroups, committees, etc. Since we are a political group, those responsibilities may include running for public office, or serving on the campaign crew of someone else who is running. Yes, we know that democracy consists of far more than just elections, but an electoral campaign is the most effective way to get the Green Message out to the people, even if the media do ignore you.
At the end of tonight's meeting, assuming we get through the agenda in less than two hours, you will have a chance to tell us whether we have succeeded in making you glad you came. If you want to continue the discussion after the meeting, please join me at Axelrad Beer Garden, over at Alabama and Almeda.
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