video re: Green Party History Weekend, John Rensenbrink segment

John Rensenbrink, one of the founders of the Green Party of the United States, talks about the origins of the Green Party. Recorded at the Green Party History Weekend, March 28–30 2008, in Oakland, Berkeley and San Francisco CA. Filmed by Tom Bolema.

Green History Weekend participants: Dee Berry (MO), Budd Dickinson (CA), Mike Feinstein (CA). Ben Kjelshus (MO) Howie Hawkins (NY), Greg Jan (CA), Danny Moses (CA), John Rensenbrink (ME), Barbara Rodgers-Hendricks (FL), Charlene Spretnak (CA), Betty Zisk (MA).

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Early Party organizers gather to recall 1980s to early 1990s

By Mike Feinstein, Green Party of California

When and how did the U.S. Greens start? What were the early “salad days” like, in terms of dreams, goals and challenges? What choices were made then that helped lead to where we are today?

These questions and others brought 11 Greens who were active in the 1980s and early 1990s together for a weekend of reminiscing, recalling, and writing U.S. Green history. With no single place where this early history is chronicled, they hoped the product of their weekend would provide an enduring account of the origins of the Greens in the United States.

They proceeded chronologically, year by year, from plans for the founding meeting of U.S. Greens in 1984, through the key meetings and events up to the summer of 1991.

Ben Kjelshus and Charlene Spretnak talked of how the call for a Green founding meeting in the U.S. occurred at the First North American Bioregional Congress in Excelsior Springs, MO, May 1984. Spretnak and Howie Hawkins then recounted the founding meeting itself, when approximately 60 people met at Macalaster College in St. Paul, Minnesota and founded what later became known as the Green Committees of Correspondence (GCoC).

Dee Berry spoke of being the first Coordinator of the GCoC Clearinghouse in Kansas City, MO and its operations after it was first established in 1985, and how after serving for four years, she asked the Interregional Council (IC) to appoint someone new because she believed in rotation of power.

The IC meetings that began in 1985 were also a prime discussion topic. These meetings brought together representatives from large regions of Green locals from across the country. It was at the IC meetings that decisions were made like where to locate the Kansas City Clearinghouse, and to launch the first national Green program process — the Strategic Policy Approaches in Key Areas (SPAKA), which was spearheaded by John Rensenbrink and ran from 1988 to1990.

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Steven Welzer

The editor of Green Horizon Magazine, Steve has been a movement activist for many years (he was an original co-editor of DSA’s “Ecosocialist Review”).