Convention in Durham develops priorities for the party
by Deyva Arthur, Green Party of New York State
The July 2009 Green Party annual national meeting in Durham, North Carolina, was a great success. Delegates from more than 30 states participated in brainstorming sessions to set priorities for the party and how to address the current problems facing the country. Most participants said it was a truly enjoyable event and, more importantly, it not only paid for itself ñ it made money.
ìThe people from Durham were phenomenal,î said Julia Willebrand of the Green Party of New York State. ìThis annual meeting made me so proud to be a Green.î Willebrand said that everything from the food and transportation to the spirit of cooperation among all the attendees made for a successful convention.
Previous annual meetings have drawn criticism for costing a considerable amount of money at a time when party finances are severely strained. Thanks to determined planning on the part of the North Carolina Green Party and the national party staff, this year the convention was able to net ten thousand dollars made from the meeting itself, fundraising events and merchandise sales. Holding the event on a state university campus made it much more affordable, and because North Carolina Central University is a historically black university (HBCU), it also provided the important context of outreach into communities of color, which is an important direction for the party.
ìThis annual meeting made me so proud to be a Green.î Julia Willebrand
Green state delegates, caucus members, officeholders, and observers came together for almost a full day of discussion for setting priorities for the party. David McCorquodale of the Delaware Green Party and a national representative said, ìThere were no apparent ideological divisions, which had preoccupied meetings in the past several years. Everyone seemed intent on focusing on positive messages, getting down to work and figuring out how to shape up this country.î
Out of the discussion, members felt the priorities the Green Party should focus on for now are single-payer national healthcare; human rights; and food, water, and energy with an added emphasis on climate change. These are meant to be messaging priorities, helping to develop a unified voice for Green candidates and activists who are working to put pressure on those in government to bring significant change.
Cynthia McKinney gave a speech on†her recent efforts with the Free Gaza Movement even though she was too ill too attend the meeting in person.†She and other Free Gaza and Viva Palestina activists were aboard the Spirit of Humanity to bring medical and other supplies to Gaza in the wake of Israel’s invasion last winter when Israeli gunboats seized it (see expanded article in this section). ìThe stress of her recent attempts to deliver humanitarian supplies to the Palestinians had taken its toll on McKinney’s health,î said David McCorquodale. ìIt was clear that she was making an extraordinary effort to speak to us from home.î
There were many workshops at the convention, including several by the Green Party Black Caucus. ìOne of the most positive things of the whole meeting was that we had a good strong turnout of people from the Black Caucus,î said Julia Willebrand. One of their workshop topics was how the Green Party could advance Reparations.
Speaking at a forum on healthcare reform and the need for a single-payer national healthcare plan were Dr. Jonathan Kotch, board president of Health Care for All NC and senior faculty member at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, and Dr. Justine McCabe, former co-chair of the Green Party of Connecticut and Ph.D. alumna of Duke University. In another popular forum, Jesse Johnson of the West Virginia Mountain Party gave a talk about the catastrophic effects of mountaintop removal coal mining, followed by a screening of the new documentary ìCoal Country: Rising Up Against Mountaintop Removal Mining.î
Cynthia McKinney speaking remotely to the delegates gathered in Durham.