Michigan Nurse spreads the Green Party word in Alaska
Robin Laurain, from the Green Party of Michigan, decided to use her nursing experience to fight Covid in places overwhelmed by the pandemic. Her work as a traveling nurse eventually brought her to the island of Sitka, near Juneau, Alaska. In between her busy schedule as a nurse, Laurain spent time talking with locals about the Green Party. She was met with an intrinsic openness by the community.
The last iteration of the Green Party of Alaska was disaffiliated by the GPUS National Committee in January 2021 when a small group of party leaders decided not to place the Green Party presidential nominees on its ballot line. Alaska Greens who were disenfranchised by that previous group are interested in building a grassroots democratic Green Party in the state.
Many locals are receptive to Green values and political ideas once they learn more about the party. Alaskans are independent-minded and value self-sufficiency, but that also means taking care of everyone in the community especially before the long winter sets in. The community around Sitka especially moved to run corporations out of town and turn a local factory into a worker-owned cooperative, after the corporation essentially lied to locals about the wages and benefits they would receive.
Alaskans, being so much closer to the Arctic, understand better than most in the US the effects of climate change as they watch mountain glaciers melt away, causing floods and pushing wildlife like bears into places they’ve never gone before such as human neighborhoods. Many in the lower US do not realize that Alaska has its own rainforest area that many Alaskans feel protective of, yet US and Canadian businesses in addition to logging regularly dump toxic chemicals and trash in these forests.
Many Alaskans value self-sufficiency but also social responsibility, and are protective of the environment and looking for ways to sustainably grow the economy – all values in line with the Greens.
Alaska has for decades faced poor economic and environmental policy pushed by Republicans while Democrats have done little to organize and resist. In particular, much of the Alaskan population is Indigenous and historically underrepresented and oppressed within US politics. This means many Alaskans are skeptical of politics but also very receptive to efforts to move beyond two-party politics once trust and understanding is built. Local Greens are interested in building a Green Party presence but recognize that it will take time to organize around the challenges faced.