A Victory in Argentina
Lisa Garrigues' account in your Fall 2002 issue of the attempts by Argentines to resurrect their economy from the ground up was well written and informative. Unfortunately, since then the factory highlighted in the story, Brukman, was seized by the authorities and there is an ongoing struggle to secure it again for the workers.
However, there is recent good news from another “recovered” factory in Argentina: the Sasetru food processing plant, seized by a community near Buenos Aires and then violently attacked by the police and military, was legally returned to the workers by the courts in October.
This is a significant victory as the plant has the potential to employ hundreds of workers. Sasetru's future is somewhat secure as the workers obtained local government contracts to supply pasta to outlets providing food to needy families.
Inkworks Press, a worker co-op where I work, along with labor groups all over the world, sent a letter of support to the workers of the Sasetru plant this summer and copies to several government functionaries.
Our family has just returned from a month-long bicycle journey through Europe. We have enjoyed this form of vacation for several years, but as we were planning it in March, just as the Iraq war was starting, we wanted to turn the trip into more than a vacation. We came up with the idea of letting the world know, in some small way, that not all Americans think that driving oil-guzzling, polluting cars is the only way to live. We printed stickers that said “Bicycle for peace” in the seven languages of the countries we would be visiting. We planned to give them out to whomever we could strike up a conversation with. Traveling as citizen diplomats turned out to be a wonderful way to go.
We spent our first two nights in a Copenhagen hostel. As we cooked dinner, we talked with a nice gentleman and gave him a sticker. His eyes lit up and he introduced himself as Farook from Pakistan. He told us that Pakistan was a wonderful country and he hoped that all Americans didn't hate him. After a long evening of much laughter, we said farewell and he left us with the names and e-mails of his family members and a promise that we must come visit. This same scenario unfolded in a myriad of ways during our thousand kilometers of pedaling, and we now hope to ride through a different part of the world every year.
Bainbridge Island, Washington
Clean Elections Coming
The Fall 2003 issue of YES! featured both “Clean Elections—Making a Difference” and Fran Korten's appeal to be politically active on the state level as well as on the community and federal level. For those of you who live in Washington State, I bear good news.
A little over a year ago a small group of us began meeting to see what we could do to get clean elections for our state. Even though our resources were limited and we operated on our spare time, much has been accomplished. We are now incorporated as Washington Public Campaigns.
We received advice and help from the Western States Center, contacted the people involved in Maine's successful effort to get clean elections adopted there. We studied the step-by-step process they used to be successful and are utilizing many of their strategies.
We are now reaching out to political and community leaders, organizations and the general public. Already the League of Women voters and the State Democratic Party have endorsed public financing of campaigns in Washington. Through our year's fledgling efforts we have some 300 supporters on our database.
Our strategy is to educate the public and politicians as to the benefits of pubic financing of campaigns (so well presented in the YES! article) leading up to supporting the passage of such a law by our legislature. If that fails, then we intend to submit an initiative petition to the voters.
To do all this we need much help, including raising money. If you live in Washington, and want to heed Fran Korten's appeal to become active on a statewide level, we need you. To join us, e-mail us at WPC@washclean.org or write to us at PO Box 95088, Seattle, WA 98145. Visit our website at www.washclean.org.
Washington Public Campaigns
Until this summer, my husband and I had never been involved with a presidential campaign before, and we felt disenchanted with electoral politics. But we were deeply concerned about what was happening nationally and the seeming inability of humanity to solve situations without striking back violently.
My husband, Stair, came across the interview with Dennis Kucinich in the Summer 2002 issue of YES! and said to me, “Read this.” When we read it, we thought, “This is the man we wish would run for president.”
When we heard that he was in fact running for president, we went to a meeting in Seattle, thinking we'd maybe give $25. At that meeting, we met Green Party members, veterans for peace, Bill Bradley people, people who had been disenchanted in previous campaigns, those who like us were alienated from government.
We learned that Dennis supports national healthcare for all, world leadership through peace, full social security benefits at 65, environmental renewal and clean energy, funding education for pre-K through college, civil rights and repeal of the PATRIOT Act, women's reproductive choice, withdrawal from NAFTA and the WTO, new protections for family farmers, and a full employment economy. We decided we had to do more than give $25.
We called some neighbors and gathered a group of eight people at our house. We live on Bainbridge Island, a small community near Seattle, where the 4th of July is a highlight of the year, so we decided to put a “Kucinich for President” float together for the parade. A week later, we wore “Kucinich for President buttons” at a presentation on Iraq by Kathy Kelly of Voices in the Wilderness, and our buttons attracted interest.
We next learned that Dennis was coming to Seattle and we had the opportunity to bring him to Bainbridge. So in just a week we contacted people we knew who were involved in Bainbridge Island Neighbors for Peace, the Earth Charter, and Women in Black.
We got all sorts of community members involved, including high school youngsters. In the end, we had 400 people show up; 120 signed up to get involved in the campaign and many contributed money.
Since then, we've been having meetings at our house, until we got too large for our house and moved to a meeting room in the town fire station. I've been copying video tapes about Dennis and giving them out. Stair, who's an ex-Ironworker, has been going to union halls. We've been holding spaghetti feeds and house parties, and have inspired other nearby communities to start Kucinich for President groups.
It's not really about Dennis. It's about our desires, our yearnings for a better world. To learn more about the Kucinich campaign's efforts to turn the tide away from war and toward peace, call me at 866/413-3664.
Bainbridge Island, Washington