IDEA MILL: POLITICIANS AS GARDENER RATHER THAN ARCHITECT
Lynne Williams - About a year or so ago I was interviewed by a reporter for the Ellsworth American and he asked me what I would like Mainers to know about the Greens. I responded that I would like people to understand that we are more than just environmentalists, that we understand economics and that most of all we understand the natural interconnection between the economy and ecology. It is revealing that both words – economy and ecology - have the same Greek root, oikos- which means house. Ecology means the study of our house, and economy means the management of our house - house being mother earth.
We are transitioning into a difficult period of reduced resources and the necessary reduced expectations. . . We need to create a new definition of progress as well as an understanding that traditional growth is by its very definition unsustainable. Given these limits, it is time to begin moving away from the quantitative definition of growth and progress and towards the qualitative. Clean air, adequate and safe water, fertile soil, universal access to single payer health care, chemical-free food and renewable non-polluting energy sources must be considered basic human rights and growth in those areas is sustainable.
Yet what we as a society call growth typically has little to do with improving quality of life, but rather with production that is wasteful, luxurious, dangerous, intentionally obsolescent, unnecessary, or all of the above. Even the 'green movement' is all about production, not reduction, where increased production of so-called green products, from energy saving light bulbs to wind turbines, is encouraged. However, the problem is not the nature of the product but the expansion of production. It is not the products that must change but the process that must change.
For example, we do need radical transformation in our energy systems, but that transformation - whether to wind, solar, geothermal - must be community created, owned and operated. We need communities to determine their transportation needs, devise solutions to meet those needs and then the state must provide necessary support. We must produce only sustainable and recyclable goods and encourage green architecture through incentives.
We need to transform food production and distribution by defending local food sovereignty, eliminating polluting industrial agribusiness, and creating sustainable agricultural systems. . .
The key to this is democratic decision-making about economic development. We need a participatory model, where initiatives percolate from the ground up, not from the top down. Liberalism is about social management, but we are about social liberation. Monopoly capitalism derives profit from exploitive extraction of surplus value from natural resources and human resources. This is the intersection of labor and ecology, which is a natural partnership that we must pursue, by working closely with labor to defeat monopoly capitalism. . .
What we need from a governor is not a series of statist power grabs, but rather a grand vision of how every town and city in this state can come together to meet all of the challenges that are on the horizon over the next decade. As governor, I would be a gardener, not an architect, planting seeds throughout the state and letting them grow, rather than designing the master plan and imposing it on the landscape.
A year ago we had forced school consolidation, but the administration had greatly underestimated the response of the school districts, particularly those in rural Maine. Resistance emerged, along with anger that, without any input whatsoever, Augusta was mandating what local communities needed to do with their local schools. Not to be deterred from its apparent goal of eliminating any semblance of home rule, the administration passed – once more without public hearings throughout the state – the expedited wind power ordinance, which benefits corporate development of industrial wind farms, rather than community consensus-based projects whereby benefits accrue to the community and its residents. Towns throughout the state, including Lincoln, Roxbury, Dixmont, and Freedom, only a few examples, immediately rose up to resist the actual, or possible, unwelcome intrusion of massive industrial wind farms into their communities.
We do need to move towards the utilization of renewable energy sources. But such energy projects must be community initiated and controlled. Vinalhaven, for example, has begun developing one such project. The community - not some out-of-state corporation - decided to erect wind turbines on the island. The electricity produced by the turbines will power the island. Any surplus power will be credited to the accounts of the island. These are the types of projects that we must support. . .