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Full Biography for Tian Harter
Tian was born in 1958 in Santiago Chile, where his father was part of the staff at the U.S. Embassy. By the time he left home for college, he had lived in Switzerland (where his brother was born), Thailand (where his living sister was born), and Washington, DC (where his other sister was born). The only ones he remembers well are Switzerland (most of elementary school), and Washington, where he spent his teenage years.
Tian graduated from High School in Bethesda, MD, at the age of 15. During the years between that and when he went to Engineering School at Bradley University in Peoria, IL. he had many lessons about how hard it is to get a job in suburbia if you don't have a drivers license and a College degree, and don't want to work as a janitor. Food service, IBM Keyboard Assembler, and Construction Site Laborer were the kinds of job he took during the time before getting out of College.
When Tian came to Silicon Valley Electronics was booming. He had no trouble getting good paying work. The first thing he designed that got used was a power supply for the interface between a communications satellite and the Space Shuttle. Later he did work for video game company Sente Technologies, and microcode development tools company Step Engineering. In the late 1980s it was obvious to Tian that such work was drying up, so he reinvented himself as a software engineer.
After doing Macintosh programming for some of the human interface to a very high end Logic Analyzer (CLAS 4000 state display), Tian discovered the political system during the 1990-'91 Gulf War. He had a great time going to marches and vigils and meetings, finding many people who saw the world in a totally different way from the ones he was used to. He vividly remembers the time at a march when a woman asked him "want to join a political party based on peace, justice, and ecological wisdom?" He said yes and she registered him with the Green Party.
His next job was at System Integrators in Sacramento, where he did more Macintosh Programming and some printer driver software. During that time his hobby was being a Green Party activist, learning about the consequences of automating of the media on the ground. Basically, what he learned was that the Sacramento Bee had not enough staff to cover the community it was supposed to serve, and the ownership was so far off they didn't care. In 1992 Tian ran for Congress (5th CD, Robert Matsui was the incumbent) with the slogan "MEND YOUR FUELISH WAYS", getting his name in the paper about four times, but never getting his issues discussed there.
Despite the cold shoulder from the media, on the ground people were generally caring and thoughtful, and they did the best they could to find meaning in the choices available to them. Tian ran for City Council in 1994, with the campaign slogan "we need better bus service". He proposed a couple of new bus routes, and in areas where they served the community he got ten percent more of the vote than other places. This campaign was also liked by enough people that he got a spot on the ECOS (Environmental Council of Sacramento) board. He didn't like leaving Sacramento when System Integrators laid him off.
After a forgetable winter in the Washington, DC area, Tian got a job at AOL's Technology Development office in Orange County, California. The math wizards upstairs did information compression software, and he did human interface software to make it useful to the people laying out AOL screens, a program sort of like Pagemaker for an in house system. After working there for a while Tian realized the most profound question he could think up was "what's the relationship between information compression and political pressure?"
During his Orange County days the biggest political project he worked on was a Christina Avalos for Congress Campaign. She got about as much attention running as an unfunded Democrat in a safe Republican District (47th, Chris Cox was the incumbent) as he had in Sacramento's safe Democratic District. The difference was that because of the much larger institutional inertia of the Democratic Party, she got many more votes. The experience convinced Tian that all of the software in the political system is between peoples ears, and some of it isn't very well thought out.
Since leaving Orange County in the spring of '99 Tian has lived in Mountain View, where he has spent a lot of time as a Green Party Activist. You can find out much more about this time by visiting tian.greens.org, the website where he "photoblogs" what he sees. Click the pictures to explore more than just the surface layer. Some of them lead to interesting and photogenic places.
In thinking about how to develop a more sustainable system he keeps coming back to the fact that our energy consumption patterns are very ingrained in our habits. Tian feels that the best thing we can do is edit our habits to develop more sustainable lifestyles. If we change our commuting habits so that we take the train to work instead of driving, the oil and car companies will feel the pain in their balance sheets eventually. In the "one dollar one vote" marketplace you, dear reader, have just as much power to channel votes as anybody else. If you try to use less energy per month in the future than you did in the past, than we will be moving forward together. That's how change bubbles up from the grass roots.
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Created from information supplied by the candidate: May 6, 2006 11:07
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