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Santa Clara County, CA June 3, 2008 Election
Smart Voter Political Philosophy for Tian Harter

Candidate for
Member, Green Party County Council; County of Santa Clara

This information is provided by the candidate

I like stickers. I feel that life is an opportunity to express yourself, and it's wrong to pass that up. I grew up with that "Think Globally, Act Locally" slogan echoing through my ideals. My father was involved with international negotiations on commodity trading in Washington, DC, so it made sense to me that the logistics of "getting it" had something to do with the big picture. To me, stickers are a good bridge between the big picture and the local scene.

If you've been to a place like Burning Man, you know that the critical messages we need to share an understanding of are boiled down to slogans that are easy to spread there. "Leave No Trace" is all about picking up after ourselves, so that the Park Service will let us go back to the Playa next year. "Piss Clear" is all about making sure you take in enough water to survive in the Nevada desert. I like to think that stickers can occupy a similar role for all of us.

I remember browsing bookstores during the '91 Gulf War. There was no shortage of books the gist of which was that sooner or later we are going to have to learn how to use less energy. The path we were (and are) on was just not going to be sustainable. At the time I'd been working as a software engineer for years, and it was clear to me that people only work from the understanding they have at a given time. Expecting most Americans to read all those books was like expecting people that buy Macintoshes to read the manual. Not likely.

I thought about how I could boil what I have to say down to a sticker. I came up with "mend your fuelish ways". After I sold a few dozen of them for a buck apiece, I realized that most of the retail system we are embedded in is set up to do anything but talk about how to use less energy. Then after we "won" in Desert Storm people lost interest in talking about the issue for a while. That's when I developed my one minute speech about it.

I like meeting other activists who have taken the time to make stickers that express the soul of what they want to see. Trading one of mine for one of theirs makes me feel like we are sharing the road. On my bike there is a sticker from New Zealand, another from Minnesota, another from Poland, and quite a few that I got from more local organizations. Who gave me the "Be your own hero" sticker? Whomever she is, her sticker is still on my bike, and I still try to honor the concept.

Every now and then someone tells me a sticker story so powerful I can't forget it. One time fairly early in my Orange County days I was at a party talking to an old Libertarian activist. He talked about participating in an antinuclear power plant campaign. He'd made stickers for it that said "Vote on nuclear power" with a "Yes" by the on position, and "No" by the off position for light switches. He said he learned a lot from the stickers he put in his own home. A year or two later I dumped my fridge. I used a third less nuclear power for the rest of my time in OC.

The Green Party as I know it is a volunteer organization, and it's led by volunteers. As a Green activist, what I have to work with is my free speech rights. What it boils down to is "I'm trying to make free speech worth listening to." (Where by listening I mean something more than just letting sounds hit your eardrums.)

Back in my video game development days it was all about making the machine something you would want to spend time with. Since then I've developed a feeling that those machines are more like vampires on our political system. I've had a similar change of heart about a lot of the machines we've created because of our extreme willingness to use fossil fuels to do everything. I gotta admit though, I still like pushing the Play button after I've queued up a great CD full of music. Easy power is like that, always making a button push feel like a worthwhile investment. Getting addicted is easy.

Not long after the international negotiations on the climate change issue in Durban, South Africa I heard an Indian sounding voice on the radio saying "The American negotiators didn't even think about doing things they were asking of other people." I talked about that sound bite with an economist, and he said "That gets back to the whole Republican Ideology."

Looking for a "keystone idea" to anchor my beliefs to, I found that old saying "do the right thing and you'll be okay." It's okay to use less energy than I do, but you have to work to do it. I don't use much. According to the PG&E booth at a trade show, the average Californian has a carbon footprint of 29,050 lbs of carbon. According to their computer, my carbon footprint is closer to 2,532 lbs. Part of that is that it's been years since I flew, and a year and a half since I owned a car. As I type this, my legs feel tired because I did a lot of pedaling yesterday. I know what work it is to not drive. I still ask people to stop the fuelishness.

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Created from information supplied by the candidate: May 23, 2008 14:50
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