I was all set to issue the call to arms. Raise the flag, summon the troops! Speak truth to power, speak truth to lies. Our city really does need saving. Now! (Our nation, our planet too. All politics is local.)
Wait until the 2020 election to get more organized and funded? No! This is the time, this coming election is the vehicle. It may be now or never.
This is your city! It doesn’t belong to special interests who only care about making big profits at our expense, nor to the tens of thousands of future new residents some want to shoehorn into our already jam-packed 8.4 square miles, for the same ends. Santa Monicans for Renters Rights (SMRR) needs a steady flow of more renters here to maintain their political power, and the City Council members who owe their political lives to SMRR have been willing servants.
When political decisions don’t seem to make any sense to you, remember that, and other factors — campaign contributions, UNITE HERE local 11 union, various transportation camarillas — gosh, it seems the unelected policy influencers are just endless! Look around you, at what’s been built recently and will be built. What we have been subjected to is not progress, not planning for the future, it is a sell-out of our land, our air, our streets, the very soul of our city, for the flimsiest of illegitimate excuses and the enormous profit of a few, and those who benefit politically from that. Progress and growth must come more slowly than the speeding train to oblivion that we’ve been thrown on, and it must come for the benefit of those who live in Santa Monica, not the disregard of them.
So, get angry! If that’s what it takes to move you to action. We need bodies! Get out there! Vote, educate voters and get those newly-aware voters to the polls. Slap those liar flyers and postcards out of their hands! And tell once-honorable organizations like the League of Women Voters and the Sierra Club and various union boards that you won’t stand anymore for their duplicity and complicity.
GET MAD, GET MOTIVATED, GET ORGANIZED!
Because the opposing forces sure are. “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!” — Howard Beale, “Network.” Has showing up and speaking politely to our selected officials resulted in our voices being heard, our interests being served? Many, many voices must be raised, and they must be insistent. I’m still optimistic, and like poet-columnist-punk rocker Henry Rollins: “My optimism wears heavy boots and is loud.”
Our governments have failed us. Polite petition or even protest is dismissed, even large numbers are ignored. We are invisible and mute to our “leaders.” Something has to change, for our voices to be heard.
The fuse on my canon was burning short, and then, last Friday, I ran across Xiuhtezcatl Martinez. In a high-end outdoor clothing store, right here in downtown Santa Monica. It was… a thing, an event… about the environment; my friend Jerry Rubin recommended it highly, so I went. My interest was also influenced a little by the fact that my niece has now been, for a couple of years, head of PR or publicity or something, for Patagonia.
But while revealing this disclosure I must also note that she did not push this on me, she was not the one who told me about it, nor did she follow up. I think she’s conscious of not putting me in an awkward position. Or maybe she’s too busy getting coverage in Le Monde, Vanity Fair, NY Times.
The Patagonia store on 4th Street was packed, and I don’t think they all came for the free bowls of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams. Lots of young people, and that’s good. Because while we decry the hidden forces that aim to despoil our planet for profit, there is obviously a widespread amateur cadre of motivated mostly-young-people working, in small localized groups, to make things right. Patagonia has established something called the Patagonia Action Works (PAW?), which attempts to tie all these disparate groups together for networking, mutual support, information. The company seems to walk the walk: they say they have from almost the beginning donated one percent of their profits to such groups, and that in 30 years it has totaled almost $90M. I highly recommend checking out their website.
Xiuhtezcatl. See, not that hard… as Aztec names go. That’s from his father’s side. In 1992, his mother co-founded the Earth Guardian Community Resource Center, an accredited experiential learning high school in Maui. which has become a worldwide organization with Xiuhtezcatl serving as youth director. So, lots of family support for these issues. They claim a documentary the boy saw at age six inspired him to protect Mother Earth, and he’s been pretty unstoppable since then. TED talks, a book, an album, spoke three times to the UN and all over the world, and so much more, and, he’s 17. Oh, and in 2015 he gathered a group of 21 plaintiffs, aged 9-20, to sue the U.S. Federal government, for denying their constitutional right to life, liberty, and property by ignoring climate change. The lawsuit continues to move forward.
The young man from Boulder was clearly the draw. He is an articulate speaker for his causes and he said a lot of good things, but here’s the big one I took away. He said people protest and work to change things, not out of hatred or anger, but love. Because they deeply love something or someone.
I can go along with that. It was a good reminder. I believe that must be at the core of our lives and our actions. But…
Jesus lost it with the moneychangers and threw them out of the temple. I have spoken to several friends who reported being there when their revered holy guru threw a temper tantrum because someone screwed up. I believe there is a place for that righteous anger, it can be very motivating and I believe that’s what we really need now, a lot of people at the end of their rope who will rise up and say…
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “I’m not going to take this anymore!”
Charles Andrews has lived in Santa Monica for 32 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world. Really. Send love and/or rebuke to him at firstname.lastname@example.org