Green glory days

After reading your fine retrospective article on the emergence of the Greens in Portland [“Too Green to Lead?,” January 2010], I’m persuaded to join you in reminiscing about the electrifying state of the Portland Green Party at the turn of the decade — and what a wild and heady decade it’s been for the Greens in Portland! I’m proud to have been part of it.

When I first took the seat as co-chair of the Portland Greens a decade or so ago, local pundits at that time were saying the Greens would never hold an elected office. Just look at us now. Since then, Greens have held 13 seats in all, with as many as eight Greens serving in local and state office at one time. Six Greens presently hold office — in the state’s biggest city, no less. Note: Don’t ever believe them when they tell you that you can’t do it!

While all that is impressive, we’re not in this to put notches in our belts or climb the ladder and profit personally. We’re in it to be good citizens serving in office for the sake of serving and making things better. We do it because that’s what you do if you want a vital democracy. That’s how we roll. It’s been a huge bonus that along the way, young voters and never voters have been engaged in a way that had not been happening in Portland for decades. It’s because Greens went to them and asked them to get involved and they answered the call. That’s what’s been most exciting about the past Green decade.

While out campaigning, I knocked on doors of voters who told me nobody had been to see them in 30 years of living in the district. Wow, that was gratifying. Just an elite few party bosses were the kingmakers back then — just a decade ago. Candidates went unopposed. The victory of Democrats who ran for office in Portland was a foregone conclusion. All of that lead to taking voters, of all ages and stripes, for granted. Hopefully it’s less possible now to serve without consulting the voters, but we need to be vigilant.

Best of all, these Green victories have inspired newcomers and young people, of all political stripes, to run for office, and that wave of Green energy has transformed the political landscape in Portland for the better — I’m sure of that.

Perhaps you’re inspired, my dear reader. What are you waiting for? We’re looking for candidates. Give me a call, I’m in the book. Who else if not you? That’s what this past decade has taught me. Who else if not me?

Thank you for the stroll down memory lane thus far, my dear Editor.

Here’s to another decade of transforming our local community for the better. Who’s with me?!

—John Eder, Portland

No one to run

As a Portland resident who has voted for Green candidates and run against one for the School Committee seat I currently hold, I thought I would make a few comments about the article “Too Green to Lead?” in your January issue.

Four out of the six seats up for election in Portland last November were uncontested. With so few people willing to run for public office, the city of Portland is better off with an active Green Party than we would be without. Every race should be contested, and I appreciate the Green Party’s energy and commitment to find candidates to run for public office. My opponent, Anthony Zeli, was hard-working, thoughtful and respectful throughout the campaign, and he made me a sharper and better candidate.

What is lacking in the process is a mechanism outside the political party structure to recruit qualified candidates and provide guidance during their campaigns. As a small business owner, balancing the time and energy needed to run for office with the demands of work and family was exceedingly stressful at times! If we want local politics to be free of party influence, perhaps there should be a group that serves to find and support candidates for local offices.

—Ed Bryan, Portland, District 2 School Committee Representative

Free stuff for Peavey

I have some feedback regarding Elizabeth Peavey’s January column [“Java jibe”], an unusual offer, and perhaps a bit of advice.

Firstly, I own Obie’s Fitness at 506 Main St. in Westbrook. We used to be located on Woodford’s Corner but moved to a nicer, cleaner location. I would like to emphasize clean and that Obie’s Fitness doesn’t fit her cliché that “one smelly gym really is the same as another.” Obie’s Fitness is always clean. I own it, I clean it, daily!

My offer is to give Elizabeth a free year membership to my gym. I hope that she accepts my offer because I would truly hate for her gym experiences to date to give her preconceived notions about gyms that I try hard to set my gym apart from — especially because she is airing these notions in the media and my gym has somehow been lumped into the “smelly” category. Honestly, Elizabeth is welcome to be a part of Obie’s Fitness for a free year. Please accept. We are locally owned and operated, by the way.

My bit of advice to Elizabeth about finding a place for Coffee Date is that she look outside of the box. I found that sitting in the great big picture window of StarEast Café on Woodford’s Corner provides an unequalled array of people-watching entertainment. You will enjoy sipping CBD coffee, or Arabic tea, while watching the goings-on between a pawn shop (with its regular smoke-breakers mingling with passersby), a local hair designer (whose clients I’ve spotted shivering for him to show up, late again) and, in between, the little gym that opened up in the little spot that I left.

Had I known another gym was going to open in my old spot, I would have taken my mirrors and ceiling fans with me when I left! Oh well, lesson learned. There are quite a bit of laughs to be had while drinking your hot beverage, served up by Saad, next to the phony fireplace. You may even see his son, Mustafa, running around — good kid.

—Obie Philbrook, Portland