Arizona will bring a particular emphasis on Immigration issues to the
workshops, and will offer persons who can come early, or stay late, an
opportunity to visit a border town (Nogales, AZ and Nogales, Sonora,
Mexico) and to participate in delivering water to water stations that
have been set up in places where migrants have died trying to cross large stretches of desert.
We will offer workshops on issues such as Clean Elections (public
campaign financing), and on how to run successful ballot measures.
Within a 60 mile radius of Tucson is the greatest variety of flora and
fauna in the continental United States, because of variations in altitude and two different rainy seasons.
Tucson was lived in for millennia, most recently as the village of Chuk
Son, where Europeans established a Spanish presidio in 1776. We were the
reason for the Gadsden Purchase, for the railroad west. Statehood came
in 1912, and Carl Hayden served in Congress from then until 1962. The
early days of statehood were rife with populist fervor, Wobblies at the
mines, women voting before national suffrage, recall, initiatives, workman's comp, when they were all radical concepts.
The meeting location is at the Historic YWCA Building, within 4 blocks
of the University of Arizona. The YWCA building is currently owned by a
private individual, who rents to theatre groups, the Audubon Society,
private counselors and acupuncturists, the YWCA, the Sonoran Desert Protection Coalition, and to
groups who meet there, such as the Green Party of Pima County, the Sierra Club, etc.
It will be a delight to support, and interact with, a Green friendly
venue that includes: Audubon Society Gift Shop, ZUZI's Theater, Desert
Archeology, the Paulo Freire Freedom School, the Environmental Education Exchange, the
YWCA of Tucson, the Arizona League of Conservation Voters, the Sky Island Alliance, ArtsReach, Voices
for Education / Arizona Children First, IATSE Local 415 - Stage Hands Union,
the Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection, the Sierra Club, the US
Fish & Wildlife Service / Sonoran Joint Venture, the Friends of Saguaro
National Park, and Tucson CSA - Community Supported Agriculture.
Conference attendees and their families will enjoy the myriad options on
or near 4th Avenue, which lies just behind our convention site. Fourth
Avenue is home of the spring and winter Fourth Avenue Street Fair. This
half mile of street has shops and stores going back to the 60's, incl an
organic food coop (The Food Conspiracy) and the oldest feminist bookstore in the United States (Antigone's.) The DQ goes back further,
and Caruso's Italian Restaurant opened in 1938. Mixed in with bead shops, thrift stores, nonprofits, and
everything trendy and retro, are a rich variety of small bars, bistros,
coffeehouses, cafes, pubs, casbahs, BBQs, lounges, internet cafes, burger joints, pizza patios, sandwich shops, diners, pits, and
restaurants. The food choices range the continents, and include vegetarian and vegan.
Some names of eateries on 4th Avenue are: Epic Cafe, Magpie's Pizza, the
Chocolate Iguana, Dairy Queen, Caruso's Italian Restaurant, Maya Quetzal, La Indita, OMalley's Tavern, The Shanty (bar),
Delectables, Time Market & Deli, The Food Conspiracy, Plush, Pancho Villa's, Rod's
BBQ, Casbah Tea House, Athens on 4th Avenue, Che's Lounge, and the nearby Pei Wei Asian Diner, Yokohama Rice Bowl, and Pita Pit.
It is along 4th Avenue that one is most likely to see Green Party bumper
stickers, white boys with Rastafian haircuts, cowboy poets, aging lesbians, and tourists pretending they don't notice. We'll fit right in!
Within a 60 mile radius of Tucson is the greatest variety of flora and
fauna in the contiguous United States, due to variations in elevation,
and in having both a winter and summer rainy season. We are surrounded
by 4 dramatic mountain ranges, and within 30 miles of downtown Tucson
you can be in either Sonoran desert, ranges of saguaro cactus, ironwood
bosques, or ponderosa pine and oak forest on the mountains. There
is a full forest here of columnar cactus, the giant saguaro, the largest in the world. The don't grow "arms"
until they are about 70 years old, and they survive until over 150, perhaps 250. They grow only
in Arizona, and in Sonora, Mexico. They begin life as a seed the size of
a poppy seed, and grow under a nurse tree, usually a palo verde or an
ironwood or mesquite. The large garland of waxy white blossoms face the
sky, and they are pollinated by bats who see them reflecting moonlight
below. The fruits are red, and the juice of the fruit is like a sweeter
watermelon juice, and ferments into a pulque. When the saguaro dies,
from lightning strike or hard winter freeze, it takes as much as two
years for the last slow moving sap to traverse the body, which weighs
tons, and thus another seed crop or two, of a million seeds each, can be
produced. The skeleton of woody saguaro ribs will be left behind, and
hundreds of saguaros germinate, to be an inch tall after 5 years growth,
and one will make it to maturity. Saguaros look like they could survive
anything, but their roots are wide and shallow, and off road vehicles can weaken them til they don't
withstand their natural challenges, and overgrazing or the introduction
of exotic plants, can deny them a place where they can begin life. If you get outside the city at night, the stars are fantastic. We have
two internationally acclaimed observatories within 80 miles. One of our
local Green leaders is an astronomer. On the southern reaches of the city is the beginning of the second
largest (in territory) native American nation, the Tohono Odom (formerly
called the Papago.) The Tohono Odom nation is both in the US and in Mexico. [The largest nation is the two state nation of the Dine
(Navajo), which is primarily Arizona, but also in New Mexico. This nation is about a 600 mile drive from here, in the NE corner of the
state, so is not a sidetrip-- unless you plan significant time, and rent
or bring a car. Arizona is home to 26 native American nations.
The other nation which local to Tucson are the Yacqui people, who came
to Arizona from Mexico during late territorial times, and only received
US recognition as a tribe in the 1960's.
We are 65 miles from la frontera, the border with Mexico. but you can't
take a rental car across the border. You might consider ecotourism (www.laruta.org) la ruta de sonora ecotourism assn, Mexico, or
www.borderlinks.org see Mexico through a social justice lens. Or you
can take a Greyhound (1-800-231-2222) south, and walk across, just to
look around the bordertown of Nogales, Sonora, Mexico. (Have ID to get
back!) Either way, when you cross the border, if you walk one block to
the right, just after you step into Mexico, you see The Wall. There are
white crosses painted on it, and warnings, and someone has written the
message that a border can be either a barrier or a bridge... A decade ago, not
one person died crossing between the US and Arizona. The year before that only two did. Then came two
things: NAFTA, and The Wall. The Wall was not the result of policy decisions, like NAFTA . It
came to be there because the US military had a huge number of 30 foot by
30 foot metal landing pads left over from the First Gulf War, in storage, and a bureaucrat suggested that the government could save
storage fees by building a wall along urban border corridors. And that
would cut back on undocumented immigration, because no one would be desperate enough to try to cross, on foot, hundreds of miles of roadless
desert, where summer temperatures top 120 degrees. For the last several years, around 300 corpses a year have
been found in the desert, just along the Arizona corridor. Count in California, New
Mexico, Texas, it amounts to several thousand corpses. Dying of dehydration is a terrible thing. We'd like to talk with Greens
about it. About what we can do. After you've been here, and seen the presentation
we'd like to make for you, so that you have good information upon which
to base your ideas.
There is a political environment as well. We are a red state, but one
marked by crazy rightwing ideologs, and real mavericks, and a tradition
of the people leading in ways that no one expects. For example, we'd
like to talk about Clean Elections laws. Arizona has the best in the
nation, and a Green helped set it up. We'd also like to talk to you about ballot measures, and running them, because we have experienced
Greens who can do workshops on that. Ballot measures here legalized medical marijuana twice, and
expanded healthcare for the poor, and brought us clean elections. In conservative Arizona.
We'd like to hear from you about changing ballot access laws, and
running signature gathering campaigns, and recruiting and keeping Green
Party activists and candidates. We've got a lot we'd like to share, and
a lot we'd like to learn.
Gathering signatures for ballot status is stunningly wearying drudgery,
and we'd like any hints on making it easier, or less often. We've succeeded at it twice, but then it slips away from us again.
There is so much more we could talk about, to bring you here: museums,
sights, history, diversity, music, cervezas, foods... Bienvenido a nuestro mundo en Arizona. Nuestra ciudad es su ciudad.
Welcome to our world in Arizona.
Our city is your city.
Special Attractions (political/cultural/ecological )