By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
Of course, the perception that Greens are purer of purpose and practice than the corporate-financed, major-party duopoly makes the party sexy, if still difficult to embrace. The Greens tightly restrict where they get their money and how much they take.
"We accept no money from corporations, so we're always lacking money and funds," explains Shawn. "It has to come from individuals, and no more than $10,000 per person per year. In terms of building a political party, that's the number-one priority, having the money to get exposure to get [party] workers."
Shawn and his friend Alexi aren't working at the Westside Greens office anymore. The ad they saw on the Internet said "free room and board," but after appeals to house them went unanswered and office manager Danny Meyers couldn't deal with them crashing at his two-bedroom apartment anymore, they had to bail.
Alexi, a political-science major who did a study of broadcasting in D.C., is heading home and plans on hooking up with the small Green Party there. In the meantime, he still stops by and helps out when he can. Shawn, who today has borrowed Danny's 1990 brown Honda, is temporarily staying in Burbank at the apartment of a friend from high school and will possibly go to New York early this year. He's not sure where he'll land. He's thinking about doing some work with the Sierra Club. The Punk: “I like psychobilly ’cause not a lot of people are into it. . . It’s the same thing with the Greens.” —Kirk Podell, 15
Shawn may wish his favorite party had more resources, but it was precisely the Greens' lo-fi approach that attracted Marshall High student Kirk Podell. "I think I saw one Nader commercial the whole election, and thatwas like at 1 in the morning. I think it was cool that they had to promote by word of mouth," says Kirk.
Sitting under the flagpole on the lawn of his Los Feliz school, the 15-year-old punk, whose grandfather is also a Green, is wearing a black, old-school motorcycle jacket, a Lars Fredrickson (the lead singer of Rancid) T-shirt and thick-rimmed Elvis Costello glasses. He appears to have an appetite for all things underground. "I'm probably one of the only kids in my school that knows who the Greens are," says Kirk, a dead ringer for Jack Osbourne.
He got turned on to the party a few years back when his classmate Michael Bancroft wore a Green Party T-shirt to school. "His dad is like best friends with Jello Biafra," he says. "He's the guy from the Dead Kennedys who ran for president with the Greens. The shirt had a flower on it."
Kirk is trying to start a newspaper, dabbles in photography and skateboarding, and plays in a psychobilly band called Leopard Skin Smoking Jackets. "I like psychobilly 'cause not a lot of people are into it," he says, playing with the strap of his backpack.
"It's the same thing with the Greens — you get to explain it," says Kirk, who, like Alex and Cameron, appears stoked at the prospect of passing on information — political and otherwise — to others. "Like the other day, I met a guy who didn't know what psychobilly was, and I got to sit down and have this whole conversation with him." The Realist: “Other countries, European countries, can afford to pay their citizens’ health care. Why can’t we? We are one of the wealthiest countries in the world.” —Erica Henrickson, 16
Erica Henrickson looks like a younger, softer Michelle Rodriguez. Dressed in a vintage green Hawaiian T-shirt and jeans, with a small cloth bag slung across her chest, she sips iced chai in the sun at the Unurban Coffeehouse, a few blocks away from the Westside Green office, where she volunteered during midterm elections. "I would come in, and there wouldn't be a whole lot to do. For a while, the Internet service was a dial-up. They didn't have a splinter, so when you were on the Internet you couldn't get a phone call. It was just disheartening to see," says the pretty 16-year-old, who gestures freely while expressing herself.
A few months ago, Erica moved to Santa Monica from Chicago with her father. She now goes to Santa Monica High with Cindy Santiago. She lives in the Pico neighborhood, an area that her fellow Green Cindy volunteers is "mostly Latino and black."
"My dad actually grew up in West Los Angeles," says Erica. Both her dad, a recently divorced computer consultant, and his father, a retired taxi driver and schoolteacher, are registered Greens. "My dad was really political when he was younger. Then he moved out to Chicago with a radical newspaper, met my mom and stopped being so political. He didn't really do much while he was raising me. He just voted Democrat, settled down pretty much like older people do. But not anymore." A big smile spreads across Erica's face and her eyes twinkle. Since moving to California, her father has become active again. "I guess he was always Green at heart," she says.
Of her mom, who remained in Chicago, Erica says, "She's the type of person who would vote for Bill Clinton 'cause he's attractive or something. So, they really didn't mesh well on political terms."
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