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Number 24 The Green Party of Virginia Newsletter Fall 1999


Contents
D.C. Greens to Merge with the D.C. Statehood Party Scott McLarty
Central Virginia Electric Cooperative Agrees to Pesticide Restrictions Sherry Smith
Greens State Meeting Staff
Green News Briefs Staff
What's in the Big-Box? Alexis Zeigler
Blue Ridge 2020 Sherry Stanley
Affirmative Action Under Attack on Virginia Campuses Roger Clarke
Action Work List, Fall 1999-2000 Roger Clarke
Editor's Note: Aaron Feldman
Northern Virginia News Muriel Grim
Interactions: A Compendium of Green Actions Staff
Upcoming Green Events Staff
Iraqis Continue To Suffer Deprivation Under Sanctions Ramsey Kysia
Barr Aims to Bar D.C. Medical Marijuana Initiative Scott McLarty
Welcome to Our New Members Staff
Thank You, Recent Contributors Staff

Newsletters GPVA

D.C. Greens to Merge with the D.C. Statehood Party

The Green Party of the District of Columbia and the D.C. Statehood Party have taken steps this year to merge into a single party, to be called the "D.C. Statehood Green Party." At a district-wide convention on June 12, which was open to all registered members, the D.C. Statehood Party voted unanimously in favor of merger. The D.C. Greens decided overwhelmingly in favor of merger on Sept. 2, at a meeting in which all registrants were likewise invited to vote.

The parties also voted to accept the new name and, if the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics refuses to recognize the merger and transfer the two parties' respective ballot statuses to the merged party, to dissolve their respective parties. If necessary, members of the D.C. Statehood Green Party will in 2000 start from scratch and collect the thousands of signatures required to put candidates on the ballot and win back official ballot status in the 2000 election. But members of the two parties are optimistic that the Board of Elections and Ethics will accept their internal decisions, and are ready to apply legal pressure with the argument that a political party has the right to decide its own destiny.

Party activists realized that the platforms and missions of Green and Statehood overlap 99 percent, and had already established a strong alliance. Both participated in the D.C. Independent Progressive Coalition in 1997, which also included the local Umoja Party, the Labor Party, and, briefly, the Reform Party. The Coalition ceased to exist in early 1998, but it laid the groundwork for cross endorsements between Green and Statehood in the 1998 elections. D.C. Greens worked especially hard in the campaign of Statehood Chair John Gloster for mayor. (Democrat Anthony Williams won.)

The Original Green Party

The D.C. Statehood Party had already made a connection with the Green movement. Statehood Party veteran and journalist Sam Smith (publisher of The Progressive Review and Sam Smith's Great American Political Repair Manual, a book that belongs on every third party advocate's shelf) notes that Statehood's platform was green years before the Green Party was first founded in Germany, and asserts "The D.C. Statehood Party was the original Green Party."

Greens who ran for office before 1996--when the D.C. Greens, led by Jenefer Ellingston and Angela Flynn declared themselves a distinct party with the Ralph Nader presidential campaign-- did so on the Statehood ticket. Former Statehood Party Chair Sam Jordan attended an international Green conference in Vienna in 1995, and won an endorsement of statehood for America's capital.

Several members of Green and Statehood, including Smith, have regularly shown up at both parties' meetings. This practice culminated with the resignation of Kevin McCarron, a former member of the D.C. Green's steering Committee, from the Greens to become the new chair of the Statehood Party this year.

Founded in the 1970s by Julius Hobson, the Statehood Party ran candidates with strong progressive platforms that have always been for full statehood for the District of Columbia. D.C. has no voting representation in Congress. Congressional subcommittees oversee all legislation--sometimes wielding the veto or imposing unwanted policies, a source of even greater frustration since conservative Republicans took over Congress in 1994.

America's Last Colony

Residents compare D.C.'s status to that of a colony or a plantation, with white overseers in Congress ruling the majority black population.

The District's financial insolvency in the early and mid '90s had as much to do with restrictions--such as the inability to tax commuters (a right enjoyed by every other city and state in the U.S.) who live in Maryland and Virginia and work in D.C.-- as with the mismanagement and cronyism of Mayors Marion Barry and Sharon Pratt Kelly.

In the summer of 1997, Congress and President Clinton authorized a takeover of nearly all government agencies under the D.C. Revitalization Act and placed the D.C. government under the power of a "Control Board," that, completely unaccountable to residents, answers only to congressional Republicans. D.C.'s Democratic, Green, Umoja, and Statehood Parties protested. But the third parties offered a broader and more accurate critique of the crisis than the Democrats, and identified two assaults on D.C. democracy.

The first assault is sanctioned by the U.S. Constitution. It places D.C. under rule of Congress (and, since limited home rule was allowed in 1973, under Congress' supervision). We recognize the second assault in the power of corporations, especially in the local Board of Trade, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Federal City Council--many from outside the District--to determine local policy, through their hold on the mainstream of the Democratic Party.

Members of the Green and Statehood Parties have thus led the battle to block (unsuccessfully) construction of a massive, wasteful, and environmentally hazardous convention center which will displace an historic African American neighborhood, and (successfully, for now) imposition of a private prison, under a contract with the notorious, corrupt and inept Corrections Corporation of America, in a poor Southeast neighborhood. Democrats championed both projects.

Green and Statehood are now involved in the campaign for guaranteed health coverage for all D.C. residents in a plan that leaves out profit-hungry HMOs and insurance companies. Democrats prefer a complex system of HMO and insurance industry regulation that nevertheless maintains the latter's profits and their license to exclude the poor, the old, the "high-risk."

An Uphill Climb

Over 75 percent of D.C. voters are registered Democratic, and the Democrats boast the allegiance of unions and liberal political organizations. The local Sierra Club, for example, regularly endorses Democrats with weak knowledge and support of environmental issues over Green and Statehood candidates with strong and uncompromising environmental platforms.

It's why unity, in the form of merger, is so necessary for the kind of parties that refuse corporate contribution and influence. Political campaigns and pounding the pavement for registrations and donations will increase the membership incrementally. A few hundred new registrations a year do little to challenge the two-party status quo.

Party alliances, joint slates, coalitions, and fusion might serve as useful steps, but it's the natural tendency of political parties to compete with each other for registrants and for elected office. In a single party competition is resolved in primary elections or at conventions. Merger is scary; many of us grow comfortable in our little activist niche. We also risk disharmony and controversy in the new party--so do all activist organizations on the left. But we've noticed greater differences of opinion within the Statehood and Green Parties than between the two. Indeed, debate within a political organization makes it lively and newsworthy, something sectarian leftists seldom understand. Hence the ancient complaint, "Why can't the left ever unite?"

With over 4,000 registered voters, the Green-Statehood merger will create in D.C. the largest Green Party in the U.S. in proportion to the voting population. It also unites white progressives perceived (wrongly) as devoted solely to the environment with mixed-race veteran activists perceived (wrongly) as obsessed solely with the statehood ideal.

The merger brings the D.C. Statehood Party into a national network, with membership in the Association of State Green Parties, and into the international Green movement. The degradation of neighborhoods and lack of autonomy suffered by people in Washington, D.C., perhaps doesn't match the wholesale exploitation of people and resources in places like Chiapas, Mexico, but American Greens and the Partido Verde Ecologico de Mexico understand the common cause of social, economic, and environmental justice and freedom for all.

A Basis for Progressive Third Party Campaigns

Neither the D.C. Statehood Party nor Green Party accept corporate money--nor will the D.C. Statehood Green Party. This gives us some powerful leverage in the argument for campaign finance reform. Democrats, Republicans and Reform Party folks make noises about it but will never enact true reform. They'll always find ways for CEOs and investors to fill up their coffers--it's their life-blood.

It gives us license to challenge the public: "Do you believe in campaign finance reform? Do you believe that corporate special interests have taken over our political processes, our elections, our government, our neighborhoods, our environment, our lives? Then take the pledge: I will vote for no candidate who accepts money from corporations."

Such a campaign would neutralize objections by the ACLU that contribution limits violate the First Amendment. It would challenge and expose the financial loyalties of the entrenched parties and place the responsibility for democratic renewal into the hands of the people.

If Green, Labor, and other progressive third parties can unite and--even better--merge under such a banner, it'll put us on the map.

(Scott McLarty is a member of the Steering Committee of the D.C. Green Party, and a member of the Labor Party.)


Newsletters GPVA

The Central Virginia Electric Cooperative Agrees to Pesticide Restrictions

The Central Virginia Electric Cooperative (CVEC) has agreed to provide a "right-of-refusal" regarding pesticide use on powerline easements in Montebello. After long negotiations with the Montebello Clean Mountain Coalition (MCMC), Montebello residents were mailed a letter that informed them on how to go about requesting that CVEC not use chemicals on their property.

MCMC has confirmed that CVEC intends to make this policy system-wide and will be very happy to discuss their options with you and will honor your choice.

MCMC is not disbanding. . . . they're just getting started! The Virginia Save Our Streams program has designated the Tye River Headwater System as one of 28 official stream monitoring sites in Virginia as a result of MCMC members, now trained, who will monitor the streams from Montebello to Tyro. They will be providing official data on the health of the system to the Virginia Department of Agriculture.

MCMC members are also--with help from the Virginia Native Plant Society--developing a program for identifying, cataloging and mapping rare indigenous plants. The information gathered from these efforts will establish the much needed baseline of data, essential for determining and maintaining the current and future health of Montebello's precious ecosystems.

MCMC future endeavors include validating historical and current medical information on Montebello residents and participation in a program that will research the incredible butterfly populations that migrate through the mountains twice a year.

Finally, and most importantly, MCMC is taking the issues of "notification" and a "right-of-refusal" to the Virginia Department of Agriculture, Pesticide Enforcement Board to insure that no other Virginia community faces unwanted pesticides.

MCMC is pleased to be able to hold CVEC's new policy up as a positive example of what can be done. We hope you will join MCMC in thanking the Central Virginia Electric Cooperative for taking this important and progressive step!

--Sherri Smith, MCMC

(To learn more about this effort or to volunteer your support, contact the Montebello Clean Mountain Coalition, P.O. Box 18, Montebello, Va. 24464 (540-377-9132, e-mail: mcmc56@juno.com)


Newsletters GPVA

Greens State Meeting

The Green Party of Virginia will hold its fall meeting from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Oct. 9 in the Rockingham Public Library, 45 Newman Avenue in Harrisonburg. There will be a lunch break from 1 to 2:15 p.m. Call (540) 434-4475 for information.

Directions: From the Northern Va. take I-66 West to I-81 South.

Turn right on US-33 West (exit 247), E. Market St., and go Northwest for 1.7 miles. Turn left on US-11, South Main St., and go south for about 300 ft. to 45 Newman Ave.

From Roanoke or Blacksburg: Take I-81 north (then exit 247, 33 West and etc.)

From Tidewater, Richmond, Charlottesville: take I-64 west to I-81 north.


Newsletters GPVA

Green News Briefs

National News

Councilor Backs Governor's Call for Drug-Law Talks

New Mexican Governor Gary Johnson's call for a dialogue on drug law reform has found an ally in noted Green Party member and Santa Fe City Councilor, Chris Moore. He said the Republican governor's call for a re-examination of laws for some soft-drug use, such as marijuana, is worth consideration.

Moore acknowledged he agrees with few issues Johnson supports, but said this was one time he agreed with the governor.

"Smoking marijuana is stupid, boring and harmful, but to say it should be illegal while tobacco and alcohol is fine, is inconsistent," Moore said. "There's an issue that's taking away personal freedom, which I don't agree with," he added.

Johnson's office greeted the news warmly.

California Greens Considering Nader For Nomination.

Members of the California Green Party camped in Santa Barbara to conduct a straw poll on presidential hopefuls.

Fifty-four delegates who represented 10 active regions from Arcata to San Diego had an agenda filled with political and social justice issues, not the least of which was a decision whether to place the name of consumer activist Ralph Nader on the state's primary ballot. The majority of the delegates agreed on Nader, the 1996 presidential candidate for the party.

To place a candidate on the March primary ballot, the state party has to have a presidential candidate's name readied by Nov. 8. The party asked Nader whether he would consider having his name placed into consideration, and he agreed.

The party has also asked filmmaker/political commentator Michael Moore, former U.S. Justice Department nominee Lani Guinier, and author-lecturer Marianne Williamson to consider the nomination. Nader has said he will not decide until after January whether he will actually run for president. He did indicate, however, that if he does run it will be an active campaign, with stops in every state.

"Grandpa" Lewis forming Senate committee

Dismissing potential rivals Rudolph Giuliani and Hillary Rodham Clinton as "Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum," actor Al "Grandpa" Lewis said recently he was forming a Senate exploratory committee.

The cigar-chomping, blunt-speaking Lewis, most famous for his portrayal of "Grandpa" on the hit '60s television series "The Munsters," ran unsuccessfully for governor of New York last year on the Green Party ticket.

In losing the governor's race, Lewis did get 52,533 votes, enough to clear the 50,000-vote requirement needed to earn the Green Party an automatic spot on the New York ballot for the next four years.

International Green News

Strength of European Green Parliamentarians Growing

Brussels-- Today, 12 countries in the 15-member European Union have Green parties.

They sit in five coalition governments--Finland, the first country to have a Green Cabinet member, Belgium, France, Italy and, most prominently, Germany, Europe's biggest country.

Outside the EU, they have made gains this year in eastern Europe, with Cabinet ministers in Poland and Slovakia.

In June, Greens upped their numbers in the 626-member European Parliament from 27 to 47. In the elections, the Greens doubled their vote in Britain, France, and the Netherlands, and they dramatically increased their share of the vote everywhere except in Germany and Italy, where it fell slightly.

Next month, Michaele Schreyer, a German environmentalist, is expected to be confirmed as the first Green to sit on the 20-member European Commission, which oversees the administration of the European Union.

Green Influence Likely to Increase Europe/U.S. Trade Wars

U.K.-- The growing influence of Greens in government makes it likely that trade wars between the United States and the European Union will become more common. The Greens have led European opposition to the import of U.S. beef from hormone-treated livestock and to the testing of genetically-modified crops, most of them produced by U.S.-based multinational corporations.

As Europe increasingly becomes a region without economic borders, the Greens are also emerging as the leading opponents to the creation of large markets that exploit economies of scale, seeing the movement of food and products over long distances as a needless waste of gasoline and a threat to the small, local shops where most Europeans do their shopping.

"We're at a turning point," said Kevin Saunders, a leading member of the British Green Party. "One of the things Green parties across the world are working for is a closer relationship between the consumer and the producer; the whole idea of getting markets closer to people. Why ship cauliflower halfway across Europe when you can get it grown locally? This is about revitalizing communities, it's about saving the local shop from being swallowed up by the supermarkets. It's moving back 40 or 50 years."

Told that sounds more reactionary than radical, he laughed. "Maybe now we're radical conservatives," he said.

French Green Party Threatens to Pull Out of Coalition

France-- France's Green Party, emboldened by a good showing in the recent elections for the European Parliament, has threatened to pull out of the Government coalition if Prime Minister Lionel Jospin approves a new generation of nuclear power stations to replace old ones.

The Greens, who joined Mr. Jospin's Government in 1997, have always insisted that the nuclear energy issue is at the center of their policy concerns. But even though the Green leader, Dominique Voynet, serves as Environment Minister, the party says it is being ignored on vital questions inside the coalition.

The issue at hand is the coming debate on energy policy. Its central question is whether France will reduce its dependence on nuclear energy and turn to other sources. France's 57 nuclear reactors provide 78 percent of the country's energy, one of the highest rates in the world.

German Greens to Seek Tax on Nuclear Power

Germany-- The German Green party will seek the introduction of a tax on nuclear power from the Social Democrat-Green coalition government, said Antje Radcke, co-leader of the Greens.

Speaking on Suedwestrundfunk radio, Radcke said her party rejects the government subsidizing nuclear power, while taxing natural gas as an energy source.

Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder is meeting with officials to discuss the government's planned economic reforms, including hikes in energy taxes as part of the "ecological tax reform."

An Alternative to Private Car Ownership

Germany-- Though long revered as a symbol of freedom and prosperity, Germans are increasingly learning to live without private cars. Such things as $5-a-gallon-gasoline, congestion, accidents, and air pollution are encouraging many to sign on to car sharing plans. Michael Glotz-Richter, a Green Party Senator who helped get the program started in 1990, says the popularity of the plan is due to the flexibility of having access to a car without the expense or hassle of ownership.

In Bremen, cars can be rented in 37 city locations. For approximately $40, a resident buys a smart card that allows one to make reservations and gain access to cars in lots all over the city. Drivers can choose cars from sub-compacts up to vans. Recognition of the smart card is through a transponder field on the windshield that opens the doors. When the car is returned, swiping the card across the windshield locks the car and transmits all the data needed for monthly billing.

A study commissioned by the E.U. indicted that if applied across the Union, such programs could reduce overall car mileage by as much as 20 billion miles a year. The subsequent reduction in carbon monoxide emissions could amount to as much as 5 million tons per year.

Austrian Green Calls for Arrest of Visiting Iraqi Aide

Austria-- In Austria recently, a leading Green, Peter Pilz, lambasted the government for allowing a top aide to Iraq's President Saddam Hussein to obtain medical treatment in Vienna.

While Pilz catalogued Izzat Ibrahim al-Durri's alleged involvement in mass killings of Kurds in northern Iraq, and filed a complaint seeking his arrest, an embarrassed Austrian government acknowledged it had granted a one-month visa for humanitarian reasons and said Ibrahim had diplomatic immunity.

"I am ashamed of the Austrian government," Pilz said. "The country is becoming a paradise for mass murderers."

GM Watchdog to Reconsider Salmon, Canola

New Zealand-- Controls on experiments with genetically modified salmon and canola need to be reassessed, the government watchdog for such projects says.

The Environmental Risk Management Authority (Erma) said current controls on experiments by Nelson-based New Zealand King Salmon may not be strong enough. The experiments attracted controversy earlier this year after the Green Party released papers showing a public relations company advised King Salmon staff not to mention to outsiders "issues such as deformities, lumps on heads, etc." for fear of causing panic.

King Salmon has been conducting the research for four years, obtaining government approval before Erma was set up. It has been breeding fish with an extra growth-controlling gene to see if they will grow faster.

Protest Against Forest Amendment Measure

New Zealand-- Opponents of the government's controversial Forest Amendment Bill have met outside Parliament to demonstrate their feelings as hearings on the bill start.

Waving a "jobs not chips" banner, Green Party members and co-leader Rod Donald joined Native Forest Action members and others opposed to what Mr. Donald called the bill's destructive features.

"While we support the government's efforts to conserve the forests which come under the Silna (South Island Landless Natives Act), the rest of the bill represents a major step backwards for conservation in New Zealand," he said.

Mr. Donald said public submissions were overwhelmingly opposed to Timberlands West Coast's "continued destruction" of forests such as the 6400ha Orikaka Forest, home to the great spotted kiwi, kaka, parakeets, and other threatened species.

Latvian Greens Forgiven for Storming Lithuanian Oil Terminal

Lithuania-- The Palanga seaside resort police have decided not to institute criminal proceedings against four Latvian Green Party members for storming the buoy at the Butinge oil terminal.

The police told the Butinge oil terminal administration that criminal proceedings could not be instituted against the four because there was no high-handedness, resisting the police, insulting a police officer or elements of hooliganism in the actions of the Latvian citizens.

In the early hours of July 21, four Latvian greens had chained themselves to a buoy of the Butinge oil terminal, having crossed the Lithuanian marine border illegally. This effectively has delayed the filling up of Butinge's first ever tanker with oil.

Lithuanian border police officers removed the Latvians from the buoy and deported them from the country.


Newsletters GPVA

What's In the Big-Box?

by Alexis Zeigler

A group of local concerned citizens in the Charlottesville area and environmental groups, including the Shenandoah Eco Defense Group (SEDG), Appalachian Restoration Campaign (ARC), the Charlottesville/ Albemarle Bicycling Association (CHABA), and Students for Environmental Action (SEA), have come together to oppose the rezoning of a parcel of land off Fifth Street to "Regional Service." We have been opposing a "big box" development on this site. While 29 North already has a substantial amount of retail development, many in Charlottesville feel that Fifth Street extended has a much different character because of its proximity to the city.

(They must have been delighted when on Sept. 15 the property owner, Brass Inc., withdrew its application to rezone the site of the proposed 160,000-sq.ft. megastore. The company's attorney, Steven Blaine, cited new requirements for development of the site by the county's Department of Planning and Community Development as the reason for the withdrawal. --Editor's update)

But beyond this project, other communities should note that in seeking to understand the possible effects of a "big box" development off of Fifth Street, we have purchased a number of studies conducted in cities and towns around the country before and after the arrival of Wal-Mart and other "big box" developments. Highlights of these studies follow. Copies of the studies were given to Susan Thomas in the County Planning office, (and may have turned the tide in this case. --Editor's note)

Q1: Are "big box" prices good for consumers?

A: According to Kenneth E. Stone of Iowa State University, Wal-Mart "has created an illusion that the prices of each of the 75,000 products carried in a typical Wal-Mart store are the lowest. In fact, that is only true for about 1 percent of the products, but those products are the ones popular with consumers--General Electric lightbulbs, name-brand shampoos, deodorants and cleaning products," Stone said. "The vast majority of them are the same price in every Wal-Mart store in the United States," he said. "Six hundred to 800 items will be competitive and they'll shop [check prices of] the competition on them." People get used to seeing those items and simply assume everything else in the store is a similar deal, Stone said.

Q2: Doesn't the high-volume purchasing of "big box" retailers allow them to pass on savings to consumers? Isn't't it fair competition for the lowest-cost retailer to dominate the market?

A: The market operates to the benefit of the consumer and our nation if it is free of monopoly influences. "Big box" retailers do not practice fair trade in a free market. The "big box" retailers cut prices long enough to weaken competition, then raise them. According to The Wall Street Journal, "Wal-Mart uses its size and clout to bleed its rivals dry." Wal-Mart has been sued and convicted for unfair trade practices.

According to a study by Thomas Muller of a proposed Wal-Mart in Woodstock, Va., "It is not reasonable to assume that when one store dominates a market to the extent projected in this case that a monopoly can be avoided. In fact, monopoly conditions have been considered inconsistent with the concept of free enterprise for over a century."

It is widely recognized that free market activity should be regulated to eliminate child labor, unsafe working conditions, limit pollution, and stop false advertising. "Big-box" retailers practice unfair trade. Their market power is used to their benefit, not the benefit of consumers.

Q3: Does Big Box growth bring jobs?

A: While the promoters of Wal-Mart and other similar "big box" retail stores point out the direct employment that is created by such stores, they almost never take into account the broader economic effects to the surrounding area. One study of three cities and seven counties in Iowa found that "84% of all sales at the Wal-Mart stores come at the expense of existing businesses within the counties."

Each dollar of sales at "big box" retailers generates less employment than each dollar of sales at local retailers. The net result is that "although there is an initial increase in general merchandise employment in the year Wal-Mart opens, this gain is at least partially offset over time as employment in this category declines. Other retail sectors competitive with Wal-Mart were found to have employment gains below what would be expected given local economic growth." Other studies have indicated that "in exchange for 1 new part-time job in a mega-discount chain, about 1 full time jobs were eliminated in smaller stores."

According to an article in the American Planning Association Journal concerning a Wal-Mart development in Talbot County Maryland, "it was noted that the numbers of establishments and employees have declined since the store chain's arrival in 1991 . . . 7 of the 13 industries that might compete with Wal-Mart experienced declines in employment totalling 435 jobs. While representatives of Wal-Mart claim to bring jobs and prosperity to localities, a closer look at the larger picture shows that, in the case of Talbot County, there has been a net loss of jobs . . ."

The studies of "big box" retailers consistently indicate that any stores in direct competition with "big box" predatory pricing can expect significant declines. While 29 North already hosts "big box" retail, downtown Charlottesville is buffered from its impact by the distance and unpleasantness of strip development on route 29. Placing "big box" development on the southern border of the city may or may not represent a net gain for the county, but there is no doubting, based on extensive study in other communities, that the City of Charlottesville and its downtown businesses will suffer. Businesses in competition with the "big box" retailer will suffer most.

The Charlottesville/Albemarle area has a strong economy and low unemployment, therefore the negative economic effects of "big box" retail are likely to be largely absorbed in overall growth trends. But given our strong employment position, why pursue "big box" development? The "associate" positions offered by "big box" retailers come without job security or benefits associated with full time employment in a civilized society.

Brass Inc. recognized that a Community Service designation (NOT the "big box") would result in more jobs. Such jobs are likely to be of much higher quality than "big box" retail. The purported benefits of the "big box" were based solely on the site itself and ignore broader regional influences. The broader effect of "big box" development should be taken seriously.

Q4: Does "big box" growth increase tax revenues?

A: Direct sale tax revenues from "big box" development will go directly to the county. However, studies in other areas suggest that negative effects in the broader region can offset these gains. As a result of the predatory practices of "big box" retailers, other stores in direct competition can expect to see a reduction in sales and property values. As a result, there may or may not be an overall increase in taxable economic activity, particularly over the long run. Property values in some Iowa towns with Wal-Marts near their commercial centers have declined by 16% to 20%. The Iowa study further indicates that "although the local tax base added about $2 million with each Wal-Mart, the decline in retail stores following the opening had a depressing effect on property values in downtowns and on shopping strips, probably offsetting the gains from the Wal-Mart property."

Again, the growth of Albemarle County may absorb these negative effects, but the city will suffer. Given that we have so many better choices, why invite economic growth with such negative effects?

Q5: Does "big box" growth stimulate other economic growth in the area?

A: "Big box" development does stimulate growth of its own stores to its own benefit, but the greater geographical area does not necessarily benefit. The State Environmental Board in St. Albans, Vt., projected that the cost of a proposed Wal-Mart project would be "more than 2.5 dollars of public cost for each dollar of public benefit."

The study of Iowa towns and counties found that "there were clearly identified losses in downtown stores after Wal-Mart opened. General merchandise stores were most effected. Other types of stores that closed include: automotive stores, hardware stores, drug stores, shoe stores, apparel stores, and sporting goods stores. Some restaurant closings were also noted."

The Planning Board of New Paltz, N.Y., in considering a proposed Wal-Mart near their city, found that "the proposed plaza is inconsistent with the development goals set forth by the Comprehensive Plan . . . the introduction of a big box retailer to New Paltz would result in a shift in the location of businesses, a movement of trade away from the traditional downtown centers, a decline of other retail centers . . . large percentages of downtown businesses would be harmed, older buildings may become vacant . . . and any unique community character would be undermined and instead replaced by the lowest common denominator."

In considering a Wal-Mart near their downtown, the Planning Board of North Elba, N.Y. commissioned a study. Upon obtaining the results of that study, the Planning Board ruled that "the project will likely result in a large amount of effected retail space, which could take up to 14 years to refill, over 20,000-sq.ft. of which could become chronically vacant . . . such loss would have economic effects on the remaining merchants resulting in a downward spiral in which increasing numbers of businesses close their doors."

In Greenfield, Mass., an Economic Impact Assessment of the construction of a 134,272-sq.ft. Wal-Mart--paid for by Wal-Mart--found that "their project would lead to a loss of 239,000-sq.ft. in retail space, with a loss of nearly $36 million to existing businesses, and instead of 177 new jobs at Wal-Mart, 148 jobs would be lost at other businesses, leaving a net of 29 jobs . . ."

According to Kenneth Stone, the Iowa State University Professor who has spent many years studying Wal-Mart, "Some people misinterpret the sales changes after a Wal-Mart store comes into a town. They observe an increase in general merchandise sales and in total sales and believe that all is well. But, upon further study, it is clear that Wal-Mart gains are at the expense of other merchants."

A final note of caution should be taken from a report issued by the Congressional Research Service that "gains in a town's retail trade area that are documented in the first four years after a Wal-Mart arrives may actually decline in 25 to 30 percent of the cases after four years. "Big box" retailers can also be highly mobile, moving their stores to suit their highest profit with no concern for local adverse effects. Wal-Mart in particular has over 330 empty stores. Wal-Mart leaves its dead stores behind, much to the consternation of local officials. Wal-Mart has shed hundreds of stores just to move into bigger facilities with wider aisles. Most of these relocations have been in towns where Wal-Mart shuts down the discount store to open up a larger superstore across the street, down the block, or just over the town line . . . These buildings are spread across 31 states. Only 17% of these stores are owned by Wal-Mart, 83% are leased. This means that 10.5% of Wal-Mart's total stores are empty as of this month . . . In February, 54 of the stores listed are 'new' to the list." "Quite frankly," admitted Wal-Mart's former Executive Vice President for Real Estate Construction, Tom Seay, "I think the fact that we relocate stores--and we relocate a lot of them--is a well-known fact in the development community . . ."

Q6: Why should the Comprehensive Plan be amended for personal profit?

A: It would appear that the driving force behind this debate is the fact that one wealthy developer has not been able to sell his property. If the county Comprehensive Plan is to be amended for the sake of private interests, shouldn't such privileges be extended to the rest of us?

(Full studies available at Albemarle County Planning and Community Development. Studies compiled by Alexis Zeigler, lexus51@juno.com (804) 245-8759)


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Blue Ridge 2020

Too often books that inform don't please. Steve Nash, an associate professor of journalism at the University of Richmond, manages both. Blue Ridge 2020 (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1999) is readable, provocative, and clear. It questions our assumptions and smooths out the rough spots in our arguments. For Virginians, he is talking about home--not an abstract treatment of global warming or some other possible environmental disaster-in-waiting--but where we live. Like others, I know the "view-killing haze" that obscures the mountains we have "loved to death."

He presents the situation, the multiple factors behind the situation, and the solutions. Yes, solutions and, better yet, nicely presented in little gray boxes for easy reference. This book answers one of our most vexing weaknesses as environmentalists: we can point out the problems, moan and complain, but what to do?

The author paints the Blue Ridge picture with stories, little stories with big consequences or possible consequences such as the time Asian gypsy moths reached the shores of North Carolina on a cargo ship but were fortunately contained thanks to a federal plant protection officer. So what? Well, European female gypsy moths (the ones we already know) don't fly so need human "help" to spread, but the Asian moths can and do, sometimes for several hours at a time.

Steve has agreed to let us print snippets of the book. After describing the surprising regeneration of a seriously flooded area in only one year, he explains, "So what basis do we have for accepting the natural disturbances and worrying about the human-made ones? It's a question, scientists say, of their intensity, scale, and frequency. There's a difference between a haircut and a decapitation; between falling down stairs once and doing it on a weekly basis; between catching a cold and catching tuberculosis. In our era, the human disturbances are paramount. The extermination of predators, the construction of dams, alien plant and insect invasions, thousands of tracts of land cleared each year for houses, stores, and roads--these are often more widespread, as well as more frequent, more sudden, and more permanent. They compound the effects of both natural disturbances and other, human ones."

Elsewhere he points out why we must start today and why we must listen to each other, "No one can say . . . how completely the Saint Mary's and similar watersheds in the Blue Ridge might recover, but it is safe to assume that the less we poison, the more we can salvage. Perhaps, like me, you've never caught a brook trout and have rarely seen one. Maybe the disappearance of some bugs and water plants doesn't tug at the heartstrings. Understandable. But I like the cheerful way outdoor writer Ted Kerasote once sketched the picture: 'Most environmental problems . . . haven't affected, and probably won't affect, all of us in a direct way. But if they do--a favorite stream now fishless, a little bit of melanoma behind the ear--you'll feel it. And sooner or later some unwelcome industrial spinoff will touch almost all of us, which means that paying attention to one guy's acid rain may ensure that when your own little war heats up, you have some friends to call on.' "

In a chapter titled, appropriately and chillingly, "Pallbearers," the author reminds us, "If you're uninclined to gamble with the health of the forests, such warnings are a call to arms. Paradoxically, they can also serve to rationalize a wait-and-see policy for those who insist on full scientific certainty. Calls for more research are easy to justify--more data is always a good thing--and from there it's just another half step, rhetorically, to argue against taking action."

With maps, graphs, stories, and relevant data, Steve Nash has provided a sensitive and sensible field guide to saving the Blue Ridge from Virginia to Georgia. This is a book one can easily wear out through use.

Book review by Sherry Stanley


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Opinion

Affirmative Action under Attack on Virginia Campuses

by Roger Clarke

Fall '99 in Virginia finds conservatives waging a campaign against the approximately 400,000 citizens across the state pursuing higher education.

Conservatives are at the point of erasing students' long-held right to choose to vote in the races affecting the district in which they attend school, and hence reside for the great part of a given year. This "students' right to vote" has empowered and enfranchised students for decades, connecting those who wish to contribute to their college community through just and equitable recognition of their inherent and full responsibilities as citizens where they reside.

Even more alarming is the fierce and destructive conservative effort to dismantle Affirmative Action in Virginia's public colleges. Another decades-old doctrine by which historically marginalized peoples have finally been able, through great effort, to expand their academic and economic horizons, and to at least aspire to full and equal participation in our society is now being gutted in state after state--and now in Virginia.

For centuries society's elite has reveled in a rigged-game of dominance that privileges them through discrimination and oppression by race, class, sex and age. In an historical, cultural sense, a privileged-class of white-males has operated collectively to jealously guard their position. It is nonetheless shocking that the unveiling of the next century should reveal an unreconstructed right that is within sight of a systematic victory that would damage, deface and demean our struggling democracy.

Are these basic issues sexy enough for Greens and progressives to view as vital? Voting rights and civil rights are at the bedrock, defining principles of a free and just society. This reactionary threat is clear and imminent. Greens, progressives and still-conscious liberals must rise immediately to counter these threats by alerting and organizing widespread campus opposition.

Specifically, Virginia Greens and their allies must energize themselves by recalling that the Ten Key Values set forth these important principles: social justice, diversity, local decision-making, community involvement, citizens' rights and responsibilities, and altruism toward coming generations. Activism and commitment to full engagement on these issues will find an unassailable ground of belief in these wise principles and a generous wellspring of renewal for the necessary work.

Historically, students' rights have been trampled and truncated by legislatures and administrations serving as functionaries of a ruling class whose prime objective is not a person's education but rather the further consolidation of power through the continuous replication of a docile and uncritical supply of upper-middle class managers and overseers.

That some fraction of the student population runs this gauntlet with intact integrity, critical ability, clear vision, and undaunted resolve to work for social change is itself miraculous and wonderful. Such courage and strength deserves the unfailing support of a Green movement. Natural allies--greens, progressives, minorities, women and critical students all have known and felt the oppression of the dominator class.

We must not permit the dismantling of the crucial and irreplaceable bases that the campuses comprise. Join immediately with all Virginians committed to democratic ideals, to rapidly alert others and organize.

Roger Clark welcomes your comments at: synergrc@netscape.net.


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Action Work List, Fall 1999 - 2000: Campus Solidarity Movement:

  • Make and strengthen connections with and among students at nearby campuses, organizing and energizing against the loss of voting rights and Affirmative Action.
  • Make student newspapers a vibrant forum for op-ed pieces and letters; the effort should be sustained.
  • Offer to make focused presentations on these issues to activist student groups; identify community speakers.
  • Download and disseminate--or create--issue outlines and explanations. Practice succinct expositions.
  • Learn the details of the legislative history of 1999 House Bill 2083 (anti-student voting).
  • Help students pressure their student governments, publications, faculty, administrators, and boards of visitors.
  • Help organize en masse lobbying trips to the January 2000 Virginia General Assembly, early in the session.
  • Identify and encourage several articulate leaders among critical students.
  • In advance of the session, lobby all 40 Senators and the Lieutenant Governor (tie-vote breaker).
  • Encourage students to be seen and heard at student rallies, inform electronic news media, and the press, of the event.
  • Propagate knowledge of various universities' "diversity" (search term) web-resource sites.


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Editor's Note:

As your new editor I'd like to continue with the tradition of thanking all those who contributed to this edition. Roger Clarke, Muriel Grim, Scott McLarty, Sherri Smith, Sherry Stanley, and Alexis Zeigler. And much thanks to Gerry Cervenka (layout), and X-High Graphics of Elkton (printing).

--Aaron Feldman


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Northern Virginia News

Monthly NoVA Greens meetings now alternate between a business meeting and a "presentation" meeting. The next meeting, Sunday, Oct. 3, will be a presentation meeting with a demonstration of the program being developed to teach alternative voting concepts, with NoVA Green-endorsed candidates seeking volunteers to work on their campaigns.

The 10 Key Values Awards Committee has expanded to include members of the D.C. Greens and the Maryland Greens also are being invited to join. The first awards banquet will be held in Washington, D.C. in April 2001. Local organizations and activists who exemplify each of the 10 Key Values will be honored. The committee will be working on the meeting logistics and fund raising.

The Alternative Voting Education project's presentation explaining the meaning of Preference Voting and Instant Runoff Voting is close to completion. It will be critiqued by the NoVA Greens at the October meeting and then by some Girl Scouts who use Preference Voting. After critiquing, it will be ready for presentation at local schools.

The Traffic Reduction project will introduce the citizen survey, "What do YOU need so that You can reduce YOUR unwanted driving?" at the Oct. 2 Family Rally ("A New Vision for the Beltway"), sponsored by the Fairfax Coalition for Smart Growth. Plans are underway to distribute the survey in North Springfield to test citizen response, and, if all goes well, begin to get people interested in participating in making "Less Miles Traveled" happen for them.

A hardy group of volunteers continues to clean the NoVA Greens' adopted highway. This project is now in its second year.

--Muriel Grim


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Interactions: A Compendium of Green Actions

Learn to perform wildlife species surveys; for interested small groups, in Virginia's beautiful countryside. Call Jeff Trollinger at the Dept. of Game & Inland Fisheries to request materials and to sign-up: tel.(804) 367-8747.

Stop the planned destruction by dam of the Mattaponi Reservation. Call Todd Big Eagle Custalow, economic development director of the Mattaponi, to find out how you can help: tel. (804) 769-7745.

Virginia has rapidly become the second worst state in the nation in the destruction of wetlands through ditching and draining--over 600,000 acres have been lost. Call Glen Besa, executive director of the Sierra Club in Virginia, to participate in coordinated action to turn this travesty around: tel. (804) 225-9113.

The Democracy Coalition for reform of campaign finance in Virginia is reaching out to Greens and others to gain their input and support in 2000­01. Call Administrative Director Marjorie Frame Sargent of the Horizon Institute to offer your name as a volunteer in this crucial endeavor: tel. (804) 295-0295: web: horizoninstitute.org.

The Labor Action Group at UVa advocates strongly for a living wage for the many workers at UVa who are paid far less than is just or adequate. E-mail LAG to learn how to replicate their inclusive, effective efforts: labor@virginia.edu.

The NAACP has issued a national alert requesting all for whom social justice is paramount to work quickly to defend affirmative action at Virginia's public colleges and universities. Encourage discussion of and activism around such a defense at nearby public colleges and universities.

Virginia's college students' right to vote is threatened by the Virginia General Assembly. Go to leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?991+sum+HB2083 to learn about the offending legislation and those who voted for it. E-mail Virginia Students' Right to Vote in order to organize, learn more and coordinate actions: synergrc@netscape.net.

Help plan a renaissance of Passenger and Commuter Rail for Virginia. Support U.S. Senate Bill 1144 to reallocate transportation tax revenues to this effort. Get in touch with Rex Hammond, chair of the Lynchburg Chamber of Commerce (tel. (804) 845-5966) who is leading this exciting and far-sighted plan to bring serious transportation alternatives to the state.

Voracious "chip mills" are proliferating in the lo-reg, no-reg Southeastern forests of the U.S. Network through SEDG, the Shenandoah Ecosystems Defense Group, to defend our forested public lands. Offer SEDG your help and support for their "frontlines" work: tel. (804) 971-1553.


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Upcoming Events

Oct. 9: Greens of Virginia State Meeting--Rockingham Public Library, Harrisonburg. 11 a.m.­5 p.m.

Oct 16: Virginians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty Annual Conference, ST. Mark Lutheran Church, Charlottesville, 9:30 a.m.­3:30 p.m. Donation registration appreciated, lunch provided. Delegate Jim Almand, chief sponsor of the Capital Case Bill of review which calls for the repeal of the 21-day rule will be the special guest. Also: Strategy Session on Moratorium on the Death Penalty conducted by Marie Deans, and Rob Lee of VA Capital Representation Resource Center will give status of current appeals by death row inmates in Virginia. Call toll free: 888/567-VADP. fax:804/263-4331, or email: mail@vadp.org to register or for more info.

Nov. 2: Central Virginia Greens, Monthly Meeting, 6 to 8 p.m., Central Branch Library, Charlottesville.

Nov. 7: NoVA Greens, Monthly Business Meeting, 2 to 5 p.m., 5408 Eisenhower Ave., Alexandria.

Dec. 5: NoVA Greens, Monthly Business Meeting, 2 to 5 p.m., 5408 Eisenhower Ave., Alexandria.

Dec. 7: Central Virginia Greens, Monthly Meeting, 6 to 8 p.m., Central Branch Library, Charlottesville.


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Iraqis Continue to Suffer Extreme Deprivation Under Sanctions

I spent 10 days in Iraq at the beginning of August as part of the 24th Voices in the Wilderness delegation to visit Iraq since 1996. Voices is a peace organization devoted to ending the U.S. War against Iraq; both the continuing bombings and the sanctions.

I went to Iraq to witness current conditions, and I delivered symbolic amounts of medicine, and a few, small, stuffed animals to the children's wards of hospitals in Iraq.

I knew what I was getting into before I left the States. I had read the reports coming out of Iraq from UN agencies and NGOs on the scene. I had seen the videos shot in the hospitals. I had listened to the testimony of all the people who had gone before me. But nothing could have prepared me for Iraq.

Nothing I read before my trip could have spoken to me of the beauty of Baghdad, its combination of traditional and modern architecture, its wide, tree-lined boulevards--each avenue sprouting date palms and poplars. Baghdad is truly a green city. And nothing I saw earlier could have shown me how terrible, how oppressive, sanctions have become.

Ten years ago, one dinar bought three U.S. dollars. Today, one dollar buys 2,000 dinars. Ten years ago, One dinar bought 60 eggs. Today, one egg is 100 dinars, and the average salary for a doctor in a public hospital is $5 a month­2 eggs a day.

Nothing I had heard before I left could have told me how generous, how kind, people have remained in the face of such incredible suffering.

On our first, full day in Iraq we went to the Amiriya Shelter, where 1,200 civilians were killed in a U.S. missile attack on Valentine's Day, 1991. It's now a shrine, watched over by Umm Reyda--who lost her entire family in the attack.

The walls of Amiriya are black from the fire which consumed her children, save for a few haunting images--handprints and body outlines burned into the walls and ceiling. Pieces of boiled skin and hair stick to the walls of the basement, where water pipes broke from the explosion and flash-boiled those in the path of the steam. Today, the walls are also covered with pictures--memorials to the dead.

Hardest of all were our visits to the hospitals. In one of the richest countries in the world, we saw ward after ward filled with dying children. We visited pediatric cancer wards and saw the children that were sickened through the use of depleted uranium weapons. If the sanctions were lifted, most of these children could be cured (the cure rate for childhood leukemia is over 90 percent). Not only are the medicines these children need unavailable because of sanctions, but morphine and other painkillers are also in short supply. So these children wait to die, and they spend their last days in terrible pain.

We visited pediatric malnutrition wards, and saw the starving children. I saw their distended bellies, undernourished bodies, and oversized heads. They did not have the strength to cry. The only sound these babies could make was a weak, half-hearted wail.

Everywhere we went, in Baghdad, Basra and Ammara, people treated us with kindness. Everywhere we went, we were told that their enmity for the U.S. government did not reflect on us. As Stephen Kinzer wrote for the New York Times last December, everywhere we went we were told that an ugly America did not mean we were ugly Americans. But most Americans support the bombings and the sanctions that have caused the deaths of at least 1,000,000 people, and perhaps as many as 2,000,000 since January of 1991. By and large, Americans see nothing but Saddam Hussein.

Voices in the Wilderness, which was in Iraq during the bombings in July, visited Najaf after the bombing there and took pictures and collected fragments of the bomb. We're told, with 95 percent certainty, that it was a cluster bomb, which is a weapon designed to kill people and leave buildings intact.

We also heard complaints that the U.S. and British members of the Sanctions Committee have approve some items, but disallow, or place a hold on other complimentary items that are also needed. When we were in Iraq, many were upset over this issue of dental chairs. It seems the Iraqi government put in a request for tens of millions of dollars of dental equipment. The Sanctions Committee approved the sale of $24 million worth of dental chairs--but not of anything else. Some think that now Iraq will be accused of hoarding dental chairs.

In the South of the country childhood mortality rates are higher because it has less land under cultivation. Since the rivers flow north-to-south, the South has more polluted water--contaminated by sewage dumped raw into those rivers, along the whole breadth of Iraq, because of bombed-out and aging treatment plants. The South took much of the bombing during "Desert Storm.

The people of this region wanted us to know that thirty percent of all the money in the "Oil-for-Food" program goes to pay reparations to Kuwait, and to pay the UN's bills. All of that money, the entire 30 percent, comes out of the budget for the South. None of the reparations come out of the UN's budget for the North.

--Ramsey Kysia, August 1999

For more information please visit:

The Iraq Action Coalition, http://www.iraqaction.org

EPIC--the Education for Peace in Iraq Center, http://leb.net/epic

Voices in the Wilderness, http://www.nonviolence.org/vitw


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Barr Aims to Bar D.C. Medical Marijuana Initiative

Last year, citizens of the District of Columbia voted on Initiative 59, a ballot measure that would protect patients and health providers who use marijuana in the case of certain illnesses. Members of the D.C. Green and Statehood Parties collected several thousands of the necessary signatures to get it on the ballot here. (ASGP, in a show of support to D.C., democracy, and good health and drug policies, passed a statement in favor of medical marijuana last year.)

But Congress, to which the U.S. Constitution gives supervision and veto power over local legislation in D.C., blocked the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics even from counting the votes. None of the other five or six states in the U.S. which passed medical marijuana initiatives suffered the same assault on their democracy. In none of these states has chaos ensued with enactment of such initiatives.

A federal court agreed with our complaint against Congress, and last week the votes cast in November 1998 were finally counted. Initiative 59 passed overwhelmingly, with 69% in favor, and swept every precinct.

We expect President Clinton to veto the current D.C. Appropriations bill, which if passed would block Initiative 59's enactment. But Rep. Bob Barr of Georgia and his friends intend to enter a separate resolution in Congress, which will prevent D.C. from enacting this ballot measure which we passed democratically.

. . . Please help us fight this tyranny!

Don't allow Congress to overrule a vote in a district they don't represent. D.C. has no voting representation in Congress.

Would they dare to nullify an initiative passed in their own districts?

The issue of medical marijuana is only part of our concern--denial of the right to vote for one's own rules puts us in the category of repressive authoritarian regimes!

PLEASE call your Representative and your Senators and insist that they allow Initiative 59 to be enacted in D.C. It's an issue of democracy versus dictatorship!

Thanks.

Scott McLarty, D.C. Statehood Green Party


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Welcome New Members

Blue Ridge Greens: Leigh Johnson, Jennifer Cox

Central Virginia Greens: Janet Gale, Theresa Perry,

Greens of Virginia: Joseph Hutchins, Matthew White, Stephen Gross, Kevin Frances Hahne II, Nathan Mitchell, Gregory Quesenberry, Will Carlucci, Brad Belo

New River Valley Greens: Kathleen Orion, Michael Scarborough, Brad Bodart

NOVA Greens: Ellen Harper, Chris Horvath, Nick Moore, Jerry Aldini, Howard Shaker, Andrew Tarr

Rockbridge Greens: Anne Macaulay, Terri Bsullak, Bryant McCulley, Maryam Broomall, Ellen Hopkins

Student Greens of Virginia: Daniel Johnson, Kelly Myers, Kathryn Kauffman, Marina Spitkovskaya

Tidewater Greens: Henry Thompson, Nancy Woolery, Peter Maybarduk

Valley Greens: Jim Borkholder, Susan Gier, Ed Jankiewicz, Rich McDonough, Cheri Fulmar, Cara & Kevin Swafford, Chrisina Bolgiano, Louis Brown, Jeff Nicholson


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Thank You Recent Contributors:

Central Virginia Greens: Diana Abbott, Theresa Perry

Greens of Virginia: Rolph Preisendorfer, Jack Balkwill, Joseph Auth, Rich McDonough, Bill Fuller, Mal Graves, Alex LoCascio, Susan Gier, Nathan Mitchell, Tim Lietzke

NOVA Greens: Rolph Preisendorfer

Rockbridge Greens: Adrienne Hall Bodie, Jo & Steve Parent


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