Sunday, 21 December 2008

My relationship with 2008: A spiel from the heart

And so it is that the year 2008AD was coming to an end, with just a few days and several traditional celebratory days remaining. That space in space around the sun beckons again which some cultures chose as their time for new beginnings and reflections. So, in that spirit, I shall now do what all good bloggers do, and blog.

How does one sum up a year? Well, for myself it has been a year of self-discovery, and discovering just some of what the world around has to offer. I have had no formal education whatsoever, but learnt so much. I've worked full time in an office. I've travelled alone, and travelled with strangers who quickly become new friends (significantly bulking out my friends list on Facebook). I've run for Parliament, learning a lot from New Zealand masters of Green politics.

One thing my cousin taught me while I was in Canada - one of those important things that you never forget, rather, dwell on at length - was the way the indigenous people of Canada measure individual success. For me it sums up two things really well. It reminds me that there are so many different ways of viewing the world out there already, let alone new philosophies to be thought up. It also, I feel, sums up well the way I think our culture needs to re-jig our priorities. My cousin told me that indigenous people in Canada use one's relationships as a measure of "success" - compared with our measure of money, stuff, and career success. Relationships with those around you, and also the world around are of huge importance to everyone's wellbeing. I have learnt a lot about relationships this year, of all types.

In terms of international affairs 2008 has been a particularly dramatic year. I remember thinking in 2004 that it was, for New Zealand at least, the year that I will see as the start of major weather events increasing in their ferocity. It was the year that we had all that flooding in February, and sure enough, plenty of extreme weather keeps coming. Two thousand and eight will certainly be remembered as crunch time. The sky-rocketing price of oil can not be ignored as a sign of intense pressures on our resources as we really start to live beyond our means. This being a failure of free-market capitalism, helping trigger another failure. Individuals running a system do in fact act with short term self interests as their primary concern, rather than for the greater good, even if the greater good will, eventually, advance their self-interests much further. Cue global financial crisis.

But, with the election of Barack Obama, there are signs of hope. No more Bush has got to be good for the world - he's done pretty well at screwing up as much as humanely possible. Now, I don't see Obama as a saviour, but I don't think anyone could possibly have been elected in that country and been able to make the changes we so desparately need. Not at the moment anyway. I think in Obama we got about the best we could possibly have hoped for. For me, the fact that he's black doesn't really matter so much (having grown up in an almost colour-blind environment). It's the fact that he's so multi-racial, and has had so many different experiences in his life. This seems to instruct his politics. He realises that if you want to move forward, you have to bring everyone forward, no matter what viewpoint or religion or philosophy they subscribe to. That is vitally important if we are ever to make the changes that really need to be made. Obama is ultimately going to be a failure - he wont enact a policy in the Middle East that is fair, he wont reform the US economy to a "New Green Deal" of the type that we really need, and he most certainly wont please everyone. But I do think that he will make significant progress on all fronts, and that's what we need not just in 2009, but long beyond that.

And so to my beloved New Zealand. What are we up to? National and ACT running the country? (With some Maori Party flavour in there.) So far all that that has meant is some very rapid backwards-running. I know I'll have to continue to invest in my future by investing my time with the Green Party. If right wing politics is the politics of fear, than Green politics is the politics of inspiration and vision, and that is what (with the help of Mr Obama) we need to use to continue to fight the good (non-violent) fight.

As for me, 2009 will be a year of more learning and growth (jeeze, is that all us young folk do?). I will be starting at university, most likely studying Environmental Studies and Economics (so watch out, I'll be able to spa it with the Business Round Table and people with similarily decrepit views and shatter their very reason for being). I'll also be moving out of the nest (yay!).

So to everyone who's read this - thanks! For those of you who flicked through to this final paragraph - go back and read it all! For my supporters on Facebook - thanks for continuing to grow in numbers. My ego needs stroking every now and again. For everyone - over the next couple of weeks, make sure you reflect, philosophise, and most importantly, work on your relationships. With friends, family, loved ones, yourself, your enemies, your garden, your cat and anything/anyone else you see fit. And make sure you do something a little crazy. Two thousand and nine is going to be a long year.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Getting it off my chest


It has now been about two weeks and three days since election night, so plenty of time to reflect, recuperate and ignore my blog. It really is time to do what I've been avoiding and record my post election-musings.

First things first. Me. It was the first general election for me that I could vote in (after having made up my mind a long time ago) and the first time I ran as a candidate. I felt it had to be done. Not to get into Parliament - it's far too soon for a serious run like that - but to increase the Green Party Party Vote, creatively vent my frustration at lack of youth participation and representation in politics, and I guess have a good time, learn a lot and see whether it was a role I could see myself in in the future - as either a lowly-ranked candidate again and/or a serious candidate.

I felt I did make a difference, and most importantly for myself, felt I did as much as I could have hoped to do to increase the Green's Party Vote. I had a good time. I learnt things across the board, from creating event ideas, organising them and organising media to honing my public speaking skills (something I really enjoy) and talking to strangers one on one about issues that they're passionate about, and I'm passionate about. I'll tell you the biggest thing I've noticed since November 8 though. I thought that I might burn myself out on the election trail and then go on hiatus for a little while afterward. But that's not the case. It's put a fire in my belly that's stronger than ever before, and it's not going out. And every time Rodney Hide says climate change is a hoax, or John Key champions the free market over simple social and environmental logic it will only get stronger. Because if there was ever a time to dither over climate solutions, it is not now - I think there's been enough of that since Kyoto was signed in 1997.

Which brings me on to my next subject for my pre-bed muse. The election result. Boy was I nervous on election day - the worst I'd felt the whole campaign. I'm learning to trust my instincts a little more now, and my nervousness gradually morphed into the inevitable disappointment as the results rolled in. I said a few months ago that I would be disappointed with anything less than 8% for the Green Party, and so I was disappointed. I also wasn't expecting the result to be so decisive for National.

So what happened? Well Labour were punished for running such a crappy campaign. Weren't they watching the US elections, and seeing how John McCain was punished for running such a negative campaign against someone who was running such a positive and inspiring one? Labour gave us plenty of reasons not to vote National, and to vote for Labour in the last three elections, but I still haven't figured out what they would have done if they were elected again (other than go into coalition with the Green Party and implement a whole bunch of our brilliant ideas because they had none and ours are so intellegent and needed). Nationals campaign wasn't very inspiring either, but at least they offered something, which was change, some positive messages and a nice guy as their front man. Since Brash disappeared, Key got better and better at saying either "Don't worry, we'll keep what Labour did" or "We'll keep what they did, just change it a bit" which completely took the wind out of Labour's sails. Then he just had to come up with a few issues that struck a chord with the public and voila, he romped home in the end.

As for the Green Party, I think we can count it as a pretty successful campaign. It's so difficult to sell our message when we got so little media coverage compared to the big parties, given that our message is a whole new way of looking at things. But of course, it is a very necessary and logical way, we just need to keep working on getting it accross. We had by far the best billboards and advertising campaign, which got to the heart of our message and our voters. And so we increased our vote against what was a big swing towards a National-led Government. We now have 9 MPs, solidifying our place in Parliament as the third largest Party and a major political force. This is a great base to build on. But the challenges ahead are immense - for both the Green Party and every citizen of Earth. We, along with all the groups and individuals fighting on our side, are the only ones that have the solutions for the future. But we do have the solutions, so we're half way there. All we have to do is make sure the left side of the brain wakes up the right side so that we can all move forward - not just those with the same ideologies. We're all in the same boat.

In the meantime, ponder this: What were those things that National promised to do before the election again?

(PS As for the future of this blog, I think I shall keep writing, though less frequently. And I shall keep cross-posting where relevant to g.blog, which still seems to be going quite strong. Let's build on this momentum!

PPS You're hoping for an explanation about the photo right? Well, on the final day of the campaign we had a bit a fun with some sumo suits. Can you guess what their underpants might be a symbol of? Anyway, after the two fought it out in many battles it turns out they both fall over time and time again whenever faced with a challenge. When it comes to having a positive long term vision that everyone should be a part of, the Green Party was the winner of the day - the only ones that could stand on their own two feet. Below is some more of the action.)

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Final campaign shots and MAKE SURE YOU VOTE!


I'm back, and with some pictures to prove I'm still alive! No posts of late as a) I've been very busy and b) things such as modems tend to decide to die just when you need them! But never fear, the last campaign shots are here, as are my final words. So firstly enjoy student debt-monster day at Auckland University, as Xavier Goldie is saddled with the weight of it all.

Next is Jeanette Fitzsimons doing what she does best - convincing one voter at a time, but always...

...because she has one eye on the future!

This campaign has been a lot of fun, and there's only one more day to go - and it will be a very busy day. So make it a Green day, and show your support. Because with record highs in the polls (9% on TV1 and 3) we can have a much more Green Parliament for the next three years. But most important is that you turn up and vote! If you can't get to a polling booth on Saturday, vote tomorrow at an advance polling booth and forget about it. And if you can, check out www.voteparty.co.nz to find out how to celebrate democracy in NZ.

The change we need is Green!

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Freakin' sweet!


A brilliant website has emerged out of the Green Party campaign, and I must resist using it too much. It is voteforus.co.nz and allows you to create your own billboard. The image I chose was the closest one of myself to the image our star girl Aila, but unfortunately at the old age of 19 I don't quite have to appeal of a child anymore. I'm glad they didn't choose this design.

Incidentally, that's me in the Amazon, with the Rio Negro behind me. So not quite a kiwi background either, but one that is definitely under threat, and one that we definitely need to protect with the help of the Greens.

Party in Hamilton


On Saturday night I was lucky enough to be in Hamilton where a gig was organised to promote the Green Party. All I had to do was help set up a bit, and speak. The bar, called Altitude, sure was pimped out in Green paraphernalia and although it started off quiet, by the end of the night it was teaming with dancing bodies wearing "I only date boys/girls who vote Green" stickers. Nice.

Above is one of the musical performances of the night. She was pretty damn good I must say. Big thanks to her, the DJs, the local organisers and the bar for a good night out.

Friday, 24 October 2008

What I'm up to tomorrow in a formal sorta way

Youngest Greens to young workers: you CAN take a paid break to vote

Media Advisory 24 October 2008

The Green Party’s youngest candidates are teaming up this Saturday to tell young workers that they CAN take the most important break of their lives.

Zachary Dorner (Pakaranga) and Gareth Hughes (Ohariu) are visiting Hamilton to mobilise young people to vote on November 8.

On a tour through the CBD, they will be visiting young Saturday workers in food outlets, shops and cinemas to tell them that they have a right to take a paid break to go and vote, if they have to work on Election Day. The young Green duo will be at the Ward Street crossing, outside the Village Cinemas and Centreplace, in Hamilton, at 11:30am for about half an hour, before walking through to the Southend.

“It’s vitally important young people who work Saturdays know they are entitled to time off work on November 8, so they can have their say. Educating young workers about this little-known fact may boost the tragically low youth-voter turnout,” says Zachary Dorner, the Party’s youngest candidate at just 19.

“With the global financial crisis and the need for urgent action on climate change, this election is critical. This is especially true for young people, who will have to face the future consequences of how these challenges are handled,” says Gareth Hughes, who at No. 11 on the Green Party List, could make it into Parliament if enough young people Party Vote Green.

“The Green Party has a good range of quality young candidates, because we believe the Greens are the Party for the future, and for young people.”

All workers are entitled to be released no later than 3pm for the rest of the day if they have to work on November 8, if they have not had a reasonable chance to vote before they started their shift. If they have to work after 3pm for essential work, their employer must give them two hours paid leave to vote at a reasonable time earlier in the day.

Dorner and Hughes will be then speaking on Saturday evening at the start of the Greens' Party at Altitude at 8pm.

What: Young Green candidates Zachary Dorner and Gareth Hughes touring youth workplaces to inform young workers of their rights
When: THIS Saturday 25 October, from 11:30am
Where: Meet at Ward Street crossing, outside Village Cinemas and Centreplace in Hamilton
For further information contact: Zachary Dorner 027 374 5144

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Getting stuck in with the big shots

Here's the profiles of the candidates in Pakuranga that I am running against (though of course only running for the Party Vote). My first of two debates against them is on Labour Day, though I'm sure by the end of it it will be more of a Green Day. It will have a Christian focus, but should be fun.

This one's for the workers


Another weekend's wizzed by, and now it's only two and a half weeks to go! This weekend I spent with fellow young candidates Gareth Hughes and Xavier Goldie. It included handing out fliers, trying to get the media's attention and another pub crawl. The above picture is some hard working women wearing our "I only date boys who vote Green" stickers and serving sausages to the hungry partying masses on Saturday night.

On Saturday we, with the help of another Young Green (and tireless campaigner called Alexis - he always hands out way more fliers than anyone else!) went around downtown Auckland. Our main focus was, as pictured above, handing out our leaflets aimed at young people, and especially Saturday workers (with Gareth on the left). We wanted to inform them of their right to paid time off work on election day to vote if they don't have another reasonable chance. No one knew this fact that we came across, and they were grateful to find out. More info at here if you or someone you know is in that boat. Don't let anything stop you from voting!

That night we did the pub crawl. Although we were few in numbers we had a good time and got a very good response from everyone. It's a great way to campaign.

The next couple of days consisted of more leafleting and trying to bait the media (with some small results, but no big fish).

The next few days I am catching up on some work, then next weekend the Young Candidates are hitting Hamiltron! After that the last two weeks will be the final hard push. So stop watching the American elections (what a bore, a forgone conclusion) and get involved in what is by no means a done deal. The Greens have shown yet again that we are the only fully-honest Party in Parliament, so we will see how that plays out.

And remember, every vote counts.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Pimp my bike


Today the Auckland Greens on Campus, complete with two young candidates showed cycling, though currently dangerous, can be awesome. Courtesy of some spray paint, plus a collection of cool accessories, we pimped bikes. The above was one of our beautiful creations, though the owner did the spray painting himself. Ah, the beauty of cheap bikes and the willingness to decorate that goes with them.

In this photo is myself, fellow young Candidate for Te Atutu Xavier Goldie and committed Young Green Ruby Haazen with some of our beautiful cycle/bumper stickers at our stall table. A lot of such stall attending has been going on the last few weeks, but with exams coming up they will have to take a back step. But never fear, highly ranked young Candidate Gareth Hughes is coming up to Auckland on Saturday for some media events, some more pub crawling, and some more bicycle pimping. Should be a great weekend!

If you're interested in coming on the pub crawl on Saturday night just drop me an email, zachary.dorner@greens.org.nz.

Takin' one for the team

You may have already seen the (slightly inaccurate) article in todays Herald, but yes, I did dress up as a daredevil to highlight how unsafe cycling in Auckland is. Fellow Green Party Candidate (placed seventh on the list, so a very likely future MP) Kevin Hague joined me on my ride from Newmarket, along with four others.

It was before the launch of the Auckland Transport Strategy the Green Party has put together, putting much more cost effective and sensible options on the table than any other Party to date. It can be seen here. All our MPs and a number of candidates made a Green pilgrimage to Britomart due to the importance of getting Auckland moving to our economy. Each MP used a different non-car method, including walking, cycling, ferry, bus and train, and tenth place candidate David Clendon rode an electric scooter.

An integrated and affordable public transport system, based on three major rapid transport loops around the city, plus much better connections and more frequent services will be money much better spent than on a couple of new roads to nowhere. Plus safe walking and cycling facilities. So let's go Green!

Meanwhile, unfortunately you have to be a daredevil to cycle in Auckland.

PS take this weeks poll about public transport.

Saturday, 11 October 2008

The only Party you can live with


On Friday the Greens on Campus were at it again, setting up a lounge suite (from my flat) so that visiting Green MP Metiria Turei could make herself comfortable, and students comfortable too, with our tertiary policy.

We want to make sure that education is free, like it should be, and that students don't have to be the only section of society forced to borrow to live. That is why we want a Universal Student Living Allowance. Why do I have to currently wait until I'm 24 until my eligibility for a Student Allowance is no longer income tested on my parents income? How condescending and wrong. It's crazy that at a time when we have more money than ever before (minus the current financial crisis and minor recession) education is more expensive than ever before. It should be paid for by the Government. That, plus a better quality of life, is what's needed to keep so many kiwis from flying away from this beautiful country. It is also needed to stop the declining rates of people on low incomes taking up tertiary education, which makes it so much harder for them to break out of the poverty or near poverty trap.

That is why the Green Party is the only Party you can live with.

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Financial crisis explained with lines

Confused about the financial crisis? Never fear, this slideshow is much more authoritative then anything I've seen so far (warning, contains rude words).

Of course this is just a small glitch compared to the problems the global economy is beginning to face due to more and more scarce resources. Could the price of oil have helped to start this financial crisis (even though it was pretty inevitable by the sounds of things)? And, as the Green Party has been saying, we need to use the lowered prices of oil, caused by recessions, as a window of opportunity to invest in sustainable infrastructure, such as better public transport, so that we are insulated from the next, inevitable rise.

It's funny how now that financial markets are plummeting, everyone's forgotten about the record high oil prices earlier this year.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Monday, 6 October 2008

Yes ladies I am single... But I only date girls who vote Green


On Friday 26 September the Young Greens of Auckland embarked on one of the most epic and original nights of campaigning this country has ever seen. We went on a pub crawl.

The popular feature of said pub crawl was our "I only date boys/girls who vote Green" stickers, coasters and badges. Yes, that's right, it says "I only date girls who vote Green" not a girl. Hence the above photo...

We had a good team, shown in part above, though some other left early. We had a good reception overall as well, though of course it depended on the venue. A few drinks and people can get quite rude and direct! We went around about 12 or so bars. We our message out, and had some good conversations in the process, in some cases changing perceptions of the Green Party and winning over voters.

So we got our message out, and had a whole bunch of fun doing so. Perfect. Thus, this week's poll is about the effectiveness of innovative campaigning. Do you think it makes more of a difference if it's clever and fun? I believe it made one for the above backsides and their respective partners, if any. They are sporting our "I only date boys who vote Green" stickers.

Keep your eyes peeled for more great Young Green campaigning coming very soon to a place near you!

Monday, 29 September 2008

Meat anyone?


So, another week and another poll on the beautiful Zackarate Island. But what's this? A gruesome photo? SHOCKNESS!

Yes, the topic we were talking about is related to the killing of innocent animals and no, I am not a raging righteous vegetarian. The poll question was would you consider/do you eat less meat for the environment? The first point I would like to make is less related to the environment, and more to decaptitated cows. I believe that if you can't handle the truth about where meat comes from, then you shouldn't be eating it. That point alone has created many a vegetarian. It also graphically illustrates the fact that city slickers have become quite withdrawn from where there food comes from. Put someone like myself (who has only lived in a city) on a small organic farm on an island in the middle of nowhere with all the food growing that I could need, and, within a year, I would probably starve to death. Thus, even city slickers should be brought up with the knowledge of how to grow food, making us more in touch with our diets, more likely to grow some fantastic home vegies, and thus lead more healthy and sustainable lives.

Back to the poll, when talking about climate change, especially in this country, we happily look at transport and say we can cut emissions here, here and here. The energy and industry sectors come under the same scrutiny, in general terms. But never do we seriously look at agriculture (unless you're in the Green Party of course), writing it off as a necessary evil when it comes to emissions and environmental impact. Of course that's true, to some extent. But the fact of the matter is that we eat too much meat, both from a nutritional point of view and a environmental one.

Simple physical principles come into this whole meat business. According to my year 12 biology text book (so it must be true!) plants take 1/100th of the energy out of the sun that hits their leaves and turn it into biomass (stored energy to make things simple). In turn, herbivores and omnivores eat the plants and take 1/10th of the energy out of them, which they turn into biomass of their own. Omnivores and carnivores can eat this meat and again take 1/10th of the energy from it. So, no matter how you calculate the end result (whether by over-simplifying or not) you need a lot more resources and space to grow 1kg of meat than to grow 1kg of veggies. With veggies you don't need to grow food to feed them, they make their own. Besides that, plants take carbon out of the atmosphere when they grow, animals put it back in. Cows especially produce a lot of methane, which is a gas with roughly 20 to 25 the warming potential of carbon dioxide when talking about climate change.

In an ideal world we would all be vegans (and be happy about this arrangement). But in reality, even if we wanted to, not everyone could become a vegan. Everyone's bodies work differently, and it's about finding the right balance for you. If you can be a healthy vegan, and are happy with that, fantastic, big ups to you. But if not, don't sweat it. It's not worth putting your health on the line for. But in general we eat too much meat. Eating too much animal protein can cause kidney damage, probably among other things. As with everything, moderation is the key.

And as for those nay-sayers who say Greenies are only about less less less in a more more more culture, thus being killjoys who will never win much support, I say SHUT UP! We are all in the same waka, and if we don't start taking sustainability seriously, we will all drown together (though the poor ones on the bottom of the heap will drown first of course). By framing sustainable changes positively, we will do much more to steer ourselves towards sustainability. Who doesn't want to eat more healthy, therefore live more healthily and be happier with more energy? You can count me in.

As for myself, you can put me in the I consciously eat meat less category. Depending on my living situation, I try and eat meat no more than twice a week (including fish). If you don't want to go vegetarian, I suggest you try setting a reduced meat quota. It's amazing how little you notice the lack of meat! And if someone said to me I had to kill the next animal I ate meat from, I would have to. Otherwise I would be a complete hypocrite. But I would be thankful that it gave it's life so that I could be healthy. Such is the circle of life.

(Photo by 10b travelling)

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

I've been selected!

Youngest candidate receives Pakuranga electorate for his 19th birthday

Tonight Zachary Dorner officially became the Green Party's candidate for Pakuranga, four days before his 19th birthday. At that age he is easily the youngest candidate in the country out of the established political parties.

On becoming the Green candidate for Pakuranga, Dorner said “I am excited to be able to represent the Green Party in Pakuranga. I am seeking the Party Vote, which is the most important. I want everyone in Pakuranga to know that we in the Green Party have practical solutions in our approach to the big issues of our time. I am positive about the future, creative ideas and a ‘can-do’ approach is abundant in New Zealand."

Although Zachary Dorner's chances of getting into Parliament are slim, the lack of representation for young people in Parliament was a major motivation for standing. Mr Dorner does not rule out a serious attempt at becoming a young Green MP in the future.

“Young people are a glaring omission from the so-called 'House of Representatives.' I want more young people to follow in my footsteps by standing and participating in the democratic process. The Green Party is the only Party that truly represents a youthful perspective at the moment, and I see no sign of that changing.

“In an election supposedly about trust I want people to ask themselves who they really trust. Who do they trust with taking serious action on climate change? Who do they trust to provide New Zealanders with safe, sustainable and healthy food? Who do they trust with their children's future? Their best answer to that question is for them to Party Vote Green on November 8.”

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Happy Earth Overshoot Day!

A day after Car Free Day it's Earth Overshoot Day! This is the day that, according to Global Footprint Network data, we have used all the natural resources that earth will generate this year, and from now on this year we are getting ourselves into natural resource debt. As has been the trend for many decades, we are borrowing more this year than we ever have before, now requiring 1.4 planets for our current consumption rate.

There's many more interesting things for you to read about on the link above, but I will mention this. The first year that we were in debt was 1986, which was one day of overshoot. This year it is about 98 days of overshoot. At 18 I have never lived a day of my life in a year that we used less than the earth provided for us. Given that next year I may have to take out a student loan, and my parents have always been in debt to pay for our housing, monetarily I have also never lived free of debt. Why must our economy run like this? Even though GDP has grown, can we really say quality of life has improved, or do we perhaps need to measure a lot more than just money?

On a related note, an interesting discussion has been happening lately about food and it's impact on the planet. The chairperson for the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) has come out and said we need to eat less meat. This has had varying reactions, including people like Ken Livingstone (Mayor of London unfortunately) coming out strongly for the carnivores, advocating, if anything, an increase in the consumption of meat. More on this interesting topic later in the week, but in the meantime you can vote in this week's poll.

Have you decided who you will give your party vote to yet?


The results of this weeks poll. Obviously not a scientific one... I hope more people vote in my one for this week, as do I hope there will be a good turnout come November 8. But, as I said when I started this blog, internet polls don't show anything statistically sound, unless they have a very high number of voters, in which case they are a general indication only. I use them in this blog to raise issues.

I hope the voters who have decided in this poll are all voting Green... I do have a feeling there is an ACT voter who voted in the poll though but no matter. They are few and far between at the moment luckily.

Real freedom = freedom from cars!

Yesterday was Car Free day, and it was celebrated by the Green Party in style.

Above you can see what they did in Wellington as they launched the Green Party Transport Policy for the election. After convincing 48 Greenies to drive their cars (no small task) to the waterfront they got a very graphic example of why bussing is so much better for the environment and eases traffic jams so much. One full bus is so much smaller! Especially when you add the space between cars that you get when driving. Of course I would generally put myself in the bicycle crew at the front because it is far more fun, especially in hilly places like Wellington and Auckland (downhill of course is what I'm talking about!).

The Green Party transport policy would see the funness of cycling made much safer and, as I said in my previous post, a funding role reversal. No longer would transport funding be so weighed in favour of dirty cars, but weighed in favour of public transport, cycling and walking. Let's free ourselves from cars and make our cities more liveable!

I'm also very keen on the $1 off-peak travel anywhere for two hours for public transport, and the half price fares for senior citizens, children and, most importantly, students. The poor beggars (of whom I will be one next year) currently have to pay through their teeth and fork out full adult prices! Mental considering how poor they already are.
As for myself, I walked to university in Auckland with three others. We wore visibility vests, had music pumping from a wheelie bin (courtesy of Greenpeace) and spread the word and love, handing out Green Transport Policy leaflets.

Next major car-related day is Free Car Day. Look for ACT and National in particular to be capatilising on that with their transport policies. as free cars will be the only thing that makes driving cars everywhere affordable in the near future.

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Let us get across!


This afternoon I attended a gathering of about 400 or 500 cyclists (from my rough estimate) beneath the Auckland Harbour Bridge.

The gathering was in favour of a cycleway and walkway being added to the bridge when maintainence is carried out on the bridge clip ons in the next year or two. It is an excellent opportunity to do this, but is at this stage by no means a closed deal. At the moment you can't walk or cycle over the bridge - which is absolutely crazy. Nor can you scooter. What do people do who don't have a car, or want a more sustainable option (besides bussing)? Estimated cost of the project is between $20 and $40 million, which "chicken feed" compared to the billions that go into other roading projects, as Keith Locke put it.

Above is me and Xavier Goldie, who is another young Green Party Candidate in the Auckland area.

At the event Keith Locke announced parts of the Green Party transport policy for the election. We want to change the ratio of funding from 5 times as much being spent on roading compared with public transport, walking and cycling to a reverse situation where we spend twice as much on public transport compared with roading. That will ensure that we never have to fight another battle to get a very sensible cycleway built. We also will become more sustainable by using the roads we have much more wisely, rather than spending billions on new ones - which never helps ease congestion, it just creates more.

RIding whales before they become extinct

As I failed to tell you in my last post, the awesome candidate who is now standing for Maungakiekie for the Green Party is Rawiri Paratene, who was in Whale Rider. Like a number of Green candidates (including yours truly), he does not want to become an MP, but is giving his name and time to try and get as many Green MPs in the next Parliament. As he put it: "My message to people is to party vote Green, I say to people `Vote for your kids and your grandchildren – they will thank you for it." So to all of you who do party vote Green, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Auckland!!!!!!


Yes, that's where I'm at now. I've popped up again in Auckland, land of plenty (of people and stuff). On Thursday I came up here, and that evening I attended the Auckland Campaign launch as an Auckland candidate. Thus, I will now be hanging here for the next seven weeks.

It was a great night at the Safari Lounge in Ponsonby where we proudly announced the 21 candidates in 21 electorates - the first time we've had a candidate in every electorate. My one will be Pakuranga after my official selection evening coming up this week. Apart from the other excellent candidates there's also a very high profile candidate who has leant his good name and time, and will be running in Maungakiekie. So watch out.

Most important of all we have an undeniably strong message, summed up perfectly by our much-praised billboards. Which political party would you most trust with your children's future? I know I'm hedging my bets to ensure maximum Green representation in the Parliament.

I'm gonna be having a good time getting out that message in Auckland, so see you round.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Have you decided who you will give your party vote to yet?

With newly invigorated blogness happening, time for a new poll - which will now be renewed weekly. I promise.

This one's a simple one. Have you decided who your going to vote for? I know I have...

With all the madness of silly season almost in full swing it's interesting to take a look at how many people decide who to vote for (and sometimes also whether to vote) over what happens during the next 52 days (and counting). And with MMP that can have a huge impact on governing arrangements after the election.

On another similar note, a general whinge about the importance placed on polling data. It becomes an obsession in the media, and leads to what Nicky Hager calls "horse racing politics". It is a week to week commentary about who did what and how that effected their polling (even if it is relatively unreliable data), rather than the analysis we so desperately lack about what each party's policies are and how that will effect the country. But of course an election campaign focused on policy would be too much to ask for...

And, back to the matter at hand, maybe some of you undecideds are waiting for more policies to be announced perhaps?

Monday, 15 September 2008

Sorry! Just hit me on the head like a whack-a-mole

Monday, 15 September 2008
My dearest blog readers,

Please accept my sincerest apologies. It has now been a month since I last posted which is nothing short of embarrassing. This last month has been an abysmal effort on my part, and for that I am truly sorry. I can only hope that you will forgive me.

In my defense I have been busy and been thinking of you often, even if I haven't been communicating that with you. After the Guelph by-election campaign I traveled to my hometown (named with the very original name London, Ontario, Canada), the city where my dad was born and grew up (Windsor - accross the river from Detroit) then on the train all the way to Quebec (which took a complete day), then to Montreal to see what all the hype was about and then back to Ottawa. This was quite rushed and, just like my last sentence, was done all in one go. In Ottawa I hung with my fan-dam-ly some more and eventually ended up in a place called Shelter Valley for a folk festival by the same name. This was an excellent way to end my big trip, and the festival itself turned out to be a great example of a positive grassroots community doing good stuff, which had developed over the last five years. It was mainly volunteer run and, as a volunteer myself I was thanked many times. That made me feel guilty as I was really just putting in my 12 hours for the free entry, free camping and free food. From there I was on a plane, spent two days in Hollywood (like the start of my trip) and then back to home turf aka Wellington. Since my arrival I've been extremely busy sorting out my life again and helping out the Green Party who are to be a major feature of my life for the next couple of months.

Next I will be disappearing like a whack-a-mole in a few days, only to pop up again somewhere else. But, just like a whack-a-mole, I'm not going to tell you where or when - haha.

But I will promise you this. Things are serious now. The election date has been announced and as a candidate it's going to be exciting and I'm going to be working hard to bring a much greater representation for the Green Vision in Parliament. And during the next couple of months I will keep you up to date as best and often I can. So sorry again, from the bottom of my heart, and talk to you soon.

Love from Zack

Friday, 15 August 2008

I guess Guelph's going Green

Well, what an inspiring weekend I had last weekend. I went to Guelph in Ontario, Canada to help out with the campaign to elect the Green Party Candidate Mike Nagy there, and what a pleasant surprise I got. It is a by-election campaign, and the Canadian Greens think it's their best shot ever at getting a Green MP elected under their First Past the Post (FPP) electoral system (the poor things). I must admit, I was skeptical about whether they actually had that good a chance before I got there, but now I'm sure they have a damn good one.

Firstly, the campaign has gotten off to the best start ever for a Green Party campaign in Canada. They've already had many volunteers, including about thirty Young Greens the weekend I was there, with four weeks of campaigning remaining. They've had many people getting Mike Nagy signs for their lawns, and a lot of support coming in.

Guelph is a green city anyway, with, most notably, a fantastic farmers market. It is also a university town which, as we all know, means plenty of Green supporters as the Green Party is the Party for young people. In a riding (electorate) in London Ontario (my birthplace), some polling booths at the last Canadian Federal Election in the University there polled as high as 80% Green. Furthermore, Guelph is on track to have the highest amount of Green support ever from Green Party canvasing.

Then there are the stories. Firstly - the campaign office. It is an ex-car rental lot on one of the most busy corners in Guelph, with excellent visibility. All the other major contenders for Guelph contacted the owner about leasing the now empty and awesome place, but the guy wanted Guelph to go Green, so he gave it to Mike Nagy. The other campaign offices were barely visible, so Guelphites know that the Greens are serious contenders. You can see the sweet location above, with it's sweet signs beneath the other sign - the beautiful rainbows on the Saturday night. Now, I've seen many rainbows in my time, but never one as full and vivid as that one, and it's second shadow rainbow. And they are rare in Guelph apparently. It seemed too coincidental to be just a coincidence...

The other thing I was very impressed with was the energy and excitement that was there. It feels like the Canadian Greens have momentum and are on the verge of breaking the deadlock that is created by being in an FPP environment. The best result they've ever had was in the Ontario Provincial Election last year by the awesome Shane Jolley (who I was lucky enough to hang with while in Guelph) who scored 33% of the vote and a disappointingly close second place. This is consistent with the upward trend they've been having in certain areas, and it's about time they break through. Once they get an MP, everything changes. They are no longer seen as unelectable, and their leader Elizabeth May gets to participate in the televised leaders debates in the next Federal Election (ie. shatter the old white guys who lead the other four parties in Parliament).

So from the weekend I was inspired by how the Canadian Greens are doing, and i will take their energy with me back to New Zealand to help with our election campaign. It also serves as a good reminder that New Zealand should never abandon proportional representation. A Party with as much support as the Greens in Canada should have fair representation.

So will Guelph go Green? Time will tell. Do Guelphites ever want me to return to their lovely township? Time will tell. I for one hope they do, because that would be fantastic. Mike Nagy has an excellent chance, and so do the Greens in Canada for their future. It is time.

I will be following the campaign and checking the results after September 8.

Thursday, 14 August 2008

A video in which I partially explain myself


Here is a video from the Youth Campaign Launch that happened in Wellington on August 1. My insiders tell me it was awesome, but of course I knew that as I attended in spirit. It explains partially why I am running this election and I "made" it in my sister's apartment in Mexico (ie recorded the sound and someone way better than me made it look pretty).

Friday, 8 August 2008

Canadian press release

I released this press release in Ottawa this morning (with some help from the local Greens - thanks). It remains to be seen how interested they are in the story, but I hope it gets out there and convinces some New Zealanders over here to party vote Green.

Eighteen year old New Zealand Green Party candidate hits Canada


6 August 2008


Late last week a young New Zealand Green Party election candidate, Zachary Dorner, arrived in Canada. He is here because of family, but also has a more serious goal.


“With oil prices going through the roof and carbon emissions desperately needing reduction, I want to see as many New Zealanders who can vote in the upcoming national elections use their Party Vote for the Green Party,” said Mr Dorner.


Under New Zealand Electoral Law any New Zealand citizen who has set foot in New Zealand during the last three years, or any permanent resident who has visited New Zealand in the last year is eligible to vote. They can go to elections.org.nz for more info.


As New Zealand has MMP, every Party Vote counts towards the number of seats a party gets in Parliament.“The Green Party in New Zealand has always done well with the overseas vote. In fact, it was the overseas vote that got us over the 5% Party Vote threshold for entering Parliament on our own for the first time in 1999. Furthermore, every citizen of the world has an interest in all Governments taking issues like climate change seriously, no matter where they currently live.”


At just 18 years old Mr Dorner is taking this year off to travel and campaign for the Green Party.“I decided to run in this year's election because I can see that the Green Party is the only political party with positive, practical and principled solutions to the major issues of our time. As a young person these issues are all the more urgent.”


Zachary Dorner will be in Canada until 1 September, and will be back in his home town of Wellington on the5th. He will stay mostly in Ottawa, though plans to do some travel around Canada and help local Greens, including with the Guelph by-election campaign.


The New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark has yet to announce the final election date, which must be on a Saturday no later than November 15.

Thursday, 7 August 2008

I repeat, I've made it to g.blog!


The new kid on the block in the blogging world is the awesome g.blog. Rising rapidly in popularity, there is definitely more coming - so watch this space by going to this link: greenvoices.wordpress.com.

G.blog is a blog that any Green Party member can post on, as long as they follow some basic rules, which can be found on the blog itself. A great idea I thought, so I have decided to contribute (mainly highlights from Zackarate Island). Anyway, check it out, and you can view my first post here (the original I've made it to g.blog post).

I guess I'm going to green Guelph!

So, to update you on what I'm up to in Canada. Going to Guelph evidently. For my first few days in Canada I've been hanging out with family (and some Canadian Young Greens who I met at the Global Greens Congress in Sao Paulo). I still have many more things to do and people to see, but on Friday I'm going to Guelph.

Guelph? you may ask. Yes, Guelph. It is a city in Southern Ontario that is about to go Green. There is a by-election happening there on September 8, and a very strong Green Candidate is running there called Mike Nagy. There is a big push on to get him elected as the first Green Party Parliamentarian in Canada. They have FPP (First Past the Post) you see, so even though they have polled quite high in the past, they still have yet to break through in to Parliament. So, this Friday a bunch of Young Greens are heading that way to help with the campaign. My cousin and I are tagging along. It should be fun, hopefully will help, and maybe I'll be able to get some campaigning ideas well I'm there. So watch this space to see whether Guelph will make and name for itself and go Green.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Should countries be responsible for "exported" emissions?

33% of China's carbon footprint blamed on exports

19:00 28 July 2008 NewScientist.com

Economists now say that one-third of China's carbon dioxide emissions are pumped into the atmosphere in order to manufacture exported goods – many of them "advanced" electronics goods destined for developed countries. "Export goods emissions" account for 1.7 billion tonnes of China's carbon dioxide. That represents 6% of total global emissions – the equivalent of Germany, France and the UK's combined emissions. A large share of these emissions – up to 25% – has been blamed on China's ever-growing export market, but this has not been quantified until now. Now Christopher Weber of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and colleagues have shown that the figure is larger still. Weber's team used a standard model of the Chinese economy, produced by the Chinese government. This model, which operates on the same principle as others produced by every national government, reflects how money has flowed in and out of different sectors of the economy since the 1980s. Matching the model to the dataset allowed the team to calculate that, in 2005, export sectors generated 1.7 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide – 33% of China's emissions.

An interesting study, and the focus of this week's poll. This issue was looked into at the Global Young Greens conference I attended earlier this year.

With huge amounts of products primarily consumed in developed nations now being manufactured in developing nations, this of course equates to an "exporting" of environmental impacts from the developed nations on to the developing nations. Should, in future global agreements on cutting carbon emissions, nations be responsible for emissions created from products they import, and not for products they export? Would this make things too complicated, in a field where it is already impossible to calculate exact carbon emissions? And, of course, the manufacturing nations benefit (to arguable extents) from the manufacturing being based in their countries. Should this be taken into account?

A very complex issue, but give your brains a bit of a stretch and vote in the poll to the right now.

Sunday, 3 August 2008

Should you give money to beggars?

An interesting poll this (last) week. Seems the viewers of my blog were split on this moral issue which has no clear answer.

In my opinion of course you can't give a definitive answer that fits with every case. Of course the best thing you can do to help their situation is give them a way to improve their situation greatly, and I'm no expert in this field. But it obviously varies from situation to situation what that might be - some of them have mental and drug problems, others are just simply poor and don't have a place fit in in this world. So I would say it depends on their situation whether you should give them money or not, but if you want to save your resources for more structured programs than that's not a bad thing - as long as you follow through. It's just difficult to judge when the situation presents itself raw in front of your eyes to know what's best. Unfortunately, especially in the countries I've been visiting, there are far too many people like that. Responsibility to do something has to fall on Governments and communities - but in some countries they have many problems of poverty to deal with.

My previous post discussing this issue is here.

Friday, 1 August 2008

Surfin´ like a pro (pretty much)

So, it´s all coming to an end - and it went out with a very relaxing bang. Three full days living on the beach, swimming, surfing, reading, walking. It ´twas the life. And now I have just a few hours left in Mexico, as I leave early tomorrow morning to Canada. It will be sad to say good bye to my sister and her boyfriend, but happy to see family in Canada again.

In San Blás, where I´ve been hiding this week, things where sweet. Above is me surfing. Or what it would have looked like - I was too busy surfing to take pictures of myself. It was my first time and I got a 1hr lesson during which I stood up four times - and for much longer than the alleged "good surfers" pictured above. Surfing is good fun, though I think I need to build up some more upper body strength to do it more - and the waters around NZ need to build up heat. But I hope they don´t actually, because that kinda thing screws round with things (heavy carbon dioxide emitters take note).

Above is where I stayed. A little "cabin" shack thing on the beach. It was actually very nice inside, and the roof was impressively waterproof, as I discovered on the third night. That night there was a lot of rain, and thunder and lightening. The thunder went overhead a few times and sounded like a nuclear bomb going off. I wasn´t scared though. Anyway, apparently scenes like the one below are normal in rainy season (which it is currently). Most of the year it´s dry, so they obviously don´t feel the need to put in drainage systems. It was like that all over town. It was also very hot and humid.
San Blás was a nice little town, and it wasn´t high season tourist-wise, so not too many people either. Supposedly San Blás is realitively untouched by tourists, but I would disagree. There are many hotels by the beach, some of which have been abandoned and now are ghostly crumbling wrecks. I guess other places are more touristy than San Blás.

And that wraps up my Mexican adventures. For more on the next and final chapter of my trip, tune in again to your favourite blog Zackarate Island.

Sunday, 27 July 2008

Tequila! It makes me happy


This week´s biggest travel story is that I went to Tequila! It is a little bit north of Guadalajara, and is the place where the popular drink is named after. There´s lots of touristy stuff related to this - including ridiculous looking vehicles to take people on tours, ranging from trains to barrels in shape. I didn´t go on them. What I did do though is take a tour of the first (and still functioning) Jose Cuervo factory, and also go to the Tequila museum where the above photo was taken. So much tequila, and no way of getting at it...


Tequila is produced only in certain regions around the country (by law) where the Blue Agave plant can be cultivated properly. The Blue Agave looks like a cactus, but is really a bulb, in the lily family. After 6 to 12 years of growth it is mature enough to be cut out of the ground and cut up as shown above. All the spikey bits are chopped off, and then the heart is cut in half for the baking. The heart is basically all starch, but once baked it becomes sugary sweet, like sugar cane.

After it becomes sugary sweet like sugar cane it is fermented, then distilled twice. It is then aged, either for a short time in lightly charred oak barrels (no more than a month) to make silver tequila, or up to three or more years in heavily charred oak barrels to make amber stuff, of the kind you would only drink straight.

After the tour of the factory I was (because I paid enough money - not that much though as Mexico is cheap) given a lesson on how the Tequila Masters taste Tequila. So don´t try and pull one over me - I know my stuff now. And I also now have developed a taste for Tequila, which was never there before. Damn capitilist pigs with their tours making me like Tequila.

The rest of the week I´ve been hanging with my sister really, and her boyfriend. That is because tomorrow I head to the beach (called San Blás) for a few days, returning on Thursday and flying to Canada on Friday. So don´t be surprised if you don´t here from me for a week. Tequila sunrise here I come!

Friday, 25 July 2008

Hmmm... toxic gas eh?


In April I blogged about a protest action against the spraying of Methyl Bromide in Wellington to fumigate logs (and of course, in other places around the country) due to the potentially severe impacts the gas can have on the health of those living around the ports where it is sprayed, and the impacts the gas has on the environment. Well, after protests by the Greens, lead by Sue Kedgley and Steffan Browning, it seems the Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA) will finally be re-considering its usage - though judging by past decisions it is hard to say whether they will take the environmental and health impacts seriously or not.

After the first stage of the review (approximately 18 months) then you will be able to make your submission about what you think. Meanwhile, whilst they are spraying, I suggest you wear similar apparatus around affected areas - especially close to ports - to that modelled by my model (and childhood teddy bear) above.

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

The Olympic´s Legacy (Banners)

Speaking of events in Wellington coming up that I can´t attend (like in my last post), here´s another one. It´s about the Bejing Olympics, which are coming up very very soon, and there will be a lot of noise being made about China´s human right record.

So, in my place please consider attending the SIGN THE OLYMPIC LEGACY BANNERS event, 12pm - 2pm Tuesday 29 July, Manners Mall, Wellington. They will be hand delivered to the Chinese Embassy 3-4pm.

Just reading another recent example of what the oppressive regime in China might try and get up to while the Olympics are on (TV Signal Cut Under Pressure From Chinese Regime - Epoch Times). It will be very interesting to watch what happens, and fingers crossed this focussed campaign on Chinese human rights will help make a positive difference - combatting the net negative effect the Olympics have had on Chinese human rights so far as they try and "clean up" any dissent before the world´s media decends on China in earnest.

Launches, links and Little Bushmen

Meanwhile, back at the campaigny ranch, some developments in the basework of my online campaign and the youth campaign in general.

Firstly, I am now on the Green Party website, with my candidate bio. So check that out, if you wanna find out a few more details about me and why I´m running as a candidate this election. Also, my Facebook page is getting more and more stuff on it, so check that out too if you haven´t already.

As for the Green Party youth campaign - which I will be heavily involved in upon my return to New Zealand on 5 September - it is about to kick off, and in style. Put August 1 in your diary, as it is the launch of the Young Greens Election Campaign, starting at the Wellington Opera at 6:30pm and then continuing with the Phoenix Foundation and Little Bushmen gig at 8:00pm. The gig side of things is also on Facebook. I wish I could be there, but Mexico´s pretty cool too. Attending will be Young Green and highly ranked awesome candidate Gareth Hughes, and MPs Co-Leader Russel Norman and Metiria Turei.

So with enough links to keep you occupied for a while, I will leave you there. But seriously, the gig should be good - and a may or may not be making some sort of a special appearance maybe perhaps.

The news has broken

In one of my most recent posts from yesterday the breaking news was that I was going to the beach today. Well, to explain why I´m still posting, and not sitting on the beach: I´m not at the beach. I decided things would work out better if I go on Sunday. So I´m in Guadalajara this week, then off to the beach, and the day I get back is the day before I leave for Canada.

There´s your broken news.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Should you give money to beggars?

For this week´s poll another issue more focussed on developing nations.

In the last three months I have seen more beggars and street people than I have in my whole life. I must say, I think it was worst in Brazil, where they have serious inequality issues, though Mexico, especially Mexico City (when compared with Guadalajara) has its fair share. So, should you give them money when they hold out their hand in desperation?

Some things to think about. There are many enterprising people in the countries where I´ve been, earning money how they can, given their situation (educationally and so on). There are so many shoe-shiners, food stalls, CD stalls, newspaper stands and people selling things on the metro and busses, all doing what they can to make money. Not an ideal situation, but teach a man to fish... you know how the saying goes. Perhaps money is better spent on good projects, rather than just handing out money to the individual, so that these people can become self-dependant. A tough thing to think about though when you are confronted by those looks - looks you don´t want to have to get used to.

Another thing, from the point of view of a visitor. One example that illustrates this point well is when I was asked for money by a kid in Sao Paulo who looked perfectly clean, healthy and well-fed. Tourists are seen as a way to make money, nothing else, and people in certain areas have been trained to approach them to make money - whether by selling them something or just begging. Again, not a nice situation, and how can you tell whether the person needs the money more than the next?

Furthermore, how can you tell what they are going to spend the money on? A good case example was Salvador in Brazil. There is a horrible problem with crack there from what I heard, and you can definitely see it in the eyes and health of some of the street people. If you just hand them money, are you simply supporting their crack problem? With structured programs at least you can tell what you are putting your money towards. The other option is, of course, giving them food (and watching them eat it, incase they swap that for drugs, which is not unheard of according to Lonely Planet).

Then there is judging it on their situation. In Mexico City I saw a few people holding out drug perscriptions for them or their children which they claimed they couldn´t afford to fill. There are also many old and disabled people who possibly wouldn´t be able to get employment, and if they can´t get a benefit they have no other choice. Compare this to people who look more like they can make money themselves. However, many street people have problems greater than meets the eye - mental problems, drug problems. But of course these people are probably better in some sort of care to help them get better.

So should you give beggars money directly? A head versus heart question, especially when the situation is infront of your eyes. Or should you just save your money and time for trustable programs, and political action, even though you know that they wont reach every individual, and every situation, and wont help the person in front of you right then, and maybe ever. Being one person, where are you best to place your eggs ( if you indeed want to give any away). So have a think, and move your mouse to the right to vote now.

Developing nations and sustainability


With the latest poll result for this week in, it appears my blog readers who decided to vote agree with my opinion. Yes, everyone does need to play their part in becoming more sustainable. The living world is in a dire state, and as we just continue to produce so much pollution and waste and use up so many resources, things have now reached tipping point. So rich and poor nations alike need to do a lot more, no matter what the state of their population´s living conditions are. Environmental wellbeing and quality of life go hand in hand.

A good example of environmental health and human health from developing nations is a major thing that I didn´t touch on in my last post on the issue. Water quality. Besides the undrinkable tapwater of everywhere I´ve been (which creates extra waste in the form of many plastic drinking bottles), in the Amazon you could clearly see one of the major reasons why the water is so sick. Sewage; raw and untreated. Unfortunately there didn´t seem to be any adequate sewage facilities at all for the people who lived along the Amazon. I saw long drops that were actually a very short drop, straight into the river below. The numbers of people who live along this river can be having no small impact on the health of it, and therefore no small impact on themselves. Perhaps one example of a simple sustainable development for them is composting toilets - dealing with the sewage, and providing the locals with fertiliser for their food crops.

Which brings me to another point in this complex issue. Developed nations, being disproporionately responsible for the pressing current environmental issues such as climate change, have something they can do to help the future of all humanity. Help developing nations develop sustainably by sharing sustainable technology they have developed - which will improve the quality of life for everyone involved.

There are of course many other issues to work through, from liability of developed nations, to the best way to share technology and transform the global economy. The greatest issues of our time, but with care we have the ability to improve the quality of life of everyone and become more sustainble and equal. But the urgency of the situation can not be exaggerated, especially not by scientists who almost unanimously agree it is very urgent. And if we do nothing, who will loose out the most? The poor, of course, especially in poor nations.

Latest photos and breaking news-style update



Here are some photos of Mexico City. In my last few days there I did some walking and shopping, taking advantage of the cheap Mexican-made clothing available (not sure about the working conditions, but atleast their locally made. I´m hoping the conditions aren´t too bad). Of particular note was the Mueseum of Modern Art. There were two really good exhibitions on - one was an overview of some of their collection of Mexican modern artists, and the other was of a painter called Remedios Varo. Her paintings were enchanting, and I highly recommend you check them out if you are interested in philosphy, dream theory, literature and art. So basically check them out, they´re awesome.


On the Friday night I attended the McCoy Tyner Trio + 1 (Ravi Coultrane) performance I had stayed to see. The venue was really nice - the seats were around tables where drinks and food were served before, during and after the performance. A great place for jazz. And the jazz was good too, of course, what with jazz greats playing it and all. Unfortunately everyone except for Coultrane were old, so the performance was only just over an hour, which was a little disappointing. I was also hoping for some latin-style jazz, but none of that either. Still, it was good to see them play. The audience enjoyed it too (though they obviously also wanted more). The audience was very European - not everyone could afford the 1000 peso (NZ$120) ticket price.


The above photo is of a blessing ceremony in the main square, the Zócalo, in Mexico City.

This is me at Teotihuacán on top of the Pyramid for the Sun, which is taller than the Pyramid for the Moon, behind me. The climb was very steep - stair technology has come a long way in the last few thousand years.

This is a section of the main mural in the National (Presidential) Palace on the Zócalo by Diego Rivera. It depicts a history of Mexico, and in the centre of this photo you can see Rivera´s sometimes wife Frida Kahlo. She is beneath the socialist movement section of the mural, showing that she was an important part of the grass roots of the moment, amongst all the other ordinary people.

This is one of the many benches to be found near the Angel of Independence statue, all very original and different, with varying degrees of comfort for the sitter.


My next movement is probably tomorrow, but as this is breaking news, I don´t have all the details at hand right at this moment. I am heading to the beach, probably a small town called San Blas, and will be there for maybe three full days before coming back to Guadalajara to spend the rest of my days in Mexico (about six by that point). So wish me luck.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

That bloody squirrel...

So back on the road again with my travels, though less travels this time, and more roads. Mexico City from Guadalajara was my last destination and, well, I´m still here. I´ve taken some nice photos too, but they will have to wait a few more days.

My travels here started with my sister and her boyfriend. We left on Thursday night for a Friday morning arrival, and our feet barely touched the ground between then and their departure on Sunday for better(/worse) things ie work.

We arrived, negotiated the packed rush hour metro with oversized bags (by no means feat, which included a few angry locals) and arrived at our hostel. We dropped off our bags, and then were on to it, fitting in as much Mexico City as we could.

Day 1: We started with breakfast, then moved on to nearby and massive Chapultepec Park. Walked a little bit, then continued on down the massive boulevard, past some Paris-esque roundabouts to the Berlin-esque Angel of Independence statue - a stunningly gold topless angel on a big concrete post. From there we Metro-ed to the Zócalo, a Madrid-esque square, surrounded by some old Government buildings, and some old places of worship. These included a tilting cathedral (due to the sinking nature of Mexico City - very common to see them spilling in all directions) and some remains of the city the Spaniards crushed in order to make way for Mexico City. Then onwards on our madness after lunch to Léon Trotsky´s old pad. He was exiled from Russia after being wanted for opposition to the Stálin regime. He eventually ended up in Mexico, working hard on political stuff with people like Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, and then was assasinated in his own house on the second attempt by some other artists. From there we went to the nearby "Blue House" where Frida Kahlo spent many of her later years. It had many paintings and artifacts of herself and husband Diego Rivera.

Day 2: North, to Teotihuacán, the well preserved ruins of the massive city present during the Mexican classical period. It includes two massive pyramids for the Sun and the Moon, as well as many other fascinating features. I got sunburnt, expecting rain as it is the rainy season. On the way back we dropped by a cathedral for the Virgin Guadalupe (the Mexican version of the Virgin Mary) and saw a 15 year old girl having her birthday celebrated in front of many onlookers. Fifteen is a big age for girls here, and is thus treated. Every year over three days in October about eight million Mexicans drop by the cathedral too as part of some sort of pilgrimage.

Day 3: After a couple of unmentionable incidents the night before (incidentally a Saturday night) I met my sister and co. outside Chapultepec Castle. It is now a museum, but was previously home to Maximillian, some Austro-Hungarian guy who wanted to rule over Mexico. He was suitably removed in due course. Half the museum is for special exhibits - we saw some Buddhist stuff there. Then it was bye times, and I continued my perusement that afternoon, this time of the fascinating and huge Museum of Anthropology, which is nearby-ish.

So I was on my own (except for the friends I had at the hostel where I was staying) in a massive city once more (previously being in Sao Paulo. Both cities are roughly 20 million, give or take a few mil, and ensuring it is known that Mexico City is generally considered larger).

On the Monday I slept in, then took another walk around the Historical Centre, starting again at the Zócalo, but this time taking things more slowly. I went into the Presidential Palace, which is on the Zócalo, and as far as I know houses the Executive Wing of the Mexican Government. There were some amazing Diego Rivera murals on the walls. Then I went into the leaning Cathedral I also mentioned before, and prayed that it didn´t fall and my head, nor on the heads of all those also inside. I then walked some more, and ended up in the Legislative Chamber of the Mexican Government in a different part of town, not completely by accident. At the musuem in the same building I asked if I could see it. Through shaky English they thought I said "sanitários" (toilets) rather than "Senators", so on my way we took a detour to the bathroom. We eventually worked it out, but I am still undecided whether there´s much of a difference. Needless to say one of the rooms was cleaner, but that could be because the Representatives or "Deputies" are on summer holidays at the moment.

Yesterday I did more walking. I walked around the Pink Zone (Zona Rosa), which is a cultured area with many shops and cafés. There is also a Ripley´s Museum of believe-it-or-nots, and a wax museum, but I decided against paying for those. Instead I bought a stack of CDs, to help me nurse my squirrel wounds.

Oh yeah, that bloody squirrel. A few seconds on his part for a wasted morning on mine. Bastard. All I was doing was innocently sitting in Chapultepec Park after lunch (and before my Zona Rosa experience) eating some scrumptious popcorn from one of the literally hundreds of vendors in the park. Then that bloody squirrel came up to me. I had noticed the squirrels before, and how I thought they were unusually brave when it came to approaching humans for food. Indeed, I had observed one not less than half an hour ago eating right out of the palm of someone´s hand. Still, I thought if I ignored that bloody squirrel it would eventually go away. Meanwhile, somehow a crowd of expectant summer-holidaying families had gathered around me, expecting a show I guess of me feeding that bloody squirrel. But I wasn´t going to give in. Then, out of nowhere, from its perch beside me, that bloody squirrel leaped onto my partially-exposed leg, and then off again, as in some futile attempt to get at the scrumptious popcorn (even though I had accidentally dropped some by my feet that it could have easily gone for, had it a brain larger than a nut). And with that, that bloody squirrel left me with some scratch marks, and a morning mission today. After negotiating the mainly Spanish-speaking health system here I am left with a sore arm, but reassurance that I will get neither rabies nor tetanus. Incidentally, squirrels don´t transmit rabies to humans, but nevertheless you should wash any wound for atleast five minutes in soapy water before disinfecting it with some alcohol-based solution. And also, tentanus injections are free, even for foreigners.

Next major stop is an awesome jazz gig this Friday night, which I am very excited about (also in Mexico City, hence why I´m stuck here). It is featuring jazz piano Great McCoy Tyner, and also Ravi Coultrane. Then on Saturday back to Guadalajara, where I will probably go from to a beach town nearby (so to speak) sometime next week.

Hasta luego!

Friday, 11 July 2008

Announcing my candidacy


The other thing I promised to tell you about in a previous post was how I was keeping myself busy in Guadalajara. Most of the time, hangin´with my sister of course, but the rest of the time I was on the internet, catching up with emails and the state of the world. Although I would have liked to have done this on some big American talkshow, this will have to do for now.

I am announcing that I am running for Parliament in 2008 for the Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand as a list only candidate.

More to come on this in due course, but in the meantime you can become a supporter of me on Facebook. The page is still in its infancy, but sign up now to become one of my first supporters! Then you can keep up to date with further developments in the 2008 election campaign.

As always I´ll keep you posted, and talk more in future about why I´m running.