Today we mark International Mother Earth Day with the announcement of the new alternative government in the US, the Green Shadow Cabinet. The Cabinet was appointed by the Jill Stein and Cheri Honkala campaign for President and Vice President. They ran on the Green Party ticket and on a platform of the Green New Deal. Kevin Zeese serves as US Attorney General and Margaret Flowers serves as Secretary of Health. Joining us for the announcement to to discuss the urgent need to create an alternative political structure that serves people and the planet are Vice President Cheri Honkala, Political Ecology Advisor to the President Christopher Cox and Climate Change Advisor to the President Sean Sweeney. Cox and Sweeney spoke about what they would advise the President to do and the new green economy. To learn more about the alternative government which has so far brought together more than 80 prominent scientists, lawyers, health professionals, economists, labor leaders and advocates, visit GreenShadowCabinet.us.
Relevant articles and websites:
Another Government is Necessary: The People can Rule Better than the Elites by Margaret Flowers and KevinZeese
Cheri Honkala – Vice President of the Green Shadow Cabinet. Cheri was born into poverty in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She grew up watching her mother suffer from domestic violence that she quietly endured for fear of losing her kids. At the age of 17 her 19 year old brother Mark, who suffered from mental health issues committed suicide. He was uninsured and could not afford to get the help he needed. At the time of Mark’s suicide Cheri was a teenage mother living out of her car and going to high school. Despite her difficult upbringing she graduated high school.
Cheri Honkala and her son Mark (named after her brother) lived in and out of places eventually becoming homeless after the car they had been living in at the time was demolished by a drunk driver. Mark was 9 years old and she could not find a shelter that would allow them to remain together that winter so in order to keep from freezing she decided to move into an abandoned HUD home. She then began working to help other poor families and became a pioneer in the modern housing takeover movement. For the past 25 years Cheri Honkala has been a leading advocate for poor and homeless in America. She co-founded the Kensington Welfare Rights Union and the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign. She has organized tens of thousands holding marches, demonstrations and setting up tent cities.
Honkala was included in Philadelphia Magazine’s list of 100 Most Powerful Philadelphians and was named Philadelphia Weekly’s “Woman of the Year” in 1997. In 2001 Ms. Magazine also named Cheri Honkala Woman of the Year and she’s since been the recipient of numerous awards including the Bread and Roses Human Rights Award, Public Citizen of the Year by the Pennsylvania Association of Social Workers, and the prestigious Letelier-Moffitt award from the Washington Institute for Policy Studies. In April 2005 Mother Jones magazine named her Hellraiser of the Month. Front Line Defenders has named Cheri one of the 12 most endangered activists in America.
Cheri Honkala is nationally and internationally respected for her anti-poverty work. Honoring the legacy Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Poor People’s Campaign of 1967-68, she inspires a new generation of leaders working to end poverty. In 2004 she spoke at the World Social Forum in India. In 2000 at the Republican National Convention Honkala was a leader of a march of over 100,000 people and she also addressed 148 governments at the United Nations on poverty.
In 2011 as a result of the recent bank bailouts and near complete lack of support for the millions of struggling homeowners caught in the undertow of Wall Street’s housing bubble Honkala became the first woman to run for Sheriff of Philadelphia and the first and only Sheriff candidate nationwide pledging to stop home foreclosures by the big banks. Running under the Green Party her platform was to “Keep Families in Their Homes”, A position that could finally force the banks back to the table with taxpayers and homeowners alike.To get on the ballot Honkala and her volunteers collected 4,300 signatures and on election day received over 10,000 votes in Philadelphia growing the Green Party, particularly in lower income neighborhoods.
Honkala’s son Mark Webber is a Hollywood actor and director. She played herself in Explicit Ills, Mark Webber’s drama about poverty in Philadelphia.
Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter David Zucchino chronicled Cheri Honkala and the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign for six months during 1996 in his book The Myth of the Welfare Queen which include Cheri organizing 70 homeless families taking over an abandoned church, setting up another homeless encampment in an abandoned lot, and getting arrested and charged for attempting to set up a tent city in front of the Liberty Bell. Honkala faced over 10 years in prison, as local law enforcement claimed she assaulted officers, however video footage later abosolved her of any crime.
Since the mid 1990’s Honkala has been extensively documented by photographer Harvey Finkle. She was also photographed by photographer Richard Avedon’s Democracy 2004 series, which appeared in the October 2004 edition of the New Yorker magazine.
Christopher Cox – Political Ecology Advisor to the President. Christopher is a second year graduate student in Political Science at Portland State University, where he studies and researches global ecopolitics in the modern framework of green political theory, a framework that fundamentally accepts what the capitalist world-system cannot – that there are limits to growth, and that the ecological crisis ought to be at the heart of any serious political-economic discussion. His current research is focused on the interrelatedness of the foundational assumptions of orthodox sovereignty and the internationalization of oligopoly capital. His most recent paper is entitled “Orthodox Sovereignty and Oligopoly Capital in the Decline of Anthropocene Man,” which he will be presenting at this year’s Western Political Science Association Annual Conference. He has submitted for publication another academic work entitled “The Actually Existing Political Economics of the Common Agricultural Policy in Hungary.”
His opinion pieces have been published in Censored 2005, 2006, in Political Affairs Magazine, the Dissident Voice blog, and on his new blog Homo Economicus Is Dead. Previous to his academic career, Christopher was a professional trombonist, who has played with many legends of jazz and hiphop. Though on hiatus currently, he is the founding member of the radical hiphop-jazz-rock collective Junkyard Empire. An activist-musician and ecopolitical theorist (in neither order) Christopher Cox is intent on inciting a humanity-wide re-examination of the basic taproot assumptions of global society, viewed through the lens of the human-ecological crisis as a central focus.
Sean Sweeney – Climate Change Advisor to the President. Sean is the Director and founder of the Global Labor Institute, a program of the Cornell School of industrial and Labor Relations (ILR) based in New York City. He received his Ph.D. in Sociology and Industrial Relations from the University of Bath, England, in 1991. Dr. Sweeney has been involved in college-level trade union and worker education since 1987 as full time faculty with Hofstra University’s pioneering program with the United Auto Workers, District 65. He served as the Director of the Queens College Worker Education Extension Center from 1995-1999 before becoming Cornell’s Director of Labor Studies. In recent years Dr. Sweeney has deepened and broadened Cornell ILR’s work with the international labor community around economic alternatives, environmental sustainability, and climate protection.
In 2007 Sweeney and the Global Labor Institute team worked with the Steelworkers and other unions to organize the North American Labor Assembly on Climate Crisis, the first major conference on unions and climate change. Sweeney and GLI then worked with the AFL-CIO and Change to Win to build U.S. labor’s presence at the UN’s climate talks in Bali for COP 13, and he serves on the International Trade Union Confederation’s climate working group. Sweeney and the Cornell GLI team also convened the Global Trade Union Task Force on Development Alternatives in 2006. Sweeney c-authored the UN Environment Program’s 2008 report, Green Jobs: Towards Decent Work in a Sustainable, Low-Carbon World that was sponsored by the ITUC and the ILO. Most recently (September 2011), Sweeney co-authored a report that challenged the jobs claimed by the oil industry pertaining to the Keystone XL pipeline, titled Pipe Dreams: Jobs Gained, Jobs Lost in the Construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline. Sweeney has written for the Los Angeles Times and appeared on National Public Radio and is a frequent contributor to New Labor Forum