Garrett with his pet—Little Chicken
I grew up in the New Orleans area, and had to leave in 2005—wondering if I'd ever be able to return—due to Hurricane Katrina. I watched helplessly from a hotel in Arkansas as the hurricane destroyed and sunk much of the city. While my family's home was lucky and suffered no major damage, many others were not so lucky. I returned in early 2006 and helped friends salvage what they could from flooded homes. I was one of the first students to return to the city's public university; all around the university, there was an eerie silence and blackness, as so many neighborhoods remained gutted, uninhabited, and without electricity. All I could think was how slow the recovery was, and how
government at all levels had failed us.
Democrats and Republicans alike pointed fingers over the handling of Katrina, but in terms of real impact on the ground, it was up to the locals to rebuild it themselves because the parties surely weren't going to. As more disasters occurred, like the Deep water Horizon spill that covered Louisiana's coast in oil, it became increasingly clear that the two parties wanted this future—after all, who was speaking out against oil spills? Who was speaking out against the "cancer alley" not far from New Orleans, where the petrochemical industry had made a home? Who is speaking out against climate change that will make all of these problems worse in the near future?
Surely, neither major party seemed interested.
When I moved to Pennsylvania in 2011, I found the old coal and steel industries being slowly replaced by more oil, gas, fracking, and eventually petrochemicals, with officials of both parties touting it as "good for jobs" and all the other nonsense I heard in Louisiana. I was a registered independent, but started wondering if I shouldn't be doing more. In 2015, I supported Bernie Sanders as an independent candidate, but when it became clear the party was going to prevent his nomination and that he was going to capitulate, I decided I needed to start helping build another option. Someone pointed me to the Green Party, and after reading their platform, documents, etc., I was totally on board. The Green values were values I held all along. The Green platform was full of common-sense stuff; I wondered why no other party spoke so directly about issues of social justice and environment. I reached out to my local Green Party and was quickly welcomed in. I helped lead local petitioning efforts in 2017, became a local party vice-chair in 2018 and a delegate to the state party. I also was elected to alternate delegate to the national party in 2019, becoming a full delegate in 2020.
What I like about the Green Party is its values and its people. I know this party represents my values, and I've met some amazing activists and political leaders that are very knowledgeable on many topics. I like that the party is truly grassroots and that new people are welcomed in and encouraged to become active. Since the party is a combination political party and activist movement, there's lots of room for lots of different types of actions. Being Green has pointed me toward the philosophy of many writers including Murray Bookchin who was an influential thinker in the later 20th century that influenced the Green Party movement in the US and around the world. His philosophy of ";social ecology" is a very clear, systematic critique of capitalism, in favor of a decentralized, democratic, ecological society. I believe such a critique, which guides many of the party's values, gives it a holistic perspective not found anywhere else.
I think the Green Party has something for everyone. Strong principles and values, based in a unique "social ecology" perspective. Both activism and electoral work. A commitment to ending capitalism and the two-party political duopoly. It's hard work building something new outside of existing structures, but I am convinced that it must be done, and that the Green Party is the best place to do it.
Garrett is Vice-Chair of the Allegheny Green Party, and is currently running for state representative in Pennsylvania's
45th District. https://votegarret.org/