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After November 7
by Don Fitz, Gateway Green Alliance
In 1994, the Gateway Green Alliance participated in a monumental struggle to stop a medical waste incinerator from being built in the City of St. Louis. Residents were outraged when they found that laws in the County of St. Louis would have prevented its construction there, but lax regulations in the City would allow it to slip through. Its location was a clear example of environmental racism and classism. We won. A coalition of low income groups, the Greens and individuals made enough noise to block construction.
Afterwards, several people who had opposed the incinerator agreed to meet to draft legislation to bring laws in the City up to the standards of the County. The night of the meeting, I waited for the dozens of people who participated in the effort to show up. No one came. Once the flash of the immediate crisis was over, the work of preventing the same thing from happening again lacked the glitter to attract interest. The Nader 2000 campaign has excited the left and brought tens of thousands of new people into contact with the Greens. But what will happen on November 8, the day after the election? That's the day the work of building a Green movement begins anew. Will Green groups be able to hold onto their contacts and build a broad movement around proposals for environmental and social justice legislation?
Various sections of this issue of Synthesis/Regeneration are more integrated than they may appear at first glance. Ralph Nader's discussion of the crime of corporate domination of American politics is a crime with which most readers of this magazine are quite familiar.
Paul Cienfuegos tells us what can be done about corporate domination on a daily basis. Greens have organized some of the strongest resistance to environmental destruction by toxic waste and genetic manipulation. After November 7, will Greens continue to organize for adoption of the Precautionary Principle by the US and work to increase awareness of food contamination in this country? Greens have also played key roles in building many movements for social justice. After November 7, what will be the role of US Greens in movements to challenge police brutality, political imprisonment, military violence and the barbaric sanctions against Iraq?
What happens if Greens fail to mobilize the new supporters they find during election work? Remember efforts in St. Louis to block an incinerator in 1994 and the fact that we never consolidated it with a law against incineration. A funny issue about incineration arose during 2000 in the City of St. Louis. It is an effort to shut down a medical waste incinerator.
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