Thursday, August 4, 2022

With sadness, we mark the passing of our founder John Rensenbrink


August 4, 2022


MAINE--It is with great sadness that the Maine Green Independent Party marks the passing of John Rensenbrink, of Topsham, who died at the age of 93 on Saturday, July 30th. Rensenbrink co-founded both the Maine Green Independent Party and the Green Party of the United States

 

"John was our Northern Star," said Green Independent Party Co-Chair Fred McCann. "Not only did he revolutionize third-party politics in the United States, he also showed us how to recontextualize our views of ourselves outside conventional structures of politics and economics."

 

Rensenbrink was born in 1928 in rural Minnesota to his parents Effie and John. After the death of his father in 1943, John, aged 15, managed his family’s farm with the help of his brother. A few years later, he left home to attend Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan where he earned a bachelor’s degree in history and political science. An insatiable scholar, he subsequently attained a master’s degree in political science from the University of Michigan and a doctorate from the University of Chicago.

 

Rensenbrink moved to Maine in 1961 where he taught philosophy and history at Bowdoin College in Brunswick. In 1983, he spent six months in Poland with his wife Carla and three daughters Kathryn, Margaret and Elizabeth, where he worked as a research professor at the Marie Sklodowska University in Lublin.

 

While in Europe, Rensenbrink heard that a new political party, the Green Party, had won seats in the German Parliament. After his friend Alan Philbrook attended Canada’s first-ever Green Party meeting later in the year, the two held a meeting on January 8th, 1984 to form a Maine Green Party – the first Green state-level political party in the United States.

 

Rensenbrink served as the campaign manager for the gubernatorial campaigns of Jonathan Carter in 1994 and Pat LaMarche in 1998. After Carter's 1994 campaign, the Maine Green Party became a qualified political party with access to Maine's ballot. At a state convention, Rensenbrink was elected as the party's first co-chair, alongside Nancy Allen of Brooksville.

 

"He was a giant of Green Party commitment," said Allen.

 

In 1996, Rensenbrink ran for U.S. Senate, garnering four percent of the vote against Susan Collins. His campaign slogans, "Don't Eat the Seed Corn" and "Proceed on Green Only" (depicting a traffic light) conveyed a progressive urgency for sustainability.

 

Tom Fusco, who replaced Rensenbrink as party co-chair in 1996, after Rensenbrink stepped down to run for Senate, said Rensenbrink believed in empowering people over corporations.

 

"John was one of those rare people who saw the big picture," said Fusco. "He saw politics as a means to making things better not as the cause of the end. He knew that real power does not lie with politicians or corporations, it belongs to the people."

 

Pat LaMarche, who ran for governor in 1998 and 2006 and vice president in 2006, in a tribute she posted on Facebook, said she first met Rensenbrink when she was a radio journalist who interviewed him during his 1996 Senate run.

 

"I barely looked up when he walked into our studio - until he spoke," LaMarche posted. "I could not believe my ears. He soft-spokenly explained that America was entitled to a justice based government of our own making - with representation at the highest levels that respected civil rights, economic justice and ecological wisdom... Rensenbrink cared about people and he believed in their ability to self-govern without corporate influence."

 

In 1996, the Maine Green Party lost qualified party status after Ralph Nader failed to acquire at least 5 percent of the vote for president. After LaMarche's 1998 gubernatorial candidacy, the party regained qualified status, but this time as the Maine Green Independent Party, due to changes in state law in how parties are named when formed by a candidate that acquires the requisite votes.

 

The Green Independent Party celebrates its 25th consecutive year as a qualified party in Maine next year.

 

Sam Pfeifle, an elected Green who is chair of the Gray-New Gloucester School Board, said he was inspired to join the Green Party after Rensenbrink's senatorial run and Nader's presidential campaign that same year.

 

"You read about people with a twinkle in their eye, but John was maybe the only one where I’ve seen it in person," said Pfeifle.

 

While Rensenbrink was an internationally recognized political activist, Rensenbrink often espoused the importance of involvement with local politics: "All politics is local politics."

 

Resnsenbrink's commitment to engaging in political activism at all levels, is a factor that later inspired Pfeifle to run for office himself.

 

"Just look at what he’d been able to do in conserving land and reforming government in his little town," Pfeifle said. "If this guy could have this much enthusiasm and joy after nearly 90 years on this earth and a lifetime of butting his head against corporate behemoths, surely I could muster up some hope and at least see what I could do on the local school board."

 

Rensenbrink's commitment to environmentalism and local politics was not confined to Green Party electoral activism.

 

The Cathance River Education Alliance, a not-for-profit group co-founded by Rensenbrink in 2000, posted a tribute to him on their Facebook page.

 

"John was a visionary and played an essential role in CREA’s creation and evolution," the group posted. "All that CREA does today is part of his legacy. His vision of using the Preserve to nurture appreciation for the natural world is realized in the shrieks of delight of our summer campers immersed in outdoor discovery, the 'Wows!' and 'Look at this!' of schoolchildren learning at the Preserve, the local elementary students experiencing robust science curricula, the engagement of people introduced to startling natural wonders on guided walks, and so much more."

 

In 2005, Rensenbrink wrote of the alliance, “We didn’t quite know exactly how to translate the idea into reality, but we did know that we wanted to make maximum use of the 230 acres along the wildest portion of the Cathance River in Topsham for environmental education purposes. Also, to help nurture an appreciation for and knowledge of this pristine area now known as the Cathance River Nature Preserve.”

 

In 2019, the year Rensenbrink turned 90, the alliance named a walking path at their center Rensenbrink Way in his honor.

 

Betsy Garrold, of Knox, who is running to be the state representative in House District 38, first met Rensenbrink in 2002, during her first run for the Legislature.

 

“He came to my house and sat at my kitchen table eating blueberry muffins with me and Jonathan Carter and some others," said Garrold. "He became one of my most cherished political mentors, gave me an autographed copy of 'Against All Odds,' made me laugh, made me cry, praised my ethics and pointed out my mistakes.”

 

In a blog post on Blogger, Maine Green activist Sam Smith, of Freeport, said Rensenbrink is the reason why Maine's party is arguably the most successful state Green Party in the nation.

 

"A few days before his passing, I happened to be examining in which states the Green Party had been most successful and found to my amazement that Maine had 32% of all the elected Green officials in the country, including a constable in one town and a sewer board member in mine," wrote Smith. "Thanks in no small part to the inclusive politics of Rensenbrink, Maine was the first state with a Green Party, not to mention giving me one of my favorite role models."

 

Jon Olsen, of Jefferson, who chaired the party in 2018, said Rensenbrink "lived an exemplary life of service, honor, wisdom and compassion--all of which are sorely needed in these times in which we live. To use an ecological analogy, while the rest of us are pines, oaks, maples and birches, he was our sequoia."

 

The Maine Green Independent Party posted on Monday, "Those who know John know how beautiful his soul is. His will and determination guided our party from creation to present, and we are forever honored to have been so closely connected with the history John made."

 

Rensenbrink was inducted into the Maine Green Independent Party Hall of Fame in 2019 and served as the party's senior advisor at the time of his passing, a role he had for nearly two decades.

 

"The Green Independent Party, on behalf of its members, extends eternal gratitude to Rensenbrink for a lifetime of service in connecting people with nature, and connecting politics with both people and nature," said Lyn Maravell, co-chair of the party. "Our heartfelt sympathies and admiration go out to the family of this incredible man."

 

Rensenbrink authored four books on Green politics and was a frequent contributor to numerous periodicals, including Green Horizon Magazine, which he co-founded and edited.

 

In a 2015 issue of Green Horizon Magazine, Rensenbrink wrote, "Life is open, thought is open. In that awareness and with willing and purposeful intent, we can and do change the world."


https://mainegreens.org/news/press-releases/221-greens-mark-founder-john-rensenbrink-s-passing



John Rensenbrink, 1928-2022

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

2019 MGIP Annual Convention

2019 Green Independent Party Convention!



2019 Green Independent Party Convention!
Sunday May 19 th 9AM – 4PM
At Viles Arboretum
153 Hospital St,
Augusta Maine
MGIP's Spring Unity Gathering presents an amazing group of speakers about a wide variety of important Maine topics! (see program below) Including presidential candidates!
Registration 8:30 A.M - 9:20 A.M.
$20 suggested registration fee. We do not accept corporate funds and rely on the good people of Maine to help fund the cost of green change. Thank You!
Donate anytime at - https://mainegreens.org/donate
Everyone is Invited! Families can walk/bike the grounds of the beautiful Arboretum!
Unenrolled and youths under the age of 18 are welcome to witness/participate in this amazing event. Registered Green Independent's are envited to participate in the state votes and committee seats are now open!
We look forward to you joining our email committee groups and implementing your ideas.
Potluck lunch!
Please bring a dish! For potluck questions or for more information please call Jacqui at 207- 284 - 3358.
Silent Auction!
We have 2 beautiful green-themed paintings from The Studio. Earth art from Maine Minerals and more to help fundraise for MGIP.

SCHEDULE
8:30 - 9:20 Registration
9:25 Blessing - Dawn Neptune Adams
9:30 Welcome greeting - Co-Chair Niomi Larrivee
9:35 Convention Rules - Secretary Ben Meiklejohn
9:40 Elect convention secretary, elect convention chair
9:45 State of the Party Co-Chair - Jon Olsen
9:55 Bylaws Amendments
10:20 Hemp Farm Bill/CMP - Gil Harris
10:30 Elect party co-chair
10:40 Greetings from Green-Rainbow Party of Massachusetts - Darlene Elias
10:55 Elect party secretary
11:05 Canadian Greens from Parti vert du Qu├ębec.
11:20 Elect at-large state committee members. sub committee/reports
11:30 Green of the Year Awards
11:40 John Rensenbrink
11:45 Group photo shoot
12:00. Lunch
1:00 Decide eligibility to vote in 2020 MGIP primary
1:15 Fish Farming in Penobscot Bay & its Environmental Impact - Ron Huber
1:25 Elect GPUS delegates to national and international committees
1:35 Food Sovereignty & Local Control of the Food System - Betsy Garrold
1:45 Approve party budget - Treasurer Allen Cooke
1:55 5G Network- Jolie Diane
Legislative initiative to prohibit pollution emissions. History of weather modification
2:05 Approve party goals (see info packets)
2:30 Employment - Tessa Byrnes
2:40 Jill Stein, 2012 and 2016 GPUS nominee for U.S. president with Q&A
3:00 Water Justice - Nickie Sekera
3:10 Presidential candidates - (5 min per candidate) Candidates are still confirming and may be subject to change. To be updated.
3:45 Open discussion
4:00 Closing remarks and Silent Auction winners.
The purpose of the Maine Green Independent Party is to transform public policy through the implementation of our 10 Key Values and be publicly visible as the party that stands for the common good.
Ten Key Values -
ECOLOGICAL WISDOM
GRASSROOTS DEMOCRACY
SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC JUSTICE
NONVIOLENCE
DECENTRALIZATION
COMMUNITY BASED ECONOMICS
GENDER EQUALITY
RESPECT FOR DIVERSITY
PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY
SUSTAINABILITY

Cordially,
Niomi Larrivee
Chairperson of the Maine Green Independent Party

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To register online, please visit our website:


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Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Maine Greens call for people’s veto of bill effectively killing RCV

Maine Greens call for people’s veto of bill effectively killing RCV

Maine Green Independent Party co-chairs Riva O’Rourke and Jon Olsen today condemned the Maine State Legislature's actions in special session yesterday in passing passed LD 1646, “An Act To Implement Ranked Choice Voting in 2021.” This bill, supported by members of both the Democratic and Republican parties, “sabotages the citizen referendum on ranked choice voting,” said Olsen and O'Rourke. “This vote severely damages our first-in-the nation statewide effort to initiate RCV, and may have dealt it a fatal blow.”

While the bill in name implements RCV in 2021, in truth it does nothing of the sort, as many dissenting but ultimately unsuccessful legislators noted. Rather, it places obligations on future legislatures. Unless, by Dec. 1, 2021, the constitution is amended, RCV is completely repealed. The MGIP believes this is unacceptable.

"This sort of disregard for the people's will is a big part of my decision to run for governor," said Betsy Marsano, who announced her candidacy earlier this month. "For too long has our leadership in Augusta ignored everyday Mainers who expressed their will at the ballot box, only to see their interests go unaddressed by the legislature and the Blaine House."

The MGIP understands the concern over a recent advisory opinion from the justices of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court. However, some races, such as those for federal offices, are completely unaffected by the Maine Constitution. RCV as passed by the voters could have been implemented for those races and allowed to proceed as mandated in the referendum vote without any fear of constitutional conflict.

The MGIP believes that by yet again ignoring the will of the voters—as expressed with the second-largest majority on record for a referendum vote, no less—legislative majority has overstepped its role. "The Maine people have spoken," said Olsen and O'Rourke. "We should be working to get as close to immediate implementation of RCV as possible.”

“We intend to oppose vigorously those legislators who voted to sabotage the referendum vote,” said Olsen and O’Rourke. Already, in part due to the legislature’s failure to implement the people’s will, State Rep. Ralph Chapman (G—Brooksville) has switched from Democrat to Green Independent. Greens welcome any other Democrats to join us in our efforts.

Further, the Maine Green Independent Party calls for and intends to initiate its effort toward a people's veto of this law and calls for a coalition of parties and organizations to come together and defeat, for the first time since 2010, a law passed by the Maine State Legislature.




Sunday, October 22, 2017

"Join the Merriment" - 2017 MGIP Fall Assembly & special Convention

"Join the Merriment"
Maine Green Independent Party
2017 Fall Assembly & Special Convention
November 5, 2017
10:00 am - 3:00pm
Belfast Free Library
106 High St, Belfast, ME
"Pot Luck Lunch"
Suggested Contribution $20.00
Agenda
10:00 - 11:00 Computerized Registration of Guests
11:00 - 11:10 Elect Convention Chair: Secretary: "Vibes Manager": Time Keeper:
11:10 - 11:15 Co-Chair MGIP Opening Salutations / Welcome
11:15 - 11:30 Decision on Voter Participation in Party Primary Election
11:30 - 11:45 Randall Parr – Public Banking Initiative
11:45 - 12:00 Ron Huber – Coast Watch Radio – Health of the Penobscot Bay
Full Script News - vs. - Sound-bite Social Media
12:00 - 1:00 Pot Luck Lunch
1:00 - 1:15 Justin Beth – Skype – SLACK
1:15 - 1:30 Ralph Chapman – Introduction – Inside the State House – The Future
1:30 - 2:00 Betsy Marsano Campaign
2:00 - 2:30 Jay Dresser Campaign
2:30 - 3:00 Questions and Answer Period to the Gubernatorial Candidates
3:00 - 3:05 – Co-Chair MGIP Closing Thoughts
3:05 - 4:00 Clean-up

Register online here: http://www.mainegreens.org/donate/register-2017-fall-assembly
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Enrolled Maine Green Independents are welcome to join our discussion forum:


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Sunday, May 7, 2017

2017 Maine Green Independent Party Convention with Jill Stein

Please visit the convention page on our website:

http://www.mainegreens.org/convention_2017_details

or like our event on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/events/927369727403632/

SAVE THE DATE Sunday, May 21st for the 2017 MGIP Annual Convention.
at Viles Arboretum, 153 Hospital Street, Augusta

Come early to walk or bring your bike to ride the trails
Registration will be 9-9:30AM

A $20 registration fee is requested, but no one will be turned away.
We'll be sharing a potluck lunch, so please bring your favorite salads, appetizers or desserts!

This year, in addition to regular Party business, we’re honored to have Dr Jill Stein, the 2016 Green Party Presidential candidate, and Dawn Neptune Adams, a member of the Penobscot Nation, who describes herself as a mom, activist, carpenter, citizen journalist, Water Protector and Land Defender. as our Keynote Speakers.

We will have folks from the Maine Clean Elections, Southern Maine Workers on Healthcare is a Human Right and the Prison:Last Chance.

The State Committee will have openings and we will be accepting nominations for officers and members at large. We will also have elections for National and International Representatives, to help keep Maine voices in the forefront of Green issues around the world.

The newly formed Maine Green Women's Caucus will be looking for members.

We will have shared tables for any art, books, organizations info that you would like to share
.
For info on the Maine Green Women's Caucus or tabling please contact: jacquio50@yahoo.com

We hope you will be a part of our annual gathering in this important year when we are welcoming Berners and other DemExit folks.

Please contact Jacqui Deveneau jacqio50@yahoo.com 207-284-3358 to register to attend the Convention.


CONVENTION SCHEDULE:

7-9AM   Walk and bike ride the trails on the grounds

9-9:30AM:   Registration

9:30-9:45:   Blessing Dawn Neptune Adams

9:45-10AM:   Welcome By MGIP Co-Chairs

10-10:15AM:   Election of Convention Officers

10:15-10:30AM:   Treasurer's Report and Budget Approval

10:30-11AM:   By Law Changes

11-11:30AM:   Maine Clean Elections, Southern Maine Workers, Prison: Fair Chance

11:30AM-12PM:   Dawn Neptune Adams/Standing Rock

12-1:30PM:   Lunch/Award

1:30-2PM:   Jill Stein Presidential candidate [2012 & 2016]

2- 2:30PM:   Elections of SC/NC/IC

2:30--3PM:   Committees/Women's Caucus

3-3:30PM: Goals/ Who Can Vote in the MGIP 2018 Primary

3:30-5PM: TBA

5PM: Closing Statement from new SC

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