Page 14


d i ,;00.Unh, agog . oAnoa o t : ‘NNW: 140zatilpas O: tilli4 one of the organizers of the Mo-Kan Alliance. He described that local as initially very active in electoral politics; prior to the convention many members had been involved’ in the Draft Nader Campaign in Missouri and Kansas. While they failed to get Nader on the ballot, Kjelshus said, they succeeded in developing a network of activists interested in pursuing other initiatives in the Kansas City area. They are planning a regional Alliance conference for the spring, to include activists from Kansas, Missouri, Iowa and Nebraska, and they are looking to build coalitions with other progressive organizations. “Our approach is going to be on coalition-building,” Kjelshus said. “We want to bring together the MoKan Alliance, Nader folks, Greens, other progressive populist groups.” Kjelshus is one of the founders of the Kansas City Food Circle, a project to develop local control of the production and distribution of food. “It’s very simple in a way,” he said. “We need to get back to a regional self-reliance in the food system. We are overly dependent on the big corporate appioach to the food system; they control it, by arid large. Here, the intent is to make real linkages between growers, small farmers, and the consumers, emphasizing that we’ve got to get back control of our food system, so that we feel a real responsibility.” Kjelshus says the group has already formed a direct distribution system between Kansas City area farmers and a Kansas City food co-op; stituency is the mainstream the American electorate, that believes in local control and a market economy and is suspicious of both big business and big government, This placement makes us realize the potential political power of our movement. The beliefs that bring us together for this movement define the true center of American political belief. It is a center that neither Bob Dole nor Bill. Clinton would recognize, because neither understands the difference between a true market economy comprised of small local businesses, as envisioned by Adam Smith, and an economy centrally planned and controlled by distant, unaccountable megacorporations.” 10 THE TEXAS OBSERVER farmers bring produce directly to the store, where members have signed up for purchase. Although it’s still a relatively small group, with 100 consumer members, organizers are encouraged by the 100 additional names on the waiting list. Nationally, Kjelshus says it’s a bit early to predict the direction of the organization, but he hopes that the Alliance can begin to serve a “catalytic” function among progressive organizations, bringing progressives together over common issues. “We’re going to need all the help we can get,” he said. “I see the Alliance, and the Greens, and the Labor Party as coming together on the issues that concern us. We need to reach out to folks in other arenas; I’m sure there are people in the Reform Party who feel as we do. We’ve got to have this main emphasis, of taking back democracy from the corporations, but we’ve also got to keep talking and talking and talking until we find the commonality between us.” From Chicago, David Katzman described the founding convention as “a real kick-tart that we definitely needed.” He believes the Alliance now has the structural basis it needed; now he hopes that it can turn its attention to national action priorities. In Chicago, the local membership has been vitally interested in campaign finance reform, and Katzman headed the convention’s campaign finance reform task force. He believes that should be a national priority for the next couple of years, and he said the Chicago Alliance \(“about searching ways to initiate election reform in Illinois. In the November election, Maine voters passed a referendum creating public financing of statewide campaigns, and Katzman hopes that can serve as model for other states. “Because of the Supreme Court,” he said, “we can’t ban private financing.” \(The Court recently ruled that poDECEMBER 20, 1996 Tom Kemper \(upper