Thoughts on Green growth, from a gardener

Among the many things people don’t get about the Greens and the green movement is -- it’s organic. This is not just a nice conceit. Greens live and breathe above and below ground, which makes them resilient

People think the Green party in Parliament is the Greens. The trolls in the blogosphere wish it were so: so easy, such rich pickings, to gobble up each of the nine as they step out on to the bridge.

The Green party in Parliament is only the bit people notice. Its MPs are like fruit on a bush.

Sustainable economics is the dry topic du jour, but I was always going to lose patience with it and wander off into the garden, eventually. So: the greenest growth, maybe the only Green kind, is that embodied by the green movement itself, and the Green party.

I decided this morning: it is far far more than a nice conceit, to say that the Greens are organic. It’s not what they eat, or how they garden, or the fact that they’re food for worms.

It is one of life’s curiosities: was a conscious decision made, in 1972 by Values (the Greens’ parent party), to practice this theory? Or is it a lovely metaphor that happened serendipitously, sort of Gaia taking care of her own.

Announcing in 2009 that she would step down as co-leader, Jeanette Fitzsimons said:

unlike some other parties who would disappear if their leader did, the Greens represent a new force in politics which is growing around the world … If all of us disappeared, there would be nine more to take our places.

I think I sighed, and shook my head. It seemed idealistic and unrealistic, for such a grounded woman; it seemed just plain wrong. I learned a bit since then, I understand her better now, and as so often, she was right.

Six months or so after Fitzsimons left Parliament, she came back to the roots, where she started.

Never mind the visible bits that seem to support the fruit and feed it: Green party members and policy and organisation and so on. These are necessary, but not sufficient. The really important part is the network you can’t see, down in the roots of the eco-movement: the environmental and conservation NGOs, the sustainable business and transition towns networks, the activism, the covert sympathisers.

Those roots reach out to all corners; who knows where they stop and start, because there is a sort of symbiosis, between the Green and the green.

So, while I am lurking round the edge of the Green party, trying to figure them out, it dawns on me, slowly -- it blazes over me this morning, far too late, like an epiphany -- there are others here too, who give external, independent, expert comment and critique, whom the party listens to and feeds off. They are not Green, in the big 'G' political sense, and probably never will be; and in the end it does not matter much. But some of them are green at heart.

And so this (among other reasons) is why the perennial hoop-la round changes of co-leader (for example) is, well, a bit dumb -- if a happy political distraction. It’s the difference between substance and form. Politically, maybe form matters more, but the substance comes from the ground up. And when the trolls come and gobble up the fruit or piddle and stamp on the bush: more fool them. Its roots go deep, and it’ll grow back.

I was asked a little while ago, how did I end up here, on Pundit, writing about green stuff. I think I waffled and prevaricated; in fact, I know I did. I hate those kind of questions.

Thinking about it afterwards, I decided actually, it’s very simple. I bought a house, and I made a garden. For the first time in my life, I had a place to put down roots, and I sank them quick and deep. I wanted the garden to grow; I wondered whether it would, and for how long; I fretted about climate change.

The garden got too small, but the same principles apply, the world over. So Pundit is gardening too, in its way: big picture virtual gardening. And, the interconnectedness of things being what it is, one thing led to another, and here we are.

As for the Greens, I won’t say it takes a gardener to understand it. It would be nicer if more people and the whole world did. But it makes it easier.