The Idyllwild Indivisibles brought two guest speakers to town last week. While both work for private groups, as part of their jobs, they regularly interact with
Beth Caskie, a labor representative for the California School Employees Association, and Jono Hildner, the political chair for the San Gorgonio Chapter of the Sierra Club, spoke to attendees at the Wednesday, May 17, meeting.
Both expressed admiration for the formation of the Idyllwild Indivisibles group and its initial efforts. Both were making their first visit to Idyllwild. Both encouraged the members to listen and to engage in issues, whether they are related to education, labor, environment, state or national.
The message was: Participation and communication with elected officials is the means to achieving results and exercising democracy.
Caskie stressed that she was happy to come and share her experience with the local Indivisibles, but her comments were hers, not her employer’s policies. At this meeting, she emphasized that she was not representing CSEA.
While she has been a labor representative for more than a decade, her path to politics and labor relations began as a theater major at Northwestern. From there she became curious about writers and authors, which eventually funneled her into work where she tries to improve conditions for educational employees.
But as a political activist, she encouraged attendees to visit the Netroots website and, if possible, attend the national session in August. The benefit would be a broadened perspective of issues, viewpoints and contacts.
As the Indivisibles grow and mature, she offered two rules from her experience. The first was “no despair.” Success will not necessarily be quick or complete.
“We improve the world through people, one person at a time,” Caskie said.
And the second rule was “no a**holes.” Her point was no degree of political insight and acumen overcomes the negative effect of being cranky or venting anger. Neither attracts people to your position or enables them to listen to your message.
She finished with a brief discussion of some current educational and labor issues, such as automatic withholding of union dues.
Hildner also began by encouraging participants to get informed about issues for which they have passion and to engage the process. Remaining alone and silently stifling one’s views will be useless.
Describing his emotions and attitudes following the November election, he said, “I finally realized that my self-pity party was not effective. I had to get up and work more. One of the positive outcomes from the election is the mobilization of groups like these.”
Since the election, the San Gorgonio Chapter has seen 5,000 to 7,000 new members. While not all will be more active than writing a check, he hopes 2,000 of them will participate in more activities to protect the environment.
“Politics is an import part of saving the environment,” Hildner stressed. “Our new four-word byline is ‘Resist, recruit, train and sustain’.”
Several of the environmental issues that occupy Hildner’s time include the Dakota Access Pipeline, the reduced budget for the Environmental Protection Administration, stream protection and the recent announced review of national monuments.
The latter could affect several local (in Riverside and San Bernardino counties) monuments.
He also discussed the Cadiz water project, which would transport ground water from the Mojave Desert to Orange County. This has recently been revived.
Hildner also mentioned the Buy Clean California bill (Assembly bill 262). This legislation encourages state agencies to consider minimizing greenhouse emissions when reviewing contractor bids for future construction projects and not just the bid’s cost.
Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D-Oakland) introduced the Buy Clean California Act on Feb. 1. It asks how materials, such as steel, concrete, asphalt and glass, which are to be used in state-funded projects, are created.
“This is a fascinating and wonderful possibility,” he noted.
On Sunday, May 28, the Indivisibles will sponsor an event — Diversity Works in Idyllwild — at the Town Baker from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Carol McClintic announced.
“It is a celebration of how Idyllwild works together ... we are just a few grassroots people who thought we should do something positive about our community in the wake of so much of a negative atmosphere in our country.” McClintic said. The idea originated with Louie Torres, co-owner of the Town Baker, she added.