Friday, February 20

Why I've devoted 20 years to better and NATIONAL ballot initiatives


I worked as the not-so-tight-rope artist and juggler Evan from Heaven for 20 years. I entertained 400,000 on Boulder's mall, but the City banned me from 1982-1985, in spite of a petition (see at bottom) of 4000 fans -and Boulder and Constitutional law. I became homeless. Mime David Shiner who was arrested at least twice for impersonating a policeman (!) went on to Cirque du Soleil and Broadway fame.

So I worked in Aspen and Key West, and then Yelapa, Mexico. Arriving in this fishing/tourist village almost penniless, I was given a hotel room with a view and the Mayor, who was known as Piri, fed me lunch at his restaurant at the foot of the town waterfall, where I entertained his diners by tightroping over the falls -see below. What a change from Boulder! I was also honored to play Jesus for Holy Week celebrations there in 1986




I continued on to Guatemala, where I fell in love with Lake Atitlan, which Aldous Huxley called, "the most beautiful lake in the world." I started building a house on  Maya artist friend Raul Velasquez Barrios' land (photo below, with 2 of 3 volcanoes on the lake in the background), but abandoned it when 3 other Maya friends were killed by the Guatemalan Army -with U.S.-supplied M-16s. Some 200,000 were killed, tens of thousands tortured horribly, mostly in the '80s.

I Ireturned to Boulder, depressed. I read in Howard Zinn's "People's History of the U.S." that polls showed by 1975 that 65% of Americans were opposed to all foreign military aid because it strengthened dictators. I realized if WE had a vote on this "aid," my friends would still be alive -along with 200,000 other Guatemalans, and millions world-wide. We also would never have been banned in Boulder. And the world would be a much better place.



I spearheaded Boulder's 1993 Voting by Phone ballot initiative, thinking it the technology to make citizens voting directly on the laws practical. We made the CBS Evening News, the Wall St. Journal, etc.

With a hostile City Council dishonestly attacking our initiative it was defeated 59-41%. I started Vote.org in 1995 to promote citizen power via better and national ballot initiatives.

(Initiatives are controversial, thanks to the media dwelling on the few bad ones. But the full record shows the results are far better than what politicians do. Here's our recent Colorado story.)

I soon got a call from Jared Polis, a Princeton student who'd enabled student Voting by Web. We've been friends ever since. We both love Mexico as well as democracy. I drag Jared hiking once or twice a year.

Jared became the wealthiest and most philanthropic person in Boulder. He sponsored 2 Colorado ballot initiatives which passed becoming Amendment 23 (raising K-12 school spending) and Amendment 41 (the country's strongest prohibition on lobbyist "gifts" to politicians.) Jared is now our Congressman. He said on radio in 2008 that he would introduce a bill for national ballot initiatives in his first year. But, being in Congress is VERY distracting, and he hasn't done it. He hardly hears about it from anyone but me. PLEASE email him and ask him to: jared (at) jaredpolis (dot) com

In 2000 I devoted Vote.org to Sen. Mike Gravel's project for better and national initiatives. I took the initiative to solicit endorsements from prominent people. Howard Zinn became one of the first, along with Patch Adams, Pete Seeger, Daniel Ellsberg, Julia Butterfly Hill, "Granny D," Michael Lerner, Ralph Nader etc. See the complete list.

Now we're raising funds to make a feature-length film about Gravel's project. Gravel was the Senator who in 1971 single-handedly filibustered until the military draft was ended, during which he read the Pentagon Papers, getting Dan Ellsberg (subject of the movie The Most Dangerous Man in America) out of trouble for leaking them to the press.

We need inspired help. Almost all politicians and the people who buy their votes are opposed to government by the people. Read what "my" Senator Mark Udall said about our project. He's far more typical of politicians than my singular Congressman Polis.

Let my people VOTE!

5 comments:

Ross said...

Could you post this on Dailykos? Maybe even add a bit about getting Pete Seeger to endorse it and just a bit more about your life and why you support initiatives, if you feel like it. You could try posting it on OpEdNews and other places like that, too.

Ross

Evan Ravitz said...

Here's what I posted on DailyKos:
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2009/4/6/717118/-Co-determination-beats-representative-or-direct-democracy!

Eggy1943 said...

Your KOS article is right on.

spyromom said...

Evan: I became 'acquainted' with you on facebook through my partner, who first knew you 'back in the day' on the Mall, and during your exile from it.

I have been paying attention to your posts on facebook and, I will admit, have trouble keeping up with all the issues. I don't consider myself to be terribly politically literate, because, frankly, the system seems just too flawed (how can a person stay informed without devoting a prohibitive amount of energy to a process where the players lie and the rules change constantly?). But it doesn't take a genius to recognize that things just aren't 'working' very well.

The invitation to 'regain paradise' from Back To the Garden catches my eye, because it is with a fair amount of romanticism that I view my world as such: the Garden it was intended to be (and in an esoteric sense, rather than a Biblical one). I'm going to join the group and add my energy to the process, although what help I can offer the overall effort might be minimal, even so, I will try.

Thanks to you Evan, for your champion spirit, for putting forth initiative against those issues that inhibit a prosperous social structure, and for your efforts to stop the criminal and violent inhumanity of man.

Evan Ravitz said...

Thanks, mysterious Spyromom. Hardly anyone would get in the sewer of "politics" until it had endangered their life.