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CEDAR RAPIDS — There will be fewer of them and they’re not likely to attract the media attention their major political party counterparts get, but Holly Hart believes the national convention of the Green Party will be groundbreaking in its own way.

“I don’t think any major party has had a national convention in Iowa. So we’re the first,” the secretary of the Iowa Green Party said Wednesday.

The Green Party of the United States convention will get under way today at the University of Iowa Memorial Union.

The schedule will include workshops on running for public office and racial equality, a peace vigil and panel discussions on enacting “Green” public policy, proportional representation and abolishing corporate personhood.

Most sessions are open to the public.

About 100 people are registered for the national meeting and some, Hart said, will be wearing tie-dye T-shirts and hemp clothing.

“But a lot of the guys, especially the younger guys, will wear suits and ties — American flag ties,” she said. “It runs the gamut.”

A priority of the non-election year gathering will be discussing how to get Green candidates on the ballot and attract like-minded voters into the political process, Hart said.

Jill Stein, the party’s presidential candidate in 2012 and, perhaps, again in 2016, will participate in the convention.

“However, it’s early for us to think about nominating candidates — even in Iowa,” Hart said. So there will be strategic planning as well as an emphasis on encouraging and recruiting local level candidates and showing people that being Green is “not just running for president every four years and not winning,”

“We want people to know they can do this,” Hart said. Greens want to tap into the public’s concern about climate change, clean energy and food-related issues.

“Before the caucuses, we want to get people thinking and provide resources for people to learn about their issues before they go to the major party caucuses,” she said.

The Greens will bring in some major party officials. Rep. Mary Mascher, D-Iowa City, Sen. Rob Hogg, D-Cedar Rapids, Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie, Francis Thicke, a former Democratic candidate for state ag secretary, will discuss how to enact Green policy at a panel discussion tonight at Old Capitol.

“We know people who would be interested in politics and public policy if they could be Green,” Hart said. “We think we are an option that triggers their interest and gets more people involved in political process.”

The Greens also will have a peace vigil from 4:30 to 5 p.m. Saturday at the northwest corner of Clinton and Washington streets.

To see the Green convention schedule, visit Iowa2013.


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