Monday, 30 July 2007

Afraid to look weird

I have a bit of a dilemma each time I take my canvas bags out of my trunk to bring into the grocery store.

I have a nice denim Green Party bag, which I really like, but I worry about whether or not I should take this bag into the store with me. If I do take it, I usually make sure it's stuffed inside the other, less politically inclined, canvas bags. When I take the bags out at the checkout, I will usually try to put the Green Party bag with its sunflower symbol facing down.

The bravest I've been with "the bag" so far was this weekend, when I went with my neice to what I fondly call the "hippie store" -- the Earth's General Store on Edmonton's Whyte Avenue. I was relatively sure that the bag wouldn't garner any strange looks in that store and in that area of town, but at the Safeway or the Sobey's store I'm less convinced. It also helped that my niece was carrying a BullFrog Power bag around with her at the same time.

Which brings me to my point: I am afraid to look weird. Even though I talk jokingly about being weird and not caring about if people think I am weird, I do care.

The next point is, why should I feel afraid to carry a Green Party denim bag around? I do live in uber-conservative Alberta, yes, but my area of the province is relatively liberal, for Alberta that is. And the Green Party actually does reasonably well around here in elections these days, garnering about 5- 11% of the popular vote, neck-and-neck with the NDP.

But I guess this is what being a minority feels like: always being a little bit afraid. I know that in this country and in this province I have the right to my political and other beliefs, but what I don't know is if I will be subject to ridicule, derision or dismissal if I say something about them. And while I know I shouldn't let that stop me, it does sometimes. I rant and rave around 'safe' audiences like my family, but I'm fairly chicken once I get outside those boundaries.

What would happen if all the people like me who were a little bit afraid said something anyway? What if instead of just not putting up a Conservative sign on the lawn in the next election, we took the plunge and put up a Green Party (or other party of your choice) sign? What would happen if all of us polite, non-controversial middle class people decided to let our opinions be known? That we are tired of being seen as consumers instead of people, as grist for the economic mill instead of stewards of the earth. As billboards for products instead of people who care about each other. As test subjects for big oil and big pharma instead of human beings with minds of our own.

I hope I can get up the courage to do my part towards finding out.


George Read said...

Theresa, thanks for the post. It made my morning.

I know there are a lot of people who feel the same way you do in Alberta. I know that because they tell me about it. I also know that things are changing and the tide is shifting. We need to work together and we will get the changes we want.

By the way where did you get the Green Party bag from?

George Read
Leader, Green Party of Alberta

Theresa said...

Hello George - thank you for your kind comment! How on earth did you find my blog? I didn't think anyone but a couple people in my family even knew about it.

I got the Green Party bag directly from the Goods for Greens website ( - I bought it to help out with Elizabeth May's "Hope Chest" fundraising efforts. I became a member of the Green Party within the past year and I'm just getting used to even saying that out loud within the past few months. Thanks again for your post - it's given me the courage to wear 'the bag' with pride, sunflower side out!

George Read said...

Google alerts sends me Green Party blog news everyday. I really know how you feel. The Green Party is Alberta is still growing so even as leader I work a full time job. There are more people like you than you would believe. You will find more of them if you show your Green Party bag. I used to have a Green Party hoodie I would wear on my days off and I had to stop wearing it because people would stop to talk to me about where to get one or how to get involved with the party which was great but it made a 15 minute shopping trip take 2 hours. Anyway, I am glad you are on your way.


Theresa said...

I've been taking my Green Party bag all over the place these days - brought it along to the Folk Festival with me today!

And I've put my BullFrog Power sign right at the top of my driveway too!

Thanks for the encouragement George - the time for change has come indeed!

T.H.I.T. said...

"There are more people like you than you would believe."

George is right. I'm another one! ;-) In fact, I found your blog in the same way he did!

I'm the same. I have a Green Party shirt that I bought for the WWF's CN Tower climb last year. I didn't mind wearing it then because I figured I was among like-minded people. But I can be reluctant to wear in "normal" situations. I just don't want to find myself in some great debate with people who have a skewed perception of the party.

When the day comes though, a Green Party sign is going up on my lawn.

Theresa said...

Thanks for your comment T.H.I.T.! It is heartening to hear from others on this topic. I'm definitely putting a Green Party sign in our yard for the next election.

Yesterday at the Edmonton Folk Festival I saw a man carrying two Green Party mugs. I think I may have to get a couple of those - great for taking with you everywhere so you don't have to use a disposable cup!