Candidate Stein talks green plans

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GREAT BARRINGTON -- It was a small visit but big issues were discussed when gubernatorial candidate Jill Stein stopped by the Nutrition Center here.

Stein, the Green-Rainbow Party nominee, met with the group behind the Nutrition Center and discussed everything from health care to food security to energy and how this little nonprofit tucked away in Great Barrington could go a long way to solving many of the problems.

"This is the future of Massachusetts; that farm economy that is a win-win for jobs, health and food security," said Stein, discussing the multifold mission of the Nutrition Center, which provides health counseling, access to community gardening and education in classrooms throughout the Berkshires. Its farmers market accepts food stamps and its counseling is covered partly by insurance.

"I'm interested in it as a model for the rest of the state," Stein said.

She was also there to hear from Peter Stanton, the director of the center. He told her about the difficulties he has procuring grants and state aid, because his is a bit player in the grand scheme of it all.

Stein empathized, promising not to only fund the "big gorillas" that swallow so many resources were she to become governor.

However, slim those chances seem. She wasn't even invited to participate in Wednesday's gubernatorial debate with incumbent Democrat Patrick, Republican Charles Baker and independent Timothy Cahill, but she took that as a point of pride.

"I'm not one of the anointed ones" by the Beacon Hill establishment, she said.

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But on this day in the Berkshires, she had her say. She criticized the governor's energy policies, characterizing them as environmentally unfriendly. She supports the ballot initiative to curb biomass projects in the state.

Even though Gov. Deval Patrick keeps a large presence in the Berkshires and has a home in Richmond, she said she would do more for the county.

"Deval may have a second home here but many people still need jobs here," Stein said. "As far as his energy plan, it's actually not a solution for the climate and devastating to the forests, which are very much a character of the Berkshires."

Stein was accompanied by fellow Green-Rainbow candidate Lee Scott Laugenour, running for state representative in the Berkshires 4th district. They were heading to Pittsfield for another stop and a visit to Third Thursdays, and this weekend the party is hosting a regional convention in Pittsfield.

Her stop in Great Barrington may have been intimate but she had the ear of Stanton at the Nutrition Center, who seemed to appreciate having her ear as well.

"We could actually have a conversation," Stanton said of the visit. "It definitely makes me a supporter. I like her instincts."

The Green-Rainbow Party was formed in 2003 when the Rainbow Coalition Party joined with the Massachusetts Green Party.

The Green-Rainbow Party is holding a regional convention in Pittsfield on Saturday, from noon to 4 p.m., at the Unitarian Universalist Church. Local party candidates are expected to speak, and the event is free.


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