The Tea Party, Thinking a Revolutionary Vision

Before Linda Oblack, Chris Kupersmith, and Jeanne Leimkuhler could proceed with plans for a “journal of revolutionary thought,” they had to decide just what the phrase means. Their conclusion was necessarily simple and powerful.

“Our mission is revolutionary,” Oblack writes in the introduction to the premier issue of Tea Party: A Journal of Revolutionary Thought. “Our mission is to make people think.”

Published twice a year by the Center for Sustainable Living and financed by contributions from area businesses and individuals, Tea Party is a collection of essays, poems, and musings from some of Southern Indiana’s most thoughtful and revolutionary writers, thinkers, poets, and political activists. The premier issue – September 2002 ? is indeed a revolutionary document, as envisioned by Oblack, Kupersmith, and Leimkuhler.

Think about these words from “Give me liberty or give me debt” by James Alexander Thom: “He who is in debt is not free. He who is not in debt is free. He who fears the loss of his stuff is not free. He who has no such fear is free.”

Or these from “Funny Money, Anyone?” by Jen Weiss: “So how did it go so terribly wrong? How did we end up with a culture that is absolutely obsessed with acquiring money and material possessions? Is there any way out?”

Or these from “Can Our Community Make Sound Environmental Decisions?” by Lynton K. Caldwell: “The challenge to this community, and others like it, is to discover the route to a sustainable future of desired quality and equity. This task requires an interchange of information and ideas, and an unbiased assessment of the most reliable evidence available.”


Over Cuban black bean soup, salad, bread, and wine at Oblack’s cozy near Northwest side home, the trio that evolved from a larger group of like-minded activists as the driving forces behind Tea Party says the goal is broader than just to make people think. It’s to make them think in new ways.

“This is information that they wouldn’t normally get,” says Oblack. “They’re not going to get this through the traditional media.”

As the concept for Tea Party developed and the initial group shrunk through attrition, IU Press editor Oblack, Center for Sustainable Living board member Kupersmith, and graphic designer Leimkuhler discovered they had similar visions and worked well together. They formed the core that produced the first issue and is now planning a second for March 2003, which will feature perspectives on sustainability from the writers under 30.

They discussed at length the question of whether to publish hard copies, online, or both, decided on both, and set out to raise the money for printing and distribution. At the same time, they sought writers, and had no problem finding cash or scribes. Letters and personal visits to potential contributors easily raised the $1,500 or so needed to pay for printing. “Even Wendell Berry said he would contribute,” Oblack says.

The first issue was published in September, with Oblack offering readers insight and advice on the pieces that appear: “Herewith are some thoughts written by people like you. Read their thoughts and see if you like them; agree with them; have further thoughts; or if they make you want to write your own thoughts down.”


Putting the “Eco” Back in to Economics Karyn Moskowitz

“Coming to grips with economics is the key to understanding the forces behind the destruction of our planet. A small but significant group of progressive economists are beginning to put the ‘eco’ back into economics, and utilize it to protect the planet.”

“It is imperative that all people interested in the protection of our planet try to grasp some of these progressive economic concepts. Below we will see some examples of economic concepts that are often ignored by conventional economists ? quality of life, ecosystem services, and a revision of economic geography.”

Night Pains Julia Dadds

“Our children wake gasping, choking on air clogged with the debris of ambition.”

“By the Curious Standard of the GDP ” Sustainability and Our National Accounts Christine Glaser

“Currently the USA and most other countries in the world use national accounting systems that tell us we are doing better, when in reality we might be using up our wealth, creating liabilities for the future, or staying incredibly busy just mitigating the side-effects of our so-called prosperity.”

Decay is the undeniable right of all sentient beings The Trouble Collective

“The eternal life of decay waits constantly to be realized. Death has never existed and never will.”

Think about this Paul Martens

“Local environmentalists believe that commercial logging in State Forests has many detrimental effects, such as erosion, destruction of wildlife habitat, and pollution to an area that should be protected and allowed to remain wild.”

Unword Yourself Milton Figen

“‘One doeth not own property,’ He did say, ‘but property owneth one.’ Such an unWestern deity.”

Endangered Species Thomas Tokarski

I walk home in silence. The pond will be quiet tonight. My sleep will be disturbed by the coming apart of assumed order, the reforming of truth into strange shapes with strange needs driven by forces that we the people conceived but do not control.

Give me liberty or give me debt James Alexander Thom:

“We are not properly taught that there is something more precious than stuff, or that we have to trade off that precious something to get the stuff. That precious something is one of the most important kinds of liberty: economic freedom.”

Funny Money, Anyone? Jen Weiss

“What we really need is a brand new purple dollar bill with Alice Walker and ‘In Goddess We Trust’ on it. Seriously, if the U.S. Treasury would authorize something like that, we would up the pace of human evolution to warp speed.”

“Examining what you believe about money is a powerful act. Most people would rather not think about it. Money is a highly charged, button pushing, trigger pulling subject that’s bound to bring up some mixed emotions no matter who you are.”

Can Our Community Make Sound Environmental Decisions? Lynton K. Caldwell

“The course of wisdom now is to ascertain as best we may from the most reliable evidence available, the probable destination of the course toward which we are in fact headed and to project the most probable route toward a destination optimal for the preservation of life in our community, in our county, and on the Earth.”

Tea Party: A Journal of Revolutionary Thought is available online at http://teaparty.indstate.edu is provided free to members of the Center for Sustainable Living, and is for sale for $2 per copy through a variety of local venues.

STEVEN HIGGS is the editor of the Bloomington Alternative. He can be reached at: editor@BloomingtonAlternative.com


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Steven Higgs is an environmental journalist and photographer living in Bloomington, Ind. He owns and operates Natural Bloomington: Ecotours and More. His new book A Guide to Natural Areas of Southern Indiana is scheduled for release by Indiana University Press on April 20, 2016.

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