Please support the Yes Lab!
The Yes Men need your help.
For years, we’ve been tossing our little buckets of water on the
blazes of social injustice. Last year, we decided to form a bucket
brigade: a system (we’re calling it the Yes Lab) to help others do the
kind of funny, headline-grabbing actions we’re known for.
It worked. In its embryonic first year, the Yes Lab helped launch
nearly a dozen activist media campaigns (see below), garnering a total
of 4.5 metric tons of media hype. It even attracted threatening legal
letters (frames not included) from five coal companies, one oil
transport company, one utility, France, and GE! (Seriously, GE, no one
meant to knock $3.5 billion off your share price. But no one’s sorry,
Given this proof of concept, the Yes Lab is now (almost) ready for
It’s got a brand-new home at New York University, complete with plenty
of space, a big supportive crew, lots of eager collaborators, and a
structure that will let it tackle five or so projects at once. (If
you’re in New York, come to our launch Sept. 14 and see how you can
get involved!) It’s also got a lovely new website that will soon have
a number of fancy tools to help hundreds more carry out or join up
with Yes Lab projects.
There’s only one hitch. We’ve got the venue, the participants, and
(soon) the tools. But we’re short on cash for the projects themselves—
which, of course, are the entire point of the Yes Lab. That’s why
today, we’re asking for $10,000 on Kickstarter, to hire project
managers and cover expenses for projects that don’t have other
funding. It's all the Yes Lab needs to become a fully-functioning
OK, you got the point of this email: the Yes Lab needs money. So here,
without further ado, is a summary of last year's mischief,
accomplished by just a few dozen folks. Imagine what hundreds will be
able to do!
General Electric Short-Circuited
Activists US Uncut, with a little help from the Yes Lab, sent out a
press release announcing that General Electric would repay the $3.2
billion tax credit they received last year despite massive profits.
The announcement was momentarily picked up as true by the AP, and the
market, unable to leave a good deed unpunished, responded by knocking
$3.5 billion off GE’s share price. The result was massive,
enlightening coverage of GE’s tax-cheating ways on everything from
local TV to CNN.
What the heck is an Asthmaze?
A small group of activists wondered how a big coal company might
address the fact that coal causes childhood asthma. The result: “Coal
Cares,” a faux greenwashing campaign in which Peabody Coal tried to
“make asthma cool” with free themed inhalers to kids living within 200
miles of a coal plant. The site, taken as real by many, quickly went
massively viral, which didn’t amuse Peabody one bit but did help
publicize coal as a major public health issue. And as it happened, in
the week following the launch of Coal Cares, a real-life attempt by
the coal industry to mislead children was defeated by the Campaign for
a Commercial-Free Childhood. Hooray!
Beat Up On Chevron? We Agree.
Chevron decided to launch a $90 million greenwashing campaign with a
street-art aesthetic, and was stupid enough to approach street artists
for help. One of them, Cesar Maxit, promptly leaked Chevron’s plans to
Amazon Watch. The Yes Lab helped Amazon Watch and Rainforest Action
Network (RAN) release a much more honest version of Chevron’s campaign
just hours ahead of the “real” McCoy, generating a deluge of media
coverage. Hundreds of user submissions and some amazing videos from
FunnyOrDie further derailed Chevron’s $90 million lie, infuriating
Chevron even more—though not quite as much as the $18 billion judgment
against them in Ecuador, which Chevron has vowed never to pay. The
fight goes on.
Coal Burns Wealthy Neighborhood. Neighbors Nonplussed.
Students from Columbia College in Chicago came together with
Greenpeace and the Yes Lab to create the illusion that a new coal
plant was planned in their city—but that instead of going in a poor
neighborhood (like the two coal plants that already exist in Chicago),
this one would be built in a rich one. The plans got a rise out of
residents and the media, and helped focus attention on Chicago’s much-
needed Clean Power Ordinance.
Canada was the victim of two Yes-Lab-assisted actions, both targeting
the Alberta Tar Sands, the England-sized mess that has made Canada the
worst per-capita carbon emitter on earth.
Hair Clogs Pipeline
In the first Canadian action, a group of activists had Enbridge—who
are aiming to build a massive pipeline from the Alberta Tar Sands
through pristine wilderness to the British Columbia coast—announce “My
Hair Cares,” a crackpot plan to sop up inevitable spills along the
pipeline route with the hair of volunteers. The