The Yes Lab for Creative Activism

yeslab_mainheaderOur friends Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno, better known as the Yes Men, have launched The Yes Lab, a series of brainstorms and trainings to help activist groups carry out Yes-Men-style projects on their own. Check out the Yes Lab site; this is how they explain it:

Why now?

We Yes Men have been doing our thing for about 12 years. Many of our best projects have been in collaboration with activist groups—our BBC announcement on behalf of Dow Chemical came out of a collaboration with Greenpeace, for example.

Last fall, we collaborated with a coalition of groups to release a much-improved “climate edition” of Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post, and to launch an assault on the U.N. by sea (“Balls Across America“). Also in collaboration with activists, we visited our nation’s capital to re-brand the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, then headed to Copenhagen to successfully embarrass Canada about its terrible climate policies.

In part because of these successes, we’ve realized it’s high time for us to get systematic about helping activist groups highlight life-or-death issues—with or without the Yes Men’s participation. That’s what the Yes Lab is all about.

How will the Yes Lab work?

In a typical Yes Lab project, an activist organization will come to the Yes Lab with a target—e.g. Monsanto, or war profiteers, or one of those “too big to fail” banks, or greedy health insurance companies, or a bad government policy—as well as a goal: to affect public debate, push for legislation, embarrass an evildoer, etc. Depending on ability, they will pay a fee to help the Yes Lab keep going.

We’ll work with the group to develop the smartest, most effective plan to accomplish it. We’ll help assemble the team from within the group as well as our mailing list, we’ll train folks as necessary, and we’ll check in on the project until it’s successful.

Why does the Yes Lab need $50,000?

With proper staffing, we believe the Yes Lab could generate a steady stream of disruptive, productive media events keeping the public reminded of what’s wrong, what could be right, and what’s in store if we don’t change our ways. But there’s the hitch: we’ll need proper staffing, because these sorts of projects take a whole lot of work. More specifically, we’ll need:

  1. A main organizer, who will go after projects, work with organizations to figure out how projects can fit into their ongoing campaigns, and help follow projects through to completion.
  2. An administrator who will also serve as primary fundraiser and manager.
  3. An online guru who will develop our extensive list and put it at the service of projects.
  4. Possibly, extra space beyond our teeny-tiny Manhattan office.

$50,000 will enable us to do that for an initial period of six months, from September 2010 to March 2011.

And what about after that?

With the momentum that six months will bring, we’re confident that more permanent support will come in—from institutions, foundations, and from organizations themselves.

Want to participate in the Yes Lab?

Great! If you’re an individual, sign up and we’ll let you know when projects are happening near you. If you’re with an organization, please send us an email at yeslab at theyesmen.org or use our contact form. It might take us a while to build our capacity, but we’d still love to hear about your interest in collaborating.

Now about those goodies….

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