It ain't always easy being a Yes Man.
For years now, and especially since releasing our film, we've been been flooded with emails saying we should go after evil company A, or evil politician B, or military-industrial complex C.
Naturally, we can't. There are way too many evildoers, and far too few of us. Even with our fledgling internship program we can't keep up with the flood of urgent issues, entities and institutions that are in dire need of a good identity correction spanking. The truth of the matter is, until recently we were starting to get pretty bummed.
But then we saw the light. After all, there are lots of groups and individuals who can surely do better than us, perhaps with a little coaching and guidance.
That's why this fall we're launching the Yes Lab, a series of brainstorms and trainings to help activist groups carry out Yes-Men-style activist projects on their own. We'll give advice and facilitate, but participants will carry out actions themselves, without us. It's time for a whole new generation of Yes Men and Yes Woman to take the stage.
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. (All that and more here.)
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.
In a typical Yes Lab project, an activist organization will come to the Yes Lab with a target--e.g. Monsanto, war profiteers, greedy health insurance companies, bad government policy, or one of those "too big to fail" banks--as well as a clear and achievable goal: to impact public debate, push for legislation, or to embarrass an evildoer. Through an intensive one- to three-day brainstorming workshop, a detailed campaign plan will be developed, time-lines and work plans will be hashed out, and many conventions of "appropriate" avenues for political dissent will be turned on their heads. The Yes Lab will be an incubator for the kinds of creative, provocative and mediagenic activism that the twenty first century so desperately calls for.
In fact, we've already started working with three different groups. Naturally we can't tell you with whom, or why, or what any of it's about, but stay tuned this fall to see some of the first fruits of our brand spanking new Lab.
But first, and yes there's a first, we need your help! Despite what the Chamber of Commerce might tell you, our independently produced documentary film has not made anybody any money! (In fact we're still in the red. Welcome to the glamorous world of nonfiction film). So there's no magical trust fund to jump start our Yes Lab. We leave the rest to your imagination, dear reader, but you can also find out more about how to help here.
And most importantly: if you're with an activist organization, and would like to work with the Yes Lab to develop some projects around an issue you're working on, please drop us a line at YesLab at theyesmen dot org, or via our contact form. We'd love to hear from you, even if it could be a while before we have the capacity to really move forward with projects!
To a future of many yeses! Yours in productive bedlam,
The Yes Men