Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Sting for Amnesty Intl and CHEJ- sort of Erin Brockavich

Dear Mark,

When it comes to defending human rights, there is no organization I trust more than Amnesty International. 

That's why I'm honored to join Patti Smith, the Dave Matthews Band, Adele, My Morning Jacket and a host of other artists for the upcoming tribute album Chimes of Freedom: Songs of Bob Dylan Honoring 50 Years of Amnesty International.

Amnesty understands that defending human rights requires vigilance, doggedness and a strong, global force for good. Right now Amnesty faces multiple, urgent human rights crises and needs your immediate financial support to tackle them head on. 

Be part of the most successful, most honored global rights movement in history. 
Join me as a proud member of Amnesty International today.

Here's some of what we are up against: 

Dozens of health professionals were arrested in March, apparently for treating wounded protestors in Bahrain. In ....

Journalists threatened in Russia. Little progress has been made to increase the safety of journalists and human rights defenders who have the courage to expose abuses in Russia. 

At least three high profile attacks, including the abduction and murder of human rights defender Natalia Estemirova, remain unsolved and uninvestigated. 

Crackdown on human rights lawyers in China. Lawyers that challenge the government in court are threatened with suspension, disbarment and even criminal punishment. Where threats fail, lawyers are labeled dissidents and targeted with state violence. Human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng has been forcibly disappeared for more than a year. 

These assaults on human rights must not go unanswered. Don't let the brave individuals I've highlighted become casualties of our silence and indifference. 
Amnesty International USA

With Appreciation,
Sting (for AI)

Dear Mark ,

Lois has told you that CHEJ is focused on protecting families in communities across the country from environmental harm. One of those families is mine.
My name is Carrie Firestone. I helped form the Ilion Project in early 2009 because my neighbors and I wanted to know why so many people from our small village were getting sick. 

CHEJ was there to help. Now CHEJ needs your help. Can you make a donation today?

Nestled in the lovely Mohawk Valley of central New York, Ilion has a long history of heavy industry and industrial pollution. We understood our community was probably contaminated and wanted to know more, but we didn't know where to begin. 

"Call Erin Brockovich," people suggested. 
"Contact the news," others advised. 
"Just report it to the EPA," people said. 

So we did, and nothing happened. We realized there was no clear path when it comes to grassroots organizing in a small rural village with few resources. We were losing hope that anyone would help us.

Then I discovered CHEJ. 

Other environmental organizations had been of little help to our cause, but I decided to call CHEJ anyway. I reached Anne Rabe in the Albany office and was thrilled to finally find an expert in the field who was willing to listen to our concerns and provide essential information on how to move forward. 

Nearly two years later, we attribute all of our successes, small and large, to Anne and CHEJ. They came through when we needed them. Now CHEJ needs your support to continue to assist communities like mine.

This past March, Anne helped spearhead a critical meeting with members of our group and officials from three state agencies, who are now moving forward to investigate several known and suspected sites of contamination in Ilion. Anne continues to provide oversight, review documents, confer with various players and, perhaps most importantly, act as a steady, sure-footed cheerleader when we lose morale.

There are poor, underserved communities like Ilion all over the country. Sadly, these are the places most likely to suffer from the byproducts of irresponsible and even criminal industrial practices. With the help of CHEJ and experts like Anne, individuals in these communities can get the tools to organize, expert advice to navigate complicated bureaucracies, and inspiration to continue the fight. 

I’ve experienced first-hand the life-changing effect that CHEJ can have on a community that has nowhere left to turn for help. 
Carrie Firestone
Co-Founder, Ilion Project
Carrie Firestone on behalf of CHEJ <>

Friday, December 23, 2011

Upcoming Legislation, Conference, and Accomplishments in Review

  While the Occupy Wall St. movement represents a new expression of outrage at injustices which have been around for a long time, it also represents a  movement with a name addressing one of the major perpetrators of a destructive ideology.  A number of actions are coming up, and have been accomplished, which mostly reflect activity by activists who have been engaged in promoting justice before the Occupy Wall St. movement was articulated.  Take  a look, let me know what you think, and if you understand what we´re all about, I hope we´ll continue to be in touch.  If you don´t sympathize, I wish you well anyway, and invoke Gandhi, Jesus, the Dalai Lama, Mother Theresa, and other spiritual leaders for your spiritual reflection.   

Dear NCBA members and friends,

Today, I'm writing to ask your support for legislation that will provide resources to spur the expansion and formation of cooperatives in both urban and rural areas. Representatives Chaka Fattah (D-PA) and three co-sponsors have introduced legislation in the US House of Representatives that has the potential to spur economic development and job creation through cooperative development.

The National Cooperative Development Act would establish a National Cooperative Development Center to provide capital, training and other resources to foster cooperative development. Addressing  economic development though cooperative development will advance the economic stability of local areas; increase the circulation of capital locally; and develop, attract and anchor new productive capital in urban and rural underserved communities.

We need your support!
We want more co-sponsors! Please ask your Representative to demonstrate their commitment to strengthening communities and creating jobs by becoming a co-sponsor of this bill.

In your letter, tell your Representative about your co-op, make it personal to you and their district. Use the talking points available at to highlight the impact co-ops can have in their district. Tell them how the National Cooperative Development Act would help their district.


Paul Hazen

                                      ANNOUNCING THE LEFT FORUM 2012 OPENING PLENARY!

Left Forum 2012 Conference
Friday, March 16th 6:30 pm
Pace University's Schimmel Theater
1 Pace Plaza, New York, New York
Rose Ann DeMoro
Rose Ann DeMoro is executive director of the National Nurses United, the nation's largest union of nurses. DeMoro is also executive director of the California Nurses Association, which is well known for igniting the campaign that upended one of the world's most famous celebrity politicians, Arnold Schwarzenegger, dropping his public approval from 70% to 35% in the polls. 
Marina Sitrin has been active in occupy movements worldwide. She is the editor of Voices of Popular Power in Argentina and author of Everyday Revolutions: Horizontalism and Autonomy in Argentina (forthcoming). She is a lawyer and postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Globalization and Social Change at the City University of New York.  ......

Dear Mark,
Contrary to what you might be hearing from dirty coal companies today, the sky is not falling. In fact, it's about to get a whole lot cleaner.
The EPA just announced that it has finalized The Mercury Rule, one of the most important updates to the Clean Air Act in the Act's 40 year history.
This rule has been in the making for more than two decades, and will finally close one of the biggest loopholes that allow coal-burning power plants — especially decades old plants that were grandfathered in under the Clean Air Act without modern pollution controls — to pump unlimited quantities of Mercury and other toxic pollution into our air, and pass the cost of their pollution to us.
It's a cost that millions of Americans, especially children and the elderly, pay in higher healthcare bills and shorter lives. In fact, the current lack of limits is the reason that one in ten women has mercury levels in her body that are high enough to present a danger during pregnancy.
CREDO Members played a huge role in pushing back on coal industry pressure, and making this happen. Together, we submitted more public comments to the EPA on this rule than any other environmental group — over 160,000.
Thanks for your activism. Today you helped deliver a huge win for all of us.
Elijah Zarlin, Campaign Manager
CREDO Action from Working Assets

2) Dear Stop Shopping Faithful,

We are wrapping up and incredibly busy and productive year. I’ve been doing a quantitative analysis of our work and I have some numbers for you:
  • Choir performances: 63
  • Live Sermons by Reverend Billy: 147
  • Essays by Reverend Billy: 93
  • Books published by Rev & Savitri: 1
  • Baptisms: 9
  • Podcasts: 36
  • Radio interviews: 101
  • New songs: 11....
Thank you for your enduring support and encouragement, Savitri D.
This has been a message from the Rev Billy Bulletin. Click Here To unsubscribe from this list. Visit us online at

3) Dear Mark,

With gratitude, the 6th Eastern Conference for Workplace Democracy held the best conference we’ve had to date.  With over 200 participants, we far exceeded our previous attendance record, offered bilingual interpretation and childcare for the first time, and drew from a greater number of cooperatives and organizations than ever before. You can read all of our media coverage and a conference summary here.

Most importantly, we engaged folks on a national level who see themselves as part of a movement to transform the economy: an economy of democracy and cooperation.

Collaboration and movement-building has brought us to the place we are today. The Occupy Wall St movement has allowed us to engage hundreds, even thousands of people about workplace democracy - people who are eager to learn about the democratic alternatives that exist to the mainstream corporate hierarchy.

The Eastern Conference for Workplace Democracy

4) Mark, what a year!
From Wisconsin to Washington, D.C., on the football field and the factory floor, this year we've seen an unprecedented assault on working families from big corporations and their friends in elected office. But the anti-worker crowd didn't anticipate that their attacks would backfire and ignite a political awakening for the 99%.
When it comes to the best moments for workers in 2011, one definite highlight is the role you played in helping workers organize at IKEA's only U.S. factory. The phone calls and 23,000 letters from activists like you made a huge difference in convincing IKEA to sit down at the table and helped workers move forward with a successful election. And just this week, they ratified their first contract, which will finally secure them much needed protections on the job. 
– Kim and the entire American Rights at Work team: Alicia, Beth, Bryan, Erin, Hilary, Liz, Michael, Nico, Nikki, Ori, Reese, Ryan, Susan, and Zoe.
5) Dear Mark,

Phew, talk about a fast-paced year!
Together, we persuaded the President to loosen the restrictions on travel to Cuba and to defend Cuban family travel from rollback. We held up the passage of the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement until the Colombian government promised to protect human and labor rights and now we’re getting Congress to hold them to their word. We partnered with Mexican and U.S. human rights groups to get tens of thousands of people involved in a bi-national campaign to stop the bloodshed in Mexico. And we’re just getting started!
With deepest gratitude,

Lisa Haugaard
Executive Director
Latin America Working Group

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

ShoreBank´s Partial Failure and the Financial Crisis

ShoreBank Chicago was an amazing discovery for me back in 1991 or so when I found out about their Ecodeposits program in their pilot version of their ShoreBank Pacific branch.  Six years later, I understand, they opened the offices of ShoreBank Pacific in Ilwaco, Washington.  While I thought their model seemed well-grounded, it seems to have become vulnerable to Wall Street´s massive fraudulent financing crisis.

     The Stanford Social Innovation Review has investigated the collapse of ShoreBank Chicago in a full article.  A brief excerpt follows:

On Aug. 20, 2010, the Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation closed ShoreBank, the nation’s first and leading community bank, and appointed the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) as receiver. The closure was not unexpected. Reports of the bank’s problems—and a potential rescue—had been circulating for months. But the closure brought to a bitter end an iconic example of progressive social enterprise. During its 37 years, ShoreBank Corporation became the United States’ leading social enterprise of its kind: its for-profit bank subsidiary was the largest certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) in the nation. Its social impact was significant: more than $4.1 billion in mission investments and more than 59,000 units of affordable housing financed.....

In 1997, ShoreBank became the first banking corporation in the United States to address environmental issues. Through a partnership with Ecotrust, an environmental organization in Portland, Ore., ShoreBank Pacific was created as a federally regulated bank focused on the underbanked area of environmental business development. The mission was timely and the founders viewed it as an opportunity to expand ShoreBank’s deposits and operations.
In each market where ShoreBank created a federally regulated bank, it also created an associated nonprofit—such as ShoreBank Enterprise Cleveland, ShoreBank Enterprise Detroit, and ShoreBank Enterprise Pacific (later renamed ShoreBank Enterprise Cascadia)—which predominantly focused on higher risk business lending. The founders saw these additional activities as critical to their theory of change. Incorporated as nonprofits, the organizations were largely self-financing through their operations, supplemented by grants, and were not financed by the ShoreBank holding company.....

see the rest at:

ShoreBank Pacific was affected slightly differently:

...Separately, ShoreBank Corp. agreed to sell its Pacific Northwest subsidiary, ShoreBank Pacific, to OneCalifornia Bank. Terms of that transaction were not disclosed. ShoreBank Pacific reported $218.2 million in assets of March 31. The purchase, which is subject to regulatory and other approvals, will result in OneCalifornia Bank having combined assets of approximately $300 million.....$44-Bil-in-Assets/122516      Copyright © 1997-2011 CoStar Realty Information, Inc.