While it has been many years since Wetlands' nightclub closed its doors, Wetlands Activism Collective, the organization responsible for the activist meetings, displays, petitions, literature, and protests coordinated out of the Wetlands club, is still very much an active and vibrant organization for social change. For the Wetlands Activism Collective, 2006 has been a year filled with victories, exciting new projects, and growth in all areas of our work.
After two years of campaigning, Victoria's Secret caved to environmentalists' demands to make substantial reforms to their catalog paper policy, increasing the use of recycled stock and eliminating paper from endangered forests. Wetlands played a key role in this effort spearheaded by ForestEthics and supported by student and grassroots activist groups around the nation. Our activists chained themselves to Victoria's Secret store doors, built Victoria (the evil bra and panties monster puppet), and raised a massive banner on helium balloons at Herald Square to inform potential shopper of Victoria's Secret's complicity in the destruction of Canadian boreal forests and US Southern forests and to let the company know that these practices need to end. Apparently, Victoria's Secret got the message. Thanks to our efforts and the efforts of our allies, countless acres of endangered forest will be saved.
Catalogs aren’t the only paper user we've been targeting. Our Greening the Comic Book Industry, an effort to shift comic book publishing towards the use of 100% post-consumer recycled paper, is featured as the cover story in the current edition of Comics Foundry, a webmagazine about comic books. We've conducted a survey of over 1,000 comic book fans to gauge their support for use of recycled paper in comics and found that comic fans care about the environmental impact of their hobby. We are now presenting that data to leading comic book publishers.
We also saw success in our work to prevent the passage of free trade agreements that benefit multi-national corporations at the expense of workers, the environment, animals, indigenous people, students, people in need of medicines, women, small farmers, and others. In association with the NYC People's Referendum on Free Trade, we educated elected officials, the media, and the public on the threat posed by the Bush-supported Peru Free Trade Agreement. Thanks to the efforts of groups like ours, Republicans failed to muster enough votes to try to pass this agreement in Congress before the end of the 109th Congress this September. The Democrat-controlled Congress that takes office in January is unlikely to pass the agreement in its current form. Our efforts have effectively killed this agreement and its companion, the Colombia Free Trade Agreement!
(Pictured Above Left: Protesters in Peru decry the US-Peru Free Trade agreement.)
Building on our 2005 efforts to mobilize animal rights activists against the Central America Free Trade Agreement, in 2006 we launched Global Justice for Animals and the website freetradekillsanimals.org to expose the impact of free trade agreements on animal's rights. We released a series of reports exposing the threat to animals posed by the Oman and Peru Free Trade Agreements, and spearheaded letters to Congress signed by dozens of animal advocacy groups in opposition to these agreements.
Freegan.info's "trash tours" continued to generate worldwide media attention this year, exposing millions to the social and ecological destruction in the production of mass-market commodities and to the absurd waste of resources in a society where the needs of so many go unmet in an economy that values profit above all else.
Freeganism received coverage in literally hundreds of media outlets on four continents. It's become a given that at every trash tour we hold, we'll be joined by a camera crew or newspaper reporter from China, Finland, Russia, France, Germany, Brazil, Canada, Portugal, Spain, the UK, Holland, Belgium, or any of a number of other countries. Nor has the US media forgotten about us-- this year we were featured in magazines like Plenty and Jane, newspapers like the New York Daily News and the Washington Post, television programs like ABC's 20/20 and Fox's Geraldo at Large, and many, many others. Almost every day, we get calls or emails from reporters in Dallas, Philadelphia, Cedar Rapids, and so many other cities desperate to find freegans in their area to report on. We also brought the freegan message to receptive audiences at events like Animal Rights 2006, Earthsave's A Taste of Health festival and the Really, Really Free Market with presentations, informational literature and displays and giveaways of food and other useful items rescued from refuse.
As an extension of our trash tours, we now organize monthly "Freegan Feasts", dinner parties using only obtained through urban foraging. The dinners help to foster community among people concerned about sustainable and ethical living, introduce curious people to the notion that usable foods are being needlessly wasted through a non-intimidating and fun activity, and serve as evidence to reporters and their audiences that as an side effect of our wasteful culture, people eating wasted good can eat as well as people who buy their food. Skeptics who see, smell, and taste the food themselves are quickly disabused of the myth that freegans eat rotten, moldy, half-eaten, dirty food.
2006 saw the launch of Freegan.info's Bike Workshop, founded by Freegan.info volunteer Christian Gutierrez. The workshop salvages broken and discarded bicycles and teaches people how to rebuild them. Since opening the workshop, we've given away dozens of free bicycles- promoting ecologically sound transportation, diverting resources from landfills, and spreading the idea of a cooperative gift economy, where people can work together and give freely, rather than selling for profit.
In 2006, Wetlands' Legacy Project worked to ensure that the history of action for social change will be preserved for future generation by donating thousands of archival documents and books to institutions like the Wisconsin Historical Society's Social Action Collection, the University of Michigan's Labadie Collection, and the Vito Marcantonio Library (pictured at left) collected over the course of our 16+ years of activism. We’re also working to create an online archive of photos of banners and actions from our many years of activist campaigns.
2006 also marked the release of "Wetlands Preserved," a new documentary film on the history of Wetlands' 161 Hudson Street nightclub, took the honors at the Ashville Film Festival for Best Documentary and received the "Best Unreleased Film." Award at the High Times Stony Awards. Wetlands activists Cindy Rosin and Adam Weissman were interviewed for the film, which features footage and photos of Wetlands protests in addition to concert footage and interviews with Wetlands nightclub staff and musicians. The film has screened in New York City twice so far, and Wetlands activists were on hand both times to educate filmgoers about our current projects and to inspire them to take action.
What's really impressive is that we did all of this without an office or a paid staff, operating on a budget comparable to what larger non-profits spend in a few hours. We operate from a strong sense of responsibility to use all of our financial resources as effectively as possible in defense of the Earth and its inhabitants. For this reason, every donation can make a big difference in what we are able to accomplish.
2007 promises to be another exciting year. We'll no doubt be able to report another series of victories and accomplishments next December with YOUR help. Your contribution helps cover the costs necessary to run a vibrant activist organization, such as paying for faxes to elected officials and the media, photocopies and paper for publications, hosting for our many websites, and so much more.
You may consider giving $52 dollars- a dollar for each week of the year. If you can give more, even better, and if you can't afford this amount, we greatly appreciate whatever you can give. We realize that not everyone is in a position to donate money, and we've always stressed that there are MANY ways to make a difference. We always need and appreciate volunteers, for example.
But for those who do have the funds to donate, your help can make a huge difference. And of course, we accept donations year round, so you can stagger contributions throughout the year if that's easier.
We've arranged four ways for you to contribute, to make giving as easy as possible:
You can mail a check to Activism Center at Wetlands Preserve, PO Box 344, NY, NY 10108 and make the check out to "Activism Center at Wetlands Preserve." Contributions are tax-deductible and a letter of acknowledgment can be provided upon request.
You can donate online via Paypal using credit card, check cards, debit cards, Paypal
account, and other methods. To give at our target rate of $52, click here.. To donate any other amount, click here. .
If you'd like to contribute in smaller amounts throughout the year, we can customize a recurring payment for you through Paypal. After we arrange the initial set-up, your credit card, bank card, or Paypal account will be billed at the amount you select at intervals you select for the duration of time you select with no additional hassle. To set this up call Adam at (201) 928-2831 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for supporting our work!
Have a great new year.
For the liberation of the Earth and its inhabitants,
on behalf of the Wetlands Activism Collective.
P.S. Visit these websites to learn more about our current activities!
Wetlands Activism Collective
Global Justice for Animals
And check out the websites of the coalitions we actively participate in:
NYC People's Referendum on Free Trade
Victoria's Dirty Secret Campaign
Environmental Paper Network