Fairness At Patriot Coal

Have you heard of Patriot Coal? Peabody Energy and Arch Coal have concocted a scheme to maximize profits and deprive workers of their healthcare and pension. Van Jones, Green for All's Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins, and United Mine Workers of America President Cecil Richards explain:

Companies declare bankruptcy every day. But Patriot Coal’s bankruptcy is different. It appears to be part of a cynical plot by Peabody and Arch—a scheme choreographed to maximize profits at the expense of their own workers.

Peabody Energy and Arch Coal created the companies that became today’s Patriot Coal mainly for the purpose of shirking their obligations to coal miners, retirees and widows. Peabody and Arch used Patriot as a “dummy” vehicle to shed responsibility for retirement benefits they owed their employees, most  of whom are active and retired members of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA).

In other words: Patriot’s bankruptcy petition last year was not the result of a failed business plan. Bankruptcy WAS the business plan, all along. Now Chapter 11 may allow the company to slip out of its health care obligations to thousands of coal mining families, while shielding and maintaining the massive profits of Peabody Energy and Arch Coal.

Here's Van at the rally:


One Way To Fight Guns

 

Richard Biennestin was only 20 years old when he was shot and killed on April 13. Jessie Leon Jordan was 23. Sione Fakatoufifita was 19. Titania Mitchell was only 13. Of the nearly two dozen people reported killed that day, about half were under age 30.

Sadly, this tally is not rare.

According to the Children's Defense Fund, guns kill twice as many kids as cancer while Congress remains stalemated. A bill to pass gun reforms failed in the Senate on Wednesday. As CNN has reported, 13 young people between ages 10 and 24 are the victims of homicide every single day. Firearms account for 80% of those deaths.

The toll gun violence is taking on young people was the inspiration for GunShowGallery.com, a collaboration between the Creative Action Network and my organization, Rebuild the Dream.

Read the full blog at CNN.com/Opinion >>


Gun Show Gallery: Powerful Posters Against Gun Violence

Last week, news broke that Senate leaders were considering dropping some of the most meaningful provisions from gun violence legislation.

Even super-majorities of gun owners overwhelmingly support common-sense measures like a ban on high-capacity magazines and universal background checks. We are little more than three months after the massacre at Newtown. But most U.S. senators seem more worried about NRA attack ads in 2014 than the gun violence that is taking innocent lives today.

The answer to gun violence is not simple. In many communities, nothing stops a bullet like a job. Plus, we need more community-based violence prevention programs. But we also need strong common-sense gun laws. To win that fight, we need to reach out to spark new energy.

To engage our friends and neighbors, we are teaming up with the Creative Action Network. Dozens of artists have submitted astonishing, moving posters that remind us why we fight and inspire us to dream differently. They could not come at a better time.

Check out these powerful posters at GunShowGallery.com now -- and then share them with your friends, family and community.

gun show gallery

The most-shared posters will be given a place of honor at a gallery show in San Francisco on April 18th, helping the artist sell prints. Click share today and you will be supporting talented individuals at the creative edge of 21st century advocacy.

Not only that: You will help change the minds of friends, relatives and neighbors, and inspire them to join the fight.In the weeks to come, Rebuilders will do more than share moving designs online. We will also bring this art out onto the sidewalks and streets of our communities -- and bring culture and creativity into a perilous political moment.

The gun crisis, along with the struggle for fair immigration laws, is a key fight of the moment. Congress's limited courage is already failing. We need to step up.


Van Jones Explains How The Hope Is Back With Obama Second Inaugural

On January 21, 2013, America celebrated the Second Inauguration of Barack Obama. While crowds cheered Obama's support of LGBT equality and equal pay for women, Rebuild the Dream President Van Jones gave real-time commentary on CNN and shared the personal and historic impact of the day.

"I think about my father. My father was in Memphis on April 4, 1968 when Dr. King was assassinated. He said he felt like they were trying to kill hope in America.And then I was with my father when he was on his death bed in 2008. He'd look up and see Obama and say, 'The hope is back.'"

Check out the entire clip on YouTube, and check out Van's op-ed on Obama's Inaugural as a rebuttal to Reaganism at CNN Opinion.


Relive the 2012 Elections With Van Jones

Shapeshifters! Conventions! Debates! Two months ago, Barack Obama won a major presidential election. Watch the highlights of the 2012 Presidential election with Rebuild the Dream President Van Jones covering everything from the immediate reactions from the debate to the long lines on election day.

Part 1

Part 2

Watch the whole thing here.


Crowdsourcing our economic recovery

mosaic crowdfunding fiscal cliff

Mosaic is a company using the crowdfunding model to finance solar in communities across the country

We are not living up to the promise of the American Dream.

Even now, our leaders are talking about cutting, instead of creating jobs to grow our way out of the deficit. Congress is ignoring big problems, congratulating itself on avoiding a fiscal cliff of its own creation. The federal budget props up broken parts of our economic system -- big banks, big polluters and big defense contractors -- instead of investing in areas such as education and infrastructure that would benefit everyone.

Now, a new breed of companies is leveraging the power of networks and sharing -- and showing us what a more sustainable, prosperous future can look like.

Read more at CNN.com >>

Photo Credit: swanksalot via Compfight & cc


11 Million Vs the Fiscal Cliff

ARTSTRIKE on Dec 19 was bigger than we ever imagined. Not only did talented artists create powerful work exposing the misleading ideas dominating the budget debate... we were able to reach 11 million people with their work.

11 million! More on how it happened below, but the biggest "wow" moment for us was seeing things like this:

artstrike ernesto yerena fiscal cliff art

When artist Ernesto Yerena's piece was featured on CNN.com, we knew ARTSTRIKE was working.

Here's what happened on Wednesday:

  • More than 70 artists from across the nation submitted work -- some calling for fair taxes, others speaking out against cuts. There were poems, posters, art, and music. Check out artstrike.tumblr.com to see.
  • Celebrities like Mark Ruffalo, Edward Norton, Russell Simmons, Moby, and more tweeted ARTSTRIKE links to their millions of fans, as did progressive leaders like Bill McKibben.
  • More than 35 major national advocacy organizations shared images and promoted ARTSTRIKE to their supporters
  • Van's article on CNN.com, his list of favorites on Upworthy.com, and his other blog posts were seen by more than 100,000 people
  • Thousands of people shared links to pieces, posted designs on Facebook, mentioned ARTSTRIKE on Twitter, or helped spread the word by putting up posters in their community
  • When you add up all the fans, followers, likes, and views... Art that persuades, inspires, and spurs people to action made it in front of more than 11 million people

To put it in context: The New York Times daily circulation is only 1.5 million!ARTSTRIKE started when Rebuild the Dream Innovation Fund partnered with artist organizations CultureStrike and 5D Stories to change the conversation around the so-called "fiscal cliff." With big banks, big oil, and tax-dodging corporations setting the agenda, we knew statistics and arguments would only take us so far.

Thanks to dozens of extraordinary artists and tens of thousands of Rebuild the Dream Innovation Fund members and allies, we put a progressive message in front of millions on Wednesday. This won't be the last time we partner with culture-makers on projects like this. If you want to help make more of this possible, you can chip in here. 


TODAY IS ARTSTRIKE

Today is ARTSTRIKE, and it couldn't come at a more urgent moment. Reports indicate President Obama and Speaker Boehner are still discussing a deal that would slash Social Security, cut veterans benefits, and raise taxes on the poor and middle class to pay down a deficit created by the Bush wars, Bush tax cuts, and Bush economic collapse.

Rebuild the Dream has joined forces with culture-makers to call out the "fiscal bluff" and take a stand against the lies and cuts that would hurt our communities and families.

Artists across the country have created powerful images, posters, and songs. They deserve to be seen by millions -- so that's our job today. I picked out a few of our favorites, and put them in one place on Upworthy for you to see and share.

Take a look. And then please hit "SHARE" today. We'll have the biggest impact if we do it all at the same time.

Tens of thousands of Rebuilders are joining in. Progressive allies and artist networks are mobilizing to do the same. Together, we can put these works of art in front of millions of people, more than some major newspapers will reach today.

ARTSTRIKE isn't your typical day of action -- we're not making phone calls or staging rallies or signing petitions, as important as those tactics are.

Instead, we're partnering with artists who know how to grab the attention of friends who have tuned out. We're using culture as a tool to change people's hearts and minds, in a way that only art can.

Ask Favianna Rodriguez, co-founder of our partner CultureStrike. She says: "Artists are central to social change. In order for us to win the battles that most impact our communities, we must first change the culture." Or listen to Mike Molina of 5D Stories. He says: "Artists tell the stories that define what we believe is possible."

I couldn't agree more. I'm grateful to the artists who have contributed extraordinary work to this effort. It is touching and inspiring. Some pieces show the choice we face as a nation. Others confront us with what's really happening. Every one is impactful in its own way.

Take a look for yourself. And then post your favorites on Facebook and Twitter. Print your favorite and tape it to the window at home or in the office.

Share the stuff that touches YOU. That's what matters the most. That's what is most likely to touch the hearts of the people close to you.

Thanks for taking action with us,

Van and the rest of the Rebuild the Dream Innovation Fund team

P.S. -- We picked out a few of our favorites, but you can find more submissions here.


ARTSTRIKE Moved to December 19th

Due to the tragedy in Newton, Connecticut, we have decided to move ARTSTRIKE from Monday to Wednesday, December 19th.

Like all Rebuilders, our thoughts and prayers are with the families of Sandy Hook Elementary School and all victims of gun violence in our nation.

In the face of a legitimate crisis such as this, it is harder to stomach manufactured ones like the "fiscal cliff." We look forward to promoting the amazing work of artists exposing the "fiscal bluff" on Wednesday, and hope you will join us.


ART STRIKE: America is Not Broke - America Is Being Robbed

art strike fiscal bluff, artists, culture 

The so-called fiscal cliff is actually a fiscal bluff -- a made-up crisis that makes us think our government is out of money and out of time. The truth is, America's not broke. America is being robbed.

ART STRIKE: DECEMBER 19

America is Not Broke - America is Being Robbed  

Send your art to joinartstrike@gmail.com

It's time to call the bluff. To do that, we need art, design, music, poetry, video -- the things that inspire us to dream bigger. Songs that remind us why we fight. Images worth sharing. Funny videos that convince our friends that more cuts and tax breaks aren’t the answer. We want to light up people's hearts and minds, and ultimately change the course of the tired debate in Congress.

ART STRIKE is a culture day of action. On December 19th, artists will come together to create awesome new art and music -- we'll join them by spreading it wide! Help us share their art with the millions who are making up their minds about the big budget fights. National organizations will pitch in to spread creative work. Hundreds of thousands of people will share the best new material with their friends online. Thousands more will post cool images and signs in their windows or show up at street art events. Here’s how you can help:

1) Create something. Artists, poets, musicians, filmmakers, designers are coming together with CultureStrike and 5D Storytelling to show the choices we face:

  • Cut education, or invest in kids?
  • Cut taxes for the super-wealthy, or protect social security and health coverage for our elders?
  • Give away loopholes for big oil and big coal, or invest in clean air and clean energy jobs?

Submit your content to JoinArtStrike@gmail.com for inclusion. (Planning a street art event on Dec 19? Let us know!)

Find out how to submit your art!

2) Spread the word to your networks. Whether you’re an organization with a big list of supporters or one person with a few creatives, we need your help. Promote artstrike.tumblr.com in advance and encourage people to join in.

Check out the art and share!

3) Join ART STRIKE on December 19. Publish your own art or videos (anything that stirs the soul!), share something cool created for ART STRIKE, or visit artstrike.tumblr.com and share stuff with your friends. Tweet, share, forward, or get out in the street in your community -- collectively, we can put heart-changing content in front of millions, and change the conversation.

Commit to share on Monday, December 19th