By Richelle on Nov 15 2013 - 12:06pm Tagged:

Reason #1: The Yes Lab is Revolting


Give now to defeat evil


In the last twenty years, we Yes Men have taken on some of the world’s nastiest corporate criminals, using harmless lies to expose some really harmful stuff. We founded the Yes Lab in 2009 to train others in our no-holds-barred approach to fighting the bad guys.


It's been successful—so successful that we'll be scaling up dramatically in 2014 with the Action Switchboard, which we'll launch off the back of our upcoming film. Together, these are designed to get thousands of people out of their seats and into the streets, giving them the motivation, tools, and community to act for change. Truly revolting.

So prepare yourself for some extra doses of meaningful mischief in the coming years… but only if we can get the financial support we need right now.


Some of the Yes Lab's recent successes include:



Naturally, we didn't do this all on our own. At the Yes Lab, we use humor to hijack media and provide a surge of attention for a crucial cause at just theright moment. At our best, we push existing campaigns over the edge. None of that would be possible without the work of the organizers and activists we partner with.


Here’s the thing: this work takes relatively little money, but it does take some. As our organization grows, we are able to do more and more actions and trainings. We will soon need to increase our capacity, which may mean hiring new staff to tackle the many intricacies of our blossoming non-profit. We rely on you to make this work possible—any amount helps.


Thanks for your support!


From all of us here at Yes Lab

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By on Nov 11 2013 - 10:58pm Tagged:

UPDATE 12/31/13: Kindle Project has generously extended the deadline of their match until January 17th! 

The Yes Lab needs your help! 
And there's this incredible catch: If we raise $75,000 before December 31, Kindle Project will match it dollar for dollar. No joke. Click here to contribute.

The wealthy villains we’re up against exploit people to make huge profits. But we rely on the generosity of our incredible Yes community to expose corporate crimes against humanity and the environment.

Find more reasons to support the Yes Lab here.
Get your friends to contribute too! Email it—personal endorsements from you are the most effective! Tweet about the campaign with @theyesmen and we'll retweet you. Facebook about it and tag The Yes Men or The Yes Men Are Revolting pages.
Thanks for your support!
Team Yes Lab
PS - You can also donate by check! Make it out to The Yes Lab with this note in the memo: Yes Lab Year End Campaign. Mail it to:
Yes Lab, Hemispheric Institute
30 Cooper Square, 5th Fl.
New York, NY 10003

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By Andy Bichlbaum on Sep 30 2013 - 10:59am Tagged: Project: SaveCanada

Sept. 30, 2013

Pipeline Company's PR Dream Turns Into a Nightmare
TransCanada's "community consultation" squad dogged by activist lookalikes

In towns across Canada, troupes of mischievous activists are successfully derailing the attempts of TransCanada—the company building the stalled Keystone XL pipeline—to ram through their latest proposed project, the Energy East pipeline, which would bring over a million barrels of Tar Sands oil to the East Coast for export, primarily to Europe and Asia.

During previous pipeline projects, stakeholders were able to express concerns in front of their whole community. To impede the type of opposition that has stalled past projects, this time TransCanada has changed the format of community consultations, turning them into trade-show-like promotional events where stakeholders can only speak one-on-one with company representatives (or PR contractors hired for the occasion).

To outwit this latest ploy by TransCanada, local activists all along the pipeline route have been swarming these events dressed just like TransCanada reps, but with lookalike "SaveCanada" name tags and brochures. Instead of promoting the pipeline, the SaveCanada reps communicate risks.

"Since TransCanada has come up with a new way to lie to the public, we had to come up with a new way to tell the truth," said North Bay farmer Yan Roberts, who helped to launch the unusual protest. "We're friendly folks, so our solution is to dress like them, outnumber them, and 'out-friendly' them in every community they're trying to scam."

The series of SaveCanada actions began at TransCanada's open house in North Bay, where roughly 30 TransCanada reps were surprised to see their meeting overwhelmed by newcomers wearing nearly identical shirts and also carrying slick PR materials, but with a twist.

Now, ten other towns have orchestrated their own versions of the prank. When TransCanada came to the Montréal area on September 24, members of the Québécois SaveCanada counterpart, "SansTransCanada," nearly outnumbered the TransCanada reps. A Global TV segment even identified a SansTransCanada activist as a TransCanada rep.

The Montréal SaveCanada action came to a carnivalesque conclusion when attendees were invited to play "pin the bitumen spill on the pipeline" and a crowd formed around TransCanda's large route map to see where the sticky-note spill would end up.

NASA's James Hansen has said of the Keystone XL pipeline that, if built, it will be "game over" for the climate. This is truer still for the Energy East pipeline, as it's designed to carry a greater volume. The new pipeline also threatens the local communities in its path with inevitable leaks.

"In the next few weeks TransCanada is holding more of these so-called 'consultations,' and we are looking forward to seeing them derailed by every community they hope to fool." said Roberts. "Then we'll see what they try next, and we'll derail that, too."

Upcoming TransCanada "consultations" are scheduled in: Saint-Honoré-de-Témiscouata, Québec (Oct. 1); Kemptville, Ontario and St-Onésime-d'Ixworth, Québec (October 2); Montmagny, Québec and Horton, Ontario (Oct. 3); and Ottawa, Ontario, Canada's capital city (Oct. 10). To help derail one of these events, please visit

"Companies may try to invent new ways to fool people, but citizens will always be more powerful because we care more," said Shona Watt, a local organizer of the Montréal SaveCanada/SansTransCanada action. "What's guaranteed is that, ultimately, people will win."

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By Andy Bichlbaum on Sep 16 2013 - 1:50pm Tagged: Project: SaveCanada

O Canada! SaveCanada needs mischievous folks in Ontario and Quebec to stop TransCanada's latest Tar Sands pipeline—by dressing up and talking to people over the next three weeks! Visit for full details and to join, to watch the video, and for an account of one action.

Email or visit to join up!

As you may know, TransCanada is now planning another pipeline, this one sending oodles of tar sands crud east.

This time, they're employing a special new tactic to bypass the opposition that's stalled two other pipelines (south and west): instead of holding a town hall, which lets citizens see how many other folks are concerned, they've switched to a trade-show format where an army of TransCanada reps can limit questions and conversations to a one-on-one level. The result: folks don't get to see how widespread the opposition is in their own community.

When TransCanada came to one Canadian town to promote their new pipeline, a group of locals took action: they made outfits and handouts nearly identical to TransCanada's own, but branded as "SaveCanada." At the event, they spoke with citizens about risks, handed out pamphlets, pinned "bitumen spill" stickies on TransCanada's big pipeline map, and otherwise ruined TransCanada's plans. Connections were made, people were empowered, and a town, once paralyzed, blossomed into a powerful and mobilized community.

Now, citizens from all over Canada (especially Ontario and Quebec) are invited to join SaveCanada over the next three weeks and disrupt all the rest of TransCanada's "Open Houses."

Email or visit to join up!

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By on Jun 13 2013 - 10:36am Tagged: Project: U.S. Chamber of Commerce Goes Green

June 13, 2013

Yes Men Win Legal Battle With U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Despondent Activists Mourn Lawsuit Withdrawal

Electronic Frontier Foundation statement here
UPDATE: Photos and video from press conference added below

Washington DC, June 13, 2013 – The Yes Men today implored the U..S. Chamber of Commerce to reconsider their recent decision to withdraw the lawsuit they filed nearly four years ago, in a press conference on the steps of the lobbying giant itself.

"Just as their case against us was finally heating up again, the U.S. Chamber decided to drop it," said former defendant Andy Bichlbaum of the Yes Men. "The U.S. Chamber knew this was our chance to challenge their silly claims and, since they claimed we had 'damaged' them, investigate the details of their finances through the discovery process. It's the height of rudeness to deprive us of this great opportunity."

"The U.S. Chamber's lawsuit represented the only time in 17 years that anyone has been stupid enough to sue us," said former defendant Mike Bonanno. "This was the chance of a lifetime, and we profoundly deplore the U.S. Chamber's about-face."

The U.S. Chamber sued the Yes Men and collaborators in 2009 after the activists held a press conference as the U.S. Chamber and announced that they were going to completely reverse their regressive environmental policy and support emissions reduction legislation. In their complaint, the U.S. Chamber claimed that the phony announcement was “commercial identity theft” and accused them of cyberpiracy, trademark infringement, and false advertising. The Yes Men had legal help from the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Davis Wright Tremaine, and were eager to fight back against this attack on political free speech.

"In just the last fifteen years, the hoaxsters at the U.S. Chamber have spent nearly a billion dollars lying to children and adults, and generally lobbying for corporations and against humans," said Bichlbaum. "This lawsuit gave us a chance to help reveal the U.S. Chamber's many hoaxes to the public."

The Yes Men are considering a lawsuit against the U.S. Chamber for depriving them of the opportunity to expose them. "Tell 'em to put their damn helmets on," said Bonanno, echoing Tom Donohue's words upon launching the U.S. Chamber lawsuit in 2009. No lawyers have thus far volunteered to take on the new Yes Men case.

Video of the full speech from the 06/13/2013 press conference in front the U.S. Chamber of Commerce:

Highlights of the following Q&A: 

Stills from the press confrence:


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By on Jun 5 2013 - 9:10am Tagged: immigration, students, college, education Project: DREAMers Keep On Dreaming

June 5, 2013

Dreams of attending college dashed for many undocumented students
Undocumented activist takes credit for fake announcement that would have ended discrimination in college application process

New Orleans -- The Common Application, Inc., the college application service accepted by 488 colleges, has been trying to contain the news of a fake announcement that claimed they would cease discriminating against in the college application process.

When reached for comment, Executive Director Rob Killion said he did not know who was behind the false statement, but that it did not come from the Common Application: "There is nothing to share with you that is new about the way the Common App has approached undocumented students compared to how it has done so in the past." Killion explained that undocumented students can use the application but are not included in the Application's non-discrimination clause.

The hoax began last Thursday in New Orleans, when "Daniel Vargas, Communications Director for The Common Application," took the stage at the National Conference on Race & Ethnicity in American Higher Education. “Vargas” is really David Ramirez, an undocumented activist with the Immigrant Youth Justice League from Chicago, who took credit for the fake announcement Tuesday afternoon. David/Daniel announced that the organization was (1) apologizing for "years of discrimination against the undocumented community," (2) including the category 'undocumented American' in the upcoming application, (3) adding “undocumented status” to the organization's non-discrimination clause, which legally binds over 400 private colleges that were discriminating.

"I did this because I am undocumented, my community is undocumented, and my community is under attack by the Common Application, which is stealing the hopes and dreams of my undocumented brothers and sisters across the country. I made the announcement because it needed to be said. I hope the Common Application repeats it word for word in the coming days." said David.

The announcement was welcomed by the 2,000 conference attendees, representing hundreds of colleges across the country, some of whom took to Twitter to echo David/Daniel's statement that "equality is not radical but common sense." A fake press release led to coverage by Cuentame, Colorlines, and other media outlets. On Twitter and Facebook tens of thousands welcomed this announcement as a historic stand for equality including national immigration groups, U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez, the President of Barnard College, and many from the undocumented community.

Mitzy, an undocumented student at Freedom University in Georgia, commented: "The Common Application oppresses our community, segregates our nation's higher education system by immigration status, so our community is fighting back. I feel like the headline should read 'Brown v. Board retracted: Supreme Court Blames Activists for Hoax Ruling.'"

David, born in Mexico, has been undocumented since he was one year old. He has been openly undocumented since he was 17. A long time activist, David was arrested in a civil disobedience action in Atlanta in 2011 in opposition to the Georgia’s ban of undocumented students from public universities. David participated in the Undocubus in 2012 that protested the Democratic National Convention. David's recent act of political theater is a continuation of the undocumented community's struggle for college access.

David and Freedom University students have extended an invitation to Rob Killion to meet with them at Freedom University, a volunteer-run project offering free college-level classes to undocumented students. Because of Georgia’s ban, for most of the students their only option is to apply to private colleges - unfortunately over 400 of the Common Application's members are private colleges that routinely discriminate against undocumented applicants by labeling them "international," which guarantees them a separate and unequal admissions process. According to one study, as few as 5% of undocumented students ever attend college. Rob Killion has not responded to their offer to discuss the hopes and struggles of undocumented students.

For more information, please contact:
Daniel Vargas/David Ramirez
(202) 430 - 6048

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By on Apr 2 2013 - 7:38pm Tagged:

The series continues this week with 

Birgitta Jonsdottir

Thursday, April 4th
The Arthur L. Carter Journalism Insitute
20 Cooper Sq. 7th Floor
Photo ID required
Please RSVP

Member of the Icelandic parliament for The Movement, Birgitta co-produced the Wikileaks Collateral Murder video, and has been an activist and a spokesperson for various groups including Wikileaks, Saving Iceland, Friends of Tibet in Iceland, and the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative.


Penny Arcade

 Tuesday, April 9th
Performance Studies Dept.
721 Broadway, 6th Floor

Photo ID required

It is impossible to describe Penny Arcade without entering the world of hyperbole she personifies. Since first leaving home at age 13 to join the world of queers, junkies, whores, stars, stalkers, and geniuses, she has become one of the most influential performers in the world. By displaying her singular brand of feminist sexuality and personal conflict she has garnered countless fans worldwide.


Check out the rest of our crazy line-up for Spring 2013:


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By on Mar 28 2013 - 9:51am Tagged: Daniel Hunter, strategy, soul

Friend of the Yes Lab and Philadelphia based organizer Daniel Hunter just put out a book! Check it out if you've ever wanted to build a better world!

Strategy & Soul:
a campaigner's narrative of fighting billionaires, corrupt officials, and Philadelphia casinos

This book makes accessible the complex art of campaigning. Written with the fast-pace of a spy novel, the book whisks you to a kitchen table in Philadelphia where organizers Jethro Heiko and Daniel Hunter strategize to stop a widely unpopular and dangerous development project. Because the casinos are backed by billionaires and the complete political establishment -- it will take a massive fight to win.

Written with unusual transparency, the book brings you into meetings and planning sessions as they organized, cultivated relationships, fought over strategy, and generated new tactics like the public filibuster, shadow election, document search, and we-are-not-scared-of-stunts actions -- all to grow their movement. Each page is filled with lessons on media, accountability, strategy, organizing in a gripping, emotional tale -- complete with broad stroke lessons about social movement organizing.

This is a must-read for organizers and activists who want to learn how to weave together the skills for both strategy and soul.


"This book is like taking a car ride with an experienced organizer after they gave a motivating talk about their successful campaign. In the car you turn to them and ask, 'So how did you really win?' and they give you the real deal. Daniel writes with that kind of authenticity, reflection, and honesty."
- Joshua Kahn Russell,

"A treasure trove of creative actions with a thrilling plot for activists of all stripes!"
- Andy Bichlbaum, The Yes Men

"The best campaign book I've ever read!"
- Tanya Newman, Kotare Trust (New Zealand)

"Who knew there could be a book for organizers that's a page-turner? It's a story with a lesson on every page."
- George Lakey, Author of A Direct Action Manual and professor at Swarthmore College

Available as print book and e-book. Buy your copy today:


From the Introduction

OUR MOVEMENT WAS OUTSPENT by hundreds of millions of dollars. Every local official resisted us. Newspapers chastised us. The governor derided us. Private investigators were hired against us. Thugs threatened and even attacked us. And the state supreme court suspiciously and consistently sided against us.

On a good day, we had confidence we could win—even with the odds against us.

This conviction tells you something about our movement against two unwanted casinos in Philadelphia. We believed in people power. We had faith in folks' ability to organize and overcome long-shot odds. That we were able to make huge wins shows our correctness in thinking David can beat Goliath, even when Goliath has deep pockets and overwhelming political support.

What that conviction doesn't show is the strategy. The uncertainty. The skills. The mistakes. The heart. The soul. It doesn't show you how we organized or used direct action to feed our success (which, though substantial, was not complete).

I want you to see all that—which is why I wrote this book.

As I wrote, I didn't want to essentialize our movement into lists of what a good organizer does, or reduce our story into bite-sized vignettes that prove my points about what makes for good organizing. I wanted to invite you into the real deal, where you can see our glories, our inventiveness, our mistakes, and join us in assessing what makes for good strategy. It's risky business, because it'd be much safer to give you a list that we could both pretend is the whole story. You then wouldn't see my flaws, our missteps, or our shortcomings so clearly. But I didn't want to sell you a dream.

Instead, this book is a narrative of real bare-knuckles, on-the-ground organizing. I bring you into our fervent worrying in late-night meetings, yelling matches behind church benches, and last-minute action planning outside judges' chambers. The nuances of strategy come to life in those moments. You get to wrestle with us over our choices—Do we publicly humiliate the judges who screwed us, or do we show traditional decorum because they will rule on future lawsuits?

Read more excerpts or purchase now:


Bio of the Author

DANIEL HUNTER is a Training Elder with Training for Change ( where he trains activists in experiential methodology and campaign strategy. He's sought all over the world for his expertise at direct action training, from training Canadian postalworkers union, to Quaker-based groups fighting mountaintop removal, to Philadelphia campaigns for affordable housing. His writing has been published with We Have Not Been Moved: Resisting Racism and Militarism in 21st Century America and in Beautiful Trouble: A toolbox for revolution, where write-ups of tactics from his campaign are written about, including the public filibuster and search and seizure operation.

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By on Mar 6 2013 - 1:51pm Tagged:

March 6, 2013

Database of creative activist case studies will inform and inspire a new generation of activists

The Yes Lab and the Center for Artistic Activism are announcing the launch of, an open-access, user-generated database of creative activism case studies designed to inspire activists.

"We designed Actipedia to inspire activists to more creative—and effective—actions," explains Stephen Duncombe, co-founder of the Center for Creative Activism.

"Actipedia is about sharing the ways people challenge power and envision a better society," adds Andy Bichlbaum of the Yes Lab. "To change the world we've got to learn from each other."

Actipedia is built on an open-source platform and is designed for ease of use, with simple formats for viewing, searching and posting examples. The site draws case studies from original submissions, reprinted news articles, and informal snippets of action reports. Although it is only now launching, Actipedia already hosts over 400 case studies and counting, from countries from all over the world.

"Actipedia provides a space for inspiration and for contribution," noted one recent user. "Seeing all the amazing work going on around the world motivates me and makes me realize the potential impact I can have."

Stephen Duncombe

The Yes Lab helps activist groups carry out media-getting creative actions, focused on their own campaign goals. Through brainstorms and trainings, social justice organizations can take advantage of all that the Yes Men—Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno—have learned, not only about our their own ways of doing things, but those practices they’ve come in contact with over the decade and a half they've been engaging in creative activism and tactical media.

The Center for Artistic Activism is a place to explore, analyze, and strengthen connections between social activism and artistic practice. The Center was founded by Stephen Duncombe, longtime activist and professor at New York University and Steve Lambert, longtime artist and professor at SUNY Purchase. Since 2009, the center has has served as a site for artistic activist trainings, actions, research and resources. The Center seeks to foster more creative activists and more effective artists.

Actipedia can be found at or on twitter @Actipedia, and the collaborators are available for interviews upon request. 

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By on Feb 28 2013 - 3:10pm Tagged: Europe, bank, investment, coal, fossil fuels Project: Bank’s Dodgy Climate Portfolio Revealed

February 28, 2013

Dreams of European Investment Bank Quitting Coal Go Up in Smoke – For Now
Climate activists take responsibility for fake press release, bizarre award ceremony

Brussels -- The European Investment Bank (EIB) president Werner Hoyer was forced to say this morning, during the EIB’s annual press conference, that an announcement that the bank would give up lending to coal was "pure nonsense". And this, despite the fact that Hoyer repeatedly referred to the EIB as a frontrunner in the fight against climate change. 
The contradictory statements from the EIB came as a result of a sophisticated activist campaign that culminated in a curious confrontation inside the European Council building this morning.
The ruse began yesterday afternoon, when a fake press release announced that the EIB was divesting from coal. Several news outlets picked it up as real, including Bloomberg, who quickly discovered their error, pulled the report, and posted a retraction
The EIB posted a denial on their website and threatened legal action, but that did not stop the  activists, who continued to hound them at their exclusive annual press conference this morning. 
After Hoyer presented the activities of the EIB during 2012, including the bank's efforts on climate change, he was approached by a self-identified "citizen of Europe", who offered him an elegant flower vase shaped like a smokestack. 
"I am very pleased to present this award to the European Investment Bank," said the citizen, "to honor your commitment to divest from Coal, and finally commit to real action on climate change." 
Despite hesitating for a second whether to get the "European citizen" kicked out, the EIB decided he posed no real threat and allowed him to continue staying in the room, while keeping the award on the stage for some time. 
Upon receiving the award, a confounded Hoyer said that "we have always been grateful for the ingenuity of our journalist partners" and quickly moved on to the next issue on the press conference agenda.
Yet the climate issue and energy lending by the EIB stayed on the media's mind, and numerous questions addressed in the Q&A section of the press conference pressed the EIB to explain more about the bank's efforts against climate change. Representatives of the bank mostly pointed to the upcoming review of the bank's energy policy (due in June); the EIB made it clear it was not ready to announce dropping coal from the bank's lending at the moment, and made it clear that gas will continue to be a central segment of EIB lending in the future. 
The "citizen of Europe" was really a representative of Counter Balance, a coalition of NGOs across Europe that monitor the EIB. The action was developed with the help of the Yes Lab. 
"We wanted to show to the bank how European citizens expect the EIB to behave," said Berber Verpoest of Counter Balance. 
The EIB is the house bank of the EU, mandated to further EU objectives including Europe's 2050 Energy Roadmap which calls for an 80-95 percent emissions reduction over the next four decades in Europe. The EIB's website claims the bank is "among the largest providers of finance for climate action in pursuit of the EU's goal of low-carbon and climate resilient growth." What is not mentioned, however, are the massive loans to coal-fired power plants and other dirty energy initiatives that the EIB has provided also over the last years. 
"The presentation of this award and the hoax press release from yesterday were meant to emphasise the deep contradiction at the heart of the EIB," explains Berber Verpoest from Counter Balance. "On the one hand, this is the bank of the EU with the goal to fight climate change; on the other hand, the EIB has been lending billions to coal, gas and other fossil fuels and until last year its dirty energy loans were equal to its support for clean energy. So with the hoax we wanted to make clear what we expect the future energy policy to look like."
The European Investment Bank is this year reviewing its energy lending policy, a revision which only happens once every 5-6 years. Considering that climate science makes it clear we cannot invest any more in fossil fuel infrastructure after 2017 if we want to contain global warming within 2 degrees Celsius, the current policy revision is the only chance this bank has to set its lending in line with the climate imperative. 
"The EIB has been working hard over the past years to clean up its lending," says Xavier Sol from Counter Balance. "We commend them for those efforts and we hope that they take this hoax for what it really is: not so much an attempt to make fun, but an alarm bell that time is running out and subsidies for fossil fuels must be ended today if we want to avoid catastrophe."
Key Figures:
  • EIB lones to coal 2007-2011: €2 billion
  • EIB loans to fossil fuels 2007-2011: €19 billion
  • EIB total energy loans 2007-2011: €62 billion

Coal plants financed by EIB since 2007:

  • Du-Walsum Coal Power Plant in Germany, 2007
  • PPC Environment in Greece, 2007
  • Enel Energia Rinnovable & Ambiente in Italy, 2007
  • TES - THERMAL Power Plant in Slovenia, 2007 and 2010
  • Power Plant Karlsruhe in Germany, 2008
  • Fortum CHP and E-Metering in Poland, 2009
  • SE Power Plant and Forest Industry R&D in Poland, 2010
  • South Poland CHP in Poland, 2011
  • Paroseni Power Plant in Romania, 2011

For more info, see the EIB's project database and Bankwatch's studies and analysis.

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