2011 is finally here.  So now seems as good a time as any to take stock of everything we’ve accomplished in the past year, to draw together our challenges and victories and lay them out there for you to see. Since there isn’t space enough to showcase everything, we’ve selected a few of our favorite highlights from 2010 to share with you:

Climate Change

People's World Conference on Climate Change

This year, Global Exchange attended the People’s World Conference on Climate Change in Cochabamba, Bolivia, where 35,000+ people  called for a dramatic rethinking of our place on this planet.  When it came time for the COP 16 climate talks in Mexico, we knew we would have our work cut out for us.  At the end of the day, the progress we made in Mexico was minimal, and we knew the best bet for real climate change solutions was a renewed organizing effort at home and around the world.  

Shannon Biggs published this on December 12th to Commondreams.org: “It is time to deliver the message of Cochabamba to the people who are capable of creating change, of creating 1,000 Cochabambas…If we want to be heard at the U.N., then we need to go home and build the revolution of change in the places where we live.”

Want to read the rest?  Click here.


Medea Benjamin speaking out

Is it crazy to act a little crazy to stop something you think is crazy?  We think not.  When Jon Stewart announced his rally to restore sanity, we had to say something. This piece written by Medea Benjamin appeared on the Huffington Post on October 27th, 2010.

“CODEPINK has been proposing solutions since the day we started.  Whether under Bush or Obama, our voices of sanity have been drowned out by a war machine that makes billions selling weapons and hiring mercenaries.”

Read the entire article here, then read how Medea was invited to appear on The Daily Show.

Antonia appearing on Democracy NOW! with Amy Goodman

Getting Tough on Big Oil

The oil spill in April opened up a lot of people’s eyes about the horrific dangers of the oil industry.  The lives lost, the ecosystems and livelihoods destroyed, plus the billions of dollars in damage were all testaments to the magnitude of the threat posed by this dirty industry.  When it came time to hear from the experts, our in-house authority on oil Antonia Juhasz weighed in on the debate. She shared her views on Democracy NOW! and in The Guardian, May 24, 2010 article entitled How Far Should We Let Big Oil Go? where she had this to say:

“The communities most directly harmed by oil’s abuse are organized, networked, and ready.  The public is roused, angered, and ready to act.  The oil corporations are on notice: the true cost of their operations is simply too great to bear.”

Click here to read more.

Reality Tours

Agriculture in Cuba

This year,  National Geographic decided to list Global Exchange Reality Tours as one of their 2010 Tours of a Lifetime.  Our Cuba trips, and the unique opportunities they afford travelers to cut through the misinformation and discover things for themselves, caught the attention of this esteemed travel magazine.

National Geographic praised our Cuba trip’s “commitment to authenticity, immersion, sustainability, and connection.”

Click here to read more.

Fair Trade

Hershey’s refuses to go Fair Trade.  Despite years of promises, despite the massive evidence of child slavery and other abuses on West African plantations, Hershey’s still won’t budge.  So, Global Exchange partners with other organizations to apply some pressure.  The result?  A CNBC news story covered far and wide, in which Adrienne Fitch-Frankel, Global Exchange Fair Trade Cocoa Campaign Director, shared:

“Hershey’s demonstrates a commitment to children in the U.S. by funding the Milton Hershey School.  They can demonstrate the same concern for children and families in the African communities that farm their cocoa by using Fair Trade Certified cocoa for their chocolates.”

Want to read the rest?  The article is still cross-posted here.

Speaking Out About Violence in Mexico

Most of us have become all too aware of the gruesome violence that has gripped Mexico over the past year.  What is not as well known is the role played by the U.S. government and its allies in the Mexican government in the problems associated with narco-trafficking and arms smuggling.  Ted Lewis, director of our Human Rights Program, spoke out in the Seattle Times in September:

“…Any effective prescription to pull Mexico back from the abyss will require cooperation as well as introspection and substantive policy changes from the U.S.”

Read more by clicking here.

What’s Next?

Hosting a peace activist in residence, more Reverse Trick-or-Treating, elections monitoring in Mexico, Reality Tours to over thirty countries, Green Solutionaries, Green Festivals, renewable power payments…there isn’t enough room to include everything we’ve got planned for 2011.  But I can tell you this for sure: we’ve got big plans.

Medea Benjamin appeared on Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show as a lead up to the Rally to Restore Sanity in Washington, DC on Saturday, October 30th. Medea shares how CODEPINK was invited on the show.

When Jon Stewart was on Larry King’s show talking about his Rally to Restore Sanity, he likened himself to Alice in Wonderland and the rally as the Mad Hatter Tea Party. But is Jon Stewart really Alice, trying to find sanity in an upside-down world? Or is he the March Hare, the ultimate “slacktivist” who thinks it’s always teatime — time to sit back and jibberjabber?

The 10-30-10 rally on the capital’s mall is a looking more and more like a celebration of “slacktivism.” Stewart is courting people who do NOT want to open their window and yell, “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore!” As he says in the Rally for Sanity website, he’s looking for the people who’ve been “too busy to go to rallies, who actually have lives and families and jobs (or are looking for jobs).”

So let’s get this straight: people who were so horrified when the U.S. invaded Iraq that they joined millions of others to protest are not sane? We shouldn’t speak out against Wall Street bankers whose greed led to millions of Americans losing their jobs and homes? It’s irrational to be angry when you see the Gulf of Mexico covered in oil because BP cut corners on safety? Don’t get upset when the Supreme Court rules that corporations are people and can pour unlimited funds into our elections?

Stewart often roasts the warmakers and corporate fatcats on his show, but he seems to think that his viewers should be content to take out their frustrations with a good belly laugh.

When Jon Stewart announced the Rally to Restore Sanity, he included CODEPINK among the “loud folks” getting in the way of civil discourse. He also equated progressives calling George Bush a war criminal with right-wingers calling Obama Hitler.

So we started a Facebook page asking Jon Stewart to invite us on the show to set the record straight. Beware of what you ask for. We did, indeed, get a call from the producers but it was not for a live interview with Jon Stewart. No, it was for a taped session with myself, a Tea Party organizer and a tear-gas dodging, anti-globalization anarchist “giving advice” to Daily Show’s Samantha Bee about how to organize a good rally. It was clear they wanted to portray us as the crazy folks who should NOT come to their rally for reasonableness.

I consulted with my CODEPINK colleagues. Some said, “Don’t do it. It’s a trap and will only further marginalize us.” We’d already been ridiculed several times on the show, like when we stood up to question General Petraeus at a Congressional hearing or when we organized protests at the Marine Recruiting Center in Berkeley. But the majority of my colleagues thought it would be crazy to decline the chance to get an anti-war message out to millions of viewers.

The producers told us to come to the New York studio “in costume.” The anarchist, Legba Carrefour, was all in black, including a black bandanna covering his face. The Tea Partier, Jeffrey Weingarten, came in patriotic red, white and blue. I decided to “go professional”, with a CODEPINK t-shirt and a gray suit. The producers were disappointed. They had wanted me to appear in one of the wild outfits we have worn in Congress — like a hand-lettered pink slip accessorized with a hot-pink boa and a glittery “no war” tiara.

But my attempt to look professional was thwarted by the fourth guest who suddenly appeared and was positioned right behind me: A huge, scary puppet head of Iranian President Ahmadinejad.

So there we were, four “crazies” being quizzed by Samantha Bee for over two hours. She started out with softballs — what did we stand for, what activities did we engage in. Then the questions and the antics got sillier and sillier. By the end we found ourselves spinning a blind-folded Samantha Bee around, then watching her swing a baseball bat at Ahmadinejad’s head to see if was really a pinata.

I’m sure that with over two hours of tape, there will be plenty of footage to turn into a four minute segment showing us as a bunch of nutcases. After all, it is a comedy show.

But it’s too bad that Jon Stewart, the liberal comedian, is putting anti-war activists, tea partiers and black bloc anarchists in the same bag. And it’s sad that he’s telling his audience — many of whom are young progressive thinkers — that activism is crazy.

An anonymous assistant on the Daily Show’s blog chastized CODEPINK on line. “Dipping hands in fake blood or screaming over everyone just makes you look crazy and then the rest of the country ignores you.” He said that we should, instead, focus on solutions.

CODEPINK has been proposing solutions since the day we started. We risked our lives meeting with UN weapons inspectors in Iraq right before the U.S. invaded to see if war could be avoided. We have repeatedly traveled to Afghanistan to push for reconciliation. For the past eight years we have been posing solutions about how to deal with terrorism, how to extricate ourselves from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, how to make us safer at home. Whether under Bush or Obama, our voices of sanity have been drowned out by a war machine that makes billions selling weapons and hiring mercenaries.

Meanwhile, we’ve witnessed the agony of mothers who have lost their sons in these senseless wars, the unspeakable suffering of our friends in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the lavish spending on war while our schools and hospitals are gutted.

It was because of this insanity that we began to interrupt the war criminals during their public appearances, shouting — yes, shouting — for an end to the madness. It was because of this insanity that we put fake blood on our hands to represent the hundreds of thousands of innocents who died as result of their lies. In our post-9/11-24/7 news cycle, we learned that the more audacious and outrageous the action, the more likely we were to get our anti-war message into the national conversation.

For this the Daily Show calls us crazy!

Don’t get me wrong. CODEPINK women love to laugh and we try not to take ourselves too seriously. But we do feel thatit’s the sane people who protest crazy wars, who cry out against the dangers of global warming, who rail against big money in politics, who implore our politicians to spend our resources rebuilding America, not bombing people overseas.

So let’s celebrate the people who walk the talk. Slacktivism did not end slavery, activism did. Slacktivism did not get women our rights. Activism did. Slacktivism won’t end war or global warming. But activism just might.

Jon Stewart says he wants to restore sanity to Washington; so do we. We’ll see you out on the mall, Jon.

This Saturday, join CODEPINK in Washington, DC for Jon Stewart & Stephen Colbert’s Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear. Bring your best Mad Hatter Tea Party costume! Let’s restore sanity by ending war!