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Yes Lab: Creating a Ruckus in Chicago

April 27, 2011

I was accepted at the last minute to join in on the Yes Lab hosted by Andy Bichlbaum of The Yes Men and our political action event has peaked today.

What if someone put a dirty and dangerous coal fired electrical plant in your neighborhood?  When the neighborhood in question is rich and powerful, people freak out over a threat like a dirty coal plant.  There was chatter on Yelp.com and local blogs, expressing fear and anger at the threat of smoke stacks belching over their heads.  We engaged in an effort to convince the local residents and businesses that a coal burning power plant was going to be built right on top of some prime real estate.  

The reality is, the poorer and mostly Latino neighborhoods in Pilsen and Little Village live in the smog of dirty coal plants that are so old they were “grandfathered” in and do not have to meet EPA Clean Air Act standards.  Worse, the power is exported elsewhere; the electricity is not even used in these two neighborhoods where the residents are choking on the pollution.  Asthma and other illnesses are at record high levels among the children living there.

A clean power bill specific to Chicago is pending.  The Clean Power Ordinance would force these power plants to change radically or close.  But people need to be aware of the bill and the problems that have affected Pilsen and Little Village for years.  The Yes Lab is teaching the culture jamming and media hacking techniques The Yes Men have been using for years; it was a group effort with a lot of smart people signed on to pull top level work quickly.  

We’re busted now; the power plant being “built” was a hoax.  A lot of wealthy and connected types had fits to their Alderman and a few media outlets got punked, having reported the conflict as real.   That is part of the deal.  The hoax gets busted and the story goes on; the importance of the real issues is given more consideration by the public. 

We need to pass the Clean Power Ordinance!  If wealthy condo owners and business were afraid and/or angry that coal dust could be raining down on them, think how bad it has been for the people that have lived with this reality in their neighborhood for years.

Here are some links:

HuffPost Chicago


Curbed Chicago

Sloopin: A South Loop Blog

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