angel Kyodo williams

Posts Tagged ‘activism’

beyond the boycott

In culture, money, politics on September 1, 2009 at 4:47 pm

60p-header

telling whole foods you don’t buy it

a time for action: sometimes, no matter how many ways you try to describe a thing, you have to experience it to know what it really is. i’ve been talking about transformative change: what it is and isn’t. what it could look like and what it can make possible in the world. “beyond the boycott” is the birthplace of an experience of transformative change rooted in nonviolent action. rather than a campaign against Whole Foods, it’s a committment to real healthcare & wellness for all. it’s a campaign for a more “whole truth.” if you’re interested, join in the experience, and together, we’ll transform the world. -aKw

Two weeks ago, like now tens of thousands of others on Facebook, I ran across a post on Why You Should Boycott Whole Foods. If you’re like me, you may have experienced a deeply conflicted moment of some combination of shock, disgust, rage and, um…fear. Fear that you will now have to figure out where to get those admittedly pricey but picturesquely beautiful organic foods you’ve come to know and love and, for some of us, give your whole paycheck for.

I’m a stalwart soldier that can take a strong stand for what I believe in. The truth is though, I live in Berkeley, CA, the uber-progressive Republic rivaled only by my hometown of New York City for access to “whole foods” from places other than Whole Foods. As annoying as it might be, it won’t exactly be a hardship for me to go spend my dollars at Berkeley Bowl, Trader Joe’s and the stunning array of year-round weekly farmer’s markets.

But how true is that for thousands of us? Especially when Whole Foods is the only game in town—exactly what has made it such a national success—and exactly what I believe John Mackey was counting on when he wrote his now-infamous op-ed The Whole Foods Alternative to ObamaCare.

Here’s another truth, sheepish as it may be: I Like Whole Foods. After kavetching like many about the high pricetag on everything from Abalone to Zinneas, and derisively calling it by its’ Whole Paycheck moniker every chance I could get, I surrendered to its wide open aisles, carefully stacked vine-ripened tomatoes and apparently happy-to-be-working-there-employees’ smiles. I do spend my whole paycheck, though not being able to afford health insurance frees up a little cash.

And since we’re on a truth roll: I like most of the eight points Mackey made in his piece. I certainly think they’re worth looking into. So I don’t think he’s evil and I definitely don’t think he’s stupid. In fact, I think he smartly calculated the risk of framing his plan as he did. I think John Mackey, like any businessman capable of building a $8B business did some accounting. He accounted for the risk of pissing off a central base. He accounted for sparking a firestorm at a critical point in the healthcare discourse, and I even think he accounted for some boycotts here and there. But he calculated that he would win. Why? Because:

  • Most Americans (myself included) have dwindled down to the attention span of a 140-character tweet.
  • Boycotts take time, patience and commitment to work. Understandably, we’re sorely lacking on most of that these days, and most impactfully:
  • Whole Foods IS the only game in town in too many places for a sustained boycott over an indefinite period of time.

So what to do? Something John Mackey hasn’t accounted for—take the Whole Foods Boycott to another level—tell Whole Foods “I Don’t Buy It.”

If given an invitation, they don’t respond meaningfully to the concerns of their offended core base and those impacted by his statements, we should all get together and go beyond the boycott. Sending peopleTO Whole Foods to SHOP, but DON’T BUY is an action that will get their attention. It’s time to increase the pressure and urgency on Whole Foods, leaving no doubt that we will not only withhold our dollars from them, but will take positive action to drain them of resources. But it’s also time for those of us pushing for change to do so in a way that actually seeks resolution, transforming the issue into an opportunity for real change: change that matters. Thus, any action taken should be thoughtful, respectful, measured and leveraged only if it is needed: if understanding where this is headed, Whole Foods won’t come to the table. Ignoring it away is not an option.

Just like it sounds, in a SHOP. DON’T BUY action, people would:

SHOP for groceries, then “pay” with a symbolic 60-Person bill and tell the cashier that their CEO, in effect, said this is acceptable:

  • that it’s OK that 60 people die every day without access to healthcare
  • that it’s OK that uninsured adults are 25% more likely to die prematurely
  • that it’s OK the lack of health insurance is the third leading cause of death for the near-elderly

Naturally they won’t accept the 60P so shoppers get to tell Whole Foods “I DON’T BUY It.”

  • DON’T BUY their food.
  • DON’T BUY their excuse for John Mackey’s irresponsible statements.
  • DON’T BUY any position that allows corporations to avoids responsibility for their leadership when offering a personal view under the banner of their brand.

Leave the store without the groceries.

This simple but powerful action can give us voice to acknowledge that, contrary to what Mackey suggests, healthcare IS a right. It is buying from Whole Foods that is a privilege.

Going beyond the boycott—which is hard to measure the impact of, potentially loses steam and often devolves into angry protest because people want to DO something—each of us can say “Whole Foods, I’m commited to take action because…

I don’t buy it that Mackey benignly used scare tactic phrases “socialism” and “government takeover.”

I don’t buy it that healthcare is something that every American shouldn’t have access to because “a careful reading of both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution will not reveal any intrinsic right…”

I don’t buy it “that every American adult is responsible for his or her own health” even though a flawed system has sold access to healthcare from under the feet of 47 million people.

I don’t buy it “voluntary, tax-deductible donation” is sufficient to address that lack of access, and

I don’t buy it that even if “many of our health-care problems are self-inflicted” for the many reasons–systemic, market-driven, lack of information–that may be true, 60 people should die everyday.

And I don’t buy it for Whole Foods to explain this away as “personal opinions” because Mackey used his access and status as CEO to make his surprisingly irresponsible and self-serving statements, branding it “The Whole Foods Alternative…”

We can leverage our commitment to action for a more satisfying resolution to the betrayal of our trust in shared values. Now that their CEO has publicly stood against so many, what will Whole Foods stand for? In the absence of a meaningful response to their leader’s maybe personal, likely uninformed, but still irresponsible statements, love Whole Foods as we may—-in fact because we love them—-we need to hold them accountable. An organized, nonviolent Shop, Don’t Buy action can do that.

Finally, Mr. Mackey, I acknowledge that your “eight reforms” might work. But this is no longer only about lowering costs, it’s about life and our inalienable Rights—as a careful reading of the Declaration of Independence does reveal—to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. None of those are possible without our health. You’ve got good ideas but you didn’t have to slap us with them. Relationship repair starts with conversations. Can we talk?

Some powers that be, naysayers, talking heads and even John Mackey may believe Whole Foods can just wait out a boycott and continue business as usual without significant impact on their bottom line.

I don’t buy it. And you shouldn’t either.

Get details on Shop. Don’t Buy: http://bit.ly/idbi

copyright MMIX. angel Kyodo williams

angel Kyodo williams is a maverick teacher, author, social visionary
and founder of Center for Transformative Change. she posts, tweets &
blogs on all things change. permission granted to retweet, repost,
repaste & repeat with contact information intact.

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Note: The above essay was modified from the original written 8/25/09 —aKw

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a more perfect union

In culture, leadership, politics, relationship, spirit on June 9, 2009 at 2:21 pm

using our wholebody



Days after California’s Prop 8 was propped up by its Supreme Court, former vice president Dick Cheney unapologetically (of course) and righteously affirmed the novel idea that “freedom means freedom for everyone…people ought to be able to enter into any kind of union they wish.”

Many of us pulled the lever to cast our vote for an oddly hopeful promise of “a more perfect union” of our Divided States. We watch with our breath held, our hearts in our throats, ready to put our bodies on the line as our One Government lets individual Republics of imaginary divides decide one-by-one, state-by-state, who freedom means freedom for: our embodiment of a more perfect union catastrophically undone by an unwillingness to recognize our most precious union: the one of the heart.

In an historic constitutional referendum in Bolivia, the voters expressed their more perfect union through the powerful symbolic act of embracing a second official flag: the formerly illegal flag of the indigenous people and of the social movement that brought down the previous corrupt governments.

The seven-color Wiphala flag is arranged as 7×7 colors in a square:

Historically, it is the flag of the Incan territory that spanned Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Chile and Argentina.
Culturally, it is the flag of the Aymara-Quechua Andean and Amerindian people.
Politically, it is pan-indigenous, multi-ethnic, cross-class and trans-issue. With it’s similarity to the Gay rainbow flag and use for urban social movements, it is becoming an international symbol for diversity and solidarity, equality and equity, dignity and reciprocity…all coming together.

A celebration of the order of cosmos, symbol of life and fertility, it’s rainbow covers the spectrum of colors and represents the honoring of all that should matter to a society:

  • RED for man and the earth
  • ORANGE for society and its expression through culture and education
  • YELLOW for energy and strength through collectivity
  • WHITE for time and community transformation
  • GREEN for natural resouces and the land
  • BLUE for the heavens and natural phenomena
  • Last, most powerfully and sanely, VIOLET for harmonious governance and self-determination of the people.

Taken as a whole and liberated from the neo-colonial closet, it represents that more perfect union that we should all strive for in our quest for a fair and equitable society.

Some worry that Evo Morales, Bolivia’s first indigenous President, may be inadvertently diminishing the symbol, as savvy politicians have been wont to do, putting a cursory end to movements of the people by absorbing their symbols and slogans into government. Our own Civil Rights Movement came to an abrupt, stunted and co-opted halt on Lyndon B. Johnson’s appropriative declaration that “we shall overcome.”

But as powerful as symbols, phrases and slogans are, they only derive their energy from the wellspring of the people they represent. People that don’t just stand in the truth, but express it through the way they live. And just as “words on a parchment would not be enough to deliver slaves from bondage, or provide men and women of every color and creed their full rights” the more perfect union we seek for this country will not arise from a speech, a bailout, or even a healthcare plan.

What it will arise from is the embodiment of that more perfect union by folks that know and act on what’s right: like the whites and blacks that fraternized in backwoods jook joints, using rhythm to find harmony. From learning how to dance together, they eventually found the ability to pray, sit and stand together “always at great risk.”

It will arise from the embodiment of principles in and by the people that show up every day to “narrow the gap” between the hope for our society and “the reality of (our) time.” It will arise through the embodiment of actions that manifest the longing held in our hearts, the vision that we cannot yet see, but can feel the truth of in our very core. Thus with great faith, we reach inward, act outward, and move toward it. Our more perfect union will arise from within the people.

Some think this union will come as the result of the broad view of Analysis: political, social, grounded. Others believe we’ll be brought together by the deep current of Spirit: fundamental, ethical, rooted.

In the end, it will express itself as nothing that we currently know of, but rather as a constellation, integration and distillation of all. It will be individually-particularized, collectively-driven and universally-appealing. It will be a social movement because we are social creatures that can form the shape that expresses what we wish to become. It will be a cultural movement because together we create the conditions in which new ways can thrive. It will be self-determined and other-honoring. It will be systemic, endemic and talismanic. More than anything, it will, because it must, be transformative. Our more perfect union will be neither this nor that. Leaving nothing and none of us behind, it will be WholeBody: a Third Way that embraces and embodies being fully Human: ever-evolutionary, ever-revolutionary, ever-dynamic and always Divine.

From there, state-by-state and heart-by-heart, in our more perfect union, we can get Dick Cheney’s wish granted.

Jai Bhim! We shall overcome…Si, se puede. A Better World is Possible. Venceremos…Yes, we can. By any means necessary: Power to the People. Power by the People. Power FROM the People.


copyright MMIX. angel Kyodo williams.

angel Kyodo williams is a maverick teacher, author, social visionary and
founder of the Center for Transformative Change.
permission granted to retweet, repost, repaste & repeat with contact information intact.

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this is our time

In culture, leadership on May 8, 2009 at 1:41 pm

will the real american idols please stand up

It’s our time.

Though it may seem hard to discern through the economic debris that is still falling, that so many of us are picking through the pieces of, this is our time.

For far too long we have labored for justice and lurched towards change with far too little resources, too little cohesion, too few wins too far and few between. But labor we had to—making do with what we had, holding it together best we could, savoring the wins and weathering the losses—thus lurch we did and change we made.

A Black Organizer is in the White House. Justice is getting off the bench and in the Game.

It’s our time.

The era of the lowly grunt that toils for justice being the under-appreciated, underpaid underdog is officially overrated. We are now the wunderkinds that can capture the imagination of our nation with our unwavering comittment to Hope, resounding call for Freedom and heart-stopping effort to reveal Truth, Justice and a truly New American Way. It’s Easy as ABC: rooted by Awareness, grounded in Balance, acting from Center.

We, the willing practitioners of a transformative social change, are the only ones who can shift the current paradigm. We are the moral & inspirational frontline of America. Like no other movement before us, we span the globe, defy description and transcend all boundaries: some of us wealthy in cash, some in culture, we are cross-class and transgendered, Caucasian and Cablinasian, neo-social and hyper-spiritual, we bow at the altar of Authenticity. Our movement has been moved by door-knockers and dreamers, academics and activists, poets and pundits, writers and rappers, EDs and PhDs: we are all One. We’ve been a Tribe with a Quest to self-liberate even the antidote of what ails us, because complete freedom is the only freedom that matters.

It’s our time.

Auditions are over. We’re front and center stage. We must stand up and stand out. We need to take our rightful place as the Real American Idols: the exemplars of excellence that know there is no justice if justice isn’t for all.

We’ll create a Mad World in which Adam can take home the prize AND Steve for a Union in any State of his choosing because there’s a Whole Lotta Love and this town is big enough for all of it. Our children will want to grow up to be aligned agents of change, not morally bankrupt bankers, broken-down mortgage brokers or exposed wizards of Wall Street caught with their hands on the levers of peoples’ lives. While they all lined their pockets with peoples’ pain, We lay the path for possibility and prosperity. We… are…the…champions.

It is our time.

We’ll lift every voice to sing.

We’ll dance with whole body, mind and spirt.

We’ll shine from the inside, radiating self-awareness, self-care and self-love.

The crowds will go wild. Sitting on the edges of their seats, they’ll cheer us on, spellbound by the marriage of head and heart, fierce commitment to humanity and strength of humility that wins where it matters, even when the scoreboard says otherwise.

They’ll tweet, twitter, digg, fan and follow the triple-threat talent that steals the show every time:

Our courage to take on Responsibility for the work that needs to be done.
Our conviction to be Accountable to our co-workers, communities, and most of all, ourselves.
Our clarity of Purpose that is the container of our intention and the vision for our success.

This Radical Relationship to self, other and the Mother is ecological, evolutionary and embodied.

This is our time.

Well-coiffed and, dare I say, well-dressed, we ARE the bling, we are the Rock Stars, the Sexy Mothers and Mutha…(you get the drift), and Mike wants to be like Us.

When the viewers telly and the texts are tallied, we’ll be judged by true measures of greatness: how skillfully we exhibit grace under pressure, wield power with precision and receive feedback—even when it seems negative and harsh—with aplomb. Simon says: take what’s yours and release the rest.

And when the small wins elude us (as they will) we’ll flash our pearly whites and see the opportunity to learn from our missteps, sharpen our skill and deepen our practice. We’ll accept defeat gracefully as we prepare for the next round with abiding love in our hearts, joy in our spirits, compassion for others and equanimity in the face of it all.

Because we know that when met in this way, two steps back can propel us a giant leap forward. We know Victory is ours because justice has ALWAYS been on our side, and now, finally, we need only make it so for now, now now…

NOW is our time.


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