Creative Activism Projects

Between 2011 and 2013, the Yes Lab collaborated with NYC community groups to stage the following media interventions as a part of a creative activism initiative by the Hemispheric Institute.



Deport the Statue

Active dates: June 2013
Status: Complete

Every year, hundreds of thousands of undocumented people face deportation. Under the Obama administration, the number of deportations has hit record highs. In 2012 alone, the United States deported 409,849 people.

In June of 2013, a video, released by a group called Legals for the Preservation of American Culture, urged viewers to support the deportation of the Statue of Liberty. The video was a satire, but the issues facing immigrant women are serious.


Three Strikes, You're In!

Active dates: September 2011–March 2012
Status: Complete

To compensate victims of their racist and abusive "stop and frisk" policy, the New York Police Department partnered with McDonald’s to offer free Happy Meals™ to anyone stopped and frisked three times without charge or summons. Too yummy to be true?



Patriots for Self-Deportation

Active dates: October 2011–January 2012
Status: Complete

In October 2011, a group of activists decided to take the logic of anti-immigration activists to its logical extreme. They reasoned that if "anchor babies" are such a big issue, we should all look carefully to determine whether any one of our ancestors entered the country illegally, and if they did, we should self-deport to our illegal ancestor's country of origin.

Thus was born, a how-to guide for moral-minded American citizens who have realized that the moral standard they apply to today's undocumented immigrants should apply to those who came here long ago.


Phone Story

Reveal date: September 12, 2011
Status: Complete
Partners: Molleindustria

Force children to mine precious metals, save suicidal workers from jumping to their deaths so they can labor another day, or find the cheapest way to dispose of mountains of e-waste—all while keeping productivity up so you can toss shiny trinkets to adoring consumers! All this and more from the first anti-iPhone iPhone app.


The Water is Safe to Drink

Reveal date: April 30, 2011
Status: Active
Partners: Food and Water Watch

Official-looking Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) stickers, with chilling assurance that the tap water is "most likely safe," appeared above public faucets throughout New York. The goal was to alert New Yorkers to the alarming prospect that their drinking water could soon be contaminated by hydraulic fracturing.


The Alberta Tar Sands is ... Mordor?

Reveal date: April 15, 2011
Status: Complete
Partners: Greenpeace Canada

The Alberta Tar Sands as a low budget filming location for Peter Jackson's Mordor scenes in The Hobbit? That was the buzz generated by a sophisticated social-media campaign unleashed by Canadian activists in partnership with the Yes Lab. The ruse put the spotlight on the environmental devastation caused by the Tar Sands at a time when Canada's government is rushing headlong towards disaster by massively expanding the site.


Coal for the Rich

Reveal date: April 14, 2011
Status: Complete
Partners: Citizens United Against Loop Coal (CUALC), Greenpeace Chicago

Students from Columbia College in Chicago came together with Greenpeace and The Yes Lab to create the illusion that a new Coal Plant was planned in Chicago — but that instead of going in a poor neighborhood like the two coal plants that already exist, this one would be built in a rich one.


GE Returns Billions to Public Coffers... Not

Reveal date: April 13, 2011
Status: Complete
Partners: US Uncut

With local, State and Federal governments slashing critical education, health and public safety services nationwide due to dramatic budget cutbacks, GE brought good things to life by offering to return the entirety of its $3.2 billion 2010 tax refund to the Treasury. Even more touching, GE committed to conducting a nationwide survey to gauge popular opinion on which of the recently-enacted budget cuts people would like to see reversed, now possible thanks to GE's generosity. This unprecedented—and completely fictitious—corporate move, was a joint project of US Uncut and the Yes Lab, and caused GE's stock to drop $3.5 billion after it was reported in USA Today.

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Past Collaborators

The Yes Lab involves students, faculty, and local activists in strategizing and accomplishing funny media interventions. 

War Resisters League
The United States’ oldest secular pacifist organization, the War Resisters League has been resisting war at home and war abroad since 1923.  Their campaign and storytelling project, “Facing Tear Gas”, aims to end the international and local transfer of US-made tear gas, and in the process change the story about tear gas globally and (militarized) police locally. 

Breakthrough is a global human rights organization that brings human rights issues and values into the mainstream and make human rights real and relevant. Their campaign, #ImHere, is an urgent and innovative call to action for the rights of immigrant women in the United States. A multimedia campaign, #ImHere seeks to highlight the ways in immigrant women in the U.S. are an increasingly vulnerable population - the goal of the campaign is to raise awareness about the issues faced by immigrant women and bring them into the wider, mainstream conversation about women's rights that is gaining so much traction in the run-up to the elections.

Restaurant Opportunities Centers United
The only national organization that is dedicated exclusively to the needs of restaurant workers was founded after 9/11 by former workers at Windows to the World on the Twin Towers.  Their current workplace justice campaign, “Dignity at Darden”, is aimed at Capital Grille restaurants where workers of color complain that they cannot access living wage jobs in the restaurants because of their race and ethnicity, that they are being clocked out early, have to share their tips with non-tipped workers, and other examples of wage theft. Many workers have also brought up the need for paid sick days – not only to protect their own health but also the health of customers.

Change the Stakes
An NYC parent, teacher, and educator organization, developed out of the longstanding educator group Grassroots Education Movement, with membership from across the 5 boroughs. The organization aims to stop the destructive practice of high-stakes testing in NYC public schools, with a particular emphasis on the testing regime in grades 3-8.  They aim to increase awareness about the narrowing of curriculum in schools due to undue emphasis on testing; educate parents and communities regarding the top down and opaque process of test development, distribution, and grading facilitated by the multinational corporation, Pearson Inc; and increase numbers of parents who choose to opt out of the state tests next spring. 

Breakfast and lunch for the Yes Lab launch was generously donated by: