Union of Concerned Santas Strikes Again!
Gap Holiday Campaign 2000 and Progress Report
Environmentalists launched the Save the Redwoods – Boycott the Gap Campaign on November 27, 1998, when the Fisher family, founders and major shareholders of Gap, Inc, made it clear that they intended to continue the previous owner’s liquidation logging program on the 350 square miles of extremely overcut redwood forestland in Mendocino and Sonoma Counties, that they purchased from Louisiana Pacific in July of that year.
200-foot Clothesline, 300-plus Protestors
On November 24, 2000, we commemorated the second anniversary of the Gap Boycott and kicked off Gap Holiday Campaign 2000, with actions across the country, including San Francisco, Palm Beach, Philadelphia, Houston, D.C., Raleigh, Olympia, Fresno, Denver, and Winnipeg. In San Francisco, the home of the Fishers and Gap, Inc, we unfurled a gigantic 200-foot anti-Gap clothesline, while over 300 protestors chanted, cheered, sang, drummed, danced, and listened to the inspired words of Starhawk, among others, at rallies in front of the Gap, Banana Republic, and Old Navy flagship stores. 6000 leaflets distributed in SF alone!
Over 50 Gap Actions Across US, Canada, and Europe
Gap Holiday Campaign 2000 was a tremendous success. With over 50 actions—and counting (reports keep coming in)—across the US, Canada, and Europe, activists and concerned citizens told the Fishers that a dirty "green-label" (discussed elsewhere at this web site) and massive P.R. campaign will in no way lessen our determination to see this devastated redwood forestland permanently protected, and that we will not tolerate the systematic exploitation of desperate people around the world (Gap, Inc, uses sweatshops to produce all its clothes).
Plundering the Winter Wonderland
In San Francisco, Gap actions included a return of the Union of Concerned Santas—those lovable Santas of Conscience who shut down Old Navy with the aid of PVC pipe last Christmas—and their "Alterna-Van," a wildly decorated alternative shopping van for shuttling shoppers away from Gap stores to earth-friendly, fair-trade destinations. The season capper was caroling at Don and Doris Fisher’s house on the 23rd and 24th. Party-goers, the SFPD, and Gap Security could not resist the wonderfully recycled carols, such as this one to Walking in a Winter Wonderland:
In the woods of Mendocino
Donald Fisher’s killing Coho
Destroying the trees
And the fisheries
Plundering the winter wonderland….
Gap demos and leafleting continued throughout post-Christmas sales and continue into January in Fresno (Jan 6), Minneapolis (Jan 20), San Francisco (Jan 21), Whitehall, PA (Jan 21), and Cincinnati (TBA).
Gap Inc on the Skids
Progress? Gap, Inc, is on the skids financially with not even a breath of hope for recovery till next Christmas (December same store sales were down by 6% and fourth-quarter earnings could fall short of the mark by 5 cents/share). Gap blames it on too many purple tops at Banana Republic—we know better. However, our advisors tell us that it is impossible to gauge how much is due to our consumer-pressure campaign—maybe a lot, maybe a little. We do know that Gap's economic woes began at the beginning of last year, long before those of other retailers. Veteran campaigners also tell us that it typically takes five years for a boycott to mature, while our campaign is just two years old. But we have been aggressive: The Coho and murrelets don’t have five years!
Court Victories Over the Gap Fishers
This past year we poured our energy and resources into (ongoing) timber harvest plan review, forest lawsuits, and demonstrations: We won our two lawsuits against the Gap Fishers and California Department of Forestry (if we had the resources we’d fight all 200+ harvest plans and win!) and through our demos, we garnered truly impressive, positive media coverage of the issues of Fisher deforestation and Gap sweatshop labor, including the front page of the Wall Street Journal, BBC international spots, and coverage in many major print, television, radio, and Internet outlets, from the Washington Post to the L.A. Times, NBC to CNN (see www.gapsucks.org ).
PMC, Raitt, and Brower Join Gap Campaign
This past year also brought us powerful new allies: The brilliant non-profit
Public Media Center, who designed our three New York Times ads and donated their services to the cause; beloved country-blues singer Bonnie Raitt, who recently wrote to the Fishers, asking them to stop logging and make their holdings a state park; the legendary environmentalist David Brower, who paid for our second ad; and scores of fired-up grassroots activists—such as 10-year-old Liam of the Isle of Arran, Scotland: What an activist!—who have been spreading the boycott message and organizing Gap actions around the world!
Debunking the Fishers’ "Green Label"
Although there were unofficial reports of the Fishers' willingness to negotiate on the forest issue after our first NY Times ad ran in mid-August (insiders told us that the Fishers, though willing, wanted to wait till Gap’s third-quarter earnings report was issued in early November), the Fishers' purchase of a phony "green label," announced November 16, 2000, seems to have given them a shot in the arm. Not for long. The fact that they have run two full-page ads in the NY Times tooting their own horn over their bogus "certification" means that they are on the defensive. Our Jan 3, 2001 KPFA Morning Show segment marked the first in a series of media forums that we are setting up to debunk the Forest Stewardship Council and the Gap Fishers' lying FSC "green label."
Meanwhile, Fisher deforestation continues unabated (see Jan newsletter at this site for actions you can take).
Exploitation of Desperate People
On the sweatshop front, the Gap has increased its number of factory monitors from 10 to 80 as a result of public pressure, though they obstinately refuse to allow independent monitoring, to settle the Saipan lawsuit (filed in Jan 99 by Global Exchange et al—19 other retailers have settled), to include a living wage clause in their "Vendor Code of Conduct," or to disclose the location and conditions of the factories with whom they do business (over 300 in 55 countries). For more info on the sweatshop campaign, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
2001, A Gap Campaign Odyssey
Do we simply need more time for our strategies to mature—or should we change those strategies from resource-intensive lawsuits and demos to other forms of public education, outreach, and defense? This is what we will address at upcoming strategy sessions and meetings with key advisors and allies this month and next. We also seek suggestions from environmentalists visiting this web site. What, in your estimation, would constitute a milestone toward victory? A bumper-sticker campaign? An article in Sierra? A major presence in Quebec City at the FTAA Summit (see Jan newsletter at this site for more on the No FTAA Campaign)? Please email comments to email@example.com or call 415-731-7924.
Whatever strategies we choose—they will be strategies that win in 2001: We will see this forestland permanently protected as a wildlife refuge and we will see Gap workers treated with dignity and paid a living wage.
Count on it.
Save the Redwoods/Boycott the Gap Campaign
252 Frederick Street, San Francisco, CA 94117
firstname.lastname@example.org 415-731-7924 http://www.gapsucks.org
Other Contacts/Information Sources:
Mary Pjerrou, Redwood Coast Watersheds Alliance
707-877-3405 email@example.com www.elksoft.com/gwa
Mark Hilovsky, Builders Action Network
Bay Area Coalition for Headwaters
510-835-6303 Listserve firstname.lastname@example.org
(message text = Subscribe BACHlist,
followed by email address, then name)
Info on Gap Sweatshops:
FOR REDWOODS AND WORKERS:
BOYCOTT THE GAP, BANANA REPUBLIC, & OLD NAVY!