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Target Special Interest Groups for activism
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Kathleen F.
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Joined: 08 Sep 2005
Posts: 11090
Location: NM Albuquerque

PostPosted: Wed Dec 10, 2008 11:32 am    Post subject: Target Special Interest Groups for activism Reply with quote

In keeping with Eric's thread (I'll quote him but please see that), I think it's time to start plying pressure to special interest groups. Eric has done the research and found it's U.S. PIRG who's had the most impact. It's time to start writing to them and target activities appropriately.

The thing that really bites about all of this is most of us applaud the intent of laws promoted by special interest groups. Heck, many of us belong to similar ones. Between Eric and me, we probably belong to at least three. As environmentalists, it's why many of you make the products you do. What's worse is PIRGs often consist of college student activists which means pitting altruistic young people against producers of products they likely support. It's just awful. In other words, we have every reason to believe that if they knew the impact of this law, they'd be supporting us. As such, a cautious approach is highly recommended.

Links:
U.S. PIRG. Some states have their own chapter.

In this thread, please post suggested activities, progress and talking points. To save you a click, here's Eric's post which embodies the tack we should take.

Quote:
...I keep coming across environmentalists, public interest sites, and consumer activists who are applauding this thing because they think it finally means the end of lead and dangerous chemicals and/or it means the end of importing from developing countries, especially China. I think we need to be very careful in how we engage them.

In my opinion, most of the people in this forum are not only not in favor of lead or phthalates, but many of us are hyper-conscientious about what we make for children. So let's not get into an "us vs. the wacko environmentalists" fight because at the end of the day I still want to be an environmentalist (though admittedly of a pretty off-brand, anti-statist environmentalism). This needs to focus on the devilish details of the Act, not its intent. The problems are the testing, documentation, timeline, retroactivity, scope, and other poorly thought out aspects which have BIG unintended consequences.

I think these areas fall into the following categories:

* Environmentalists (NRDC)
* Public interest (Public Citizen and PIRG)
* Consumer activists (Consumers Union)
* Small manufacturer denialists (Journal Modiste)
* Protectionists (anti-Chinese, Lou Dobbs)

I think we need to track them, link to them as bad actors, and develop a coherent set of factual counterarguments as well as some good narratives (anecdotes). Rick Woldenberg's detailed discussion of his problems is one example; factual data on the number of small manufacturers being hit by this is another; the huge scope of who is affected (astroturf! I love it) is another.
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 10, 2008 12:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Could someone post the entire list of special interest groups that are supporting this law. I know it was posted in another thread, but I can't find it. Thanks!
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Jesica Milton
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 10, 2008 12:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Kathleen! I have sent a letter to the US chapter and to the Washington State chapter as well.
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jen m
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 17, 2008 12:28 pm    Post subject: more contacts Reply with quote

I sent the info to the Bubble Kids Trade Show in NY last week and they hadn't heard of it yet..they put it on their blog and now they are spreading the word. I will try to find a contact at Magic and ABC Kids and there is one more I can't remember the name - big one in NY - can anyone remember? These groups have a lot to lose from all of this as well.
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Vicki P
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 17, 2008 2:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

When a celebrity comes out either for or against something, it makes news faster than any other way I know of to promote a cause. Does anyone have contacts with one of the celebrities with a children's line or product? Maybe we already discussed this and I missed it.
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Lisa DOWNTOWN JOEY
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 17, 2008 3:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jen...I've already spoken to my contact at ENK Children's Club (NYC). I just need to send them backup links.
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Eric H
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 19, 2008 10:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

How many have read this from Seven Days?

Quote:
David Arkush is director of the Congress Watch division of Public Citizen, one of the half-dozen or so activist groups that pushed for passage of the CPSIA. Although Arkush says he’s only now starting to hear from small, independent manufacturers, he believes the claims about excessive testing costs are the result of poor information from the Consumer Product Safety Commission, if not a deliberate misinformation campaign.

“Some of their perceptions of what the costs are going to be are really overblown,” Arkush asserts. The CPSC “is not a bunch of jackbooted thugs who are going to come lock people up if they’re not complying with the law.”

Arkush admits some of the mandates may sound absurd at first blush, such as testing wooden toys for phthalates, or testing cotton T-shirts for lead.

“But we’re erring on the side of safety,” he adds, “because this is about lead and other toxic chemicals that are very dangerous to children.”


Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to bombard this guy with actual price quotes for testing, copies of the Etsy and Ebay notices for CPSIA compliance, and similar facts, euphemistically known to Mr. Arkush as "deliberate misinformation".

Quote:
David Arkush
Director, Public Citizen's Congress Watch
215 Pennsylvania Avenue SE, Washington, DC 20003
(202) 546-4996 | E-mail: darkush@citizen.org


This message will not self-destruct. Have a nice day.

[Kathleen says that this is too subtle: what it means is that everyone should give it to this character with both barrels. Misinformation? I think the definition of misinformation is to spread lies that the other side is spreading lies.]
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DarbyC
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 19, 2008 11:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Eric, how about I send him the costs of hiring a lawyer to help weed through all the legal ramifications for this legislation? Or the production costs just for the new labeling requirements? Or the cost of renting one of those testing guns? Steam is coming out of my ears right about now.
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Wacky Hermit
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 22, 2008 11:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Eric, I have fulfilled my mission.
Quote:
Hello there! My name is Sarah Natividad. I run a small home-based business called Curious Workmanship, where I make hand-crocheted baby booties. I have four kids; two have a form of autism and two have food allergies. Why am I telling you this? Because I want you to know just whom you are talking about when you believe that businesses can just absorb the costs of lead testing. Maybe in your universe, businesspeople who make children's products wear top hats and monocles and roll around on piles of money. I wear hats I knit myself and clothes I bought from thrift stores, and I've never had enough money to make a pile more than a few inches high (and that was the time I rolled all my coins I'd collected in a jar to pay my rent).

The booties I make are all crocheted by hand, most of them by me personally in my living room. My kids help stuff them with recycled tissue paper. I make them out of materials that are all made right here in the U.S.A. My yarn comes from North Carolina and the shoelaces from Rhode Island. So they're already subject to lead content standards. My booties are perfectly safe. My kids all chewed on these booties all through their babyhood, and the two of them that I've had tested for IQ scored 126 and 145; the others show no sign of being of below average intelligence. There is no lead in the booties. No gains in children's safety will be made by taking these booties off the market.

You seem to be laboring under the misapprehension that the CPSC is giving us small vendors false information about the cost of testing. This is not the case. The CPSC has given us no information at all. The information I've been getting, I obtained all by myself from the testing labs themselves. I'm attaching a file of these quotes so that you can see that this is true. Each test will cost me between $45 and $180 to do, depending on which lab I test at. And CPSIA, as it's currently written, would require me to do 132 of these tests. Even using the cheapest lab, this would cost me 37% of my annual revenue. That's revenue, not profit. It is more than my annual profit. And I'd have to get the testing redone every time I order a new dye lot of yarn, which is every couple of months. You can see that this is not going to work.

My customers like my baby booties because they are not the standard baby gift you can get at Wal-Mart or some other big box store. They buy them at farmer's markets and other places where people go to buy sustainable, locally-made products. If I go out of business, they won't have this option. If that's what you feel is the best thing for children, then please, keep supporting CPSIA as currently written. But if you think, as I do, that children are better served by having small, sustainable, local options, then please support fixing this bill so that it doesn't put honest businesspeople like me out of business. That money you seem to think I can spare for the safety of everyone else's children is what's paying for my children's food.

Sincerely,
Sarah B. Natividad
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Wacky Hermit
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 22, 2008 11:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Damn, Mr. Arkush has an auto-responder; he's "out of the office" till Jan. 5. Here's hoping he comes back to a box full of mail!
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Eric H
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Location: NM Albuquerque

PostPosted: Tue Dec 23, 2008 6:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Auto-responder? That's new. I sent him at least four e-mails, never got any response.
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Wacky Hermit
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 23, 2008 7:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Eric, maybe he ignored your emails before leaving the office. Smile You are, after all, not "on the side of the angels" in his point of view. For all he knows, you could be one of those eeeeeeeevil mustachio-twirling manufacturers rolling around on the pile of money you saved by replacing organic cotton with PURE LEAD in your clothing line! Muahahahaha... oh, sorry, where was I?
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Meg
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 23, 2008 8:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's a funny image.

What about environmental groups?
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Shannon Foster
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 30, 2008 4:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Vicki P wrote:
When a celebrity comes out either for or against something, it makes news faster than any other way I know of to promote a cause. Does anyone have contacts with one of the celebrities with a children's line or product? Maybe we already discussed this and I missed it.


I know of one in L.A.. What about www.thelittleseed.com? That is Soleil Moon Frye.... you know.... Punky Brewster Smile Anyone have any contact with her?
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Kathleen F.
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Joined: 08 Sep 2005
Posts: 11090
Location: NM Albuquerque

PostPosted: Tue Dec 30, 2008 5:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh that reminds me. Does anybody have a way of getting through to Gwen Stefani? She has a kid's line.

Btw, she actually sews. She broke her finger on an industrial machine a couple of years ago sewing samples.
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