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WE NEED YOUR HELP!!!

 

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We’re planning something & we need your help with it. Seriously. Not like your help by “liking” the status or doing a rendition of #HashtagActivism. Actual, serious, you getting off the computer—help.

We have plans to build The Cleveland Freedom Center. Problem is, it’s going to take about 1.8 million to build & about a million a year to run… we’re a little short… we’ve got $3000.00…

But, that $3 grand can do some serious good if allocated correctly.

We’re going to start opening Cleveland Freedom Center Pop-Ups in high-risk areas every 3-6 months (or as long as our limited funds hold out) . They will concentrate on one particular aspect of ending human trafficking & will be open for one week to offer direct services to at-risk & survivors of human trafficking. Our first one is going up in Mid-August around the Cleveland Airport.

WE DESPERATLY NEED YOUR HELP TO DO IT!!!!!

We’re looking for volunteers in the following areas (4-8 hours in one week):

Resume writing

Job searching

Hair & Makeup

Professional Clothes Shopping

Tattoo cover up & removal

Intake (filling out forms)

Telephone answering

Job Coaching

 

If you can’t do the time, do the dime!

We’re also looking for fiscal donations, hair & makeup, professional clothing etc… in order to pull this off.

So seriously, we need you. Others desperately need you.

If you can help out in any way shoot me an e-mail jesse @imaginefreedom.org

- JB

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I’m asking you to do very little to end human trafficking.

Doing little to human trafficking is way better then doing nothing to end human trafficking.

Doing little to human trafficking is way better then doing nothing to end human trafficking.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The title sucked you in huh? I was hoping it would. It’s true; I’m asking you to do very, very little to end human trafficking. Because let’s be honest; we’re lazy. I don’t mean that in a negative way, I love being lazy! I’ve honestly thought of equipping my dogs with insulated saddlebags to help facilitate my own amazing lack of wanting to do things. In the morning I would gear up my dogs with all of my supplies needed for the day (sandwiches, drinks, snacks) so I wouldn’t ever have to leave my couch (learn more about my everlasting love for my couch here). I would simply call my dogs over, remove what supplies I need & then continue on with my epic laziness.

But I digress, this blog entry isn’t about my laziness; it’s about our mutual, co-constructed laziness.

So building a more free world is a massive pain in the ace, I’ll be the first one to admit it. I could easily ask you to change everything about you, to live completely for the freedom of others; but you wouldn’t do it. Let’s be honest, just about every aspect of our lives involves the exploitation of others. If I were to try to ask you to change everything all at once you would most likely reject my very premise & just keep on, keeping on.

So I’m not going to ask you to change the world, I’m just going to ask you to do one thing. I’m going to ask you to pick one small easy to do item from this list, commit to it, and do it on a regular basis. On the micro (small) level, you might think that one small thing, one act, won’t make a difference. You’re wrong. If several million people do one small thing, on the macro level (big), we’ve just changed the world.

So here we go. It doesn’t matter which one you pick from this list. Just commit to it & do it (or if called for, don’t do it) on a regular basis. Make your choice public, share this status & tell others what you’ve chosen to do or not do to (see #17).

 

The “do-little” list to end human trafficking:

  1. Buy refurbished electronics regularly (learn more here)
  2. Eat locally grown food (learn more here)
  3. Buy fair trade coffee (learn more here)
  4. Don’t buy porn (learn more here)
  5. Buy conflict free diamonds (learn more here)
  6. Buy U.S. mined precious metals (learn more here)
  7. Frequent the thrift shop
  8. Avoid companies that sexualize children (think makeup, clothes & other advertisements)
  9. Be a child’s mentor
  10. Teach your sons that women aren’t objects
  11. Report suspicious sexual activities to the NHTRC & local police (learn more here)
  12. Don’t buy commercial sex
  13. Read & understand the List of goods made by forced or child labor (download it here)
  14. Learn your slavery footprint (take the test here)
  15. Get your fish from U.S. sources (learn more here)
  16. Buy fair trade coffee (learn more here)
  17. Share human rights orgs statuses DON’T JUST LIKE THEM!
  18. Tell teachers not to say “the civil war ended slavery” because it only made it illegal
  19. Buy clothes from companies who signed onto the CA Transparency in supply chains act (learn more here)
  20. Check out All American Clothing Company & their Traceability program (learn more here)
  21. Pay for a tattoo shop to remove ex gang member or trafficking survivor tattoos (learn more here)
  22. Grow your own vegetables (learn more here)
  23. Buy things that are Made By Survivors (learn more here)
  24. Buy Goodweave Certified carpets & rugs (learn more here)
  25. Volunteer with an anti-trafficking or human rights organization
  26. Read some of the research (not just the emotional stuff) of human trafficking (learn more here)
  27. Don’t buy illegal drugs (learn more here)
  28. Get free anti-trafficking drop cards from us & leave them places (learn more here)
  29. Invest ethically (learn more here)
  30. Give money to an anti-trafficking organization
  31. Teach your kids a safe word & a panic word that only your family knows
  32. Track your kids via cell phone app (learn more here)
  33. Request a free anti-trafficking presentation at your child’s school (learn more here)
  34. Invite us into your church for a free social justice presentation
  35. Stop using the word pimp as a descriptive word (learn more here)
  36. Put free Bible bookmarks in Bibles (learn more here)
  37. Don’t buy items made from tropical hardwood (learn more here)
  38. Familiarize yourself with what human trafficking looks like (learn more here)
  39. Share ways to end human trafficking (not just arrest reports) on social media (learn more here)
  40. Help to change male culture (learn more here)
  41. Encourage entrepreneurs to learn about anti-trafficking efforts (learn more here)
  42. Say you’re ending human trafficking, not “fighting” human trafficking (learn more here)
  43. Memorize these phone number 1.888.373.7888 or text 233733 (this is how you report human trafficking to the NHTRC)
  44. Teach kids it is ok to fight if someone tries to take them or take advantage of them (learn more here)
  45. Plant a vegetable garden (learn more here)
  46. Repurpose items (learn more here)
  47. Hire people with previous criminal records (give them a chance, if not,they will still continue to earn money; just illegally. Trafficking is very profitable)
  48. Tell other people about human rights
  49. Get the Buycot app & be a responsible consumer (learn more here)
  50. Help to end sex trafficking by saying “real men don’t buy girls

So there it is, a list so simple that an item or two could be accomplished in seconds per month. You may think that these tiny things don’t make a difference, you’re wrong. In order to build a more free world, the work to end human trafficking has to become institutionalized, which means that it is just something we have built into our lives. By doing a thing or two regularly you institutionalize the system. If enough people begin to do one or two things manufacturers, traffickers, politicians etc. will take notice & things will start to change on a massive level. In theory 20% of the population represents a tipping point, which means all we have to do is get 20% of Americans to perform or two items on a regular basis and then the behavior will spread virally.

Always remember that even the smallest pebble can cause waves in the largest of oceans.

If you have any ideas for more items for the “do-little” list, please share them with me. Jesse @ imaginefreedom.org

- JB

 

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Freedom, our natural state.

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I love my couch. Like, I really really love my couch. It is situated adjacent to a big window and my palm tree collection (yes, I grow palm trees indoors and yes, I live in Cleveland). Much like Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory, my spot on my couch is the place from all other parts of my existence emanate. It is point 0,0,0 to my life. When I come into the room my dogs move from my couch (usually) and my family stays away from it as well. It’s not a very attractive couch, stained and worn out with an old blanket covering it.

You might at this point be wondering if I may have lost it. After all, I am rambling on about my couch in a blog dedicated to anti-trafficking work and human rights. Stick with me a little while longer, it’ll make sense.

My couch is where I make all my plans, my ideas, dream my dreams. My couch is my home base for my freedom. It is where I start out and in-turn, end all of my adventures. As such, it is very valuable to my state of well being. After every research endeavor, my couch. After a press conference, my couch. After totally eff-ing up… my couch. When I’m planning something it almost always starts out on my couch. Talking to friends, my couch, family, my couch. Thinking about life, my couch. Like I said earlier, my couch is my freedom, my special place, my go-to spot.

Lots and lots of people don’t have that special place, that spot, that freedom place. I hope in time, our organization The Imagine Foundation will be able to give them that spot.

For the last year, we’ve been planning what we call The Cleveland Freedom Center. Right now it exists only on paper and in the minds of a few dedicated volunteers but someday soon it will be a reality; it has to be. The Cleveland Freedom Center will be a live-in rehabilitation center for people recovering from human trafficking. It will be a home, a place of freedom. It will be a warm comfy couch for those who have greatly wanted a safe place to base their lives. A place to plan their future, and their adventures.

This year I’m going to be writing about it a lot. We’ve been in the planning phase far too long and need to start taking action to make this a reality. We’re going to need your help to make it happen.

So here’s the deal: Freedom is our natural state but unfortunately it has been taken away from many people. We want you to help us to build a place where people can reclaim their freedom, and plan their adventures.

Are you in?

- JB

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10 things to build a more free world in 2014

So 2014 came huh? I was sick & I missed the obligatory “Happy new year, blah blah blah” post that Executive Directors of non-profits are supposed to do… Sorry…I have really been slacking on the whole social media footprint & blogging thing. We’ve got a couple of big projects in the hopper & they’ve been taking up a bunch of my time. I’ll get back on it though.

Happy 2014!

Happy 2014!

To kick off the new year, how about a list. From what I see on Facebook & Buzzfeed, lists are all the rage so here we go:

10 Things that you can do to build a more free world in 2014!

 

1. Fair Trade Products: Fair trade products are cool, not just because the pretty girl/guy at whole foods things so but because they generate a tangible wage for the grower/producer. It’s important to note that Fair Trade products do not mean “forced labor free” products, but since the grower/producer receives a fair wage, she or he are less likely to be economically exploited or to exploit others. Check out some awesome fair trade products here: Ten Thousand Villages 

2. Don’t buy Porn or Commercial Sex: I’m a dude, I’ve always been a dude and I’ll always be a dude. I’ll be the first one to admit that I used to think porn & strip clubs & prostitution was awesome, emphasis on the USED TO… Until I started really researching the damaging effects that porn, commercial sex & prostitution has on people, I really didn’t understand. For most of my life, I looked at the people caught up in these industries as objects, not as human beings. By purchasing porn, or commercial sex you are economically validating the practices and encouraging others to engage in the same. In short, you are creating demand for it. Let’s be honest here, what is porn or commercial sex satisfying in your life. I bet you’re lonely, why don’t you try to meet someone real instead of engaging in a fantasy world. Learn a bit about the damaging effects of porn & commercial sex here from Tamara Toryn.

3. Goodweave Carpets: I’m 35 now, so all my friends & colleagues are growing up, having kids, and becoming professional & stuff… from what I understand from Facebook that means purchasing lots & lots of furnishings & cheap IKEA garbage. If you’re going for some floor coverings go Goodweave certified. They are an awesome organization that works to rid carpets of child labor & forced labor. Learn more about their company here: Goodweave

4. Vintage Jewelry & Precious Metals: I’ve written before on how I think I’m half pirate. I am a precious metals investor. Because of my love of all things gold & silver, coupled with my responsibility to be ethical I’ve discovered the vintage & secondary market for jewelry & stones. If you’ve never been before GO TO A PAWN SHOP they are awesome! There is no such thing as a used diamond, and gold settings are so cheap at pawn shops. Check them out, dudes especially… if you’re going to be proposing soon you better get your significant other a vintage ring. Think about it, “Hey honey, I want to spend the rest of my life with you, here’s a blood diamond and gold harvested by a 6 year old by gunpoint”… yeah, you don’t want that hanging over you.

5. Live the Macklemore Lifestyle: Yep, this one was stolen from my right hand girl Courtney (she coined the phrase). I don’t care what you think about Macklemore, his music, his politics or anything he stands for. His views on thrift shops rock though! Even though you most likely think about sex trafficking when you think about human trafficking, very little of the actual exploitation by the numbers has to do with sex, it is mostly manufacturing. By reusing the existing supply of anything you are reducing the financial incentive to exploit others. Check out your local thrift store!

6. Locally Grown Food: I’m lucky enough to live in Cleveland, home of a busting-at-the-gut food scene… I haven’t been to an applebees since my early 20′s. Cleveland has some serious food & luckily they have embraced the localvore movement. By eating local you are helping the environment, and humanity. If you know where you food comes from, you are less likely to be financially supporting exploitative growing practices. Eat local = end slavery & this summer, plant yourself some tomatoes too!

7. Refurbished Electronics: Geek it out this year, but do so responsibly! I’ve outline previously how purchasing refurbished electronics helps to end human trafficking. Watch the video (it has nearly 26 views). By reusing the existing supply, you are removing the financial incentive to exploit others & you are sending a serious message to manufacturers. You also save money!!! Check out some of the refurbished deals at one of my favorite sites here at  WOOT 

8. Volunteer: We need help, and every other abolitionist organization needs help too. Now this help isn’t always glamorous, sometimes it involves data entry or stuffing envelopes or sitting around in meetings but it is help that is sorely needed. Now it seems that everyone is willing to help when it comes to making impassioned speeches in front of people, or donating time overseas, but there are so many things besides that which need done. Can you see your role as a part of the big picture, instead of your role being the big picture? If you’re interested in volunteering with us shoot me an e-mail jesse @imaginefreedom.org

9. Donate: If you can’t do the time, do the dime. Yes, unfortunately building a more free world does require money, I really really wish it didn’t… Raising funds is the single most difficult thing to do for an organization because we’re busy doing our work… we’re not fundraisers. If you’ve got a few bucks toss them in the kitty, if not, consider throwing a fundraiser for an abolition organization. I know we would be forever grateful!

10. Tell others: If you’re one of the dozen or so people who have made it to the end of this blog, tell others what they can do in 2014 to help build a more free world. If we take little steps every day, we get there. If we wait around for the government, or the UN, or whoever else to step in, it’ll never get done. Tell others, don’t ever shut up.

Have a safe & happy 2014, let’s build a more free world together!

- JB

 

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Et Tu Big Bang Theory?

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sheldon from nerds to pimps

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pimps are nothing to be celebrated or appreciated. Pimps buy, sell and abuse women and children for fun and profit. By celebrating them, their names and their culture you are validating their practices which in turn, encourages more to engage in their behaviors.

The pimp is a social phenomena, and I’m not sure that the normal person understands what they’re saying when they use the word. If our culture understood who pimps are, they would never want to be associated with the word.

Lets examine a case story of a pimp. I’ve changed the information because I want to respect the privacy and confidentiality of all those involved. This case took place in Cleveland, Ohio.

There was a runaway girl named Heather, she bought a fake I.D. and worked as a stripper. One day, a guy went into the club and watched her strip. He asked if she was underage and she told the truth and said yes. He told Heather that the two of them could make a lot of money together.

John then began to prostitute the girl, when she wanted to leave he abused her and told her that he would kill her family. He took her out of state and trafficked her in other major cities. Again, she tried to leave but he abused her, raped her, and threatened her family. He sold Heather for quite some time before he was caught. He’s now serving a sentence in prison, Heather never truly recovered.

The word pimp needs to go away. Don’t use it to describe something good or interesting.

Words make a difference.

 

- JB

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Words matter!

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The lone activist takes the stage, the anticipation of the crowd is palpable… She/he stands in the spotlight and says “ladies and gentlemen, we are here today because there are people in the world who are buying and selling others… it is slavery. These slaves are often bought for between 50-200 dollars, they’re sometimes forced to preform 40 sex acts a day! We need to rescue these victims… We need to fight human trafficking!!!!” And with that the crowd goes wild. They are going to find out who is behind this human trafficking and they are going to make sure that they are punished to the fullest extent of the law… Hell, forget the law, that crowd wants to hang the guilty parties…

This scenario plays out time & time again across the human rights world. It is well meaning, but not structured or effective. It is in essence, inadvertently propagating (continuing) the situation.

Let’s break this down NFL play by play style:

1. Blaming others: True, there are people who are buying and selling others. Human trafficking is often ranked among the top criminal enterprises worldwide. The reality of blaming others though is a bit more complex that it may seem. Let’s start off with sex trafficking because that’s where most everyone is interested. If you do purchase commercial sex or porn, stop it. Buying validates the practice by giving money to the producers, in essence creating a financial incentive to exploit others. Even if you don’t purchase commercial sex, you may be helping to create demand for it. Examine your purchases, do the clothes/makeup/products you buy sexualize others? I watched a cheezeburger commercial the other day, girl was grinding up on a wet sports car. What does a gyrating girl and a wet sports car have to do with my tasty burger choices? Nothing. It just so happens that guys buy cheezeburgers, and they often like sex. Buy purchasing this companies burgers after you see the addverts validates their practices. If a corporation sees that their advertisements are working, they will keep on putting them out there. In a short time that company is completely sexualizing others. Sexualized others creates demand, demand creates sex trafficking. If you want to end sex trafficking, stop blaming the “others” and start examining our own life practices. Sex trafficking exists because of demand. No demand, no supply, no trafficking.

If you’re talking forced labor in products… see above. Want to end forced labor? Stop buying stuff made by forced labor. No demand, no supply, no forced labor. Make sure the companies you buy from have a statement clearly outlining no forced or child labor, perscribe to the CARB act, & are eco-friendly (reduce, reuse, recycle helps to reuse the existing supply which in turn helps to end forced labor)

2. Calling people slaves: I will smack you in the literary face right now if you ever refer to anyone as a sex slave or a slave. I’m serious, try me! Calling someone a slave reduces them to property, they are no longer human, they are an object. By calling or refering to human beings, your brothers and sisters as a slave you are re-victimizing them. The system is called slavery; refer to the individuals caught up in the system by their clinical definitions. If a person is currently being victimized they are a human trafficking victim, post-rescue they are a human trafficking survivor. If you’re not sure what to say simply refer to them as a victim/survivor; I use that term all the time when I write & lecture.

3. Using baseless numbers: I’m a quantitative researcher. I use numbers, I love them, I thrive on them, I need them. Using numbers in human trafficking helps me to make sense of an otherwise chaotic system. The problem with the numbers associated with human trafficking is…. wait for it…. they’re mostly bunk. Before you even consider saying ANY number associated with human trafficking you have to evaluate their methodology. Don’t just parrot the number back that you heard somewhere. Examine the source, is it a peer-reviewed journal article, advocacy report, state report, or just some dude giving an estimation. Whenever I hear a number ( and note, I am an anti-trafficking activist) I will ask the person if they can prove that number. I have only found one researcher currently producing accurate numbers & that is Dr. Celia Williamson of Toledo University. Read her work.

4. Fighting human trafficking: You’re not fighting, battling, or even combating human trafficking. You’re ending it. To use “battle rhetoric” you reduce a very complex situation to a school yard scuffle. To even suggest a “fight” implies the possibility of losing which frames the argument in a dichotomy (yes or no). Trafficking is not a yes or no proposition, it is a continuum with varying levels of involvement, complicity and blame. So quit with the battle rhetoric, remove the possibility of failure & start looking towards an end. You are ENDING human trafficking.

5. The Law: It is no quiet secret that I have little-to-no respect for the government or elected officials (and yes, someday I do want to run for office because of this). I also have very little respect for laws. Human trafficking is illegal in all sorts, forms and every which way possible. Let’s have a little sociopolitical lesson right here. A few of the current federal statutes for sex trafficking are as follows §18.1519 (sex trafficking of a minor),  §18.371 (conspiring to obstruct a sex trafficking investigation of a minor), §18:2421 (Transportation in interstate commerce with intent to engage in prostitution), §18:2422 (Persuading, inducing, enticing, and coercing an individual to travel in interstate commerce to engage in prostitution), §18:2423 (Travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct), §18:1591 (attempted sex trafficking of children), §18:2251 (attempted exploitation of children/production of child porn), §18:2552 (possession of child porn), §18:2256 (distribution of child porn)…. I’m not going to put up any more valuable blog space to continue. There are plenty of laws out there banning all forms of human trafficking. You could publicly hang, draw and quarter a trafficker and john and it wouldn’t make a dent… to end trafficking, end demand. No demand, no supply, no trafficking.

6. Emotional/impassioned speeches: Every rah rah speech I’ve been to about human trafficking ends the same way. People pour out of the auditorium all riled up and then there’s a general feeling of “what next”. We need more sharks… sharks are cold-blodded, emotionless, methodical … they identify their target and then they go for it. If you want to end human trafficking identify the supporting structures and then figure out how to modify and/or stop those supporting structures. Teach people to end trafficking, don’t emotionally rile them up. Identify the problem and then present the audience with palpable and easy-to-implement solutions. That way, there is no “what next” feeling.

So there you have it. That was a bunch of words to help you frame your work. I hope it makes a difference.

If you like this blog, please share it.

- JB

 

 

 

 

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Change male culture, change the world.

 

Stand out in the crowd & your message will get noticed.

Stand out in the crowd & your message will get noticed.

Boys will be boys, you can’t fight human nature…

I call Bullshi-…

To state that we can’t change males outlooks, actions, & opinions is akin to saying that we are nameless, faceless, stupid-soulless beasts (reminder, I’m a dude). There is currently a war on women. I’ll go so far as to say our male-centric culture supports and almost encourages the demeaning and exploitation of women and it’s so engrained into our culture that we don’t even notice it anymore. Think I’m wrong? Look around. Look at song lyrics, don’t just jam out to the beat, but listen to the lyrics. Check out advertising. Watch commercials. You will find women objectified and demeaned, and over the decades it has becomes acceptable and unnoticed in our society.

So when we talk about sex trafficking, and most of the time is spent warning young girls about being trafficked; I ask why aren’t we doing something more on the guy end?

Let me lay it out like this. Sex trafficking is a demand-driven system. Sex trafficking occurs because men want to buy. That’s it… That’s the only reason sex trafficking occurs. It isn’t anger, or punishment, or rage or hatred or any other emotion. Sex trafficking is a business, run by traffickers, supported by johns and exploiting the victim/survivor.

If there is no demand, there is no supply!

So as advocates, why aren’t we doing more to change the ethos of the dude? (Ethos means character)

If you even think about saying that “boys will be boys” garbage I will jump through this computer screen right now…

Remember the early 80′s? That was when the entire eco-campaign kicked off. When I was a little kid, we used to walk around and when we were done with out slushies we would just throw the cups on the group and keep on walking. Then one day, I saw a commercial about not polluting (no, not the one with the crying Native American. I thought that one was weird). It was an owl and he simply said “give a hoot, don’t pollute”. Every time I turned on my cartoons, there was Woodsie the owl reinforcing that message. It spoke directly to me and Woodsie told me that polluting was bad. Then the coolest super hero in the world came out: Captain Planet . You won’t find any kid of the 80′s that can’t recite the theme song from heart: “Captain planet, he’s our hero. Gonna take pollution down to zero”…

Their messages were simple, clear and repeated all throughout my childhood and the message stuck. I am now completely and totally against pollution and it is so engrained in my thoughts and our overall culture that I would never think about throwing garbage in the environment. Their unified and continuous message changed my outlook & our country.

So here’s the deal.

We as advocates need a unified and continuous message. We need to aim it towards young men and we need to say it, and say it, and say it until it becomes part of the very fabric of an entire generation.

Let’s start right here.

Real men don’t buy girls.

If we repeat this for the next two decades, just as pollution fell, so will sex trafficking.

Don’t believe me?

Go dump a garbage bag full of trash on the sidewalk and see if it doesn’t send you into a cold-sweat panic. Eco-throughts are engrained in you.

We just need to do the same for human rights.

 

Peace

- JB

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Innovators & entrepreneurs wanted!

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Imagine a world before the umbrella. I know that’s a weird way to begin a blog post but just think about it for a few seconds. Before the umbrella when it started to rain, people ran for cover or they got wet. Then somebody came along, realized that getting wet & cold sucked and invented a self-contained, collapsable rain-hiding tool… and the world has never been the same. Full disclosure, I do not own an umbrella and I get friggin wet all the time.

We live in a time of the largest human rights violations in history, and our natural inclination is to look towards governments and police forces. Why? Sure, the government will pass laws, and the police will make busts but neither of those will end the system; research has shown consistantly that laws & jail do not dissuade people from committing crimes, only punish them after they have been committed.

Now how do these two paragraphs fit together, the umbrella and human rights violations?

The innovator & the entrepreneur

The innovator & the entrepreneur saw opportunity within the wet people running for cover, she/he saw that there was money to be made by making peoples lives a little bit easier, a little bit better. Human rights won’t improve and human trafficking will not end through laws and police action. Human rights will only improve when innovators and entrepeneurs recognize that there is money to be made by working for peace, and justice and making the world a better place. I know that’s harsh to say, and it makes it seem that people are motivated by money but hey… people are motivated by money. When the profit making potential incurred through ethical practices exceeds the profit making potential incurred through exploitative practices, the innovator and the entrepreneur will work with ethical methods; not because it’s right, but because it’s profitable. I’m a realist, and a capitalist. I believe that people should make money, and a lot of it; but money should not be made at the expense of others. In fact, in profiting, others should be helped to rise above their lot.

So how can the average person encourage the innovator & the entrepreneur?

Believe it or not, the average person is the driving force behind the global economy and almost every major decision. I know that may be hard to believe but think large. If you buy a widget, you generate a small local demand. If a million people buy widgets, it creates a moderate demand. If a billion people buy widgets, it is a tremendous demand. You can help by creating a demand for ethical products: buy fair trade stuff, locally grown produce, items which are clearly marked that they don’t use child or forced labor. Get your diamonds from Canada, your gold & silver from the U.S. or pawn shops & buy refurbished electronics. When the innovator & the entrepreneur see an increased demand for ethical products, and that there is profit potential there; the world will change.

The same can be said for reducing demand and removing profit potential. Don’t buy porn, commercial sex, or items that sexualize children (e.g. victoria secret “juicy” line for kids). Once individuals see that there is no demand for sexualized children, commercial sex &/or trafficked victims, they will get out of that business for more profitable ventures. No demand will lead to no supply. No supply means the end of sex trafficking.

Your small life choices are responsible for changing the world.

If you’d like to contribute to the conversation, or have any questions please shoot me an e-mail at jesse @ imagine freedom.org

- JB

 

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Ethical investing

jpg ppm silverWhen I was a young kid I was captivated by The Goonies… yes the movie. I loved the idea of riding bikes with my friends, getting involved in mischief and finding buried pirate treasure. I’ve long since accomplished the first two, still working on the last. I sat down with my financial adviser a long time ago to inquire about investing in precious metals ( buried pirate treasure actually). He told me that it was stupid, and that pirate treasure was just for the movies. I’ve been buying gold, silver, platinum & palladium ever since…

Now my human rights background puts a little damper on what I can buy. I thought I’d break down a few items because I know there are a whole lot of people investing in precious metals & they can do their part to help human rights by ending forced & child labor.

So here it is, the main precious metals to invest in are gold, platinum, palladium & silver; the same precious metals known to be currently harvested by forced & child labor. This isn’t saying that investing in the metals are bad, they’re the only long-term wealth storage out there (just read the Bible, & every historical text). I’m just saying that if you invest incorrectly you are without question supporting human rights violations. I know that many  people are nervous to put “investing” & “making money” in the same context as human rights work but we have to be honest, unless we are financially secure we can’t spend the time and expend the capital to work for human rights. You don’t have to be a poor, begging, wandering aesthetic to work to help others.

So here is the breakdown

How to ethically invest in precious metals:

Gold:

American Eagle Gold Coins are by law manufactured by gold harvested within the US (Gold bullion act 1985). This means that all Gold Eagles are subject to strict labor laws, so you are less likely to encounter forced or child labor within these products.

Pre-1933 gold. By purchasing vintage gold you are avoiding any instances of current or future exploitation, go for it!

Recycled gold. Ohio Precious Metals is my new best friend. They are a refinery that are taking the reduce, reuse, recycle paradigm to the max. They are using recycled electronics to make their bullion products & have a statement on the front page of their website clearly outlining their systems for ensuring conflict free sources. I’ve just started ordering their products & look forward someday to touring their facility.

Silver:

American Silver Eagle Coins: Thankfully covered under the 1985 bullion act meaning that they come from US sources. This means that just like the gold eagles, they are subject to US labor laws

Ohio Precious Metals bullion comes exclusively from recycled sources which is totally bad-ass! I’ve got to say that their products go even further into ethical manufacturing than anything I’ve seen in a while.

Vintage silver

Platinum:

Platinum American eagles, covered under the bullion act. That’s it, there are no other truly ethical newly mined platinum sources that I’ve found or invest in vintage platinum.

Palladium:

Yeah right, don’t invest until someone comes up with an ethical product, or get vintage palladium.

 

If you know of any new ways to invest in precious metals ethically please send me an e-mail jesse @imaginefreedom.org

Remember: your dollar is your voice, spend wisely!

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Why refurbished electronics?

Many metals within electronics come from areas known to use child & forced labor

Many metals within electronics come from areas known to use child & forced labor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I recently had someone ask “How the hell does buying refurbished electronics help to end human trafficking”, to help answer that rather intense question, Viola’ a blog post!

The use of technology has exploded in recent years. Think about the early 1990′s (if you we’re around) some people had cell phones (but they were huuugee!!!) , the Internet was reserved for geeks, & there was a pay phone on every corner (at least in cities…) In-short, not that much consumer-based technology. Flash forward to today where this past weekend I saw a 6-year-old with a smartphone texting someone. Who doesn’t have at least one computer, tablet, gaming system, smart phone, etc. in about 20-years technology has overtaken our very being. We are technology. Have you ever gone a day without your cell phone recently? Proves my point.

So here’s the deal, lots of people are familiar with the environmental stuff that goes on with the manufacturing of technology. I’m not here to harp on that, get that info from an environmental org. I’m here to talk about the human aspect of tech & no, not like in child labor assembling the stuff. That’s the tip of the iceberg.

Inside of your technology are a bunch of different metals. True, there are only small amounts in there– but there are metals all the same. You’ll find them in the electrical connections, the batteries, the switches, etc. Now imagine these small amounts of metals magnified hundreds of millions, potentially billions of times within the technology industry. When you consider the global cell phone industry, you’re talking tons and tons of these metals.

The problem with these metals is that many of them come from conflict-zones & areas known to exploit both child and forced labor. The major producers are Russia, India, China, Rwanda, Congo, South Africa, Mexico, Brazil etc… these areas have been identified time and time again for human rights violations in their products and labor practices.

So here’s where you come in. One small thing you can do to help end human trafficking & spread human rights in general is buy refurbished or reconditioned electronics. Here’s why it works:

When new products need to be made, that means new metals need to be mined. If new metals need to be mined there is a significant chance of forced & child labor. But we already have a huge stockpile of existing electronics just sitting around. A cell phone is 6-months-old and people toss it aside. A television has a nicked cabinet, it gets returned to best buy. The refurbished electronics industry takes items that would have ended up in landfills, fixes them and puts them back on the market. Refurbishing electronics uses an existing supply of products rather than the constant manufacture of new products.

Now true, the metals that exist in the refurbished electronics were most likely harvested with exploitation however, using the existing product multiple times eases the global demand for these metals.  If more and more people begin to purchase refurbished electronics, basic business practices say that manufacturers will be less likely to use forced or child labor because there won’t be the extreme demand for these metals. No demand = no supply.

Additionally, if more and more people start to use refurbished and voice their opinion on why, manufacturers will start to change their business practices or they will fail (both options will help to end human trafficking within products).

So when you’re buying stuff, especially electronics, look for that refurbished tag. You’re helping to reduce the environmental cost, the human cost and you’re saving money. Good business practice.

Your dollar is your voice, spend wisely.

Peace

- JB

 

 

 

 

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Slavery??? Somebody should do something about that!!!

Live free so that others can do the same.

Live free so that others can do the same.

Human trafficking; it’s real, it’s substantial and it’s happening around you.

The only question, is what are you going to do to stop it?

At this point, most everyone gets ticked off and starts spouting off about the need for more policing, increased money spent on the problem, harsher laws, more governmental oversight… blah, blah, blah, garbage….

Here’s the skinny: No amount of governmental influence, money, police presence or harsh laws will make a dent in ending human trafficking. Sure, people will get punished and survivors will get rescued; but that doesn’t end the system.

The only thing that will make a difference, is you. You are more powerful than you could ever imagine; the way you live your life is the key.

Here’s 10 things that you can do that will help to end human trafficking, in your own backyard and abroad:

10. Eat Local = End Slavery: There are numerous accusations of forced & child labor in food. By going to local farmers markets, you’re not just helping out the environment, you’re helping to remove the financial incentive to exploit others.

9. Vintage Jewelry = End Slavery: Diamonds, precious metals and gemstones are known to be harvested through forced & child labor. By going vintage (Pawn shops, used jewelry stores, etc.) you are removing the financial incentive to exploit others & doing to the environment a great service. Have you ever seen how that stuff is mined?

8. Refurbished Electronics = End Slavery: Here’s that pesky precious metals stuff again… Currently, there is not one ethical cell phone on the planet (I know, I’ve checked for soo long). Your electronics have platinum, gold, silver, palladium, etc… contained within their electric components. Where’s that stuff come from? You’ve got it, exploitative economic conditions. By going refurbished, you’re not only saving money for yourself but removing your dollar from current/future exploitation.

7. Fairtrade Chocolate & Coffee = End Slavery: I love chocolate and wish at times that I could replace my blood with dark french roast… but both of these commodities are known to contain elements of forced & child labor. The label “fair trade” means that the grower/producer receives a fair wage for their product which in turn encourages them to pay their laborers. Yeah, it costs a little bit more but if more and more people created a market demand, the price will drop and it will become the dominant market share of products.

6. Stop Buying Porn = End Slavery: Porn??? Who buys porn??? Yeah, right. I know, nobody ever buys porn… Paying for porn encourages niche markets and creates a demand for niche commercial sex. Have you ever noticed how the ages of our supermodels have dropped throughout the ages? Same thing happens with our commercial sex stars. There are tons of sites/magazines that advertise “barely legal”, “just turned 18″ etc… heck, I’ve seen some where they even show the persons license proving that they’ve only been 18 for a week or two…  If there’s that much porn surrounding “just turned 18″, what’s stopping from 17, 16 or even younger. Additionally, many Eastern European countries have no child porn laws, meaning its legal for them to record & distribute. Dry up demand for porn, dry up supply.

5. Stop Creating A Demand For Underage Sex = End Slavery: Commercial sex is a system in and of itself, consumer demand creates a world of underage sexualized kids. Don’t believe me? Think Victoria’s Secret Juicy Line… You’ve got the word “juicy” painted across an underage girls but, right… no innuendo there whatsoever. When we buy those types of products, we validate their business practices and products creating whats called a feedback loop. Stop buying their products & the businesses move on to other more profitable ventures.

4. Host A Foster Child/Become a Big Brother/Big Sister = End Slavery: There are a ton of kids in need of good homes &/or role models. I know that fostering is a huge commitment, & should only be undertaken for the right reasons. If you’re thinking about it, do it! Being a big brother/big sister gives a kid, possibly an at-risk kid someone to look up to. Live your life as an example.

3. Teach Others = End Slavery: Believe it or not, even though slavery is larger now than at any point in human history, most people don’t even know it. Pick an org & share their message on your social media profile.

2. Don’t Buy Commercial Sex = End Slavery: Sex trafficking hides within preexisting markets for commercial sex; meaning not all prostitutes are willing. Just like the porn thing… nobody ever buys time with a prostitute… if that was true, there wouldn’t be prostitution. So don’t buy any form of commercial sex, just because she/he is smiling in their advertisement doesn’t mean that they’re willing.

1. Live As An Example = End Slavery: The French Philosopher Albert Camus once wrote “The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion”. Think about the quote for a moment, you live in unfree times; the way you live holds distinct influence over others. While we would like to look to governments, or police or military to end the worlds problems, they pale in comparison to what the population can do if we just choose to act.

Peace

- JB

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5 things Dads can do to protect their kids

Happy Fathers Day, please take steps to protect your kids.

Happy Fathers Day, please take steps to protect your kids.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hey Dad’s, happy Fathers day out there. Since it is your day & all I figured that I could give you a list of 5 things that you can do to protect your kids.

5. Install a “where’s my friends app” on your kids cell phone. These type of apps (you can find one here for Apple) enable you to see where your kids phone is.

4. Teach your kids 2 code words: Have one code word that only your family knows & one code word that means I’m in danger. There have been numerous cases of kids being taken by people they know under the ruse “your mom/dad told be to come get you”. If you have a safe code word your kid can ask for it. Also, if your kid is even in danger they can use the other code word in case they have a chance to leave a message or call and are being monitored.

3. Don’t post the cutsey cutsey shower/bath pics that all new dads do. I know this one is gross but there are a number of websites out there that harvest those pics and distribute them to pedo’s

2. Teach your kid that its ok to fight, claw, scream if someone ever goes after them.  If someone goes after your kids let them know that they have your permission to kick some ace.

1. Have all of the info on your kid in one folder. Again, I know that you might be thinking that it could never happen to your family but get a kit together with updated pics of your kids, medical records, fingerprints, social media that they belong to WITH PASSWORDS, lists of their friends, their friends contact info etc. You might think that its prying or invasive to their privacy, just do it & hope that you never need that info.

So happy fathers day, work to protect your kids; they are after all why you’re a father.

 

 

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Helping others doesn’t make you good, it makes you human.

 

Stop looking for excuses & just do it!

Stop looking for excuses & just do it!

Someone once told me that I was a really good person for helping others, I have to disagree: I’m a total ass.

I go out of my way to be an ass at times, and most of the time I think its funny. I never pass up the opportunity to give a hard time to my friends or play a practical joke on my sister. I put down people and get ticked off by waiting in lines. I really can’t stand socializing at all, ever… ever… I go to great lengths to avoid small talk, and generally don’t bother to get to know anyone’s name. When one of my co-workers asks me to turn down my music I generally turn it up. I post disparaging (but funny) comments hourly on facebook.  My assishness (its a word, look it up) goes so far as our amazing volunteer coordinator Courtney once said that she looks forward to building my memorial someday which will either be a stained urinal full of flowers or a statue of me mooning all who enter our future freedom center.

Helping others doesn’t make me a good person, it makes me a human.

It sort of ticks me off that there’s this do-gooder stigma about helping others.

There’s this imaginary international list of do-gooder characteristics & it reads a little something like this.

In order to do good for others:

  • One must always walk in a flowing manner
  • One should never swear
  • One must dress in clean clothes
  • One must always speak in a hushed and gentle tone
  • One must make impassioned speeches rallying others
  • One must be white & upper-middle class, but humble about it
  • One must be exceedingly well read and educated
  • Cleanliness is next to Godliness
  • blah blah blah blah blah garbage…

This list of imaginary do-gooder junk is beginning to tick me off because it scares off some really good people from reaching their fullest potential thus depriving the world of some really great humanitarian work.

Who gives a damn if you’re: Dirty, broke, not-white, not middle-class, play violent video games, not well educated, can’t stand reading, not fashionable. Who cares in the least if you swear, drink beer, eat meat, don’t go to church, laugh really really loud, make stupid jokes, watch horror movies, drive a broke-down car, listen to rap music.

Helping others isn’t for the good people of the world; its for the people of the world.

The person you help doesn’t care who you are, what you look like or what you do; just that you are taking a moment out of your life and spending it with them.

So if you’re a human (which I’m assuming you are, unless dogs can now read… which would be unbelievably awesome)… do good in the world, help others and don’t give a damn about what other people think about you.

I once swore in a church, at the lectern in front of hundreds of people while speaking about human rights. I was also once introduced as an “international bad-ass”

You’ve got this.

- JB

 

 

 

 

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2013 Schedule of Events

Imagine Foundation 2013 schedule of events

 For further info please email: info@imaginefreedom.org

January:

BOD meeting Sunday January 27 1pm, Independence Panera

February:

Design & print public library and school bookmarks

Barhopping info drop with volunteers SaturdayFeb 2nd at 8pm Happy dog

Initial Delivery of survivor bags

Hotel bookmark drop east side (Mentor, Euclid, Willoughby) Saturday February 23 12:00pm Mentor Panera 7357 Mentor Ave Mentor, OH 44060

March:

BOD meeting Sunday March 24th at 1pm, Independence Panera

Public library bookmark drop off Saturday March 23 at 12:00, Independence Panera

Barhopping info drop with volunteers Saturday Mach 30 at 8pm Rocky River Brewing Co.

April:

2nd batch survivor bags assembled & delivered

JB & Courtney in Iowa at Dubuque Univ. & training Dubuque police April 3-6

Fundraiser Saturday April 27th  8pm Venue TBA

May:

BOD meeting Sunday May 12 at 1pm, Independence Panera

Barhopping info drop with volunteers Saturday May 18th at 8pm Willoughby Brewing Co.

June:

Bike night Quaker Steak & Lube Wednesday June 12 at 6pm Quaker Steak, Valley View

Public library bookmark drop off Saturday June 15th at 12:00

July:

BOD meeting Sunday July 14th at 1pm, Independence Panera Mid Year Review

Bike night Quaker Steak & Lube Wednesday July 10 at 6pm Quaker Steak, Valley View

August:

Sturgis South Dakota Aug 6-12 info drop **

September:

BOD meeting Sunday September 15th at 1pm, Independence Panera

3rd batch survivor bags assembled & delivered

Browns Tailgating Sunday 9-22 7am -3pm Municipal Lot

October:

Browns Tailgating Sunday 10-13 7am – 3pm Municipal Lot

Family Friendly Halloween party & fundraiser Saturday October 6th 6pm TBD

November:

BOD meeting Sunday 11-17 at 1pm, Independence Panera

Hotel bookmark drop West side Saturday November 23 12:00pm Strongsville Panera 1304 Southpark Ctr.

December:

Imagine Foundation BOD & volunteer Christmas party Saturday 12-21 at 6pm TBD

Imagine Foundation BOD Meetings:

Imagine foundation Board of Directors meetings will be held bimonthly throughout the year. It is imperative that all Board of Directors and interested stakeholders attend these meetings. All attempts will be made to have meetings last one hour, however at times meetings may run over.

Imagine Foundation survivor bags:

The Imagine Foundation survivor bags are a new initiative attempting to give rescued individuals a fresh start upon leaving or being rescued from human trafficking situations. Initial bags were purchased and assembled in the year 2012. Our goal is to distribute 10 survivor bags in the year 2013 to law enforcement as needed.

Imagine foundation hotel/motel Bible bookmarks:

The purpose of the Bible bookmark is to place a piece of anti-trafficking literature in every Bible in every hotel room in northeastern Ohio. In the year 2012 we distributed 5000 anti-trafficking bookmarks in and around Northeastern Ohio. In the year 2013 we hope to equip hotels and motels with 10,000 additional Bible bookmarks.  During scheduled times volunteers will meet at the pre-prescribed areas, be given a list of hotel/motels and quantity of Bible bookmarks to be distributed. Volunteers will have a letter explaining the program and will report back to the volunteer coordinator with what hotels/motels agreed to or did not agree to the anti-trafficking literature.

Imagine Foundation barhopping night out:

The purpose of the Imagine foundation barhopping is to equip drinking establishments with anti-trafficking literature within targeted areas. Volunteers will meet at the pre-prescribed areas and will be given a quantity of anti-trafficking crop cards to distribute in and around the drinking establishment.

Imagine Foundation bike night:

The imagine foundation will set up a booth at Quaker steak and Lube’s bike night to distribute anti-trafficking literature, sell T-shirts, and seek support of the biker community.

Imagine Foundation public library information drop:

Traffickers target 12 to 16 year old adolescents on the Internet who are online often, have young sounding and provocative screen names and inquire about sex online. The public library bookmarks are intended to get out information directly to those at risk of sex trafficking. Volunteers will meet at the pre-prescribed locations, be given a letter of support from the imagine foundation and a quantity of public library bookmarks to be given to local libraries.

**Sturgis 2013:

Going to Sturgis rally and race is dependent on financial donations to send a team there. This trip is not included in the yearly Imagine Foundation Budget. If there is to be a team to go there will be a proposed addendum to the 2013 budget to allow it. Sturgis, South Dakota is home to one of the largest biker parties in the world. Between 500,000  and 750,000 converge on the small town yearly.  Our goal in going to Sturgis is to set up pop up water distribution centers giving away free bottled water with anti-trafficking literature on the bottle, distribute anti-trafficking drop cards of the local bars, and to distribute anti-trafficking shirts to the bar girls and commercial sex workers in the area. This will be a weeklong venture; volunteers will be traveling to Sturgis, South Dakota and camping at a local campground.

Browns tailgating:

The Cleveland Browns is known for its tailgating antics and is a perfect place to recruit individuals for anti-trafficking efforts. The Imagine Foundation will set up a tailgating booth during the prescribed times to hand out anti-trafficking information, sell T-shirts and generally have a good time. Volunteers must be at the tailgating area at 7 AM to set up the booth and are expected to stay until the start of the game. At the booth, the imagine foundation will be projecting the Browns game, hosting a tricycle race for free T-shirts and giving away grilled hotdogs.

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3-pillars of human rights work

Lately I’ve been feverishly writing in my notebook. I’m a little somebody might find it, it looks like the writings of those raving lunatics you see in the movies. There’s diagrams, arrows, circles and paragraph after paragraph of sloppily written cursive…. Out of all of the gobbledy-gook that I’ve been writing down, a few coherent thoughts have emerged and here’s one of them: There are 3-pillars which human rights work must be based on.

Our work must be ethical, economically sustainable, and repeatable.

Ethical:we have to do what is right, always. (read about the difference between morals and ethics here). The ends can not ever justify the means. Case in point: I heard someone say that he would do what is right, even if it meant doing what was wrong (what an awful idea, isn’t that how wars get started???). American culture was born out of oppression and stigmatization and unfortunately we still hold that cultural lens today. Our empire was built on the extermination of native cultures, a lower-skilled and exploitable working class and an easily corruptible consumer class. Don’t call me Un-American for saying this, I’m red, white and blue through and through. I also believe in  capitalism and free market economy. It’s just incredibly important to realize that our standing and national character is built on the ethics of manifest-destiny or expansion at all costs. To end human rights violations and human trafficking we need to see past previous flaws in our national character, acknowledge them and form a new standing culture wherein doing what is right and just is cool and respected.

Economically sustainable: The economic model of charity is not sustainable. For the better part of human history people have been giving money to try and end the worlds wrongs. It hasn’t gotten us anywhere. Sure, giving money feels good (sometimes) and in the short-term it does make some differences. But what does simply giving money do to promote human rights in the long-run? I’m not much for quotes. Personally I think that if you’ve got something to say, use your own words; but the Chinese Proverb got it right. Give a man a fish, he eats for a day; teach a man to fish and he eats a whole bunch of fish… (or something like that). If someone wants to make a difference they use their money to promote a model which is economically sustainable. For example, work with a food kitchen to fund and raise a community garden so they’re not constantly in need of financial donations to purchase food; they’re growing their own and may even generate a surplus income to help support their work. A great model is the company “Made by survivors”; they’re working with survivors of human trafficking to generate a sustainable income through the manufacturing of cottage-industry products. When someone purchases one of their products they’re not giving to charity, they’re investing in a successful economic model that helps to end human trafficking.

Repeatable: As many people know, I’m a teacher by day (and awesome ninja by night...). As a teacher, I’ve watched every inspirational teaching movie out there where some middle-class nobody heads into the inner-city and turns around a rag-tag group of students (cue movie montage). In just about every one of those movies at the end there is some update where the teacher quit, was fired, forced to retire or left to take another job. In short, they were a shooting star and fizzled out once they achieved short-term success. In a book written about Geoffrey Canada (awesome educational theorist) he said that he didn’t need any more superstar teachers; what he needed was a model that worked. He’s right, it’s great that one or two people can achieve drastic and dramatic results; but what about all the others? Any human rights work needs to be based on a model, written down and shared with others so that it can be made repeatable. Unfortunately as of yet I don’t see that happening in the advocacy world. The software world is amazing with it with their concept of opensourcing; but in the human rights world, we’re still contending with some pretty hefty ego’s and budgetary constraints that keeps much of our work secretive. We’ll get there in time though.

So there it is: Ethical, Economically Sustainable and Repeatable. The 3-pillars that we need to base future work on.

What do you think?

- JB

 

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How not to end human trafficking

As a human rights advocate I subscribe to just about every social media feed out there to learn what others are doing and how we can do our job better. In the process, I’ve learned quite a bit on how not to end human trafficking. I thought I would share a few of them with you.

Let’s call these the “three pillars of how not to end human trafficking”.

1. Scaring people won’t make caring people

2. Celebrity endorsements are a joke.

3. Stop looking to the government.

 

While these may sound harsh, please allow me a moment to explain.

1. For some reason when people get turned onto human rights or animal rights for that manner, the natural inclination is to inundate their fiends via social media with horrid stories of abuse, frightening statistics and a general alarmist tone. THIS DOES NOT WORK!!!!!

Case in point: The ASPCA and Sarah McLaughlin. By this point we’ve all seen the video and we’ve all felt helpless and sick when we see the pictures and hear the sad sad styling of “eyes of an angel”. The youtube video garners about 300,000 views give or take. Compare that to the great video “Ultimate Dog Tease” which is a clip of a guy messing around with his dog and adding a voice over track to it. At last count that video has 128,358,369 views on youtube. Imagine if the positivity and fun of Dog Tease was combined with the message of the ASPCA. You’ve got a winning combination.

If you want to end human trafficking, don’t focus on all of the horrific aspects of the crime, focus on tangible positive aspects that people can do. During an interview a couple of years ago a gentlemen told me about the concept of “buycot”, not boycot. You tell people to avoid a product and it’s inherently negative, but if you promote a product people are more likely to hear your message. If you want more info, check out our 3ways blog post or New Years Resolution Post on positive things you can share to end human trafficking.

2. Celebrity endorsements are a joke. Ok, I know already that I’ll catch some flack for this but I don’t respect celebrity and I know many others don’t as well. Within the human rights movement I’ve seen celebrity after celebrity lend their names to items only to be trashed sooner or later by some indiscretion. It’s great that they want to be a part of something and testify before congress or make a PSA but the simple fact of the matter is that celebrities aren’t experts in the field and many make their money in some pretty unethical ways. Case in point Jada Pickett Smith who learned about human trafficking through her daughter and the KONY2012 video in the spring and by summer is testifying before congress regarding the passage of an intense and integral piece of human trafficking legislation. If a celebrity is truly serious about human rights issues, where is the ethically made clothing line they endorse, the viral music video about promoting literacy and ending poverty and their continued message of peace and good will. There is a serious difference between wanting one’s name associated with doing good and actually doing good.

If celebrities want to make a difference they should use their status to promote sustainable, ethical and repeatable solutions to making the world a better place; not just lend their name to a cause.

3. Stop looking to the government for leadership and guidance in human rights issues. For some reason the American public has forgotten that we play an inherent role in the government, the formation of policy and the enforcement of laws. Each presentation I do on human trafficking someone naturally asks “why isn’t the government doing anything about human trafficking”? I instantly respond with “if you’re not doing anything to end human trafficking why should the government care”? Slavery in all of its forms is illegal as outlined by the U.S. Constitution and numerous supporting court cases. To respond to the illegalities as outlined, numerous government agencies work on a daily basis to end human trafficking including ICE, HHS and the Department of Labor. In short, the government is doing quite a bit to end human trafficking. We the people need to step up and take some responsibility for our human rights issues and stop looking to the government to do it for us. The government has what, a couple of million employees? The US population is well over 300million, which group of people will have a greater impact if they choose to act?

 

I know that this blog post is a bit more cynical than most of what I write. I’m in a bit of a cynical funk right now after contacting numerous media agencies regarding the 8 missing girls in Youngstown, Ohio. I was told that it really wasn’t a story, or it wasn’t in their coverage area… yeah, who would care about 8 teenage missing girls in 9 months in one city.

So that’s it for now, I’ll try to be less cynical in the coming weeks.

- JB

 

 

 

 

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Explination of our 3ways posts

One of our Imagine Foundation supporters asked us to clarify on our popular 3ways to end human trafficking social media posts.

Here you go:

While many people advocate against sex trafficking, it is only one small part of the whole of human trafficking and one in which human rights advocates participate in the least. So our 3ways postings represent simple ways to act locally to change globally.

Many Ways that you can end human trafficking:

Plant a tomato garden (or any vegetables/produce for that matter): Agriculture is an area known to use both child and forced labor. By producing your own food locally, you are helping to remove the financial incentive growers and agricultural producers have to financially exploit workers. Check out the Coalition of Immokalee Workers for a great organziation striving to remove exploitation in our food stocks.

Drink/eat/buy anything fair trade: The Fair Trade moniker means that the grower/producer recieves a fair wage for their product. This helps to remove the financial incentive involved in exploiting workers. It’s important to note that fair trade does not mean exploitation free, it just represents a way to lower the possibility for exploitation to occur within the product lines. Check out Fair Trade USA to learn more.

Buy from Companies that prescribe to the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act: In 2010, California passed an act that “requires companies to report on specific actions taken to eradicate slavery and human trafficking in their supply chain. Your company must report if it meets these three criteria”:

  1. Your company files its California taxes as a retailer or manufacturer.
  2. Your company does business in California as defined in the California Revenue and Taxation Code.
  3. Your company earns more than $100 million in worldwide gross receipts

Learn more about SB 657, the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act.

Purchase Vintage Jewelry: Gold, precious metals and gemstones are known to use child and forced labor. Everybody watched Leonardo Dicaprio in the movie “Blood Diamond“, and a bunch of people remember KONY2012. These situations exist because we buy the items that allow such exploitation. If we remove the finances that warlords use to enslave and exploit workers, their tyranny folds. By going with vintage jewelry, the bad guys don’t get the money to do future damage.

Don’t buy sex: We’ve got an unhealthy relationship with sex. Now don’t get me wrong, sex is an inherently good thing, but when kids are getting sold to meet customer demand, something is horribly wrong. Commercial sex involves any form of porn, prostitution or stripping/exotic dancing. Sex trafficking is hidden within preexisting commercial sex markets. It is near impossible to tell the difference between a willing consensual prostitute and a scared little girl who’s being forced into it. Now the uneducated commercial sex consumer would say that they could tell if someone was being forced into it and therefore wouldn’t partake. Unfortunately one can’t discern the difference between willing and unwilling partners. Buy removing the financial incentive to exploit others for sex, the system folds and there isn’t sexual exploitation.

Education & Sharing: I’ve been talking about human trafficking for around 5 years now and am constantly amazed by others who say “that’s going on around here”? We have to peacefully pollute the Internet and airways with the information that people need to end human trafficking. Without education, exploitation will flourish.

That’s it for now. I’ll continue to update this and add more as we figure out more easy ways that we can end human trafficking together.

Imagine what’s possible if we just try.

- JB

 

 

 

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What’s your footprint?

A new website went live the other day and it’s intense.

It’s Slavery Footprint and it asks you quite a few questions to find out appx. how many slaves work for you. It’s rough information to hear and the majority of people won’t do it. After all, if we know something it makes it real doesn’t it.

Even as an anti-slavery, anti-trafficking advocate; I know that I inadvertently contribute to the problem. Unfortunately as of today it’s near impossible not to be a part of the global slave machine. Our consumer based society and drive for ever lower prices leads to the exploitation of others.

See The List if you don’t believe.

Even though it’s illegal to purchase/import slave made goods into the US, the Department of Labor publishes a list of commodities known to be manufactured as such.

So, how do we stop it?

Responsible consumerism and investing will go a long way.

Purchase fair trade items. While it doesn’t guarantee slave free, it’s a big step in the right direction.

Purchase items that have been made by survivors. Your dollars can support people rescued from the slave trades

Invest in companies that support anti slavery efforts. They may have signed “The Code” or The Luxor Protocol

Tell others. How many people in the world don’t know that slavery is worse now than at any point in human history. Awareness spreads incrementally, tell two whom tell four, whom tell 16. The media isn’t covering it; its up to us.

We didn’t start slavery but we are part of the reason it continues. We also represent the best possible solution to ending it

How many slaves work for you?

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Your dollar is your voice, spend wisely.

 

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The truth hurts

The Cleveland Backpage report launches on October 1st. It’s our first public study (Thank you to Operation Broken Silence for co-authoring) and we’re very proud of all the work that went into it. I only wish that it wasn’t necessary.

Backpage.com owned by Village Voice media is at a minimum profiting from illegal enterprises (commercial sex) and at the most may be a vessel for human trafficking to take place. I’m not even asking you to take my word for it, listen to a consortium of State Attorney Generals . Backpage responds with freedom of speech and internet censorship, never mentioning that at a minimum they are profiting from an illegeal enterprise (prostitution) and at most may be a vessel for modern day slavery to take place. Just fyi, they’re making about 2 million/month for hosting the advertisements the State Attorney Generals are calling for them to censor.

We spent three months investigating the commercial sex advertisements on Cleveland.backpage.com to see if there were patterns, to learn what was really going on. Unfortunately we found human trafficking. We also found that there were an unusually high number of commercial sex advertisements coming out of some unexpected places in Northeast Ohio.

For the last 6 months we have been quietly compiling data, researching and writing. The day has come to be loud. Our children are being sold, our sisters, our aunts our women and girls are subject to being sold for sex and a major media corporation is profiting from it.

The time has come for it to stop.

I am asking for your help. On Saturday at noon our study goes public on our website. Share it, spread it, read it etc… It has to go viral. Make sure that it can’t get buried. We’re about to take on a media giant who buys ink by the barrel and accepts that part of their paycheck comes from the suffering of women and children.

To show the severity of the situation, please watch our video “The Cleveland Backpage Report” this is just one of the stories we uncovered during our research. Imagine all of the stories we weren’t able to catch.

This isn’t the end. It’s only the beginning.

We now know what to look for and where, who’s doing this and where they’re doing it. How much they’re charging and who’s profiting.

The truth hurts, but now that we know that there is truly a problem, we can take effective steps to stop it.

 

Backpage.com profits from the sale of women and children

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I/Me & Us/We

When it comes to human rights there can’t be any ego. It feels good to say “I did that” or “I’m in charge” but at the end of the day it’s not about the self. It’s about we as a human people.

I struggle with ego all of the time, I’d love to say that I didn’t but I’m a product of modern society. We’re taught from an early age that we’re special and different, that each one of us is the center of our own universe. I don’t see it like that anymore.

We’re in the center of us as a collective. When one of us is enslaved, we all are.

Developing empathy has been one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to do, and it’s something that I struggle with still today.

Empathy is powerful.

If there’s one thing to take away from this blog posting, it’s to use less I/Me and more Us/We

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