The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Whitney Black (803)466-3786;

Dow Throws a Dismal Party, Few Attend

Underattended "Run for Water" plagued by death, zombies, and dozens of "Dow spokesmen"; truth seems to run free


Bucolic Prospect park in Brooklyn, NY played host to a
bizarre spectacle on Sunday, as a dramatically under-attended Dow-sponsored
for Water"
was infiltrated and turned upside down by hundreds
furious activists,
including a hundred dressed as Dow spokespeople.

New Yorkers who came to the park expecting a light run followed by a
concert found themselves unwitting extras in a macabre
and chaotic scene
as runners keeled over
, Dow-branded grim
participants, and a hundred fake Dow representatives harangued other
protesters and and handed out literature
that explained Dow's greenwashing program in frank detail.

The actions called attention to Dow's toxic legacy in
places like India
(the Bhopal
Vietnam (Agent
) and
Midland Michigan (Dioxin
), and to the absurdity of a company with serious water
issues all over the world sponsoring the Live
Earth Run For Water.

After race cancellations
in London, Milan, Berlin, and Sweden, on-site Dow brand managers were in
damage-control mode. But their job was made harder by the hundred
fake "Dow" spokespeople who loudly but clumsily proclaimed Dow's
("Our race! Our earth!" and "Run for water! Run for your life!"), spoke
with many runners, screamed at the other protesters, passed out
beautifully-produced literature,
and all in all looked a whole lot better than the real Dow reps, who
seemed eager to make themselves scarce.

"I don't know what's going on here," said Tracey Von Sloop, a Queens
who attended the race. "All I know is these people are both crazy, and
is f*ing sick. I'm outta here."

The event was the latest blow to Dow's greenwashing efforts, the most
visible element of which is the "Human
multi-media advertising campaign, one of the most
and successful, marketing efforts in recent history. It even won an "Effie
for the most effective corporate advertising campaign in

"Effective," perhaps -- but also completely misleading. To name just a few
examples of Dow's
water-related issues: Dow refuses to clean up the groundwater
in Bhopal, India
, site of the largest industrial disaster in human
history, committed by Dow's fully-owned subsidiary, Union Carbide. As a
result, children continue to be born there with debilitating birth
Dow has also dumped hundreds of millions of pounds of toxic chemical
byproducts into wetlands
of Louisiana
, and has even poisoned
its own backyard
, leaving record levels of dioxins downriver from
global headquarters in Midland, Michigan.

"We thought it must be a joke when we first heard that Dow Chemical
Company was sponsoring a run for clean water," said Yes Woman Whitney
Black. "Sadly, it was not. One of the world's worst polluters trying to
greenwash its image instead of taking responsibility for drinking water
ecosystems it has poisoned around the world? What an awfully unfunny way
start off Earth Week. We decided the event needed a little comic

Irony was piled on irony throughout the race, which Dow absurdly
was going to be "the largest solutions-based initiative
aimed at solving the global water crisis in history. At one point,
organizers were caught
on tape
dramatically throwing
out excess
water left over because of an embarrassingly low turnout.

Groups organizing the action included the Center for Health, Environment and Justice,
the International
Campaign for Justice
in Bhopal
, New York Whale and Dolphin Action League, the Vietnam Agent
Orange Relief and
Responsibility Campaign
, the Wetlands Activism Collective,
Global Justice for Animals and the Environment, Kids For A Better
, The Yes
, and hundreds of
assorted volunteers, activists and mischief makers.

Ever since 1996, the Yes Men have used humor and trickery to highlight the corporate takeover of society, the neoliberal delusion that allows it, the corporate Democrats' responsibility for our current situation, and so on. And while we're all about "building awareness," we do realize that's not all there is, and that it's only ongoing campaigns that really make change.