On Thursday, February 22, students from more than two dozen colleges demanded their institutions “cancel their contracts with Starbucks in protest against the company’s response to union organizing efforts,” according to TheGuardian (UK).
Students from California to New York disagreed and, in conjunction with Starbucks Workers United, pointed to the coffee giant’s less-than-worker-friendly tactics in dealing with demands for unionizing. Restaurant Dive lists some of those tactics, which include “workplace surveillance and diluting the electoral pool at unionizing locations, firing workers involved with the union in alleged retaliation, and alleged solicitation of grievances in an effort to stymie union organizing.”
The powerful cede power only when forced to, and it’ll be most interesting to see what effect these and other protests have on Starbucks’ policy. The Guardian reports that “ nearly 400 Starbucks stores around the US have won union elections to join Starbucks Workers United since December 2021...but a first union contract for any store has yet to be reached.”
As any giant corporation would, Starbucks claimed there’s nothing to see here, folks, just move along now...Several sources quote a spokesperson for the coffee chain: “While we remain longstanding advocates of civil discourse, our focus is on fulfilling our promise to offer a bridge to a better future for all partners – through competitive pay, industry-leading benefits for part-time work, and our continued efforts to negotiate fair contracts for partners at stores that have chosen union representation.”
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill student Haya Odeh puts about as much credence into that statement as you do. “We’re just not going to let Starbucks slide with the injustices they pass on to workers,” she’s quoted in The Guardian. “Their union busting is just the very tip of the iceberg. Their labor practices and how they treat their workers, we want to push the message that we’re not going to stand for this as students.”
Georgetown University’s paper TheHoya reported on a panel discussion held on February 22, sponsored by Georgetown Students Against Starbucks (GSAS). “Panelist Meghin Martin, a former partner at Starbucks and member of SWU, said Starbucks has refused to engage in good faith bargaining, a type of negotiation in which both parties must sincerely resolve to reach a collective bargaining agreement. ‘Their whole game plan is running the union dry, wait as long as they possibly can, and hope that we either just give up, we run out of money.’”
Speaking of money, Starbucks has quite a lot of it. Those protesting its labor practices have gumption, dedication to the cause of the worker, and the desire to end corporate exploitation.
Time will declare the victor. For the moment, a cup of coffee would be terrific. A nice, home-brewed cup in a porcelain mug that can be used time and again...
Close to 8 thousand writers recently signed a letter from The Authors Guild protesting the unauthorized use of their stories.
Technology is inescapably linked to the art and craft of writing. Humanity’s desire to share and preserve its thoughts, its pleasures, its discoveries, its knowledge, and its very survival led to hieroglyphics, the development of paper and ink, to the printing press, the typewriter, and the computer. Technology’s traditional aim was to make it faster and easier to create and disseminate the written word. Now it seems technology’s out to eliminate writers altogether.
Or, at the very least, the writers’ livelihoods.
NPR’s Chloe Veltman tells us that The Authors Guild – an organization founded in 1912 to “support working writers and their ability to earn a living from authorship” – is taking on “artificial intelligence companies like OpenAI and Meta” which use writers’ work “without permission or compensation.” As Veltman describes it, “text-based generative AI applications like GPT-4 and Bard...scrape the Web for authors' content without permission or compensation and then use it to produce fresh content in response to users' prompts”.
Approximately eight thousand writers, Veltman reports, have signed a Guild letter protesting such unauthorized use of their material. Some of the better-known scribes include Nora Roberts, Viet Thanh Nguyen, Michael Chabon, and Margaret Atwood.
The Authors Guild’s petition is not the only action being taken in the wake of AI. Other writers have filed class-action suits against AI companies, claiming their work is being pirated. AI is one of the main reasons for the Writers Guild of America’s strike (starting May 2nd), bringing American film and television production to a complete standstill. The New York Times summarizes the WGA’s position: “Writers are asking the studios for guardrails against being replaced by AI, having their work used to train AI or being hired to punch up AI-generated scripts at a fraction of their former pay rates.”
Award-winning writer/director Doug Burch describes the WGA strike as “vital to the future of those wanting basic living wages...It’s truly despicable when CEOs make $400 million a year and say that writers and actors are being unrealistic wanting to at least make a living wage.”
And just what is this average yearly salary? A forthcoming report from The Authors Guild asserts that the median income for a full-time writer was $23,000 in 2022. This after, a precipitous 42% decline in writers' incomes between 2009 and 2019.
History proves time and again that the haves never give anything to the have-nots without being forced to “share the wealth.” Whether it's coal mining, auto manufacturing, or movie-making, it’s taken the commitment of generations of die-hard activists to help address an economic imbalance.
The writers have one huge strength, something no boss or executive can do without – their talent, their craft, originality, passion, and their grit. As I understand it, AI can synthesize, imitate, mimic a writer’s work. The one thing it can’t do is create original thought and original material. Writers – with their unique perspectives and experiences, their individual and idiosyncratic use of language, and their ability to capture human behavior in all its grunge and glory – cannot be replaced.
Books, films, non-fiction, graphic novels, and poems are not merely material to be scraped, stolen, and exploited. They’re not “a data set to be ingested by an AI program”, they hold our past, our future, our quotidian lives, they teach us what it is to be human. This is a writer’s work.
The message is clear – Support the writers.
The real estate market is in constant flux. This endless shuffling has homeowners across the country searching for a solution. Should they rent, sell, buy, or simply wait out the storm?
Given the all-time high housing prices, there are those who’ve lived in the same house for decades and are considering selling and cashing out for retirement before their home value drops. Americans are even questioning the upside of owning a house.
Since we never can predict how the market will perform, we’ve assessed the trends we’re seeing out there and broken down four of the biggest housing trends at the moment:
1. Loss of Equity:
For years, homeowners have watched their equity steadily rise. But in 2023, for the first time, anyone with a mortgage saw a decrease of 0.7% year-over-year. This may not seem like a lot, but it's a collective loss of $108.4 billion — or $5,400 per borrower!
That said, should homeowners tap into their home equity now before they lose more? Despite the stress and uncertainty, there’s no rush. As much as the market can decline, it will always bounce back at some point.
The cost of everything’s soaring — consumer goods, produce, travel, gas, and electricity. It can be tough to pay those bills and make each mortgage payment in a timely fashion. And if you have a big family? Forget it, many are living paycheck-to-paycheck.
The phrase house rich, cash poor is a reality for an increasing number of homeowners. Is this the American dream we’ve all been promised? Owning your home yet drowning under such an exorbitant cost of living may be too steep of a price to pay for most people.
3. High Demand and Low Supply :
The housing market has looked like this since Covid-19 as high demand remains a constant in an ever-changing market. Potential homeowners have various reasons for buying their homes — Baby Boomers and Gen Z’s seek to improve their living conditions, while Millennials and Gen X-ers seek stability. Regardless of your age, using home equity to build wealth is something all generations can agree on but is it even feasible these days?
By selling your home and leasing it back, homeowners can get the full equity out of their homes without taking on debt or moving. What an exceptional way to stay ahead of a fluctuating market and save money on outrageously high-interest rates. This gives you leeway to set a budget that covers a stable monthly lease payment because you now have financial flexibility.
4. Interest Rates:
Generally, it’s assumed that owning a home is more economical than renting. But according to a recent stat, from January 2023 to date, it is actually cheaper to rent by an average of 17% — crazy!
So, does this mean all people who own their homes are losing money? Not necessarily, because a sale-leaseback is an excellent option. Essentially, a sale-leaseback blends two common transactions: a home sale and a lease.
We’re all feeling the effects of the current economy and housing market but there are some ways to take control of the situation. Sale Leasebacks are really growing in popularity in the U.S. Unlike a traditional sale when you work with a sale-leaseback specialist, there’s no listing, showing, packing, moving, waiting, or worrying about the buyer’s mortgage approval. You can sell high now and then rent until housing prices are lower.
Purchase of your home can happen in as little as 30 days, and your lease starts immediately upon closing. No matter if you're in the midst of moving to a new home or are finalizing renovations, you can utilize a sale-leaseback to stay put while your dream home is completed.
So, if you’re in between houses or a renovation, using this brilliant solution can help save. Plus, the money you receive from the sale can be used for anything you want — tackle inflation, pay off debt, diversify investments, or plan for retirement.
Many people lack the skills and knowledge — let alone the confidence — to do their own research and take action. But there are expert sale-leaseback advisors and real estate experts out there who are happy to help you to free up your home equity and plan for your financial future.
Working with an experienced sale-leaseback company can allow you to protect your wealth against volatile home values and diversify your investments into income-generating assets such as stocks. More importantly, you have access to cash to use during the times you need it most.
We recommend Truehold, a trusted source and the best provider of sale-leasebacks in the US. Unlike other real estate companies, they’re on a mission to help provide trustworthy financial and real estate alternatives for those who want to access their home equity and stay in their homes.
Let go of the financial stress of home ownership. Reach out to the Truehold team today and continue enjoying the home you live in.
With the soaring costs of living in cities across the US, many homeowners increasingly feel like they’re house-rich and cash poor. Back when they made that initial investment, they never imagined the unexpected financial challenges and everyday stress that owning a home can bring.
In 2023, many homeowners often find themselves at a crossroads. Should they grit their teeth hoping the housing market stabilizes? Are their expectations in owning a home matching up with the reality of ever-increasing interest rates? Do they simply put up with all the challenges that occur when you own a home like high mortgage payments and the costly cycle of home repairs? Or should they sell their family home, cash out of the equity they’ve earned, and move onward?
These are the kind of questions that keep our finance editors up at night. So, we scoured the internet for a solution. We were intrigued when we discovered something called the home sale-leaseback.
Just what is this sale-leaseback thing? A sale-leaseback blends two common transactions: a home sale and a lease. By selling your home and leasing it back, homeowners can get the full equity out of their homes without taking on debt or moving. It’s a win-win.
Here are 5 reasons why sale-leasebacks may be perfect for you:
1. Reduced Expenses/Taxes
Freeing up your assets with a home sale-leaseback arrangement can help you pay off that mortgage and even avoid taking on more debt. Stop paying for major repairs and maintenance, property insurance, and property taxes. Establishing a budget that covers a stable monthly lease payment and utilities allows for more financial flexibility and peace of mind.
2. Disposable income
People typically use their all-cash home equity proceeds from a home sale-leaseback to:
- Invest or diversify investments
- Pay off debt
- Plan for retirement investments or travel
- Buy or renovate another home
- Cover unexpected financial or healthcare costs
BONUS: In general, if you are an individual who has owned and lived in your home for at least two out of the past five years, you do not have to pay federal income taxes on the first $250,000 of profit on your home sale. In general, married couples filing jointly, you do not have to pay federal income taxes on the first $500,000 of profit.
3. Flexibility/Less Stress
Yes, you can sell your home and keep living in it uninterrupted! Unlike a traditional sale, when you work with a sale-leaseback specialist, there’s no listing, showing, packing, moving, waiting, or worrying about the buyer’s mortgage approval. Purchase of your home can happen in as little as 30 days, and your lease starts immediately upon closing. If you're in the midst of moving to a new home or are finalizing renovations, you can utilize a sale-leaseback to stay put while your dream home is completed.
4. Build a financial legacy for your children
Providing for your family is essential, creating stability and opportunity for the next generation. It’s quite liberating to have access to disposable income that you can either put toward investments or that grants you the flexibility to move for the sake of your family's future.
5. Work With Trusted Experts
Sure, you can google it but why spend the time when expert sale-leaseback advisors are happy to talk you through the process? Working with a real estate expert will allow you to free up your home equity and plan for your financial future. Working with an experienced sale-leaseback company can allow you to protect your wealth against volatile home values and diversify your investments into income-generating assets such as stocks. More importantly, you have access to cash to use during the times you need it most.
After extensive research, we identified Truehold as the absolute best sale-leaseback provider in the US. They're the best choice for homeowners who want to unlock their home equity, debt-free, without having to move. It’s comforting to know that they provide trustworthy financial and real estate alternatives for those who want to stay in their homes. Truehold buys your house and leases it right back to you - easy-peasy.
Thanks to Truehold’s fantastic sale-leaseback, you can let go of the financial stress of home ownership. Reach out to the Truehold team today so you can continue enjoying the home you love with fewer worries and more money for whatever life has in store.
The White House Press Secretary is the face of the administration they represent...in more ways than one. Whoever fills this crucial role provides the official response to a multitude of questions, concerns, outrages, and challenges. And that person’s attitudes and actions shape the way we perceive the White House and the President’s basic relationship to the press corps, the American public, and the historical record.
In recent years, some real doozies – and don’t-sees – have filled the post. The estimable Jen Psaki brought much needed coherence and sanity to the role. And the new Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre is an even more welcome change in governmental circles. Representation matters, so as the first black person and the first openly LGBTQ+ person to hold the job, Ms. Jean-Pierre’s appointment is already something for the history books. Born in Martinique, Jean-Pierre was raised in Queens, New York and currently lives in Washington, D.C. with her partner, Suzanne Malveaux of CBS News, and their daughter Soleil.
May 16, 2022 was her first day as Press Secretary. Before she got down to dealing with the issues at hand, she took a moment to acknowledge this momentous achievement. As quoted by Insider, Ms. Jean-Pierre said:
“I am obviously acutely aware that my presence
at this podium represents a few firsts. I am a
Black, gay, immigrant woman, the first of all
three of those to hold this position. If it were
not for generations of barrier-breaking people
before me, I would not be here. But I benefit
from their sacrifices. I have learned from their
excellence, and I am forever grateful to them.”
Ms. Jean-Pierre brings some mighty impressive credentials to her latest role in the Biden administration. She served as Psaki’s Deputy Press Secretary and as Chief of Staff for current Vice President Kamala Harris’ 2020 bid for the White House. She’s been a spokesperson and Senior Advisor for MoveOn.org and a commentator for NBC News and MSNBC. Add to that, she played a role in Barack Obama’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns.
In a political scene which fosters and harbors a thousand different kinds of hatred, here’s a woman who embodies inclusion, diversity, and the richness of American life.Interested in learning more about the fascinating Ms. Jean-Pierre? Check out her inspirational 2019 memoir Moving Forward: A Story of Hope, Hard Work, and the Promise of Americahere.
Honor Molloy is a novelist and award-winning dramatist who’s working on unknown22 – a play about a young woman who's been drifting in the currents of the East River for 150 years.
80% of Americans believe abortions should be legal, so it’s time, people - time for us to... Get up, stand up / Stand up for your rights
Less than a week before Mother’s Day, Politico published a leaked draft opinion revealing that the Supreme Court’s conservative majority of justices are ready to strike down two rulings on abortion rights, including Roe V. Wade the 1972 landmark decision that made abortion a federally protected right in the United States.
Since the Roe v. Wade ruling and the 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey ruling that affirmed the Roe decision, the court has never allowed states to prohibit the termination of pregnancies prior to fetal viability outside the womb – that’s roughly 24 weeks.
The news sent shock waves around the world ...and with good reason. Roe guaranteed women’s right to have an abortion without excessive government restriction. Written by Justice Samuel Alito, the Supreme Court draft majority opinion shows what could happen if the court overturns Roe v Wade.
Jesse Wegman brilliantly summed up the dire situation in a recent opinion piece in the NYTs: “If the holding in the draft opinion stands, it will mark an astonishing moment in our history: the elimination of an existing constitutional right, one that millions of American women (not to mention the men who impregnated them) have relied on for nearly half a century.”
Though the draft was leaked by a person or persons unknown, the Court has acknowledged that the leak is genuine. Not all Washington conservatives agree with what's assumed to be the Court’s position, but it fits within the Right’s larger policies attacking and penalizing women, the poor, and people of color. Should Roe be overturned, the greatest impact will be felt by minority women.
As journalist Manuella Libardi has written:
“...the reality is that abortion is only illegal for poor women. Women with resources can always interrupt their unwanted pregnancies… Restricting access to safe abortions keeps poor women in poverty, perpetuates the cycle that prevents them from social mobility, and allows wealth to remain in the hands of the rich, particularly white men. Deciding if and when to have a child is essential for a woman’s economic and psychological well-being: it has implications for her education and for entering the workforce.”
The consequences of overturning Roe V. Wade and letting individual states determine their stances on abortion are frightening. No matter what the Court’s decision is, women will still need to have abortions for personal, medical, and legal reasons. It’ll just be harder to arrange – and far more treacherous.
A deputy spokesperson for United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres stated that “reproductive health and rights are essential to achieve equality around the world. The secretary‑general has long believed that sexual and reproductive health and rights are the foundation for lives of choice, empowerment, and equality for the world’s women and girls...Without the full participation of 50% of its population, the world would be the biggest loser.”
The drafting of Supreme Court opinions is a fluid and dynamic process, so the document is not the court's final ruling. A work-in-progress, the leaked opinion is marked "first draft" and was dated Feb. 10, 2022. That’s two months – or 8 fetal weeks – after oral arguments were heard in the Mississippi case Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization.
This is a document that citizens were never supposed to have seen. Following Politico’s publication of the draft, Chief Justice Roberts announced that the Marshal of the Court – its chief operations and security officer – will investigate the source of the leak.
"Court employees have an exemplary and important tradition of respecting the confidentiality of the judicial process and upholding the trust of the Court. This was a singular and egregious breach of that trust that is an affront to the Court and the community of public servants who work here," Roberts said.
Just Who's On That Bench?
Liberal Judges: Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Stephen Breyer
Conservative Judges: Chief Justice John Roberts, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and the three Trump-appointed justices Brett Kavanaugh, Neil Gorsuch, and Amy Coney Barrett
The Court has a blatantly partisan crop of justices who appear prepared to overturn Roe outright. The draft opinion has the support of at least four of Chief Justice Roberts’ colleagues, according to Politico: Justices Thomas, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Barrett – the only woman in the majority.
It’s rumored that Roberts – ostensibly committed to the court’s reputation and established precedent – may attempt to convince one of his conservative colleagues to join him in a narrower opinion that would not completely overturn Roe v. Wade.
The State of the States
Abortion is currently legal in all 50 states, but over the past several decades many states have passed laws that limit access – most recently in Oklahoma, Florida, and Texas. Should the Supreme Court rule to overturn Roe, the power to decide abortion access would rest with each state’s elected leaders.
According to the reproductive rights organization The Guttmacher Institute, over half of the nation's 50 states are prepared to ban it. Twenty-one states already have laws on the books that would ban it immediately, with five additional states likely to.
States planning to ban abortion are clustered in specific geographic regions – including the American South – where women will have to travel hundreds of miles at a greater inconvenience and cost. Imagine you’re 15 years old, you're pregnant, and you live in Cyclone, WV, on Tribal Land in Tahlequah, OK, or Belle Glade – one of Florida's poorest cities and only an hour's drive from Mar-a-Lago. The denial of your right to health, education, and selfhood would be insurmountable.
As Langston Hughes challenges: “What happens to a dream deferred?”
Many attempts have been made on both the state and federal levels to overthrow or curtail the right to abortion. And more are sure to be made in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision. If Roe goes away, states can allow it, regulate it, or outlaw it.
And-so. Let’s get down to it – I am sick to death of these men using words as sticks to beat us with. Blithely tossing around terms like trust and betrayal of confidences: LIKE. THEY. CARE one atom about trust, confidence, betrayal.
“Roe was egregiously wrong from the start,” Justice Alito’s draft states. “It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.”
In a statement issued Wednesday, Chief Justice John Roberts called the leaked draft a "singular and egregious breach" of trust.
I’m particularly struck by these two Justices' use of the word egregious so I dug into its etymological roots:
Originating in the 1530s, egregius comes from the Latin ex = ‘out of’ + grex or greg = ‘flock’ – literally ‘rising above the flock’ – illustrious, distinguished, excellent, extraordinary.
Egregius. What a precise word to define the leaker’s singular and extraordinary act of courage. To rise above the herd and step bravely in front of a butcherous, onrushing train...
Let’s call this for what it is. This is a chronic, concerted attack on gender, race, income equity, our health, and the well-being of our country. We are human beings who grew within, merged and emerged from a body – a body that bore us in blood, torment, and pain. Once. Before we were born, we were one with our mother.
At this moment in America, our bodies (regardless of gender), our body of law, our body of government are in great peril. We are one body – and we need to treat ourselves with the highest regard.
Let’s end this terrifying war on reproductive health, this war on all Americans.
Get up, stand up / Don't give up the fight
Honor Molloy is a novelist and dramatist whose work often addresses reproductive rights. Madame Killer is a Gothic Noir set in 19th Century Manhattan. In 2020, Round Room won Origin First Irish Theatre Festival's Best Play Award.
Poems can help us muck our way through this COVIDIUM twilight zone
Full disclosure: As a general rule I hate poetry for reasons I tell myself are valid.
Why? Most of it seems solipsistic and fortune cookie filler. Haiku goofballs. Impossible to discern the good from the bad. Poets are no longer widely read, even the 'greats' (Yeats, Plath, Whitman, Angelou.)
There's no market for their words, and those words typically don't have a narrative that clicks with the literal-minded sockets of my imagination. That said, once in a long whiie, I come across a seamróg, a work by a poet that feels like light in a tunnel, a portal of reckoning. Then I realize that this craft of poetry should never die, never drown under the rising tide of our gnatish attention spans and cultural decay.
Well, I recently found one such shamrock:In Their Time, by Bill Buege. This isn't the first book by this poet but I consider it his best. Although Buege hasn't made his living as a poet - is that even possible anymore? - he is a modern-day Renaissance man, a scholar, a poet, an artist, an inventor, and an accomplished businessman.
During a stint in his career when he worked at Edward Jones Investments, he fused his art and science and invented, out of whole cloth, an algorithmic model that is, to this day, the underpinning of wealth management firms worldwide.
Buege, who turns 80 in November, is a shamrock himself. His life is one fully lived, but he's not done yet. He creates an innovative framework in this book: 52 speakers, half male, half female, looking back on pre-industrial Europe, season by season. His wayback machine on these characters creates narrative force and truth that shows that we still need poets to tell us what actually counts.
Bill Buege's poetry collection - In Their Time
In Their Time contains characters who could be you or me, mucking our way through this COVIDIUM twilight zone. In poem 45, Norman keeps a sloth bear in a pit. In another, Paulette loses her husband but gains a tavern and a horse.
In poem 21, Hildy survives the pox:
"The doctor diagnosed I'd got the pox / and then the brilliant man administered / his tincture of mercury / gave me some patches and white powder / advised I make love in the dark."
There's humanity in these pages, sex and greed, suffering and beauty, and survival.
In Their Time is a book we need right now.
You can buy the collection here.
W.M. Jones is a professional musician and a social commentator who loves words that shed light on the zeitgeist.
Join the fight to end modern day slavery.
I could have missed it, walked right by, hopped on the train and sped off into my life. Instead, I stopped and read every single word of this Amtrak poster - a warning about human trafficking.
Prostitution. Servitude. Forced Labor.
Each year innocent men, women and children are exploited in human trafficking schemes that include the use of force, fraud, or coercion to exploit them for labor or commercial sex. Any minor (under the age of 18) exploited for labor, or commercial sex is a victim of human trafficking. . . .
As I read, I recalled a conversation I'd had only days before with Kathyann Powell, Founder and CEO of Saving Jane. When I sat down with Kathyann, I was struck by her fierce commitment to her organization which is dedicated to assisting human trafficking survivors and preventing new victims.
Trafficking is a subject that makes us flinch and causes us to turn away. It's ugly, it's threatening. Not in my life, you think. Although it's often hidden in plain sight, human trafficking is real and it is everywhere.
Human trafficking flourishes in Atlanta, DC, Houston, Las Vegas, Miami, NYC, and San Diego. These cities are major hubs for human trafficking because they often host sporting events and conventions, are visited by thousands of tourists, and have large transient populations. The anonymity provided within large urban centers can make the trafficker's job simple.
It's estimated that 1 in 7 missing children are likely victims of child sex trafficking each year. Most of these children are native US citizens from lower and middle class families who were recruited via social media - with the average age being 13 or 14 years old. 68 percent were in the care of social services - a group home, government facility, or foster care - at the time they went missing.
Things have got to change, or these children will be trapped in an endless cycle of exploitation and violence. Kathyann told me about Saving Jane's national education project, which is designed to raise awareness in young people ages 10 through 18. They use graphic novels to illustrate the concept of human trafficking so kids can identify, avoid, and report it to trusted adults.
Saving Jane partners with schools, religious and community organizations, and youth groups to implement prevention initiatives nationwide. They work with the FBI, educators, social workers, and survivors to calibrate their programs and training - with a focus on at-risk demographics such as homeless, LGBTQI, autistic, and disabled youth.
Recognizing the signs is the first step in identifying victims, so Saving Jane offers Workshops where participants learn to identify indicators of human trafficking and red flags:
- Hangs out with older men
- Has expensive new phone
- Ignores her friends
- Stops her favorite activities
- She's pregnant
- Starts using birth control
- Has bruises or other injuries
- Despondent physical state or demeanor
- Acts fearful, anxious, submissive, tense, nervous, or paranoid
Due to the Internet and social media, traffickers have never before had such easy access to children; they can now initiate thousands of recruitment conversations. To leave kids uneducated makes them more vulnerable. The most important thing is to teach them about cyber-predators without scaring them. Saving Jane aims to empower kids to be effective agents in their own protection.
Saving Jane works with national and global organizations to distribute graphic novels that teach students about human trafficking - what it is, what it looks like, what to do when you see it, and how people fall victim to it. So, they go into schools and hold Comic Book Workshops.
Director of Storytelling and Prevention, Thomas Estler, uses comic books, film, music and social media as delivery vehicles. He composes and draws Saving Jane's popular comic book series that was created with the help of the FBI victim specialists, social workers, and anti-human trafficking organizations. His ABOLITIONISTA! Manga books are an image-driven call to action and effectively help kids get smart about social media:
ABOLITIONISTA! #goodgirlgone tells the story of how one girl becomes vulnerable and falls victim to a coercive predator who trafficks her. #goodgirlgone (ages 10 - 14) is accompanied by a teacher / leader version and can be taught in schools.
ABOLITIONISTA! Volume I and II both have female protagonists and are geared toward adolescents between 13 - 19 years old.
Another powerful tool that raises awareness is Saving Jane's Tee Shirts. With Anime-styled graphics that are hand drawn by Ozzyos Da Vyrus, one of these captivating Tees features:
Jada's African Ancestor from ABOLITIONISTA! Volume II
Many people don't realize how widespread and destructive human trafficking is. Raising awareness about human trafficking is essential to ending it. Saving Jane's committed to ending these crimes through education, raising public awareness, and the creation of systems, technology, and policies to prevent the formation of social conditions conducive to trafficking.
So, what's next?
Saving Jane is in the concept and development phase for campus-style facilities dedicated to protecting and empowering formerly trafficked people. These facilities would provide a comprehensive suite of support services, including short term and long term housing, childcare, and healthcare and mental health care resources.
As Survivors continue on their healing journeys, these sites would offer life skills, education, career skills, and economic development opportunities so that they can return to being an integral part of the greater community.
Finally, Saving Jane's long-term mission is to transform survivors into leaders. It's clear that this visionary organization is doing just that.