Shays 2: The Western Massachusetts Committee on Corporations & Democracy is a grassroots organization working through education and peaceful action to strip corporations of powers, that have been usurped from we the people, in the law. We are committed to working in the Pioneer Valley & the Berkshires, the historic region of Shays Rebellion, as part of a growing, nationwide movement to build real democracy in America:
- Building networking relationships among grassroots organizations in our region struggling to end corporate harm in their local communities.
- Sharing knowledge between individual campaigns to promote self-governance of the people, by the people, in our region.
- Repealing the legal fiction of corporate personhood and other corporate abuses of the democratic process in our region and beyond.
We began our work in 2002 as a study group examining the principles of citizens rights-based organizing for democracy at the local level and studying the works of the nationally-known group, POCLAD (Program on Corporations, Law and Democracy) http://www.poclad.org> of which one our Shays 2 founders, Ward Morehouse, is a co-founder. We began our active democracy work among the groups that helped the citizens of Lee in their struggle against privatization of their water supply. That led to work in Holyoke, organized by fellow Shays 2 steering committee members, helping to found the Holyoke Citizens for Open Government whose first issue was to democratize the city's process of examining privatization of its waste-water treatment plant. Our goal is to bring the knowledge and skills necessary for citizens' rightsbased organizing around issues of corporations and democracy to communities in the Western MA area.
Shays 2 Steering Committee
Anita Costantini is a co-founder of Shays2 and an active member of the steering committee. She comes to this work and the issues after a long carreer as an instituional sales trader for various brokerage houses including Merrill Lynch in the seventies and eighties. Since then she has focused on being an artist, activist, antiques dealer,designer, and mother.
Having viewed Sept. 11th as blowback against corporate fueled foreign policy, she has spent part of the ensuing years learning about the deep relationships between business, government, and a host of contemporary problems.
She believes the most direct way to work towards a safer and more peaceful future for her children and grandchildren is to work to reign in corporate "rights" and corporate erosion of the democratic process.
Dan McLeod, of Northampton, is a co-founder of Shays2. He first became politically engaged during the IMF/World Bank protests of 2000 and has since lent efforts to the global justice movement, peace and labor organizing. He works for the National Priorities Project in Northampton, is a mental health counselor, and a member of UAW Local 2322. His freelance articles dealing with corporate rule have appeared in Z Magazine and you can catch him playing the singing saw from time with local musicians.
Ward Morehouse, of Northampton, is a co-founder of Shays2. He was a co-founder in 1994 of POCLAD (Program on Corporations, Law and Democracy). Many of his essays are included in the standard introductory book for POCLAD work, Defying Corporations, Defining Democracy: A Book of History and Strategy, a collection of 70 published and unpublished articles, essays, speeches, letters, harangues, and screeds in which POCLADers grapple with the reality that giant corporations -- backed by law -- govern our communities, our nation and the Earth. The book was published for POCLAD by APEX Press, of which Morehouse is the publisher.
Morehouse is internationally known for his work struggling against the corporate assault on human rights and speaks widely across the globe. He is a co-founder of the International Coalition for Justice in Bhopal, India, working on behalf of the victims of the 1984 Union Carbide Corporation's chemical spill in that city, known as the Hiroshima of the chemical industry. He travels regularly to Bhopal and is engaged in the ongoing litigation efforts to secure justice for more than 200,000 living victims.
He is a co-author of The Bhopal Reader, a tool for activists and history of the 21-year struggle.
Morehouse is an activist in the international people's Law movement, the Permanent People's Tribunals, begun by Bertrand Russell during the Viet Nam war. In 2004 he organized a Symposium on People's Law at the World Social Forum in Bombay, India. He organized a Tribunal on Corporate crimes against humanity at the 1999 Seattle World Trade Organization meetings and was arrested for attempting to serve citizen arrest warrants on the major industrialized country's trade ministers. In 2000, he helped organize the Tribunal on Transnational Corporations and Human Rights at the University of Warwick, in the UK.
At the TOES (The Other Economic Summit) counter-conference to the G-8 meetings in Georgia in 2004, where Pres. George W. Bush met with leaders of the industrialized nations to discuss trade, Morehouse gave speeches and ran sessions. He has been a regular activist and organizer of TOES counter-conferences. TOES' major ongoing activity is a yearly forum/exposition held in conjunction with the annual meeting of the world's leading industrial countries -- the US, Canada, Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Japan. TOES also publishes books, occasional newsletters, and maintains contact with TOES-related colleagues in other countries.
Morehouse has written or edited some 20 books, including Building Sustainable Communities, The Bhopal Tragedy, Abuse of Power: The Social Performance of Multinational Corporations, Worker Empowerment in a Changing Economy, and The Underbelly of the U.S. Economy. A lifelong human rights activist, Morehouse founded and is still president of the Council on International and Public Affairs (CIPA).
A former academic, Morehouse taught Political Science at New York University and has been a Visiting Professor in Sweden and India. He has been a consultant to various United Nations agencies.
Carolyn Toll Oppenheim, of Northampton, is a co-founder of Shays 2. She works as a media consultant as director of Public Purpose Communications, to foster citizen involvement in public discussion of public policy. She began her democracy work as a journalist, for the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun Times, where she saw herself as an advocate for the public interest. She saw the private sector eating away at the public right to know through the development of public-private partnerships beween the private sector and state agencies. It was the stalking horse for what has developed into shameless privatization of public resources.
In a ten-year career of teaching public affairs reporting to graduate and undergraduate students, mainly at Emerson College in Boston, she developed courses in the Role of Media in a Democratic Society -- in order to train students to see the democratic interests in public policies agendas.
Her work evolved into helping local community grassroots groups develop media strategies as part of their organizing workto get their voices into the media. One of her passions is the right to know, public access to any information involving public money, conflicts of interest and the appearance of conflict of interest, and all regulations and laws pertaining to the democratic regulations of the society.
As a consultant she has done media training on democracy and ethnic & racial diversity for journalists from emerging democracies coming to the US to learn our system for
International Training and Development, Amherst, MA and for the International Federation of Journalists, Brussels, Belgium where she ran seminars for print and electronic journalists in the former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia , to help journalists covering ethnic issues in an emerging democratic society.
She wrote a weekly local newspaper column on democracy, urban affairs and ethnicity in the 90s for the now-defunct Brookline Citizen.
She is also a writer and organizer for civil rights and peace movements, domestic and international, and has written extensively on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Her work was funded by The Fund for Investigative Journalism, for research on American media coverage of underreported dissenting opinions on that conflict and was published in FAIR.
Virginia Schulman, of Northampton, is an active member of the steering committee. She has been supporting the democracy organizing work in Holyoke, organized by fellow Shays 2 steering committee members, to bring citizens rightsbased organizing around democracy issues to communities in the Western MA area. Schulman, an attorney with experience in New York and Massachusetts attorney, has been working in social justice and democracy work throughout her career. She currently writes a newspaper column for Northamptons Elder Vision, on global warming and peak oil. Her mission is to alert citizens to the critical need to begin now to create a sustainable, non-corporate society and economy based not on fossil fuels. She is a member and Chair of the Northampton Energy Resources Commission and a founder member of both Northampton Citizens for Climate Protection and the River Valley Market, a Northampton-based co-operative food store. Schulman started her career in the U.S. Office of Economic Opportunitys MFY Legal Services office in Brownsville, Brooklyn, in the 1960s. She later specialized in cases of child abuse and neglect in Springfield, MA.