It's not often when you get recognized for doing something that makes a difference. But, when you do, it feels pretty damn good! What happened was,last year I wrote a polite but funny letter to John Stumpf, the CEO of Wells Fargo (yes, the bank.) Apparently, the people at Occupy Wall Street movement liked it and want to republish it in a book that is forthcoming. So I am really looking forward to reading the book when it comes out. http://tinyurl.com/6vunaaj
Hey, who says that you can't try and make a difference? Enjoy!
I'm writing to you because you sent a great letter to the website Occupy the Boardroom this past fall, telling your story or thoughts and analysis about the big American banks.
My name is Mark Greif. I'm an editor, and a participant in the Occupy movement in New York. I had the idea of making a book of those letters, to tell the country how its citizens feel and what they want to change. With my co-editors I put together a team of volunteers to read through 7500 letters. Together we chose the 200 we think best express the ideas, sentiments, and stories of everyone. I then went through myself and put the letters in order, according to their ideas and the particular banks they address.
I would like to ask your permission to include your letter to the Occupy the Boardroom website in our book. It is one of those 200 best letters. This is a non-commercial effort. We will publish the book in a small, inexpensive edition that readers can afford, and work hard to get it onto the desks of the bankers addressed, members of Congress, state attorney generals, and members of the media, to communicate what Americans are thinking.
We'll be funding this project by selling the book in regular bookstores and online, and by raising donations on our own. We're based out of a not-for-profit literary and educational publisher called n+1 in New York, which publishes a magazine and other books about American culture and politics. Profits from this book—if there are any—will go to groups working on financial reform.
Can we include your letter in our book? You can reply yes to this email, and we will follow up with an official permissions request. Ideally we'll include your first and last name as the author of the letter, and the town and state you live in ("Johnny Appleseed, Apple, WI"). This shows that the letters are from real people, and from all over the country. If you definitely feel that you would only publish your letter anonymously—as much as we encourage you to stand up with your name—we can honor those wishes. (In that case, we'd like to put "[Name Withheld]" with your city and state.) In any situation, we would rather work something out that makes you feel comfortable and satisfied than fail to include your contribution.
I'm sending this letter to all 200 writers, so please forgive the formal tone. I assure you, though, that a real person is on the other end of this email, and a real person will read your reply. It may be another member of the volunteer team, or me; if you have a question for me directly—I'm happy to correspond as we need to. I really think we can make a difference by speaking together to the country, and I've been moved, personally, by the letters' intelligence and wit and patriotism, and believe other people could be too.
Co-founder, Co-editor, n+1
Co-editor, Occupy! (Verso Books), and Occupy! Gazette
Assistant Professor, Literary Studies, the New School University
We put out an earlier book, called Occupy, which documented the early days of Occupy Wall Street in New York through first-person accounts and essays from organizers. It's been translated into six languages and reached people around the world. Our hope with this book is to give voice to the people who couldn't be in the parks and camps—specifically those people who wrote about what has been done wrong by the banks, and who envisioned a better America, through these letters.
n+1, the literary publisher behind this project, is a non-profit publisher based in New York. We don't affiliate with a political party or endorse candidates, and most of our work is literary, arts-based, and intellectual. But we do have a political outlook, which favors more equality in America and a focus on the middle class, along with freedom and the pursuit of happiness. And we definitely believe in the reform of our financial system.
All of us working on the book are volunteers. We'll be using the proceeds from the book to try to get more copies into people's hands, including free copies to bank executives and political leaders and reporters, and we will donate any profits (should there be any) to Occupy or to charity. I'm sorry that we can't offer you money for your contribution, but I also want to make clear that this isn't a scheme that asks any money of you. And hopefully with our messages, we can change people's minds and be heard.