Monday, December 8, 2008

This just in after launching our holiday blast. Enjoy a little skirmish from the war on the war on Christmas. Oy.

Sent: Friday, December 05, 2008 3:44 PM
From: Jim Kackley;
Subject: Re: Just thought you needed to know.

I received your email and wanted to remind you this isn't just a holiday (holyday), it is CHRISTmas when we celebrate the birth of Jesus. I support your efforts but don't support the secularization of such an important day.


Jim Kackley
General Manager
Thomson Family Adventures

Sent: Friday, December 05, 2008 4:24 PM
From: Adam Neiman
Subject: Re: Just thought you needed to know.

Jim if I were just speaking to Christians, I’d happily refer to Christmas. But many of my customers (and myself) will be celebrating Hanukah and a number of my secular customers will not be celebrating this as a holyday at all. Long before the birth of Jesus this time of darkness was celebrated with light. Could I refer in the email to each person’s particular reasons for celebrating in this season? Sure but it’s not only awkward prose but bad practice. In this time of year it’s best to emphasize our common humanity and what binds us together- not what separates us. It helps us all to love our neighbors- of whatever faith- as ourselves. So that’s how I speak to ALL my customers, Jim but to you, let me wish you a very merry Christmas. Have you had the pleasure of buying any of our Bethlehem T-shirts yet?

most sincerely,


Adam Neiman
617-562-0099 x 206
Cell # 617-686-5434

Sent: Friday, December 05, 2008 4:44 PM
From: Jim Kackley;
Subject: Re: Just thought you needed to know.


I couldn't agree and disagree more. On the one hand I am very happy to wish you and my other Jewish friends a Happy Hanukah. I admire your religion and faith. It is the basis for my own. On the other hand I don't find their faith or the faith of my Moslem friends in Tanzania as something that separates them from me. It is who they are and I celebrate that. In places like Tanzania with people of Christian, Moslem and Animist faiths there is no attempt to water down any of the religions as there has been here in the West. We worry so much about offending someone that we loose the true meaning of these Holydays. We haven't removed Lador from the Labor Day celebration or Veterans Day from that celebration. Why should it be OK to eliminate Christ from the Christmas Holiday and change it to Happy Holidays or Merry Xmas. As a Christian who really loves celebrating Passover, I would never want it be called the Happy xover and to remove the Story of Moses and the exodus from the Holyday. I think it would offend me for my Jewish friends. It is an part of who they are.

I realize it is difficult for you as a business manager. There must be a way around this because presently there are a pretty large list of us who are boycotting any stores that refuse to celebrate this as Christmas.

Take care and keep up the good work. I heard about your group from a friend Dan Larner who is committed to your cause.

General Manager
Thomson Family Adventures

From: adam neiman []
Sent: Friday, December 05, 2008 5:54 PM
From: Adam Neiman
Subject: Re: Just thought you needed to know.

Jim, no offense, but I can’t understand how a Christian could boycott a store for saying happy holiday, but not for using sweatshops! I’ve read the gospels a few times & I don’t see how Jesus would approve (ethically OR tactically) of what your group is doing in his name. He was big on carrots not on sticks, more inclined to honey than to vinegar, at least as I read him. It may be hard for those inside your group to see this, but the seculars love this little conflict. For folks who are agnostics, it reinforces the perception that the religious are fundamentally intolerant and drives many into the arms of atheism when time & patience might well have made them one with the faithful. Let them enjoy the honey, the sweetness of the season- however they can. With time, many will grow curious about the bees that made that honey. The “war on Christmas” and the opposing “war on the ‘war on Christmas’” has become regular fodder for the media to feast on & for a few unscrupulous promoters to make a (minor) fortune & fame off of. It’s not because they favor the faith based. Quite the contrary. There are far better and more urgent battles for Christian soldiers to fight- at least in the mind of this Jewish admirer of your lord, Jesus Christ.

speaking of urgent battles you never answered my question about our Bethlehem Tees, so I assume the answer is “no”. Here’s what my company is doing for the holydays (all of them) this Christmas in Bethlehem. What do you think? I can’t understand why more Christians aren’t interested in THIS. It’s a crying shame that the little town of Bethlehem, that has given the world so much, should be so poor. An honest answer requested. Thanks &

Merry Christmas,

No Sweat Apparel’s organic cotton T-shirts are produced at a sweatshop-free Palestinian owned factory on Virgin Mary Street in Bethlehem. Here’s a link to an al Jazeera segment about the project.

Our Jewish, Israeli & US mainstream press has been just as positive. Apparently we’ve found an elusive piece of common ground- more good jobs for Palestinians in Palestine will help the situation. While economic development is no substitute for a diplomatic settlement, no settlement can survive without a sustainable Palestinian economy. So while waiting for a political resolution we have created a mechanism for ordinary citizens of good faith to build good will on the ground & support the peace to come. We’re marketing these T-shirts wholesale (blank or custom printed) to Jewish, Muslim, Christian & secular schools & camps in the US, Canada & Israel.

The concept is simple. When faced with an apparently irresolvable conflict, if there is any one thing all parties agree on- do that one thing and see what happens.

“We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality; tied in a single garment of destiny.”

Dr. Martin Luther King

To support the Bethlehem initiative go to and pick up the threads.

Sent: Monday, December 08, 2008 9:53 AM
From: Jim Kackley;
Subject: Re: Just thought you needed to know.


I now am beginning to enjoy this because you are putting up reasonable arguments. I will get back to you. I think a lot of my answers will be drawn from the Psalms of David who fought many of these battles in his time.

Take care

Jim Kackley
General Manager

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Back to work....

Well, rapture is all well and good, but in the immortal malaprop of our soon to be ex-president, it doesn't "put food on my family". One friend's comment on this end of the world was "but we're still here!" I said, "That's precisely the point. We're still here but the world is different." As the rabbis said, "When the moshiach comes everything will change but almost imperceptibly." Most Jewish notions about the messiah are very different from most Christian theology, btw. For us this is not a divine figure w/ superhuman powers. Just (JUST!) a rightful and righteous ruler who redeems the nation. Within the realm of the possible but still quite remarkable. But if we really want the 21st century to be a bridge to a millennium of peace and justice we’ll all have to be moshiach for 15 minutes!

A world has ended & with it an ocean of blood money has disappeared. That ugly, accrued American reality that stood in direct contradiction to our ideals. The land stolen from the Indians is now facing foreclosure. The fortunes made from slaves, whale oil, beaver pelts, opium, sweatshops, mines, oil- gone gone gone. Or at least marked down 50%. The miracle is that the reality is going & the ideal remains, stronger and brighter than ever before. Very good for the soul but not so hot for business.

Time to get back to work & try to save my company from this shit storm. Sure is a hard rain that's falling. So are sales. I'm running out of time & money & bright ideas. What would Obama do? Take stock of the situation for starters. What hasn't changed is the enormous mess to clean up, which includes sweatshops, so there's still a good reason for my company to exist.

What has changed is many people's awareness of the consequences of centuries of abusive labor practices and unsustainable consumerism. There's a new generation that feels its power to change the status quo & how easy that can be. No sweat. They don't want their parents' brands- not the Clintons or the McCains. Why should they want the GAP or Nike either? No, they want to be the change they want to see in the world. they want to feel it & breath it & taste it & wear it. Most of all, they want to make it happen.

A big part of Obama's appeal was the way he empowered a generation to make him possible. All the really successful brands of the 21st century - Google, MySpace, Youtube, Facebook- share this quality- they were created by their own consumers. It was what my company tried to do from the start via word of mouse. Necessity was the mother of this invention- we had no budget to advertise & wouldn’t- not if we wanted to pay a living wage & sell a competitively priced product. Before we launched in 2001 we ran a survey asking people if they would forward info about the company to their friends & family. We sent the survey to 1000 email addresses. 12,000 people sent us emails back saying YES we can & will. Then came spam & our marketing medium was shot to hell. New media & social networks- logs, MySpace & Facebook – cropped up in part to shelter their members from spam, at least somewhat. So that’s our medium. The $64,000 question? How to reach out to them w/out spamming them.

Step one. Ask our blogger, MySpace & Facebook friends & affiliates for advice and assistance. Step two? Follow their advice. Comments, anyone?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

With God On Our Side

Forty years from King’s assassination on 4/4 to 4/11 & we get our 44th president. A long march in 4/4 time. From Grant Park in ‘68 to last night, once again, the whole world was watching. The commentators didn’t recognize the orchestral flourish after Obama’s victory speech. It’s Dylan’s great antiwar anthem, with God on Our Side. 1st verse is uncanny on many levels. This & Michele’s black & red rising & setting sundress is a good signal, however cautious a general election campaign they ran, that the Obama presidency will be just as audacious as conceived. So we’ve paid an emperor's ransom to redeem our republic. Good deal. Lost the world to regain our own soul?  That’s my idea of manifest destiny.

"With God On Our Side" (complete lyrics-

Oh my name it is nothin'
My age it means less
The country I come from
Is called the Midwest
I's taught and brought up there
The laws to abide
And the land that I live in
Has God on its side.