What's left to do after you've grown your little ice cream shop into a worldwide brand and sold out to a corporate giant for $326 million?
Hiding underneath that mountain of cash is Ben Cohen, cofounder of Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream -- still acting like the hippie he was in the 1960s, when he dropped out of college and got a series of menial jobs before working with emotionally disturbed teenagers. Looking for activities he could teach his students, Cohen stumbled into ice-cream making. Around 1978, he joined up with his friend Jerry Greenfield to open a shop, and the rest is history.
In 1984, Ben & Jerry's went public. Facing shaky profits, they sold out to Unilever in 2000. The founders said they hoped to change Unilever's corporate culture and nudge it toward sustainability and mandated that 7.5 percent of Ben & Jerry's profits would go to a foundation.
These days, Cohen has a new mission: trying to get money out of politics.
And he has an unusual way of going about it: by traveling the country and encouraging people to deface dollar bills.
Cohen is involved with a group called the Movement Resource Group, which was founded to raise money for the Occupy movement. Today, its mission is to pass a constitutional amendment to get money out of politics.
To that end, Cohen travels around with a weird-looking Rube Goldberg-type vehicle/contraption called the "Amend-O-Matic Stampmobile" on a campaign called the Stamp Stampede. Cohen is "Head Stamper" and encourages people to use ink and a stamper to cover dollar bills with messages like: "Not to be used for bribing politicians." (They contend it's perfectly legal.)
The ultimate goal is to pass a constitutional amendment that declares that corporations are not people and money isn't free speech, thus reversing legal precedent that was set by Citizens United and other court decisions.
According to the Stamp Stampede website, each dollar bill in circulation reaches 875 people. If 100 people stamped ten per day for a year, theoretically the message would reach the entire 300 million people in the U.S.
The Stamp Stampede's spring campaign begins in Miami and is scheduled to pass through Delray Beach -- at the corner of Third Street and East Atlantic Avenue -- this Saturday, February 9, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Meanwhile, according to the website opensecrets.org, Unilever gave more than $42,000 to political campaigns in 2012 (mostly to Democrats, including Barack Obama and Florida Congressman Ted Deutch) and spent more than a million dollars on lobbying. Just sayin.'
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss New Times Broward-Palm Beach's biggest stories.