Peter Voelker

Welcome to VICE Impact

A letter from the director of advocacy.

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Apr 26 2017, 12:04am

Peter Voelker

You don't have to be an alarmist to be a little freaked out right now. Regardless of whether your preferred leaders are in power or not, most agree that we're facing some challenging times. We have an ecological system on the verge of collapse, debilitating economic disparity, pervasive racial injustice, and a refugee crisis that is a shameful humanitarian disaster. 

On the bright side, it's genuinely encouraging to see more people starting to care. Business as usual isn't working, which is prompting new ideas and a healthy questioning of the status quo. Call it resisting, disrupting, being mad af—whatever. People are taking a new look at the world before them, and asking themselves what kind of future do I really want to live in?

It's at this time of heightened tensions, mass anxiety, and public awakening that VICE Impact joins the fray. It's an advocacy platform with the encompassing goal of working toward a better future for global youth and recognizing the interconnectivity behind many of today's challenges. We aim to do this through quality content, smart collaboration, and creative messaging. We recognize this new course may seem a bit odd to some, but VICE has always prided itself on being different. And if not now, when? We're not going to stand idly by while the world that's given us so much goes beyond a point of no return.

Different from other VICE verticals, Impact is advocacy-first. We don't want to bite off more than we can chew, so there will be a limited scope to our focus. Our initial campaigns and content will be agenda-driven and focused toward addressing specific issues. When appropriate, we'll be pulling choice content from other VICE verticals, and we strive to amplify new voices. Content will also come from partner organizations that are experts on these issues, as they've been in the game a lot longer than we have.

To us, climate change is an immediate threat to a livable future on this planet, so right off the bat we're proud to be a media partner of the largest climate mobilization effort rooted in social and economic justice in US history, the People's Climate March. Longer term, we're committed to a multi-year initiative aimed at moving more cities and towns to clean energy, and will be supporting efforts to hold science-denying lawmakers accountable.

We'll be working with international organizations operating in some of the most under-resourced places on Earth. And we recognize that society must take the necessary steps toward adopting a holistic, sustainable future.

There's a reason why jobs and the economy are front and center at election time, and we recognize the tremendous economic hardship that many people are going through right now. Decades of declining productivity, widening income inequality, and massive changes in technology make it quite clear that the nature of work is changing. Young people are the largest generation in the American workforce, yet youth unemployment is more than double the national average. Impact is committed to content that addresses the changing nature of work, and will be supporting efforts that aim to best prepare young people for the jobs of tomorrow.

It's a stark reminder that bigotry and hatred are alive and well that more than 130 anti-LGBTQ bills have been introduced in state legislatures across the country. And shockingly, only a small handful of states have gender-therapy bans protecting people from physical harm. Impact will be continually supporting trans rights, and we are committed to empowering frontline groups serving the LGBTQ community around the world.

As the  renewed war on drugs is waged, we stand in solidarity with communities of color against racism in all its forms including addressing a broken criminal justice system and supporting sanctuary communities, and we see an urgent need to fix regressive immigration policy.

We believe water is a human right, and that everyone should have peace of mind about the quality of their water. We will actively be supporting efforts to raise the public consciousness around water as a finite resource, and support efforts to maximize public control of infrastructure.

For me personally, this is an exciting opportunity to take a new approach and harness real creative energy for good. Prior to VICE, I was on an extended odyssey as a national political staffer on the American campaign trail. This was after a rewarding decade of issue-oriented direct advocacy work with frontline organizations in the US and abroad. 

Impact is published by Katherine Keating, a media producer and global activist who has previously worked with leading foundations and organizations. Keating previously served as a contributing editor to the World Post and was chair of Global Citizen's Content Board.

Like any good advocate, Impact will not be successful going at this alone. We will be working closely with frontline organizations, leading activists, global foundations, and likeminded brands that are committed to our point of view on key issues. (Impact is its own legal entity within VICE and has been set up as a B Corporation.)

In many ways, this is very much a natural next step for VICE. The company has done a good job of connecting with a vigilant audience, making us poised to take this next step of engaging more potential activists in waiting. For years, VICE has effectively covered global issues and consistently offers different perspectives. We're constantly exploring new visions of the future bringing light to often overlooked topics. We've frequently partnered with organizations like the Center for Communication to promote journalistic diversity and the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism and the Knight Foundation to support innovative ideas in journalism. And for the HBO documentary Killing Cancer, we worked with the Mayo Clinic to raise over $2.5 million for cancer research. 


This will be an imperfect effort, likely to get messy, and, if all goes accordingly, will hold some bad people accountable. We obviously won't be able to address every issue out there, but the consequences of doing nothing are simply not acceptable. 


Join us.

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