Yana Ludwig is a 49 year old Laramie resident who was born in Bemidji, MN, having missed the excitement of the 1960’s by a mere 5 weeks. She is a bisexual woman married to Matt Stannard, the former debate coach at the University of Wyoming and a UW Law School graduate. Matt is a writer, producer, and teacher on cooperative economics and debate. Between them they have 7 kids, 4 of whom are students in Wyoming’s public school system.
Yana has long history of social justice and ecological activism, starting as a kid following her ecologist dad around the Great Lakes as he did toxicology research on bird populations, and land reclamation work on former mining sites. She grew up in the hunting and fishing culture of her hometown, a former iron ore mining town aptly named Iron River, Michigan, and spent a lot of time outdoors as a kid, cross country skiing, swimming, trolling for bass, and wandering joyfully and aimlessly in the woods. Iron River was about a generation and a half out from completely losing mining as its economic center, and that early experience seeing economic struggle colors how she sees Wyoming’s future.
Yana’s family includes Navy doctors, artists, scientists, former school board members, and the Democratic nominee for Michigan’s House District 80 in the last election, her big brother, Mark.
Her grandfather was also the editor of the largest union newspaper in the country, after a long and distinguished union career with the railroads.
Her first major march for human rights was the big gay rights march on Washington DC in 1993. Since then, she has participated in numerous Take Back the Night events, Women’s marches, anti-war and pro-science protests, and many ecological activist actions including the People’s Climate March in NYC in 2014. In college she was in student government, a campus leader of the MN Public Interest Research Group, and a member of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Student Alliance. Yana is a sexual assault survivor, and has dealt with various forms of gender and class discrimination.
Yana’s professional career has focused on the nonprofit sector, where she has been the Director of numerous nonprofits including Project Grow Community Gardens, Recycling Jackson, the Center for Sustainable and Cooperative Culture, and Commonomics USA. She has also served on the Board and/or Oversight team of the nonprofit Foundation for Intentional Community for a decade.
Yana is pro-workers. All workers. This includes military personnel, coal miners, auto workers, and literally anyone else who needs to work for a living. Whatever criticisms she may have of the companies people work for, she recognizes that we are in a shared struggle for economic security.
Our economy is structured around the interests of the wealthy and corporations, and everyone else is getting screwed. We have some brilliant economic warriors in the Senate right now, and I will follow their lead on many issues (student debt forgiveness, wealth taxes, breaking up big banks, capping credit card interest rates, etc.) Overall, I favor restructuring the economy away from mega-corporations (big banks, big pharma and big oil) and toward locally-specific worker-owned cooperatives, state-held public utilities, and green infrastructure projects that care for both the economy and the planet.
Finally, Citizens United has to go.
I am a socialist, grounded in the true meaning of that word: worker ownership of the means of production and distribution, and a significantly democratized economy. The federal government should limit their activities to those things that genuinely benefit from organization at a massive scale, such as healthcare, education, and sensible environmental regulations. My socialism focuses much more on local control, worker owned cooperatives and community-based organizing. The federal government can do a lot to simply get out of the way of these projects, and incentivize their formation.
Socialism is about curbing corporate and CEO power, and building worker power. I propose a mandated Wage Ratio of 20:1, which was the average ratio of CEO to worker pay in 1951. I further propose a full empowerment of unions and worker owned cooperatives across the US to get economic power solidly in the hands of the people, including first right of refusal and material assistance to workers who wish to buy out the current owners of their companies. Banning “Right to Work” laws is key.
Finally, I favor public banks with social and climate justice values built into their charters, and postal banking as a way to provide free and low-cost financial services to underserved communities. We should also restructure legal penalties (such as traffic tickets) to be set based on income, and end cash bail practices, as both disproportionately affect the poor.
Yana has studied various version of the Green New Deal and other earlier climate proposals. She supports Bernie Sanders’ version of the GND.
You can listen to Yana discuss this plan on the Solidarity House Podcast, here.
Whatever version we end up with, the policies need to include green infrastructure, transportation and energy, and focus on economic health for “fossil fuel states” like Wyoming. I favor the bipartisan Carbon Fee and Dividend bill promoted by Citizens Climate Lobby. This would provide monthly dividends to all people, rising over time.
We must further use safe, proven technology to capture carbon. The most tried and true method for this is trees. My 10 Billion Tree Initiative would draw labor from two places: states that rely most heavily on fossil fuels currently for their economic vibrancy, and a massive reallocation of military personnel away from overseas war-making, which is disastrous ecologically and leaves vets with high levels of PTSD and depression that is inadequately treated when they come home.
Note that her 2017 book, Together Resilient: Building Community in the Age of Climate Disruption, has a full platform related to climate, which has considerable overlap with the Sanders’ version of the GND.
I support the (re)recognition of treaty rights. Indigenous communities are sovereign nations, and we should start to act as if that is true. This affects a wide range of issues, including environmental impact assessments and the right to protest pipelines (a movement that has been led, worldwide, by Indigenous communities) a right being undermined in a number of states right now.
We also need to recognize and act on the epidemic of murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls, and the shockingly high numbers of indigenous people falling victim to human trafficking within the US.
Finally, we must fully protect Indigenous communities rights to practice their religion and live from their own cultural values without interference and consequences.
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