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A Dallas Native is Behind a Progressive Causes Money Machine

Dallas native Michael Kieschnick is founder of, among other things, Working Assets.

Since 1985, it says here, Working Assets has generated over $50 million for progressive nonprofits" -- among them, Greenpeace, Doctors Without Borders, Amnesty International and various enviro-friendly causes. It does this getting folks to use their "donation-linked services," which include calling cards, credit cards and long-distance phone plans. Just last week Working Assets called for a boycott of the iPhone, matter of fact, because of its "monopolistic reliance on AT&T." Its founder, Michael Kieschnick, repeated his plea on Huffington Post.

Well, turns out Kieschnick's a Dallas native who today is profiled on Grist about what the company does and where it came from. Kieschnick says that his "environmental activism started in second grade, when I pulled up the wooden stakes marking the outlines of roads that would eventually destroy my favorite wild meadow near our house in Dallas, Texas." And Kieschnick, who got his Ph.D. in Public Policy from Harvard University, describes growing up in Northwest Dallas in the 1950s and '60s:

I was born in Dallas, Texas, in 1953 into what would now be called a liberal middle-class family in a right-wing town. My parents helped to start one of the liberal antiwar, pro-integration churches in town (the public schools were racially segregated until I got to sixth grade). Dallas was a great place to grow up if you were white, middle class, went to church, and played football, and not so good for everyone else.

Wonder if he's related to this man. Actually, I called Kieschnick to ask him, and he says, "I assume I'm related to him," but he's not quite sure. The Kieschnicks, he says, have been in Texas for more than a hundred years and are scattered far and wide.

Fact is, he says, his parents were among a group of families who left University Christian Church and started Midway Hills Christian Church on Midway Road and Walnut Hill Lane, which sounds like it's still doing its thing. Says its Web site, "We are white, black, brown, young, middle age, mature, straight, gay, questioning, progressive, conservative and open to you." Which, Kieschnick says when that's read to him, makes him very, very proud. --Robert Wilonsky

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