The Animal Rights Conference 2013. Like last year, it took me a week to commit my thoughts to print. While the conference overall was not as lively and tense as last year’s (and many of the people involved in that tension last year were not present this year), the conference still brought with it the burden of racism, marginalization, misogyny/sexism, and homophobia. This recollection will try to capture my full experience and impressions of the conference, not just the shit that is frustrating and tiring to deal with. Continue reading
A few of us began to ask the questions “What does community look like when we’re all equal and respected members working together in self-reliance and dignity? How can we build communities from the foundations of what exists now to be inherently whole and just?” We looked to public housing as a beginning. The big thing that motivates everyone is access to healthy food and food security. The efforts around local food production here have been two-fold. From electing a food policy council member to the city council to launching an edible landscape movement, the city is underway to creating a (not so) new culture around food production. Even the public housing communities are part of this movement, though they don’t have nearly the same access to resources or training to sustain their gardens. The white leaders learn this and are initially excited to do something about it, but when they receive funding through their respective nonprofits to address the marginalization, something manages to go not quite as planned and the people are left figuring out what to do on their own save a few independent white allies, meanwhile they continue to experience sabotage and non-cooperation from the Housing Authority for their efforts.
But all in all, everyone is excited about local foods. And they are all pushing in the same direction–for farms to depend just as much on animals as they always have. In this urban local foods culture, chickens and rabbits and goats are the popular ones and a breeding industry has erected here in response to that demand. (One of the public housing communities hasn’t been able to acquire any animals yet because they don’t have the access or the resources.) When it comes to community-building, self-determination, and wholeness, once again, animals aren’t included in that picture except as objects to exploit, and people of color are barely included, but trying as always to be equal in participation with white communities who seem to have the resources, the space, and are determining the direction of the vision and the vision itself. Continue reading
I have to get this off my chest.
I never thought I would say those words. How can a social movement trying to bring about change actually not want to be organized? Perhaps it’s my fault for using the term “social movement” so freely. I just assume that everyone is collective-oriented and about the movement as I am. So I’m baffled when I meet so-called activists who don’t want to cooperate, and I’m even more disturbed when they are the majority. Continue reading
So much to say about the conference, so many words. This year’s conference was my first attendance, and it exceeded and confirmed expectations all at once. The conference contained for me some insight, some inspiration, some passion, some racism. It took me a full week to recap my experience into words I could share on this blog. Many others I have since befriended have written on the conference as well. See Katie’s AR Conference recap for a different perspective.
Voices of the Movement
Not surprising, the dominant voices at the conference came from the large farm animal advocacy organizations. Probably because the organizers FARM are among these organizations. Probably because major voices in the AR movement have prioritized farm animal advocacy above all others since they are the most regularly and extensively exploited and killed land animals in the US. Nevertheless, I found Continue reading
For most folks trying to run a farmed animal sanctuary, they soon learn it is a money sink. Not everyone is as fortunate, visionary, or aggressive in their fundraising as the founders of Farm Sanctuary. The founders of Caboodle Ranch and Angel’s Gate Hospice may know that all too well. It’s expensive to run a rehabilitation center and sanctuary for animals. Majority of Americans don’t find it to be of value. Grants aren’t available specifically for sanctuaries. And earned income from tours and bed and breakfast don’t generate much. The only sanctuaries that survive and become effective, amazing organizations are those that have either a strong giving program, adopt social enterprise, or have a combination of the two.
But do any farmed animal sanctuaries exist that are social enterprises?
Not a day goes by when I don’t sign into my email or search the web and find the phrase “social enterprise.” It’s increasingly common where there’s “social change.” More and more social justice groups are adopting it. So what is it exactly that makes folks grab hold of it not unlike the sustainability frenzy?
Social enterprise offers a way to get to the heart of human values without having to take a single philosophy course. And an unfortunate consequence, like sustainability, is for existing corporations to use this buzz phrase to manipulate consumer desires for a better world in order to continue business as usual. However, I’m not going to get into the latter. I’m more interested in its possibilities, especially for animal liberation. Continue reading
Trans-species psychology describes a common model of brain, mind, and behavior for all animals, human inclusive. It draws from research in three main fields: neuroscience, ethology, and psychology. Why “trans” and why “psychology”? Continue reading
“Zoopolis” was coined by Jennifer Wolch, former professor of Geography at the University of Southern California and current dean at UC Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design. She described it as a “renaturalized, re-enchanted city” that would “allow for the emergence of an ethic, practice, and politics of caring for animals and nature” by “[inviting] the animals back in.” Continue reading
What do we mean when we refer to animal oppression? How does oppression of animals operate? How would animal liberation overcome animal oppression? What does animal liberation mean? I use the phrases “animal liberation” and “animal oppression” on a regular basis, to the point where I had to take a step back and assess what I meant from these phrases. Before formulating my own conceptualization of these terms, I wanted to know the brief history of “oppression” and “liberation” and how activists and philosophers describe them. Continue reading
Yesterday my dear friend (and co-editor of Emergent Thought Magazine) and I were discussing Daniel Quinn’s Ishmael and the book’s lessons for social change and the human animal condition. I mentioned how the book seems to be a bible for primitive anarchism and re-wilding initiatives. But my friend concluded that the book is much more than that. The work forces us to explore the multiple degrees of human sociality and how economic and social diversity (as well as cultural diversity) is necessary for humans to have a stable ecological existence. Continue reading