A report from Let Live Portland
Category : Uncategorized
I’m in Portland at the Let Live Conference, an annual animal rights conference put on by the Let Live Foundation in conjunction with the Student Animal Liberation Coalition at Portland State University. The theme this year is “creativity.”
For those of you not here, some of the sessions are being streamed live.
We haven’t yet started day 2 of the conference yet. Already, though, it feels as if I’ve gotten as much out of the one day as anyone could reasonably expect to get out of a whole 2-day conference. It’s just been packed with presenting, talking to some really amazing people, and hearing lots of great ideas. The creative ideas here are running deep and thick.
The event actually began on Friday night with an inspiring and hope-filled talk by Andrew Stepanian, one of the convicted SHAC 7. He recently got off probation after a 3-year prison term for his role in the Stop Huntingdon LIfe Sciences campaign. I hope the video makes it up soon. I’d highly recommend watching it when it gets posted.
Jasmin Singer‘s talk yesterday morning, though (the official opening talk of the first day) was even more inspiring and more moving. Jasmin is just friggin’ awesome, and her (and her partner Mariann’s) website/blog/podcast/etc Our Hen House, is becoming one of the most valuable out there. Her talk was funny and inspiring and had me re-committing to doing the best work I can to help animals. I hope her talk makes it up onto Vimeo soon so you all can see it. In the meantime, though, be sure to check out her website. Rumor has it an interview with me and Joanne may appear in the not-too-distant future.
Jasmin and I did a session called Creative Online Activism, which covered a whole lot of information in not too much time. We gave some tips on blogging, podcasting, podcasting, twitter, and facebook. Really, we just scratched the surface of what is available. We also learned about some very cool organizations and projects, including Plants & Animals Denver (a vegan collective in Denver, CO) (pssst, they’re also on Twitter), The New Leaf Vegan Society (from Virginia!), and the Free Tilly Now campaign (a campaign to free Tilikum, an orca in captivity at Sea World).
In the afternoon I was on a panel, Creative Campaign Spotlight, where I presented about the Cow Ribbon Campaign. The panel also included, Isa Moskowitz (creator of the Post Punk Kitchen and so much more), Gary Loewenthal (Director of Compassion for Animals), and the Director of the Galapagos Preservation Society [name redacted by request] . It was a bit intimidating to be on a panel with all of these people, since they are doing so much amazing work.
I showed slides of the Cow Ribbon campaign and talked about it a bit. After we all presented our campaigns there was a bit of discussion around creative campaigns. Being creative in what we do is important. Creativity doesn’t have to mean flashy and out there, it can often just mean finding a new way of using something that already exists. I hope that anyone in the Vancouver area who is interested in being creative and finding new ideas for outreach comes to our next community dialogue event on July 11, which is focused on using fun and entertainment for outreach.
I also presented a session about our Animal Advocacy Camp. I was nervous about it at the beginning because I was planning to do a different sort of presentation. Instead of just talking at people for 45 minutes, we did a mini advocacy camp, with an agenda setting and one 10 minute session. Then we had a good discussion about how it felt, what worked and what didn’t. It was total experiment to try to present the idea of an open space event by doing open space, but I think it worked. Even if it didn’t work as well as it could have, I know that I really enjoyed the conversation with some very lovely people.
In the evening we went to Portobello, an aven-more-than-amazing vegan restaurant for dinner and a Let Live party/benefit.
Being here and seeing all of the dedicated grassroots animal rights activists who’ve come from near and far to be together and learn together – it’s just really inspiring. I’m so happy to be doing this work for animals.