Animal Advocacy Camp 2013: What a weekend!
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We held our third Animal Advocacy Camp on February 23rd and 24th and we continue to be thrilled by all the incredibly amazing, motivated, innovative, creative bunch of folks in the animal rights community.
Day one started out with a presentation from Liz Marshall, documentary filmmaker and director of the long-awaited film, Ghosts in Our Machine as well as a number of other social justice-related projects, such as Water on the Table. Liz began the talk by explaining that she’d always been an animal lover and that she’d sometimes eaten a vegetarian diet in the past, but it was while creating Ghosts in Our Machine that she finally set out on her own “ghost-free journey” and became vegan.
Audiences like a narrative, and so she wanted to find a story that would captivate people and convince them to begin their own journey towards compassion. She chose to focus on Jo-Anne McArthur, the main human subject of the film and an immensely talented photographer, who was travelling the world in an attempt to get her work shown by the mainstream media. Jo-Anne’s photos of zoos, aquariums, factory farms, labs, circuses, and more are a heartbreaking expose of the realities of animal exploitation–something that much of the mainstream media is still leery about. (They’re also a great resource for animal advocates, so I urge you to check out her site!)
After Liz’s presentation, participants began with the “unconference” aspect of the camp, proposing discussion topics for the day.
Here’s what they came up with:
- Intersections of Oppression: Connecting all struggles and working towards total liberation
- How to Get the Word into Schools
- Slideshow of the Sexual Politics of Meat
- The Locavore movement and how to respond to the myth of “Happy Meat”
- How to go about starting a letter-writing campaign to reach legislators
- Human Psychology and Helping People Transition
- Presentation and Discussion: Get Active Now w/ Vancouver Animal Defense League
- Vegan Co-housing/Co-op Animal Sanctuary Development
- Argument Clinic
- How to respond to assertions that veganism is like religious fundamentalism
- Opening a vegan orphanage in poverty-stricken country
- Creative Campaigning: Discussing Diverse and Effective Tactics
- Solo Activism
- Vegan Co-housing/Co-op Animal Sanctuary Development pt. 2
(You can download the notes from all of these breakout sessions here.)
At the end of the day, we listened to an incredibly moving speech from Twyla Francois, Director of Investigations with Mercy for Animals Canada, on the topic of the incredible value of undercover investigations. (MFA recently completed its first undercover investigation into the Canadian pork industry, garnering a great deal of necessary media attention.) Investigations such as these have resulted in cruelty convictions as well as the passage of laws and policy changes–and most importantly of all, they are part of the reason that meat consumption is on the decline. Twyla’s presentation brought tears to the eyes of many people in the audience, reenergizing us all in our fight to protect some of the most vulnerable beings on the planet. (You can read her blog entry about Animal Advocacy Camp here!)
The next morning, we showed up bright and early to watch a fascinating presentation from Dr. Olivier Berreville of International Network of Humane Education. Now, I knew that there are many alternatives when it comes to advancing science without the use of animal subjects, but I was still completely and utterly floored by how far we’ve come and how vastly superior those alternatives are. We’ll be posting a video soon, but for now I’m just going to tell you that the clips he showed us of students practicing with mannequins and models were so unbelievably realistic (and as a result, disgusting) that the audience was cringing and squirming in their seats.
Then we set off for another day of discussion topics proposed by attendees:
- Solidarity and/or Building Bridges: keeping social justice in our movement, finding allies, caring for ourselves and one another, etc
- Continued discussion with Dr. Olivier Berreville, first speaker of the day
- Yoga and Veganism
- I Fell in Love with a Meat-eater
- Argument Clinic II: Back by Popular Demand!
- Media Relations: How to get your stories in the news
- Specific Strategies for Human-Wildlife Conflicts
- Efficient Activism Using Science
- How to Give Effective Media Interviews
- Self-care: Sustainable Animal Activism
- DIY Creative Activism
Again, you can download notes from all of the discussion sessions here.
Additional photos are available here, and soon we’ll be posting more, as well as videos of our three speakers.
A huge thank you to all the wonderful people who attended Animal Advocacy Camp and who are responsible for making it such a success. We can’t wait to see you next year!