Archive | May, 2010

Public Health, Outcomes, and Connecting the Dots

22 May

As someone who focuses on primary prevention of sexual violence  (preventing the behavior from ever occurring in the first place) in my work, I (Ashley) use a public health framework.  This means I do a lot of public health-type things, like creating logic models and strategic plans.  Given that I do this work all but two days a week, and often on the weekends, I usually find myself thinking about how useful these skills will be when I finally have more time to devote myself to the Connect the Dots initiative.

“Wait, what?  Are you going to tell us how great logic models and strategic plans are for connecting the dots?”


Well, I’ll spare you the dry details.  Clearly any movement needs to have direction.  While I respect and expect the movement’s growth from the ground up, as a grassroots initiative, we must have a vision for where we are going. This is where planning comes in.   What I think we haven’t asked ourselves enough is, What do we want to see?  What outcomes do we expect?  I can think of plenty specific and measurable short-term outcomes that we’ll be pursuing as the initiative develops.  But as a whole, as a movement, what are our long-term outcomes?  What do we want to see in 5 years?  10 years?  50?

As with many movements, like the movement to end violence against women, we are really great at saying what we are against.  We want to end oppression, duh.  But what are we for?  What do we hope to see in the world?  What do we want to promote, rather than simply prevent/fight/end?  I think we need to spend some more time thinking about this.  Here are just a few thoughts about what we are for, long-term outcomes that we expect as a result of this connectionist movement:

  • Human, animal, and environmental well-being (I say this a lot, I know)
  • A Peaceful World for All
  • Compassion Towards All
  • Empathy for All
  • Justice for All

Stacia listed the following in about 2 seconds:

  • Eating animal products is something that is only done if there is no other way to get all of your daily sustenance with a plant-based diet (could be geography related)
  • Competent food distribution ensures that no one goes hungry
  • The human population begins to use water resources in a sound manner and everyone has access to clean water thereby eliminating the many pediatric deaths due to diarrheal illnesses due to drinking contaminated supplies
  • Heterosexuality is seen as one shade of normal (rather than the norm) along with the myriad of other sexual ways of being
  • Psychiatric illnesses are no longer stigmatized and the victims of them are given the resources needed to maximize their lives
  • Critical thinking skills are taught in schools
  • Racism ceases to exist
  • Human culture shifts from encouraging the minimization and exploitation of the female body to viewing and treating women and men as equals.

And on and on.  True, it’s hard for me, no matter the topic, to focus on the positive.  That’s why I only include 4 bullet points above.  What do you want to see?  What does a world in which people connect the dots look like to you?  In public health, we may call these outcomes, but I often find it easier to ask, What do I expect to see as a result of these efforts?  What do you expect to see?  What will a world that has benefited from a connectionist movement look like to you?

UPDATE: After this blog was written, I discovered that the Animal Rights & AntiOppression blog posted a great piece on measuring success. Read it! I love this blog.  It makes me feel less alone.  And so do all of you who consider yourself part of this movement.  Thank you.


Earthlings: Connecting the Dots

17 May

A couple of weeks ago I (Ashley) watched the movie, Earthlings.  It was quite the experience.  After viewing the movie, I immediately posted a blog on my personal blog site.  As it clearly comes from a connectionist perspective, I’ve reposted the blog here:

I finally watched Earthlings tonight.  It was absolutely terrifying, horrifying, and sickening.  In fact, those words don’t even come close to the absolutely devastated state in which this movie left me.

People ask, “Ashley, you’re a vegan, you already know that stuff.  You’ve seen tons of these movies.  Why would you watch something you know is going to be horrifying to you?”  Because it’s my privilege not to.  Privilege allows me to sit in comfort ignoring the institutionalized violence that I know is taking place.  I have to watch this stuff because it’s real.  IT’S REAL.  Many of you ask me why I’m vegan, why I’m so staunchly anti-violence in all realms of life.  Here’s why:

THIS IS REAL.  I know from talking to many of you that you too know it’s real.  How can we let it continue?  We know this happens and we choose to ignore it because ignoring it relieves our cognitive dissonance and allows us to continue on in comfort.  This isn’t a problem of awareness.  We’re aware.  So why is it that we still choose behaviors that cause the suffering of so many?  Why are we complicit in the pain and suffering of so many others?  Why are we okay with the violence?

We have to connect the dots.  We have to see how violence in each realm of life manifests, supports, and allows violence in all realms of life.  We know that extreme violence continues and has been institutionalized in the industries that produce our food, fashion, science, entertainment, and more. Yet we choose to behave in ways that feed it.  We choose to throw our money into it.  And we look the other way. Why?

As a professional, I work to eliminate the conditions that allow violence against women to occur.  I consider what we do to nonhuman animals, everyday, thousands and thousands of times each day, as not only a manifestation of those conditions, but as the normalization of violence and lack of body autonomy in our culture that leads directly to sexual assault.  The fact that I’m afraid to say that publicly means a lot.

You ask me why I am the way I am.  This is why.

Watch Earthlings and understand me.

“Three primary life forces exist on this Earth: nature, animals, and humankind.  We are the Earthlings.  Make the connection.”

Key Tweets on Mother’s Day

10 May

Some of you may know that I’m quite the tweeter.  I (Ashley) found these Mother’s Day tweets from Carol J. Adams and the Institute for Humane Educaiton (IHE) particularly important today:


Happy Mother’s Day to all moms of all species of the world. May you know peace & justice & be free from cruelty, oppression & exploitation.

Carol J. Adams:

There would be no meat eating if female animals weren’t constantly made pregnant: that’s the sexual politics of meat on mother’s day.

What does Sexual Politics of Meat have to do w/ Mother’s Day (originally mother’s day for peace). ans #1 : vegan is a diet of peace.

What does Sexual Politics of Meat have to do w/ Mother’s Day? ans #2. Vegan-feminists don’t rob from mothers of other species.

Sexual Politics of Meat on Mother’s Day? ans #3 the promise: I will not raise my child to kill your child; this extends to other animals.

What do you think of these tweets?  Did you see any poignant Mother’s Day tweets today?  Let us know!