Archive | September, 2011

Connectionist Reflections on the 2011 National Sexual Assault Conference

26 Sep

I spent September 12th- 16th at a grantee meeting and then the National Sexual Assault Conference (NSAC).  Like last year, the conference sparked a lot of thought, made a lot of connections, and was a fabulous learning experience.

Going to the conference, I was excited because I just knew that I wouldn’t be the only vegan there.  The lonely days of explaining why I’m such a freak were over!  And while those days were more over than ever before (I hang out with awesome people – Jenny, Bethany, Kat, Jonathan – that’s you!), I still felt quite alone.  Perhaps with a utopian bend, I looked forward to informal gatherings of all the feminist vegans at the conference, meeting, celebrating our community, and indulging in our feminist veganism to its fullest extent.  What I found was one other fellow vegan…as I left a restaurant that served far too much veal (and isn’t any too much?).

I also found so very many friends and colleagues who completely respected my veganism.  That’s how things are getting better, and fast.   This is the first time at a human-focused conference that anyone wanted to walk a mile to go to a vegan anarchist café with me.  Thanks Kat and Jonathan!

As like last year’s conference, several speakers and workshops made connections between various forms of human-focused violence and oppression.  Sessions addressed pretty much every form of oppression…except speciesism.  So what this tells me is that while we aren’t there yet, the anti-violence against women movement(s) is ready for a connectionist perspective and approach.  Interestingly, I can look at the stages of community readiness and see this movement on the spectrum – I can see how it has changed positions over the years.  Consistent with the lessons I’ve learned from human rights movements, we must tread lightly.  But people are ready – they are asking questions, they are taking our stickers and pens, and they are reading this blog (hi!).

A key tenant to any social justice work is to know our audiences and to start where they are.  I’ll leave you with this – if you’re not at an anti-violence against women table, why?  If you are, how? We shouldn’t storm in demanding soy creamer.  We can’t yell at everyone using a plastic bottle.  But we can be there.  We can build relationships and community.  Fundamental social change happens slowly and strategically.   Thank you, NSAC, for providing a venue in which to take steps towards a peaceful and just world for all.

 

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Cultivate a Better World…with Chipotle?

21 Sep

A fellow connectionist asked us to write about this new commercial by Chipotle.

First of all, teaming up with Willie Nelson on a Coldplay song?  What is there NOT to like?

Seriously, though, this commercial is very well done.  It’s visually appealing, simple, and, dare we say, moving.  For a major fast food chain restaurant to openly acknowledge, much less criticize factory farming is frankly unheard of.  Until now.

While this video doesn’t include the plight of factory farm workers, it does indicate concern for farmed animals (images of pigs, cows, chickens), independent farmers, human health (images of drugs) and the planet (images of pollution).  In fact it’s quite understandable that there is probably a lot that was left out in the attempt to make a simple video with a clear message.

But what is the message?  “Go back to the start.”  Okay.  “Cultivate a better world.”  Cool.  “Spend your money on our food!”  Wait, what?

Folks, Chipotle is a for-profit business.  Good for them for putting a better message out there.  Good for them for caring.  We want to see more businesses caring.  We also want to ask what was in that crate at the end of the commercial.  Emphasis on commercial.

In the non-profit world, everything we do is to work towards identified outcomes.  These are usually changes in knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors that we want to produce.  In the for-profit world, outcomes are more about the bottom line.  What knowledge does Chipotle want to change?  Maybe our knowledge about where our food comes.  What attitudes?  Maybe our attitudes towards the type of food Chipotle sells.  What behaviors?  Maybe…could it be…to buy Chipotle’s food more often?

We absolutely love any attempt to create a peaceful and just world.  And we do believe that businesses are key players – if it’s about cultural change then, heck, who is already an expert?  We just have a few questions for you, Chipotle:

  • Do you really care, or are you just trying to sell us something?
  • Is the message that if we eat animals killed for your food, then we don’t have to feel guilty?  Cause honestly, would it be okay to most people if there was a “humane” serial killer running amok in their area?
  • What are you going to do now?  How else will you help to cultivate a better world?  What are your next steps?
  • Just what was in that crate, anyway?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Because I Can: Another Rationalization for Exploitation (Plus a Great Response)

15 Sep

It seems fitting that yet another (misguided) feminist justification for exploiting vulnerable beings would come out while we are attending the National Sexual Assault Conference this week.  We put so much effort and energy into supporting the very norms that perpetuate the exploitation of women and all oppressed humans just so we can justify our own pleasure-seeking and power-over  behaviors.  Read this  response from Carol J. Adams to yet another of these justifications attempts.

Join our listserv!

9 Sep

As the movement builds, we need a place to connect!   Accordingly, we just started a listserv (via Google Groups).  Both Stacia and I found out long ago that seeing connections can make one feel lonely and uncomfortable.  Well guess, what?  WE’RE NOT ALONE!  Each feminist conference, each anti-violence training, each animal rights gathering, each environmental volunteer opportunity, each concert, each tabling event, brings new friendships and new, “Hey! You are vegan/feminist/connectionist too?” moments.  So join the community  – let’s connect!

Want us to send you an invitation? Fill out the form below.

What’s your favorite type of swag? Otherwise known as, “What free stuff do you want from us?”

6 Sep

We like to give things away.  So if we have Connect the Dots sustainable swag (see #4) at events, what should it be?  Pick your one most favorite item below!  Please-oh-please don’t pick rubber bracelets.  The world has enough of those.

Come be a part of the community! Join our listserv!

2 Sep

We just started a listserv (via Google Groups).  As the movement builds, we need a place to connect!   Both Stacia and I found out long ago that seeing connections can make one feel lonely and uncomfortable.  Well guess, what?  WE’RE NOT ALONE!  Each feminist conference, each anti-violence training, each animal rights gathering, each environmental volunteer opportunity, each concert, each tabling event, brings new friendships and new, “Hey! You are vegan/feminist/connectionist too?” moments.  So join the community  – let’s connect!