I attended the Animal Rights National Conference in Los Angeles, California a few weeks back. I have attended this conference several times, starting in 2007.
Here were some of the highlights for me:
- In previous conferences I had responsibilities such as staffing and managing a table in the exhibit hall, speaking (I gave presentations about how to plan a veg fest twice), and organizing meetings. Additionally, I had many people with whom I wanted to connect with to help continue the animal advocacy I was currently involved in. This year I had minimal responsibilities, which gave me more time to develop authentic relationships with fellow attendees.
- As I mentioned in my previous post, I had asked speakers I knew to talk about gender equity in their talks. I had several positive conversations with speakers about this topic.
- Also, I had many conversations about gender equity. There was a separate conference before the Animal Rights conference for women about gender equity. I heard about the conference from many people, and I hope to hear about some of the changes conference attendees will want in the movement. I talked to several people about sexual harassment policies and procedures in organizations.
- The conference had more emphasis on intersectional justice. For example, all of the moderators and all of the award winners were women/femmes.
- For the second time, I attended the all-day meditation before the conference and the meditation in each of the mornings of the conference.
- People were excited about the work I am doing for low income workers. This was very reassuring. Some folks pointed out that having relationships with people involved in different movements is the primary building blocks of bringing movements together, and that simply having my role at my job and showing up as my full self will cultivate opportunities.
Overall, I am glad I attended. I imagine that if many of the people who have had significant involvement in the animal protection movement, the conference could draw 20,000 people rather than the 2,000 that were there. And if we had such a crowd, I think there would be greater possibilities for connections and a more powerful, active movement. Developing connections with other animal activists is a building block to growing the movement. When we connect deeply with people who share our values about animals and our vision for a different world, we can explore how to enact those changes.
I understand there are many other conferences and gatherings of people doing good work for animals besides this conference, and I encourage participation in those efforts, too.
Challenges I faced at the conference included:
- I felt unsteady with my diminished status in the movement, not having a leadership role. I am trying to work through this and cultivate humility, recognizing this as a challenge of my ego.
- I was underwhelmed by the sessions I attended. I don’t have a long attention span for lectures, and I heard little that was new or interesting.
- I still feel that I lack direction. Although as you can see below, this is starting to form.
In August, I will write about ways the conference could improve. The conference has been a great experience for me over the years, and I think it could be even better.
Here are some ideas of what my future plans for animal advocacy:
- I will continue to deepen my meditation practice and understanding of nonviolence. I have found that I feel best about my activism when I am humble, calm, accepting and loving in my activism. I also find that it is easier to sustain my work for a long period of time when I approach activism with compassion and patience. Meditation and study of nonviolence has helped me develop these qualities.
- I have begun organizing a meditation and compassion group in Minneapolis, and hosted an event on July 15. I will host another meditation for animal advocates on August 4. I am considering attending and helping to plan a week long meditation session for animal activists in November. I have talked to other folks that are hosting meditation and healing events for animal advocates and I’m consider ways to help out.
- I intend on continuing conversations about gender equity in the movement, and hope to work with groups to implement sexual harassment policies and procedures.
Resources and Action items for you:
- Consider coming to the 2019 conference! I will likely attend.
- Keep in touch with activists that inspire you!
In the future, I hope to expand on the Resources and Action items section. I want to help you become a more effective and powerful advocate. Please let me know what topics you might be interested in.