AR Conference - Day II

Trip Start Jul 14, 2007
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Trip End Jul 27, 2007


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Flag of United States  , California
Saturday, July 21, 2007

Today was a great day at the conference, starting out with the first day of various hour-by-hour workshop sessions to attend, spanning a range of topics in four specific streams, and ending in a 2 hour plenary session that consisted of one excellent speaker after another, culminating with the always entertaining and inspirational keynote speaker Howard Lyman, The Mad Cowboy (www.madcowboy.com).

For the first two sessions I attended - Winning Hearts and Minds (changing behaviour by altering feelings and beliefs), and Apply Direct Action (getting attention and changing behavior through economic & social action) - I took some good notes, as some good information was being delivered on this topic and I wanted to make sure it stayed with me for the future. I was going to write about them here but since is it 1:34am now and I have to get up at 7am, I'm going to try to do a quick and dirty job of this blog tonight, hence overstepping these details. But I will say that it was great to see Harold Brown (aka Farmer Brown of the film "Peaceable Kingdom", which you must see if you have not already! www.tribeofheart.org) for the first time ever, as he was one of the speakers in my first session and I got to experience his speaking style first hand. He is a likeable presenter, and sincere and conveys his message across well. I really admire him for the huge transition he's gone through and for what he accomplishes today as the Outreach Program Co-ordinator at Farm Sanctuary (www.farmsanctuary.org), another organization that I strongly support. It was good to see some people I knew in person, but also many whom I've only known in the past by name, film, etc.

Ben attended two different sessions at these times, that interested him the most, on the abuse of animal companions and on choosing a career (to help animals), and at lunch-time he let me know that he created quite a fuss during both sessions when he decided to speak up and say a few words! (One of the times he said the response was applause for him!) I was glad to see that he was enjoying it so far and actually getting something out of the workshops he had attended.

In the afternoon I attended the "Abuse of Animals for Food/Clothes" talk, and then "Developing Leadership" and a couple of "Nuturing Activism" sessions on dealing with problems and the health benefits of plant-based diets for humans and for animals. In the last talk on vegetarianism for companion animals, given by a qualified veterinarian, I was surprised to see him stand by a claim of even encouraging cats to go vegetarian. Dogs I know can go veggie and be healthy and happy (hey, the oldest dog in the world is a vegetarian!), but I've always thought that is not so cut and dry for cats.

During the dinner break I went to check out the exhibit room. They have 90 exhibitors this year, consisting of all kinds of animal-related groups, as well as vegan food and other products. I didn't have my handy tote bag with me and didn't have too much room to carry stuff, but I still ended up buying quite a bit of stuff and taking lots of literature as well to study and read - it's always good to see what kind of information other groups are putting out. I bought some DVDs for Earthsave and one for Animal Voices. My bag was packed and heavy but then I saw the vegan cupcake table and had to buy one. I bought an Oreo-like chocolate cupcake from a vegan bakery table and promptly ate that for dessert (before my dinner). It was delicious! I bought another one to go, as well as a scrumpdelicious vegan chocolate cookie from them. I chatted with Jeff Rogers, the Naughty Vegan (www.vicecream.com); and Chad from Food Fight! (www.foodfightgrocery.com), the vegan grocery store, who remembered me from when I went to his store in Portland! Also had a good chat with the person running the Animal Acres table, who is one of their trusty volunteers that Leanne was telling me about on our visit there last week. And chatted with the intern co-ordinator at the California Farm Sanctuary, who asked me if I knew a fellow activist in Vancouver who had interned there (and yes, I did!). Lots to see, lots to buy, need to go back tomorrow to do the rest.

Fast forward a bit to the evening's plenary session, which comprised of 9 speakers, each giving short speeches on their past achievements and effective paths to take for animal rights, prior to Howard Lyman. And I was thoroughly impressed that each of these speakers gave an excellent presentation that left the audience with ideas to think about. The first speaker was Marianne Thieme, the leader of the Party for Animals of the Netherlands, whose mandate within the Dutch Parliament is to speak up for the animals! I googled Marianne later on and discovered that she is only 3 years older than me. Truly impressive to be so accomplished at such a level and so young. But all the other people there who presented have also made such great accomplishments - in different ways - in the path of helping the animals, and it is all to be strongly, hugely admired. It makes you think that "yes, I can do that too." Seriously, some food for thought here to be considered.

And in the interest of my sleeping time... fast forward again to Howard's great speech where he talks to the audience like he's a tv evangelist, and is just as effective! He received a standing ovation at the end. If you've never seen Howard speak before, it is truly something to be seen, and I believe this so much that I even recorded a few clips of him for you to watch (in my photo album). Nothing major, but this will give you a taste of his speaking style.

It was a day with lots of good information, good people, and lots of take home and think about. Looking forward even more to tomorrow.
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