Below are the minutes from our strategy session on 09/14/07. Please read or at least scan through them and feel free to share your thoughts or volunteer to help out in some aspect.
Since the minutes are rather lengthy, I?m putting an announcement at the beginning that is not directly related to our meetup group but maybe someone in this group knows someone who can help with this:
Andrea, an animal rights activist who works for FARM http://farmusa.org/
(Farm Animal Rights Movement), the group that puts on the annual national animal rights conferences, is looking for help with a campaign to expose the horrors of LA's dog meat market. She is in search of an activist in Los Angeles area who speaks Korean and can work for one month collecting information for a documentary.
If you know anyone who would be interested, please let her know. Here is her contact information: [address removed],[masked]-4113.
Minutes from Animal Rights Meetup Strategy session on Sept. 14, 2007
Present were: Chris, Mike, Rebecca, Ron, Yi, Carin, Rick, Aouie, & Armaiti.
Armaiti opened. Our group is now 1 yr. old and have over 100 members. It?d be great to see more involvement from members. Here is the description of what the meetup group is about:
Meet other local animal rights activists. Gather information about animal abuse issues and discuss constructive, non-violent ways to raise awareness in our society about the plight of animals raised for food, fur, experimentation, and other uses. Encourage people to adopt a whole foods vegan diet which is respectful to animals, the environment, and our own health. Teach youngsters in the community the importance of showing compassion and mercy to creatures who are not able to speak up for themselves. Seek opportunities to empower ourselves to be the best possible animal rights advocates.
We went around the table, starting with Aouie.
How do we best approach people/groups that are already considered compassionate (i.e. The Hare Krishna devotees, etc.). At a recent event some of the Hare Krishna devotees were leafletted re: cruelty of dairy industry, how consuming dairy supports such cruelty. They are a large voice of kindness in the world. It would be great to gain their support in spreading the vegan message. We do not want to be confrontational with them. The management at the event was unhappy with activists passing out leaflets, even though no graphic pictures of cow slaughter were depicted (unlike previous year). But the majority of attendees (including many Krishna followers) were receptive to the pamphlets.
When key ?compassionate? leaders are present (i.e. Dali Lama, etc.) we should try to find some synergy with the event.
We need to be clear on our rights (and limitations) during activist events and make sure law enforcement is notified by us and aware of what our intent is. It may be helpful to have animal rights friendly lawyers present at as many events as possible. We should also secure a permit when appropriate.
How do we select the events we attend? Perhaps we should focus more on day-to-day events instead of holidays. We also need to consider if we should leaflet at festivals or at Temples.
With religion, perhaps, we should stay aware from quoting Bible verses (since this can become very academic) and instead stay with the intent of what is in it. It may be hard to win vegan arguments based on lines of text only. Focus on the kindness and compassion contained in the teachings and how those are in agreement with veganism.
We need to try to reach people at their level even though we may not always know what it is. We should learn where the different groups that might be allies meet.
Perhaps the literature we hand out should also be more localized/personal. In the Try Vegetarian handouts, for example, have an insert with some local veggie/vegan places to eat. People can refer to www.happycow.net for a listing of veg restaurants worldwide.
1) Instead of swaying people/groups to come over to our way of thinking we should try to form alliances with the different groups. Convince them why this is good.
2) Use viral marking to get the message out. Create entertaining and humorous sketches/videos that can be on YouTube, MySpace, etc. and that people will want to share with each other. One idea is The Blaire Veggie Project. Another idea is to have interviews posted with vegan role models.
3) Have a vegan cookout open to the public. Rebecca saw a beach cookout that was effective. We?d need to consider permits, sponsors, expenses, etc. Ron: Samples from sponsors could be a win-win.
4) Petition for an all-vegan day. (Note: Nov. 1st is already considered World Vegan Day.) Perhaps we need another, call it animal compassion day.
5) Educate caterers on Kosher and vegan diets/dishes. Let them know of vegan friendly companies that they may want to use as future suppliers.
Reformed Jews will be more open to compassion for animals. The Ultra Orthodox are focused on Judaism. They don?t want cruelty, they just don?t know much about slaughter houses..
Ron - We should get in touch with teachers/teachers? groups.
Rick - Beside the Promenade loaction, perhaps go to Hollywood and Highland (by Mann?s Chinese Theatre). Also near Hollywood High School. Students get out at 3:30 PM. People can leaflet outside the school once classes get dismissed.
Rick/Rebecca - Perhaps we should leaflet at clubs, 18 and up clubs in particular. Ron- Is the club scene a good demographic for us? Rick, The Hollywood Church is very liberal and may be open to leafleting.
Yi - Find out which schools have vegan clubs and encourage other schools to have the same. We could also collaborate with them. Rebecca, find out what?s on the school menu and encourage more vegan options.
Rick - For Halloween included pamphlets along with vegan candy.
We should have no problem leafleting at any public school. However, private schools may require permits.
Can we get into classrooms? Rick said he had some more ideas on this. We have to be careful what we show/tell. Armait?s mom got in trouble for showing Peaceable Kingdom.
Yi - There was a story teller who traveled with a pig to help draw attention and kids interest.
Carin?s ideas regarding grocery stores:
Good-hearted Groceries (www.myspace.com/goodheartedgroceries) aims to introduce shoppers at "normal" grocery stores (Albertsons, Vons, Ralphs, etc.) to the vegan products available where they normally shop. We will be scouting out individual locations, collecting lists of products, and then creating shopping lists based on food category, etc. We will set up a booth outside the grocery store of choice with information, recipes, the shopping lists and even food samples, and then rewarding shoppers that purchase vegan products with "I saved a life" stickers or something comparable. Rebecca mentioned making store owners more aware of what they could offer. If you have ideas or would like to help, please email Carin and add yourself as a friend to her myspace page.
Yi suggested targeting overweight people.
Mike- We need more ?professional? signs. [Mike D. knows a vegan that has a sign business, we may not a free sign but should be able to get a break. Once we have a sign(s) in mind he can ask her. MD]
If we are going to have samples we need to consider what message we are sending. Oreo?s may be vegan but are not part of healthy diet. However, sometimes we just want something good. Perhaps Oreo?s with soy milk to dip in. We?d need small cups for sanitary concerns. Cost of supplies need to be considered as well as keeping it fresh and how to deal with leftovers.
For kids, stickers are always a hit.
Ron - Expanding on Carin?s idea. Get more vegans involved. He is willing to create and fund a button we could wear to identify ourselves publicly. Rick mentioned that is effective but also has the counter-effect of separating one out from the ?norm?.
Ron - Perhaps writing to people that ?should be? vegan. Not to tell them what to do but to encourage them and show them resources. People with influence have a huge impact. If we can plant the seed? The founder of eBay funds movies that send messages he supports.
We ran out of time to have everyone?s ideas discussed at the meeting, but here are ones that were emailed in later on:
1) A play on the law of attraction phenomena, The Secret. We could have an item called, The Answer. It would show veganism as the answer to eliminating cruelty, reducing global warming, improving health, etc.
2) When we do the meetups have shirts on the explain our message. Perhaps shirts that are all the same color but with different messages on them. Something that makes us look as a more organized group but not as far as a uniform.
3) Create a insert/handout that contains info on local vegan/vegan friendly eateries and shops.
1) Get a writing campaign started. There are SO many letters to be written regarding animal rights and it's impossible for one person to keep up with all of them, but if everyone as a team joined together to write letters as a rotating team then it might be easier. Basically, the way it would work is we find the letters to be written on a site like PETA.org or ASPCA.org and then one person writes a template letter. Then they email that Word document to everyone, and everyone can make changes to it, and then mail it off to wherever it needs to go. The letters don't have to be drastically different. It's more important that LOTS of letters get sent out, and this is a way to help people get a letter written without having to write them all by themselves.
Regarding #1, it's a great idea, and luckily, there's already a group out there, called Kinship Circle (http://kinshipcircle.org/
) that makes template letters on all sorts of animal cruelty issues as well as animal legislation and sends these letters to people who are subscribed to receive their letters. Please consider subscribing to Kinship Circle.
2) There are certain events that occur weekly or bi-weekly. Someone just needs to create a template document for these events so that it's easier to email them out to the group on a consistent basis. The Vegan Toastmasters meetings which meet the 1st and 3rd Saturdays of the month (http://members.aol.com/VeganTM/main
) are one event and another is the Vegan Happy Hour (http://myspace.com/veganhappyhour)
, which is on Thursday nights. Members wouldn't have to go every week to these events (of course), but it would be nice to remind them that the event exists.
3) On Oct. 6th Animal Acres is having another fundraiser. This one is called "Compassionate Cuisine." Here's a link for info. http://www.animalacres.org/events.html
4) We should also make a point to check out the sites of other animal rights meet-up groups for ideas (Animal Angel Activists, Ventura County Vegan and Raw Foods Meet Up Group). I'm sure they'd be happy to see more vegan/animal rights activists at the events. On that note, I think it would be great if our group could link to other groups and turn events into more networking. I love when I meet new activists, so whenever we go to events we should think of ourselves as ambassadors--meeting new people, inviting them to join our group, etc.
1) Rotate financial responsibility for Vegan Outreach literature. Several boxes (900 leaflets) is a few hundred dollars and lately we?ve been going through literature pretty quickly. I?ve been paying for a lot of the literature. If anyone would like to help, please let me know. Ron offered to help pay for the next shipment of VO literature.
2) I handed out an information resource guide on a single sheet of paper with helpful websites, vegan nutrition guidelines, books, and a list of famous vegetarians for the ?new? vegetarian.
3) I would like to make business cards (which can be made for FREE on www.vistaprint.com) that can be passed out at various veg/AR events. (This goes along with Chris?s idea #4 above.) I haven?t gotten to that yet, but also?.
4) Should we change the name of the group? To be more inclusive of a larger geographic region? A more concise sounding name, perhaps? What are people?s ideas?
5) If anyone would like to assist with organizing the group activities, please let me know!
Thanks for reading through all of this! I look forward to seeing these ideas manifest into ACTION! We need everyone to become involved to make these wonderful ideas happen!
For the animals,