A couple weeks ago I went to the Animal Rights conference in DC. It was my first AR conference, and to be honest, I was going mostly because I would be in town already and some friends were attending. So I joined the crowd and signed up.
Looking back, it surprises me that I was ambivalent about the conference itself leading up to it. Maybe because I didn’t know what to expect? Or maybe because I was in the middle of moving across the country and was a bit consumed by that.
Either way, I was going more to hang out with friends than anything else. And I don’t think there is anything wrong with that, to tell you the truth. Networking is never a bad thing, and it can certainly be hard enough as a vegan, as someone passionate about the animals, to find people to connect with. An entire weekend surrounded by vegans? And I was in town anyway? Yeah. Oh, and Temptation Soy Ice Cream. That, alone, was worth it!
The conference itself…I was pretty blown away. For each hour long session, there were choices of what topic to hear. Amy, one of the friends I mentioned, and I ended up having the same interests, and we were focused a great deal on how to actually do things. How to research, how to engage the media, how to make changes.
With each session I got more and more fired up. I had previously gone to fur protests and to a Free The CU34 protest, I’d written a couple letters here and there, but I am not sure I was convinced that I was acomplishing anything. But here, I heard how people were doing things, and exactly what they were accomplishing. And they were telling me how I could do the same.
I came away with so many ideas, and so much fire. I am worried that it won’t last, that I will have these intentions but not act on them. Hopefully I’ll surprise myself.
So far, I’ve signed up for DawnWatch’s Alerts and when I get an alert, I act on it based on Karen’s advice. I’m doing something, at least.
I also bought a monkey tag from Jeremy at Primate Freedom Project and I will do my best to track down my guy. Hopefully T82004 won’t be just a number. He was born in 1982. If he is still alive, he has had 24 years of experimentation. If he is still alive, I hope I can help him.
This post would be incredibly long if I tried to detail all the people I heard and all the ways they helped me, taught me, opened my mind to more ways to make a difference. I’ve mentioned a few people, but there are at least fifty I could have talked about.
Walking around the exhibit area was almost comical the way I’d find myself exclaiming out loud “Oh, the bizarro guy!” and have a chance talk to him and get a really cool drawing in the book I bought. Or wander by Lantern Books and say “hey, I heard you on the vegan freaks podcast!” I felt like a groupie some of the time, but it was amazing the way all of these famous (to us) people were so accessable. Karen Davis sat down and had lunch with us one day and I ended up talking to her about Peaceful Prairie and the folks in the Denver AR scene. I was talking to someone at the PeTA table, and someone else overheard our conversation and said “Oh, you’re from Denver? Do you know Ann?”
The AR world is small indeed, and I’m so happy to feel a part of it. What an amazing crowd of people that was! I really feel like we can make a difference. With this passion, how can we not?