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Posts Tagged ‘Ideas’

Reading for Ecofeminism anthology at Bluestockings NYC

November 6th, 2014 No comments

The collectively-owned radical bookstore and cafe, Bluestockings, is hosting a reading and book signing for Ecofeminism: Feminist Intersections with Other Animals and the Earth edited by Carol Adams and Lori Gruen (Bloomsbury). The editors along with the contributors Sunaura Taylor, pattrice jones, and Kim Stallwood will read and discuss the anthology and the issues it raises.

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Growl Feedback

October 1st, 2014 No comments

A pleasure from Growl I didn’t anticipate is receiving feedback from readers. Well, that’s not entirely true. I did think about negative comments and how I should react to them. Of which, I’m pleased to say I haven’t received any ….. yet! So, the favourable comments come as a very pleasant surprise, which goes along with the kind reactions I’m receiving from the public readings and talks I’m currently making. One comment from someone who asks to be known as ‘Ireene V’ has given me her permission to share it with you here.

We met at the animal rights conference in Luxembourg. Me and my husband bought your book and you asked as to send you a feedback after reading it. I did read it and liked it very much. I liked that it was written on a personal level, not just theoretical. Although it is important to read theoretical works about animal rights, from time to time one just needs to hear about personal stories and struggles to know how to cope better, to know that someone else has had a similar experience, that someone else has felt the same. So thank you for that! After leaving the conference I woke up next morning and went straight to the Misanthropic Bunker. I haven’t really experienced that before but the contrast between the “real world” and the atmosphere of the conference was too much to handle. I started reading the “Growl” and it helped me address these feelings. I also appreciated the history and the background information of British animal rights movement. I am very interested in history of veganism and animal rights. I share your view on non-violence. I think it is extremely important that animal rights movement differs from animal abusers and violence should not be accepted. As I don’t have any companion animals I haven’t felt that magical connection with animals yet. I do hope to experience it someday. I am sorry there are too many thoughts to write down coherently. But all and all I do think it is an important book and I do hope people will read it. I am definitely going to recommend it to my friends.

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News from Growl!

September 19th, 2014 1 comment

In six weeks time on Thursday, October 30 I will be in New York City as the guest of the Animal Studies Initiative at New York University making a presentation about Growl and the issues that I raise in my book. This date marks the beginning of a three-week working visit to the East Coast of the USA.

My recent Indiegogo campaign helped to raise the funds needed to make possible the following itinerary. I want to express my sincere thanks to everyone who generously contributed. Thank you!

Additional dates to my itinerary are being finalised. Please visit the Events section on this website to keep up to date with the latest news and information.

Please know your generous support of my Indiegogo campaign also helped to make possible my presentations at the following:

And between now and leaving for the USA in six weeks, I will be also speaking at:

Please watch my presentation at the International Animal Rights Conference in Luxembourg here.

I will be back in touch soon with further updates, including announcements about book clubs reading Growl and more public events.

Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you’re interested in me speaking in your area or working with you on your animal rights campaigns.

Thank you for doing all that you do for the animals!

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Watch My Growl Presentation

September 15th, 2014 No comments

The presentation that I made at the recent International Animal Rights Conference in Luxembourg is now available to watch. It was called ‘Animal Witness’ at the conference but is given the name ‘Why Animals and Their Well-Being Matter to Us’ on YouTube but more importantly it reflects the essence of what I have to say in Growl.

 

To watch my presentation from the IARC 2013, please click here.

To learn where I will be presenting in the future, please visit Events on this website.

For more information about the IARC, please click here.

 

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Almost Direct Action Everywhere

August 19th, 2014 1 comment

I was hoping for more from reading The Evolution of Veganism: Is Empowered Activism the Next Stage? by Wayne Hsiung, founding organiser of Direct Action Everywhere (DAE).

His three conclusions are:

  1. The first is that we have to move beyond simply creating an environment that accepts and tolerates vegans.
  2. The second is that a confident and assertive approach — playing offense rather than defense — is key to our movement’s growth.
  3. What we need, if our movement is to grow, is more and stronger activists.

Now, of course, I could quibble with each one of these three points but it’s the absence of a much larger point that I find troubling: the exclusive reliance upon individual action to make institutional change while ignoring the democratic, political process.

Yes, which vegan wouldn’t want to have to campaign for an environment that embraces us?

Yes, haven’t vegans been playing offence since they became, er, vegan?

Yes, of course, we need more and stronger activists.

As I discuss in my book, Growl, I do not believe everyone is going to go vegan, which doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try; nonetheless, the reality is that not everyone will care about animals as much as we do. Moreover, not everyone will understand animal rights within a progressive agenda of social change.

This is why we need to think beyond animal rights as an optional lifestyle choice. Yes, I agree with DAE about what we do to animals is violence. Nonviolence is one of my four key values in animal rights. We need to challenge the institutions that perpetuate the violence toward animals as the social norm. Yes, their campaign targeting is Chipotle is fine, and I wish them every success in all that they do.

But there will never be enough individual vegans to challenge the thousands if not millions of enterprises like Chipotle across the planet.

Of course, we must try, and that is essentially what animal rights activism is all about: fomenting the same change in others we experienced in ourselves whereby we have a personal transformative moment when animal cruelty is no longer hidden from view, and consequently we boycott products of animal exploitation by going cruelty-free, vegan.

But individual change will only go so far. We need also institutional change.

We can no longer naively believe individual vegans and animal advocacy organisations will change the world.

We have to work within the mainstream politics to embed the values of animal rights within their culture. They are the people and the organisations who we elect to represent us, form governments, and pass laws.

In short, the single greatest challenge we face is making animal rights a mainstream political issue.

Of course, anarchists and those who have written off the political process will disagree with this premise. There’s nothing I can say or do to change their minds. We will just have to agree to disagree.

Take note, however, of how gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgendered people organised not only as a social movement (coincidentally, as disparate as ours) and worked within political parties across the world to achieve significant lifestyle and political change as a legislative issue.

As public sentiment moved to accept those who were previously considered as outsiders, informed and sympathetic public policy makers and elected representatives fought for and won legislation protecting them, thereby bringing together public education and public policy into legislation and its enforcement. While there’s still work to be done, G/L/B/T folks presently enjoy legal protection as never before. Further, individuals who do not respect these laws are liable for prosecution.

A case in point is Britain’s Hunting Act 2004. Now, I know is far from perfect; however, it had the effect of criminalising those who previously enjoyed the protection of the law when they legally chased and killed wild animals for fun, and it reinvented in part the role of hunt saboteurs as hunt monitors to help ensure the law is enforced.

This combined strategy of public/political and individual/institutional is the message that I look for from not only DAE but also the entire social movement for animals. So far, I don’t hear it very much.

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Growl Two Months On

August 9th, 2014 No comments

Two months on from the publication of Growl by Lantern Books and I pause to list some of what’s happened and what’s forthcoming.

Reactions

  • Hastings Independent free newspaper says Growl is ‘fascinating and insightful book’
  • Historian Hilda Kean says Growl ‘carefully debunks the idea that real change in the position of non-human animals can occur simply by individuals altering their lifestyle’
  • Humane Research Council recommends Growl in its Summer Reading List
  • VegFund says ‘Any activist, new or seasoned, can learn from Stallwood’s experiences and apply them to his or her own advocacy’
  • Brian May’s Soapbox promotes Growl
  • Responsible Eating and Living radio interview with Caryn Hartglass
  • Growl Launch Party at vegan Moose’s Kitchen in St Leonards on Sea attracts more than 35 people
  • Mark Hawthorne online interview ‘Kim Stallwood: Helping People Help Animals’
  • Hastings Online Times says Growl is a ‘fascinating insight into the experiences of a man who has dedicated most of his life to animal advocacy and protection’
  • Speaking inquiries received from Finland, Poland, and Australia
  • Professor Marita Giménez-Candela, Director, Master in Animal Law and Society, adds Growl to the recommended reading list for the Graduate Course ‘Law and Animal Welfare’ and Master Program ‘Animal Law and Society’ at the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona
  • Presented Growl at the VegFest in Bristol in May

Forthcoming

  • Presenting Growl at the London Vegan Festival, the International Animal Rights Conference in Luxembourg, and London VegFest
  • Launch party for Growl at the inaugural conference of the Centre for Human Animal Studies at Edge Hill University in October
  • Presenting Growl at the 2nd Annual Humanities in Public Festival at Manchester Metropolitan University in October
  • US East Coast book tour late October to mid November includes NYU Animals and Society Initiative, Business Ethics and Environmental Law classes at Pace University, and GWU Law School

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Growl Launch Party at Moose’s Kitchen

July 6th, 2014 No comments
Moose's Kitchen hosts Growl launch party.

Moose’s Kitchen hosts Growl launch party.

More than 35 guests celebrated the launch of Growl at Moose’s Kitchen on Friday, July 4.

The book launch party also took pride in the vibrant vegan community in St Leonards on Sea and Hastings.

Party goers included folks from the Hastings Vegan Dining Club, local creatives, and friends and neighbours. Zelly Restorick, who profiled me in Hastings Online Times, was among the guests.

Jane, Renee and Davina

Jane, Renee and Davina

Moose’s Kitchen ‘serves healthy, home-cooked meals, made with LOVE: Local, Organic, Vegan and Ethical ingredients.’ Moose and her colleague, Paul, kindly donated and served a variety of starters to the party.

Another local vegan business, Hastings Brewery, generously gave a keg of their Galaxy Pale Ale.

Me saying a few words about Growl standing next to a portrait of Moose in her vegan cafe.

Me saying a few words about Growl standing next to a portrait of Moose in her vegan cafe.

And yet another local vegan business, 1066 Cake Stand, baked a special ‘Growl’ cake! Trevor from the Bay Tree House–the family run vegan hotel in Hastings–also joined in the celebrations.

I welcomed everyone to the party and read part of the section from Growl called ‘Altruistic Love’ (p. 147-149).

My adoption by Boobaa and Honey transformed the anger I felt about animal exploitation through the Magical Connection. My altruistic love for Boobaa and Honey helped me to be a little more at peace with myself and with my presence in the world. These little dogs put flesh and blood on my understanding of what animal rights meant.

It was great to launch Growl with its first party with friends in the town where I now live. For many of us, Hastings and St Leonards on Sea is the vegan capital of the world.

Moose's Kitchen in St Leonards on Sea in East Sussex hosts the launch party for Growl. Photo: Paul Knight

Moose’s Kitchen in St Leonards on Sea in East Sussex hosts the launch party for Growl. Photo: Paul Knight

 

Packed house at Growl Launch Party at Moose's Kitchen. Photo: Paul Knight

Packed house at Growl Launch Party at Moose’s Kitchen. Photo: Paul Knight

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Reading Growl

May 31st, 2014 No comments
A box of Growls on the dining room table.

A box of Growls on the dining room table.

I’m reading Growl for the first time as a book. I’ve read it before umpteen times in various incarnations as a manuscript, a work in progress (or not in progress, as the case invariably was). But now that it’s published, holding the finished book in my hands, turning the pages, reading along the lines, well, it’s all a bit strange. It was also strange to see a box of Growls waiting to be opened sitting on the dining room table. All that effort, I thought, grief, anguish, hard work, frustration, self-doubt, self-pity, anxiety…..sitting there in a box.

Of course, it’s all that and much more.

It’s a finished, printed book with my name as the author on the cover. Holding it in my hands for the first time, flipping through the pages, well, it didn’t seem real. ‘Aren’t you excited?’ I was asked repeatedly in the last weeks knowing that this moment was imminent. ‘No,’ I said. And, indeed, I wasn’t. It was anticlimactic. It was surreal. It wasn’t a moment I savoured. There wasn’t any celebration.

It didn’t help that my partner, Gary, was struggling with a horrid cold after returning from two weeks in the U.S. It didn’t help that I also felt I was coming down with the same bug. As it turns out, I was but not as badly. It didn’t help that what has taken to write, produce, and publish Growl has been years, if not decades of work. And now it seems that the book I held was no longer my own. It had a life of its own.

People, I realised, are going to make what they will out of it. And I, the author, will be judged accordingly. Rightly. Or wrongly. For there are things said in Growl which won’t make some people happy. In fact, it’s going to make them angry and, in some cases, further right me off as a sell-out. Others won’t like what I write about their animal rights work. Most likely, there isn’t anything I could say or do that would keep them happy anyway. So, I’ve prepared myself with saying,

You don’t have to like Growl. No one, least of all me, is forcing you or anyone else to agree with me.

At the Bristol VegFest last weekend, one man posed a question after my Growl-themed presentation, well, he made a statement to the effect that people are all shits and we’re all doomed. Tempted as I was to agree with him, I soft peddled it a bit by saying that I understood how he felt and mumbled something about that that way of thinking wasn’t going to get us anywhere. But what I really wanted to say was, ‘Why the fuck did you bother coming to the VegFest if that’s how you felt? Next question, please!’

It’s not going to bother me if people disagree with what I have to say. In fact, I feel even more emboldened to speak the truth as I see it. But if there are truly reasonable opportunities for respectful, rational, and reasonable debate, well, I welcome them.

Meanwhile, as I continue to read Growl–the book, it strangely feels that I’m following the thoughts of someone else but who is a lot like me. Yes, of course, I wrote it, and many people influenced and helped me along the way. I had the great fortune to work with finest of editors, Martin Rowe, who challenged me to do better. But I recall what I’ve heard authors said. Once it’s published, a book has a life of its own.

Have a good trip, Growl. It’s been (mostly) nice knowing you. Now, it’s time for me to take my next voyage of discovery–except that Growl is demanding its promotion and marketing.

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Art and the Making of Animal Rights

May 18th, 2014 No comments

 

The Cry of Nature: Art and the Making of Animal Rights by Stephen F. Eisenman

The Cry of Nature: Art and the Making of Animal Rights by Stephen F. Eisenman

Stephen F. Eisenman is Professor of Art History at Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, and author of The Cry of Nature — Art and the Making of Animal Rights (Reaktion; 2013). This is a fascinating read, which, I believe, deserves the attention of advocates and scholars alike who care deeply about animals, and why I wanted to interview him. 

1. What inspired you to write The Cry of Nature – Art and the Making of Animal Rights?

I have been a vegetarian for 25 years and a vegan for about five. In addition, about ten years ago, I started to become engaged in the relatively new research field of Animal Studies.

But the real impetus for The Cry of Nature came in 2008. After publishing a short book about the photographs made at Abu Ghraib prison, (The Abu Ghraib Effect, 2007) I realized that the issue of human rights and animal rights are essentially the same! Animals like humans are sensitive and empathetic. Both require love, freedom and companionship to thrive. Yet both have been systematically denied these things by kings, tyrants, presidents and regular people willing to look the other way. In addition, the great artworks we see in museums generally show dead animals or slabs of meat as both natural and beautiful! I wanted to write a book that would make that violence strange again. I also wanted to highlight the work of artists who rejected violence, anthropocentrism and the turning of sentient beings into mere commodities.

2. The book’s subtitle is ‘Art and the Making of Animal Rights.’ How did artists help inaugurate the animal rights movement?

In the 17th C, the painter Rembrandt rejected the Cartesian distinction between body and soul, and between human and animal. He showed the latter – even in death – as possessing of a soul. So did William Hogarth and George Stubbs in the 18th century, and the French Romantic, Theodore Gericault in the 19th. Hogarth in particular was cited by the philosophers of the late 18th Century who started the modern animal rights movement. Without Hogarth, John Oswald and Joseph Ritson – both pioneers of animal rights – would never have written their books. By the way, the title of my book derives from Oswald’s amazing, radical, but little-read 1791 manifesto, The Cry of Nature – or An Appeal to Mercy and to Justice on Behalf of the Persecuted Animals.

3. Which works by Hogarth do you mean?

William Hogarth, The First Stage of Cruelty, 1751

William Hogarth, The First Stage of Cruelty, 1751

There is of course, his great portrait of his pug dog, Trump! But more important are the great engravings called The Four Stages of Cruelty. The first two prints are a veritable encyclopedia of animal cruelty and were intended to shock the conscience of viewers. And they did! Of all the works he made, Hogarth was the most proud of these.

4. What is your view of 20th and 21st century artists like Pablo Picasso, Chaim Soutine, Francis Bacon, Damien Hirst, and Sue Coe? How did they depict animals?

Kim, that’s a big question, and readers will have to look at my book for an answer. But I will say that excepting Hirst, they all rejected in one way or another the cruel clichés of speciesism. Coe of course is the greatest moralist-artist active today. She proves that you can be both brilliant at your craft (drawing, painting, printmaking) and a powerful force for social change. She has single-handedly made more vegans than all the animal welfare groups put together!

5. Is the focus of your current research animal rights? If so, what can you say us about it?

Yes, I can’t leave it behind. I am writing about animal agency in the late 18th Century and after. In all previous emancipation struggles, the oppressed group has fought for its own freedom. I have discovered that animals – for example the ones brought to Smithfield Market in London — did that too, and that their oppressors recognized it. I know this sounds a bit crazy, but I am a careful scholar and I have the evidence! Rampant bulls at Smithfield killed in order to obtain their freedom. Sheep cried out in such a plaintive way that they attracted human supporters. I am giving illustrated lectures about these subjects at conferences this year in England and the US, so please come and hear for yourself.

But Kim, as you know so well, scholarship is not enough. I am becoming more and more engaged with activism. For me, the one supports the other, and I am trying to teach my students at Northwestern the same lesson. The best scholar is the engaged scholar.

 

PS Here’s a video of Stephen giving a talk to the Chicago Humanities Festival which outlines what he explores more fully in  his book. I find it to be important and fascinating research and analysis that’s relevant to understanding our complex relationship with other animals.

 

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Growl’s Foreword by Brian May

May 11th, 2014 3 comments
Brian May

Brian May

It’s my great honour that Brian May has very kindly written the Foreword to Growl. In the last few years, Brian has spoken out against the present UK government’s threat to repeal the Hunting Act and bring back fox, stag, and deer hunting as well as the government’s policy to kill badgers allegedly to halt the spread of TB among cows raised for their milk. He established the Save Me campaign, named after his song, to champion all, but predominantly British, wildlife.

Around the world he is, of course, known and beloved as a founding member of Queen and a world-renowned guitarist, songwriter, producer, and performer. He’s also a Doctor of Astrophysics and an authority in 3D stereoscopic photography. Officially, he is known as Dr Brian May, CBE, PhD FRAS; but to Britain’s wildlife, he’s known as our friend Brian.

Growl‘s Foreword by Brian May

I was honoured to be asked to write a foreword for Kim Stallwood’s definitive book about the journey of men and women towards decency. Did I say ‘definitive’? Yes, I believe this book is important enough to be essential reading for anyone who has begun to listen to what their conscience says, as regards how we, as humans, behave towards the other beings on Earth, whether human or nonhuman.

There is, in human evolution, a time for ideas to germinate and become powerful social movements for change. It is highly significant that Archbishop Desmond Tutu said, in a foreword he wrote for The Global Guide to Animal Protection,

I have seen first-hand how injustice gets overlooked when the victims are powerless or vulnerable, when they have no one to speak up for them and no means of representing themselves to a higher authority. Animals are in precisely that position. Unless we are mindful of their interests and speak out loudly on their behalf, abuse and cruelty go unchallenged.

This, from Tutu, a man who spent most of his life fighting against injustice to blacks, women, and gays, is a signal that our sensibilities are growing up. It is a call to us all to stand up for what most of us believe is right, on a larger stage than ever before.

The fact that you are reading this foreword is probably an indication that you are already in that group of humans who feel profoundly uncomfortable with vast areas of our everyday treatment of animals, and would like to make a change. I count myself in that group. Yet, for most of our lives, busy and ambitious as we are, and concerned with providing for a growing family, we turn a blind eye to that inner dissatisfaction. How can we turn ourselves into an instrument for change towards decency in human behaviour?

Kim Stallwood’s fascinating account of his ongoing journey towards this goal is the best answer to this question I have ever seen. Although Kim is modest and self-critical, his life has already inspired many of us in our quest to give animals a voice. In this book, he chronicles his own passion as he makes a journey that is both real and symbolic, towards true decency. The only good parallel I can think of for his often painful honesty and sharp perception is John Bunyan in his Pilgrim’s Progress. This book explodes many myths and bubbles; it levels all the high ground that many have believed they stood on, and plainly beckons us in humility and simplicity to a better way of thinking, in which we cause no unnecessary pain to any creature. Better than this, it opens the door to a world based on compassion, our greatest hope for us and our children, and our children’s children.

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