I Want to Go to the Animal Rights Western Convergence! 13 ReasonsWhy I Am Choosing Not To


I was really looking forward to going to the Animal Liberation Western Convergence.   I know it is going to be inspiring, motivating and educational. I wanted to see my friends and  participate in powerful disruptions.  I feel so torn! Up until yesterday, I was determined to go!

What happened yesterday?  I started making a time line of the 16 days before I leave. I knew that leaving was going to be so stressful. Self care is so important to me. Trying to push like I would need to was not worth it.

I would have to take a 48 hour bus ride there and back.

I feel really disappointed because lots of people worked hard to coordinate a ride and place for me to stay.  I offered to volunteer, and now I won’t be able to help.

I am hoping that there is some special person who will benefit being able to get a ride and place to stay.

Here are the 13 reasons that I just can’t pull away from what is happening here:

  1. The Retreat Center sold: The house I am living in and have been trying to sell in order to raise funds for the Vegan Utopia Ecovillage is under contract and I need to move in a month! (Sadly, the folks won’t keep it as a vegan retreat center, but at least funds will be released for the Ecovillage completion.)
  2. Ecovillage Completion: I need to start working towards finishing the building of the Common House and other physical infrastructure. Ecovillage so that I live there and be ready for provisional members, interns and work exchangers by early spring 2019.
  3. The Animal Rights Activist Network needs my organizing skills .We are having a weekly Community: Connect! gathering and steadily increasing the number of animal rights related events like Anonymous for the Voiceless Cube and Save Vigils and campus outreach events.
  4.  Sociocracy: A group of us are meeting and working to utilize the non hierarchical governing structure, Sociocracy, so we can effectively unite and support our local animal rights movement.  I have finally found an organization, Sociocracy for All, that has training which is affordable and effective.
  5. Retreat for Social Change Agents: I am organizing an Activist Retreat for all social change agents in order to bring unity and connection to the social justice movement in NW Arkansas. Since the house is selling, this is the last time we can have a retreat at this beautiful location, and I really want to say goodbye to this amazing home in an uplifting way. I am really excited about our partnership with Mighty Earth of NW Arkansas and starting to cooperate more with the Omni Center for Peace, Justice and Ecology.
  6. Vegan Intentional Communities Handbook: I am helping with the writing and editing of this online resource which is being organized by the Humane Party of the USA. We are on our way to having a completed project. I really need to be present as we finalize decisions.
  7. Nonprofit development: I am getting a nonprofit organization started so that Vegan Utopia Ecovillage land can be community land rather than owned by me. I have a fantastic board of directors who I am bringing together. I can’t stand doing legal stuff–so this is going to take a lot of attention!
  8. Midwestern Animal Liberation Alliance: I need to get started on supporting the creation of this network.  When Rob McNeal and friends visited about 7 midwestern cities last summer, I committed to help these folks stay connected and help them get organized.
  9. Family Connection: I am really wanting to continue to be here more connected to my family especially my daughter Maud, the mother of 10 month old Gideon who passed away recently. I have so enjoyed being with her and although she has a ton of support from friends and other members of family, I know it has been good for our relationship for me to be here.
  10. Friendship Coaching: I am working with some friends on creating ways to help people have healthy friendships which are the foundation of healthy community. I want to support social change agents, especially animal rights activists. We meet every week to practice the skills we want to share.
  11. Transition: I need to get organized to live out of my car for a few months. I have someone to supervise the completion of the Ecovillage physical stuff, and I don’t want to live there during the winter.  I am going to stay at different friends homes in Fayetteville and Eureka Springs. It will be easier to get our movement off the ground if I am physically closer for a while at least especially in Fayetteville.
  12. NW Arkansas Direct Action Everywhere:  I want to get the Direct Action Everywhere chapter established in Fayetteville. People are ready to do a disruption, and I just need to finalize plans with our team and set a date! In order to have an official chapter, we need to do a disruption and community gathering once a month.
  13. Moving: Moving is a huge endeavor especially since I am going to move a bunch of wonderful compost and soil that I and others created here. I also have a house full of furniture to sell!

When I left Berkeley 9 months earlier than I thought I would, I was sure I would return for the Animal Liberation Western Convergence. At first, I missed my friends and the intense, beautiful energy of so many activists working together on Direct Action Everywhere Bay Area Chapter activities.

I was encouraged by the enthusiasm of the animal rights activists who wanted to meet with me to explore how we could cooperate with our respective groups (Anonymous for the Voiceless, Springdale Save, Arkansas Animal Rights Club of University of Arkansas, Animal Rights Activists of NW Arkansas, and the future Direct Action Everywhere in NW Arkansas). But I have tried to start so many groups and have been disappointed. I wasn’t sure if I was up for the task and taking the risk.

But this group has surpassed my expectations! Four of us have met for five consecutive weeks and everyone is working hard to find ways to be more connected, organized and encouraging. We have more people who are joining us and seeing possibilities. So my need for a vibrant, healthy, loving animal rights activist community is being met!

I thought it was a sacrifice for me to come home and be supportive of my daughter and my family. My 10 month old grandson died just days before my scheduled visit, and I decided not to take the return flight home back.

But now I know I made the right decision to stay. I am so grateful for all that I learned by working with the Bay Area Chapter of DxE. I am applying all those lessons as I help our fledgling organization Animal Rights Activist Network of NW Arkansas get off the ground.

Because I was able to immerse myself for 3 months in the DXE chapter activities, and was able to actually get  involved with working groups and even the core leadership group, I gained skills and knowledge that were indispensable. Wayne Hsiung especially was inspiring to me as we got to know each other better and work out some conflicts in a very constructive way.

I am 98% sure I will be coming to the Animal Liberation Conference in the summer, and hopeful that I can bring a group of activists with me! Maybe we will bering a whole bus load of people from the area! I will look forward to introducing my friends here to my friends there!