I attended the 2010 Let Live Conference in Portland, OR on June 24th and 25th and knew immediately that I’d have to blog about it. The organizers of that conference did something that I think is key to connecting the dots – they let me table for the Oregon Sexual Assault Task Force. I seriously wonder if this is one of the first times a human-exclusive organization has participated in or tabled at an animal rights conference. Do you know of other examples?
Working more on the public health side of prevention these days (as opposed to say, direct community organizing), I haven’t tabled at an event in quite some time. What I first noticed about being there was that people usually only visited the table if I walked away from it. That made sense – people don’t always feel comfortable taking literature about sexual assault when they are being watched. I get that. The key point, however, is that they did visit the table.
The other thing I noticed was that people were generally welcoming. I have to admit I went in there a bit on the defensive. But the “why are you here?” questions didn’t come. I can honestly say that most people seemed to appreciate the fact that our organization was open-minded enough to see an animal rights conference as an appropriate venue at which to share materials and organize. Some folks directly told me so.
Now to the content of the conference…
For the most affordable animal rights conference ever, I was highly impressed with the quality of the workshops. The Food Empowerment Project tabled right behind me and founder/director lauren Ornelas spoke in several workshops. From my observation, she was the hit of the conference. I can’t tell you how many people directly thanked her or expressed a newfound passion for farm workers and the issues she highlighted. I felt all warm and fuzzy when I saw the light turn on in participants’ eyes when they “got it,” when they suddenly understood the connection between what we eat and the lives of the workers who produce our food. Right on, lauren. You were amazing.
I was also thrilled that there was a workshop dedicated to the “multi-issue approach.” It’s as if the organizers prepared it just for me. Part of the workshop focused on radical feminism and animal rights. Actually, it was more than that. The speaker, Stephanie Boston of the Portland Animal Defense League, highlighted sexual standards, capitalism, and oppression, showing how feminist theory really does connect the dots. And surprise, surprise, there were really only one or two hints of anti-feminist comments in response. Some of you will say it’s because the audience was largely from Portland, but I’d like to think the AR movement has turned a new leaf (you hear that, PETA?).
Jeff Luers, former political prisoner, by far had the best quotes of the conference. When it comes to connecting the dots, Jeff is clearly on our side. He made the following statement in one form or another numerous times:
We are all struggling against the same thing. The same system causes all of this – oppression.
This is what our connectionist movement is all about.
And, of course, I must give kudos to Christopher Greenslate of One Dollar Diet Project. He gave specific examples of food justice work going on in San Diego and, like lauren, connected many food justice dots. I think the best thing he said was in reference to food choices. He said it’s a really simple question for us to ask ourselves, “Torture, slavery, and death or not?”
Ahhhhhh…reliving this is like a breath of fresh air. I’ll let you in on a little secret: this was only my 2nd animal rights conference. Yep. AR 2007 in LA was my first. I honestly felt that once I had attended the “Commonality of Oppression” workshop, I had pretty much gotten all I could out of an animal rights conference. I was wrong. I hope to see you at the next one.
Thank you Let Live 2010.
Categories: Building the Movement, Connectionist Perspectives