Before I had my dream job of co-founding Our Hen House, I had the dream job of being the campaigns manager for Farm Sanctuary. When I decided to leave last February, I knew there was one thing I knew I’d miss the most: leading NYC activist meetings. Thankfully, I didn’t have to stop after all because, since leaving, I have been a consultant for Farm Sanctuary where I get to continue to lead these meetings — alongside my buddy, David Benzaquen (Farm Sanctuary’s campaigns coordinator).
I’ve been thinking: These meetings are so incredibly cool and productive, so why can’t they happen in other cities? Here’s what our activist meetings usually look like: Roughly 20 activists get together once a month (though it ranges anywhere from 15-50) at a central location. We use someone’s apartment, though you can easily use a restaurant’s back room, a hotel lounge, or another quiet and easily-accessible location. There’s a theme for every meeting, anything from leafleting and tabling skills to optimizing your creative activism. Sometimes we have special guest speakers, like authors who have published animal rights books, filmmakers, or leaders from the movement. At each meeting, we go over relevant news items or legislative updates, moderate a Q&A, give tips and resources on the meeting’s theme, hand out literature for distribution, pass around sign-up sheets for upcoming events and give a recap of old events, and then open the floor for announcements, comments, or questions. The meetings last about an hour to an hour and a half, and afterwards many of us go out and socialize. On occasion, we turn the meeting into a vegan potluck or a special event like a concert fundraiser.
Throughout the 2 1/2 years since I started these meetings, I have been able to watch people blossom into truly excellent activists. It’s an absolutely humbling experience. I particularly love when we go around and everybody shares the activism they are spear-heading in their everyday lives — things like getting vegan options into their office parties, working to pass animal-friendly legislation or working to ban legislation that hurts animals, or leading leafletings at the subway stop on their way home. Without question, I leave each of these meetings feeling invigorated and inspired.
If you are an activist looking to meet and collaborate with like-minded folks who care about animals, consider hosting your own monthly activist meetings. You can also turn the events into a meet-up, making the logistics a cinch. And plenty of animal rights organizations — including Farm Sanctuary — will happily provide you with literature for your meetings.
Please note that I did not write this blog entry on behalf of Farm Sanctuary.
Photo: Courtesy of Farm Sanctuary and taken by Connie Pugh