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We’re pleased to announce the winner of the 2018 Kenny Feldman Animal Advocate Award.
We’ve created this award to recognize a person, organization, or business in our community whose amazing work is pushing the ball forward for animals. This year, in honor of Compassionate Action for Animal’s 20th anniversary, we’re giving the award to Matt Mackall, Unny Nambudiripad, and Dave Rolsky. All three were founders of CAA and have been critical to the growth of the organization and the animal rights movement, both locally and nationally.
Together Matt, Unny and Dave worked to bring many others to caring about and taking action for animals, just as Kenny Feldman inspired Unny to activism. This can be seen by the way that Compassionate Action for Animals programs, including Twin Cities Veg Fest, are thriving. It can also be seen in the movement for animals that exists in Minnesota today demonstrated by the many organizations and activists who will be present at the festival.
CAA will present Matt, Unny, and Dave with the award at Twin Cities Veg Fest 2018 on September 16 at Harriet. The award presentation will take place in the Farmaste Speaker’s Tent just before the presentation on animal protection from Catskill Farm Sanctuary director Kathy Stevens.
This award honors the memory of animal lover Kenny Feldman. He thought animals were to be cared for and allowed to a live a life with freedom. Kenny was a close friend of Compassionate Action for Animals co-founder and first Executive Director, Unny Nambudiripad. He inspired Unny to become an activist. Sadly, we lost Kenny to suicide 18 years ago. From that tragic loss, we were moved to establish this annual award to acknowledge the contributions of individuals who strive to create a more compassionate world.
The Feldman family wants to thank CAA, Unny Nambudiripad, and current Executive Director Laura Matanah for helping preserve Kenny’s memory and continuing his legacy of being an animal lover and activist in animal rights campaigns. To find out more about Kenny, visit the Remembering Kenny Feldman Facebook page.
You asked for more music and arts at Twin Cities Veg Fest, and this year we’re bringing it! You’ll be able to hear a range of musical styles and participate in free interactive arts activities throughout the day. In the evening, we’ll have a 21+ after-party with more live music and a DJ!
Here’s a taste of what you’ll experience: Bryan Schumann will provide live ambient music as background to guided meditations led by Dawn Morningstar and Freeman Wicklund; YaLonda Lolar will sing inspirational music; The Peace Life, a guitar and banjo playing duo, will share original tunes mixed with favorite covers, and The Sunshapes will perform their unique blend of folk/Americana, pop, and classical.
Throughout the festival artist BrieAnna Lindquist will give attendees the opportunity to create screen prints of animals and veggies.
To cap off the day, DJ Wagz will welcome you to our ticketed 21+ after-party where we’ll feature singer-songwriter Mary Bue as well as cabaret diva Mistress Ginger, glamourpuss supreme, who will share popular tunes of classic pop-rock with her band. Tickets will go on sale shortly.
Funding for the equipment, electricity and staffing needed to support these artists is provided by generous donations from people like you. Each $1,000 we raise is being matched by a group of generous donors. Please help us reach our goal of $8,000 by August 25 by making a gift today.
A generous group of volunteers helped to recruit and select this year’s performers. Many thanks to Nathan Gaut, Bryan Schumann, YaLonda Lolar, Ayanna Muata, Mitch Thompson, and Laura Van Zandt for their thoughtful participation.
A full schedule of artists, times, and locations will appear on the Twin Cities Veg Fest website later this month.
On July 25, we kicked off our campaign to raise $8,000 for Twin Cities Veg Fest with a fabulous party at Bang Brewing in St. Paul.
Over 85 guests contributed the first $1,200 that we need to raise by August 25. Please join in by making a gift today! Every gift is being matched by a team of generous donors.
Guests enjoyed delicious food from Reverie Mobile Kitchen and heard about the difference that their gifts to support the festival make.
“For many of our thousands of attendees, this is their first and only exposure to animal rights. It’s a chance for them to think, ‘Wow, look at all these people, being vegan isn’t that weird–it’s awesome!’ or ‘Wow, this food is delicious! I can’t believe vegans can eat such good stuff’ or ‘Wow, I didn’t know they did that to animals, that’s not okay.’ It’s experiences like these that ultimately end up saving animal lives,” shared Nathan Gaut, who serves as the chair of this year’s festival committee.
Enjoy the photo slideshow of the event below, and view our progress towards our fundraising goal here.
Check out the new Twin Cities Veg Fest video, and then chip in to make this year’s festival a reality. We need to raise $8,000 by August 28. Every dollar given up to $8,000 will be matched by a group of generous donors!
We can’t wait to see you at the 2018 festival on Sunday, September 16, at Harriet Island in St. Paul!
The ARC/CAA Vegan potluck at Minnehaha Falls was a smashing success. Over 120 people attended, enjoying great food and conversation.
I love how our potlucks build community. During the event I met brand-new folks who’d never come to a vegan event before and had a wonderful time, saw folks talking together about a variety of animal advocacy work, and got to reconnect with one of my former second-grade students, who is now vegan!
Enjoy photos from the potluck below. I hope to see you at one of our upcoming events!
“I love seeing people reading the leaflets. Sometimes they’ll come up to me and tell me that they’re been thinking about going vegan, and the leaflet is going to help them actually do it,” said Sarah Matanah, one of the CAA volunteers leading our summer leafleting campaign.
Already this summer, over 4,000 leaflets have been shared with the public. Vegan Outreach, a national organization which provides many of the leaflets we distribute, says that one person goes vegan for every 77 leaflets given away. Every vegan spares thousands of animals over the course of their lifetime.
That means that one volunteer can spare thousands of animals with just an hour of their time distributing leaflets! There are still more leafleting opportunities this summer. You can get the details and sign up here.
“Leafleting is a positive experience. I think people are afraid that people will argue with them, or think they’re being rude by handing out leaflets, but that really doesn’t happen. Most people are interested and happy to get the information,” says Sarah.
After every summer leafleting session volunteers have gone out to eat and get to know each other better. Many volunteers mention this as a highlight.
Leafleting opportunities are chosen based on the ability to reach large numbers of people in a short period. So far this summer CAA staff and volunteers have leafleted at Grand Old Day, the Jazz Festival, The Stone Arch Bridge festival, The Basilica Block Party, the Aquatennial Parade, and the Warped Tour.
- Leaflet at the Drake Concert – Wednesday, August 1
- Leaflet at the Beyoncé/Jay-Z concert – Wednesday, August 8
- Leaflet at the Cat Video Festival – Wednesday, August 8
Four volunteers and I went to this year’s Animal Rights National Conference in Los Angeles. It was energizing and productive to connect with others in the movement. Here’s a taste of what we experienced.
Wow, it was such an amazing experience being able connect with so many organizations doing great work in their communities around the world. I really appreciated the opportunity to hear about how others are employing unique and novel strategies to reach underrepresented groups in the vegan movement. I also loved hearing the views and perspectives on animal testing from SAEN‘s Michael Budkie and White Coat Waste Project‘s Justin Goodman since my field of study is so closely related to the biomedical industry. I look forward to my next opportunity to gather and connect with such an astounding group of like-minded and passionate activists.
The Animal Rights National Conference was a great opportunity to hear lots of passionate leaders in the vegan movement. My favorite presentation was given by Melanie Joy who said that although we have no choice in whether we want to be ambassadors for the vegan movement, we can control how we communicate with others about our convictions. Some of her helpful tips included meeting people where they are coming from instead of trying to force them to see your perspective, never shaming others because it will only put up walls, and encouraging people to be as vegan as possible for their lifestyle.
The animal rights conference is a great way to build skills and make connections that help CAA help as many animals as possible. I love that we can meet with groups around the country to share ideas, learn about new approaches, and support each other’s work.
I really enjoyed the chance to connect with folks working to reduce the amount of meat served in cafeterias around the country and the world, including a conversation with two Brazilian activists. I know that we’ll incorporate some of the ideas we heard. The meeting for large vegan event organizers (e.g. veg fests and similar events) sponsored by VegFund was again useful. Friday night’s plenary, moderated by Dawn Moncrief with presentations by Harish Seithu, lauren Ornelas, pattrice jones, and A. Breeze Harper was especially inspiring. I encourage others to download the Food Empowerment Project’s Chocolate List App, and to check out the book The Oxen at the Intersection: A Collision by pattrice jones, which I’ve been reading on my way home.
Thoughts on the Way to the 2018 Animal Rights National Conference
Animal rights is still a radical concept in our culture. I was reminded of this just yesterday while on the train headed to the Animal Rights National Conference.
It’s not often that I get to have conversations about animal rights with people of radically different perspectives, but there I was, having breakfast with an Amish farming couple and the wife of a suburban megachurch pastor.
When I mentioned where I was going, there was a split second when my tablemates froze. For those of us who are animal advocates, I think one important part of our job is to get conversations going with people who may not have considered animal issues before and to melt their hearts and minds. So, over fruit and oatmeal, I dove into what was sometimes a challenging conversation.
As I later reflected on what we talked about, I found myself glad we had a conversation about animal rights instead of veganism. Here’s why:
It’s true that people who eat animals will likely be uncomfortable and search their consciences at the mention of either veganism or animal rights. However, an animal rights position can give us more room to connect with those who are different, and it can provide an important framework for the broad change that is needed.
First, let’s talk about the way an animal rights framework, especially one that focuses on reducing suffering, allows us to connect with others. Check out the work of Matt Ball, who in this video explains the advantages of talking about suffering in advocating for animals. He also refers to studies showing that those who move toward veganism in gradual steps are more likely to stick with it.
It’s clearly useful to show that we can be vegan, healthy, and happy. It’s vital that we share our stories of connection to individual farmed animals, as Julie Knopp recently did in her Star Tribune piece about Wally the pig. It’s also important that we help people to understand the horrors that farmed animals endure, as we just did through outreach at Twin Cities Pride. Eating together is an important human activity, and a vegan identity gives us a way to build community with others around both shared food and shared values.
To attract people to a vegan lifestyle, it’s important to demonstrate its many appealing aspects and to keep our value statements positive. We can scare people off if we create a community that feels judgemental or puts down non-vegans. When we invite people to move in our direction with a welcoming attitude, rather than policing them, we create a nurturing community. Social science research also supports a “gradual move toward veganism” approach as the most effective for farmed animals.
The limitation of advocating veganism is the tendency to focus on personal choices. It’s very important to talk about the way our personal choices collectively make a difference, but we can’t stop there. If we look only at personal choices, we miss the opportunity to see what we have in common with those who still eat animals and to look at systems that harm all of us.
Being able to talk about animal suffering to non-vegans, and to eventually build alliances around common interests, may become the difference in whether or not we can truly make lasting change for the animals.
My Amish tablemates spoke about the ways that the industrialization of agriculture has diminished the lives of both animals and humans in their rural Iowa community. The pastor’s wife asked questions about how all of this had come about, what “humane meat” really means, and how we can build a better food system. (I was sure to debunk the myth of “humane meat.”)
Her last question about building a better food system is a vital one for those of us who care about animals to consider. I believe we can build a food system that gives more space to wildlife, helps turn back the climate change that is destroying life on our planet, benefits both rural and urban communities, and provides all people with good food.
Some of our breakfast conversation was uncomfortable. I wrestled with my feelings about their farming. I am clear that I don’t want to see animals farmed or killed, but I am also clear that the industrialization of agriculture is creating problems that negatively affect us all.
As we finished up our meal, one of the farmers said, “Well, I hope the folks at that conference can help us figure out a better way.”
I hope we can too. We owe it to the animals, non-human and human.
Twin Cities Veg Fest comes to Harriet Island Park on Saturday, September 16, and we hope you’ll be there to join in the fun.
We asked some of our planning committee members to tell us what most excites them about this year’s festival, and here’s what they had to say.
1. The Twin Cities’ community!
“I’m looking forward to connecting with the Twin Cities’ community about eating plant-based and making compassionate choices! Not to mention all the delicious food!” —Maggie Simmons, Assistant to the Committee Chair
2. New food vendors!
“I’m excited for all the new food vendors coming this year! We’re really gearing up to have our biggest Twin Cities Veg Fest by far! I love finding new local small businesses with awesome foods and drinks that I didn’t know were here in the Cities.” —Nathan Gaut, Twin Cities Veg Fest Committee Chair and CAA Board Member
3. The vegan vibe!
“I’m excited to feel the vegan vibe and to have my food choices, which are very important to me but often out-of-step with the world around me, be the norm for one giant party.” —David Paul Muench Huebert, Exhibitor Coordinator
4. The compassionate crowd!
“I am really looking forward to being part of a big, giant, compassionate crowd! Last year it was wonderful to be physically moving and working among so many people who are making the world a more positive, peaceful place. To see the excitement on faces, hear the passionate comments, feel the positive vibe, and be part of the group is empowering and reminds me that I make a difference and relieve suffering in this world every day through my choice to be vegan.” —Suzy Sorensen, Speaker Coordinator
5. The 21+ after-party!
“I’m excited to have more scrumptious food choices, music, and opportunities to connect with others that will last beyond the festival. And I’m pumped for the 21+ after-party too!” —Laura Matanah, CAA Executive Director
6. The new location on Harriet Island!
“What excites me most about Twin Cities Veg Fest is that it’s hosted by an organization that allows interested people like myself the opportunity to be involved and have input on making it happen. The new location on Harriet Island is also exciting. OK, but really the truth it’s the food that has me most excited.” —Mitch Thompson, Festival Logistics Coordinator
7. Innovation in plant-based food!
“For this year’s Twin Cities Veg Fest, I’m excited to see the innovations our local vendors have created for plant-based foods, which are skyrocketing in popularity. From imitation fried chicken to bee-free honey, it’s never been a better time to explore veg.” —Michelle Peterson, Media Outreach Coordinator
As someone with a hidden disability, I’d like to invite people with disabilities to contact us about accommodations you may be wondering about. I’m excited about TCVF specialty food items (like last year’s cheese curds) AND stocking up on coupons because, as many of you know, those are hard to come by in the world of plant-based eating.
Every year, CAA has a table at the Twin Cities Pride Festival, and this year was no exception. For two days in Loring Park, we leafleted and conducted video outreach on behalf of animals, and we reached a lot of people along the way. Over the course of the weekend, we gave away more than 1,000 leaflets and got more than 590 video views. Wow!
Pride is ideal venue for sharing our message of compassion. The festival itself is devoted to the idea of expanding the circle of compassion to include the LGBTQ community. The people we reach there tend to be especially open to the idea of opening their hearts to the plight of farmed animals. One festival attendee remarked, “This was the most important part of the day for me.”
Thanks to all the volunteers who helped with outreach and to Luke White for taking these photos!