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Sustainable Activism

June 25th, 2014 by Lisa Levinson

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Healing & Support for Animal Advocates

President of In Defense of Animals (IDA) Marilyn Kroplick, MD, is launching a new campaign to help animal activists. Co-chaired by Lisa Levinson, MFA, RSMT, and Judy Carman, MA, the Council of Sustainable Activism helps activists deal with burnout, stress, and secondary trauma caused by the tragedy-filled nature of their noble work. Animal activists are confronted with animal abuse in zoos, labs, animal agriculture, circuses, marine parks, and other abysmal situations. As caretakers and guardians of the voiceless, activists need physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual healing to work efficiently and to truly enjoy living in harmony with their vegan values.

Vision:
The vision of the council is to empower animal activists working together to free all animals from human exploitation and domination. The council views both humans and nonhuman animals as sacred, spiritual beings and seeks to raise consciousness, promote empathy, inspire spirituality, revere all life, and practice veganism.

Why Empower Activists?
All activists are needed to make animal liberation a reality. The animals cannot afford to lose a single one of us. Yet, at times, we feel burned out or discouraged by the intense demands of our animal rights work. Sometimes we need a guilt-free break. Relaxing, taking breaks, and developing mindfulness will help sustain the animal rights movement. Above all, we need to remind ourselves that even the smallest action can sometimes make a huge difference for animals.

The Three Strategies for Healing and Empowerment:
The Council for Sustainable Activism provides resources for activists to stay strong for the long haul. Sociologists tell us that volunteers are more motivated by clear, tangible goals. For example, volunteers building a house with Habitat for Humanity are rewarded with immediate, tangible goals like freshly painted walls and the smiles of happy new residents. As animal rights activists, our goals seem less tangible because we may not see major results right away. Liberating all animals from human domination and exploitation will be the greatest transformation that humankind has ever known, but it may take lifetimes.

Unlike other social justice movements, ours involves individuals who cannot say in human language—“Yes, we want to be free.” They cannot march with us or speak their truth. We must do that for them. It takes vision, faith, love, compassion, inner strength, imagination, and above all it takes community. We need to know that we are not alone—we are all working together. IDA’s new Council of Sustainable Activism offers community support and tools to promote more powerful, effective, and sustainable activism.

IDA proposes three strategies to help activists:

  1. Trauma Stewardship—providing resources to help activists identify the causes and early signs of burnout, to acknowledge their own rage and grief, and to channel these feelings into effective, nonviolent activism. Activists learn to embrace their inner critic while practicing gratitude and celebrating small victories along the path of animal liberation.
  2. Nonviolent Communication—hosting workshops on nonviolent communication skills as effective techniques for activism. By practicing nonviolent communication, we demonstrate the very nonviolent behavior toward people that we are asking everyone to extend to animals.
  3. Sacred Activism—offering retreats, tools, and resources for taking time to care for the self through meditation, yoga, and community events. Time spent reflecting, contemplating strategies, and weaving sacred ritual into activism, all empower activists and nurture resilience.

Upcoming Events:
Upcoming events will be posted on www.idausa.org and www.veganspirituality.com. Vegan Spirituality Meetups happen monthly in Los Angeles, CA, Jackson, NJ, New York, NY, Philadelphia, PA, Olympia, WA, Davenport, IA, and Vancouver, BC. Please contact veganspirituality@gmail.com to start one in your area.

October 11th, 2014: Vegan Spirituality Retreat in Philadelphia, PA sponsored by IDA featuring yoga, meditation, nature walks, vegan food, speaker presentations, group discussions, music, dance, and community rituals.

Resources:
The Council is creating a page on IDA’s website for our activist community to address psychological, spiritual, metaphysical, emotional, and physical issues. The page will offer tools for empowerment, dealing with anger and grief, and finding inner peace. We are building a strong support network for activists nationwide in collaboration with the organizations listed below.  Please contact us at sustainableactivism@idausa.org for more information.

www.carnism.org – founded by Melanie Joy, author of Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows. She has formed the Carnism Action and Awareness Network (CAAN) to help activists deal with trauma, stress, and burnout.

www.circleofcompassion.org – co-founded by Judy Carman, MA. and Dr. Will and Madeleine Tuttle. Sign up to join the Worldwide Prayer Circle for Animals.

www.dharmavoicesforanimals.org – co-founded by Bob Isaacson, David Blatte, Kim Sturla, and Patti Breitman to help promote Buddhism as a practice to end suffering for all beings.

www.familyspirals.org – Family Spirals™ attends to the wounds and vigor stemming from family relationships. One division, Families with Animals, hosts GreenPetBurial.org (facebook.com/EarthBurial).

www.HillaryRettig.com – The Lifelong Activist author Hillary Rettig offers helpful tools on her site such as ways to be more productive and overcome internal barriers to success in activism and other endeavors.

www.peacetoallbeings.com – inspiration and prayers from Judy Carman’s books. Peace to All Beings and The Missing Peace (with Tina Volpe) and prayer flags for animals. Share prayers for individual animals or groups of animals on Facebook.com/PrayerCircleForAnimals.

www.vegancollaborative.com – provides support for front line animal advocates.

www.veganspirituality.com – explores veganism as a spiritual practice. Hosts annual retreats sponsored by IDA and monthly local gatherings across the country with vegan potlucks, healing discussions and rituals.

www.worldpeacediet.com – offers VegInspiration For The Day, which includes daily inspirational writings by Will and prayers from Judy’s book Peace to All Beings.

www.worldpeacemastery.com – based on Will Tuttle’s World Peace Diet. Sign up to become a certified facilitator.

Additional contributors to this article are Marilyn Kroplick, MD, and Judy Carman, MA

Lisa Levinson has a BA in biology and MFA in Museum Exhibition Planning & Design. Lisa organizes Vegan Spirituality Meetups and Retreats to explore Veganism as a spiritual practice, www.VeganSpirituality.com. She works at In Defense of Animals (IDA), www.idausa.org, and serves as co-chair of IDA’s Sustainable Activism Advisory Council, providing resources to support activists. She coordinates speakers for the Healthy Hut at Worldfest, www.WorldfestEvents.com, and develops exhibits for the National Museum of Animals & Society, www.MuseumofAnimals.org. She enjoys hiking in the Santa Monica Mountains and leads a Veggie Hikers Meetup in Los Angeles, http://www.meetup.com/LA-Veggie-Hikers/. Lisa can be reached at sustainableactivism@idausa.org.

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