Was the DxE Forum Really Worth It?

Calen Otto

One trip across the country. $400.  Six Days.

I have sore muscles, bruised heels and almost no voice. I sit and breathe in a café in downtown San Francisco. It’s hard to concentrate. People talk. Music plays. The city bustles. And my mind sprints in all different directions. I flash back to images of chickens being passed from a slaughter house into the arms of activists. I flash back to the sounds of hundreds of people singing in harmony, asking for peace. I flash back to feelings of excitement, worry, exhaustion and bliss. I flash back to the DxE Forum.

What is DxE?

DxE stands for Direct Action Everywhere.  We’re a group that takes actions for animals. We concentrate on amplifying the voices of non-human animals--but we protest for all animals, human and non-human.

Calen Otto jumping for joy! A.K.A., for animal liberation

Calen Otto jumping for joy! A.K.A., for animal liberation

Before this past week, I honestly wasn’t as proud to say “we” when I talked about the group. Yes, I did believe in the cause. And yes, I did consider myself to be a part of the group. I even put in my time and energy into making sure that I was doing everything I could to speak out for animals with my local chapter.

This post isn’t to explain to you what DxE is all about. Through pictures, videos, and story-telling the message is pretty clear. I’m just here to share my experience of the DxE Forum with you.

So, we get back to the question.

Was the forum really worth it?

Let me rewind and take you on a tour of the past week. On a Tuesday morning, I boarded a plane in North Carolina and made three stops before I reached Berkeley, California. It was a full day of flying, and I was exhausted and feeling a little cloudy by the time that I touched down in the Golden State.

Some DxE members of an activist house attempting to spell out "AQUA"

Some DxE members of an activist house attempting to spell out "AQUA"

That night, I went and met a group of activists who I would stay with for the next week. Everyone skipped the handshakes and went straight for the hugs.

Although there were 14 of us in a 2-bedroom house, we learned how to function together without losing our minds in the frustration and impatience that can often be so easily found. Everyone wanted to share, and I might even venture as far as to say that people were excited to share. From food, to socks, to toothbrushes, if you name it, we probably shared it.

We all piled into a car on the first morning of the Forum, and arrived, just a little late. I had missed the morning Tai Chi session, but as I checked in I was happy to feel a little recharged with the previous night’s Zs.

Calen Otto and Arwen Carlin ready to listen and learn

Calen Otto and Arwen Carlin ready to listen and learn

The schedule of the first day was an excellent example of how many of the coming days would follow. We started the days with hello’s and announcements, and then sailed right into learning about a rainbow of topics in large and small groups. We learned about how to can take action to save animals, right now. We soaked up all we could about how to practice non-violence in intense situations and everyday life. We listened and participated in example situations to better our knowledge on the subject of consent when interacting with others, and more specifically, in sexual situations.

We listened to some keynote speakers, including Wayne Hsiung, a founder of DxE, and Anita Krainc, founder of Toronto Pig Save. I watched people laugh, cry, hug, break down and be inspired while others offered their experiences. At one point, I had a break down and almost sprinted out of the room as to not disrupt others with the odd sounds of my breathing and sobs all moped together. As soon as I turned the corner, heading out the door and into fresh air, I saw another activist sobbing as well. We didn’t ask any questions, we just fit right into each other’s arms. I held this person, and they supported me until we could both speak. I swear, it was a scene right out of a movie.

DxE Forum attendees spell out "Animal Liberation Now!!!!" 

DxE Forum attendees spell out "Animal Liberation Now!!!!" 

Although I did shed an excessive amount of tears during this week, I promise, I didn’t cry the whole time. We often forget that crying doesn’t have to be separate from feelings of gratitude.  There were so many things each and everyday to be thankful for. DxE provided us with goodies for breakfast, delicious and full meals for lunch, and our sponsors sent amazing products that we got to take home with us each day. We did different group-building activities, such as yoga and spelling out “Animal Liberation Now” with our bodies, and got an awesome picture from up above!

To top it all off, we did amazing actions.

I could make this post ten times longer by story-telling about these actions, but I think it’s better if you just watch for yourself.

Charlie Sudlow and Calen Otto protesting with other DxE members in San Francisco, CA

Charlie Sudlow and Calen Otto protesting with other DxE members in San Francisco, CA

I will tell you, though, that I felt so empowered by choosing to make history and create change with hundreds of compassionate humans.

On the last day, we decided to do something that hadn’t been done before.

Activists stand outside an SF slaughterhouse during an open rescue

Activists stand outside an SF slaughterhouse during an open rescue

 Imagine this: hundreds of activist walking calmly through the city streets of San Francisco. They are all carrying white flowers.

They walk through a small alley. They perform public disobedience by doing a sit-in outside of a slaughter house right in the middle of downtown.

Some activists go inside to document conditions. More importantly, they go inside to save lives. One activist is arrested. Six birds experience freedom for the first time.

Six lives are saved.

Activists then march through the streets, protesting all the way. They land at city hall. They stand outside offering messages of concern, love and action.

Activists go inside and deliver a message of how it’s time for all animals to be considered more than property or items.

Activists march to City Hall

Activists march to City Hall

Humans get active. Humans do things that create immediate change. Humans do things that are bold. 

Activist Julianne Perry holds one of the six rescued chickens

Activist Julianne Perry holds one of the six rescued chickens

Humans do things that are necessary.

So, you tell me.

Was it worth it?

 

 

 

Edited by Michael Amaní

 

Want to see more of what happened at the Forum?

VIDEO HERE

 

Want to get involved? DxE is a grassroots network focused on empowering you to be the best activist you can be. Here are some steps you can take. 

  1. Sign up to our mailing list and share our content on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. 
  2. Join a local DxE community --or start your own!
  3. Take the Liberation Pledge. And join us in creataing a true social justice movement for animals.

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