Inspiring Stories from 2022, Part 1
Read how Dora saved herself, how "No More Factory Farms" was introduced as legislation in California, and why two brand-new activists decided to get loud for animal rights
Dora Saved Herself
Please imagine this for a moment: For your whole life, you have been confined in miserable, filthy conditions, kept alive only because your body can be used to make a product that’ll be taken from you and sold. Imagine your sorrow and fear – but also: Imagine your hope. Would you think, There must be something other than this! Would you look for a way out? And if you saw one, would you leap at the opportunity?
Well, that’s exactly what Dora did. She was trapped in a terrible place – a loud, smelly, crowded place where no one checked on whether she was healthy or comfortable or happy. The humans there only checked on whether she was laying an egg every day, so they could take it, and when she stopped laying an egg every day, they would kill her. Dora had probably never been treated with kindness by a human, yet she must have sensed something different when some investigators with Direct Action Everywhere came into the barn where she was imprisoned. She must have been holding onto some feeling like hope, because as one of these investigators, whose name is Alicia, passed by her open cage, Dora jumped onto Alicia’s backpack – and stayed!
The investigators weren’t there to take any animals away. They had been alerted to the terrible conditions on this factory farm and were there to document the animals’ suffering, in the hope that authorities would look into the cruelty occurring there and take action.
“She wanted to stay right there on my back,” recalls Alicia. “I’ve been in dozens of chicken farms, and no one has ever attached themselves to me like Dora did. She did the whole investigation with us, and when we left, she decided to come with us, too.”
Dora’s courage in rescuing herself changed her life: Now she lives on a sanctuary, where she is loved and provided with everything she needs to be the healthiest, happiest little hen she can be – and despite her traumatic start in life, she continues to show both trust and curiosity about the world. Dora reminds us that animals are agents in their own liberation. They are not voiceless or passive, and we are not their saviors. We are their allies.
A Slogan Became an Actual Bill
I literally screamed when I heard the news.
It was late January 2022, and our first day in small town Iowa. A few of us were just hanging out in a community space that we had rented and waiting for people to arrive from across the country so we could kick-off our week of action. That’s when Curtis, my co-organizer, got the email: Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian is introducing our bill!
WHAT?!! I screamed and ran across the room to see the email for myself, thinking Curtis must have read the email wrong. But he hadn’t. That’s really what it said.
The bill in question was a moratorium on new and expanding factory farms and slaughterhouses in California. We had been working on this No More Factory Farms campaign for over a year: investigating animal exploiting facilities, producing mini-documentaries, protesting, mobilizing the public, and meeting with legislators. Everyone was telling us that no one was going to introduce the bill because no legislator would dare stand up to animal agriculture in such a bold, direct way. And I was starting to feel that maybe they were right. Every week, in our campaigns meeting, we rate how confident we are that we are going to meet our objectives, and our confidence rating was down to a 1/10. The deadline to introduce bills in California was just four weeks away.
So when I saw that email I tried to not get too excited at first. Were we getting trolled by someone, possibly as payback for us trolling Fox News a year earlier? Was it just a new staffer making a mistake? But after multiple meetings with the Assemblymember’s office and getting an official bill number (AB 2764), we finally felt confident that it was real and began to tell the world.
You likely know how this story ends. AB 2764 died without even getting a vote. While that was expected, and our main goal was “just” to get it introduced and start this important conversation, it was still disappointing. It reminds me of how far we still need to go to make animal rights a politically salient and popular idea. But we also saw many concrete wins come out of this campaign
- We built a cross-movement coalition to support AB 2764 and gathered 160 organizational letters of support
- We published five op-eds in support of the bill in major newspapers across the state
- We mobilized thousands of Californians to support the bill online or in person
- We gained a wealth of knowledge about the legislative process
Meet Two New Activists Who Are Already on Fire
As a grassroots network, one of DxE’s biggest assets is our activist community. So for today’s story to inspire, I want to introduce you to Radhika and Jacob, two of the over 1,000 people who came to their first DxE event in 2022.
In April, Radhika showed up to a rally in support of AB 2764. She had heard about the cruelty involved in our food system and went vegan after her daughter showed her factory farm footage, but she hadn’t taken action yet.
“I naively thought if people were educated and exposed to the cruelty that occurs in factory farms, they would stop contributing to it. Once I processed my emotions around people’s apathy, cognitive dissonance, and the reality of systemic brainwashing, I wanted to take action towards this injustice. I believe that injustice is injustice, whether against humans or animals, because we are all interconnected. I strongly believe that fighting against injustice is my duty.”
Radhika is really living up to this duty. Less than six months after she joined, she traveled all the way to Utah for the Smithfield Trial, is a regular on the megaphone at protests, and is now getting involved in laying the groundwork for an exciting ballot measure we hope to launch in late 2023.
Jacob is a high school student who got involved after he came across one of Cassie King’s “satirical little rants on the grotesqueness of the industry of animal agriculture” and found out she was part of a group called DxE. I remember the first time I heard Jacob give a speakout. It was at his first ever action and I was extremely impressed. He was so confident and articulate and passionate.
Jacob told me his favorite memory from this year was a recent speakout and slam poem he delivered outside Costco in November. It was this speakout that tempted him to want to do more. Since then, Jacob has joined the protest working group and is shadowing Paul Picklesimer, an experienced protest organizer, to learn how he can bring epic actions to life, too.
I cannot wait to see what Radhika and Jacob achieve for animals in 2023 and who else might show up to an event and join our community. I was once that completely new person, and now I’m leading this entire network. No matter your background, your skillset, your interests, your age, you can make a difference for animals. That is why we are dedicated to not only doing actions, but also building community, hosting trainings, and creating space for people to become leaders.