Animal Rights Activist Profile: Hogan Ganschow
Q: What inspired you to first get involved with activism and/or to join DxE?
In the first few months I was vegan, I remember watching the news and seeing Black Lives Matter protesters blocking the SF Bay Bridge, and I understood that that type of bold, nonviolent activism was meant to demonstrate the urgency of the problem, and force a discussion with those that have historically refused to negotiate in good faith.
When I made the ethical connection to animals in the Summer of 2015, I almost immediately realized that being vegan wasn’t enough, but I didn’t have any community around me. Searching for community, I found DxE by reconnecting on Facebook with the first vegan I ever met during a college summer abroad trip fifteen years earlier. He was sharing DxE disruption videos and he even had one that he captioned with something like, “Good on them. We could all be doing more for animals.” And I thought, “that’s right! I can be doing more.” So I contacted DxE and I asked them about starting my own chapter, and Priya Sawhney (SF Bay), Connie Pearson (Inland Empire), and Aidan Cook (Colorado) called me and gave me a great support and advice. And I just did my first forum, and now I am blocking traffic!
Q: What is your favorite or most accomplished moment in activism or other DxE activity?
This is a tie between two actions at this year’s forum. I loved being a part of the Ferry Building die-in protest during this year’s DxE forum when we all rose from the ground and started chanting “Animal Liberation NOW!” in unison. The power in our unified voice filled the building, and it really made me feel like the animal rights movement has arrived.
The last day’s open rescue was memorable because I was consulted on the legal risks beforehand and as a result the activists felt comfortable following through. Even though I only acted as a legal consultant and police liaison, to see it be such a success under the circumstances was very gratifying.
Q: Are you a part of any working groups or unique activism in your chapter and how do they influence your activism?
My career is as a public defender, so I am part of the legal working group with some amazing people that I am proud to call friends. DxE legal work helps me start to think how we can use open rescue and activism to catalyze a shift in legal norms, and how I might play a role in that in the future. I also get to hear about certain actions before they happen when I am consulted about the legal risks, so I have the opportunity to hopefully provide peace of mind to activists who are worried about what could happen if they get arrested and/or prosecuted. When I hear about or see an action go off as planned, or I hear about someone getting a good result in a legal case I helped out on, it makes me feel good even if I only played a small role, and gives me confidence that I can embody with the SB chapter so they feel comfortable doing actions as well.
As for my own chapter, we are just getting off the ground, but I love doing Cube of Truth demos with other local activists, because the responses from bystanders are always so positive and people really do make honest commitments to going vegan right on the spot.
Q: How do you stay motivated as an activist?
By remembering that activism is genuinely fun! Sometimes it can feel like there isn’t enough time for everything or it’s too scary, but watching what other chapters are doing motivates me and keeps me in check. We all help support each other and hold each other accountable. Like anyone who has discovered DxE, I remind myself of how bad the animals have it and it’s very hard to be complacent. When I see what amazing actions other activists are doing, it inspires me to see if I can do something just as bold and creative.
Q: What advice would you give to new activists?
Go to a Save Movement vigil. They are an amazing opportunity to do activism. It seems scary to be that close to suffering, but you come away from the experience with new information and a better ability to start conversations and relate a personal story. It is a genuine moment of modest comfort for the animals. And in between trucks, you have the opportunity to talk to other vegan activists about incredibly meaningful topics. And meat-eaters are sometimes there and ready to make the switch if the right person is there to listen to them and counsel them.
Q: Why Animal Liberation?
It has been said that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” This is not merely a nice poetic metaphor, but an expression of a force of nature, as real as the force of gravity, with human and nonhuman animal liberation as the pot of gold at the end of that arc. It is not a coincidence that the same issue that is most likely to give someone a heart attack or cancer is also the leading cause of environmental destruction and climate change. The fact that something so simple on its face--treating animals with fairness, compassion, and justice--has the power to unlock an amazing paradigm shift in individual and collective consciousness and health, reveals something deep about the nature of life, the destiny of our and other species, and the future of everything.
Right now in 2017, humans are just beginning to design ways of actually visiting other planets and star systems. If we do not achieve animal liberation, we will either go extinct before we can get off the ground, or we will begin to spread a very violent, hateful, and wasteful cancer across the cosmos. In my worst nightmares, I sometimes imagine whole planets filled with factory farms. This is the eternal battle of life and death, but on a universal scale, and we are at a crucial tipping point. Animal liberation is that important, and we must succeed. We will succeed.
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