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Caring for Hens (Video)

DxE activists woke before the crack of dawn this past Saturday to head over to Animal Place to volunteer on a cold, rainy day. We were split up into two groups, one at the main sanctuary and the other at the rescue barn. While much of the day was focused on basic tasks, such as cleaning, setting out straw, and moving refuse to the compost pile, we also had the opportunity to perform health checks on a few dozen hens rescued from an egg-laying facility. 

In California, virtually all egg-laying hens are deemed "disposal problems" after their egg production wanes. Their bodies are too weak and wiry to be used for flesh. And so, at a mere two years of age, the hens will all be killed... unless activists such as the incredible people at Animal Place step up.

The hens were impressively calm in the hands of complete strangers. 

The hens were impressively calm in the hands of complete strangers. 

On this particular day, a few hundred hens had just been moved from a rescue facility to the main sanctuary. And our task, after being trained by the wonderful Celeste and Elizabeth at Animal Place, was to perform a health check on the hens to ensure they were suitable for adoption, and/or release into the general sanctuary population. We started out by checking their heads and eyes, to ensure there were no injuries or abnormalities. We then opened the hens' tiny little mouths to see if they had any sores inside their mouth cavity. We proceeded to check their crop, their keel bone, and even their vent, for abnormalities or infections. And we trimmed both feathers and toenails too, to prevent infection and excessive growth, and to ensure that the hens were in good shape to be released into the flock. 

While we learned a lot, perhaps the most important aspect of the experience was the opportunity to bond with individual hens. When you see them in pictures, or even in person when the hens are all bunched up into a mass, it's hard to identify them. They are just a crowd, a flock, a mass -- not individuals that we can easily empathize with. But when a sanctuary worker puts an individual hen into your care, suddenly the relationship transforms. They are now not just animals, not just chickens... they are our wards and responsibilities. And we begin to notice how each is different from all the others. 

One will cluck and scramble, from the moment the health check begins. Another seems to positively enjoy the experience (or at least is so accustomed to it that she can sit calmly while being poked and prodded). Some are extraordinarily talkative, clucking through the entire process. Others are astonishingly quiet. But what one cannot deny, after these sorts of interactions, is that every hen, in all her uniqueness, has a strong will -- frustrations and desires; fears and feelings of relief. It is that will to experience the world under her own control -- to live -- that makes each hen's life and freedom so important. 

After spending the morning caring for hens, we went on the usual sanctuary tour and got to see some of the other animals.

It was a beautiful day, and one that we hope to repeat sometime soon. I hope some of you can join us!

See more pictures from our work day below! 

Someone, Not Something (International Video)

Activists in eleven cities protested the humane myth at Chipotle locations last month, as part of our campaign: It's not Food. It's Violence. Check out the video highlights from select cities. Also check out our post event write-up in the Bay Area from last month. 

Join us on the weekend of December 14 for our next day of action. We can help you organize and supply materials

Visual Storytelling

DxE organizers Kelly Witwicki Faddegon and Wayne Hsiung spoke at the Academy of Art on "Visual Storytelling." 

Visual stories are the most powerful vessels for conveying emotions and effecting change. But not all stories are equal. In particular, you'll hear how stories that dramatize, polarize, and energize -- many of which are already latent in our popular culture -- are essential to effective campaigns.

Click below for video of the talk. 

Someone, Not Something (SF Bay Area Clip)

DxE activists converged in Chipotle locations across the country with pictures of our animal friends, and a message: Every animal is Someone, not Something. 

Join us for our next day of action on the weekend of December 14

DxE at World Day Against Foie Gras

DxE at World Day Against Foie Gras

Direct Action Everywhere, as part of our "It's Not Food. It's Violence." campaign, held a demonstration against force feeding and foie gras at the French consulate building in San Francisco, in solidarity with activists in Belgium, France, Germany, New Zealand, Spain, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. Check out the video, and images from the protest. 

The Faces of Change

The Faces of Change

The Roman god of transitions, Janus, had many faces. The Romans understood that all transitions have multiple dimensions: beginning and end, peace and conflict, tension and relief, resistance and change. 

The same, of course, is true of social transitions: diverse (and, sometimes, even conflicting) perspectives and people are necessary to understanding, and solving, complex social problems.

Even Three Can Change the World

It was pouring outside, and cold. Two key leaders and organizers were out of town. And they were operating in a city once called the slaughterhouse capital of the world. But three brave DxE Chicago activists still went out, and took a stand for the animals, as part of our Someone, Not Something day of action, with powerful words and images. 

You'll be astonished by how the people in the restaurant responded. 

William Lloyd Garrison, the pioneering antislavery activist, was once written to by an activist in another city in the early stages of the movement. The activist said that he was disheartened. He could only find two others interested in fighting for an end to human slavery. 

Garrison's response (paraphrasing): "Even three people, if they are fighting for what is right, can change the world." 

Thank you, DxE Chicago. Thank you, Teresa, Caesar, and Glenn. You make all of us better, and more brave. 

Be Brave

Music video by Sara Bareilles performing Brave: "Let your words be anything but empty." 

Direct Action Everywhere is not an organization. It's not a non-profit. It's not even a campaign. It's a vision. A vision of people from all different walks of life, all different races and nationalities, willing to say what they believe, in their heart of hearts, and say it everywhere our friends are being tormented and killed. Say it everywhere the hateful idea -- that those who are weaker than or different us deserve their nightmarish torments -- has taken hold. Say it everywhere, loud and proud: every animal deserves to be free. 

We all have different personalities and backgrounds, different strengths and weaknesses. But whatever our differences, this movement needs to see all of us be stronger and more hopeful. To be true to ourselves and to our greatest dreams. And, above all, to be brave

Be true to yourself, and the world will follow.  


Everybody’s been there,
Everybody’s been stared down by the enemy
Fallen for the fear
And done some disappearing,
Don’t run, stop holding your tongue
Maybe there’s a way out of the cage where you live
Maybe one of these days you can let the light in
Show me how big your brave is
And since your history of silence
Won’t do you any good,
Did you think it would?
Let your words be anything but empty
Why don’t you tell them the truth?
Say what you wanna say
And let the words fall out
I wanna see you be brave

Effective Meme Spreading (Video)

Effective Meme Spreading (Video)

In disciplines ranging from economics to history, the cognitive revolution has shown that ideas that spread -- so-called "memes" -- are perhaps the most important forces in social change. But what causes some ideas to spread more effectively than others?

In this talk, activist, lawyer, and trained behavioral scientist Wayne Hsiung discusses three principles of "Effective Meme Spreading." Among other things, you will learn:

- why generating conflict and controversy (such as that created in the Civil Rights Movement, Occupy Wall Street, and the Arab Spring) might be vital to an effective meme; 
- why convincing a person's friends might be more important than convincing the person herself, if you want the idea you're spreading to stick; and
- how strong and supportive communities provide the necessary "fertile ground" for memes to grow, survive, and reproductively flourish. 

Slides for the presentation can be found here.  

About the Speaker

Wayne Hsiung is a lawyer, writer, and organizer for DxE in the Bay Area. Prior to entering the practice of law, Mr. Hsiung was a National Science Graduate Fellow researching behavioral economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Harry N. Wyatt Scholar and Olin Law and Economics Fellow at the University of Chicago Law School. He served on the faculty at Northwestern School of Law, as a Searle Fellow and Visiting Assistant Professor of Law, from 2006-2007, where he focused on behavioral law and economics, free speech, and environmental law.

Mr. Hsiung has worked on social justice campaigns since 1999, including campaigns against capital punishment and on behalf of low-income youth, and has been a grassroots organizer in the animal rights movement since 2001. In his free time, he enjoys playing with his two dogs (Lisa and Natalie) and two cats (Joan and Flash).



Earthlings March - International Video (and T-Shirts)

Earthlings March - International Video (and T-Shirts)

The amazing Tomer Grinberg has compiled much of the international footage from the Earthlings March, into an inspiring video!  Footage from San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Munich, Phoenix, Tel Aviv, San Diego, and other cities.

Also, due to overwhelming demand, we're making another bulk order of the Earthlings t-shirts and design that went viral on August 24, 2013, in countries all over the world. Grab one now before they run out again, as we're only ordering 100.