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Storytelling

The Story of Duo Duo

After being forced into multiple surgeries to "train" veterinary students, Duo Duo was abandoned to starve in a back room in China. But then Andrea Gung took action, feeding him through a window until she could find a way to get him freed

The Story of Duo Duo

Despite the common portrayal of the Chinese as animal-abusing monsters, there is a grassroots movement growing in China, as with the rest of the world. The Duo Duo Project, and its conference this weekend in San Francisco, are powerful examples of this growth. 

by Wayne Hsiung

I've said before that being Chinese in the animal rights movement is a lot like being a Dodgers fan at a Giants game. There is this vague sense among many that you just don't belong. People almost always assume that you're a passerby rather than a participant. And some even show active hostility. There are so many campaigns directed against East Asians that it's hard for even the most non-racist people to not be affected. So much of discrimination -- including speciesism -- is not even conscious. And studies have found that even arbitrary visual classifications, such as wearing a different colored t-shirt, can create biases among young children. "You're different, so you're bad." The effect is even more pronounced when there is active conflict between "us" and the "other." 

This is problematic for two reasons. First, the targeted class is often not, in fact, any more likely to engage in the problematic behavior at issue. Studies have shown, for example, that people are far more likely to shoot at a black man, even if there is no reason to think the black man poses a danger. Second, given the incredible importance of local and peer influence in effecting social change, we need buy in from targeted communities to actually have a positive impact. We can't change the Chinese -- or any other group -- if we don't have Chinese voices in our movement. 

This is why I am so excited to see the Duo Duo Project get off its feet. While not an animal liberation project, it shows that, even in countries and among communities that animal rights activists typically see as an "enemy," change is happening. Andrea Gung, the tireless founder of the Duo Duo Project, will be holding a conference this weekend at Golden Gate Law School to share the stories of activists in China and Taiwan and, even more importantly, the animals they rescue. 

Duo Duo himself is a powerful example of this. Abandoned after repeated surgical procedures in the filthy backroom of a veterinary school, Duo Duo was fed by Andrea through a window for days until she could find a way to see him freed. Today, he is in a happy home in the Bay Area. China is the largest and most populous country in the world, and there are many more people like Andrea doing everything they can to help our animal friends. And to have a balanced perspective on China and animals, I think it's vital for all of us to hear Andrea and Duo Duo's story -- and the many similar stories you'll hear at the conference this weekend. 

So please join us and the Duo Duo Project this weekend in San Francisco. Because it is when activists all over the world come together that our movement is strongest. 

(Video) A Memorial for Animals Appears (DxE Bay Area - April)

Gone but not Forgotten

by Ronnie Rose

This is for those who are gone. For those whose cries were drowned out in the dark night, whose terror and screams are stuck inside the slaughterhouse walls. The endless pain that you have suffered, the lonely days you stared at the cold walls of your prison, without any hope—this is for you. 

These words won't bring you back, nor will they fix what has been done to you. Your body has been abused, your feelings have been ignored, your dreams of freedom have been shattered...

But what these words do is carry the truth—and that can never be forgotten. Every animal who has been cut-up and treated as no more than a meal by companies like Chipotle, did not want this fate. Each moment they were prodded, kicked, forced into a crate, or loaded onto a truck—they wondered to themselves: Why is this happening to me? When will it end?

That is why we are here: to tell Chipotle and to tell the world your story. We are here because we know that your lives have meaning. We know that your desires to love, to play under the open skies, to live in the comfort of a community—are real. And even though your time here was brief, it will not be forgotten. We will NOT let it be forgotten!

We will not forget! We will NEVER forget! It's not food, it's violence!

RGB Vegan Interviews Ronnie Rose on DxE's Origins, the Dangers of Corporate "Values Integration," and Advice for New Vegans

Ronnie (on the right) at a recent It's not Food, It's Violence demonstration. 

Ronnie (on the right) at a recent It's not Food, It's Violence demonstration. 

Ronnie Rose on RGB Vegan

by DxE

Ronnie Rose, co-founding organizer of DxE, is not a name you'll necessarily know. But he did the remarkable video work that launched DxE into the world, with a splash, in early 2013. And it was conversations with Ronnie that shaped, and created the momentum for, the formation of our grassroots network. 

Since that time, Ronnie has been, in many ways, the theoretical voice of DxE. You might have read his powerful piece, The Soul of the Animal Rights Movement is Up for Grabs, or heard about DxE's graphic images study, which we commissioned in part because of a relationship Ronnie struck up with the brilliant political scientist Tim Pachirat. But in more ways than one, Ronnie has continued to be a key contributor to not just DxE's growth but, perhaps even more important, its anti-speciesist integrity. Ronnie has helped us maintain our strong commitment to animal liberation -- in our words, in our practices, and (especially) in our tactics and strategy. 

Ronnie recently had the opportunity to give a wonderful talk about the It's not Food, It's Violence campaign with our Phoenix chapter, PALS. And afterwards, one of the attendees, Joshua at RGB Vegan, was so impressed that he interviewed him for his podcast. In the interview, you'll hear about: 

- DxE's founding story
- the sinister marketing strategy -- "values integration" -- used by Chipotle and other humane washers to twist popular values in favor of eating animals
- some simple advice for new vegans. 

Check it out, and make sure you subscribe to RGB Vegan on iTunes

Telling Their Stories

Telling Their Stories

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Organizing Principle #3: WE TELL STORIES TO INSPIRE. We tell stories from the animals’ perspectives. Stories to radicalize. Stories to move people. Stories to change the world.

For our February action ("Love is Action") in our campaign against Chipotle, we created 8 new handouts, each featuring one rescued individual and a part of their story.

To challenge this speciesist society that regards nonhumans as objects, it is critical that we make a concerted effort to share the stories of victimized animals, to make it very clear that they are each someone, not something. The oppressed beings' voices are more important than anything else in a movement for justice -- those voices are the reason we fight, and we demand their liberation because they are crying for it -- and as their advocates, it is our responsibility to share their perspectives and cries for help to the best of our ability.

These are the faces we fight for. Keep them always at the front of your mind when you speak for them.

Thank you Animal Place for sharing the photos and stories we featured for half of these handouts!

The Best Debate in a Long Time

Action report from Caroline Lemieux of the incredible UBC Activists for Animals, showing the power of direct action to reshape public discourse: 

On Sunday, January 26th, Vancouver activists – including members of UBC Activists for Animals and Vancouver Animal Defense League – took part in the DxE Day of Action against Chipotle: Broken Promises. Most of us entered the store as potential customers, sitting in empty spaces nonchalantly. Unlike in some other cities, we were not blocked from entering the store, perhaps because we entered without holding signs. Finally as the last activists entered, we delivered a monologue and slowly, activists in Chipotle emerged from the crowd holding signs. The music seemed to turn up to drown us out but our voices were powerful. 

Perhaps most intriguing was customer reaction; a few left, exasperated, saying “I can’t deal with this right now,” but most continued eating, their eyes turned on us.

We were not inside long; barely over a minute, but for all the stress, all the planning and the preparation, once we entered the store, speaking out for the animals was the only thing on our minds.

A Chipotle employee eventually approached us, asking to speak to the leader (assuming I, who was speaking out, was). At this point we delivered the open letter, and continued chanting as we left the store. The employee followed us out and spoke to us there.

Outside, passers-by were curious about our chants, and after hearing our reasons, were supportive of the action.

Caroline delivered a rousing speakout inside a Vancouver Chipotle. 

Caroline delivered a rousing speakout inside a Vancouver Chipotle. 

In an interesting pre-cursor to the action, a facebook “friend” was so distressed by the thought that we’d enter a restaurant he enjoyed to “impose our beliefs”, joined the event with a fake account to question our motivations. This began an important conversation where we were able to have a discussion about animals which he later admitted was “the best debate he’d had in a long time.” This is exemplary of the power of direct action – the action did not even have to occur; the knowledge that the action would happen made him wonder “why you all feel so adamantly about it, that you would go to the extent of protesting inside of a place of community.” His response is exactly why we do it."

How Animals Fit into Chipotle's Story

How Animals Fit into Chipotle's Story

One of the most bizarre things about Chipotle's marketing is the presence of animals everywhere. Now, granted, the animals are always happy animals in well-kept pastures under bright sunlight. (Indeed, they're often baby animals to emphasize the cuteness factor.) But you would think that a company that kills tens of millions of animals every year would not want to highlight their presence in the business. 

A Note on the Power of Language

A Note on the Power of Language

When we talk about animals and share images of nonhumans, we have a responsibility to not frame those animals with a lens that reinforces their objectification. How can we more effectively use words and images in the interest of not brutally reducing those animals to objects? What can we do to give those humans we are talking to about nonhuman rights a lens that facilitates a non-subjugating gaze?

Consider the differences in framing when using following terms:

  • “it” v. “her/him/them”

  • “that” v. “who”

  • “something” v. “someone” (or "anything" v. "anyone")

  • “eating meat” v. “eating animals”

  • “vegan options for humans” v. “legal rights for animals”

  • images of dead bodies treated as the objects they are v. images that tell a story of the someones they were

Kelly

One Scary Day

One Scary Day

I don't think I really understood the horrors of a leg hold trap -- one of the evil devices used by the fur industry -- until the day it happened to Lisa.

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. 

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.