Saturday, December 24, 2011

Everyday Direct Action

 I've been thinking a great deal about an interaction I had with a co-worker recently. She had spotted a stray kitten in the alley behind our workplace. She was upset about the kitten's plight, tears starting to fill her eyes. I asked her why she wasn't doing something. She looked at me and said she couldn't

I walked over and picked up the small kitten and put him in my car. I walked back to my co-worker, and questioned why she felt she couldn't help. I received no answer and noticed the kitten's mother. I walked over and picked her up and placed her in my car. I brought them into my home as fosters, knowing that to do otherwise would have meant ignoring their suffering. That was what I felt I couldn't do. 

To be honest, at the time of this interaction, I was furious. The more I think about it, though, I'm left feeling simply perplexed. There is an assumption on many people's parts that participating in direct action means living in an occupied park, getting arrested, and protesting en masse. Or liberating captive and exploited animals from puppy mills, laboratories, fur farms, and slaughterhouses. But those are just some forms of direct action. Direct action is also helping a lost dog get home, educating friends about adopting from a shelter, fostering a litter of kittens, donating your skills to an organization, providing a curious co-worker with a copy of "Why Vegan," or even baking dog cookies for a fundraiser. No action is too small, and all of it is "direct action."

Every single person is capable of some level of direct action. The most critical thing to understand is that each person has the power to help and to create change. 

My coworker thought she couldn't help, so she didn't. The only things stopping her were her own fears and uncertainties. Taking the mother cat and kitten into foster and getting them medical care was a direct action I was able to manage. Helping them meant not only ensuring their immediate safety and comfort, but by getting the mother spayed and the kitten neutered (eventually), future suffering has also been alleviated - what is done today has immediate relief, but stopping suffering before it starts is even better. 

Two weeks ago the kitten went to his new family. This past Friday, the mother cat went to her new family. She was adopted by that co-worker who couldn't help a few short weeks ago. From couldn't to will is a short step, but often people need help to understand their own power. 

If everyone took that short step, even just once, imagine the suffering we could alleviate. We're not asking for a year-end donation. We're asking you to consider taking that short step, or to help others to do so, hopefully all-year long. 

Why not you? Why not now? 

Peace and compassion from all of us at No Voice Unheard. 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Ninety-Five Named One of the 10 Best Vegan Books of 2011

Ninety-Five has been named one of the 10 Best Vegan Books of 2011 by VegNews!

"Much like The Exultant Ark, Ninety-Five matches heart-melting photos with heart-warming prose, in this case former farmed animals now living the life of sanctuary. Each animal has a name, and a story, and it just doesn’t get any better. You will find yourself leafing through Ninety-Five often, sharing each vignette with everyone you know."

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Finding Teachable Moments During the Holidays

This time of year can be frustrating for many of us, but it can also offer teachable moments. It is easy to yell at co-workers who walk past a homeless cat and kitten in an alley, claiming they want to help but there is nothing they can do. It is harder, but more effective to explain why that kind of thinking is of part of the problem. How, as individuals, we are all capable of helping in some fashion. Those teachable conversations are difficult and one of the reasons we publish educational books. This situation happened to me (Davida) last week and once the cats were taken into a foster home and had received much needed medical care, I brought in copies of One at a Time to share with my co-workers. The book does a much better job explaining not only the plights of unwanted animals, but also how individuals can help, than I ever could. Our goal in publishing One at a Time is to change the way people think about shelter and unwanted animals and create positive change for them.

Likewise, with the holidays, family and workplace gatherings abound and many of us are questioned about why we choose not to eat animals. There are plenty of books touting the health benefits and why too much protein is actually bad for you. However, for many of us our own health benefits are not the reason we became vegetarian (no, that's just karma in action). Instead, we understand that to eat a turkey at Thanksgiving a life must be taken. This conversation can often turn hostile around the dinner table, with accusations of familial rejection and cross-accusations of murder. Those conversations are never teachable or productive. We prefer to introduce people to Amelia, Melvin, Aubrey, Ariala, and Rhosyln, turkeys who have distinct personalities, loves, and needs. These are the lives we seek to spare. Ninety-Five makes that conversation easier.

In the interest of taking difficult conversations and turning them into productive, teachable moments this holiday season, we have a special offer - buy One at a Time: A Week in an American Animal Shelter and Ninety-Five: Meeting America's Farmed Animals in Stories and Photographs together for just $24.95. This is $10 off the combined retail price.

We also offer Giving Packages - a set of 5 books at 40% off the cover price - to give as gifts or donations to schools, libraries, coffee houses, community centers or any place where our books can reach the public. Other recipients might include teachers, clergy, legislators and policy makers, community leaders, celebrities, activists in other fields and anyone who can effect social change.

As a special offer to our newsletter readers, we are offering an assortment of free stickers with any book purchase. Please use the code "Stickers" in the special instructions box on our online order form. Please let us know if you want specific stickers, which can be viewed on our online order form.

Thank you for all that you do for the animals, and our best to you for a happy - and teachable - holiday season.

For the animals,
Diane, Marilee, Windi, and Davida