I learned so much and left a better activist, inspired and more informed. I urge vegans who want to do more to head to next year's conference. - Ethan D., Allston MA
Photos courtesy of Rachel Atechson & Peter Huntley.
Nearly a thousand animal activists and other caring folks joined us at the Hilton Mark Center, near Washington DC, on August 2-5th for the Animal Rights 2012 National Conference. They came from forty-four states and seven other countries, and ranged in age from 10 to over 80! Many left ready to shape the future of animal rights.
70+ Informative and Inspirational Sessions!
The conference featured authors Melanie Joy, Will Potter, Norm Phelps, and Victoria Moran, along with movement leaders Alex Hershaft, Nathan Runkle, Michael Budkie, Becky Robinson, Karen Davis, and Bruce Friedrich, as well as "rising stars" Peter Hammarstedt and Michael Weber.
The 70+ sessions tackled new and old issues, controversial and time-tested tactics, and individual and community organizing. The program opened with a review of the history and recent progress of the animal rights movement. It concluded with a panel offering three views of "The Future of Animal Rights."
The video program included sneak-peeks of "Speciesism: The Movie" and "How I Became an Elephant ." Other key panels addressed repression of animal activism, effective communication, animal rescue and care, and much more!
Awards Banquet Honors Changemakers
Saturday night’s Awards Banquet marked the climax of the conference. Colleen Holland and Joseph Connelly, founders of VegNews magazine, were inducted into the Animal Rights Hall of Fame. Hip-hop icon and vegan advocate Russell Simmons accepted the Celebrity Activist Award by video, and Martin Welych-Flanagan received the Young Activist Award for working to end seal slaughter.
Brad Larsen of Compassionate Living Outreach received the Henry Spira Grassroots Animal Activist Award for his years of volunteer organizing on behalf of animals. Nick Cooney was similarly honored for his years of unpaid individual activism and founding role in The Humane League.
Shopping, Food, and Fun!
Nearly 70 organizations offered literature, merchandise, and food in the Exhibit Hall. Morning and evening snacks featured delicacies from our generous food donors. Newcomer orientations, regional lunches, and daily networking receptions provided ample opportunities to mingle with fellow activists.
FARM's 10 Billion Lives Tour vehicle made a stop at AR2012 to showcase a new 4-minute video about animal farming. As a special treat, Dennis and Elizabeth Kucinich stopped by and voiced their appreciation!
Animal Rights 2012 was organized by the Farm Animal Rights Movement (FARM) and co-sponsored by 12 other organizations: Alley Cat Allies, In Defense of Animals, International Primate Protection League, Mercy For Animals, A Well-Fed World, Animal Concerns of Texas, Compassion Over Killing, E-Magazine, International Fund for Africa, Stop Animal Exploitation Now!, The Humane League, and The League of Humane Voters.