Regardless of the color of your skin, the tongue in which you communicate, religious or political beliefs, your gender, we are one and the same. We are water, blood, tissue, and bone as are the non-human animals that inhabit and share the earth with us.
As we walk both the random and chosen paths of our lives, we are bound to unite with other human and non-human animals that forever alter our lives and bring us closer to our destination.
Whatever has led you to this connection, hold on to it; do not let go. The future, my friends, depends on it.
For the last fifteen years, James LaVeck and Jenny Stein, Co-founders of Tribe of Heart and film producers of the award-winning documentaries, Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home and The Witness, have journeyed together and continue their collaboration to share their conscience awakening with the world.
“While we both were already vegetarians at the time, we had no idea how pervasive the plight of animals was on our planet,” James says of their early experience watching the 1996 documentary, To Love Or Kill: Man Vs. Animal. “With this new awareness, we realized our lives would never again be the same. We felt compelled to incorporate the pursuit of justice for animals into our work.”
Their early period of research and travel led James and Jenny to the vegan way of life. Realizing their limited understanding of who our fellow animals truly are and how much they still had to learn, a number of experiences challenged their prejudices and preconceived notions about animals.
“Questions that had started out for us more as abstractions evolved into something much deeper,” James relates. “This took our commitment to work for change to a whole new level.”
As artists, educators, and activists, James and Jenny are firsthand witnesses to the individuality and communality of animals and the animal-animal and human-animal emotional bond.
“Our own personal journeys are intertwined with the message we have to share. Advocating for those who are marginalized and being exploited on a mass scale is not easy,” James says. “It means being in contact with some of the most disturbing elements of human society.”
Simultaneously, Jenny explains, “The difficulty of the work means that many of the grassroots advocates we meet along the way are incredible human beings. We regularly meet people who inspire us to work harder, act with greater courage, and think more deeply about how we can leave this world a better place.”
In the pursuit of legal, public relations, community education, protests, and other actions to stop the unprecedented backyard wildlife slaughter program from moving forward in their neighborhood, James and Jenny spent five years participating with Cayuga Deer, a grassroots campaign to stop the planned mass shooting program in their community.
“The protracted struggle gave us a detailed perspective on how injustice is propagated at the institutional level,” Jenny says of the manipulation of the public process in order to advance policies that are cruel, unnecessary, unscientific, and dangerous.
Although horrific slaughter has been averted for four years in a row, the issue is still playing out amidst hidden conflicts of interest and betrayal of the public trust that is harmful to the whole community.
“We have watched in amazement as those in positions of power deliberately propagated misinformation with little to no accountability. This is a problem that plagues our society.”
“This experience taught us so much about the challenges endured by front-line activists,” Jenny states. “It takes phenomenal commitment to confront injustice so close to home, and to stick with it, even as you are being vilified in your own community.”
“Our experiences in Cayuga Heights have changed us in profound ways,” Jenny says, “and are going to impact what we explore in our future film projects.”
“We have encountered true human greatness,” James concludes. “Most often, we find it among intelligent, humble, and deeply committed grassroots activists quietly doing what is needed and what will help the most in their communities. We feel lucky to share our path with so many people we admire and respect.”
Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home will be presented with Tribe of Heart on Friday, May 31 and The Witness will be presented by Eddie Lama on Saturday, June 1at the 2013 Anti-Fur Society Animal Rights Conference in Alexandria, Virginia.
Register for the Anti-Fur Society Animal Rights Conference, May 31 – June 2, 2013, at the Sheraton Suites in Old Town Alexandria, 801 N Saint Asaph Street, Alexandria, Virginia 22314.
Read the speaker biographies at the 2013 Anti-Fur Society Animal Rights Conference.
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