Monday, October 5, 2009
Well, after more than one hundred posts, I clicked on a mystery button, my garage didn't explode on the spot and thanks to this miraculous confluence of events, I now know how to post a link! Like I can now link to my new gig as Chicago Vegan Examiner just like this. Sa-weeet! If you appreciate the wacky hijinks of this here blog but would appreciate more practical and helpful information - not that uses of bad bananas is not practical or helpful - you might want to subscribe to this page. Chicago residency is not required. It would be so appreciated.
Second, oh, sweet heaven, have I got a deal for you. First a little background: my husband and I have had this idea percolating in our fizzy heads for a while. You know how the different social justice movements seem to go through different phases of integration? Like third-wave feminism, for example, building on the previous waves, or the movement away from HIV-awareness activism (represented by groups like ACT UP) and more toward demystification and integration into society. Each begets the next and so on. Each phase is crucial for the genesis and development of the particular movement, which is why I respect at least the need for each stage. Usually these waves were created by brave people using the tools and information they had access to at the time. It is easy for us to look back and say, for example, "Oh, those stupid second-wave feminists with their power suits and capitalism." In retrospect, it is easy to point out the flaws and shortcomings of pretty much anything. It is important to look critically at points along the arcs of the various social justice movements so we can learn from our mistakes: to see the misogyny so endemic to the Civil Rights Movement, for example, or the consumerism of second-wave feminism. At the same time, it's important to have some understanding, to understand why movements went in a certain direction and to show forgiveness. I believe that most of what we can look back at now with derision started out as a genuine attempt toward progress.
With all this bubbling around in our brains (my husband and I are both big into movement theory), we determined that as vegan activism is at its core a social justice movement, we also were subject to waves and evolving philosophies. It seemed to us, if we followed a similar arc as several other social justice movements - from activism, to education, to integration - we would be wise to start working on the integration phase. (These are not isolated stages, by the way: they overlap considerably and go back and forth. It's not like we're done with either of the two previous stages.) There are many others who are working on integrating veganism: this would be the Veggie Pride Parade in New York (also one can clearly see activism and education at work here), for example, or the work of someone like Isa Chandra Moskowitz, with her fabulous cookbooks. We would not be at the next phase without the activism of groups like Mercy For Animals and the educational efforts by Vegan Outreach but right now my heart is all wrapped up in integration. As we wake people up to the cruelties of animal agriculture through our activism, and we give them the information they need to learn more and educate their friends, we must also give people the tools for integrating this new way of living into their lives. This integration must come in many forms, from teaching new recipes to finding a new community to support this new lifestyle, but we do know that it is not enough for us to say "just do it." We have to extend a hand.
This is where Chicago VeganMania comes in, the project my husband and I - as well as a group of other very dedicated and creative volunteers - have been working on for the past year. Chicago VeganMania is described by us as a daylong celebration of vegan culture, community, commerce, cuisine and couture. It is taking place this Saturday, October 10, from 10:00 - 4:00 at the Pulaski Park Fieldhouse, 1419 W. Blackhawk, near Wicker Park in Chicago. All the details are on the website above. We have been getting some great feedback from those who planning to be there and we hope to see you at Chicago VeganMania, too. It is going to be impossibly cool, if you can imagine that.
First of all, the first one hundred in line will receive a free swag bag chock full o' vegan goodies. Don't despair if you're one of those people who is slow moving on Saturdays, though: all attendees get five free tickets for food samples from our vendors. There will be ten food vendors participating, and one can try anything from vegan comfort food at the Chicago Diner to the soul food from Soul Vegetarian East to raw foods with a Middle Eastern flair from Cousin's Incredible Vitality. (There will also be chocolates, Tofurky slices, Vega smoothies and on and on. Check out the "vendors" link from the Chicago VeganMania website for more.)
In addition to the food vendors, there will be other vendors, selling everything from books to high fashion coats to jewelry to soaps to vegan message gear. It's going to be a great opportunity to support these conscientious, cruelty-free vendors. There will also be non-profits present, like the formidable Mercy For Animals and the Vegetarian Resource Group, to namejust a couple. The mind boggles at the magnitude. Even though I helped to conceive and organize Chicago VeganMania, truly, it is staggering sometimes to consider the scope of it and what we can achieve by harnessing the good will of our community, so eager for opportunities to bring more compassion into the world.
And that's not all.
There will be live bands and world famous DJs. There will be a children's crafts area. There will be a kazoo-playing children's spectacle procession led by incredible performers towards the end of the day. I kid you not. This is all happening.
And that's not all. (Now I'm really feeling like a car salesperson, but hear me out.)
There are speakers, too, just upstairs from the festival. On the docket are Caryn Hartglass, Dr. Will Tuttle, Nathan Runkle, Dr. Michael Greger and Rae Sikora and JC Corcoran (both together here). Each and every speaker is incredibly impressive on his or her own. I cannot do justice here. They are speaking on the ethics of a vegan diet to the latest in health information to creating a more connected life. And you can sip free, Ayurvedic tea while watching the speakers. How amazing is that? Goosebumps are entirely appropriate.
So join us. It will be amazing.
And here is my final pitch. If you sign up to be a follower on this here blog and are the first to identify yourself as one to me (friends don't count, as much as I love you) at Chicago VeganMania, I will give you ten free food tickets (a.k.a., grub stubs). Simple, right?
I will see you there!