Friday 10th August 2012 to Sunday 12th August
Animal Rights Summer Gathering Report
10th August 2012
The 2012 Animal Rights Summer Gathering was held on the second weekend of August. As ever Veggies co-ordinated the catering, running a cafe space and holding vegan cookery workshops.|
The Gathering followed directly on from the Peace News Camp and the Earth First Summer Gathering, all on the same site near Shrewsbury.
The Animal Rights Coalition is an informal network which exists to promote cooperation and to spread information between the various groups and individuals working throughout the UK to stop animal abuse.
2012 Gathering Report
Activists from many parts of the country travelled to Shropshire over the weekend of August 10th to 12th for this year's Animal Rights Gathering.
Amazingly, in the wettest summer on record, we had three days of almost unbroken glorious sunshine, with just a short sharp shower on the Sunday to keep us on our toes and test our waterproofs in time for the sabbing season. Some of us did suffer a little from mosquito bites, seems the critters don't make allowances for vegans when choosing their targets.
Of course we didn't spend the whole weekend sunbathing, there was a full timetable of interesting talks, workshops and discussions to attend.
As an ice breaker this year, we started off the main part of the gathering with a "Speed Meeting" session, which we copied from the International AR gathering in Poland a few weeks previously. This was a great and fun way for activists to get to know each other in quick 1 minute meetings, and was particularly useful for those who were new to the gathering or the movement.
The timetable itself was a good mixture of interesting talks, some lively discussions, some practical skills learning and some campaign updates.
There were interesting talks about the campaign to close Green Hill beagle kennels in Italy, a report back from the International gathering in Poland and how to deal with the media.
An update on the campaign against the proposed badger cull in England, was followed by a group brain storming session where some interesting ideas and tactics were brought up and discussed. There was also an "Action Lab" to devise some new creative and effective campaign ideas.
We had a great workshop from Animal Equality about how to go undercover to get evidence of animal cruelty and exploitation. Someone from the Hunt Saboteurs Association showed us how to build a "gizmo", a very compact and portable loudspeaker system used to divert the hounds from the fox, but also useful on protests for reading out speeches.
At the workshop bringing together activists from the various vivisection campaigns, it was decided next year's World Day for Animals in Laboratories march will be in Oxford on Saturday April 27th.
Discussions included an in-depth debate on tactics and past actions, the future of the animal rights movement, the importance of making links with other social justice movements, and how to build and strengthen local animal protection groups.
Late on the saturday night, there was a practical session in the nearby woods, where activists were taught how to move around and avoid detection at night, which although was a lot of fun, was also a very useful exercise.
Among the entertainment in the evenings we had an open mic session, where campaigners showed off their talent with music, poetry, some jokes and stories, a cinema tent showing campaign films, a bar and a campfire to keep us warm into the night.
The food was excellent as always, Veggies catering campaign food just gets better all the time. As well as the catering crew themselves, quite a few of the other activists got stuck in and helped out, getting some good lessons in vegan catering in the bargain. The vegan cake baking workshop was popular and the tuck shop was open all weekend for anyone who wanted vegan snacks, cakes, drinks etc.
A big thanks to Crabapple Housing Cooperative on whose land the gathering was held, it was a really beautiful spot in the middle of the Shropshire countryside.
Many of those leaving the site commented on the nice friendly atmosphere throughout the gathering. It was great to catch up with old friends and comrades and to meet some new ones.
Batteries recharged for the struggles ahead, we hope to see you at next year's gatherings.
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