Heal Our Planet Earth (HOPE)’s
Global Emergency Operation (GEO)’s
Compassion for Animals Road Expedition #6 (CARE-6)’s
Field journal #8
August 23, 2008
Dear HOPE-GEO team and all friends in compassion:
My objective in the AR2008 conference was to electrify the Animal Rights movement into not only embracing global warming as a core issue, but to champion it actively and globally. I believe we have by and large succeeded. By “we” I mean the HOPE-GEO team – Dr. Peter Carter, Julie Johnston, Taina Ketola, Lane Ferrante, Dominique Landis, Rebecca Monaghan, Janice Kobi, Rebecca Goth, Doris Lin, Lois Baum, Carol Loomis, Lisa Funkhouser, and, where the AR 2008 conference is concerned, especially Charlotte Templeton, other than myself.
I arrived at Charlotte’s place in St. Michaels, Maryland, in the late afternoon of Wednesday the 13th. To go to St. Michaels you have to drive over the Bay Bridge, which is one of the longest bridges I’ve crossed. I left the Pacific on June 30. Now from the Bay Bridge, on August 13, I see Atlantic waters at last.
Charlotte deserves an extra ovation because she is afflicted with serious health problems, and previous injuries, and yet devotes most of her painless hours, and some of her painful ones, on just two things – her 8 year-old son Joshua, and the HOPE-GEO project.
In the morning of August 14, Charlotte went to do personal chores first, then met me at the mini storage around noon with her parents’ Dodge Ram truck into which we loaded 20 boxes of Homo Sapiens! SAVE YOUR EARTH, containing 44 copies each, totaling 880 copies. We then convoyed to the Hilton Mark Center in Alexandria, VA, with me leading the way by GPS. Upon arrival, we found the best two parking spots on the lower level of the parkade, right at the entrance of the hotel on the LL floor where the AR2008 conference was being held. While it made the unloading of the books as easy as possible, it also showed the right side of my car where the magnetic sign says, “FIX GLOBAL WARMING or kiss our children’s future goodbye”. Everyone entering the hotel from the parking area on that floor would pretty well have to see it. I did not move my car an inch throughout the conference, so hundreds of people have seen it, with some saying to that they loved it.
Immediately upon entering the lobby and the conference area, I came across many people I knew – Janet Enoch, Kat McAfee, Greg Lawson, Howard Lyman, among others including several from Sea Shepherd. With Greg and Howard was an older couple who looked familiar, but whom I could not place. They looked at me intently, then, when we shook hands, the gentleman said, “You don’t remember me, do you?” I really could not recall, and pretended to not have heard that comment, then moved on. I felt not too good about this, and told Charlotte about it. Later, while walking through the conference area, I came across Greg again, and asked him who the older couple was. He said, Richard and Sukie Sargent, founders of the Texas Vegetarian Society. This hit me like a lightning bolt. I stayed at the Sargent’s place while in EL Paso in my CARE-1 tour. I recalled clearly now. On the day of our departure from El Paso to Phoenix, Richard noticed that one of the trailer’s wheels was about to fall off. Good thing, he might have saved our lives. Imagine what would happen if the trailer wheel fell off on the interstate at 70 mph. Since we had a speaking engagement in Phoenix to keep, we had to leave the trailer with the Sargents. Richard had the wheel fixed for us, and here came one of the longest drive I’ve done in one go – from Phoenix back to EL Paso to pick up the trailer, then straight from El Paso to San Diego for a speaking engagement. I was feeling really bad now, and Charlotte got an earful of my lamentations. The I came across the Sargents, and offered them my prolonged and profuse apology (until they began to feel sorry for me :).
Through the course of these few days, I would reacquaint with many top activists, and meet many of my MySpace friends for the first time in real life. By late afternoon, our roommates Raina McMahan and Michael Oswald (from Germany, who offered to translate Homo Sapiens! SAVE YOUR EARTH into German), had arrived, and we felt comfortable with each other. Charlotte and I moved about 10 boxes of books into the exhibition hall and set up our display, which basically comprised a small mountain of the books, a sign saying “FREE! by Anthony Marr” and a jar for donations. Over the next days, Charlotte and I manned the booth, not just sitting there, but proactively engaging people in conversation, and I signed books by the hundreds in between speeches, adding personal comments like “To ______, great to meet you @ AR2008!”
I had no role in the opening ceremony (August 14, Thursday evening) this year. There was no candle-lighting ritual. Instead Steven Gellman belted out two songs, the first being an anti-hunting song titled “It’s Wrong”, about adults teaching children to kill for fun.
For all my sessions below, I always brought a half-box of Homo Sapiens! SAVE YOUR EARTH into the presentation rooms, and always announced it to the audience.
August 15, Friday – 3 speeches:
10:00 – Individual Activism (w. Carvalho, Corbet and Zeman)
I spoke last and talked about the Power of One, how a single individual could be more powerful than an organization, using first Kristal Parks’ solo water-only hunger strike as an example, then, my own experience including Chinatown Undercover (1995), Anti-Torphy-Hunting (1996), Champion of the Bengal Tiger (India expeditions 1996-1999), Heal Our Planet Earth (1999), Japan Undercover (2004, 2005), Compassion for Animals Road Expeditions (CARE-tours #1 through #6), and Heal Our Planet Earth’s Global Emergency Operation (HOPE-GEO) on global warming and mass extinction. On this note, I launched into the HOPE-GEO project. Free-book announcement.
15:30 – Abuse of Wildlife on Land (w. Hudak, Muller and Vincent)
I spoke last, and started by saying that the other speakers had covered direct abuse fairly comprehensively, so I would speak on indirect abuse in the form of habitat destruction and global warming. I stated that there is no abuse more fundamental and no violation of animal rights more basic than driving a species to extinction, thus denying its members their very right to exist. I used the polar bears and harp seals in the polar regions and the Amazon rainforest in the tropical regions as illustrations, and the End-Permian mass extinction as case-precedent. Free-book announcement.
16:30 – Abuse of Wildlife in Water (w. Earl and Kourda)
I spoke last, and again used the End-Permian mass extinction as case precedent of 95% extinction of Marine fauna, and that the current mass extinct #6 could match it in severity. Free-book announcement.
August 16, Saturday – 5 speeches
10:00 – Abuse Abroad (w. Gorski and Vigo)
I spoke last, and talk about Amazonia soy production and the Canadian tar sands as the top 2 acts of animal abuse worldwide, and how the HOPE-GEO project campaign to ban them globally. Free-book announcement.
14:30 – Engaging Ethnic Minorities (w. Dalal and Ornelas)
I spoke last, used myself as an example to show that a single presentation by Peter Knights back in 1995 ignited my activism. Both AR and GW are global issues, requiring multi-ethnic solutions.
15:30 – Relating to Urban Wildlife (w.Hindi and Robinson)
I spoke first, and talked about urban deer management, against the lethal methods, giving Anthony DeNicola the dishonorable mention, and for the non-lethal methods including of course immunocontraception. Deer activists and friends Jennifer Grill and Linda Heinberg were both present. Steve Hindi, however was double-booked, and he opted for Engaging Businesses, and had someone stand in for him, who basically repeated what I said. Free-book announcement.
16:30 – Trade in Exotic Animals (w.Bagnall, Brennan and Gorski)
I spoke last, and talked about both the supply side and demand side of the trade, using the tiger bone trade as an example, with India on one end, and China and the Chinatowns on the other. I told of the anti-poaching and anti-trade aspects of my work in India, including undercover operations in the urban centers and anti-poaching work at the tiger reserves, as well as the undercover and mass media work in the Chinatowns of North America. In the end, Tim and I was asked to each tell one story about how dangerous our work could get. He told his, and I told about the men waiting outside the radio station for me after a late talkshow interview on Chinese radio whose intent was at least to rough me up, and how my successor in an undercover operation in India was killed on the job. I concluded by talking about how global warming could halt the wildlife trade by wiping out the traded species. Free book announcement.
19:15 – Plenary Session III
We did not join in the banquet, but entered the banquet hall near the end of the Conference Slideshow (of the pictures so far taken including hundreds taken by me and Charlotte). My myspace friend “Dejennerate” (Jenn) told me that over a dozen images were of one A. Marr. Dawn or Jen (of FARM) caught me in the afternoon, saying that I was to introduce Sharon Christman, and I arrive just on time. At the end of the slideshow, Alex (Hershaft) stood up and announced that the Saturday evening plenary was now in session, and to open it is “ANTHONY MARR!” I’ve never had my name roared out in such volume, and leapt to the mike.
“What brought me here is my Compassion for Animals Road Expedition #6, or CARE-6, which began on July 1, and won’t end till mid-November, the object of which being to electrify the Animal Rights movement into not only embracing but championing global warming as a core issue. But the story I’m telling now started in CARE-1, where vegan author Brenda Davis and her then 15 year old son Cory join me to speak in 42 states in 7.5 months from September 2003 to April 2004. In December Brenda and Cory went home for Christmas, leaving me in Washington DC. But I wasn’t exactly stranded. On December 31, 2003, I was treated to the New Year’s Eve concert at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC featuring an apex soprano whose voice my meager command of the English language, and the English language itself, prove deficient to fully describe. Not only was I a guest, I was the guest of honor of Sharon Christman, the magnificent diva herself, who is also the chair of the music department of the Catholic University in Washington DC. Now, the song. It is a controversial song in the sense that some consider it “defeatist” while other praise it as being highly inspirational. I’ll leave it for you to judge. It is the Impossible Dream, which really applies to our struggles in animal rights as well as global warming to a T. Sharon initially said that the song was sung always by male singers. I replied that everything has a first time, and, look at the audience here, a sea of feminine faces. Now, without further ado, heeeeere’s SHARON CHRISTMAN!” She brought the house down with her final soaring note.
August 17, Sunday –
09:00 – Engaging Abroad (w. Earl and Moncrief)
I spoke last, and talked about campaigning abroad to solve three kinds of problems – the problems within the countries where the campaign is conducted, the problem within your own country by creating external pressure, and problems of a global nature, the last of course refers to global warming and mass extinction. Engaging abroad is of course necessary to create concerted global action. Free-book announcement.
11:00 – Foreign Animal Protection Laws (w. McCoy and Vigo)
Vigo didn’t show, so it was just Kim and me. I spoke first, and talked about the virtual absence of wildlife protection laws in most countries, and the lack of enforcement of whatever law there maybe. Globally, as well as locally, there is a total absence of laws to protect animals from climate change and mass extinction, and no punishment for the guilty, namely the oil companies and corrupt politicians and officials. New international laws and new global law enforcement, are needed. Free-book announcement.
13:30 – Amusement Campaigns (w. Dorchak, Hindi and Rossell)
I spoke last, and talked about the Japanese dolphin slaughter being driven by the live-capture industry, since each dolphin slaughtered for meat could fetch only a few hundred dollar in highly toxic (mercury) meat, whereas a dolphin live-captured for amusement could fetch upwards of $20,000, and that the no-wild-caught-dolphins policy of some “humane” aquariums is nothing but window dressing, since Japan would just capture more females, breed them, then sell the offspring to such aquaria. Free-book announcement.
15:30 – Wildlife Campaigns (w. Earl, Kourda and Muller)
I spoke last, and talked about the HOPE-GEO campaign being a global wildlife campaign towards saving not just one or two species but millions from the devastating effects of global warming. Free-book announcement.
19:15 – Acting Globally (plenary w. Richard Schwartz)
Kim McCoy introduced us, herself saying that “Think globally, act locally” may not still always be valid, since there are campaigns today that must be waged globally. I spoke last, and devoted this entire speech to global warming and mass extinction as they apply to the planet as well as the animal rights movement, concluding on the two major objectives of HOPE-GEO – to create and unleash a global alliance of AR, environmental, parental, student, scientific and religious groups to tackle global warming and mass extinction, and to initiate the formation of a Global Green Fund by a 10% reduction of the global military expenditure, thus effecting a first step in global disarmament while saving the Earth.
A few observations during the conference:
Charlotte said that she could tell when one of my speeches was over, since “20 people would show up at the booth for a copy of the book.” While on the first two days she sat at the booth waiting for people to come, on Saturday and Sunday she actually walked around giving the books to whomever she met.
Alex (Hershaft) and Dawn (Moncrief) both said that this year’s award dinner was the best ever. I agree, and could feel the difference myself. To me, it was the combination between Sharon Christman’s transcendent performance, which elevated the artistic quality of the conference to that of a Kennedy Center concert, and Heather Mills’ speech, which actually changed my originally ambivalent impression of her to one of admiration.
All in all, we gave away about 700 copies of Homo Sapiens! SAVE YOUR EARTH, of which I signed easily 500. Now these books have been carried like seeds to diverse places, and there to be planted and to grow. Some of these are destined for libraries of various cities, and the vast majority of them will be carefully read, seriously heeded, then passed around.
Through the course of the conference, both Charlotte and I observed people reading the book in the lobby and hall ways. Several comments have already arrived stating how informative, timely, “fascinating” and “gripping” the book is.
My Sunday plenary speech Acting Globally received many compliments from many directions. First of all, Alex Hershaft said that it was a good speech. Many came to me and patted my shoulders saying how “great” it was. Someone was heard as saying that the “Asian guy” was a “powerful” and “engaging” speaker and his speech was “chilling” yet “motivating”.
I believe that from this conference has been launched the greatest global warming leap-forward ever, since an entire movement has been irreversibly and dynamically changed, and in return, the AR movement has been empowered by global warming, since now, to end meat consumption is not only a moral issue, but an urgent matter of survival of life on Earth.