Whales are hunted for their meat and other body parts. The oil from their bodies has been used to make lipstick, shoe polish and margarine. The practice of hunting whales began in the 9th century when Spain undertook the first organized hunt. By the 20th century, the Netherlands, Denmark, Britain, France, Germany, Norway, Japan and the United States had begun to kill large numbers of whales.
Certain species of whales were hunted so much that their numbers began to decline. There were fewer whales than there had been before. In 1946 the International Whaling Commission (IWC) was formed to address the issues of whaling and this growing threat to whales. The IWC created three categories of whaling: Commercial, Scientific and Aboriginal Subsistence.
In commercial whaling, whales are killed for their meat and their parts. In scientific whaling, whales are killed so that their bodies can be studied and cataloged. Aboriginal subsistence is the whaling carried out by native cultures, such as the Native Americans in the United States. These groups of people are given certain rights to hunt whales based upon their cultural history and dependence upon whale meat.
Due to the danger of extinction facing many whale species, the IWC voted to suspend all commercial whale hunting beginning in 1986. Despite this international agreement to stop killing whales for their parts, several countries continued to kill whales and sell their meat and parts, including Norway, Iceland and Japan.
A loophole in the ban on commercial whaling allowed for the killing of large and medium whales for "scientific purposes." The ban also doesn't cover smaller whales like pilot whales, dolphins and porpoises. Iceland and Norway take whales within their own waters, otherwise known as exclusive economic zones. Japan conducts whaling in international waters, including in a whale sanctuary in the ocean off the Antarctic coast, despite the ban.
Whales are most often killed using a primitive weapon called a harpoon. The harpoon has a grenade attached that explodes when the harpoon enters the body of the whale. It can take a very long time for some whales to die which causes additional suffering and fear in these gentle animals. There is no humane way to kill a whale.
Despite international pressure and the best efforts of grassroots movements to ‘save the whales’ around the world, whaling continues to be a danger facing whales and their future here on earth.
An essential part of any movement for social change is the effort to create new legislation. You don’t need to be an expert on law or politics to lobby your elected officials, but you do need to know how to communicate with them effectively.
The first step is to find out who they are. Next, get to know as many legislators as you can. Don’t wait until you or your group want to introduce a bill or to lobby your legislator to vote one way or the other on an issue. Lay the foundation before you start a legislative campaign. Attend “town meetings” where legislators meet with voters to answer questions. Write to thank them for taking specific positions that you support.
Arrange to meet with them, even if it’s on an issue that you don’t feel strongly about. The important thing is to establish a rapport. It’s also very helpful to get to know elected officials’ aides, who are often much more accessible than the legislators themselves and can often provide you with good “inside” information.
Legislators prefer to be contacted by the following means (in order of preference): Individualized letters by mail; Phone calls; Individualized letters by fax; Individual e-mails; Form letters and e-mails. Be sure to provide your name, address and phone number on the envelope, in the letter, and in all e-mail messages and make sure you are able to articulate the issue should you get your elected official or an aide on the phone.
In your correspondence with elected officials, discuss only one issue at a time. Keep it short; one-page letters are best, and two pages is the maximum. The more personal the correspondence appears, the more seriously it will be taken. State the purpose of your letter or e-mail in the first paragraph. Support your argument with facts, not emotions. Don’t assume that the legislator knows all about the issue. Provide background information. Identify the bill or ordinance by title and number. Be polite and positive. Never threaten; today’s opponent could be tomorrow’s ally on another issue. Clearly state what you want him or her to do. Don’t be self-righteous about being a “citizen” or a “taxpayer”; your readers will assume that you are both.
When addressing the letter and envelope, be sure to use the proper form for the address and salutation. On the envelope and inside address, refer to any legislator as “The Honorable.” The salutation for state or federal representatives is “Mr.” or “Ms.” The salutation for state or federal senators is “Senator.”
When writing to U.S. senators, use the following format and address:
The Honorable [first and last name]
Washington, DC 20510
When writing to U.S. representatives, use the following format and address:
The Honorable [first and last name]
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
MEETING WITH LEGISLATORS
When meeting with elected officials, make an appointment well in advance. Go by yourself or, at most, with one other person. f you are going with a group of people, decide on a spokesperson ahead of time.
Dress conservatively and professionally. Know about the legislator and his or her voting record; compliment him or her on past achievements. Be friendly and positive.
Don’t turn down a chance to meet with a legislative aide; go to the meeting and behave as if you were meeting with the elected official.
Know the title and bill number of the legislation that you want to discuss. Provide one-page fact sheets to give background information.
Don’t speak as a member of a national organization. Know your facts. Don’t become emotional. Don’t waste the legislator’s time; make your points briefly and clearly, and then thank him or her and leave promptly.
Remember that how you communicate is as important as what you communicate. People who care about the earth and animals are often stereotyped as too emotional. We can change that image by doing our homework, staying calm and polite, and keeping our statements concise.
Animals and plants are being driven to extinction at unprecedented rates by animal agriculture. Animal farming has affected the environment and wildlife in detrimental ways. Our demand for meat has led to the loss of large numbers of animals, caused massive water and land pollution, and has been a major contributor to deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions.
With world population coming close to 10 billion by 2050, it is predicted that meat production, which has already tripled in the last 30 years, will double by 2050. Livestock farming has already taken up about 25% of the Earth’s land area, with 70% of farmlands used for rearing animals. Each passing minute lands about the size of seven football fields are cleared for the use of livestock production.
Every day an alarming number of plants and animals are lost to extinction. Researchers agree we are undergoing massive life extinction, the first mass extinction as a result of human explosive growth and voracious eating habits. Meat production has now become the biggest threat to animal life, as well as the ecosystem.
The animals used to meet our dietary demands account for 20% of the entire animal population. In the United States alone, animals raised for food are at about 10 billion; equivalent to 32 animals per person every year. On a per capita basis, Americans are the largest consumer of meat. A single individual consumes 203 pounds every year. And the unsustainable American diet is spreading globally.
If all Americans cut out meat from their meals for just one night, the emissions saved would equal the emissions that 40 million cars give off in a year. If Americans reduced their meat consumption by 30%, the greenhouse gas reduction would be equivalent to driving a car over 2,700 miles, and 340,667 gallons of water would be saved each year – per person.
Throughout the world, animal species like deer, elk and pronghorn are killed in huge numbers just to make room for providing more grazing land for cattle. Environmentally critical animals like beavers and prairie dogs are also killed in huge numbers because livestock managers consider them disruptive.
Public lands and funds are being hijacked. Over 175 endangered species are being threatened by livestock farming on American public lands alone, where livestock grazing is promoted and protected. 270 million acres of United States lands have been set aside for raising livestock on federal property. 80% of arable lands in the U.S. are already used for rearing of animals and farming. This is almost equivalent to the total land mass of the lower 48 states.
Over half of the grains grown in the country are used for feeding livestock, while more than 50% of water is used for livestock production. Government agencies, such as Wildlife Services, kill millions of animals each year to provide more grazing land for cows and animals raised on ranches.
“Predator control” programs, which are meant to provide protection to the livestock industry, have only succeeded in driving predator species into extinction. The livestock industry has become an obstacle to efforts of recovering endangered species. As the demand for meat continues to rise, livestock managers are increasing their production. Predators that are left with no other choice but to prey on livestock are killed.
Meat production has contributed immensely to raising the temperatures of the planet, which has in turn led to drought and food shortage. Research has shown that meat production has contributed up to 51% of greenhouse gas emissions caused by human activity. In the United States for instance, meat production has been responsible for 20% of the total methane produced by the country.
Livestock is responsible for 500 million tons of manure produced every year. These pollutants find their way into water bodies. Farm pollutants contaminate underground water, wetlands, rivers, lakes and oceans. A massive amount of antibiotics and pesticides used in the production of meat also pollutes the planet.
Cattle grazing wreaks havoc to vegetation and destroys the soil. Excessive grazing has destroyed many forests, caused erosion and stream sedimentation, and destroyed countless habitats.
Livestock grazing is one of the biggest threats to endangered species, affecting 14% of endangered animals and 33% of plants. Livestock grazing has wiped out large numbers of wildlife. Wildlife occupying public lands are the most threatened. Despite the huge amount of money it costs to graze livestock, governments still continue to sponsor it. Activities like vegetation destruction ruins the habitat and disrupts the natural balance of the ecosystem. In the end, endangered species are displaced because their homes have been taken away from them.
If you care about helping wildlife and protecting the planet, the most effective action you can take is to reduce or eliminate the amount of meat you consume. A plant based diet will go a long way in sustaining the ecosystem.
Each year, orcas leap through the air for a handful of fish, and dolphins are ridden by human performers as if they were water skis. Employees at marine parks like to tell audiences that the animals wouldn't perform if they weren't happy. You can even see how content the dolphins are--just look at the permanent smiles on their faces, right? But what most visitors to marine parks don't realize is that hidden behind the dolphin's "smile" is an industry built on suffering.
FAMILIES TORN APART
Killer whales, or orcas, are members of the dolphin family. They are also the largest animals held in captivity. In the wild, orcas stay with their mothers for life. Family groups, or "pods," consist of a mother, her adult sons and daughters, and the offspring of her daughters. Each member of the pod communicates in a "dialect" specific to that pod. Dolphins swim together in family pods of three to 10 individuals or tribes of hundreds. Imagine, then, the trauma inflicted on these social animals when they are ripped from their families and put in the strange, artificial world of a marine park.
Capturing even one wild orca or dolphin disrupts the entire pod. To obtain a female dolphin of breeding age, for example, boats are used to chase the pod to shallow waters. The dolphins are surrounded with nets that are gradually closed and lifted into the boats. Unwanted dolphins are thrown back. Some die from the shock of their experience. Others slowly succumb to pneumonia caused by water entering their lungs through their blowholes. Pregnant females may spontaneously abort babies.
Orcas and dolphins who survive this ordeal become frantic upon seeing their captured companions and may even try to save them. When Namu, a wild orca captured off the coast of Canada, was towed to the Seattle Public Aquarium in a steel cage, a group of wild orcas followed for miles.
ADAPTING TO AN ALIEN WORLD
In the wild, orcas and dolphins may swim up to 100 miles a day. But captured dolphins are confined to tanks as small as 24 feet by 24 feet wide and 6 feet deep. Wild orcas and dolphins can stay underwater for up to 30 minutes at a time, and they typically spend only 10 to 20 percent of their time at the water's surface. But because the tanks in marine parks are so shallow, captive orcas and dolphins spend more than half of their time at the surface. Experts believe this may account for the collapsed dorsal fins seen on the majority of captive orcas.
Dolphins navigate by echolocation. They bounce sonar waves off other objects to determine shape, density, distance, and location. In tanks, the reverberations from their own sonar bouncing off walls drives some dolphins insane. Jean-Michel Cousteau believes that for captive dolphins, "their world becomes a maze of meaningless reverberations."
Tanks are kept clean with chlorine, copper sulfate, and other harsh chemicals that irritate dolphins' eyes, causing many to swim with their eyes closed. Former dolphin trainer Ric O'Barry, who trained dolphins for the television show "Flipper," believes excessive chlorine has caused some dolphins to go blind. The United States Department of Agriculture closed Florida's Ocean World after determining that over-chlorinated water was causing dolphins' skin to peel off.
Newly captured dolphins and orcas are also forced to learn tricks. Former trainers say that withholding food and isolating animals who refuse to perform are two common training methods. According to Ric O'Barry, "positive reward" training is a euphemism for food deprivation. Marine parks may withhold up to 60 percent of food before shows so that the animals will be "sharp" for performances. Former dolphin trainer Doug Cartlidge maintains that highly social dolphins are punished by being isolated from other animals: "You put them in a pen and ignore them. It's like psychological torture." It's little wonder, then, that captive orcas and dolphins are, as O'Barry says, "so stressed-out you wouldn't believe it." The stress is so great that some commit suicide. Jacques Cousteau and his son, Jean-Michel, vowed never to capture marine mammals again after witnessing one captured dolphin kill himself by deliberately crashing into the side of his tank again and again.
If life for captive orcas and dolphins is as tranquil as marine parks would have us believe, the animals should live longer than their wild counterparts. After all, captive marine mammals are not subject to predators and ocean pollution. But captivity is a death sentence for orcas and dolphins.
In the wild, dolphins can live to be 25 to 50 years old. Male orcas live between 50 and 60 years, females between 80 and 90 years. But orcas at Sea World and other marine parks rarely survive more than 10 years in captivity. More than half of all dolphins die within the first two years of captivity; the remaining dolphins live an average of only six years. One Canadian research team found that captivity shortens an orca's life by as much as 43 years, and a dolphin's life by up to 15 years.
Sea World, which owns most of the captive orcas and dolphins in the United States, has one of the worst histories of caring for its animals. After Sea World purchased and closed Marineland, a Southern California competitor, it shipped the Marineland animals to various Sea World facilities. Within a year, 12 of them--5 dolphins, 5 sea lions, and 2 seals--were dead. The following year, Orky, a Marineland orca said to be the "world's most famous killer whale," also died. Because of such high mortality rates and because captive breeding programs have been highly unsuccessful, marine parks continue to capture orcas and dolphins from the wild.
Captive animals are not the only victims of these "circuses of the sea." Sea World patrons were stunned when two orcas repeatedly dragged trainer Jonathan Smith to the bottom of their tank, in an apparent attempt to drown him. Trainer Keltie Lee Byrne was killed by three Sea Land orcas after she fell into the water with them.
Marine parks have shown no more interest in conserving marine mammals' natural habitats than they have in educating audiences. In fact, the industry has actively lobbied to keep small cetaceans, such as orcas and dolphins, outside the jurisdiction of the International Whaling Commission (even though this would help protect these animals in the wild) because they don't want to risk not being able to capture additional animals in the future.
TURNING THE TIDE
Increasingly, people around the world are recognizing that dolphins, orcas, and other cetaceans do not belong in captivity. Canada no longer allows beluga whales to be captured and exported. In Brazil, it is illegal to use marine mammals for entertainment. In England, consumer boycotts have forced all the marine parks to close. Israel has prohibited the importation of dolphins for use in marine parks, South Carolina has banned all exhibits of whales and dolphins, and other states are currently working on legislation to prohibit the capture or restrict the display of marine mammals.
Richard Donner, coproducer of the film "Free Willy," has joined a growing number of people in calling for an end to the marine mammal trade. Says Donner, "Removal of these majestic mammals from the wild for commercial purposes is obscene....These horrendous captures absolutely must become a thing of the past."
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Boycott all forms of animal entertainment.
Contact your local, state and federal officials and encourage them to ban marine mammal parks.
Making smarter food choices at the grocery store helps the planet and it animals and is important for a healthier diet. Avoiding processed foods and factory farmed products dramatically reduces your contribution to environmental destruction and animal exploitation, while improving your health.
Follow these tips to make smart and healthy food choices:
Shopping for Fruits & Vegetables:
- Choose a variety of fruits and veggies for a colorful plate!
- Buy fresh, organic fruits and veggies.
- Can’t buy fresh? Try frozen! Frozen vegetables are picked at the height of freshness, and the freezing process locks in their nutrients.
- Buying canned? Go for organic fruit in 100% fruit juice, and low sodium, organic veggies.
Try This: Check out your local farmer’s market for fresh, seasonal produce.
Shopping for Grains:
- When shopping for breads, cereals, and pastas, choose options that list one of the following as the first ingredient: brown rice, whole oats, whole rye, or whole wheat.
- Limit or eliminate refined grains like white bread, white rice, and “plain” pasta.
- Buy organic whenever possible.
- Try to get all the grains in your shopping cart to be whole grains.
Try This: Try a whole grain you’ve never tried before—like brown rice or quinoa. Then mix it up by tossing in some fresh, colorful veggies and herbs.
Shopping for Non-Dairy:
- Choose soy, rice, almond, coconut or hemp milk.
- Buy vegan cheese or go without. Most recipes that call for cheese can be made without it or the cheese can be substituted.
- When buying “no fat” products, watch out for added sugars, which might mean more calories, and worse calories, than you think.
- Flavored non-dairy milk and beverages may also contain added sugars, which may mean more calories, and worse calories, than you think.
Animal acts and exhibits run a deplorable gamut. They include diving horses at theme parks, dancing chimpanzees, caged bears at an ice cream stand, piano-playing chickens, caged parrots in hotel lobbies, cats forced through flaming hoops, and giant turtles forced to give children rides.
Animals used in these spectacles are often subjected to abuse in order to provide "entertainment" to patrons. Even under the best of circumstances, captivity can be hell for animals meant to roam free. Kept in small, barren cages, forced to sleep on concrete slabs, and imprisoned behind iron bars, performing animals often suffer from malnutrition, loneliness, the denial of all normal pleasures and behaviors, loss of freedom and independence, even lack of veterinary care, and filthy quarters. Attracting customers is the first consideration and the animals' welfare is often the last. Even when the mere display of the animals themselves is the "draw," the animals rarely receive proper care--and almost never the socialization and stimulation they crave.
Animals used for entertainment are subjected to rigorous and abusive training methods to force them to perform stressful, confusing, uncomfortable, and even painful acts; training methods can include beatings, the use of electric prods, food deprivation, drugging and surgically removing or impairing teeth and claws.
Confined to tiny cages and gawked at by crowds, animals in exhibits and acts endure constant stress. They may suffer from temperature extremes and irregular feeding and watering. Without exercise, they become listless, their immune systems are weakened, and they become prone to sickness; many resort to self-mutilation in reaction to stress or boredom. Mental illness is rampant among confined animals. Torn from their families and deprived of all dignity, every part of their lives is controlled by their captors.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Refrain from patronizing animal entertainment businesses. Educate others on the issue and encourage them to boycott the industry. Urge your local government to ban animal entertainment in your community.
Many people enjoy walking as a recreation, and it is one of the best forms of exercise. One of the many benefits of walking is the time spent enjoying nature. Spending time outside is important for the body, mind and soul.
Get outside and enjoy nearby parks, green spaces, nature preserves and communities...all while improving your health.
Regular, brisk exercise of any kind can improve confidence, stamina, energy, weight control, life expectancy and reduce stress. It can also reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, strokes, diabetes, high blood pressure, bowel cancer and osteoporosis.
Scientific studies have also shown that walking, besides its physical benefits, is also beneficial for the mind, improving memory skills, learning ability, concentration and abstract reasoning, as well as reducing stress and lifting spirits.
Sustained walking sessions for a minimum period of thirty to sixty minutes a day, five days a week, reduce health risks and have various overall health benefits, such as reducing the chances of cancer, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, anxiety and depression. Life expectancy is also increased even for individuals suffering from obesity or high blood pressure.
Walking also improves bone health, especially strengthening the hip bone. It lowers the more harmful low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, while raising the more useful good high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.
Studies have found that walking may also help prevent dementia and Alzheimer's.
Are you determined to help the earth and animals by starting a nonprofit organization? To start a nonprofit you'll need a unique idea that distinguishes your group from similar organizations, a carefully-drafted plan of action, and the passion to keep working toward your goals even when times get tough.
CHOOSE YOUR CAUSE
What animals or ecosystems will benefit from your nonprofit, and in what way are you planning on helping them? This question may seem obvious, but it's worth taking the time to consider it deeply. Start out on the right foot by having a strong purpose and goals that are distinct from those of other nonprofits in your community. Your nonprofit should work for the common good with a specific purpose in mind. For example, your purpose could be to create a cleaner environment for the people and wildlife in your community by establishing programs to clean up the rivers and streams. It's important that the purpose of your organization doesn't overlap too much with the work being done by other organizations. If a similar program has already been established by someone else, you may be able to better accomplish your goals by collaborating with an existing nonprofit. You should also keep in mind that there are millions of nonprofits and limited grant and donor funds to go around, so you'll need to establish yourself as filling a niche that isn't being filled by anyone else.
WRITE A MISSION STATEMENT
Once you have a purpose in mind, craft a clear, timeless, decisive mission statement that will serve as your guide during the entire process of creating your nonprofit and executing your goals. Your mission statement will be a way of clarifying your purpose for yourself as well as advertising your organization to the rest of the world. Keep it broad if you're dreaming big. You may not know exactly where your nonprofit journey will take you; like all organizations, yours will have to react to the changing times and the needs of animals and the environment. Write something more specific if you have a concrete plan in mind. If you're starting a nonprofit to fill a need that's immediately apparent in your community, you might want to write a more focused statement.
CHOOSE A NAME
Come up with a name. Pick out a name that is easy to remember, interesting and gives a clear picture of what your organization is all about. It's also important that your name be unique, since it's illegal to incorporate under a name that is already in use. Contact your state's Secretary of State's office to find out whether the name has already been taken. If it has, you'll need to come up with something else. Don't use a name that's too long or wordy. It will be more difficult for people to remember. Try to choose a name that isn't too mysterious and isn't too similar to another nonprofit's name. You want to state your mission clearly so that people understand your mission and can connect with you easily. When you settle on a name that no one else has, reserve it with the Secretary of State's office.
PICK A LEGAL STRUCTURE
Decide what legal structure your nonprofit will have. Nonprofit organizations fall into different legal categories. The category you choose will determine what sort of actions your organization may perform, how you can get funding, whether your organization has to pay taxes, and whether those who donate to your organization will receive tax exemptions. Nonprofits with 501(C)(3) status do nonpartisan work for the public good, and are exempt from paying taxes. Examples include churches, groups that work to educate the public on animal issues, many environmental organizations, groups working to end animal cruelty and countless other organizations working on issues that benefit the community as a whole by helping in specific ways. Nonprofits with 501 (C) (4) status also work for the common good, but they commonly focus on partisan political issues and may back a specific party or candidate. Money spent on political activities is taxable. These are the most popular classifications for nonprofits, but there are many others. Look into further specific nonprofit classifications that may be appropriate for the type of organization you want to start.
Write and file articles of incorporation. These are official statements that include your organization's name, purpose and a mission statement. They protect the director and board from legal liabilities, placing the liability to the organization instead. Your state's Attorney General's office or Secretary of State's office has the specific information you need to file articles of incorporation in your state. At this point it is often a good idea to hire an attorney to help you write the articles of incorporation correctly and make sure they are filed according to your state's laws. Once your articles of incorporation are filed (with a filing fee), you'll receive a Certificate of Incorporation from your state. At that point you will need to follow your state laws to keep your papers updated in the years to come.
Draft corporate bylaws. These serve as a rule book of sorts for your organization, and must be written according to state law. Again, it is advisable to have an attorney help you draft the bylaws to make sure they're written correctly. The bylaws may be amended as your organization changes over the years. The document should cover the following material:
Membership. Write whether your organization will have members, requirements of membership, whether member meetings will held, and what role the members will play.
Board of directors. Write how many people you'll elect to the board, what election process will be used, when meetings will be held, how long the terms will last, what constitutes grounds for removal, what responsibilities board members have, etc.
Fiscal management. Write out the details of the responsibilities of financial officers, compensation, dues, etc.
FORM A BOARD
Form a Board of Directors and have a meeting to vote on the bylaws. Making sure to follow your state laws, identify people who will help you accomplish your goals as an organization to serve on your Board of Directors. These should be qualified people who support your goals and are willing to come to meetings and take their role seriously. Once you've selected board members (usually between 3 and 7), hold a meeting to vote on the bylaws. Select a diverse group of people with a range of perspectives to keep your organization strong.
CREATE A BUSINESS PLAN
Determine where your organization will get its primary funding and how the money will be used to pursue the goals you have laid out. Make a budget for various programs, events and activities you intend to fund. Include employee compensation as part of your budget. Take grants, donations, state and federal contracts, and other types of funding into account when you create your business plan. Having a solid business plan and budget is mandatory when you apply for tax-exempt status, so it's best to have an attorney look it over to make sure it contains all the necessary information.
APPLY FOR A FEDERAL EMPLOYER IDENTIFICATION NUMBER
All nonprofits must get an employer identification number (EIN), also referred to as the federal ID number, which is used to identify the organization for tax purposes. Apply using your corporate name.
OBTAIN TAX-EXEMPT STATUS
Determine which forms you need to fill out to apply to the IRS for tax-exempt status. Not all organizations are eligible for the same exemptions, so consult with your attorney to determine which forms to fill out and what additional information you'll need to submit. You'll be expected to send in your financial plan and budget as well as a filing fee.
HIRE A TEAM
Like any organization, the success or failure of a nonprofit is determined by the strengths and weaknesses of the individuals who fill important roles. Do a thorough hiring search to find the best candidates for the particular jobs that need to be done for your organization to run smoothly. Having a smart, dedicated bookkeeper is essential; find someone who will keep your finances on track and be up front when problems arise. Find a determined development director to take charge of your fundraising efforts. In the early stages, you might not have the funds to actually hire employees. You'll probably find yourself doing the work of 3 or 4 people, but you can enlist volunteers, interns and part-time employees to help your organization get on its feet.
GET TO KNOW THE LEADERS IN YOUR COMMUNITY
To become a respected resource in your community, it's important to get to know the movers and shakers who can advocate your work and potentially help you get funding to stay afloat. Participate in community events. Go to Town Hall meetings, show up at rallies put on by other nonprofits, attend benefits and fundraisers, and generally be visible at the important meetings in your community. Form coalitions with other nonprofits. Partnering with community leaders to put on events is an excellent way to make your presence known and do great work all at once.
MARKET YOUR ORGANIZATION
Create a good website, have an active Facebook and Twitter account, advertise in local newspapers, put up signs around town, and generally go all out to promote your organization. If you're doing important work, people will want to hear about it and find a way to get involved...so the more you get the word out, the better. Try to get media attention. Local reporters are always looking for an interesting new story to cover. Email or call the newspaper or news station in your area to let them know about an event you're putting on. If you want to spread awareness about a certain issue (and promote your organization at the same time), write an editorial for the newspaper or call the local radio station to pitch yourself for an interview. Send out email blasts to members and people who signed up for your email list. Keep people informed about events, ways to help out, and important issues relevant to your cause. This is also a chance to ask people to donate to your organization.
Find ways to raise money. Much of the work of a nonprofit lies in meticulously documenting your goals and your progress toward them, then presenting this information to potential donors or in the form of grant applications in hopes that people will offer financial support. The energy you bring to fundraising and grant writing will pay off in spades, so don't shirk in this area. Hire a grant writer (or ask a talented volunteer) to research and apply for as many grants as possible. Seek out grants that are geared toward the type of work your organization does. Have fundraising events. While they take a lot of work, fundraising events can help establish your organization as a community leader. Host a documentary screening, a benefit concert, a bingo night, a breakfast, a river cleanup day, or other fun community events to raise money.
KEEP YOUR GOALS IN SIGHT
Remember your mission statement, and let the passion that inspired you to start a nonprofit continue to guide you as you make decisions concerning hiring, fundraising, forming coalitions and all of the other issues that will cross your path as director of an organization. Making steady progress toward your goals is fulfilling on a personal level, but it's also absolutely necessary for the health of your organization.
Performing captive wildlife -- elephants, lions, tigers, bears, baboons, monkeys, camels, llamas -- all endure years of physical and psychological pain and suffering in traveling acts to "entertain" an uninformed audience.
Animals used in the circus and other traveling acts travel thousands of miles each year without water, in railroad cars or trucks not air conditioned in summer or heated in winter. Elephants are forced to stand in their own waste, chained in place for up to 100 hours while being transported from one performance to another. These performing animals do not receive the proper care, nutrition and environmental enrichment required for their well-being.
Elephants suffer terribly while being used for human "entertainment." Elephants have three basic needs -- live vegetation for food, family relationships, and freedom of movement -- all of which are denied in the circus setting. In captivity, baby elephants are wrenched from their mother at one year of age and are trained with abusive domineering methods. Perhaps as the result of the ongoing stress and abuse they endure, there have been dozens of premature deaths of elephants used in the circus.
Compare the existence of captive elephants to those left in the wild. Elephants in the wild live as long as 70 years. Wild elephants live in herds and have a large extended family with strong social bonds. Baby elephants stay very close to their mothers for the first three years of their lives, and the females remain with their extended families throughout their lifetime. They roam up to 25 miles a day foraging for food and water. They take dust baths and find comfort during hot weather by wading in water and standing in the shade.
Large exotic cats used in the circus don't fare any better. In the wild, large cats roam for miles each day; they hunt for food, sleep in the sun and lead a fairly solitary existence. Exotic cats used in the circus are allowed none of these behaviors. They live and travel in small cages in close confinement with other cats. They have little room to move around and are never provided with any environmental enrichment.
Elephant training is almost always based on fear and intimidation; trainers must break the spirit of these magnificent animals in order to control them. It is not uncommon for an elephant to be tied down and beaten for days at a time while being trained to "perform." During their training and throughout their lives in captivity elephants are beaten with clubs, shocked with electric prods, stabbed with sharp (ankus) hooks and whipped.
Cats used in the circus are also trained by inherently cruel and dominating methods to force them to perform tricks that are unnatural and undignified. Exotic cats are often whipped, choked and beaten during their training sessions. To force a cat, such as a tiger, to stand on her hind legs, her front paws are often burned with cigarette lighters. To make the cats used in the circus run "enthusiastically" into the circus arena, they are often prodded with pipes or frightened by loud noises to make them appear excited to perform.
It is no wonder that out of frustration and rage elephants used in circuses have been responsible for over 40 human deaths worldwide since 1990. Denied their natural behaviors, and stressed by being kept in close quarters and being forced to constantly perform inane tricks, captive cats also strike back against those responsible for their confinement. There have been more than 75 documented human attacks by felines since 1990.
No traveling animal act, regardless of size or appearance, is capable of handling exotic wildlife in a humane manner. Federal USDA inspection records of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus show more than 100 instances of substandard animal keeping between 1992 and 1997 alone. Although such a record of non-compliant items is not rare, citations are seldom issued. Each year only approximately a dozen of the 2,000+ licensed animal exhibitors in the U.S. are cited, and just one or two may have their license suspended or revoked by the USDA. Fines are frequently suspended.
Despite poor enforcement of animal welfare laws to protect animals in circuses, hope is on the horizon. A movement is underway to restrict or ban traveling animal acts at the local and state level. Traveling acts using animals have been banned in a number of cities in Australia and Canada. Several towns in the U.S. have prohibited animal acts and a few large cities are considering bans. Bills restricting circuses have been introduced in several state legislatures in recent years, and legislation was introduced in Congress to prohibit the use of elephants in circuses and for rides.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Do not patronize any form of entertainment that uses animals. Tell your friends and family to boycott all animal circuses and other animal acts. Instead, support one of the growing number of circuses that do not use animals. Do not allow elephant rides or other animal acts to be used for fundraising purposes in your community. Contact the event sponsors and urge them to promote humane, animal-free circuses instead. Support legislation to protect captive exotic animals.
If you witness animal cruelty at an event, document it in writing and/or with photographs or videotape and report it to your local humane society and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA): USDA Animal Care, 4700 River Road, Unit 84, Riverdale, MD 20737-1234, Phone: 301-734-4981 Fax 301-734-4978.
Environmentalism is an integration of the ideology and philosophy of protecting the health of the environment and the social movement resulting from it. Issues such as conservation, preservation, ecosystem restoration, and improvement of the natural environment are foremost on the agenda of environmentalists. Concerns and threats involving the Earth's biodiversity and ecology feature at the top of the list.
To be an environmentalist, follow the simple steps given below.
1. Choose Your Cause
Discover what you are passionate about and do some research. There are a variety of environmental issues that will pique your interest. Protection of endangered species, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, avoiding wastage of natural resources, restoration of age-old landscapes, protecting forests, and encouraging recycling are some of the causes environmentalists support. Learning about environmental issues in your own locality, and taking a part in solving them, is a good way to get involved.
2. Use Your Talents
Take measure of your talents. Are you an extrovert and like to communicate verbally with people? Are you introverted and more inclined towards writing than to speaking? Do you like to communicate and spread your thoughts in words through correspondences? Are you someone who likes being out in nature? Can you play an instrument, sing, bake, paint or juggle? Your unique talents can contribute to bringing attention to, and raising funds for, environmental efforts. Consider getting involved in events, fundraisers and campaigns for conservation issues.
3. Educate Yourself, Then Educate Others
Get yourself acquainted with how the Earth works and how human activities are affecting it. To make sense out of the multitude of environmental issues and the science behind it, read magazines, books and articles, watch documentaries, and browse websites relating to nature. Share what you learn with family, friends, coworkers and associates. Use social media to spread the word on environmental issues.
4. Get Connected
Get in touch with other like-minded people or experts in the field. Getting connected with people, especially experts on the environment, is an important step on the way to becoming an environmentalist. Conduct searches on the web for people and organizations who share your thoughts and concerns. Join organizations, groups, websites and social media channels that promote your cause – or create your own. Learn from the experts and help make a bigger impact by joining forces with other people, groups and nonprofits who share your passion for environmentalism.
5. Clean Up Litter
Pick up litter wherever you go and whenever you can. Litter not only dirties roads, parks and public spaces, it also pollutes the environment. It harms wildlife that comes into contact with it. You can pickup litter on your own in your spare time, or join or organize groups to clean up large areas.
6. Go Outside
Visit places like wildlife sanctuaries, nature preserves, and parks. Support their efforts. Volunteer. Enjoy the natural beauty of these places, observe animals and their behavior, and encourage others to do the same. Communicate to people in your social circles why these protected places are important.
7. Go Native
Grow native plants in your backyard. Invasive species wreak havoc on ecosystems. Native plants are better adapted to the area where you live and need minimum caring. They are less vulnerable to pests and will benefit birds, insects and other wildlife endemic to your locality.
8. Plant Trees
The more trees you plant the more you help the environment. Trees absorb harmful CO2, prevent their emission and alleviate global warming. They provide food and shelter for wild animals. Plant trees on your property, and help plant trees in your community.
9. Go Organic
Consuming organic food and using organic gardening methods contributes towards a safer, healthier environment. Minimizing the use of pesticides and fertilizers stimulates beneficial soil organisms and results in less polluted waste-water flowing out of your garden. Moreover, it creates a much healthier environment for wildlife, your children and your companion animals.
10. Go Green
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rethink. Reduce the amount of materials you use, which reduces the amount of waste you create. Reuse materials when possible. Recycle whenever possible. Rethink the materials you use and those you throw away. By thinking about what we're using and how to reduce the wast we produce, we can help create a cleaner, healthier environment.
11. Go Without
Cut back your consumption. Water, food and air are consumed to support life. But we also consume much more than essentials, and far more than we should. There seems to be no end to the list of items and services we can’t live without. We must rethink what consumption is, and do our best to reduce it. The planet is being destroyed by the way societies function right now. It’s not just about recycling anymore; it’s about how to stop feeding the cycle altogether.
12. Eat More Veggies
Animal agriculture emits more greenhouse gases than aircrafts, automobiles and trains combined. Forests are being cleared at alarming rates to feed grains to livestock that could feed the entire human race. Less trees means less impediments to CO2 being released into the air and thus more pollution. Animal waste is producing massive amounts of toxic levels of methane and ammonia, which leads to climate change as well as acid rain. Animal agriculture is also destroying our waterways and using up our valuable water supplies. Hormones, antibiotics, pesticides, fertilizers and other chemicals run off into rivers, lakes, streams and our drinkable water. These practices cause dead zones in the oceans, rivers and lakes. Animal farming is the leading cause of the catastrophic reduction of critical wildlife habitat, and the problem is escalating at a disturbing pace. Meat production is slated to double in another four decades. Remove or reduce meat, dairy and eggs from your diet.
A plant-based diet is the most dramatic lifestyle change you can make to help save the planet and its animals. It also provides a wealth of health benefits. People who eat more vegetables and fruits as part of an overall healthy diet are likely to have a reduced risk of some chronic diseases. Vegetables provide nutrients vital for health and maintenance of your body.
Most vegetables are naturally low in fat and calories. None have cholesterol. (Sauces or seasonings may add fat, calories, and/or cholesterol.)
Vegetables are important sources of many nutrients, including potassium, dietary fiber, folate (folic acid), vitamin A, and vitamin C.
Diets rich in potassium may help to maintain healthy blood pressure. Vegetable sources of potassium include sweet potatoes, white potatoes, white beans, tomato products (paste, sauce, and juice), beet greens, soybeans, lima beans, spinach, lentils, and kidney beans.
Dietary fiber from vegetables helps reduce blood cholesterol levels and may lower risk of heart disease. Fiber is important for proper bowel function. It helps reduce constipation and diverticulosis. Fiber-containing foods such as vegetables help provide a feeling of fullness with fewer calories.
Folate (folic acid) helps the body form red blood cells. Women of childbearing age who may become pregnant should consume adequate folate from foods, and in addition 400 mcg of synthetic folic acid from fortified foods or supplements. This reduces the risk of neural tube defects, spina bifida, and anencephaly during fetal development.
Vitamin A keeps eyes and skin healthy and helps to protect against infections.
Vitamin C helps heal cuts and wounds and keeps teeth and gums healthy. Vitamin C aids in iron absorption.
Eating a diet rich in vegetables and fruits may reduce risk for heart disease, including heart attack and stroke.
Eating a diet rich in vegetables and fruits may protect against certain types of cancers.
Diets rich in foods containing fiber, such as some vegetables and fruits, may reduce the risk of heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.
Eating vegetables and fruits rich in potassium may lower blood pressure, and may also reduce the risk of developing kidney stones and help to decrease bone loss.
Eating foods such as vegetables that are lower in calories per cup instead of some other higher-calorie food may be useful in helping to lower calorie intake.
Tips To Help You Eat Vegetables
Buy fresh vegetables in season. They cost less and are likely to be at their peak flavor.
Stock up on frozen vegetables for quick and easy cooking.
Buy vegetables that are easy to prepare. Pick up pre-washed bags of salad greens and add baby carrots or grape tomatoes for a salad in minutes. Buy packages of veggies such as baby carrots or celery sticks for quick snacks.
Use a microwave to quickly “zap” vegetables. White or sweet potatoes can be baked quickly this way.
Vary your veggie choices to keep meals interesting.
Try crunchy vegetables, raw or lightly steamed.
For The Best Nutritional Value
Select vegetables with more potassium often, such as sweet potatoes, white potatoes, white beans, tomato products (paste, sauce, and juice), beet greens, soybeans, lima beans, spinach, lentils, and kidney beans.
Sauces or seasonings can add calories, saturated fat, and sodium to vegetables. Use the Nutrition Facts label to compare the calories and % Daily Value for saturated fat and sodium in plain and seasoned vegetables.
Prepare more foods from fresh ingredients to lower sodium intake. Most sodium in the food supply comes from packaged or processed foods.
Buy canned vegetables labeled "reduced sodium," "low sodium," or "no salt added." If you want to add a little salt it will likely be less than the amount in the regular canned product.
Plan meals around a vegetable main dish, such as a vegetable stir-fry or soup.
Try a main dish salad for lunch. Go light on the salad dressing.
Include a green salad with your dinner every night.
Shred carrots or zucchini into casseroles, quick breads, and muffins.
Include chopped vegetables in pasta sauce.
Order a vegan pizza with toppings like mushrooms, green peppers, and onions, and ask for extra veggies.
Use pureed, cooked vegetables such as potatoes to thicken soups and gravies. These add flavor, nutrients, and texture.
Grill vegetable kabobs. Try tomatoes, mushrooms, green peppers, and onions.
Make Vegetables More Appealing
Many vegetables taste great with a dip or dressing. Try a low-fat, low-sugar salad dressing with raw broccoli, red and green peppers, celery sticks or cauliflower.
Add color to salads by adding baby carrots, shredded red cabbage, or spinach leaves. Include in-season vegetables for variety through the year.
Include beans or peas in flavorful mixed dishes and salads.
Decorate plates or serving dishes with vegetable slices.
Keep a bowl of cut-up vegetables in a see-through container in the refrigerator. Carrot and celery sticks are traditional, but consider red or green pepper strips, broccoli florets, or cucumber slices.
Vegetable Tips For Children
Set a good example for children by eating vegetables with meals and as snacks.
Let children decide on the dinner vegetables or what goes into salads.
Depending on their age, children can help shop for, clean, peel, or cut up vegetables.
Allow children to pick a new vegetable to try while shopping.
Use cut-up vegetables as part of afternoon snacks.
Children often prefer foods served separately. So, rather than mixed vegetables try serving two vegetables separately.
Keep It Safe
Rinse vegetables before preparing or eating them. Under clean, running water, rub vegetables briskly with your hands to remove dirt and surface microorganisms. Dry with a clean cloth towel or paper towel after rinsing.
If you've tabled enough to build up an e-mail list or social media following of 100 or more people, you may want to hold a public meeting. There are several good reasons to hold a meeting: to form a local group, to show an animal or environmental film, or to have a speaker urge people to take action on a particular issue. Be sure you're clear about the purpose of your meeting, as this affects how you plan it.
SETTING THE DATE
If you are inviting a speaker, first call and find out when he or she is available. If you intend to show a film or video, find out when you can get it and what equipment you'll need to show it. These factors will determine the date of your meeting. Before you finalize the date, call the parks and recreation department, chamber of commerce and area schools to make sure your meeting doesn't conflict with any major sporting events or local community gatherings. Give yourself at least six weeks to get ready.
FINDING THE RIGHT SPOT
Most cities have rooms or auditoriums in libraries, community centers or government office buildings that local groups can use free of charge. Try calling the "facilities management" office of the city or county government, or the mayor's office. Universities have excellent facilities, including auditoriums, that students and faculty members can often use free of charge.
Send in any required permit applications as early as possible. It could take several weeks to get an application approved, especially if it has to be submitted to a monthly town council meeting. If you are denied a permit, politely ask exactly why, then try to enlist a lawyer to call and appeal the denial. If you can't find lawyers who will volunteer their services, call the nearest office of the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union). They may be able to help.
If you can't find a government or library room, try renting a room from a church, the YMCA, an event center or a school. In any case, go and see the room first. It's better to have a room that's a little too small. A crowded room will make the meeting seem more successful than a large, half-empty room.
PUBLICIZING THE EVENT
Once you've got the date, place, topic and speaker chosen, you're ready to publicize your meeting. Here are some ways to do it:
Distribute and post flyers.
Create social media event pages.
E-mail details to the people on your contact list.
Make a public service announcement over the radio or on TV.
Get a newspaper listing in the "event" or "calendar" section.
Send a news release to local newspapers.
Most radio stations feature a community bulletin board to air free announcements of local events (called public service announcements or PSAs). You'll have to call each station to find out its policy and time limit (usually 20 seconds) for these announcements; they sometimes require a typewritten or e-mail notice up to a month in advance. Local TV stations are also worth checking for free announcements.
Newspapers often offer free services to publicize community group events. Try both the established publications and the small, local papers. Once again, you may need to send a written or e-mail notice a few weeks ahead of time.
Get others involved to help post flyers, make some telephone calls, spread the word on social media or help you set up the meeting.
If your speaker is willing, try to schedule talk shows or newspaper interviews while he or she is in town.
CONDUCTING THE MEETING
Most of us are nervous on the day we're doing something special or new. While you may not be able to avoid being anxious, you can eliminate some worry (and maybe avert some misery) if you are well prepared.
A few days before the meeting: Call your speaker to confirm the date and time he or she is expected. Find out how the speaker would like to be introduced, and take a few minutes to write and practice the introduction. Confirm your room rental. Make sure your equipment is reserved and that you have adequate extension cords to hook up the equipment.
The day of your meeting: Arrive at the room at least an hour ahead of time. Set up the equipment you'll be using and make sure it works. Lay out literature on a table in the back of the room, and arrange chairs near the front of the room.
As people arrive: Be at the door to greet people. Circulate a signup sheet, but remove it when the meeting is ready to start.
Introduce the speaker to start the meeting and thank him or her at the end of the meeting. Ask people if they've added their names to the signup sheet, and thank them for coming to your meeting. Urge them to get involved. Give them something specific to do: write a letter, make a telephone call, share your social media pages, or hand out leaflets. Always end on an upbeat note.
A few days later, send a short thank-you to your speaker; you may want to invite him or her again.
Send a follow-up message suggesting specific actions to people who attended the meeting, and be sure to add any new contacts to your mailing list. Post photos and videos of the event on public media.
The best way to persuade others to adopt humane and responsible lifestyles is to set a good example. Think realistically about how you're going to fit environmental and animal activism into your life. You may have a full-time job and may have to juggle time with family and friends. Can you re-plan your schedule or transfer some duties to a coworker, spouse, or someone else to allow yourself time to focus on animal and environmental activities? Maybe you can incorporate some animal and environmental work into the church, office, family or political activities you're already involved in. You do not want to overextend yourself in a blaze of glory, only to burn out in six months. Think carefully about how you're going to schedule activism into your daily routine so that it will become a part of your life and not an intrusion.
PICK YOUR PASSION
Figure out what earth and animal issue(s) you are most passionate about. Passion often comes from a sudden realization that changes your life forever. Once the realization hits you, it is what will stoke the embers of your earth and animal activism, even at the lowest points when you sometimes feel like giving up. Once you are aware of something in the world that you believe needs changed, that awareness will motivate you constantly and cause you to see the need everywhere, bringing a sense of responsibility with it.
As you read and learn more about animal and environmental issues, start choosing the ones that mean the most to you. The issues are so widespread you cannot possibly address all of them. You can focus on projects that will help the greatest number of animals, such as those involving animals used in laboratories or saving the animals of the rainforests, or that will help change the fundamental attitudes of large numbers of people. Or you can focus on specific issues or animal cruelty cases.
You do not need to "know it all" to start getting active, but before you can educate others effectively you need to know some basic facts. Visit your local library and bookstores for books and videos on the issues that interest you, and research your issues online. Become familiar with the people and facilities in your area. You'll want to be able to make ethical recommendations to people who may come to you with questions in the future. As you compile facts, resources, and other materials, keep your information organized. File important or useful information according to the issues they concern. Keep the names and addresses of good veterinarians, shelters, low-cost spay/neuter programs and wildlife rescue services for easy reference.
Research existing efforts. Your chosen cause likely already has action taking place at the local, regional, national or international level. Find out what activism is already taking place, and where you fit in. See if you can liaise with existing efforts and consider how you will join in or bolster existing efforts independently. Ask yourself these questions: Do you want to volunteer with or join the board of an existing group? Do you want to find a paid job with an earth or animal activist organization? If you're working at the local level, does a national organization have resources you can use? Where you find no existing efforts, avoid seeing this as a mammoth task of insurmountable proportions. Instead, break it down into small pieces. Aim to get other like-minded people on board. This is easier now than ever before with modern communication tools such as the internet.
Also educate yourself about activism. One of the most inspiring and helpful means for getting more deeply involved in activism is to read broadly in the field of activism. In particular, seek out books written by prominent activists who share wisdom derived from personal experience. Then, read widely within the cause itself, to both understand the issues clearly and to learn about the tactics, ideas, experiences, wins and losses and other useful information from those who have already been active in this cause.
The point of environmental and animal activism is to educate, raise awareness and make people passionate about an issue. Though you can do some of this on your own, especially through the internet, the news media is an invaluable tool when used well. Get in touch with folks who know how to craft press releases, write an editorial and contact the press.
Know the legislative, administrative and judicial processes of your country and/or region. Research your city, county and state environmental and animal laws. Knowing how to effect change to laws and how to make the most of the legislative system is important for every activist.
DETERMINE WHAT YOU CAN DO
Figure out what you can do for your chosen cause. Whether your cause is animal rights, the environment, wildlife issues, the local community garden, or the global economic system, it's important to have specific ideas about how you can contribute. Figure out which skills and resources you can devote to the cause, and how much time you want to dedicate.
While it is great to think big, it's also important to think small and gradual. Incremental change can be as important, and often more enduring, than massive change that happens quickly and disrupts people in a major way. Think through all the possibilities for slowly unleashing change through your school, workplace, community, town, region, country or the world. Decide whether you're a radical activist or a reformer activist. The radical activist is someone who needs to continue pushing for fundamental change and will use such means as protests, boycotts, alternative summits, etc., and generally tends to be wary of those people who sit in the institutions they want changed. A reformist is happy to work with those in the institutions they'd like to see changed, using tools of democracy to work within the existing structure to force social or political progress.
CHOOSE YOUR COURSE OF ACTION
Choose your method of activism. While activism can take hundreds of forms, approach this as being about utilizing your own talents and resources as best you can. You are in the best position to decide how you can achieve your goals as an earth and animal activist, along with the time frame, and whether or not you go it alone.
Do you want to work solo? Being an individual activist is easier now than ever, as you can use forums, videos, photos, websites, blogs, social networking and even advertising to get your message across. On the downside, being the only person working on the issue can be lonely, and it's a lot of work. Sometimes it may cause you to question whether you're on the right track or whether it's worth pursuing.
Do you want to work with others? You could join an existing group or start your own and request collaborators. One of the advantages of being part of a group is the extended power, resources, networks and passion involved. You may also want to collaborate loosely without putting together a permanent structure, for example by inviting collaborators to post on a group blog or a biannual zine.
Would you like to contribute to your cause through writing, teaching, speaking, planning events or art? Or perhaps you're great with website building, blogging or podcasts? Assess your talents realistically, along with the time and resources you have available.
Be willing to put in the work without immediate rewards. In many cases earth and animal activists work for years on a project without seeing the major change they want to bring about. Laws, social norms and other factors can make it very difficult to enact immediate change. It is wise to understand the possibility that during your lifetime you could be paving the way for eventual change, but you may not see it actually occur. Understanding this can help alleviate a sense of frustration, doom and resentment about your cause.
BEGIN TO SPEAK OUT
Speak up about your opinions. Environmental and animal activism starts with the everyday conversations you have with friends, your family and new people you meet. When you're passionate about something, it's hard to stop talking about it, so express yourself freely and engage people in serious conversations about your cause. Aim to educate people and help them get involved.
Be bold. Don't hesitate to walk up to the girl reading an animal magazine in the coffee shop–she might be looking for the group you're starting. But don't force your opinions on people who are averse to hearing them. After you've made your point, people might need time to digest what they've learned. Don't expect everyone to hop on board with your cause right away. Plant a seed and hope it grows.
GROW YOUR CAUSE
Once you've learned the ropes of being an earth and animal activist, you might want to start your own group and become an organizer. Doing outreach on your own is a great way to help the earth and animals, but forming a local group can increase your effectiveness and your clout. The media, the government, and the public will often give more serious consideration to the views of a group.
You will need to gather committed people together and create a solid plan of action. Decide from the beginning what your goal is: Do you want to stage a variety of actions to achieve a particular achievable goal, and then disband when it's achieved? Do you want to form a permanent group that works on different projects surrounding a particular topic? Or do you only want to work together for a single action, for example to coordinate a protest or fundraising effort?
Call your first meeting and discuss tactics. At this meeting, you should decide who will be responsible for which tasks, what your group’s goals are, and how often you want to meet. Be open to new ideas, and encourage people to express themselves.
Put your goals in writing and sketch out a basic plan that highlights what you need, what you want to achieve and some of the big steps that will be necessary to achieve your goals. Consider creating a website or social media page to keep track of your group's goals and members. If you want the group to stay together for a long time, you'll need a good name. Register your name with your local, state and federal governments to establish a unique identity.
Hold regular meetings to enable you to track your goals and coordinate everyone's efforts towards the common project. Set meeting dates well in advance and publicize them widely. Make sure you have a location reserved in advance, whether it's a physical place or a virtual meeting technology like conference calls or a chat room. Possible meeting locations include classrooms, the public library, someone's house, the park, municipal/community building, teen center, community center, coffee shop/cafe, church hall, etc.
If many people are involved in your group or have signed on as temporary volunteers, it may be helpful to form subcommittees. These can be useful for large groups that are doing multiple projects or staging multiple actions with the same goal. Here are some examples of subcommittees that you might need:
Public Relations: This subcommittee does all of the canvassing, handles advertising, books tables, creates banners and posters, and serves as a press contact to drum up media attention.
Outreach: This subcommittee liaises with other organizations, local businesses and anyone that might be able to support your cause through advertising, funding, in-kind donations of space or food, etc.
Logistics: This subcommittee takes care of all practical matters such as scheduling, booking performers, finding needed equipment and services, getting necessary permits, arranging for parking, taking care of food, etc.
Financial: This subcommittee keeps track of the budget and makes sure everything runs smoothly where money is concerned. Tasks include creating a budget, paying performers and service providers, setting any event prices, arranging for donations and identifying pre-event fundraising needs.
Learn how to message effectively. One thing that distresses time-poor, financially-tight, and already overworked people is being told that what they are doing is wrong. This kind of messaging is bound to make people bite the messenger and turn away from the message. As such, while maintaining your passion, also maintain a sense of courtesy, respect and a basic understanding of motivational psychology. In a nutshell, nobody likes being told that how they're living is wrong and surely you don't either. Instead, focus on enlightening people about societal and individual practices that have outlived their usefulness and provide alternatives that are realistic and obtainable. Have an affirmative vision, one that shows what you are for, not just what you're against. Remember that fear is at the heart of much resistance. Fear of job loss and lifestyle downgrading are two particular fears that drive much resistance to activist messaging. If you're not offering alternatives that are viable, doable and respecting of the people who may be impacted, don't be surprised if they resent your call for change.
Create a whole vision rather than a piecemeal one. How do you envisage a future in which the changes you are advocating for have happened? Paint that vision for everyone and let them imagine themselves in it. Make plans for the future. A good activist thinks into the future, imagining life after the goals have been met. What happens next? Will the change you bring about need constant maintenance? Or will it be self-sustainable? Thinking about this in advance may well change your tactics if you're concerned that just creating change isn't enough.
Learn how to raise money. Though you can do activism on your own dime, there are few kinds of activism that don't require money. Artists need supplies, bloggers need hosting plans, lone protesters need signs. Some forms of activism might even attract grant money, if you know how to write a proposal. Consider using merchandise for additional fundraising. You can sell t-shirts, host a bake sale, or sell related books on the issue you're addressing.
Strong organization from the top down (or the bottom up) will ensure that everything runs smoothly. Don't forget to document your steps, adjust your plans as time goes by and communicate frequently.
When working with others, consider the needs of the group. Be willing to compromise on the details, if not on your core values.
SPREAD YOUR MESSAGE
Leafleting is one of the best ways to educate people about earth and animal issues. It’s not only easy but also effective! Put the right information in the right hands and minds are changed. Create a flyer containing essential information about your cause, the name of your organization, the time and date you meet and anything else you want people to know. Hang the flyers around school, the neighborhood, community bulletin boards, inside coffee shops or cafes. In addition to flyers, you can pass out buttons, postcards, bumper stickers or other materials to help spread the word about what you're doing. These items are available from established organizations, or you can create your own. As you pass out your materials, be willing to answer people's questions and get into discussions about your cause.
Tabling—or setting up a table with resources about earth and animal issues—is an effective way to engage the public and provide information about environmental and animal issues. See if you can rent a table or setup a table for free in a school, university or somewhere local like outside of the supermarket or in the park. Have a sign-up list, information about your organization and colorful posters to attract people. Having free stuff to hand out, like stickers or bumper stickers, attracts people to your table. Be ready to educate people who stop and want to learn more about environmental and animal issues. By educating yourself on the issues before you go, you’ll be ensuring that answering questions will be a snap. Use the literature on your table to supplement your answers. The issues facing the earth and animals are deep and complex, so don’t worry if you don’t know the answer to a tough question. Simply get the person’s contact information and offer to have someone get back to him or her.
Sponsor a speaker in your community. Get in touch with someone of note who is working for the same cause. An author, a professor, the head of a nonprofit or an activist musician are all good choices. Make plans to host the speaker at a local community event space, then publicize the event using flyers, advertising and social media. A local school or university, a bookstore, a concert venue or a community center are all good places to host a speaker. Be sure to have literature to hand out at the event, and provide a sign-up sheet to get people's email addresses so you can let them know about the next event you organize.
Holding a demonstration is a fun, effective and easy way to alert people to earth and animal issues. It’s one of the easiest ways to reach a lot of people, and if your event is covered by the media, you have the potential to reach thousands more. Decide what form of demonstration to hold. Choose where it will take place. Get people interested and signed up. Get permission from the relevant people, whether that is local councils or a particular body like a university. Get the necessary permits if required. Talk to the media to get the word out to get people to come to the demonstration. Appoint a group of volunteers that will help manage the event. Make posters, flyers, visual aids or pamphlets to help spread your message and communicate your concerns to others. On the demonstration day, make sure everyone remains calm and demonstrates peacefully and respectfully. Hold your signs so they can be read easily (and you aren’t hiding your faces) and ask people to refrain from talking on the phone or texting. Have the majority of the people holding signs and waving at cars but have a select group handing out leaflets to people who are passing by. Remember to smile and be polite. You’ll change more people’s minds by being respectful and having engaged conversations, as opposed to yelling at them or intimidating them. If the police do arrive, calmly tell them that you already have your permit (or that you were told you didn’t need one). After the demo, remember to collect all your materials so that there isn’t any litter and get everyone’s contact information for future events.
Work with the media to spread your message. Make a database of key media outlets in your area. Start locally, then expand the list to regional and even national media. Include newspapers, television programs, websites and radio stations. Introduce yourself to local reporters and give them a copy of all your publications and a free ticket to any events you organize. Pitch story ideas as they come up pertaining to a relevant and timely issue with a human interest angle in mind. Make time for reporters and be accessible. Don't be afraid to give out your cell phone number. If a reporter cannot reach you with one phone call, he most likely will move on to an alternative source for his story. Be accurate, trustworthy and prepared. When a reporter asks a question, she wants an immediate answer. If there's no way you can answer immediately, ask the reporter when her deadline is. Be sure to get back to her as soon as possible. Send press kits or releases to a specific contact at a news organization. Press kits and releases are not as effective as making a call to a reporter, but they are a good way to send background information on your agency. Include your business card so reporters can keep your contact information on file. Thank reporters when you are satisfied with the stories they write. Reporters rarely receive praise.
NOT EVERYONE WILL AGREE WITH YOUR CAUSE
Expect to encounter dissent. Change worries most people and can cause them to react in ways that are not always considerate or constructive. It's not uncommon for an activist promoting a cause to deal with varying levels of negativity. The important thing is to brace yourself and stay strong in the face of people who disagree with you.
If you experience dissent from people within the cause, it is good to self-question and examine their reasons more closely. See if they actually have a point and seek to re-examine your approach in the light of their dissent. This doesn't necessarily mean you need to change your approach, but it does mean that keeping an open mind will ultimately make your cause stronger.
Dissent from outside the cause is to be expected. You're challenging the status quo. You will go through many experiences, including having people question your knowledge/authority/facts/respect and even your sanity on occasion. Keep calm and keep a level head. Some of the dissent will be obvious stalling, spin and covering-up tactics. Other times it will be more subtle, malicious and harmful. Know when to respond and when to keep quiet, and know when to bring your lawyer in. If you feel threatened in any way, get local authorities involved.
Don't work yourself to exhaustion. Earth and animal activists commonly experience burnout, especially when loads of passionate work don't translate into tangible change. When you're tired, worn out, and at your wit's end, that's when activism can turn negative. Take good care of yourself to prevent this from happening, since you won't be as powerful if you're feeling exhausted and bitter. Get plenty of rest. Take breaks from your activism and refresh your thoughts about where it's headed. If you find yourself feeling bitter about other people's lack of passion, take this as a warning sign to pull back and reassess your direction and purpose. Expect down times. Sometimes it will feel as if things are stagnating. Anything to do with progress meets such plateaus; knowing to expect them and learning how to ride them out is important. Break through the stagnant times by making new associations and recombining your existing approaches with new ones.
Be creative! Animal and environmental activism doesn't have to involve large events. Bloggers can be activists through their writing, teachers can be activists by encouraging students to challenge their beliefs, artists can leave guerrilla activist art around town, computer-savvy folks can arrange an e-zine, etc.
Switching to a vegan lifestyle is accompanied with so many benefits (environmental, animal compassion, healthier living) that the real question you should ask is, “Why not?” By switching to a vegan lifestyle, you will see your health drastically improve, your negative environmental impact will diminish, and you will help save millions of animals worldwide.
Veganism And Health
There is clear and overwhelming medical evidence that the incidence of heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis and diabetes is much less among vegans; obesity as well. Vegans are usually in better physical condition; their food has far lower levels of pesticides; and their immune systems work much better.
The largest epidemiological study to date, commonly referred to as “The China study”, showed that people who consume meat and animal products in quantities similar to those in a typical American diet are 17 times more likely to die from heart disease, and 5 times more likely to suffer from breast cancer, than those whose animal-derived protein comprises less than 5 percent of their total diet.
The concentration of pesticides in meat is 14 times higher than plant foods, because these chemicals accumulate as they progress through the food chain, and they are fat-soluble. Six years after the banning of dieldrin, a pesticide, the USDA confiscated and destroyed 2,000,000 packages of frozen turkey products with high dieldrin concentrations. In 1974, in tests run by the FDA, dieldrin was discovered in 85 percent of all dairy products and in 99.5 percent of the country’s human population.
According to the EPA, vegetarian mothers produce breast milk that has much lower pesticide concentrations than the average American.
In a study published in the NEJM, it was reported that the highest contamination level of vegetarians was lower than the lowest contamination level of non-vegetarians. Mean contamination in vegetarians was only 1 to 2 percent as much as the national average.
Veganism And The Environment
Veganism is a choice that has more positive impact on energy, land, water, ecosystems and wildlife than any other. This is due to livestock consuming several times more grain than their meat output. What’s more, harvesting and transportation of animal-derived products requires huge amounts of energy, and massive quantities of water for the animals and the crops they are fed – not to mention the disturbing amount of pesticides used.
If all countries around the world adopted American diet habits, fossil fuel reserves would be depleted in just eleven years. Plant foods with the worst energy efficiency are ten times more efficient than the most efficient meat food. If we went vegetarian as a nation, our oil imports would be reduced by 60 percent.
More than 50 percent of the nation’s water consumption goes to water the crops that feed livestock. You need 100 times more water for meat production. One day’s food in the typical American diet requires 4,000 gallons of water. Conversely, vegetarian food needs 1,200 gallons, and vegan food just 300 gallons. When you eat the typical American diet, just to grow enough food for three days you need to use as much water as you need to shower every day for the whole year.
Livestock in America produces 20 times more waste than humans, a jaw-dropping 250 thousand pounds per second. The waste produced by a large feedlot rivals that of a large city – and feedlots don't have sewage systems. This results in animal waste ending up in lakes and rivers, increasing their pollution of phosphates, nitrates, ammonia, and microorganisms, thereby depleting oxygen and killing animal and plant life. The meat industry produces 300 percent more harmful organic waste than all the other industries in the country combined.
To produce food for the average American diet, 10 times more land is needed compared to a vegetarian one. 20 thousand pounds of potatoes vs. only 165 pounds of beef can come out of an acre of land. In the United States alone, in order to support our meat-based diet, 260 million acres of forest have been turned over to agriculture, accounting for more than one acre per person. Forests are destroyed at a rate of 1 acre every 5 seconds. Seven acres of forest are turned into grazing or crop fields for animal feeding for every acre cleared for urban development.
Almost 85 percent of all lost topsoil is directly related to livestock farming. According to the USDA, topsoil loss has caused crop productivity to drop by as much as 70 percent. Almost 500 years are required for the formation of one inch of topsoil under natural conditions. Conversely, vegan diets demand less than 5 percent of the topsoil needed for meat-based diets.
Moral Benefits Of Veganism
Animal suffering is nobody’s objective, but we often forget that it’s inevitable when we eat them. The one most effective action an individual can perform to ease the suffering of animals is to simply remove them from your diet.
We kill approximately 8 billion animals every year to produce food in the U.S. alone, which accounts for more than the planet’s entire human population. It is estimated that around 24 animals die every year for one American to feed on them. To make things worse, modern agriculture has been raising animals in small confinement facilities, far removed from the traditional image of the beautiful-looking pasture – a method called factory farming.
Most factory farmed animals are raised in tiny cages with no room to move. They are deprived of exercise so that all of their bodies' energy goes toward producing flesh, eggs, or milk for human consumption. Massive amounts of potent drugs are fed to the animals to stop them from becoming sick due to their filthy living conditions, and to boost their production faster than their natural development would dictate. When chickens and cows become less productive in eggs and milk, they are killed and turned into low-quality meat (pet food and fast food).
Cattle raised for beef are usually born in one state, fattened in another, and slaughtered in yet another. They are fed an unnatural diet of high-bulk grains and other "fillers" (including sawdust). They are castrated, de-horned, and branded without anesthetics. During transportation, cattle are crowded into metal trucks where they suffer from fear, injury, temperature extremes, and lack of food, water, and veterinary care. Calves raised for veal are taken from their mothers only a few days after birth, chained in stalls only 22 inches wide with slatted floors that cause severe leg and joint pain. They are fed a milk substitute laced with hormones but deprived of iron: anemia keeps their flesh pale and tender but makes the calves very weak. When they are slaughtered at the age of about 16 weeks, they are often too sick or crippled to walk. One out of every 10 calves dies in confinement.
Ninety percent of all pigs are closely confined at some point in their lives, and 70 percent are kept constantly confined. Sows are kept pregnant or nursing constantly and are squeezed into narrow metal "iron maiden" stalls, unable to turn around. Although pigs are naturally peaceful and social animals, they resort to cannibalism and tailbiting when packed into crowded pens and develop neurotic behaviors when kept isolated and confined. They often contract dysentery, cholera, trichinosis, and other diseases fostered by factory farming.
Chickens are divided into two groups: layers and broilers. Five to six laying hens are kept in a 14-inch-square mesh cage, and cages are often stacked in many tiers. Conveyor belts bring in food and water and carry away eggs and excrement. Because the hens are severely crowded, they are kept in semi-darkness and their beaks are cut off with hot irons (without anesthetics) to keep them from pecking each other to death from stress. The wire mesh of the cages rubs their feathers off, chafes their skin, and cripples their feet. Approximately 20 percent of the hens raised under these conditions die of stress or disease. At the age of one to two years, their overworked bodies decline in egg production and they are slaughtered (chickens would normally live 15-20 years).
More than six billion "broiler" chickens are raised in sheds each year. Lighting is manipulated to keep the birds eating as often as possible, and they are killed after only nine weeks. Despite the heavy use of pesticides and antibiotics, up to 60 percent of chickens sold at the supermarket are infected with live salmonella bacteria.
Farm animals are sentient beings that experience all the same emotions we do. They deserve our respect and compassion. The easiest and most effective way to reduce the cruelty inflicted on farm animals is to become vegan.
Surveys show that public speaking is the number one phobia in America. The fear of death is number seven! The idea of speaking before a group may terrify you, but one day you'll need to speak publicly to help animals and the planet. If you plan your speech and rehearse your presentation, you may still be nervous but at least people will listen.
Your first step in preparing a speech is to understand the nature of the people you'll be speaking to. Try to determine the age, sex, religion, occupation, and political affiliation of the group. How much do they already know about your topic? Do you share any beliefs or experiences with them? Try to put yourself in their shoes. You also need to consider how you want your speech to affect your audience. What do you want them to feel, think, or do after they've heard your speech?
Don't be afraid of "alienating" people by talking about environmental and animal issues. If you don't introduce them to new ideas, who will? How you speak is as important as what you say. A shrill, aggressive demeanor will alienate people; a calm voice and friendly manner will encourage them to think twice about those new ideas.
WRITING A SPEECH
Before you begin writing your speech, make a list of two to five main points you want to make. Write out each point in one or two sentences. Don't try to make more than five points.
You're more likely to persuade your audience if you don't speak in generalities. If necessary, do some research to find some specific examples that will illustrate your points dramatically. Statistics are boring if you overuse them, but are good for making comparisons. People are more likely to retain information if it is new, relevant and presented by vivid comparison and contrast.
Don't try to write and edit at the same time. Write the first draft as ideas occur to you. Don't worry about spelling, punctuation, grammar, or how it will sound. Just get your thoughts down! Editing is a separate process that should be done after writing.
Your speech will be most effective if you plan your opening and closing statements and key transitions down to the last word. Organize the speech logically with a beginning, middle and end. In other words, tell them what you're going to tell them; tell them; then tell them what you've told them. Here are some suggestions:
Establish your credibility by briefly stating your qualifications and experience, or have someone introduce you this way.
Open with an attention-getting fact, rhetorical question (making sure you know what the answer will be), quotation (to support your message), or relevant anecdote.
You may challenge your audience, but make sure you don't sound hostile.
You don't have to start with a joke, especially if it doesn't support your message.
Keep it short. Your speech should take less than 20 minutes.
Tell the audience what the problem is, what your proposed solution is, and what actions they can take to help bring about the solution.
When you prepare your final version, write or type the beginning, ending, and key transitions and phrases in large print, and then itemize your main points. Only write two thirds of the way down the page so it won't be obvious if you need to look at your notes.
Plan a snappy conclusion that summarizes your main points. But don't say, "In conclusion "
Don't present new information at the end of your speech.
Don't just trail off at the end. Finish with an appeal for action.
REHEARSING YOUR SPEECH
You should know your speech well enough that you can speak naturally and only glance occasionally at your notes.
Practice your speech no fewer than three times, but not more than six times. Don't practice sitting down - stand up. Work on one thing at a time: gestures, voice, content or visuals. Pay attention to the beginning and end of your speech, since these will be what the audience remembers most.
Practice your speech in front of another person, and ask him or her for constructive criticism.
Be sure to pace yourself, using pauses and changes in volume for emphasis. Speak clearly and don't slur your words.
Remember that gestures, movement and eye contact can add to your impact, but make sure they're natural and relevant.
Move briskly and purposefully, but don't be afraid to stand still. Stand straight and keep your feet 12 to 14 inches apart. Don't point, put your hands in your pockets or gesture below chest level. Keep your hands away from your mouth.
Look at your audience, smile, and make eye contact. Focus on one friendly face for a complete sentence, then move on to someone else. Don't look at the floor or ceiling or stare at only one person. Also, don't look at your watch. Take it off and put it on the lectern if you need it.
Try not to speak from the lectern - it's a barrier between you and your audience. Use it to put your notes on, and then try to walk around. You can always go back to the lectern to check your notes when you need to.
Never walk away while most people are still applauding.
USING VISUAL AIDS
Visual aids can help you make your point if the subject matter is complex, dry, or unfamiliar. Make sure they reinforce your point of view and make abstract ideas concrete. PowerPoint presentations, photos, charts and videos can all help you get your point across.
When you use a visual aid, explain to people what you're showing them. Summarize the information on the slide or chart without reading it word-for-word.
Talk to the audience, not to the visual aid.
Visual aids should be simple and colorful, but remember that red and green are difficult to read from a distance. Don't reveal visual aids until you're ready to show them, and remove them after you've used them.
A few effective visual aids can help your audience understand your message, but too many will distract them.
PREPARING FOR A QUESTION-AND-ANSWER SESSION
A well-handled question-and-answer session can strengthen your credibility, demonstrate your knowledge, and give you a chance to clarify and expand your ideas. A poorly handled session can hurt your credibility, cause you to lose control of the audience, and give your adversaries an opportunity to make their case.
Try to anticipate difficult questions in advance. Play the "devil's advocate" and guess which questions your opponents might ask. Write down the toughest questions you can think of and strong responses. Practice your answers out loud, preferably with someone else asking the questions. Have friends ask hostile, aggressive questions so you're less likely to get rattled by the real thing.
Remember that tough questions aren't necessarily hostile. If you can remember that, you won't get defensive or nervous. You can also "buy time" to collect your thoughts by repeating or rephrasing the question. Then answer the question.
If someone is hostile, stay cool. You must appear calm and reasonable, even if you don't feel that way. Listen carefully to each question, be tactful, and avoid using such emotionally charged words like "obviously" when you answer. Stick to things you can prove and stick to facts.
Use the "feel, felt, find" method to disagree with someone: "I understand how you feel. Others have felt that way. But I find in my experience that ..."
Answer to the entire audience, not just the questioner (especially if it's a hostile question). If someone tries to get control of the session, ask, "What is your question?" or say, "I'll be happy to hear your comments afterwards, but we've got to end soon, so let's go on to another question."
Never forget that, when you speak in defense of the planet and animals, you are right. If you speak sincerely and with conviction, you will reach your audience. They may not walk out agreeing with you, but you will plant an idea in their minds that can grow.
As you set up tables and distribute leaflets, you'll meet people who feel the way you do about earth and animal issues. Although it's not absolutely necessary, you can increase your effectiveness by joining forces and forming a group. A group can have more clout than one person. The media, the government, and the public will usually give more serious consideration to the views of a group.
CHOOSING YOUR ISSUES
A group can start with two people. The important thing is to decide from the beginning which issues you will work on. Then choose a name for your group that reflects that focus. Do you want to work primarily on animal or environmental issues? Realistically, you won't have the time, energy, or money to focus on all issues effectively. It's usually best to stick to animal and environmental education, organizing, and lobbying and refer individual cruelty cases to the appropriate agencies in your community that should be equipped and trained to deal with them.
TAKING THE FIRST STEP
Before you get a group together, educate and organize yourself:
Setup a website or social media page for your group.
Get a post office box mailing address at a local post office.
Open a bank account. You'll need to keep accurate financial records from the start, so decide on a record-keeping system. At the minimum, record the date and amount of all donations, and the name and address of the donor. Also keep a record of how money is spent, including the date, amount and purpose. Save all your receipts and write on the back of the receipt the item you bought and the date and reason you bought it.
Prepare an information pack for new members and a form thank-you letter for donations you receive...and make sure you acknowledge them quickly.
Prepare a media list of newspapers and TV and radio stations with their addresses, telephone numbers and deadlines to save time when you need to publicize an event.
Do some long-term planning. Set up a tabling schedule or leafletting plan for the next three to six months.
As a small and new group, prioritize your activities. Member newsletters, for example, should be a low priority. Your time and money will be more wisely spent on educational materials, leaflets and campaigning. Remember that newsletters relate what a group has already done - they shouldn't be used as a replacement for action.
You may want to postpone incorporating your group as long as your budget is small and you're not launching high-profile campaigns.
THE FIRST MEETING
Decide how you want to operate. Should you meet once a month or call meetings as you need them? If you have regular meetings, they should be held on the same day and time each month to make them easier to remember and schedule. Can you find a room at the library or a local school or church? Avoid meeting in people's homes - you're better off in neutral territory.
LEADING THE GROUP
Expect to be the leader of your group and to do most of the work, even if you have hundreds of people interested in joining. As the leader, it's your job to prepare an agenda for each meeting. Make sure each person will leave the meeting with something to do. It may seem tedious to do this but people feel useless and drop out if they don't feel needed. Find out what kinds of things people are good at: who has web designing skills or access to a copy machine, who is good at designing posters, and who enjoys tabling.
Don't let meetings become strictly social affairs - keep on target. Avoid the "pot-luck supper" trap. Many new activists will suggest having them frequently. But people have a limited amount of time and energy, and it's more important to spend it on activism than on cooking. Make sure your meetings are friendly enough that people feel comfortable offering their feedback and ideas. Having a "work party" to prepare posters or write letters can do wonders to boost spirits.
Always be on the lookout for potential leaders to share responsibilities. Most groups are held together by one or two strong people, with short-term volunteers working only when convenient.
Let people move (and move on) at their own pace, and accept the fact that people will leave the group. Be grateful for every contribution, no matter how small, and never publicly criticize or embarrass anyone. Never make people feel guilty for not doing enough. You won't encourage them to do more; it's more likely they'll stop working completely. People's activism thrives on encouragement and recognition rather than criticism.
It's very important to avoid fighting within the group. Avoid criticizing others, even if you're speaking confidentially - your words may come back to haunt you. If it's really necessary, criticize the act rather than the individual.
Be open to new ideas and encourage people to express themselves. Have regular brainstorming sessions. Ask each person to think of several ideas, and write down every one, no matter how offbeat. Discuss the ideas only after you've finished listing them all. Don't allow people to disparage others' input. Everyone is special in some way, and even outlandish suggestions can lead to creative planning. Ask questions and listen attentively.
WHAT SHOULD THE GROUP DO?
Your group's activities will probably fall into three categories: public education, seasonal or "reaction" events, and long-term campaigns.
Every group should try to sustain a minimum schedule of public education work, including tabling, leafletting and electronic media. Your group can also host educational seminars and workshops, donate earth and animal themed books and media to libraries and schools, and host fundraising events that also educate the public on specific issues.
Seasonal or "reaction" events are another valuable activity. These include leafletting or picketing stores that carry inhumane items in response to advertised sales, demonstrating when a circus or rodeo comes to town or protesting the destruction of area wild-lands. In smaller towns where you are likely to get publicity, these one-time events can be especially effective.
The easiest way for local groups to work on long-term campaigns is to join one that has been initiated by a national organization. You can bring important issues to your community and have the benefit of the national group's literature and resources.
You may eventually want to take on a purely local campaign to shut down a lab, puppy mill or polluting factory, or to stop industrial polluting. This kind of campaign will most directly involve the local community and can be one of the best ways to bring people into the movement. Be aware, however, that this requires much more time and money than the one-shot seasonal events.
Above all, your group should be visible. Get into the public eye often, and always try to get media coverage for your events.
Tread Lightly! was started by the United States Forest Service in 1985 as a public awareness program. In 1990, Tread Lightly! became a nonprofit organization. The Tread Lightly philosophy encourages off-highway enthusiasts to enjoy the outdoors responsibly through stewardship to further the goals of responsible and ethical recreation.
Travel on trails or other legal areas.
Keep your feet and wheels on open roads, trails or in legal riding areas.
When you step off trail, watch your step and don’t trample plants.
Remember riding up and down stream beds can damage soils, plants and animals in the water.
Use maps and signs to help you stay on the trail.
Walk or ride slowly through puddles and mud on the trail—not around.
When you are on a bike or an ATV, if you can’t go over an object turn back. Report the trail obstacle to the ranger.
Keep control of your bike, dirt bikes or ATV.
RESPECT NATURE & WILDLIFE
Don’t chase, scare, feed or try to pet animals.
Don’t carve on tree bark or draw graffiti on trees and rocks.
Watch out for other people on the trails.
Keep the noise down, especially in camp.
Don’t shine your flashlight into other camps.
Don’t ride or run through other camps.
Always tell someone else where you are going, who you are with and when you will be back.
Remember to pack the seven important items: water, food, first aid kit, raincoat or poncho, flashlight, sunscreen and a whistle.
When trail riding or hiking, don’t leave the trail—you are less likely to get lost and much easier to find. If you think you are lost, stay where you are and blow your whistle.
Don’t wander off at night.
Bring a map, check the weather, and find out about wildlife to be aware of in your area.
Bring the proper clothes including good shoes and a jacket—wear a helmet and other protective gear when you ride.
LEAVE THE OUTDOORS BETTER THAN YOU FOUND IT
Don’t litter or leave food or trash behind.
Pick up trash left by others—as long as it is safe.
Wash your bike or ATV and other gear after every ride so you won’t spread weed seeds.
Leave plants or flowers for others to see.
Lend a hand, plant trees and other plants with your local ranger.
You don't have to form a group to accomplish something; you can do a lot by yourself. If you've uncovered an important local issue, you may wish to print a flyer to hand out to people on the street. Or maybe you've collected signatures from people enthusiastic about earth and animal issues and want to invite them to a meeting with an inspiring speaker. Or you may want to urge local residents to spay and neuter their animals. Once you've defined your message and audience, try to prepare a leaflet that will reach them.
MAKING WORDS COUNT
Your leaflet must answer the questions what, where, when, who, and why. It must tell people specifically what they can do to help. Include contact information and direct to the reader to sources of additional information on the topic.
People won't read a long complicated leaflet, so keep your sentences short and clear. Use descriptive headings, subheadings and quotations to get your main points across, and use three or four headings to a page so that if people only read the headlines they still get the message. Keep your flier simple, to the point and easy to understand.
Don't make remarks you can't substantiate. Be careful not to make libelous statements - call the act cruel and irresponsible, not the individual.
Often, making a leaflet starts with some creative brainstorming. Taking the time to develop ideas will help when planning the printed page in more detail. You'll most likely want a central theme for the leaflet. Developing words that go along with this theme will help when it's time to create all of the text that will go into this document. Each separate fold of a leaflet may have its own unique focus, so think about how each part of your project will fit together. Consider phrasing for titles and text. With overall themes in hand, the leaflet planner can develop those into phrases or slogans that might lead in leaflet text.
CREATE YOUR LAYOUT
Do a rough layout. The rough layout for a leaflet is usually a sketch that will show where text and images will be positioned on the leaflet, how big the size of each text portion will be, and how much of the leaflet will be dedicated to each separate part or idea. This rough draft will show how much room is available and how it can be allocated.
Design leaflets are usually easiest done digitally. Digital word processor or print shop programs, such as MS Word, are common software solutions for creating leaflets. Many printing companies also provide online software. Look at your software and understand how the digital setup will translate to the printed page, especially if you plan to fold the leaflet. Do a print preview. A page layout or print preview option helps to see how the leaflet will look when it is printed. Make any needed edits, then print out a few copies and observe how they are actually printed on the page. Practice folding the leaflet and make sure that it is correct before printing hundreds of copies for distribution. Correct any errors as needed, and through trial and error, an attractive document should emerge.
When distributing your leaflets, don’t wait for people to approach you. Walk up to them, and with a friendly smile, hand them a leaflet accompanied by a positive comment like, “Have you received one of these yet?” Make eye contact and never be pushy. Simple eye contact will help you get their attention.
Be prepared for questions! Know at least three facts from the leaflet that you’re passing out and know more info that isn’t included in the leaflet.
Don’t waste time arguing. Say politely, “I think that if you read this material, you might change your mind.” Then smile, hand them a leaflet, and turn away.
You want people to take your message seriously. People will judge you by the way you look, so look clean and professional.
Hold the flyer so the title can be clearly seen by passersby.
Take people's e-mail addresses if they seem interested, but don't get caught up in a conversation that distracts you from your job.
Try to get someone else to leaflet with you, especially in potentially hostile territory.
It is illegal to drop leaflets in mailboxes, although you can put them through a letter slot in a door or leave them in door handles or on the doorstep.
If you are planning to solicit contributions, check local and state regulations.
Don’t leave a mess! Pick up discarded leaflets before you leave the area.
You may also want to post leaflets on bulletin boards in public areas such as libraries, veterinary offices, cat and dog supply stores, supermarkets, laundromats and apartment buildings. Remember to ask permission from the owner of the area before posting a leaflet to make sure that it stays posted. Some places will even allow you to leave a stack of leaflets.
A great way to reach a large number of people is to setup an information table in a busy area of town. Choose a spot with a lot of pedestrian traffic where people will see you. Find out where other groups in your community setup tables, and get a list of festivals or fairs from the Chamber of Commerce, Department of Parks and Recreation, or Tourist Department.
Once you've chosen a good location for a table, call the mayor's office or police station to learn about regulations you need to follow. Here are some questions to ask:
Do I need a permit? Permits are usually easy to apply for, although they may take two or three weeks to process.
How often can I use this spot?
Are there restrictions on the type of equipment that can be set up?
Are there any regulations on selling items such as buttons and bumper stickers at a table? If so, you can ask for donations instead of charging for the merchandise.
Ask for several copies of the application form to save for future use.
Here's what you need to set up your table:
one or two card tables or a folding display table
a plain table cloth to cover the table, long enough to reach the ground
a donation can
signup sheets (so you can contact activists for future events)
paperweights - small but heavy
Arrange your table neatly and attractively. Remove rubber bands from pamphlets so people can pick them up easily. Keep an eye on your donation can - don't let someone walk off with it. Leave a five-dollar bill and some change in the can to encourage people's generosity!
If visitors to your table seem interested, ask them to leave their e-mail address or join your social networking site. Encourage them to help with your cause. Don't spend so much time with one person that you miss contact with others who may be interested. Be especially sure not to waste time and attention on someone who disagrees with you; you may alienate people who overhear the argument. Instead, clarify your position briefly, express regret at your disagreement, and turn to someone else as quickly as possible. You may feel as if you're "backing down," but arguing at a table is a waste of time and can cause you to miss potential supporters.
Above all, remember to smile, be friendly, and be patient. You, too, were once unaware of animal and environmental issues. Let others know that your background is much like theirs, but that once you learned about animal suffering and the state of the environment you decided to take action. Lifestyles and attitudes are easy to change - you're living proof! And you can show others how to be more compassionate, too!
Much of the work you will do as an activist requires no more (and no less) than caring and motivation. On the other hand, making flyers, setting up tables and forming groups also requires some money to cover costs.
TARGET YOUR EFFORTS
People like to know how their donations will be used. It's always more effective to target your fundraising efforts for a specific purpose. Make it clear what the proceeds from your raffle or flea market will be used for.
ACTIVITIES THAT RAISE FUNDS
Product sales: If you have some money to invest, you can purchase T-shirts, buttons, bumper stickers and books to sell when you set up tables and hold meetings.
Food sales: Vegan bake sales can do well either as an independent fundraiser or when combined with another event. Groups should appoint someone to be in charge and to get each member to contribute a baked item (or try offering tofu hot dogs or veggie burgers). Choose a busy spot or a craft fair or festival and check ahead with the police and health department about permits and food regulations.
Garage sales: You'll make more money if your goods are clean and well displayed. Tag clothing with size labels and make sure prices are clearly marked.
Thrift shops: Setup an ongoing thrift shop at a church or unused garage. You'll need a staff of volunteers to sort, price, display and do the sales and bookkeeping.
Annual sales: Hold the sale at the same time each year. Plan ahead to get a good location and publicize the event. If you have a good spot for storage, you can collect donations year round.
Raffles: The two keys to a successful raffle are a good prize and lots of ticket sellers. Print the name of your group, the date and place of the drawing, and a list of the prizes you're offering. Make sure ticket sellers always have enough tickets on hand. Try setting up a table at the supermarket on Saturday or outside a church to sell tickets during the weekend. Ask local merchants to donate prizes or have a 50/50 raffle, meaning that the prize is half the money you collect. Make sure you comply with local solicitation regulations.
Sponsored events: In a walk-a-thon or bike-a-thon, for example, a group of people commit to participating in the event, and they then ask family, friends and local businesses to sponsor them for a certain amount. Choose a safe route and check it first with the police. You'll need to prepare sponsor forms with the name and address of the group, the purpose of the event, the date and time, and the route. Also include columns for the sponsor's name, address, and amount pledged per mile (establish a minimum). Encourage local athletic groups to participate.
Do chores and odd jobs: Have all your members spend a Saturday cleaning, painting, raking leaves, or putting up storm windows. Advertise ahead of time and schedule as many jobs as possible.
Recycling: Many communities have recycling facilities that will pay you for cans, bottles or other items.
Give up something: Ask people to give up smoking for a week or lunch for a day, and donate the money they save.
Miscellaneous: Place donation cans in stores, go Christmas caroling for donations, sell heart-shaped dog biscuits on Valentine's Day, have a car wash ... use your imagination!
ASK FOR GOODS OR DISCOUNTS
Another kind of fundraising effort is to ask for something other than money. Ask print shops if they will give you a discount. Ask local businesses to donate new or used office equipment. Send each business an individualized request describing your group and its goals and asking for a specific item or service. If you are tax-exempt, that will encourage donations. But don't be afraid to ask even if you're not tax-exempt.
Another good source of financial support is your supporters. Ask them to pay a yearly membership fee. Set different levels for dues such as $10 to $20 for regular members, $50 for sponsors, $100 for sustaining members, and $500 to $1,000 for lifetime members. Student and senior citizen memberships could be offered at discounted rates.
Consider offering members an incentive, such as a free book or T-shirt with a large donation. Ask for regular donations either monthly or quarterly, and always be sure to send a thank-you note promptly. (If you are tax-exempt, your thank-you note should inform donors of the deductible portion of their gift, i.e., the amount of the gift minus the value of any incentive you give them in return.)
TAXES & REPORTING
Virtually all fundraising has tax - and financial - reporting consequences. Donation and sales revenue is generally taxable unless you qualify as a tax-exempt organization. Even if you are tax-exempt, you must still collect and remit to the government sales tax on many types of sales. Also, most states require charities to register as soliciting organizations and to file annual reports. (Note that automatic exemptions may exist under some of these rules for small organizations.) Check with your state taxing authority, secretary of state, attorney general, and consumer affairs agency. It is also a very good idea to have a CPA on your managing committee!
CHARITABLE SOLICITATION CERTIFICATE
File with your state's Charitable Solicitations Division. They will give you a certificate that allows you to solicit funds in that state. You may be required to list a registered agent - someone who resides in the state and can be served with legal papers if necessary - in order to file. Different states have different thresholds for the amount of money you must have to file. But even if your group falls below that threshold, you cannot ignore the charitable solicitations office. You must, in that case, file for an exemption from formal registration as a charitable organization. If you intend to solicit funds in other states as well, you need to file similar forms. Some states require that you file applications for a "certificate of authority to transact business" in the state before you will be allowed to register for charitable solicitation. This may require an attachment to the application of a "certificate of good standing" or a "certification of articles of incorporation" from the state in which you are incorporated. After receiving your certificate to transact business you may have to file it in the county or state of your registered agent.
FORMS REQUIRED ANNUALLY
Now that you have done all the necessary paperwork to setup, you must do the paperwork necessary to continue to exist legally. The federal government requires you to file Form 990, "Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax," annually. You may also need to file Form 990-T to report taxable sales that are not related to your tax-exempt purpose. The state governments require an "annual report of tax" and an "annual report of domestic nonprofit corporations." If you do not fill out these forms, your organization can be dissolved by the state.
Establish an accounting system to maintain tax compliance, to assist in management of the organization, and to establish a general trend to provide long-range planning for the organization and its resources.
The trophy hunting industry is driven by demand, and sadly, demand for animal trophies is prevalent worldwide. Even in the face of extinction, imperiled species are still being hunted every day in order to serve as the centerpiece of someone’s décor. It is unconscionable in this modern day when species are under so many threats to survive.
Killing For Trophies: An Analysis of Global Trophy Hunting Trade is a report that provides an in-depth look at the scope and scale of trophy hunting trade and isolates the largest importers of animal trophies worldwide.
The result of a comprehensive analysis of the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Trade Database, the report found that as many as 1.7 million hunting trophies may had been traded between nations during a ten year period, with at least 200,000 of that being made up of categories of species, also known as taxa, that are considered threatened.
Research found that 107 different nations (comprised of 104 importing nations and 106 exporting nations) participated in trophy hunting in one decade, with the top twenty countries responsible for 97 percent of trophy imports. The United States accounted for a staggering 71 percent of the import demand, or about 15 times more than the next highest nation on the list—Germany and Spain (both 5 percent).
Of the top 20 importing countries, most of the trophies were killed and imported from Canada (35 percent), South Africa (23 percent) and Namibia (11 percent), with the largest number of threatened taxa coming from Canada to the U.S., followed by African nations to the U.S.
Three of the four threatened taxa from the highly-prized species known as the “Africa Big Five” (African elephant, African leopard, and African lion) are among the top six most traded of imperiled taxa. African lions in particular had the strongest statistically significant increase of trophy hunting trade, with at least 11,000 lion trophies being traded worldwide in only 9 years.
Other big five species also remain popular with trophy hunters, with over 10,000 elephant trophies and over 10,000 leopard trophies being legally traded worldwide in one decade. Like African lions, elephant trophy hunting trade has increased significantly.