There are probably over a dozen groups in Vancouver working on animal issues, maybe even more if you count all the small rescue groups. Many groups, some with large budgets, some with small budgets, some with no budget at all – all working towards a better world for animals.
There are also many people who aren't affiliated with any groups, or who volunteer with several.
What can tie us all together to be more effective? Is this even possible? I've been wondering about this.
Of course, this does raise some additional questions.
How similar are our goals? Helping animals can mean many different things for many people. Even people who agree on a general goal may have different immediate or secondary goals.
Do our choices of methods and tactics create what look like irreconcilable differences between us? Even though two people may agree on an end goal, the means we select can push us apart, or, worse, turn us against each other. Some people may even argue that another's choice of tactic is counterproductive and will actually lead away from the expressed end goal.
Added on top of these differences in goals and tactics are likely many personality differences that may have led people to start their own groups instead of joining up with another group. Or, they see their group as filling a gap or need.
On the whole, I think it is a very good thing to have many varied voices working for animals.
However, I wonder, could there be more coordination or cooperation – or at least dialogue – between all these people and groups?
Last year the Work Less Party hosted a forum on animal rights which brought together a number of people. People met other people they hadn't met before and found out about groups that they didn't know about. It was really great to see conversations starting and people exploring their similarities and differences.
What's the next step?
One thing that I am interested in trying is an unconference focused on animal advocacy. The idea would be to bring together a number of people working on a range of animal protection issues in a format that is really designed for open dialogue.
I attended the Vancouver ChangeCamp event, and would like to try a similar format: an Animal Advocacy Camp.
I'm hoping that people could come together with the intention of exploring their common ground and similarities, rather than pushing their own agendas and ideas.
I've started a Google group for anyone interested in helping with this event, and I'm looking to hold it in November of this year. The event wiki has been set up, but has no content yet.