Reporting today from the Animal Rights National Conference in Alexandria, Virginia! I’m here today to help out the Compassion Over Killing team, handing out literature and also some simply divine brownies and cookies from the DC vegan bakery Sticky Fingers. The Exhibit Room is packed with cruelty-free goodies — everything from baked goods and vegan dogfood… to cosmetics and fashion… to informative literature and DVDs from various animal rights organizations.
A new find today is NYC-based Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics, an all-vegan line of air-brush makeup. Their “lip tar” is a semi-matte hybrid of lipstick and lip gloss, and comes in a stunning rainbow of mixable primaries. I talked with a conference attendee earlier who was wearing an electric-blue lip gloss, specifically to confirm that it was, indeed, OCC’s shade called RX. More my style: OCC’s “Something” (pale blue) and “Dangerous” (grey) nail polishes. Thanks to make-up artist and founder David Klasfeld for sending me home with such pretty colors!
Another new find: Calico Dragon. Handbag designer Candy Brown has created a line of canvas/cotton tote bags with striking silk-screens. Images of animals are coupled with slogans that, on their own, have a bit of a bite. My personal fave is the large tote with the silkscreen of an elephant: “Whips and Chains Belong in the Bedroom, Not at the Circus.” So sexy and feisty — I love it! Extra props: a portion of profits is donated to animal charities.
My treat-yourself of the day: the “Vaute” coat in ultra-vibrant blue (the color totally makes this coat!) by Vaute Couture, proceeds of which go to Farm Sanctuary. Founder Leanne Mai-ly Hilgart was on hand to share her designs with us. Her coats are solely from vegan, eco-conscious materials and produced in her hometown of Chicago. Vaute has been featured in several magazines and on Oprah.com, and worn by plenty of celebs. According to Leanne, actresses Ginnifer Goodwin and Zooey Deschanel have the same blue coat in their closets. Another CoK volunteer purchased a black jacket that has the added flair of vintage buttons. The clothing line, now entering its second season, is expanding to include men’s coats — truly classic designs, with modern touches. Also from Vaute: organic hand-dyed dresses, upcycled windbreakers, and soy-yarn hats and scarves.
Beyond the shopping extravaganza, there are events going on all weekend here at the Hilton. Senator Dennis Kucinich opened the conference with a special address; there are screenings of the films The Cove, Skin Trade, and Bold Native; and, throughout the days, there are sessions on a range of topics. For example, the session Challenging Language and Labels. Still saying you’re the “owner” of your companion animal? Try switching out the O word for “guardian” and see how, in a subtle but powerful way, doing so can change how you and other people view your relationship with Fido or Whiskers. It’s amazing how one word can make such a difference, by conveying that our nonhuman family members have something greater than mere “property” status. Also, I attended a session this afternoon, Enacting Protective Laws, which focused on how to forge coalitions and deal with legislators. This talk was a good prep for Monday, when I’ll be participating in “Lobby Day” at the Capitol. I’ve scheduled appointments at the offices of Senator John McCain (my state senator) and Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (my representative). There, I’ll be meeting with staff members and letting them know about animal-related issues that are important to me, such as a newly proposed bill that could put an end to animal “crush” videos (HR 5566).
Your state legislators would love to hear from you, too — you don’t have to be in Washington DC to lend your voice to the animals! You can visit legislators’ local offices. Or, email messages and phone calls to local representatives are quick and easy to make… five minutes out of your day, max. Just let them know that you’re a constituent and you care about having laws in place that will help protect animals. For contact information, use the Find Your Elected Officials search on the Humane Society of the United States’ web site.