2010 International Animal Rights Gathering

12/7/10

Venaus, Italy, from July 8th - 11th.

In a wonderful place in the middle of the alps more than 300 activists gathered to know each other and share skills, experiences, ideas.

The place that hosted the gathering is a resistance camp against the High Speed Train (TAV) project, created back in 2005 after 90.000 people, mostly locals, marched in the mountains, broke police cordons and took back their land to oppose the destruction of these lovely mountains. A video of their struggle was aired in the first night, and the emotion to be in such a fighting village was intense. This was clear also from the general positive reaction of the locals. While building the camp for AR2010 we had a lot of help with infrastructure and other needs, and during the gathering itself everyone appreciated how local food shops created "vegan only" corners and neighbours were always smiling and nice. We even had the major of the town coming to the reception asking if everything was alright and if we needed anything, and he opened a private space to let us park all the cars!

The gathering started on thursday the 8th with a 200 strong march in the city centre of Torino, informing people about the horrors of vivisection and specifically about the new campaign against Green Hill/Marshall farm in Montichiari, Italy, breeders of beagles for vivisection labs like the notorious HLS. After the march 3 buses have been filled with activists from so many parts of the world and up we were at the camp for some vegan food, ready to start the gathering itself.

The gathering was full of workshops, all day long, covering almost all aspects of activism and with a strong practical approach. we thought that apart from sharing ideas it was really important to share skills and let people come back home with new projects and new possibilities to help their groups and campaigns. We also started for the first time what we called "drop-in sessions" or mentoring, with a few activists available everyday to give one-to-one advices on computer security, design, climbing
trees and civil disobedience actions. We all think this idea should be repeated with more skill-sharing workshops and one-to-one moments in future gatherings.

One of the main aspects covered by many workshops has been investigating animal abuse. Grassroots activists recently took part in many investigations all around Europe in different areas of abuse and with different aims or methods. All their projects, experiences and technical improvement was shared during the days of the gathering. Investigations undeniably had a serious impact on industries and we really need to go deep analyzing and discussing them.

Apart from appreciating some really nice italian vegan food there was time for some fun too, of course, which every year helps to create stronger bonds and friendships. The annual football world cup was won, of course, by one of the two italian teams (without any cheating!).

Organizing the gathering is a lot of work, but is also a great experience and can give some gratifications. We all hope these days were great and useful for all the attending activists as they were for us.

See you all in 2011!

For the animals,

AR2010 Organizing Team

 

From Dusk 'til Dawn
An Insider's View of the Growth of the Animal Liberation Movement

© Keith Mann
puppypincher@yahoo.co.uk