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President and CEO of Humane Society of the United States comes to Grand Rapids

Wayne Pacelle will be discussing his best-selling book, "The Bond: Our Kinship with Animals, Our Call to Defend Them," at Calvin College as part of Wake Up Weekend on Jan. 19
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Wake Up Weekend schedule


7:30 p.m.: Wayne Pacelle, President and CEO, Humane Society of the United States

“The Bond: Our Kinship with Animals, Our Call to Defend Them”
Calvin College Chapel, 1835 Knollcrest Circle SE, Grand Rapids
A reception and book signing follow the talk.


3:30 p.m.: Bryant Terry, 5th Annual Animals and the Kingdom of God Lecturer
“Out of the Factory, Into the Field: Cooking as Inspiration for Liberation”
Covenant Fine Arts Center Recital Hall, 1795 Knollcrest Circle SE, Grand Rapids
A reception and book signing follow the lecture/cooking demo.


6:00 pm–”Compassionate Comestibles” Vegan Potluck*
Commons Annex Lecture Hall, Calvin College
Hosted by CCCS “Eating as an Act of Justice” Workshop and Square Inch Community.
At an event where omnivores, vegetarians, and vegans are coming together in fellowship, a vegan bill of fare insures that everyone can enjoy what’s on the menu! What’s your favorite vegan recipe? Bring a dish to share as well as your own washable or recyclable dinnerware.

10 a.m.: Panel Discussion:”Neighborhood Urban Growing”
Brick Road Pizza Company, 1017 Wealthy Street, Grand Rapids
Lisa Oliver King (Our Kitchen Table), Jill Myer (Greater Grand Rapids Food Systems Council), and special guest Bryant Terry discuss how to make our urban neighborhoods greener, more nourishing, and more just places to eat and to live. Bryant will be signing copies of The Inspired Vegan and his other books.


11 a.m.: Inspired Vegan Brunch
Brick Road Pizza Company, 1017 Wealthy Street, Grand Rapids
A vegan buffet of Brick Road brunch favorites supplemented with some custom selections from Bryant Terry’s hot-off-the-press cookbook, The Inspired Vegan. All you can eat for $12 (kids half price!).


1:30 p.m.: Panel Discussion: “Spiritual Food: Eating and the Church”
106 Gallery and Studio, 106 South Division, Grand Rapids
Join Steve De Ruiter, Leonard J. Vander Zee, and Michelle Loyd-Paige for a community discussion on the prospects and pitfalls that intensified discussion of the theological and moral importance of greener diets might have for hospitality, fellowship, and community service in the church.


3 p.m.: Nathan Runkle, Founder and Executive Director, Mercy For Animals
“Inspiring Compassion: Putting our Ethics on the Table”
106 Gallery and Studio, 106 South Division, Grand Rapids
Learn how our current food system affects the interests of our fellow non-human creatures, and how our food choices can become powerful tools for cultivating the virtues of compassion, mercy, and good stewardship.


6 p.m.: Opening Reception: KINSHIP-An Art Exhibition of and for Animals Like Us
Curated by GVSU Art and Design Professor Brett Colley, KINSHIP features the works of 15 concerned, compassionate artists, including Sue Coe, Jenny Pope, Adam Wolpa, Mike Guyette, Christina Mrozik, Shanna Shearer, Emily Gray Koehler, Kirsten Strom, Brett Colley, Ryan Hill, Tim Oliphant, Margaret Reed, Jenny Schneider, Richard Gibson and Linsey Tankersley.


6:30 p.m.: Sixth Annual Vegan Chili Cookoff
106 Gallery and Studio, 106 South Division, Grand Rapids
Want to go for the glory in the most competitive vegan chili cook-off in the land? Please send an e-mail to [email protected] at your earliest convenience to register your signature chili (preferred) or register on site. Please plan to have your chili on site and ready to eat by 6 p.m.


8:30 p.m.: Adoption Benefit Show
Featuring Damned Dogs, Radiator Hospital, and Royl Space
106 Gallery and Studio, 106 South Division, Grand Rapids
Your $6 suggested donation to see three amazing Michigan musical acts. The goal is to raise $420 for Sasha Farm to continue support of Moose, a rescued former veal calf whose room and board Wake Up Weekend sponsored last year.


Author Wayne Pacelle will discuss and sign his best-selling book Thursday evening at Calvin College.

Author Wayne Pacelle will discuss and sign his best-selling book Thursday evening at Calvin College. /Paul Markow Photography

Wayne Pacelle

Wayne Pacelle /Paul Markow Photography

Anyone who has read Wayne Pacelle's best-selling book “The Bond: Our Kinship with Animals, Our Call to Defend Them,” understands the mission of the president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). For those who haven't read it, Pacelle will be in Grand Rapids this week to offer the Cliffs Notes version of his lifetime of work.

Pacelle, who has been immersed in animal welfare since he graduated from Yale University 25 years ago, will speak at Calvin College's Chapel Sanctuary. He'll be discussing his book and holding a book signing as part of Wake Up Weekend, an annual grass-roots celebration of animal friendly advocacy, art, food, education, music, philosophy and religion in Grand Rapids, according to co-founder Matt Halteman

Halteman's work with HSUS played a role in Pacelle's decision to return to Grand Rapids on his book tour. Pacelle was also in West Michigan in August promoting the book.

“I have worked on a couple of writing projects for the Faith Outreach division of the HSUS,” Halteman, an assistant professor of philosphy at Calvin, said. “Those projects led to good relationships with two senior directors at HSUS, Christine Gutleben (Faith Outreach) and Paul Shapiro (Farm Animal Protection). Gutleben and Shapiro have both participated in previous Wake Up Weekends, and they were kind enough to put in a good word for us with Pacelle.”

Pacelle's book covers his own experiences in animal advocacy as well has a broad range of work being done by HSUS to end animal abuse.

“It's a very rich and much deeper topic than most people planned,” Pacelle said. “It's a life's work, in a lot of ways, for me. I've been at [animal welfare] for 25 years, and it's an incredible passion for me. I'm driven to turn things around for animals and society. I have a lot of energy, and I'm determined.”

While HSUS has far-reaching tentacles, Pacelle said his organization does have guidelines to help prioritize which causes receive the greatest support.

“At some level you just have to make arbitrary judgments, but there are a few factors for me that I consider,” Pacelle said. “One is how many animals are at risk in a particular industry or particular practice. Second is, do we have a chance of seeing change? And third, does it conform to the views of our constituency? What results is a matrix of issues.”

Those factors have led Pacelle and HSUS to concentrate on five central issues in recent years, all of which are addressed in “The Bond:”

  • Factory farming and the mistreatment of animals in industrial agriculture;

  • Animal fighting and the malicious treatment of animals;

  • Seal hunts in Canada

  • Puppy mills and ending the problem of pet euthanasia, particularly of healthy pets;

  • Poaching and wildlife abuses, including the trade of wildlife products and the trade in wildlife for pets

Of those causes, Pacelle said factory farming is the biggest challenge to HSUS.

“It's such a big powerful political force when you aggregate all of agribusiness,” he said. “The best outcome is when industry agrees to adopt a change so they become invested in change because it's a necessary part of their future and their success in business. Producers have got to be attentive to consumers. We are winning with consumers. Almost every decent person believes that all animals deserve humane treatment, including those used for food.”

The message sent to factory farms is getting through. In November 2008, voters in California overwhelmingly supported Proposition 2, a ballot initiative to improve the severe confinement methods of animal agriculture. HSUS played a huge role in getting the initiative passed, and the practice of better treatment for agricultural animals, including space allotment for chickens on farms, spread across the nation.

A more recent challenge for HSUS, and one of the most horrifying events Pacelle has personally encountered, is the hunting of baby seals in Canada. HSUS has called for a boycott of Canadian seafood to hit the seal hunters where it hurts most: their wallets.

You have an entirely helpless being, these baby seals whose mothers have just left them, unable to swim or to run, and men come with clubs and guns and slaughter them to kill and strip them for their fur,” Pacelle said. “People who kill seals are offseason fishermen. The seal profit is 5 percent or less of a fisherman's income. We have said if they're doing it just because it will give them additional profits, then we would strike at their major profit center [the seafood industry], which nets $2 billion. We have gotten more than 6,000 restaurants and supermarkets in the U.S. to join the boycott. The Canadian seafood market has declined in the U.S. because of it.”

Pacelle said HSUS also has succeeded in closing markets for seal products all over the world and in convincing the European Union to ban the import of seal products. These steps, he said, resulted in an 85 percent reduction in seal hunting. He hopes to make that 100 percent this year.

But Pacelle is not just about boycotting industry or cutting off finances to those who show such disregard for animals. He's also about solutions. He offers that the Canadian government, which subsidizes seal hunts, would be a lot better off by marketing seals as part of the tourist industry.

“[The Canadian government] can build a much better economic setup by having seal watching and showing an appreciation for these animals,” he said. “How many people are interested in seal killing or pelts? But how many would be interested in watching the mass migration of these marine mammals, millions of them?"

“A lot of these issues are simple, but we're stuck in our old views of the world with animals as commodities.”

Like his approach to the seal hunting issue, Pacelle helps simplify the issues and solutions on factory farming.

“One of my concerns in the book is humane economy – you can't separate business enterprise and our values,” Pacelle said. “That's what happened in factory farming. It was a moral race to the bottom where values were taken out of the equation and everything was reduced to driving down cost. When you separate business practices from values, you get a bad outcome." Pacelle also notes that "Michigan actually has some of the firmest agriculture laws in the country.”

“We need businesses to succeed, but we can't forget our values. Opposition to animal cruelty is a vitally important value to society. Animals matter, and when we mete out violence to animals, that conditions us to cause violence in the broader world. Animals are a bit of a proving ground. We can practice our skills at decency and showing mercy, or we can practice skills of being harsh and inhumane by exploiting animals."

“Animals test our character because they're powerless before us. We have all the control. We can choose to be cruel or merciful. I've devoted my life to the idea of promoting the idea of being merciful to all of God's creatures.”

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