Funded! This project was successfully funded on October 14, 2009.

Update #8

You've met the minimum – should I still become a backer?

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First, I want to thank all of the incredibly generous backers! You are amazing! Thank you for guaranteeing that this project will happen! It still hasn't sunk in yet, but I'll have more to say after tonight once the project is officially successful.

So today is the last day of the campaign, and since supporters have done an amazing job of promotion, I'm sure lots of people will still be visiting the site. So while there is no longer the danger that I will lose the pledges of the present backers, there's also no reason not to back the project if it is something you agree with.

Obviously when doing a Kickstarter project, you want to choose the absolute bare minimum necessary because you can always raise more money, but if you raise less, you get nothing. And I would say three months is the bare minimum that this project needs. Believe me, I am going to live as frugally as possible so that I can work full-time on this project as long as possible/necessary, hopefully beyond three months.

But there is a ridiculous amount of ground for me to cover. As I mention on the L.O.V.E. site, if I truly want to maximize the impact of the honey site, integrating more generic explanation of veganism is necessary.

I think a site that explains why vegans do not eat honey is great, but I really want to take it to the next level. I want the site to be able to explain veganism through an examination of the honey issue. Now, this is happening already to some extent, but I want to make that an explicit goal of the site.

Veganism is of course about non-exploitation, not reducing suffering or cruelty (everybody already opposes the latter things; we don't need a vegan movement in order to oppose cruelty). So what better way to explain veganism than by examining a case where most everyone coming into it thinks that the situation is not "cruel" to begin with?

That, more than anything, is I think why the honey issue is confusing to people, even among some people who practice veganism. People are so stuck in the mindset that it's OK to exploit animals as long as you do it nicely, that sometimes even new vegans don't realize that they've stumbled into something much more profound. I'm willing to bet that people think that honey is vegan less because they don't care about bees and more because they don't understand what veganism truly stands for.

So if you are excited about the possibility of transforming the honey issue into something that we can use to present veganism in a positive light, there's still time to back this project.


Update #7

'Biased toward a vegan world' - the site update begins already!

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1. As promised, here is the first new content for the site! Biased toward a vegan world
2. Check out Steven's post at the L.O.V.E. site, The honey issue & focusing on the most marginalized groups.


Update #6 - For backers only

47 hours to go, 79% funded!

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For backers only. If you're a backer of this project, please log in to read this post.


Update #5

Why Jeffrey Masson can't write about insects, yet why someone must

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I watched a video interview with Jeffrey Masson recently. I love how he has evolved through his writing and become more radical over time (though there are still areas where I'm hoping he'll continue to evolve!). I greatly admire him for being able to make a living writing books for a general audience, as it would be very difficult for me to tone down my ideas enough for that.

He starts discussing the publishing world around 14:26. He describes a hypothetical meeting with his agent, running book ideas by him: "I'd love to write something on the emotional lives of insects." Agent: "sucks, never sell it." Alas!

That is precisely why this Kickstarter project is necessary. Insects are not commercially viable, not just for books, but nonprofits as well. Why do some vegan nonprofit corporations tell people not to worry about bees and other insects? They don't want to marginalize themselves by speaking up for marginalized animals. They want to hang on to mainstream status rather than challenge it. I understand their predicament – it's tough to challenge the hand that feeds you – but I think that we as a movement do need to support the more status-quo challenging ideas as well.
Going to extremes
Howard Zinn points out that

in any given political situation, there is a very large number of possible alternatives, both in desired goals and in the means of achieving them. The actual alternatives put forward in any one situation are usually much fewer than the total range of possibilities. And the most extreme suggestion put forward at the time will be labeled "extremist" even though it may be far less sweeping than other possible courses of action.

If we think our ideas are too radical to be accepted, the solution is not to water them down to make them more appealing, but rather to present our ideas that are even more radical. Dan Ariely explains in Predictably Irrational that humans make decisions by comparison. Presented with two competing ideas about animal rights, the more radical version will not result in the total rejection of the concept – it will only make the less radical version more acceptable.
Normalizing radical and radicalizing norms
Rather than retreating as society changes, social movements like veganism need to keep in front of it. In response to the charge that radical slavery Abolitionists retarded the progress of emancipation, James Russell Lowell pointed out that were the Abolitionists "to go back to the position from which they started, they would find themselves less fanatical than a very respectable minority of the people. The public follows them step by step, occupying the positions they have successively fortified and quitted, and it is necessary that they should keep in advance in order that people may not be shocked by waking up and finding themselves Abolitionists."

Only by being "radical" animal rights activists can we actually create social change. Our movement need not to pander to what people already believe in order to succeed. By simply articulating and implementing our alternative vision its wild fullness, the radical becomes the mundane, and the world shifts by our presence.


Update #4

In which I attempt to explain the personal significance of this project

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You are an idiot. … Animals, plants, and all the fruits of this world were put here for our use by God. It seems to me that you are not only missing this point, but also Jesus in your life. Get help.

– Anonymous beekeeper, 26 March 2009
If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.

– Jesus, The Gospel of Thomas


As Kickstarter projects are clearly about the people involved as much as the projects themselves, I wanted to share why this project is important to me, hopefully having already explained its significance in general.

Until now I've had trouble sharing this because if I want to explain why this project is important to me, I first have to admit that it is. But if I admit that it's important to me, then all of the sudden we're into the territory of my life's purpose and "what I'm here to do" (my Personal Legend for The Alchemist fans) and other heady things...by which I mean: it's terrifying.
Running from my purpose
If I'm doing one of those exercises that asks you to recall a time when you felt most energized by your work, I always have to respond with working on the honey site as it is when I have felt most alive. Embarrassing, perhaps, but true. It's sort of like how I wake up at 4:30 a.m. drafting animal rights essays in my head. Part of me knows that writing about animal rights is what I am supposed to be doing, and yet....

I go back and forth. I worked up the nerve to start this funding campaign, but it's a constant struggle to mentally welcome and accept the pledges. Because what if the project actually succeeds, and I actually get to write about bees for three months, and I actually create a really awesome site and I actually begin to align my life with my purpose instead of constantly running from it? As Marianne Williamson says, "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us."

The funny part about that beekeeper's comment is that I do have Jesus in my life; the Jesus action figure on my desk and Jesus magnets on my fridge are not ironic – I'm a big fan of Jesus. Unfortunately, I know all too well what he was talking about in that quote.

I could sit here and not put any more work into this project and let it end without reaching the goal. Then I could just go back to my cubicle and mindlessly click click click away at my temp job that requires nothing from me. Which is really safe and sounds tempting but for the fact that I left that job without a backup plan because it was – how to put it nicely? – making me want to die.
Aligning my life with my purpose
I figured that leaving that job would force me to get on track and not allow me to hide anymore. It worked and led to this project. It just seems to me that if someone would pay me to perform a senseless task that requires no special talent on my part and adds no real value to society, it has to be possible to make a living (for a few months at any rate) doing something that requires me to give something of myself and that actually creates value for people.

I recently wrote in one of those early morning essays:

It is my hope that writing about animal freedom will give me some peace. That is first and foremost. If it gives others comfort, I am honored. If it helps someone to uncover long-buried truths inside of them, then I am happy to be the one holding the mirror. And if it should actually assist some nonhuman animals in their liberation, then I am truly blessed and grateful.

I think that that statement qualifies as my purpose in life. And so the beekeeper is right – about Jesus and about getting help. Bringing forth what is within me is exactly what this project is about, and I hope to be able to do so with your support. Thank you!

(And if you too are working up the nerve to pursue your dreams, let me know, and I'd be happy to direct you to the inspirational folks who've helped me get here and on whom I continue to rely for encouragement.)


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