Home: southern California
IHE Fan Since: 2006
Current Job: founder, Giraffe Revolution; writer/editor/coach
What led you to the path of humane education?
I found Zoe Weil’s book Above All, Be Kind at my local library about seven years ago, and I loved what she had to say. At the time I was a new mom and an academic-turned-freelance writer/editor, and I was regularly posting on my blog, “Having Enough (in a ‘Have-It-All’ World),” about redefining success (and really, living more consciously) in our culture. I wrote about Zoe’s book on my blog and connected with her and IHE. Everything IHE was doing felt in alignment with what I had been studying and writing about. Yet, I loved how humane education encapsulated and defined the principles I was toying with in a new and clear way.
How has your humane education experience influenced/affected you?
First, I think the biggest effect on me personally is finally having a “there there,” or a name, for the kind of work I was trying to find and do within academia (in an interdisciplinary cultural studies/media studies doctoral program), and then outside of academia in my own writing. Learning about humane education grounded me and helped me articulate what I really was seeking to do. It helped me connect the many “isms” I had been studying (consumerism, sexism, racism, classism, etc.) to issues of the environment and animals as well, and showed me ways to teach to the roots of real-life solutions (beyond theory!) — which I believe was key to finding my own niche in my work outside of the institution.
Second, I found an extended community in humane education. I discovered there was a whole group of us, diverse as we are, and under various names and backgrounds, but working for the same deep understanding and call to everyday action in our world. It helps me feel more motivated and more connected in my own vision and work.
Describe your current humane education work.
In 2012, I launched my online business Giraffe Revolution (with Megan the Vegan) to help people joyfully transition to what I call “plant-based eating & heart-based living.” (I use the giraffe metaphor because they have the biggest heart of all land animals and are herbivores.) I educate about eating a whole food, plant-based (vegan) diet, as well as other ways to live more humanely, including what we buy, watch, how we spend our time, etc. I received a grant to create an e-book and video series, which will be available online when it’s completed. I also write for The Huffington Post and AOL’s Patch on conscious living/humane education issues.
I’m building my business slowly, as I’m also currently homeschooling my two young children, who are my biggest inspirations and supporters (along with my teacher-husband). My goals include lots of writing to spread the message, as well as offering online mini-courses called “Change-Weeks” and possibly an online community. From the start, I’ve committed to donating at least 10% of my Giraffe Revolution profits to organizations changing the world through humane education, including IHE (and my goal is to donate higher percentages as I grow, through Change-Week fundraisers).
How has your humane education work been making an impact?
Given the relatively small audience I have so far, I’m seeing an impact one person at a time. I am thrilled when people who have read something I wrote, heard me speak, or watched my TEDx talk, tell me that they are seeing things with a different perspective, and even made one different choice. As fellow humane educators know, it tends to be a slower process with adults, and I am trying to celebrate every small, individual success as one piece of a larger impact we are making with this work.
Share a success story.
When I gave my humane-education-related talk, “Who Matters?” at a TEDx event, I was blown away by the positive responses I got. A woman in her 20’s told me she was crying so hard she had to leave the room after my talk. A 50-something woman said it was the first time she really wanted to go vegan, as all the explanations she had heard before had never truly hit home for her. And three of the other speakers, professional men in their 40’s, said they wanted to learn more about vegan living, after hearing me and a teenage vegan speak at the event. Later, several moms in my online homeschooling group watched the YouTube video of my talk and asked about humane education (of course I sent them to IHE!).
Seeing the chord this talk struck, in these different people in different ways, inspired me to keep writing and speaking in this way, because I saw first-hand that there are many people ripe to hear the message we are trying to transmit.
What are your thoughts about the power of humane education to positively transform the world?
I believe that humane education is KEY to transforming the world — because it gets to the roots of the world’s problems and offers a real path to solving them, by inspiring each of us to be solutionaries in whatever we do.
It’s because I feel so strongly about this that I decided to donate at least 10% of my profits to humane education organizations that work with kids. Given that I felt called to work with adults at this point, it was important to me to donate to organizations providing humane education to children, who of course are the real holders of the future. If we can teach both adults and children to understand the humane education approach and become solutionaries in their own lives and work, I truly believe we will begin to steer the ship of this planet in a new direction.
Tell us about your experience taking IHE’s online course Teaching for a Positive Future (TPF).
I enjoyed the structure and convenience of being able to take the TPF course online, and also connecting with other educators around humane education topics. I liked seeing the different ways each classmate was using the theories and exercises. Connecting with the course instructor, Marsha Rakestraw, was a highlight for me, as she was so supportive and encouraging of the work I’m doing. Because I already had so many years of graduate work in related fields under my belt and was not in a place to do another extended program right now, I was so thankful to be able to be part of the TPF course and receive some training in humane education specifically, and connect with IHE in that way.
How has what you learned from the TPF course helped you in your life and work?
I have referred back to the course materials several times, as I create talks and as I work on columns and my e-book. I feel like it keeps me grounded in the real work I want to do, and it offers me ideas on how to infuse the humane education principles into my teaching (even when my writing is my teaching!), and how to engage my audience and structure activities to introduce these ideas.
What would you say to others wondering if the TPF course is right for them?
I wish every educator could take this course! I don’t think it matters who or where you are teaching, these principles can and need to be infused into every classroom, formal and informal. The TPF course offers practical understanding of the foundational humane education concepts, and an abundance of activities to utilize in various teaching environments. Plus, you get a class full of colleagues inspired to make a difference in the world!