Communication Workshop Report from the 2022 Animal & Vegan Advocacy Summit
On October 20-23, some of the We Animals Media (WAM) team attended the inaugural Animal and Vegan Advocacy Summit (AVA Summit) in Washington DC, US. The conference attracted nearly 1,000 participants and featured 80+ expert speakers plus dozens of exhibitors from across the movement.
The WAM team had a fantastic time at this year’s conference: from exhibiting and meeting some of our wonderful supporters, to facilitating a workshop, attending talks, and networking with so many inspiring and influential folks from within movement. It was so great to see a number of our volunteers and contributing photojournalists there too!
[Left to right] WAM’s 2022 Animal Photojournalism Fellow, Seb Alex with Communications Director, Warren Bowen and Digital Marketing Manager, Eva von Jagow.
On the first day of the summit, our Communications Director, Warren Bowen, facilitated a workshop entitled “Communicating on Behalf of Animals”. This 45-minute session was attended by roughly 40 people who participated in five groups. The session was divided into three sections: brainstorming ways animal advocates are currently communicating well; ways we are not; and solutions to the challenges identified. Below is a summary of the key ideas generated by the participants on how we as an animal advocacy movement can continue to improve our communication.
Successful communication in our movement
Identified communication successes of the movement were wide-ranging both within and between groups. Of the categories that emerged, three had the most examples of success:
- Storytelling (e.g. photo- and videography, animated videos, documentaries)
- Moral dimensions (e.g. putting people in animals’ position, exposing cruelty, debunking myths about sentience)
- Consumerism (e.g. vegan product marketing, shopping guides and recipes)
Challenges With Communication
Identified challenges were likewise diverse, with some overlapping between groups. After brainstorming their list of challenges in communication that our movement faces, groups voted for the challenge they would most like to brainstorm solutions to. Of the myriad challenges identified, the most-voted for challenges that participants wanted to troubleshoot were:
- Communicating research in digestible ways
- Infighting among us
- Not communicating we are operating within oppressive capitalism
- Angry vegans and triggering language
Suggested Solutions To These Core Challenges
Groups were then asked to turn these five core challenges into questions that they could generate solutions to. Many of the solutions that participants suggested were considered high impact and low effort, offering potentially easy communication wins. There are a selection of the many solutions offered:
1. How might we listen better, extend compassion, meet people where they’re at and explain simply?
- Break bread with nonvegans
- Introducing and celebrating small steps of nonvegan
2. How might we communicate the research in a more digestible way?
- Learn from other movements
- Find ways to centralize the information
3. How might we eliminate infighting among animal advocates?
- Prioritize common ground
- Support the movement
4. How might we address systems of oppression within (e.g. capitalism)?
- Intersectionality through collaborations and funding
- Acknowledging and voicing
5. How might we communicate effectively?
- Not using trauma of oppressed groups
- Using personal stories
Warren’s workshop led to some fruitful discussions among participants and facilitated solutions-focused ideation on ways to address a number of core challenges that the animal advocacy movement is currently facing.
“My hope is that moving forward we and other advocates continue to identify our success and challenges with open minds, and pursue these and other solutions to better communicate on behalf of animals. Thank you to everyone who participated!” – Warren Bowen, We Animals Media Communciations Director
Our Communications Director, Warren Bowen, facilitating WAM’s workshop at the 2022 AVA Summit, which attracted roughly 40 participants.
View the full findings from Warren’s 2022 AVA Summit workshop “Communicating on Behalf of Animals”.
We’d like to extend our thanks to everyone who participated in WAM’s workshop as well as to the AVA Summit organizers for hosting such a successful and welcoming inaugural conference. We’re already looking forward to next year’s event.