Collectively Free is an activist community that works towards total animal liberation anti-speciesist messaging, creative actions, pro-intersectionality & community building.
We are always looking for better and more creative ways of activism and we fuel our community with inspiration.
We are not afraid of pushing the boundaries and experimenting. In our journey there will be successes and mistakes.
Be part of an inclusive community of activists!
We are big dreamers and we put our dreams into action. We put all our efforts into creating a network of individuals who are eager for social and political change and who also believe we have no room for any form of exploitation in our society.
Our mission is simple: Total animal liberation by challenging the dominant culture of speciesism and raising consciousness on a mass scale through highly creative non-violent campaigns and using anti-speciesist messaging. We tell the animals’ stories, build a community and emphasize intersectionality, underscoring the connection between all kinds of oppression, human and non-human, while always keeping the primary focus on the animals.
HERE’S SOME FUN FACTS
SAFER SPACE AGREEMENT
We are activists because we believe in universal principles such as justice, equality and freedom. It is our responsibility to ensure that our own space is inclusive to everyone and that perpetrators of oppression in our own community are held accountable.
1.2 ONLINE COMMUNITY
We live in a world where technology has allowed us to communicate efficiently from afar. Our online community will help you connect with activists from all over the world, share experiences, suggest ideas, learn and teach.
1.2.1 CF NETWORK
An online group for supporters and participants in CF’s actions. We use this space to communicate logistics about events (e.g. meeting times and places), as well as to share creative ideas and discuss future events and campaigns. How to join? Our organizers will add you to it.
1.2.2 LOCAL GROUP
In addition to our international group, each chapter has their own local online community which provides a safe space to discuss local issues, events, actions, etc. You will be directed to your chapter’s online group.
Now to the “real world”! Why are social events so important? We spend so much energy and dedicate ourselves to the movement but all this passion can be easily spent without a place to recharge it. So don’t underestimate the value of a gathering with fellow activists. It’s great to spend more relaxed and fun times with our like-minded friends!
Potlucks can be organized in different ways but we recommend to keep it simple: this is supposed to be a fun event and you shouldn’t be spending too much time organizing it. Check out the step-by-step suggestions below.
1.3.2 OPEN MEETINGS
A CF organizer meeting with invited members of our extended family of activists. We will discuss campaigns, strategies, and all around ideas on how to improve our collective knowledge, skills and methods. Here are some examples of how to organize an open meeting.
Movies are also a useful tool of activism. We maximize the effort by organizing speakers and a panel after the movie. These types of events are a great opportunity to increase community knowledge and advocacy. Like potlucks and open meetings, they are also a valuable opportunity to unite and to announce and promote local projects.
Technology is exciting. It is a tool that helps activists organize and connect. However, while technology can connect us, it can also make us feel alone. Sherry Turkle, who’s been studying technology and how it affects us since 1984, talks about the importance of face-to-face conversations, which allow us to really learn about and get to know one another. The Unite. Act. Transform program encourages this face-to-face communication between organizers and activists.
We never thought we would be reading about business but we found some of the business modules to be quite interesting. In pretty much every business module out there you will find that “one-on-one” meetings are highly valued. Why? Because they provide a suitable platform to develop meaningful relationships at least in our case. We’re not too sure about the business industry!
Ask some questions and see where the talk will take you. The following are suggested questions, feel free to tailor them as you seem fit.
Business models also tell us that when they do these sort of meetings once or twice a year it’s not enough to develop good results. Even though we are far from being a business, perhaps we can learn from their expertise.
We don’t have the answer yet to what works best, so we would like to suggest following up on meetings with the same people 3-4 times a year
Large-scale change can only happen through a collective, through the uniting of not only individuals but of groups as well. There are many animal rights groups all over the world but rarely do they form coalitions. While each group is important in their unique efforts and ways of presenting the issues, ultimately, our goals are all the same – animal liberation. We acknowledge that people’s triggers are different (what prompted me to be vegan may be different than what prompted you) and so we need all sorts of tactics in order to reach all sorts of people. Yet we must also acknowledge each other’s contributions and allow ourselves to join forces and organize collective actions.
When a group is co-sponsoring with your chapter, always make sure to credit the group(s) who participated in the action and include them in posts, press, materials, etc.
1.5.1 MICRO LEVEL
Coalition building can happen on a micro level – when members of other groups participate actively in other groups events and actions.
1.5.2 MACRO LEVEL
Coalition building can also happen on a macro level – when other groups participate actively in other groups events and actions.
It seems like the word intersectionality currently to be getting a lot of attention as well as confusion. Quite often there isn’t a mention of the originators of the concept, leaving it to be a white-centric circle. So please, when talking about intersectionality, let’s remember that black women have been the leaders in this field of sociology. Love it or hate it, the concept is challenging all of us, and we shouldn’t turn away from it. Here’s a video that explains our approach further:
We would like to share our view about it and how we are learning to apply it to Collectively Free. When we first started CF, our dream was to create an anti-speciesist group that embraced the intersections of oppression, both internally in our community and externally in our actions:
Within our community, we strive to create a safe space for activists to express themselves and for potential supporters to join us. Our internal commitments include but are not limited to:
A few successful examples of actions are our NYC Pride 2015 participation, Chick-Fil-A and Starbucks.
Sometimes we get angry at people who criticize animal rights activists “don’t you have anything better to do?”. When those comments come from minorities it can not only mean speciesism but it can also mean that because they are in “survival” mode they may not think about the bigger picture. Participating in causes like raising the minimum wage to $15 would drastically impact people who don’t get to think about these issues; showing our support to other social justice movements will only strengthen our community more.
You may also choose to volunteer for an organization like Food Not Bombs which provide vegan food to anyone in need of a meal.
HOW CAN WE START DIALOGUE?
When participating in other social justice events show your full support – trying to engage folks with other issues can be seen as disrespectful. We recommend wearing an AR shirt and having cards and literature available with you but only speaking on the subject if someone else brings it up.
Connect with folks and focus on universal principles of justice and equality and if possible share the reasons why you’re an animal rights activist.
If you are at an event which opens the space for discussion perhaps share your point of view. For example. During the Q&A at a feminism panel one of our activists asked about how come speciesism wasn’t mentioned in the feminist fight since both oppressions target female bodily autonomy. That sparked dialogue and brought attention to the intersects of oppression.
Farm sanctuaries are a vital piece of the animal rights movement. Without the hard work and dedication of such places, rescued animals would not have the opportunity to heal and enjoy their lives.
Haven’t we all heard comments such as “pigs are dirty!”, “chickens are just chickens!”? When we ask those people if they have ever rubbed a pig’s belly or held a chicken, the answer is usually no – especially in cities where concrete eats any sign of green and nature is silenced and neglected.
Sanctuaries are able to fill in that very important gap of disconnect. While some activists choose to highlight the individuality of animals through actions, sanctuaries provide an actual physical experience of what that individuality looks like. They offer the opportunity to look into a nonhuman animal’s eyes and bond.
Sanctuaries are also the most appropriate place for a nonhuman animal who’s been rescued from the horrors of the industry to heal.
In addition to all these important roles that sanctuaries have, they also provide a haven for activists as well. It is quite easy to let ourselves be deeply affected by the screams of trillions of animals. Within our own community we are constantly bombarded with photos, news and videos which can drain our energy out. Experiencing the freedom and happiness of nonhuman animals at first hand is so reinvigorating and it can balance out our anxiety and sadness.
There are many ways we can get involved:
Activism comes in all shapes and sizes and strategies range tremendously. At Collectively Free we focus on highly-creative forms of direct action and we encourage everyone to think outside the box and come up with new ideas. We also encourage other forms of activism. To learn more about the importance of directly action check out our presentation “Why Activism? Why Direct Action?“
Through our “International Organizers” group and bi-weekly meetings we ensure everyone express their ideas for actions and beyond! Nothing is decided unless the majority agrees.
At the same time that we value what the majority thinks, chapters also reserve the right to act according to what they seem more fit to their specific needs. Autonomy is very important and it helps empower our community even more.
PASS THE BATON
We really mean it when we say we want to empower you! The way this model works is giving “lead” to a chapter to come up with themes, ideas, and “lead” the other chapters for an international day of action. Of course, we will still do everything collectively, but instead of expecting the NY chapter to come up with theme ideas, the initiative will originate from you. Don’t worry, we won’t just throw you into a task like this, we will make sure you have enough confidence and experience to partake in it.
2.1 LOCAL ACTIONS
Actions that are, of course, from your local area chapter.
Note: local actions also constitute joint actions with chapters nearby, especially when it comes to high-impact actions – numbers do matter in some cases.
TIP: Create a google spreadsheet of potential events or put them directly into your chapter’s shared calendar so you don’t miss out. We recommend to also sign up for mailing lists of potential targets.
Because of the nature of most of our actions, direct action, it’s recommended that we plan the actions in secret and omit the location of targets when creating a public event. We have had actions compromised due to information being displayed on social media. Check the links below to learn what we think is the most effective way to organize an action.
Everyday activism is also not just about spontaneity but also about identifying venues or events in your local area that will be the most effective and will generate media attention.
2.1.2 HIGH-IMPACT ACTIONS
High-impact actions are actions which present substantial opportunity for exposure – media and volume of people. These actions generally require complex planning and joint forces with nearby chapters and/or other groups. An example was Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest.
2.1.3 NEWSWORTHY ACTIONS
Newsworthy actions can really maximize our impact. Take the example of “Cecil, the Lion”. When you go through your newsfeed all you see are stories about Cecil, the Lion; you tune in the radio, it’s the same thing; and people at your job are asking you how do you feel about it – that’s when you know it’s time to organize an action around the issue!
In situations like these we must act quickly. The media is merciless when it comes to considering something news or not. It is also an important opportunity to form coalitions, move a big mass of activists, and create memes around the theme.
2.1.4 INSTITUTIONAL ACTIONS
“The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., activist Stokely Carmichael, congresswoman Barbara Jordan, and writer Betty Friedan wanted individuals to change; but the main thrust of their advocacy was to change institutions, including government, academia, and commerce. Convincing a white soda-fountain clerk in Greensboro, North Carolina, to abandon his personal prejudice against African Americans would have accomplished little. Convincing Woolworth’s to serve African Americans at their lunch counter in Greensboro accomplished a great deal.”
An institution is a society or organization founded for a religious, educational, social, or similar purpose. How can we find ways of disrupting the hypocrisy of these institutions? It may sound radical to want to disrupt a church, but they too are normalizing speciesism, as are schools, the media, corporations and many others.
Note: Let’s all be really careful about how to best challenge such instituions. For example, we wouldn’t want Atheists only disrupting a flesh barbeque event at a Church, or non-Jewish activists to have the primary voice at a Kaporos disruption.
2.2 INTERNATIONAL CAMPAIGNS
Inspiration and ideas defy borders and connects us all. Even though we may be far away from one another, our voices echo as one.
2.3 MONTHLY DAY OF ACTION
The international day of action happens once a month and it brings activists from all over the world together, with one common goal: animal liberation.
2.4 BI-WEEKLY INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZERS MEETINGS
A lot can get lost in the virtual world, including powerful ideas, the ability to collaborate dynamically and personal connection. This is why we strive to making the distance between us shorter by conference calling with video or audio – with large numbers it can be challenging to maintain a steady video streaming connection. The CF International Meetings happen every 2 weeks and it offers the opportunity for activists to not only collaborate more efficiently but to voice concerns as well.
More to come.
Most people follow the news. The news media are powerful shapers of people’s opinion – they influence the everyday person and the decision makers of our society. Although the the media are difficult to influence, we as “ordinary members of the public” can make them hear us.
Here’s a step-by-step on how to grow the presence of animal rights in the media.
I HAVE NEVER ORGANIZED BEFORE AND I DON’T KNOW ANY ACTIVISTS – HOW CAN I START?
First off, this is a very exciting opportunity and please know that we will be with you throughout the entire process. Fear not!
Here are some steps to help you out.
HOW MUCH TIME IS EXPECTED OF ME AS AN ORGANIZER?
You should expect to spend 8-10+ hours a week on organizing responsibilities, including:
This is in addition to individual roles we may have established to each individual. For instance, if your role is social media, you are also responsible for that area.
HOW CAN I REACH OUT TO POTENTIAL ORGANIZERS?
Do you have people interested in joining the community or perhaps contributing in some way? Let’s get to know them and offer options.
Interested in organizing with CF: “Hi! It’s really exciting to know you want to join the team! We have tons of tools that empower activists to start organizing where they live. I’d be happy to talk to you about all this via Skype if you’d like – there’s nothing better than a conversation face-to-face!
If you’d like to know about what we do and what we are about here’s a useful link http://collectivelyfree.org/why-cf/”
Interested in organizing but not necessarily with CF: “Hi! I’m part of this activist community called Collectively Free and we are all about [community building/intersectionality/non-violent direct action/animals/diversity, etc.]. We have tons of tools that empower activists to start organizing where they live. I’d be happy to talk to you about all this via Skype if you’d like – there’s nothing better than a conversation face-to-face!
If you’d like to know about what we do and what we are about here’s a useful link http://collectivelyfree.org/why-cf/”
Interested in finding out how they can contribute to the CF community but are not ready to jump into an organizer’s’ role yet: “There are many ways one can contribute to our community! Here’s a list of possible roles we so appreciate.”
And then what?
IS BEING AN ORGANIZER THE ONLY ROLE I CAN HAVE?
There are so many areas in our community that you can contribute to. From artists to lawyers, we would love to have anyone involved!
Check out our “roles sheet” to identify the areas you can contribute to. If you have any other skills we did not include, please reach out to us so we can have you participate.
HOW CAN WE BETTER DIVIDE THE WORKLOAD?
If we each commit to performing the tasks we need no one will feel burnt out. So let’s do it collectively! We have created an “Areas Of Commitment” spreadsheet that will help you define “roles” within the team and split the tasks more efficiently.
We ask people to only mark the areas they are 100% committed to. For example, if you have helped once or twice with social media, do not mark that area as yours.
There are also areas in which all members should be a part of like sharing our posts or promoting events/actions.
Note that some areas are more flexible than others and it’s possible to have people alternate between tasks. For example, N. and B. may be responsible for contacting people in the day of action but may choose to take turns in that task.
I’M NOT GETTING THE RESPONSE AND ENTHUSIASM I EXPECTED FROM ACTIVISTS. WHAT AM I DOING WRONG?
It’s very important to engage activists as much as possible. When you post something on your group do they look like this?
Writing a few powerful sentences makes all the difference in engaging activists. Here’s our social media guideline for posting on social media that can make your posts more attractive and inspiring. Don’t just post. Engage and inspire.
Do you have a creative mind for memes or would like to help us create social media content? Join our CF Social Media Group!
HOW DOES THE SECRET GROUP WORK?
As defined previously, the CF secret group will serve mostly to create a solid network of activists that are willing to chip in with ideas, suggest actions/events and participate. Participants don’t necessarily need to be from where you specific chapter is located. For instance, the NY CF Chapter has a few members in its secret group that are from either far away cities or cities nearby.
HOW TO CONVEY OUR MESSAGE EFFECTIVELY? IN PERSON.
WHAT KIND OF ACTIONS & EVENTS DOES CF DO?
CF’s actions and events include but are not limited to:
Direct action interventions
Inspired by the 50’s and 60’s sit-ins, these actions involve entering an establishment that normalizes the exploitation of non-human animals, holding space, and speaking out on behalf of the victims. These non-violent actions last no more than 3-4 minutes and are always followed by traditional outreach and leafletting outside the establishment. An example can be found here.
Typically in public spaces, these actions engage passersby in non confrontational yet creative ways, pushing the boundaries of the norms we have all been socially conditioned to.
Play is useful for social movements in countless ways. CF uses theater as another tool for social change. For example: theater offers a way of challenging power, rather than replicating oppression patterns or power dynamics. Play allows social actors to disarm the audience. The results are new forms of social relations; It serves as a means for community building and strengthening. Our goal is to create communities of support and resistance; it becomes a form of repressive desublimation (Marcuse); Yet, at its most vital, play invites people to participate. It is attention-grabbing and intriguing. Read the full study here. Check out some other examples of theater being used for social justice issues, like the theater of the oppressed and feminism. An example of CF theater can be found here.
In the 70’s, black feminists who worked both for women’s right and civil rights, started to look at gender and race as connected issues. The feminist movement back then wasn’t talking about race, and the civil rights movement wasn’t addressing gender. They developed a theory and practice called intersectionality, a term coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw in her insightful 1989 essay, “Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory and Antiracist Politics”. Intersectionality is the idea that we cannot think of systemic oppressions such as the ones of gender, race, class, ability, sexual orientation, religion, caste, species as separate and independent from one another. It is the idea that different axes of identity interact on multiple levels, contributing to systemic injustice and social inequality.
We strive for intersectional approaches. One example is the campaign against Starbucks, which highlights both non-human and human animal suffering.
Projections Towards Compassion
PTC is a creative form of outreach that involves projecting video content of everyday animal cruelty (from factory farms to “humane” slaughter to fur farms) on city walls, engaging passersby in conversations and leafletting. An example can be found here, also check out our instructions on how to start your PTC here. Organizers – it’s always good to check the law in regards to projections in your city.
One of CF’s goals is to unify the animal rights and social justice movements. CF members attend as many actions and events hosted by other groups as we can. We need our movement to grow bigger and stronger, so staying united and in solidarity with one another is crucial. If we don’t unite the animals will lose.
A CF organizer meeting with invited members of our extended family of activists. We discuss campaigns, strategies, and all around ideas on how to improve our collective knowledge, skills and methods.
Focus on intersectionality. 2-3 people will do educational presentations on a specific topic (e.g. how animal rights intersect with LGBTQI+ rights, or how speciesism intersects with classism, etc.), and we will follow with a discussion.
We also organize educational programs. E.g. The Vegan Pledge, a free 30-day mentoring program on guiding new vegans through their transition, covering subjects from practical matters, like reading labels, to environmental impact and animal.
Here are some more resources.
We'd really love to hear from you so why not drop us an email and we'll get back to you as soon as we can.