Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, Gentle voice of reason and activism

Throughout my journey from a long time pesco vegetarian through vegan activist (and blogger), there was a gentle voice in my ear storytelling, cajoling, rebutting, nudging, and keeping a soft pressure on my logic stream.  I thought about what this woman said, how she said it, how I could fit it into my way of thinking.  I looked forward to her next podcast with incredible anticipation.

Some bloggers made me feel like a bit of a pariah because I hadn't fully made the transition to veganism, let alone a vegan diet.  Not this voice.  This voice spoke of compassion and love and justice and equality.  This voice read stories that brought tears streaming down my face.  I will never get "The Dog's Tale" out of my mind.

There are other things that I find myself telling people.  "Don't do nothing just because you can't do everything."  Did this phrase keep me from thinking about giving up my vegetarianism at a time that I still ate fish and seafood?  Yes.  I might not be here had I not heard it and been dissuaded from believing that perfection was the only acceptable way to be.  "The Myth of the Perfect Vegan," was another podcast that rang so true and helped me believe that whatever I was doing was good enough ... until I could do more.

The voice was a voice of patience.  It was almost as if she knew I'd find my way.

I got to personally say, "Thank you," to Colleen over these last 2 days.  She is every bit as kind, gracious and generous with her time as you would imagine.

Colleen spoke in at the Montclair, NJ Vegan Meetup. After fighting traffic for over 2 hours I arrived with my 12 year old daughter 40 minutes after the talk started  .  My daughter is an avid baker and now uses Colleen's "Joy of Vegan Baking" as her bible, (followed by Hanna Kaminsky's "Vegan Desserts.")  I thought she'd enjoy meeting Colleen since all of her classmates have had the pleasure of eating Colleen's food.

Colleen spoke about choices and where the general public is in their mindset.  How they react when confronted, both internal conversations and the things vegan say to them, and a few question and answers about specific situations people have come up against.

Here is a short video clip of Colleen talking about making choices for what to eat for dinner at dinnertime and a few pics of her speaking.

Then on to the book signing for Colleen's "Vegan 30 Day Challenge."  My daughter wanted to start doing more cooking so we bought a copy of "Vegan Table."  It has meals organized around full menus and we can't wait to dive into it.  Both books were autographed with a smile and Colleen even mentioned how delighted she was to see how used and dog-earred the cookbook was.

The next night Colleen was giving a presentation on "Animals In The Arts".  I don't think anyone knew what to expect but it was a multi media presentation about how animals have both been represented in art including books, paintings and movies.

The venue was the Alexander Gray Gallery on West 26th Street.  Co owner David Cabrera welcomed the guests and introduced Colleen.

I hope the next iPhone takes better closeups!

I attempted to list the different areas of the presentation but this is at best an incomplete list of the things that Colleen presented.  She did say it would be posted on her website.  Me?  I've just doubled my Netflix queue and used up all my Nook downloads for this and next year.

Discussion was about how animals were treated in the films ranging from Benji, who was a rescue dog and warmed all of our hearts as kids to a cowboy's love for his horse in Kirk Douglass' most favorite role in, "Lucky are the Brave." The parallel between human to human cruelty and human to animal cruelty was pointed out in "Eyes Without a Face".  Paintings and  drawings such as "The 4 Stages of Cruelty," by Hograth depict how cruelty progress from childhood animal abuse to a full circle of cruelty being inflicted back on the human as punishment.

The link between the inner good in men who commit horrendous acts of violence and their kindness to animals was also explored in films such as "This Gun for Hire."

And finally, in "The Misfits," Marilyn Monroe's screaming base statement of what those men really were.

Here's the list of films, paintings and writings.

          • Benji
          • Umberto d
          • Lucky are the brave
          • White Mane
          • Princesses Monionoke

          • Parallels of exploitation
          • Au Hasard Balthazar 
          • Eyes Without A Face
          • Blood of the Beast

          • Roald Dahl kiss kiss "pig"
          • Beyond Lies the Wub Philip Dick
          • To Serve Man both the story and Twilight Zone episode
          • Don Lepan and other books

          • Links of violence
          • Children's treatment of animals
          • 4 stages of cruelty
          • Amores Perros
          • Deer Hunter
          • Forbidden Games
          • Killer of Sheep  - Soderburgh
          • You Only Live Once

          • Tough Guys with a Heart of Gold
          • Ghost Dog
          • On the Waterfront
          • This Gun for Hire
          • Gun Crazy
          • Asphalt Jungle
          • Shawshank Redemption

          • Ambassadors of compassion

          • The Misfits

This was one of the more interesting presentations I've seen and certainly unique in dealing with Animals and the Arts.  As vegans we think about how animals are portrayed and used and abused but I believe this is more of an afterthought or if not that than subconscious much of the time.  Now Colleen has brought this to the forefront of our minds by pointing out "Here!" and "Look here!"  Even as vegans we can drift through our days without focusing on what we see.  Sometimes it's just a mist across our vision and we don't realize it's obscured until someone hits the windshield wiper switch.  Thanks Colleen.  Very eye opening.

A question and answer period followed and Colleen dealt with one of the most disturbing aspects of animals in art.  If we use a clip of an animal that was abused in a film to bring to light animal suffering and use, does that come into conflict with our current vegan values and in and of itself constitute animal use?

Alexander Gray summing up and thanking Colleen.

1 comment:

Adventures in Veg said...

I love Colleen too, isn't she amazing? :) great post, her animals and the arts podcasts are fascinating!