Animal advocacy activists celebrate with Wake Up Weekend at Calvin College

By Sharon Hanks

It might be hard to find a more eclectic mix of animal lovers, vegans, eco-chefs, community organizers, activists, philosophers and farmers than those gathering this weekend in Grand Rapids to celebrate Wake Up Weekend.

Hosted by Calvin College for the past five years, this gathering of local and national animal advocacy organizations promises a fascinating blend of free events that draws a loyal patchwork crowd of nearly 250.

"I often describe it has a two-day celebration of animal-friendly art, food, education and advocacy," says Calvin College Assistant Professor of Philosophy Matthew Halteman, one of Wake Up Weekend's organizers. Most events will be held at Calvin's campus or at its Art Gallery at 106 S. Division Ave.

The weekend kicks off at 2:30 p.m. Friday featuring a panel discussion on "The Many Faces of Food Activism" at Calvin's Commons Annex Lecture Hall. It wraps up Saturday evening with the popular Vegan Chilli Cook-off and a film screening called "Fowl Play - The Untold Story Behind Your Breakfast," both held in the 100-block of S. Division Avenue.

A big attraction is expected to be a cooking demonstration by Bryant Terry, a California food-justice activist and author of "Vegan Soul Kitchen: Fresh, Healthy and Creative African-American Cuisine." That will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Brick Road Pizza, 1017 Wealthy St. SE, followed by an optional $10 buffet designed by Terry.

In addition to this, visitors can enjoy the popular vegan potluck, view an animal-related art exhibit and attend more lectures, workshops and panel discussions on everything from food activism to animal justice to local food systems. The popular "Animals and the Kingdom of God" lecture series continues, too, featuring the popular and former Calvin Philosophy Professor John Hare who is now a Yale University professor.

The complete agenda can be found here.

Halteman says the event evolved in 2006 when he and Calvin College Art Professor Adam Wolpa were both teaching three-week interim courses that addressed human and animal relationships.

"The idea was to combine our resources to create an event around animal ethics and food issues that was imaginative and positive and community-focused," Halteman says. "So often discussions of animal ethics get heated and polarized. We wanted to create an environment where people interested in these issues could have some fun together regardless of where they find themselves in respect to the central questions at issue."

Among the event's sponsors are Animals & Society Institute, Brick Road Pizza, Christian Vegetarian Association of West Michigan, DAAC, ExtraVEGANza!, G-Rad, Not One Sparrow, Organic Athlete of Grand Rapids, Students for Compassionate Living, and VegWestMichigan.

Sources: Calvin College Philosophy Professor Matthew Halteman of Grand Rapids; G-Rad website; Calvin College's Communications and Marketing Department

Sharon Hanks is the innovations and job news editor at Rapid Growth Media. She can be reached at [email protected]

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