Animal Think Tank is currently focused on laying the foundations for a broad-based nonviolent movement for animal freedom, with a view to launch in 2022. Our key areas of work include:
The struggle for Animal Freedom will last generations, and so will Animal Think Tank. We are building the foundations of our organisation so that we can work effectively together and maintain the focus on our ambitious mission in the long-term. Work on our organisational foundations includes defining Animal Think Tank’s purpose, vision, mission and core values; as well as building best practice systems of resource distribution, conflict transformation, and organisational governance. We are also ensuring we have a wide range of foundational organisational policies including anti-discrimination and -harassment policies, grievance and disciplinary procedures, dismissal procedures, policies for working with vulnerable people, volunteer living allowance, and several others. By doing this work we aim to overcome many common organisational pitfalls and ensure we can rapidly scale in the future.
A successful social movement is driven by people-power. Our long-term aim is to organise and mobilise hundreds of thousands of people for the cause of animal freedom. In order to achieve this we are training a network of empowered and effective leaders who can act with courage and integrity, and have the knowledge and skills to act strategically and respond to future challenges – and, critically, who are committed to building leadership in others. We are particularly inspired by the approach of Civil Rights advocate Ella Baker who saw and actively nurtured the leadership potential in every individual.
The Animal Freedom Movement needs a plan which will unite the power, strength and creativity of millions of ordinary people towards ambitious structural change. Based on significant research of speciesism and British society, our strategy work aims to define our future vision for society, key legislative goals to ensure animal rights are protected in law, and a strategic roadmap to achieve these wins. We are also developing expertise in nonviolent resistance, swarm organising and momentum-driven organising to ensure we can engage in dramatic and effective people-powered campaigns. We also will identify and seed civil society institutions necessary to ensure animal freedom is embedded within society and bring about longer-term cultural shifts.
The Freedom to Marry Movement achieved rapid success when they shifted from a narrative centring ‘rights’ to a narrative centring ‘love’. This new narrative emotionally resonated with millions of ordinary people across the political spectrum and tapped into their underlying values and beliefs. The adoption of this narrative led to a rapid shift of public opinion in favour of Gay Marriage. In our narrative work, we are following expert methodologies to devise a narrative which can have this impact for the cause of animal freedom. We expect a powerful and persuasive narrative for animal freedom will shift away from veganism as a political identity and instead centre nonhuman animals, their lives, their resistance, and their deserved freedoms – with a view towards changing the laws and structures of society.
We plan to build a social movement which is welcoming of a broad and diverse range of people across the political spectrum, where individuals can become empowered, unleash their creativity, and collaborate effectively. We seek to build an environment of mutual support and care to enable sustained resistance throughout challenges. We seek to embody nonviolence and show care and respect for all, seeing the potential to persuade and form alliances with even our biggest opponents. We need a movement which understands deeply that this is the animals’ movement, and that ultimately we are accountable to them. We also need to respect one another, and to recognise the value of different strategies and approaches to animal freedom. We see that building a strong culture is half of the work of an effective movement and so we give it the attention it is due.
Impactful movements like Serbia’s Otpor! and Extinction Rebellion have shown that to engage in movement building work effectively, organisations need to undergo a paradigm shift in the way they work, a shift that involves distributing power to enable thousands of volunteers to assume responsibility and take action. Animal Think Tank are drawing on best-practice to design organisational structures that will enable thousands of people to participate in this movement, drawing on organising systems like Sociocracy, Swarm and Open Source.
We are seeking to build a society where every individual animal is respected, whether big or small, on the land or in the sea; as well as all those who are invisible to us in our everyday, in our soils and in our homes. We fight for this future in solidarity with other animals, and recognise that they too are resisting their oppression everyday. Essential to the success of our movement is having a coherent understanding of speciesism both as an idea and as a system, as well as developing a strong theory and practice of anti-speciesism. We will continually seek to develop this in collaboration with animals, philosophers, campaigners and animal guardians to ensure that we can develop legislative proposals and cultures which are best able to ensure justice for animals.
A successful social movement requires many different individuals, groups and organisations working towards Animal Freedom in their diverse ways. Like a forest flourishes best when there is a diverse ecosystem, a movement performs better when there is a wide range of strategies being pursued. Movements become exceptionally powerful when they are able to overcome conflicts, accept different approaches and work together synergistically towards shared overarching goals. Animal Think Tank are committed to supporting the growth and development of the broader movement ecology, enabling collaboration between different groups, and by building alliances around shared goals and narratives.
In May 2019, Animal Think Tank saw an opportunity and quickly launched Animal Rebellion, an ally of Extinction Rebellion which sought to bring in a ‘plant-based food system’ narrative into the environmental movement and make the industries of animal farming and fishing a legitimate target of environmental campaigns. Animal Rebellion grew into a global movement and brought 18 animal organisations together at the time of it’s launch. Part of the motivation for Animal Rebellion was to pilot the techniques of mass movement building we had researched until that point. Through Animal Rebellion we confirmed the power of our organising methodologies and learned powerful lessons which will inform future movement building activities.
If you are interested in this work, you may want to engage with some of the books which have influenced our thinking in the Animal Think Tank Reading List.