The very first Animal Rights Gathering took place at Earthworm Cooperative in 1997. Gatherings then took place sporadically until 2003 when they began happening every year. At their peak in the mid to late noughties there were hundreds of people from the UK and abroad. Then as the movement began to run out of steam so did its summer gatherings.
Attempts were made to rectify this situation and from 2010-13 there were even spring get togethers but the last proper gathering took place in 2014. I was there and numbers were very low, probably no more than about 30 or 40 people over the weekend. A hastily convened event the following year was even smaller and then in 2016, for the first time in ages, there was no AR Gathering.
The fantastic news is this year there will be a and it will be taking place within the Earth First! Gathering. This is a brilliant idea because EF! attracts hundreds of activists who will be like-minded and sympathetic, even if they are not actually animal tights campaigners themselves. Well done to those who came up with this idea as it provides the perfect launchpad for a new era in AR gatherings and hopefully will contribute to the renewal of the wider movement.
The link below is a pdf with all the relevant information about this year’s event, which will be bear Cuffley in Hertfordshire, not far from London. As per usual the whole site will be vegan. Among the 25 workshops aimed at animal rights activists there are:
- Anarchism & animal liberation
- Getting active in animal rights: a direct action starter
- Ecofeminism and animal liberation: a history of theory and practice
- Fox hunts, badgers, wildlife persecuting and what’s going on in the cull zones
- Animal liberation, animal rights and vegan activism: mapping the scene
- Animal liberation and wider social justice movements
- And many, many more!!!