Here in New England, we’re running out of room for all of the snow. Here at VINE Sanctuary, mounds of plowed and shoveled snow line the increasingly narrow paths and driveways, making them seem like tunnels. Some days, we’re literally snowed in, unable to navigate either our own steep driveway or the icy roads into town.
If you feel restless when snowed in for a weekend, imagine what it’s like to be “snowed in” every day for weeks and years on end.
Of course, our primary focus here at the sanctuary is ending captivity of nonhuman animals. But we’ve always stressed the conjunctions among the subjugation of animals and other kinds of oppression. And of course we feel so much solidarity and empathy for imprisoned activists—especially those who confront the extra challenges of being vegan while locked up.
And so, every year, VINE staff invite our supporters to join us in sending letters to imprisoned vegan activists on Valentines Day.
Last year, our local event was snowed out, so we were very happy that longtime supporters Jocelyn and Meg had organized an “inspired by VINE” letter-writing event in Portland. This year, we’ve gotten so much snow at the sanctuary (another 18 inches in the past week, with more on the way) that we didn’t even try to plan a local event. We were going to organize an event in Boston instead, but have you seen how much snow they’ve gotten?
That means we’re counting on you. While VINE staff will all be penning letters to the prisoners with whom we correspond, we need our extended community to extend their own greetings. Plan now to set aside an hour this weekend to write a letter or two. You can find tips for writing letters here. Many of us here at VINE write to Marius Mason or Manuel Salas. You can find addresses for other incarcerated activists here (eco prisoners), here (AR prisoners), and here (right-hand sidebar has list of all known political prisoners in the USA).
Manuel has contributed a poem and an essay to the VINE blog and also figures in an important piece of news just announced by our friends at Support Vegans in the Prison System: After years of struggle, including hunger strikes, Manuel will be provided with a fully vegan diet by the Wisconsin prison system (which had been including milk in his “plant-based” meals).
Manuel’s support website is down right now. Here’s his address:
Manuel C. Salas #504212
Columbia Correctional Institution
P.O. Box 900
Portage, WI 53901
Here’s a related piece of good news. Lori Gruen’s anthology, The Ethics of Captivity, which includes essays by both animal advocates (including our own Miriam Jones) and former or current prisoners (including our pal Lauren Gazzola) has just won the Institute for Critical Animal Studies “Tilikum Award” for best anthology of 2014! If you haven’t before thought about the commonalities between places like Seaworld and the for-profit prison industrial complex, that book would be a great place to start.