We are now able to continue the journey to Arizona. We have established a good base here between Chicago and Detroit so we'll be returning in about a year-ish. When we get back I really want to get more involved with Detroit so that gives us some time work that out, sponsoring more Abolition work for the critters, all the Detroit critters. I'd like to spend at least a month just working hard on someone or some groups project, get my hands good n' dirty! Maybe grow some food? Maybe work at a sanctuary? Then do the same in Chicago the following year. That's the same goal for this winter in Phoenix too.
I've taken on the tremendous job of rebuilding the entire website for HVG but I'm going to redo the whole thing with the Joomla deal-i-o cause apparently it converts automagically to mobile and that is something we are seriously missing. I've discovered some hackery for creating 3d fractal viz. I think I'm getting the same satisfaction from from making fractals as I do from making music, well okay not the same but I find Flow in both that's for certain.
Going to table at the Faerie Fest in Ann Arbor today, in costume. Fun! Video is coming along and they will show up at HELDgear:youtube
We have been developing our products in accordance with the principles we hold dear.
♥ Transparency ♥
Socrates himself said « the unexamined life is not worth living » I have found this to be true. Community feedback would be impossible without transparency as well and we thrive on feedback.
♥ Service ♥
Happiness is found in gratitude and that results in both a job well done and service to others. I would say this is our primary aim, to be of maximum service, and the whole premise of what we do is firmly rooted here. I include humans in the « working to help animals » category. All beings benefit when we stop any form of animal agriculture at whatever level.
♥ Honesty ♥
Well this goes without saying when Transparency is already listed but it is worth mentioning because this deals with more of the philosophical and pragmatic end. Honesty talks directly to integrity and without integrity you have nothing but shambles really, so these two as a practice go hand in hand.
♥ Excellence ♥
It does feel very cliché adding this conjuring in my mind those horrible inspirational office posters yet it does bare note. We as a company are often times the sole representation of the Animal Rights movement. Whenever we, or any of us in the field really, meet the eyes and ears of the public there is always the chance that this is the only time AR has even been considered. If our goods are not perfect it reflects poorly on all of us and what we do. I can go even further saying that if our belts do not exceed the highest quality leather belts we are doing more damage than good leaving the consumer and potential advocate with the thought "...well why bother... leather is better." If I was not absolutely certain these upcycled conveyor belt scraps did not outperform leather on ever measure I would not use them, I would not have this company which brings the next point:
♥ Responsibility ♥ Being accountable to greater forces outside of HELD helps to keep things in good working order along these standards. Responsibility is kinda like the cruelty free glue that keeps it all together, woven into the greater tapestry of our founding principles allowing them all to work together.
♥ Humility ♥
Hierarchy brings with it countless volumes of negative effect including oppression. Humility can be a useful in keeping egos from taking over.
One difference I want everyone to understand between HELDgear and other "vegan" belts is how our values and mission marries vegan ethical standards with ecological ethical standards transparently. All other vegan belt materials do not hold up to the standards that we imbue. Making an item which is soon to crack, stretch, and shortly fall apart; making items from materials created in far off, oceans away countries can not be standardized or ethical in an ecological sense. I want to come right out and tell you that we will never outsource like the innertube belt company that moved to Mexico and didn't tell anyone. We will never cheat, take shortcuts which undermine these above mentioned standards. We will not source questionable materials. We will not be Greenwashers: greenwashing is quickly becoming the norm as sustainability continues to gain popularity businesses will continue deceive customers claiming they are Vegan while they continue to invest in animal agriculture. This is a dire point of contention for me personally because these corrupt companies give all of us working for good, twisted misrepresentations.
Micah Perry HVB
Most people get a loan when they start a business, I did not. To me it seems absurd to go into debt right as you are embarking on a perilous journey into capitalism. Over the course of nine years behind HELD I've seen more businesses start and fail then I care to recall. Why take the risk of your own efforts plus someone else's equity when the odds are against you from the start? During these nine years I've had two stores and locations at seasonal market venues and if I had the stress of one more bill which it all rides upon I would've gone under a couple times and had heaps of debt too top it all off. Starting a business, and especially for a noob, the natural progression 'seems' to include getting a loan from some non-human corporate body. It makes sense; Judy has heaps of cash in her mattress, you need cash to grow the business, viola!
The theory I'm going on takes into consideration the Information Age and how it provides an opportunity to create new paradigms. Each of us perpetuates whatever catches our interest by clicking "like", swiping, or posting. When enough people vote on that interest with the all powerful CLICK it may well attain the status of MEME. That holy of holies, the cultural index of what is really going on. I nearly gave in and got a loan, I believe in what I'm making, I know it can generate increasing income enough to pay off a loan, so why not? Isn't not getting the loan another way of saying: I don't believe in HELD? I think the new paradigm is this: I believe in what I'm doing so strongly that I can do it with grass roots technology, just send it out into cyber space and let it take hold. Everybody "wants" to do what is right. Right? Buying better gear made from all upcycled materials, replacing shit technology with clean industrial waste rather than creating more polluting waste, that is what we all want.
I confess I am still baffled as to why my facebook "friends" would rather "like" or repost a picture of Honey BooBoo competing in a pageant and not repost or 'like' something I post which from all perspectives appears to be a worthy solution to the same nightmares they decry. I see the heard mentality as one of the great misgivings in this information revolution and then within the very same breath I see it as a fine democratic power. I think what trends is dependant upon either activist tendencies or desire for relief. Comedy and tragedy being a form of relief or comfort which is easy to habituate given our sleepy social context overruns the activist nature. The "activist" meme usually must be something rather dramatic to override the conformist leaning of the public spectacle. Another issue speaking of conformity is the fact of modeling the behavior of others which does play a big role.
If it is not entirely dramatic but more innocuous or benign the public does know which way to lean about it. Were it starkly definable one could instantly "like" or repost without hesitation in three easy seconds, however the benign consideration requires that; consideration, and if one Jane Public is unsure how it fits into the "dramatic" framing the hesitation quickly becomes reluctance and given this is merely one of a million considerations today it is so easy to bypass. With this conclusion, thanks to the technology at hand for allowing me to arrive in such a place, I can derive that I must include drama in my imagery if I want it to spread for the benefit of all.
Thank you for the stage time.
Micah Perry HVB
We had to go to Portland to finish up some business with selling the old house. We intended to use the trip to visit more people and bring our belts to more locations but something came up in the Family Emergency department so we had to cut the trip very short. One of our HELD team members is losing a family member to cancer. That's why we came to Michigan. We'll be heading back to Ptown this autumn and then we'll take more time to hit more people up.
We camped every night on the road and that made it so much better than staying in hotels. Normally we'd just get a hotel room but after a few nights of camping we really noticed how much more fun we have, how much more we get to see and experience. At the hotels we just unload the car go to the room and sleep, shower, nothing about the place. Nothing about the local people.
Only one of the campsites was a pay site cause we needed showers. We loved the places we camped. Firehole Gorge National Park was stellar, if we stayed one more night I would have gone for a swim.
Swan River canyon was full of critters; otters, and incredible birds. The place is part of a predator bird refuge. This canyon is below Boise Idaho.
We post videos of just about everything on our youtube so if you want to see any of that there you go. I'm trying out some new software on a laptop running an Android x86 hack so be sure to critique those if you see them. It's pretty sick how you can edit video on a crappy old laptop, back in the day you had to have a pretty pricey system with pricey graphic cards to process any video. I'm using a suite called Video Pad and man it has some serious bells and whistles for ten bucks- same suite of features used to set you back $600 (Premiere 6.0)!
The first one went up today at http://m3house.org/DRing.html What makes this D Ring belt special and different is that it has natural tree rubber impregnated fiber mesh unlike the others. Once you have it on pull it tight and that's it, no slipping or loosening at all, well until you take it off.
The other three belts are coming to the site in the next few days.
The newest black belt is the one that sucks in light and won't let it go. This belt is so dark it's the official belt of the A.L.F. Reversible mode is smoother but still pretty matte. This belt is a thickness somewhere between Erebus and Basic Black and super flexible but not stretchy. If I didn't already have my belt I would definitely wear this one I love the way it feels and how it's not just black but pitch black. It's not up yet but here's a picture.
I was going to call the next one cobalt cause when you paint with it, in oils anyway, this would be the base color but that's all just too confusing. In Hawaii you see this color in the ocean and I imagine some other great oceans and seas around the world so that's it Ocean is the name we're going with. It has a bright white reverse mode so I guess you could swap sides for a slick game of golf. I mean that thin blue line might be just the thing barely peaking over the edge that you're after. The blue is much richer than the Sky belt which is not just lighter but also more pale. If you wind up buying it I'd recommend getting the added grommets option too cause the buckle holes will pucker a bit after a while. Coming this week.
The last one is the old MLP belt we used to sell in our Portland store. MLP stands for My Little Pony, too many people said it smells like My Little Pony for me to ignore so let's just call it MLP. Some us think it smells like vanilla beans but how do sell blue vanilla? Okay MLP then alright, I get it. This one's super awesome and for some reason people just love how it looks, I can't stop em, it's vibrant and maybe even a little richer than Ocean pictured above. If you love blue this is BLUE!
We will be releasing a black version of the MLP soon also and the formal or professional belt is still coming too. If you're still hankering for some hot belt action head on over to the Facebook page and like it if you can and then there's also the @HELDgear on the twitters. Have some super fun I'm off to work!
No one can be authentically human while he prevents others from being so. ~ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed
I have learned that the best thing to combat racism is simply to talk about it. Racism hides in the dark shadows of isolation and fear, when we bring it out into the sunshine of reason it withers up and loses it's ground. Awareness is good but does nothing without some work. Broaching the subject can be very uncomfortable, standing up for what is right can be very uncomfortable. Being brave at the precipice of fear can be uncomfortable. Heroic measure is not easily won.
History will undoubtedly document this time as another civil rights era. Do we see ourselves as the angry white cop releasing his german shepard on the protesters, or are we the people marching across the bridge for the betterment of all humanity?
Take a daily poll by asking people throughout the day what they think of the current state of racism. Ask if it's okay that darker skinned people have to behave different than Caucasians when pulled over by police. What does it mean for race relations in America now that we've had a Black potus? Any number of starting points are ready to whisk us off on an adventure of learning and compassion. What's that flag situation all about? We can easily take this opportunity to probe deeper and deeper past discomfort to find that pearl of wisdom.
Cracking skulls with knowledge! Ker-POW!!
When I was in college I was introduced to eco-travel and eco-tourism. The basic idea is that you don't just go to a vacation destination and do nothing. You go and contribute. In some way you are giving more than taking. It is not dissimilar from the old Peace Corps thing where you go to place that is fart away and install better irrigation or teach hygiene stuff, giving back. Travel consumes fossil fuel no matter how you do it, I love cycling for example but even that uses resources. We have a hybrid car for going long distance but even if it were full electric it would still create pollution.
For the last twenty one years I've made giving back or more precisely; Being Of Service an integral part of my daily living. I find so much value for me in this principle that I started a business around the notion. The whole point of HELD is to give back and help somehow. I'm either taking away or giving back, contributing to the problem or the solution. I would much rather add to the solution it is so much more rewarding. Using animals to make things like belts is wrong on so many levels the least of which is this ongoing global catastrophe.
I want to travel around the country and I also want to distribute HELDgear to more and more people. We started tabling for HELD at festivals this year in Chicago and got to talk to so many people about animal rights and problems with current manufacturing practices. We made new friends around Animal Rights issues and Sustainability, we are united and strengthened. We are a community worldwide.
HELD invested in an older RV we are currently converting to live in and work in. We will be able to drive to a city and just stay as long as it takes until we've talked to all the people about enough things. The material we use is really the first I've ever seen that actually outperforms leather. All the other pleather and vinyl materials begin to degrade almost immediately. Veganism is far from only being about what a person eats. The vegan lifestyle is about so much more than food, it's about how we engage with everything around us all the time. If the only alternative we have for leather, the skin of a dead animal that once had a family, quickly falls apart and cracks and stretches then many people will continue to see a very obvious flaw and discount the entire paradigm. It is very important to me for this reason we continue to build HELD and build it according to strict principles of ethical consideration. It drives some of the readers crazy but my ethical stance won't allow me to take out a loan to help the business. A loan would mean handing ownership over to a non-human corporate entity that doesn't give a rip about ethics. This position means perhaps more sacrifice on my part, going person to person, door to door essentially -spreading the belt gospel.
HELDgear will be opening a new Kickstarter campaign to get the wheels rolling. Our new manager is coming up with the expenses list so shortly we'll have a budget goal to work with. We will have sponsorship opportunities and a schedule. You can have your name or logo decal on our rv camper-van and we will be just about everywhere from New York to Los Angeles nearly every state. We will have literature stops and drops and social media interactivity. I need to just post this now maybe I can edit it down later. I'm pretty jet lagged with the time zones. Next time maybe I'll write about all the flooding we passed through, four of the states were flooded.