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.
I've always enjoyed taking electronic gadgets apart and reconfiguring them for surprising ends. As evinced by HELDgear I also love to make stuff. In college I really got into sculpture courses, oh man when I first cast molten bronze... heavenly! Feels strange to mention it but hey cancer ruled my life completely for six years. Reason I mention it here is cause for awhile I had to find new ways to communicate, new ways to enjoy life, new ways to learn while cancer owned my entire body for a long while.
I have also always dabbled in computer language coding and circuitry since I was kid so during this cancer foray I dug deep into the computer world for help. I figured out how to talk through my home theater PC when I couldn't use my own voice. I was able to play with my son virtually after helping him build his first computer. We couldn't ride bikes and hike and do all the fun stuff we used to do together. I think he and I grew even closer through finding mutual interests, like while we're playing a video game together; separated by miles or just physical limitations we talk about absolutely everything and for any parent that is top notch. Meanwhile Lucien, my son, has been learning coding and circuit building which by the way is what the future is really all about.
The Industrial Revolution at first was kinda cracking slowly but the Information Age has completely broken through now and Moore's law has been trumped by unquantifiable measure. Robots will be taking over in the next five years both the Transportation industry and Food Service altogether so considering how vast these two industries are you can imagine the impact this will have on world economies and robotic bleed-off into other industries. If that doesn't completely blow your mind this robot take over isn't including Artificial Intelligence. AI will soon surpass human intellect... that gap is what we will be left with. We will be forced to find new meaning, new community engagement, or couple this AI with the encroaching development of Virtual Reality tools and... well it's back to that quiet gap.
Six years ago when I began to slowly lose my body to cancer; left leg, hip, left arm, head, well major surgeries on each, as I became increasingly incapacitated I launched headlong into the Tech world via the internets out of necessity. I have never been a fan of TV, those pesky commercials are totally insane, tv has never been in my house #cordcutter since 94. By cutting the cable tv we can hand pick much better journalistic media from the web uncorrupted by corporate interest. Having my head in the tech cloud all day everyday for awhile has opened my eyes. The Information Age is upon us. So far only one country is preparing for the new robot induced economy, Switzerland I think it was [Sweden]. If you doubt my sources check out our tech feed @flumxd I think this post is what a rant might look like. Anyway I have seen what is coming and we are more accustomed to slow changes we can adapt and cope with. Combined with the wonderful population overgrowth, and I think California's drought situation is a good index marker for the "oh shit watch out" caveat and how we so very adeptly handle large scale social problems, combine that with the Robot Overlord take over and massive, MASSIVE scaled devastation and suffering will become completely normative very quickly. My own opinion and observations are that "developing nations" (pc for 3rd world) will barely notice cause they don't have nearly as far too fall as we do here in Merica.
One upside is that companies have figured how to convert skyscrapers into zero energy plant growing ops. One of them has recently concluded that using narrow band light waves increases growth with far less energy consumption. Another huge huge upside to this is that Veganism will more become the norm as animal ag is totally unsustainable. What I think is another upside is that space (the universe) is getting closer and closer to real habitation and well heck that's just fun. If greedy people can survive future Los Angeles they will surely find Venus perfectly suitable in the sweet new Blimp-house. Today on one The Tek Syndicate's shows I heard that one of the Asian languages has a word for "prison" which is the same for "household without animal companion" and I think that is pretty nifty. Another upside is that we will have AI robot helpers at home that show us Unconditional Positive Regard and if you know anything about psych 101 that will fill the need for any pet/companion/family social function. Fantastic we landed back at the... quiet gap.
Halt and Catch Fire's New Season Takes On Computer Gaming
Still learning how to market things. We have gobs of room for volunteers to help us with digital repping. Our mission is to replace not only horrible belts but also the horrid paradigm that people must kill animals to have a good quality life. Every person who gets a HELD belt and we've met up years later exclaim how impressed they are and more than often they aren't even a little vegetarian.
What I'm getting at here is this is a great way to do your activism. I do this cause no matter how much I wanted to hold a banner from the freeway overpass it never happened. I'd demo on occasion but I never felt like I was doing enough and for some reason I couldn't do what everyone else was doing. Fortunately I found my way to HELD Vegan Belts. Hey so have you! If you have some digital ability or just a bunch of online friends here is an opportunity to volunteer giving voice to the voiceless. All our recycled shipping boxes get AR literature stuffed in the box. For example. We also support AR financially however we can. We don't make any money from this gig. I've been volunteering for HELD nine years (minus ICU surgery time) and find it most fulfilling.
You are invited. We've had volunteers over the years and they have been very happy. Sometimes these positions become paid gigs, I mean cash, of course you get free gear. We have friends around the globe and networking is like a web of support where we each strengthen each other. At the very least don't buy crap belts.
Don't buy it cause you want to support a great cause, buy it cause you need it. It could be the last one you ever buy.
I wanted to contribute something to the world with my time and energy. My principles wouldn't allow me to work for a company that doesn't consider the impact they have on the people, air, water, animals, land, well everything. I found they were throwing away hundreds of yards daily of this brand new super durable plant based material and what a waste. I wanted to find a solution.
I made one belt nine years ago and it is the one I still wear today. I love showing it to people cause it amazes everyone how the buckle holes haven't stretched or become misshapen at all. No cracks or tears anywhere but you can see how I've tested it for every idea and you can see where our rescued rabbit chewed on it. It actually gets people excited cause we're touching and looking at something we've all wanted but have not been able to find.
We all want something that:
Doesn't fall apart.
Isn't shipped around the world twice on diesel exhaust.
We want to recycle and you have to buy recycled to complete the loop.
We all know when an animal needlessly suffers for us- we damn well don't want that.
Looks nice. Feels nice. Something substantive to connect with.
Supports LOCAL economies. Your money isn't disappearing into some offshore account.
Your money goes right back into the community.
I could keep going. I want to know that the thing I need to buy isn't supporting slave labor or made using dirty power. None of us really want to support Built in Obsolescence anymore. Business as usual has to go but we can't idly stand by and trust that someone somewhere will magically do it, we have to do it. Our dollars shape what's going on around us. Is it really worth it to keep supporting a giant mega-business who values profit over people? Is it worth it to trade convenience for integrity, dignity, and self respect?
We had our first local event today and we had a great time. Marshall Michigan Farmers Market great people and what? Vegans! Right next to us Peaceful Pastries vegan deliciousness! We'll do it again next Saturday. After that we'll be heading to Detroit again to hook up with Our Greentopia in Berkley and drop off some prized hot belt action. The next fest gig will be in Chicago June 6th and 7th, in Jack & Kelly's awesome vegan neighborhood (Logan Square) is having a super-fun-time fun-fest: Remix Chicago is absolutely perfect for what we do.
I've added some nifty things to the website.
Now you can add grommets to any belt which has been requested so there you go. Choose from Black or silver. I've had one of each on my belt that I've been wearing now for nine years. The silver one is nickle plate and still looks brand new. The black one is brass under powder coating and so gets a very cool brassy color coming through. I test them with the buckle poky thing otherwise the black one would just stay black.
I've updated photos for the Steam belt and it looks great. I think I'm getting better at taking pictures of belts.
Also added new share buttons along the side and now I'm going to add them to each page, item. Coming very soon is the new and improved space belt! The professional belt has finally been figured out, man that took forever. Finding the right materials that aren't carbon intensive has been rough- then figuring out the best way to apply, sheesh. Screenshot:
I would say "eco-friendly" but that phrasing has become code for GREEN WASHING. It infuriates me to no end when I see a company feigning sustainability. They could make the small effort, actual work, to comply with zero carbon footprint assurance. It isn't impossible like so many dullards think. Keep voting with your dollar.
PS: Still haven't figured out how to edit that side stuff>>>
By next week you'll be able to try on our fabulous goods at one of our favorite shops in Ann Arbor. As it turns out we are already related to the People's gang via the HELD Vegan Belts store on Alberta in Portland, or was it the Saturday Market? I think it was the store on Alberta during one of our Last Thursday live music sessions where we met Garrett who is now part of the Ann Arbor crew. We keep meeting people who have lived in Stumptown or will be moving there soon. Some have been on the fence but not anymore. We'll be back in Portland next month to stock up on Portlandia jokes then on to Chicago through Detroit and I think down to Georgia just in time for heat stroke. Maybe then I can survive another Michigan winter...I'm saying this after finally thawing out.
Day Three Full Show | TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2015: https://youtu.be/0W6j9gsW3xc
Thursday May 7th HELDgear will be rolling through the Detroit area with a grip of the most wicked belts you've ever seen. Tune into our Tweets for updates about when and where specifically. When you see us in person we can recycle your old belts and give a discount. I'm sure we'll be going to Urban Soul for some yummy vegan grub at some point when is a good time?