I believe what took place this weekend may be of historical value and I'd like to contribute
The year 2026 was chosen as the date by which the world needs to be vegan, because at the current rate of species extinction, that is the year, that if we don't change course, there will be virtually no free-living wild animals left in most areas of our planet. That makes 2026, "year zero." The more quickly we get to a vegan world, the better our chances of averting the worst currently projected environmental devastation.
Mesa Arizona was a GREAT place for this conference. It's a suburb of Phoenix that feels like a small town, in spite of its half million population. Mesa was founded by Mormons. Many shops still close on Monday's because that is Mormon's, "family day." A few years ago, Mesa was named, "The most boring city," but it boasts some extraordinary assets. Public transit to Mesa from the Phoenix airport costs TWO DOLLARS via the light rail, which comes by about every 12 minutes. Walkable, affordable clean lodging right in the quaint downtown could be easily accessed from the rail stop in Mesa.
Once each month, Downtown Mesa hosts a vegan block party, and every Sunday there is a non-denominational vegan church service. Both of these events coincided with the Vegan World 2026 conference and I attended both.
Authors Kate Lawrence and Keith Akers traveled from Denver to be there. Though it's been many years since I last saw them -- they were looking healthy and vibrant. They appear to not have aged at all since I last saw them!
Jane Vallez Mitchell from, "Jane Unchained" was there with a whole team that was live-streaming parts of this event.
Here are a few more images I have from the block party to give you more of a feel for what this first part of this three day event was like.
Saturday morning began with a light breakfast and then moved into the more formal part of the conference. We went outside to light and pass around the Ubunto Torch of Peace. It had been brought all the way from South Africa. During this ceremony, a letter specifically for this event from Mahatma Gandhi's granddaughter, was read.
Rene King-Sonnen of Rowdy Girl Sanctuary addressed the group too.
Here Judy Carman, author of Peace to All Beings passes the Ubunto Peace Torch.
Some of the conference took place inside of the Soul Center, an intimate indoor community space. That nicely accommodated the planned adult activities AND the handful of children who were with us. It was obvious in these children were used to being treated respectfully by adults -- and welcomed to participate with us or play their own games with each other in the space that we all shared. They were a joy and a reminder of what really matters. This is film maker Thomas Wade Jackson's daughter who at times was doing some of her own filming.
A main purpose of this event was to have participants break into small work-groups to problem solve specific challenges that would need to be overcome in our transition to a vegan world. This part was modeled upon the process used to create the internet and I found it a fascinating exercise. Not just as a means of tackling a big challenge by deconstructing it into the particular steps that must be navigated, but also because of the opportunity to observe different personalities interacting and to see how they influenced the process. This made visible to me, how strong personalities and ideas with varying degrees of support all interacted to produce the final outcome. I found myself reflecting upon historical events I was familiar with through this new lens I was getting experience with first hand now. I also gained an appreciation for how lobbying interests can influence outcomes--something I had never really considered in light of the dynamics I was witnessing. Each of the small work groups then selected one individual to present the work-group's consensus to the entire large group of participants.
There was more small group work using the eight or so large white boards scattered throughout the space
And many lively conversations as people who cared deeply about issues struggled to reach a consensus that could be presented to the larger group.
The very last activity of this conference was a dinner and short presentations by four outstanding speakers. It was held in a theater at Arizona State University and open to the public. Many students from the University joined us. The speakers were Hope Bohanec, Susan Hargreaves, Rene King and Jane Valez-Mitchell.
and if you'd like to see Jane's actual music video -- that is HERE.