A vegan Tesla marks a redefining of luxury

By John Yunker,

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It was very happy to see today that Tesla is now offering a vegan-friendly model of its cars, primarily meaning no leather.

Not that I’m about to rush out and buy one anytime soon (you can get a leather-free Subaru for quite a bit less). But it’s gratifying to see people with means pressuring luxury automakers to rethink “luxury” automobiles. Kudos to Leilani Münter (pictured above) for using her sway as professional racecar driver to ask Elon Musk to offer this option. Before her, Mark and Elizabeth Peters, shareholders of Tesla, presented their request for a vegan model at a shareholders meeting. These voices made a difference. Not that leather-free Teslas are going to singlehandedly put an end to the horrific leather industry, but this positive action might get people thinking about how they view leather — something we don’t usually think about.

Leather has long been synonymous with luxury — whereas in reality, it is synonymous with cruelty. And the leather industry is notoriously rough on the environment. So while I’d love to see Tesla, as an environmentally friendly company, remove the leather option entirely, these things take time — and this is an important first step.

What will the world look like when leather is no longer viewed as a luxury material but as something tragic and sad? When environmentalists realize that wearing leather (or getting this option in your electric car) is anything but helpful to the environment?

That day will come. For more and more of us, it has already arrived — and the more we see positive actions like this, the more awareness will spread.

 

  Category: On animals, Vegan
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Submissions for Among Animals will close December 15

By John Yunker,

I’m pleased to say that we’re on the home stretch toward choosing stories for the next edition of Among Animals.

To give you a preview of what’s to come, we’ve got stories that feature cats and dogs and chickens and fish. And a mule. A kangaroo. A sea bear. A polar bear.

And, of course, humans.

We’re still looking for a few more great stories and are setting a deadline of December 15th. So if you’ve got something you think might fit, please send it today! And please feel free to check out our first edition, which will tell you what the anthology is all about.

And thanks to everyone who shared their work with us. We appreciate the opportunity to read your submissions.

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Artists have power, and with power comes responsibility

By John Yunker,

Guernica

Every artist has power. This is something I didn’t realize when I was younger.

I didn’t realize that ideas are powerful and artists wield this power — even if they don’t realize it.

Even if they’re at home struggling over a novel that they think may never see the light of day.

There is an inherent power in all of these stories that we tell.

As artists, the stories we choose to tell come at the expense of the stories we choose not to tell.

Every struggling artist wrestles with this choice between telling the story he or she wants to tell and telling the story he or she thinks will sell.

Sometimes the stars align and one story achieves both goals.

But you can’t know that when you’re staring at a blank piece of paper or impatiently blinking cursor. You can’t know what story will sell. Don’t kid yourself. Nobody could have predicted Harry Potter. Nobody could have predicted Twilight.

Publishers took a chance on these works and, in doing so, won the lottery.

But before the publishers could take that risk writers had to tell the stories they wanted to tell, stories that they wanted to hear.

As a writer, I have to remind myself every so often that the only thing that matters is that I write something that I want to read. Nothing else matters.

And if the story you want to read means taking the path less traveled, so be it.

If a friend or partner or teacher tells you that you’ll never get that story published, ignore them.

After all, you can always self-publish.

More important, you have a responsibility to tell your story.

“We just give people what they want,” is a common refrain in the entertainment industry.

It’s a lie.

In truth, producers and publishers give people what they think they will like, based on previous blockbusters and bestsellers, which often has very little do with what people really want. And for these we must also blame artists.

Some artists tell the stories they want to hear. Others tell the stories they think the public wants to hear.

As an artist, I urge you to tell the stories that you want to hear.

Meet the Deodar Cedar: Ashland Tree of the Year 2002

By John Yunker,

In Ashland, you can spend years walking right past a Tree of the Year and not know it.

Like this pair of Deodar Cedars, right smack in the middle of the Haggen grocery parking lot.

Deodar Cedars

Due to their parking-lot location, these two beautiful trees are probably among the most overlooked in Ashland, despite the fact that they provide much needed shade.

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Next time you’re on the boulevard, or at Haggen, be sure to look up … these trees are well worth checking out.

Join the National Museum of Animals and Society in June for a gala event

By John Yunker,

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This is an event we wish we could attend — a fundraising gala for The National Museum of Animals and Society.

The event will be honoring Moby and actress Tracey Bregman, two vocal animal rights activists.

The museum is in the process of moving into a larger location, which is scheduled to open in the fall.

If you’re in the LA area, check it out!

  Category: On animals, Vegan
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