I’ve been deeply remiss in writing these updates, and am six-months overdue–yikes! This update hasn’t left my ToDo list since October, though i’ve constantly allowed it to be displaced by other seemingly more timely tasks. I’m now at my parents house in Colorado on a self-imposed quarantine, and made the point of making this update a top priority as i settle in.
The past 8 months have been packed and at times hectic (thus my delay in sending this out). However, i’ve been blessed to fill them with deeply meaningful and fulfilling content, and i’m so grateful for how they have shaped up. Knowing how busy y’all are, i’ve decided to keep verbiage succinct. This update will cover the second half of 2019; i’ll plan on sending out another post next month to bring my blog up to date with the intention of moving back to my routine of quarterly updates from there.
In the interim, i’m planning on putting more content onto Instagram moving forward (my handle is @nico_lovesyou), and would love to interact with you more personally there if we are not already connected.
Shortly after my June 3 arrest and directly following the publishing of my Arrest Update, i set off for the Indonesian island of Bali. There i participated in a 4-week yoga intensive with Mark Robberds, an Australian yoga teacher who has had a formative impact on my view of the practice. It was my first time having an in-person teacher since early 2016, and after spending the previous year teaching yoga in Colombia i was hungry to swap roles and be a student again. It was a wonderful intensive; i so loved digging into my personal practice in such a dedicated and directed way, exploring dimensions of physical embodiment on the mat in the mornings while studying philosophy and thinking deeply about mental embodiment in the afternoons.
Nikki, a young woman i met at the Animal Liberation Conference the month before (and whom i was arrested with), had the opportunity to visit me in Bali. I stayed for a bit after the intensive and the two of us explored the island and our growing relationship.
From Bali i headed to Colorado for a few weeks to get my life in order before moving to NYC. I spent time with family, connected with high school and college buddies, and got organized for the move. Nikki also visited for a week, and i showed her around my hometown before attending a music festival with her.
CO to Brooklyn
I headed to New York in late August a bit before my lease began to attend a variety of animal liberation actions; the week held some of the biggest annual actions in the city, and it was a perfect opportunity to meet fellow NYC activists and get immediately plugged into the community.
On September 1st i moved into my apartment in Brooklyn and met my roommates for the first time. The three of us were all looking for anti-speciesist/vegan roommates, and we found one another on Facebook. It has worked out to be a wonderful fit–the three of us get along great, and i’m so grateful to share space with them this year.
Unfortunately i broke my wrist the final week of August; i was one-wheeling around central park late at night (sober, fwiw) with a friend (my cousin’s finance, both of whom are pictured below), and crashed pretty hard on the final turn. The break turned out to be pretty bad due to its location, and prevented me from practicing asana or other physical activity for the rest of 2019. (It continues to bother me today, though does still seem to be improving).
NYU Animal Studies M.A.
I deferred law school for a year to complete a masters degree at NYU in Animal Studies. Despite it nascency, the program is quickly becoming the academic hub for Animal Studies, an interdisciplinary field that draws on social sciences, natural sciences, and the humanities to examine the relationship between human and nonhuman animals and evaluate the moral, social, political-economic, ecological, and aesthetic significance of these relations. Given my plans to dedicate my career towards advocating on behalf of non-human animals via the legal system, I decided to first complete the M.A. with the intention of using this knowledge to inform and inspire my work in animal law in the decades to come.
I really couldn’t be happier with the program. The professors are amazing; beyond literally having written the books on many of the topics i’m most interested in, they are super down to earth, accessible, and share my passion for changing the world for animals. The coursework has been stimulating and fascinating; most of it consists of material i would otherwise wish to explore in my free time, and all of it has been worthwhile. Finally, the cohort has been great, filled with students who share my interests and convictions and who are motivated to act on them. (A picture of part of the cohort is below).
However, it has admittedly been a lot. Given my time constraint of matriculating into law school the following fall, i elected to complete the M.A. program in 2 semesters, a curriculum that is usually spread across 3 semesters and a summer for full-time students. The time intensity of the program has kept me (overly) busy, though i made a point of scheduling two extracurricular activities a week, one centered in activism and one around social relationships.
At the end of September i visited Berkeley for the Animal Liberation California Convergence, a similar event to the one i attended in the Bay earlier in the year. The convergence brought in activists from around the world. Each day was filled with trainings, actions, and opportunities to connect and bond with fellow activists.
On September 30th i was arrested alongside dozens of other activists outside a San Francisco Whole Foods. The action targeted Jeff Bezos, the owner of Whole Foods and the richest man on Earth, protesting the grotesque profits he generates from animal exploitation and asking him to support the Right to Rescue. Whole Foods’ business model is particularly pernicious when it comes to animal exploitation; it is the foremost seller of the humane myth, a lie it curates and promotes to consumers. Whole Foods uses the humane myth to appeal to the compassion and thoughtfulness of their consumers, asking them to pay a premium for flesh, secretions, and other animal products that purportedly come from happily exploited animals. However, Direct Action Everywhere has investigated Whole Foods’ farms for years, and time and time again has uncovered criminal animal abuse. (However, even in the best and rarest of conditions, humane meat is a lie: there is no way to humanely kill someone who wants to live.)
And yet, Whole Foods’ propaganda enables well-intentioned individuals to justify purchasing the violence animal products are rooted in. Today most USians identify as animal lovers, and seek to align their consumptive habits with their values of compassion. As such, domestic animal agriculture depends upon the humane lie’s justification to remain viable, for if the general population knew what really went into the production of animal products the industry would be shut down.
As a response to Whole Foods’ systematic lies, we chained ourselves into a blockade of the store and refused to leave until Jeff Bezos agreed to respond to our years of attempted communication. We asked Bezos to come out in support of the Right to Rescue (the idea that every sentient creature has the innate right to be rescued from situations of depravity) and condemn the serious felony charges being levied against whistle blowers who have exposed criminal misconduct while investigating his farms.
A short video of the action can be seen here: Rose’s Law Lockdown at Whole Foods
Most of my time in NYC outside of school has been spent activisting, attending actions and organizing others myself. Early on i helped to re-start the then dormant chapter of Direct Action Everywhere NYC, and have been helping to plan NYC’s inaugural Animal Liberation Conference. The conference was scheduled for April and has unfortunately had to be postponed due to COVID-19.
I was also invited to do my first podcast interview. The episode considers the role of non-violent civil disobedience in targeting animal agriculture and shifting food systems, and i think turned out pretty good! If you are interested, it can be viewed here: Bodies on the Line Podcast Episode.
NYC Social Life
In addition to setting aside time for one social night a week, activism around the city has given me an opportunity to explore areas i otherwise wouldn’t have. Even so, i’ve explored NYC much less than i’d like; there is SO much to see and do, and i’ve barely scratched the surface. Regardless, after moving through some initial culture shock amplified by having lived outside the US for the previous 3 years, i have come to love the city and its grit and am grateful to be living here.
I hope this update finds you all physically and mentally healthy in these trying times. COVID-19 is showing how deeply connected we are to each other. May its spread bring us closer together and revitalize our sense of global unity and community.
I’m always a message away. If you take the time to read these updates, your friendship means a lot to me, and i would enjoy hearing from you. Please don’t hesitate to reach out!