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 Our Kitchen Table serves up food justice and a second helping of Bryant Terry!

When the big guns come to town, sometimes you’ve got to add that second show to satisfy the people. Our Kitchen Table and Calvin College have teamed up to do just that, offering an exclusive opportunity to grub with Bryant Terry and talk about the future of food justice in our fair city on Wednesday, April 23, at 6:00 pm. You’re welcome, Grand Rapids! This rare opportunity is free and open to the public, but seating is limited, so pre-register today to secure your place at the table! Then come back out on Thursday night for second helpings of Bryant’s food and wisdom at the Calvin College Chapel. 



Colley and Wolpa on the Animal Artifact as Ideological Transmission Device

We’ve all seen wince-inducing racist and sexist artifacts that take our breath away and make us wonder how a civilized world could have ever suborned such ignorance and malice. From early-twentieth century Aunt Jemima salt shakers to Nazi-era money-hoarding “shylock” ashtrays to mid-century advertisements that portray women as kitchen and bedroom props, privileged human beings have long used mass-produced objects and images as a means of storing and transmitting ideological information about “othered” groups to consumer culture at large. These racist and sexist ideologies are often propagated and entrenched through the use of objects or images that seek to reduce the othered group in question to the status of animals, posturing black and brown people as bestial, Jewish people as rats or parasites, and women as meat. By portraying human beings as animal-like, these objects and images seek to make the groups in question easier to subjugate, exterminate, or consume.

Putting it all together

What is taken for granted here is that animals are fundamentally and unproblematically at our behest–we can put them to work for us, kill them at will, and use them for pleasure without the slightest compunction. Working at the intersection of racism, sexism, and speciesism, Brett Colley and Adam Wolpa have assembled a collection of artifacts that is designed to challenge this uninterrogated assumption. By foregrounding the all-too-often hidden humor, absurdity, and horror of our cultural and commercial inheritance of the view that animals are merely expendable, exploitable objects, the artists transport us in the present to a future in which our abject, presumptive, and tawdry objectifications of animals are on display in a new and troubling light (as each artifact label discloses) as “objects for the storage and transmission of a speciesist ideology.” Come and test yourself. What you do not see at first glance may be even more telling than what you do.



Get your research on so you’re prepared for that meet and greet on April 24!

In just 16 days, you’ll be hanging out with Bryant Terry. And since it’s always good hospitality to know a little something about your honored guests, it’s time to read up on the books that influenced Afro-Vegan so you can drop those casual references to the work of Robin D.G. Kelly and your knowledge about the unique treatments of millet in Super Natural Cooking. While you’re getting your very own copy of Afro-Vegan (AVAILABLE TODAY!!!) signed, for instance, instead of making small talk about the weather and looking like a big dummy, you can say something extra-sophisticated like “Your handwriting reminds me of a personal note I received from Edna Lewis that I use as a bookmark in my dog-eared copy of The Autobiography of Malcolm X, which is only ever shelved when I’m engrossed in my annual The Bluest Eye read-a-thon, you know?” Smooooooth!


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You’re probably wondering, “Where have I seen this guy before?”.

It might have been on CNN. Or it could have been that spot on CNN. Or maybe it was that thing on CNN. I know! It was that video of his last appearance at Calvin College, an institution he holds in such high esteem that he named his new cat after us! In any case, there is no shortage of opportunities to see Paul Shapiro making headlines, and he’s been making them for nearly two decades. Since founding Compassion Over Killing as a high school student in 1995, Shapiro has been working relentlessly to make the world a better place for animals, most recently as the Vice President for Farm Animal Protection at The Humane Society of the United States, the world’s largest and most favorably expert-rated animal welfare non-profit organization. You’d think a person this accomplished would be inaccessible, but after ten minutes of conversation with Paul, you’ll feel like you’ve known him for years. Join us for his presentation on the progress afoot in contemporary animal advocacy and make a new, old friend in the movement!


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Meet the man who took Peter Singer to church. Well, not exactly.

But he did write a pivotal book on Peter Singer and Christian Ethics that has prompted Singer to take religious approaches to applied ethics more seriously than ever before, making public appearances with Camosy to discuss the common ground between atheist and Christian ethics and inviting him to present on the ethics of abortion in Singer’s groundbreaking massive online open course (MOOC) on Practical Ethics at Princeton. Late in 2013, the release of Camosy’s newest book, For Love of Animals: Christian Ethics, Consistent Action, launched a media juggernaut that has landed this Catholic moral theologian from Fordham University on the pages of The New York Times (spotlighting the connection between Catholic pro-life commitments and concern for animals), The Huffington Post (suggesting that Christianity has a role to play in the mainstreaming of vegetarianism), and Andrew Sullivan’s The Dish (talking about everything from Jesus eating fish to the ethics of zoos), among many others.

As this year’s Animals and the Kingdom of God Lecturer, Camosy will address similarities between the pro-life and pro-animal movements, provoking pro-lifers, on the one hand, to consider the implications of their life ethic for their eating practices, and provoking animal advocates, on the other, to consider how their concern for vulnerable animals pertains to their moral outlook on prenatal human beings.  Come for the provocation, stay for the reception, and get your signed copy of the book that has put Christian animal ethics in the white hot media spotlight.



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Our annual grassroots celebration of animal-friendly food, art, education, and advocacy brought to you by Calvin CollegeCalvin College Office for Multicultural Affairs, and Our Kitchen Table, with support from our friends at Bartertown, CVLT PIZZAextraVEGANza!, and Vegan Grand Rapids.

All events are free and open to the public (excluding the optional vegan brunch on Saturday morning). Donations to defray costs are cheerfully accepted. Questions? Write to

THURSDAY, APRIL 24 (Calvin College Chapel, Calvin College)

7:30 pmBryant Terry, “Afro-Vegan: Farm-Fresh African, Caribbean, and Southern Flavors Remixed

9:00 pm—Afro-Vegan Small Bites Reception + Book Signing (Copies of Afro-Vegan will be available for sale)

FRIDAY, APRIL 25 (Commons Annex Lecture Hall, Calvin College)

3:00 pmJill Fritz, Senior State Director, Michigan, Humane Society of the United States
Keep Michigan Wolves Protected: What You Need To Know About the Michigan Wolf Hunt”

3:30 pmPaul Shapiro, Vice President, Farm Animal Protection, HSUS
“Forward Progress for Farm Animals: How and Why the Animal Movement is Winning”

5:30 pm—Compassionate Comestibles Vegan Potluck*

At an event where omnivores, vegetarians, and vegans are coming together in fellowship, a vegan bill of fare insures that everyone can enjoy what’s on the menu. What’s your favorite vegan recipe? Bring a dish to share and find out where others come down on this appetizing question! Need a few ideas? The Sweet LifeVegan Yum YumPost Punk Kitchen, and ChooseVeg never disappoint. *Please help us to reduce our ecological footprint by bringing your own washable or recyclable dinnerware and perhaps an extra setting or two for our out-of-town guests and last-minute participants.

7:30 pm—7th Annual Animals and the Kingdom of God Lecture
Charles C. Camosy, Fordham University
“Should Pro-Lifers Be Vegetarians?”

9:00 pm—Reception and Book-Signing with Charles Camosy

SATURDAY, APRIL 26 (Bartertown/CVLT PIZZA and 106 Gallery and Studio)

11:00-1:00 pm—Brunch at Bartertown and CVLT PIZZA (6 Jefferson, Grand Rapids)

1:30 pm—Cooking Workshop with Sarah McMinnThe Sweet Life Online
“Green Comfort: Putting Plant Power to Work in Your Favorite Recipes” (106 S. Division)

3:00 pmSteven McMullen, Calvin College
“Is Capitalism to Blame?: Animal Lives in the Marketplace” (106 S. Division)

5:00 pm—Vegan Chili Cook-off–Registration begins at 4:30 pm (106 S. Division)

Want to go for the glory in the most competitive vegan chili cook-off in the land? Please send an e-mail to at your earliest convenience to register your signature chili for the chance to earn the ultimate bragging rights. In a pinch, you slackers out there can still register a chili on the day of the event, but it will greatly help our planning to know your intentions in advance. Please plan to have your chili on site and ready to eat by 5:00 pm. Registration begins at 4:30.

8:00 pm–Closing Reception for “Putting It All Together: A Wake Up Weekend Exhibit”

The compassion-minded curators behind such past Wake Up Weekend art events as “Named and Nameless” and “Kinship” (Brett Colley and Adam Wolpa) present their latest consciousness-raising effort, “Putting It All Together.” Rooted in anthropological curiosity, this exhibit will interrogate our strained, often absurd relationship to other animals through an array of cultural artifacts and oddities. Objects on view will range from the cute to the grotesque, extracted from our everyday experience with art, advertising, and design. Prepare to laugh and to cry, and above all to make connections between various, visual outputs of prevailing ideological apparatuses.

Questions? Need more information? Drop a line to! See you at Wake Up Weekend 2014!


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Third Time’s the Charm for Our Favorite Culinary Superstar!

Bryant Terry‘s first visit to Wake Up Weekend was back in 2010, when he was young, hungry, and promoting his second book–the break-out classic–Vegan Soul Kitchen. By the time of his second visit in 2012, he was a bonafide star, complete with Oprah credglossies in the New York Times, and a new online TV series, making it all the sweeter that he chose Grand Rapids for the worldwide debut of his celebrated third book, The Inspired Vegan.  Now, just two weeks after the release of his highly anticipated fourth book, Afro-Vegan, Bryant will return to the Rap for the third time, with a rep that’s getting too hot to handle. The man has his own car commercial, for crying out loud. But we established that special friendship early on, which is why this red hot Oakland food justice activist was willing to pencil us in between visits to Yale University and The Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts in Brooklyn, NY. Come on out on April 24 at 7:30 pm to help us give him a hero’s welcome, learn to cook tofu curry with mustard greens, and get your hot-off-the-press copy of Afro-Vegan signed by the man himself!




Mark Your Calendars for April 24-26, 2014!

Make way for the triumphal return of Wake Up Weekend in just eight weeks! Confirmed speakers include Bryant Terry, Paul ShapiroCharles Camosy, Sarah McMinn, Jill Fritz, and Steven McMullen. Stay tuned for a full schedule, speaker bios, and interviews, along with breaking news of an exhibition co-curated by Brett Colley and Adam Wolpa, musical guests, culinary events at Bartertown and CVLT PIZZA, and–of course–the opportunity to unseat the defending Vegan Chili Cookoff champions.

Jonathan Balcombe in GR!

Leading cognitive ethologist and author to visit Calvin and Grand Valley State
Wake Up Weekend 2012 may be history, but that won’t stop the best and brightest animal advocates in America from dropping in on our fair city. I’ll never forget the day I first became familiar with Jonathan Balcombe’s work. It was March 16, 2010, and I was in the car listening to this interview with Jonathan on the Diane Rehm Show. I joined the interview already in progress and after a few minutes of hearing him speak, I distinctly recall being on pins and needles to learn the name of the man whom I had already decided, in just 180 seconds, was the most warm, inviting, knowledgeable and articulate animal advocate I had ever heard. After arriving at my destination, I sat in the car for a full half hour, unable to tear myself away, and then made a beeline to the nearest computer to order Second Nature: The Inner Lives of Animals, his newest book at the time. Since then, I have added Pleasurable Kingdom: Animals and the Nature of Feeling Good and The Exultant Ark: A Pictorial Tour of Animal Pleasure to my collection, listened to every interview I can find, and dreamed of the day that he would bring his formidable talents to Grand Rapids. That day is February 20! And don’t miss his talk on February 21st at GVSU! Book-signings follow both events!

Wayne Pacelle’s Talk is on Vimeo!

HSUS President and CEO Discusses the Human/Animal Bond at Calvin College
In case you missed Wayne Pacelle’s talk at Calvin College during Wake Up Weekend 2012, you can stream it above or send the Vimeo link to friends and family. Also, feel free to check out and share all the media coverage of Wayne’s visit, including his radio interviews with WGVU and WMUK, a critical appraisal of HSUS in the Kalamazoo Gazette and a reply to it from Pacelle, and these write-ups in The Rapidian, The Grand Rapids Press, and Exploits of a Vegan Wannabe. Thanks so much again to Wayne Pacelle, HSUS Michigan State Director Jill Fritz, The Humane Society of the United States, and Calvin Center For Christian Scholarship for this terrific opportunity!