Now’s time to check out all the burrito places you could never visit because Cali Burrito is just too good, man.

The Valley’s favorite burrito joint had a kitchen fire on September 14 and is currently closed for repairs. You won’t find this on any local news outlet, though, which is surprising given the restaurant’s popularity.

Cali B closed sign

The sign currently posted on their door reads: “We took Bob Marley’s Catch A Fire album a little too seriously. Kitchen Go Boom! We’ll be back up and running in a couple weeks. Thanks for all your care and support.”

This terrible news comes only three months after Bethlehem’s Hello Burrito was closed due to water damage. It’s been a sad summer for Valley burrito fans, but not all is lost. We’ve been fortunate to have some new burrito places pop up recently with solid vegan options. While nothing compares to the variety of delicious options (or the fluffy chips) that Cali B offers, not all hope is lost. Now’s your chance to check out the following places. Continue Reading »

You’ve all heard by now about yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling that declared gay marriage legal in all 50 states—almost exactly two years after it repealed DOMA.

The majority of states already allowed same-sex couples to marry, but now those couples can move to any other state in the country and not have to worry about whether their marriage is recognized in that state or not.

When my coworkers broke the news to me yesterday at work, I responded by saying, “well, guess I’m making a cake when I get home today!”


Simple and elegant on the outside, reminiscent of a wedding cake. I sent my mom this picture, and she said, “it isn’t gay???”


Of course it’s a gay cake! The rainbow is on the inside.


Because, real talk time. These two gay cakes may have the right to marry each other in all 50 states, but in over half of those states they can still be fired from their delicious jobs just for being gay. Gay cupcakes are often bullied by peers and even rejected by their parents, which puts them at a high risk of becoming homeless.

Yes, this is a huge victory and I’ve been crying happy tears for all the couples who can finally get married and all the solidarity our straight allies are showing. So let’s take this weekend to pop some champagne and have some celebratory gay cake, because we did it, baby. Just don’t forget to keep fighting the good fight once you’re finished celebrating, because it’s far from over.


Molly Cat

My mom’s cat Molly came to her as a stray, rescued by my brother’s coworker. She was a friendly, healthy adult who showed signs of being in heat, so we took her to Forgotten Felines & Fidos to get spayed—only to discover the deed had already been done. It wasn’t until then that we realized she must have had a previous owner, and decided to ask our vet to check for a microchip.

Continue Reading »

On those summer afternoons when the air conditioner can’t quite cut the heat, the last thing you want to do is turn on the oven or stove. Smoothies are cool and refreshing, but sometimes you want something different. This salad with creamy avocado and crisp bell peppers keeps you satisfied and is easy to make.

Avocado Salad

This recipe makes enough salad to graciously top 2 pieces of toast, which I think seems like a pretty good serving size. If you want more it’s super easy to double (especially since it calls for 1/2 an avocado as is), but resist the temptation to make extra to save for later—avocado doesn’t like being exposed to the air, and will fare better if you keep the second half unchopped in an airtight container until you’re ready to use it.

Summertime Avocado Salad

1/2 avocado, chopped
1/4 green pepper, chopped
1 slice red onion, chopped
1/4-1/2 tsp lemon juice
Salt and black pepper, to taste

Mix together the vegetables until just combined, being careful not to overmix. The creaminess of the avocado will coat everything, but you still want to keep a few chunks unlike guacamole. Add lemon juice, salt and pepper, and mix again. Serve on top of toast or crackers.

Feel free to sprinkle some grated carrot and/or nutritional yeast on top, and enjoy!
Avocado salad

As part of the Activists Writing Media class I’m taking at Kutztown, I am again blogging this evening about alternative media forms and functions. This time, I’m writing a response to Leah A. Lievrow’s Alternative and Activist New Media

Lievrouw’s book provides a great theoretical overview of alternative medias, split up into five genres: culture jamming, alternative computing, participatory journalism, mediated mobilization, and commons knowledge. While The Alternative Media Handbook (written about previously) gives specific examples of these various forms of media, along with the benefits and drawbacks of each, Alternative and Activist New Media focuses more on well-organized background information. She includes case studies here and there, but mostly discusses pre-existing research and writings.

Though the five genres Lievrouw discusses are distinct, they are also very much interconnected. For example, Indymedia was used as an example of an organization that engages in participatory journalism. However, Indymedia uses the internet “not only to distribute information, but also to recruit and instruct protest participants, to organize and publicize protest-related events, to feed Indymedia content to mainstream media, and to implement hacktivist actions against targeted organizations’ websites” (Lievrow 164). These actions all fall under mediated mobilization, the use of the internet to spread ideas or to bring together communities of geographically disperse, like-minded people.

Another example of the interconnectedness of these genres can be seen with alternative computing and commons knowledge. Alternative computing deals more with the infrastructure that hosts media than with the media itself, but one of its main critiques of the current system of knowledge and computing is against the gatekeeping of ICT infrastructure. It argues that “information wants to be free,” and develops open-source software or publish codes to help bypass gatekeepers. Commons knowledge deals with the information itself, rather than the technology, but participants similarly want information to be free to everyone, not just experts, and work toward this goal. As described in the book, Wikipedia serves as a prime example of an organization that works toward this goal. MIT provides another example with their OpenCourseWare, which publishes hundreds of MIT courses and course materials free online to make them widely accessible to anyone.

Overall, Lievrouw does a wonderful job outlining what is being done with alternative media, without delving into specific tactics and strategies or arguing the effectiveness. The book is very well organized and has an interesting yet academic approach to forms we don’t usually look at very closely in higher ed.

I’m currently taking a class at Kutztown called Activists Writing Media: Composing Democratic Futures (yes, it’s as rad as it sounds). We’ve just finished reading The Alternative Media Handbook, which discusses various forms of alternative media and their uses throughout recent history. Now, I’m exploring a few of those forms and their use in vegan advocacy.

Last one: Alternative or Mainstream?

One debate I’m constantly having with myself when assessing the effectiveness of media activism is: Do I want to reach a wider audience but risk watering down my message, or keep my message strong but reach a smaller audience?

This argument is much like the one between the “welfarist” and “abolitionist” groups of vegans. The former argues that marginal moves toward better conditions for animals (i.e. larger cages) are more widely accepted and therefore more likely to be instated, and those effected have slightly better conditions. The latter says our message must be no cages, not bigger cages, because even slightly better conditions are still terrible conditions that no sentient being should be subject to.

This argument is always framed as an either/or, but in reality there needs to be a balance between both: we should frame our message in a way that it will get our foot in the door in mainstream media, but never lose sight of the bottom line of liberation for all animals and always aim for that goal. Mirella von Lindenfels agrees in her essay on NGO media strategy, and says that organizations must always consider their message and how best to get it across. “For NGOs there is no choice between traditional and new,” she writes. “Who do you need to reach and which channel will enable you to do that?”

Many organizations, most notably of all PETA, rely on sensationalism to get their message into the mainstream media. This, however, undercuts the message by exploiting emotion, which can decrease public trust in the organization and, thereby, the movement. The Alternative Media Handbook cites an Advertising Standards Authority statement from 1995 that says “overstepping the line between presenting a possibly distressing, but accurate, picture of their cause and misinforming people about an issue by exaggeration or stretching the truth, exploits the trust that the public have in charities and certain pressure groups” (149).

All said, it’s much harder to get a message out using mainstream media options. Even if you water it down enough to fit into the hegemonic story journalists are selling, you must also be able to speak their language better than corporations that have a lot of money to devote to selling their own stories.

I’m currently taking a class at Kutztown called Activists Writing Media: Composing Democratic Futures (yes, it’s as rad as it sounds). We’ve just finished reading The Alternative Media Handbook, which discusses various forms of alternative media and their uses throughout recent history. In my next few blog posts, I’ll be exploring a few of those forms and their use in vegan advocacy.

This time: Podcasts!

Podcasts are great for distributing content online that is easily accessible to your audience. Think of it like a radio show that can be downloaded to your computer or mp3 player and heard anytime, anywhere. Like zines, podcasts are low-tech and their alternative channels of distribution bypasses the need to frame arguments in a way that is consistent with the journalistic hegemony. As Magz Hall says in her article “You Are Hear,” “Being able to dispense with media gatekeepers and broadcast totally independently on demand is liberating, although the immediacy of live radio is lost” (118).

In today’s technologically advanced world, practically anyone with a laptop can put together a podcast and broadcast it online. While it helps to have a good microphone, your laptop’s mic will work well enough if you don’t have the funds. Mac users can record and edit audio using GarageBand, which comes standard on all computers. Audacity is free, open source audio recording & editing software downloadable on most operating systems.

Unlike radio broadcasting, which has great geographical limitations, “podcasting provides a way of connecting with a geographically dispersed community,” according to Andrew Dubber (276). This doesn’t only mean the connection between the podcaster and the audience—the team making the podcast may be geographically disperse as well, thanks to technology such as Skype or Google+ Hangouts. Hosts can talk to each other in an online conference call, with each one recording their own audio and sending the file to one person who will put them together, adjust volumes, and add finishing touches before posting. Kelly Peloza and I experimented with this technique a few years ago in our own endeavor to create a podcast about vegan activism from farm to kitchen. Unfortunately our project never got off the ground, but we were successful in recording and being able to edit our first episode. This technique is also great for conducting interviews without having to have the interviewee physically there.

Once a podcast is put together, there are a number of free ways to host it online and get it distributed. Dubber mentions WordPress, Blogger, and feedburner.com as a few helpful options. iTunes is the most commonly used because of its intuitive use, organization, and accessibility. You can search for specific podcasts or general topics in the iTunes store, and once you find one you like, subscribe to it and new episodes will automatically download to your computer. Best of all, almost all podcasts are free.

One of the biggest cons about podcasting is that they’re still fairly new, and not everyone knows about or listens to them yet. If you want to create your own podcast, Dubber recommends you “be as helpful as possible to your audience by making it as clear and simple as you possibly can to subscribe and listen” (278).

My favorite podcasts are:

  • The Vegan Police – provides discussion on issues surrounding veganism and on-the-streets activism
  • Our Hen House – covers vegan news and events to help inspire listeners to find their own way to change the world for animals
  • The Cosmopolitan Hour – a less serious podcast full of shenanigans and lighthearted banter

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