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October 12, 2009

The Myriad, All Creatures Music Tour in Chicago, Michigan

The HSUS's Christine Gutleben reports from The Myriad bus on the coast-to-coast All Creatures tour

The Humane Society of the United States

by Christine Gutleben

Witnessing for animals in the Windy City

Saturday night's show was at Chicago's beautiful old Lakeshore Theater which is just a few blocks from my favorite eatery in the city, the Chicago Diner. It felt like winter, with a chill warning in effect. The temperature descended into the mid-thirties. Despite the cold, I ventured to the diner an hour before the show, where I had my first meal of the day. I sat at the counter and ate delicious vegetable lasagna, sweet potato fries and a soy shake on the house (if you sit at the counter, you get to eat their mistakes).

"A lot of our fans are curious about these issues, and I'm glad I can share with them what we have learned."

That night, The Myriad rocked the nearly packed house and Steven mentioned a few of the simple things audience members could do to reduce animal suffering. We showed the tour video and I encouraged them to join with us in making the world a better place for animals. 

The highlight of the evening was when I approached the display table after the show and heard singer, Jeremy Edwardson, explaining the issues of factory farming to a group of adoring fans: "Factory farms crowd animals in cages so small they can't turn around.  We're learning more every day as a band, but if you watch Eating Mercifully you'll see what I'm talking about." Later on, Jeremy asked if I overheard him. "A lot of our fans are curious about these issues and I'm glad I can share with them what we have learned,"  he said.

Celebrating a victory for farm animals in Wolverine State

We spent the last two nights in Michigan. Sunday we were in Grand Rapids and Monday in Ann Arbor. HSUS Michigan State Director, Jill Fritz, came to both shows and it was a pleasure to meet her for the first time. HSUS has staff in nearly every state in the nation, which makes it hard to get to know everyone, other than by phone or on email. But the extended HSUS family is definitely a large, warm and welcoming one. 

A few HSUS volunteers, and former staff attended the shows too, including Heather Reed, a National Disaster Animal Response Team (NDART) volunteer, who proudly wore her HSUS Emergency Services t-shirt, and got to the Grand Rapids venue early for a front row seat.  In Ann Arbor, Sally Fekety Bolgos, former HSUS employee, gave drummer, Randy Miller, a big hug and thanked him for his inspiration.  It was fun for all of us in animal advocacy to experience a celebration of animals, to be part of a moment where many people are introduced to HSUS for the first time, and to witness rock and roll musician's support our cause.

Last night we had even more cause to celebrate because Michigan's governor signed legislation requiring that pregnant sows, egg-laying hens and veal calves have enough room to stand up, lie down, turn around, and extend their limbs and wings. When I announced this victory, the crowd cheered, and at that moment, it seemed that concern for farm animal welfare had finally reached the majority of Americans. Next stop: Indiana

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