Martin Smedjeback is a longtime nonviolence facilitator, peace activist and vegan from Sweden. He has held nonviolence workshops in Sudan, South Sudan, Colombia, Israel/Palestine, USA and Sweden, and also talks regularly on animal rights and veganism. I asked Martin a few questions about his project “a year for the animals”, where he gets himself crowdfunded so than he can be free to work for the animals for an entire year.
Vegan Strategist: for the second year, you are fundraising so you can afford to work one year for the animals fulltime. How much money are we talking about?
Martin Smedjeback: I’m looking to raise 8500 US $
Is that enough to live on in an expensive country like Sweden?
Yes, almost! I live in a community where we are five adults sharing a flat, and I live pretty frugally in my everyday life. I do hope to have a small income (around one thousand dollars) from presentations I give. Here’s my budget:
What about paying taxes on this?
I checked with the Swedish tax revenue service and they told me I don’t have to pay taxes on gifts, only on the income I would get from my presentations.
What did you do during your first crowdfunded year?
I took the initiative to form the open rescue group Empty Cages. The media covered our actions (in which we freed two pigs, eight hens and a fish) 23 three times, one of them being an interview on the most popular news program in Sweden. The videos from the action have been seen by tens of thousands of people. I did 31 lectures and workshops for a total of around 1200 people. I filmed 20 animal rights lectures and interviews with a total of around 10,000 views, wrote ten articles and letters to the editor, and leafletted 15 times. And I was among the organizers of a the “vegan challenge” in Sweden, where people went vegan for a month and got inspiration and guidance on how to live a vegan life. And I did many other things.
Impressive. What do you plan to do in A year for the animals 2016?
I plan to do lots of stuff! My hope is to show how many different things you can do for animal rights, so that others can pick up the activities that best fit them. I will focus especially on doing animal rights presentations in high schools. Readers can check my plans at my Indiegogo campaign page.
Do you think you are worth people’s investment?
Yes. I used to work full-time in a peace organization and I think it’s great that there are staff at organizations who do great work. But I also know that it’s really expensive to hire a person, pay taxes, office space and equipment. You can “hire” me for a fraction of that cost and because of my fifteen years of experience in working in peace and justice movements I think I can use my time and resources effectively.
What would you advise to people who want to do the same thing?
I would say go for it! The world definitively needs more full-time activists for the animals. If you haven’t been active for veganism or animal rights at all before, maybe you can take some time first to get to know the issues and the movement. When you know more about the issue and know more people in the movement you have a better chance of succeeding. I would also advise to ask someone who has done it or something similar before if you can find someone like that. In the beginning of the year I will have an intern with me for a week. I hope that she can learn enough to be able to do her own A year for the animals, and I also think I will learn a lot from her. Before I started this project, I tried to learn what is really effective for the animals. I read books like Veganomics of Nick Cooney and the Vegan strategist blog to find out how I could do the most difference for the animals. The animals wants us to be smart when we decide on what to do, how to do it and how we communicate.
Good luck, Martin!