Hey friends. As you know, I have become insanely busy with video work the past year. Because of this, I started a new project, Burning Hearts Media. For the past year, I have been slowly phasing out Because We Must. The BWM site will stay up as a resource, and I will continue to design and put out merch, but all my efforts from here on out will be going towards creating awesome videos for both clients, and other social justice related groups. Please check out the site! Feel free to LIKE Burning Hearts Media on facebook too!
My friend Aaron is in need of some support right now. Aaron is a long time vegan, straight edge, athlete and hardcore punk elder. He is one of the nicest and positive individuals I have ever met, and is also responsible for making the North West hardcore scene what it is today. Aaron was recently diagnosed with MS and even though the diagnosis is scary enough, Aaron and his wife are racking up a scary amount of medical bills. Please read this new interview with Aaron and check out the benefit shirt that was designed to help out with their bills. We need to show Aaron that the community is behind him by supporting him in starting this new chapter in his life.
The following is taken from Further Faster Forever
The staff of Further Faster Forever value a lot of things, but the heart and soul of our organization is the idea of building a global community of endurance athletes who inspire and challenge one another. People coming together around a common love: whether it is running, cycling, swimming or a combination of all three, FurtherFasterForever is a group of people around the globe whom inspire and challenge us everyday.
None of this would exist if it wasn’t for Aaron Edge.
While riding 100 mile centuries in the Pacific Northwest of the United States, Aaron used to scribble Further Faster Forever on his handle bars to remind himself that he could go that extra mile. Little did Aaron know that one day that mantra would start a global movement to motivate and inspire athletes to go beyond their limits. Aaron, a print designer who now lives in Portland, not only created the mantra but designed the logo that has adorned thousands upon thousands of pictures on Instagram, Facebook & Twitter.
The last few weeks we haven’t featured an athlete of the week because we wanted to dedicate a period of time to share Aaron’s story with all of you. This past week we had the chance to really get to know the man behind the hash tag.
We know you coined the hash tag #furtherfasterforever mantra, but when did you start riding/running?
I started cycling in Seattle in 2007, first on fixed gear bicycles and eventually road bikes. Cycling was the first healthy thing I had done in my adult life. I spent a lot of my time before that in vans, playing in or working for bands on tour around the country… which is not the healthiest of lifestyles. Playing music on the road took a back seat (er, saddle) and traveling the roads on a two-wheeled device took a priority in my life. I found such peace in my time away from work, troubles, etc. while hunched over a bicycle. Fast-forward to April of 2010: I had grown so tired of the Northwest rain, and it had never bothered me until I started cycling. One morning, I shouldered my bicycle and headed out the door, only to come right back up the stairs in disappointment… the rain had destroyed my spirit. So I changed out of my kit, pulled on some running shoes and head back out into the rain to go for a run. Mind you, I had not done any running since my track and field days of middle school. I figured that running couldn’t be that tough for me, I mean, I was riding well over a hundred miles a week at that time and in great shape. I was dead wrong about it not being a tough transition. As we all know, running and cycling are very different, one fluid and one full impact. I couldn’t run a single mile without terrible knee pain. I returned to my apartment, defeated.
Looks like you didn’t give up?
Well, I am an “all of nothing personality”, always have been. I didn’t give up on running, and by July of that same year, only three months later, I ran my first 20-miler. It was such an accomplishment, and I stuck with it. It was rare that I ran less than 10-13 miles at a time. And the rain didn’t bother me ever again. I’d just look out my apartment window and let the weather make choices for me. If it was clear out, I’d ride. If raining, I’d run. Some days I’d do both. It was amazing to have a choice and to let nature chose for me. I learned to love the rain again, really love it.
At the end of 2012 you started experiencing pain in your hands, tell us more about that?
While living in Los Angeles (2011-2012), I began having tingling sensations in my body after long 70+ mile rides along the PCH. I chalked it up to normal wear on the body after such mileage. I got a new bike fitting and wrote it off. A few months later, I started having the most terrible random pains in two of my fingers. After speaking with my Mother (who has arthritis in her hands), I prepared myself, without a proper diagnosis, for a life of arthritis pain. I was bummed, but it made sense. I wrote that off as well.
The pain spread from your hands throughout your body, correct?
Yes. My wife and I moved back to the Northwest (Portland, Oregon) last November 1st. We hadn’t felt like Los Angeles was home, we gave that place two years and packed up everything, and though I loved my job there, I missed the culture of my Northern home. I missed seasons. I missed everything about life up in the Northwest. As soon as I started riding and running in Oregon, I had pin/needling in my hands and feet. Since I had not time acclimating to the temperature changes (LA to NW), I figured that my limbs and digits were just cold. I mean, I was riding in 70-90 degree temperatures in Southern California in October and then 30 degree temperatures in Portland a few days later. I busted out my serious winter gear but it wasn’t enough. My new riding partners were confused by my symptoms as well. My pals weren’t that cold or feeling the pain, we all just thought I had lost some toughness and needed time to acclimate. Once again, I wrote it off and kept riding and running with pain.
When did you know that there was really something wrong?
On January 5th of 2013, I woke to the pain and it has not left me yet (even to the day of this interview). My hands and feet feel as if they are asleep and crushed under heavy weight every minute of every day/night. I knew then that something was terribly wrong. I could no longer shift my gears on the bike, could not gold drum sticks while playing in my wife’s band, could not do dishes or other chores around the house, could not operate a mouse or keyboard, I could not feel any kind of change in terrain while running… terrible pain and total lack of control. The “zing” and aches grew to my chest and back. Life had changed and I was really considering terrible options in my mind, I became more depressed with every hour of pain. I stopped running, riding, hiking. The stress, of course, was making it all so much worse.
We know you visited a lot of doctors that didn’t help much.
I was tested for everything: vitamin deficiency, lead and lime poisoning, arthritis, heart conditions. The first doctor saw nothing wrong. The second doctor suggested that I get MRIs. I couldn’t believe it. Who had I become? I only got sick once a year, maybe a cold when the season changes, never have health issues, never in hospitals… not ever. The only sprains, scrapes of any kind were from battling cars in traffic while riding my bicycle. And now, something terrible was happening. Some new monster.
Who diagnosed you with MS?
Finally, I met up with a neurologist, the third person to see me. He checked my scans and ordered a lumbar puncture (spinal tap). The procedure had me in bed for nine days with a headache and back ache. My results from the spinal tap, along with the viewing of spots in my brain and spine via MRIs, was all the neurologist needed to diagnose me with Multiple Sclerosis on March 6th of 2013.
We can’t imagine how you felt when you were diagnosed with MS.
I felt and still feel absolutely crushed. I went from being the healthiest person (of my age) that I knew, to the unhealthiest person (of ANY age) that I knew. Life was on hold. I was seriously depressed and with many dark thoughts. I shut out friends and family, even my wife at times. I was unproductive, not creative, unable to work, in pain and served (in my mind) a death sentence. Frozen, like the winter outside my very door.
How important has the support of your family, wife, friends been during this process?
Because I shut my family and friends out, I didn’t let them support me at first. I was too confused and aggressively angry at my own body for letting me down. My only lifeline was my wife, bless her heart. She has stuck with me, at my worst. I will say this: without my wife by my side, I certainly (and without question), would have crawled up into the woods and blown my own head off. It’s been that bad.
That’s so intense. What roll has the Further Faster Forever community had in this process?
Eventually, I let my family and friends in. BUT, during this whole experience, the most supportive people, aside from my wife, has been runners and cyclists in the F3 community (folks I have never met in person). Amazing people (who know who they are and need no shootouts), who have dedicated extra miles in my name. That’s crazy. That’s unheard-of. I have received well-wishing texts, emails and care packages from total strangers. Strangers that, even if they know no illness themselves, have been so sympathetic to my suffering. And, sadly, there are some who suffer themselves and they are empathetic. Both types of strangers, so helpful in my mood-altering. The support from the F3 community reminded me that there are selfless people around the globe who care for other humans that share a similar goal. That goal is betterment, be it health or mood or otherwise. My wife kept me alive, straight up. F3 folks kept me in their hearts. I can’t thank everyone enough, that of course now includes my family and friends too. I am still quite negative and devastated about all of this, but knowing that people care about me does make it so much easier.
Are there cures, medications, treatments etc that you will be going through/on?
There is no cure. Looks like I have my choice of/between three different meds that aim at decreasing future attacks (up to only 30%), each one is a self-administered shot… the most promising and popular is an every day needle poke for the rest of my life. That’s pretty lame. But, everything is pretty lame right now. My new MS-specific doctor, who I haven’t met yet, will walk me through some other meds to aid in sleep, of which I get very little and in small increments. I will also be swallowing a pill three times a day to combat my constant pin/needling in my hands and feet, which is caused by confused/exposed nerves. Once pain is under control, I will hopefully get back to cycling, running, drumming, working, and everything else we take for granted (like buttoning pants or a shirt, helping do dishes and even holding my own dinner plate while eating).
You recently moved to Portland from Southern California and have yet to find full time employment as a print designer. With all the medical bills piling up, how have you handled the stress of not being able to run/ride?
I’m still freelance designing for clients and that brings in some dough, so, no full-time job was not an issue until all the bills started piling up. Now, of course, it’s an issue. And, because of the disease, I will be on meds and paying bills like this the rest of my life. That’s a tough pill to swallow (no pun). As far as not riding and running goes, well, I’m starting over again. Back to square one. I have the need and lust for cardio, but for a while it’ll be quenched in much smaller increments. I used to run two half marys a week and ride up to a hundred miles a week. That’s gonna’ be different now and I don’t expect to ever be up to that kind of mileage again. I’m realistic on that front. That said, if I do reach that level or somehow surpass my old accomplishments… well, all the better.
We are excited to announce the production of the limited edition F3 shirt that you designed to raise funds for your medical bills. How else can the F3 community help support you? A donation perhaps?
First of all, thank you for even considering something like this. Even if $5 dollars comes my way from the sale of these shirts, that’s an incredible help. As well as any additional help via donation, I must say this… if you really want to help me out, purchase a shirt. There are a few reasons:
- The shirt has a positive message that other people should see.
- The shirt supports and pushes the F3 team/movement/brand even further (ok … pun) and THAT is a big deal to me. I am so happy to see people supporting this whole thing that a few of us got together and started. Every new #furtherfasterforever hash tag promotes healthy living. Positive living.
Wear the shirt proudly, keep it as a banner knowing that you are representing one of the most amazing groups of people on the planet. People, who as I’ve said above, are willing to help each other out with support. With care. Because, after all, we all post photos with a hash tag to connect ourselves to others. Otherwise, it would just be for ourselves. We all love to be appreciated and pushed by our peers…even if we have never met them in person. I used to scribble the slogan/manta “Further Faster Forever” on my bicycle handlebars before F3 was started. And while in pain, suffering or faced with a most difficult climb, reading it and mumbling it though parched lips helped remind me that life is a journey and ya can’t go back. You can only go forward. As any cyclist will agree, it might as well be faster.
Interview by Comrade Black
How do we shut down a multinational corporation?
500 animals per day die in the labs of Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS), one of the largest contract testing companies in the world. Beagles, primates, rabbits, mice, rats, cats and other species are burned, cut open, or injected with poisons all while alive to ensure products like Viagra and diet pills will make it to the shelves of stores around the world; as well as GMO crops, pesticides, fertilizers and house hold cleaners. A small handful of dedicated activists started a campaign that nearly brought the giant to its knees as over 500 companies quit doing business with HLS, including their insurance company. Activists also managed to get HLS dropped from the New York Stock Exchange, eventually stopping their stocks from being publicly traded altogether.
Jake Conroy was one of the activists involved in Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty campaign (SHAC) in the USA, helping to run the website, and lead demos. For this, Jake was sentenced to 4 years in jail.
PE: How did you get involved with animal activism, and more specially the SHAC campaign?
JAKE: I’ve always had strong feelings for the underdog throughout my life. It didn’t really occur to me until I was 19 that some of the biggest underdogs in the world were non-human animals. I had spent a long time thinking about the issues and reading books and pamphlets I picked up at hardcore/punk shows, and watching videos wherever I could find them (which actually was pretty hard to do in a pre-YouTube era). But I was somewhat on the fence about making that leap to get involved.
I was living in Seattle at the time, walking downtown to school, when I passed some folks protesting against the circus as they paraded the elephants for miles through the city. I passed them and didn’t say a word but it sat heavily in my mind that I should. So I turned around and walked back and asked what they were doing and who they were and how I could get in touch with them. They simply replied, “We’re in the Yellow Pages”. Sure enough, under Animal Rights, there was one listing – The Northwest Animal Rights Network. I called the number and listened to the info about the upcoming circus protests, and I went down that weekend by myself to join in.
The next 5 years I would participate in civil disobediences, run successful campaigns to close fur salons, help transform Seattle into one of the most animal-friendly cities in the country, and be arrested (with my current co-defendant Josh Harper) for engaging in the first whale hunt sabotage in US coastal waters by piloting a boat between whales and hunters.
In 2001 I had been working locally on the anti-HLS campaign in the Seattle area, when I got a call from a friend asking if I wanted to move out east for a few months to help start the office for this group, Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty USA. I had nothing else to do, so I packed up my belongings, put them in storage, and headed out to Philadelphia. I became so excited and inspired by our first 3 months that I never went back. I would spend the next 5 years helping run one of the most exciting campaigns of my life.
JAKE: I think the most important thing people can learn is that their activism needs to be strategic, smart, and creative, while being thoughtful, careful, and calculated. We shouldn’t rush in head first because that’s the way it’s always been done; rather prepare for all outcomes, be ready to accept them, and not fear them. We need to realize that we are under a microscope, so our actions need to be significant and have a focus on duration and long term strategy.
PE: What do you think made SHAC so successful?
JAKE: Bobby Seale, the co-founder of the Black Panther Party, once said that in order to be successful you have to capture the imagination of the people, and the anti-Huntingdon Life Sciences campaign and SHAC USA did just that. It began in North America at a time when national welfare organizations started to dangle paychecks in front of grassroots organizers, when they began shifting the debate away from liberation to welfarism, and when they made you feel like you were doing your part by voting every couple of years and sending in your donations to cover their expanding paychecks. They were disenfranchising the animal rights movement and getting folks to fall into line. But deep inside, we all wanted more. Read the rest of this entry »
Hey PNW/West Coast, we need some help! We are trying to rehome our friend Cris/Grendel. Cris was rescued from the Galapagos and brought to the U.S. Here is some more info about him from his current caretaker, Allison.
“Cris Grendel Bachelor was poorly owned by the mayor of San Cristobal Galapagos. He quickly became the mascot of our campaign, following us everywhere. I asked the mayor if he wanted Cris and he said “no” … the rest is history. Cris was starving when we hooked up. He would have killed thousands of indigenous animals had we not swooped him up. Conservation is key to Galapagos Preservation Society
Cris is a great dog! He has but one problem, he kills wildlife. He is kind to puppies and girl dogs. He has a bit of an attitude when meeting boy dogs but quickly befriends them. He loves the great outdoors and would run and play all day if you allow him too. He sleeps on the bed with me at night. He loves to cuddle. He will sleep-in as well, if you do.
Unlike me he loves people. He really bonds with men.
He wants to be anywhere and everywhere his master is at. I think his separation anxiety has subsided. I have a doggie door for him to go in and out of all day. He does not tear up anything and would love to have a girl doggie to hang with. He shares his food. He is patient. He rides well in the car.
I can bring him to you.
Allison Lance (Please email us for Allison’s #)”
Portland anarchist Kerry Cunneen has announced their refusal to cooperate with the grand jury investigating the May Day attack on the Nakamura federal courthouse in Seattle. Kerry’s subpoena, which was delivered on December 14th, stated that they were required to appear just 5 days later on the 19th. Their lawyer successfully got the date pushed back until January 3rd, when Kerry declined to even enter the grand jury room. Kerry has stated that they will never under any circumstance cooperate with this or any state in persecuting themself or others:
I have been subpoenaed to the grand jury in Seattle investigating Anarchists in the Pacific Northwest. I was called to testify on January 3rd at 9am. I did not appear before the grand jury. I will not cooperate with this grand jury nor will I in any way aid the state in its efforts to imprison people.
I stand firmly in solidarity with the actions taken against the Nakamura Federal court house during the May Day demonstration and all action taken against the state and capital towards the goal of a more liberated society.
I am in solidarity with the May Day 5, with Maddy, Matt and Kteeo, and everyone else who has met repression with resilience. To all whose solidarity has come in some form of action, it is inspiring and must continue.
CAPR supports Kerry’s bold refusal to even enter the grand jury room. Although for some, resisting a grand jury may be a display of commitment of civil liberties, free speech, or freedom of association, it can also be a method to further the spread of insurrectionary tactics. To be blunt, it is easier to break windows or act against the state in other ways that are necessarily illegal when there is a culture against snitching among anarchists. We oppose the state in its entirety – we are against its courts, its prisons, its judges, its prosecutors, and every manifestation of the law and their justice. The Committee Against Political Repression is encouraged by attacks against the existent, including the May Day attack on the Nakamura federal courthouse.
The May Day anti-capitalist march in Seattle signaled a broad and growing antagonism to hierarchy and domination, and the state’s heavy-handed response to it (three house raids in Portland, at least nine grand jury subpoenas, and three people currently sitting in prison for refusing to testify) signals just how dangerous the state perceived it to be. As an anonymous author writes in We Are Contagious: a gift to those who desire social revolt,
“What was special about May Day wasn’t the black bloc, impressive as it was in its coordination and preparation. What was special was that the hundreds of people clustered around the black bloc probably had a good idea of exactly what was going to happen when the anti-capitalist march left Westlake…and they liked it. They stayed close the bloc anyway; a few even joined in on the fun. Others screamed in joy. Some, who only months ago might have tried to prevent the property destruction or would have later denounced it, simply smiled to themselves and moved on down the road. Perhaps most importantly, a fair number of these people will return to the streets, better prepared to act themselves.”
Broken windows are an easily replicable tactic that is capable of rapid generalization. Although broken windows are certainly not the anarchist end-goal (there is no single anarchist end-goal), the tactic of breaking windows is a way for people to directly attack (and cause financial damage to) institutions to which they are opposed, and build affinity in the streets. The state logically must do whatever it can to control, disrupt, recuperate, or liquidate that which presents a threat. While we are angry about this grand jury (and all grand juries, and the existence of the state, period), it also shows that anarchists have been doing something right – anarchists are posing a threat that can’t be ignored.
We can respond to this and all instances of repression by strengthening and escalating our projects of resistance. Kerry has stated that the best support they could ask for is action of some sort that is in resistance to state and capital. Indeed, that is the only way we’ll come through to the other side stronger than before.