International Vegetarian Union (IVU)
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23rd IVU World Vegetarian Congress 1975
Orono, Maine, USA

from Vegetarian Voice Sept/Oct, Nov/Dec 1975:
click on pictures for bigger images

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[Minutes of the above meeting]

A WARM WELCOME - Serious planning for the 23rd World Vegetarian Congress actually began at the 22nd Congress, held in Sweden in the summer of 1973. Recognizing the growing interest and tremendous potential for vegetarianism in North America, as well as the conspicuous lack of effective leadership and coordination above the local levels, five American vegetarian groups issued an invitation to the International Vegetarian Union to have the next Congress in N. America.

This invitation, enthusiastically accepted broke with a 65-year tradition of European and Asian Congress sites. Numerous other precedents were also to be shattered by this history-making Congress. From the outset, it was not only designed to be an end in itself, for normal IVU meetings; it must also serve to attract unprecedented numbers of vegetarians and prospective vegetarians; it must provide a comprehensive and intensive educational program of lectures, classes, workshops, etc.; it must be a catalyst to provide the inspirational momentum for a brand-new, continent-wide vegetarian movement, a non-profit organization that could encourage the founding of new local groups and revitalize old ones, train and field competent speakers and teachers, design and publish top-quality vegetarian literature, organize regional or national Congresses, and various other vitally-needed works that are generally beyond the reach and means of each individual local group.

Ideally speaking, each of the Congress purposes should be accomplished without compromises or hindrance of any of the other objectives. And, if in the performance of these simultaneous and parallel miracles, the Congress is also kept positive in outlook, refreshingly imaginative and sufficiently innovative as to attract favorable and extensive mass-media coverage - to drive home to millions of others who are not at the Congress, at least a part of the vegetarian message - well, so much the better. (We should add here, though, that no program events were merely "staged" for the benefit or exploitation of the public media. Coverage was of actual Congress events, which were already scheduled - these proved quite newsworthy, timely, and sufficiently photogenic!)

An ad committee was-forrned on the spoti in Sweden, from the Americans and Canadians at the Congress. Later, in the USA, organizational meetings of the committee were held. Following the return of H. Jay Dinshah from a previously scheduled lecture tour of India in Nov./Dec., 1973, the new non-profit organization (North American Vegetarian Society received its validated Constitution from the State of New Jersey, and was officially "in business" as of Jan. 2, 1974.

Exactly one month later, a joint - the Executive Committee of IVU and the board of Trustees of NAVS, was held on thecampus of the University of Maine in Orono.

New England was in the middle of that memorable winter's fuel crisis, and heavy winter wear was none too adequate in the board room. Photos in top row show Jay Dinshah and Brian Graff; IVU Pres. Dr. Gordon Latto, Helen and Scott Nearing; Ben Weiss and Sig Linnio, Prof. Henry Bailey Stevens, IVU Gen. Secy. Brian Gunn-King, and several others also attended.

planning2#4 picture (left) shows inspection tour of campus; temperature went down to 30 below zero F.

Next picture shows Jay, Brian Graff, and Madge Darneflle, enjoying the special vegetar ian food prepared by the University catering staff from NAVS recipes. The food samples passed with flying colors. Despite the frigidity of the weather, all were favorably Impressed by the campus, and the obviously capable University staff with their attitude of friendly co-operation. The final site decision was now made: It was Orono, Me., and it was unanimous.

With Drom space for up to 4,000, a single meeting hall (the main gym) of adequate capacity, a smaller auditorium and dozens of large classrooms - all in a beautiful setting free from smog and other urban unpleasantries, the Orono campus easily met our projected physical needs.

planning3Once the site was selected, the staff could zero in on innumerable details both large and small. This necessitated voluminous correspondence and countless phone calls, as well as numerous trips to the campus, some 600 miles from Malaga. The organizing work of NAVS and its fast growing family of local affiliate groups was also progressing simultaneously with the Congress preparations.

On some of these trips, we used a 1/2 ton Chevy Suburban Carryall (see photos) with plywood double-deck bunks in the back, to enable us to take turns driving and sleeping. Late one night in Feb. '75, returning from an organizational meeting of American Vegetarians (an NAVS affiliate) in Ohio, this very useful vehicle met its doom, due in large part to its high center of gravity: it skidded down a long steep grade of sheet ice, flipped over, and was "totalled". A seat belt on the driver, and foam rubber padding and sleeping bags around the passengers, kept personal injury to a reasonable minimum. Just one incident on the long and difficult road to the Congress.

GRIN & BEAR IT - (right) Daniel, Anne, and Freya Dinshah pose with University "mascot" on a later visit to the campus.

MOBILE ADVERTISEMENT - (below) Large magnetic signs aided in publicizing the Congress, NAVS staff generally kept a little supply of literature handy in the glove box, for people at gas stops who would see the signs and express interest in either the Congress or vegetarianism in general. Bumper stickers also proved helpful, on a more modest scale. Seen above in mid-1974, on one of many planning sessions at Orono: Children's Committee Members Anne & Daniel Dinshah, with Ling-Ling Panda & Melanie Bear (representing the synthetically stiffed animal kingdom); Sharon Niblett (Mrs. Brian Graff, as of Jan. 31, '75), Brian Graff, and Freya Dinshah.

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planning5PRE-CONGRESS PUBLICITY - Besides articles and ads in various magazines, and radio/TV public-service announcements, approximately a million pieces of literature on the congress and/or vegetarianism were distributed in a little over a year. This included 3/4 million colorful Vegetarian Voice magazines, and 100,000 Facts of Vegetarianism booklets. The typography, art-work and layout for these, including dubbing in full-color on black-&-white photographs - was done at NAVS headquarters by our volunteer staff, producing a series of attractive and informative quality publications at rock-bottom cost.

15,000 posters with reply coupons were also distributed. Congress Committee members and NAVS-affiliated local veg. groups from coast to coast, were very helpful in "spreading the word".

The staff at Malaga (augmented by up to a dozen co-op volunteers and part-time workers), had their hands full for many months, with the huge bulk mailings, answering phones and letters, preparing the program and contacting over a hudred potential speakers/teachers around the world. Over a thousand PRE-Congress registrations - each requiring individual attention - also kept things in Malaga interesting, for quite some time.


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SIGN IN PLEASE - First day of on-site registration (Sat., Aug. 16) . . . Long lines and long waits, despite herculean efforts by team of NAVS staff and volunteers, and University personnel . . . Lessons learned through the experience will hopefully lead to more efficient procedures at future such occasions. (photo by Val freeman).

planning8WRITE ON - Paragons of patience and exemplars of endrance, Sharon and Brian Graff had processed the pre-Congress registrations, now followed through with new registrations and room assignments.

This complex and exhausting work continued unexpectedly for most of the Congress, and at any time of day or night, it prevented their takinga active part in most of the other organizational and educatioanl activities. Another lesson for the future, learned the hard way. (Photo Jack Walas).

PLANTING SEEDS - Bob Pinkus and Jay Dinshah: workshop on local vegetarian information and action groups. Congress inspired beginning of a dozen or more such new groups , helped revitalize older local groups. (photo Jack Walas)

planning7planning9ORIENTATION SESSION - Some 60 speakers and teachers attending a pre-program meeting Sunday afternoon. About 90 individual participants were scheduled, and last-minute additions during the first week brought the total to over a hundred. Seen in the pic left: Bob Pinkus, Leonard Lasky, Nellie Shriver, Rubin Abramowitz, Alice Holtman, Dixie Mahy, and others.

MAN ON THE MOVE - Walkie-talkie proved helpful, for keeping in touch with NAVS volunteer campus guides, and for directing program arrangements within the meeting hall.

NERVE CENTER - The busiest place on the campus - at almost any time of the night or day - was the NAVS h.q. and office complex in Wells Commons Building. (2 photos, Florence Kaplan.)