Basically, the light is a giant projector that displays powerful vegan messages on building surfaces (a la the bat signal). The idea was dreamed up by activist Connie Spence last year, and she’s been shining the light of truth in cities across the country ever since.
Spence came up with the concept after the election when an artist shone an anti-Trump message on a hotel in Atlanta. Because it was only light, it wasn’t considered vandalism, and therefore wasn’t illegal. “In that moment I knew I had to figure out what this equipment was and how to do the same all over walls in Los Angeles [where she lived at the time].”
After a lot of technical trial and error, she got the equipment together and did her first light in mid-December of 2016.
“The first time it was done on the pig slaughterhouse in L.A. and boy was that moment eventful,” says Spence. “The light could be seen over their courtyard fence inside the slaughterhouse. The police that come each night walked up and said ‘WOW, that is a game changer and lets everyone know how serious you guys are.’ I have now been doing the light three to five times a week since.”
In Los Angeles, she’s shone the light on the Staples Center, over freeways, on slaughterhouses, in Hollywood, and on the 3rd Street Promenade; she’s brought it to the Vegas Strip and Downtown Vegas (over the famous Heart Attack Grill); and she’s displayed messaging on the Diamondbacks stadium in Phoenix. She continues to travel and bring the light to new locations. She’s had countless interactions with curious people, many of which have been caught on video and are posted to Facebook.
Currently, Spence is raising funds via Go Fund Me to start new chapters of the Vegan Batman Light. She wants as many people as possible to get involved in bringing the concept to cities across the globe. “This recipe of activism works,” she says, in part because she talks TO people not AT them. “I learn their name, shake their hand, ask them how they feel, ask them if they’ve been to a slaughterhouse, ask them why they haven’t contemplated animals being abused before this moment. I learn about them and their defenses and I pivot to any excuse or justification they have. I spend a lot of time remembering stats and practice rebuttals to make sure that I know how to handle every objection. And on top of it all, I try to stay calm, but direct and always try to maintain peace.”
She’s done it over 50 times and dealt with more than 30 police interactions, yet she’s only been shut down once.
So what does she recommend as far as effective activism? “Talk to every person and imagine they are your child. You really have to talk to people and unwire them and to do this, be as patient with their knee-jerk defense mechanisms as you would be to an 11-year-old child. This is how I prevent myself from surrendering to arguments and you will find even with the worst initial reactions, I almost always get people to come full circle and understand veganism.”
Also, she says, use simple language. “Your audience is always speciesist and you will rarely win someone over when you use language like ‘rape,’ ‘holocaust,’ ‘slavery’ or ‘enslavement.’ I do not need to have my audience turn away from my message because they think I’m downgrading an experience they went through or feel strongly about. This isn’t an ego war on words and so you will NEVER catch me using that language, ever. Also, I never push pamphlets at anyone. I’ve never seen my collateral on the ground. I only give out my cheat sheets and Go Vegan Pamphlets when the person is ‘sold’ on the philosophy and motivated to go on a Vegan Journey. I have never seen any of my cheat sheets on the ground or trash.”