James Laveck and Jenny Stein are the co-founders of Tribe of Heart and producers of the award-winning documentaries The Witness and Peaceable Kingdom. For the last ten years, their work has focused on the emerging new ethics of the human-animal relationship and the journey of awakening conscience.
Our work as filmmakers has revolved around the awakening of conscience in the lives of ordinary people, and how this process leads to an understanding that we are all interconnected and that our choices can create more violence or more peace in the world. We have found that the stories that we have to share are universal, of interest to people of all walks of life, and around the world. We have seen that when approached with compassion and respect, audiences everywhere are willing to listen to new ideas and contemplate the possibility that there are important and even life changing facts and ideas they were not aware of before.
While the image of documentary filmmakers is so often that of detached observers who study and depict events but who do not themselves get involved, in our case, documenting the awakening of others' conscience has impacted the awakening of our own. The courage, sincerity and philosophical depth of some of the concerned citizens who are working to change things for the vulnerable animals and people of our world has touched our hearts and opened our minds. In particular, our work with people who at one time made their living from the use and killing of animals and who now work only for their protection has greatly increased our faith in human potential.
As the years have passed, at the same time as we have documented the emergence of an inspiring grassroots movement predicated on values of transparency, justice, and respect for all, we have also watched this same movement come under the influence of a troubling trend. A handful of multimillion dollar animal advocacy organizations has joined with certain segments of the animal-using industries to develop, certify and promote "alternative" animal products that are being marketed to the public as being kinder to the animals, more healthy to consume, better for the environment, and on top of all of this, more flavorful, too. This collaboration, while not only representing a conflict of interest, has resulted in advertising and advocacy campaigns that either omit or distort important truths the public has a right to know.
Therefore, as documentarians, as artists, as educators, and as concerned citizens, we have joined with like-minded people to develop and host this web site. Our intent is to foster awareness and insight, and to share the vision and wisdom of the many people of good will and integrity we have met over the last ten years of our filmmaking work, people who have taught us to think critically, and to find the courage to speak out when we become aware of an injustice.
We don't claim to have all the answers. Like everyone else we are on a journey. This web site is not so much about giving answers as it is about making sure that the right questions are being asked. We trust that if the public is given access to the facts and encouraged to come to their own conclusions, the result will serve the common good.
James LaVeck and Jenny Stein