January 04, 2010 | Myrna Anderson

Calvin philosophy professor Matt Halteman and art professor Adam Wolpa collaborate on Wake Up Weekend, the annual winter gathering of local and national animal advocacy organizations

For five years, Calvin philosophy professor Matt Halteman and art professor Adam Wolpa have collaborated on Wake Up Weekend, the annual winter gathering of local and national animal advocacy organizations to be held January 22 and 23, 2010 . Halteman recently took a few moments to give a preview of this year’s event, which includes a vegan soul food cooking demonstration and the annual “Animals and the Kingdom of God” lecture series.

What’s in store for Wake Up Weekend this year?

We’re particularly excited about the diversity of this year’s events. We’ve got philosophers and eco-chefs, activists and community organizers, artists and restauranteurs all working side by side.

Bryant Terry, food-justice activist and best-selling cookbook author from Oakland, Calif., will be doing a cooking demonstration at Brick Road Pizza, and he’s designing a custom lunch buffet or brunch buffet, I think it is, from his cookbook Vegan Soul Kitchen: Fresh, Healthy and Creative African-American Cuisine. Bryant brings an interesting perspective to his work as an African-American eco-chef interested in drawing our attention to the often hidden connections between racial injustice and food systems injustice. His unique take on these issues is a perfect fit with two of Calvin’s most important current initiatives: sustainability and multiculturalism.

Will the traditional Wake Up Weekend events be on the bill this year?

Those who attended in previous years won’t be disappointed. We’re bringing back the Compassionate Comestibles Potluck on Friday and the Vegan Chili Cook-off on Saturday Night. And for this year’s art element, (Calvin art professor) Adam Wolpa has raised the stakes—curating an entire exhibition exploring animal issues that will be opening at (106) South Division.

Can you talk a little about the “Animals and the Kingdom of God” lecture series?

This will be the series’ third-annual address. And we’re thrilled to welcome former Calvin philosophy professor John Hare to the podium. Hare is the current Noah Porter Professor of Philosophical Theology at Yale University, and he’ll apply some of his important work in moral philosophy to the question of how we should understand animal sacrifice in the Bible.

How is Wake Up Weekend connecting to the broader community this year?

Participants represent a variety of regional and national organizations and institutions, including Cornell University, Grand Valley State University, The Humane Society of the United States, Not One Sparrow from Kenosha, Wis., and Our Kitchen Table from right here in Grand Rapids.

Is there support for Wake Up Weekend at Calvin?

We were amazed at the number of departments that came out in support of Bryant Terry’s visit. The list is long and illustrious: multicultural affairs, biology, philosophy and student life to name just a few. 

How did Wake Up Weekend evolve?

I teach an interim course called “Peaceable Kingdom” that addresses the ways in which animals are used for human purposes. Adam Wolpa and I both teach courses that look at human-animal relationships. Wake Up Weekend originally arose out of a collaboration between myself and Adam Wolpa. The idea was to create an event around animal ethics and food issues that was imaginative and positive and community-focused. So often, discussions of animal ethics get heated and polarized, and we wanted to create an environment where people interested in these issues could have some fun together—regardless of where they find themselves in respect to the central questions at issue.

Are you looking forward to the event?

Yeah. We always get a sizeable and diverse crowd, and every year it gets bigger—so we’re excited to see what surprises are in store for this year.

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