Thanks to a fever of 103 & a subsequent suspicious rash, this year I had to stay home, attending our meeting with the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) via phone. However boots on the ground were Aundria Arlandson, whose cat Oliver died after his exposure to a flea powder, and our historical and academic adviser, Norman.
Those who don’t know Aundria she is a bit of a powerhouse. She has been struggling for several years with a severe health issue requiring multiple surgeries, but as soon as she began healing, she jumped back into the DC trip and our advocacy head first. She is the energy that propels everything forward. I am the geek that researches the science and uncovers all these connections. It’s a good partnership!
Below is a copy of Aundria’s updates as she meets Congressmen, Senators, Representatives and places Timmy Stones in and around Washington, DC.
October 17, 2015 – Aundria
I have to be honest. I had some second and third thoughts about making this trip alone. Although I am well aware of the work ahead of me, it’s a bit of a different ball game now. The past two years have been a long road of healing and learning— but, this isn’t about me. Its about all of you. I’d be remiss if I did’nt give Miss Claudia some props… Shes been a source of encouragement and support when the prognosis for my light was less than hopeful, and on top of all of that and despite her own adversities… she continues to be a kick ass administrator and advocate for all of you. I am sad she is not here with me.
For our new friends, that aren’t all too familiar with what we do while here, I want you to know that the tens of thousands of animals that have suffered from these products is a weight I am happy to bear. This year is a very different beast in that the shift in the house and senate brings an entirely new strain of lawmakers hands to shake, educate about our cause and discuss what they can do to aid and join our fight. Because we have been absent for two years, the meeting with the EPA is an equally important component as it is paramount that we work to continue our dialogue and annual meetings with them.
As I said in 2012… we’re not done. Not even close, and while here I am honored to represent all of you and especially those who have suffered that have no voice. Because of your continued support, Claudia and I will be able to continue our work here as long we are physically able to… and when we’re not— i’m sure there will be someone for us to pass the baton to.
Claudia said it best: All of us together makes us powerful. To close, I ask you to send positive love and light this way.
I feel my sweet Olivers spirit here with me… Not One More Like Him. Ever.
October 19, 2015 AM – Aundria
Today is the beginning of a few big days here friends! Each year we visit DC, I spend two full days going to each and every office of your Representatives and Senators. Seriously. If I do not have scheduled meetings, I sit and wait for someone to speak with me. This time on the ‘Hill is always progressive as it has been proven to be well worth our time. We have gained congressional support with staffers routinely checking in with us and our progress and have made a name for ourselves as we are and have been and are being… observed.(CT hee hee).
As per the usual, I am remaining positively optimistic about shaking a few Congressional Leader(s)/Senator(s) hand or twenty. Armed with literature with your pictures, your words and your concerns coupled with the spirit of my Oliver in my heart (and backpack– I never come here without his leash), our Rainbow Bridge Angels, YOU and our warrior Timmy Lipenda to aid my focus and direction– there is no such word as fail.
Looking forward to a busy day… and if you guys are wondering yup…it’s COLD. Gloves hat and scarf cold. And Im from Minnesota. wink emoticon
Not One More Like Him. Ever.xoxoxoxo
October 19, 2015 PM Roundup – Aundria
I had a solid, POSITIVE day today on Capitol Hill! I spent the bulk of my day in the Canon and Longworth buildings, representing all of you as (insert your state here) constituent. For the most part, most of the people I spoke to were appalled to hear about Oliver and Timmy and asked what they, as a state, could do to assist us:
All of what we do and what we want to accomplish is not possible unless the relationship we have with lawmakers is reciprocal, sustained and meaningful.I explained that a great place to start is to read our letters, answer our phone calls and to genuinely care that so many animals have been hurt and died… really care about how we feel.
As a public official, there seems to be so much rhetoric about how they are for and do for us but when push comes to shove– if it doesn’t readily apply to their agendas– we are left with a generic “thanks for contacting me” and then their emails cramming our inboxes until and through the next election.
I spent the remainder of my day at landmarks between the Capitol and White House to place Timmy Stones. Please note that because the President is in town and their are dignitaries visiting– and Congress is in session… it makes it very difficult to get close to these historic sites… but, when there’s a will… smile emoticon
Tomorrow I will be at the Rayburn building and begin to knock on doors in the Senate buildings. Claudia and I will be cramming via Skype for the meeting on Wednesday, so I won’t be placing any Timmy Stones tomorrow. Thank you Timmy for posting all of the stones today!!! Can’t do this without you buddy! heart emoticon heart emoticon heart emoticon
Friends, it’s so important that we continue to stoke the ripple we have created to become the giant wave for change. Your participation in these trips and over all gives that ripple momentum and– sometime soon– we will have that monster of a wave.
With your love and Oliver and Timmys light resting in my heart…I bid you good night.
October 20, 2015 – Aundria
Since I was a kid I’ve always loved this city. Part of why I love going to the Hill is because of the energy— the history. To walk in the shadow of hundreds of years of tangible history never gets old for me.
One could almost feel the tension in the air in the Senate Office Buildings. The plethora of Secret Service whisking Senators coming and going to/from the Senate floor was super cool to see, but disheartening as well. There’s never a guarantee that anyone will take time out of their busy days to talk with me and it’s almost always that we never get face time with my Senator but ANY Senator. That being said, As I sat in a few of these offices waiting to be seen, I was— okay, I was kinda pissed at what I was seeing. Although my heart bled for these kids that had to listen to constituents complain over and over and over on these phones, the generic response to the M’aam and Sirs on the other end “Thank you for your message I will be sure to pass it along to the Senator” was followed with— nothing. No typing on a keyboard, no writing on messages pads. Just hanging up the phone and moving on to the next call.
And this was all done in full view of every couch I waited on.
Over the years, I have learned hard lessons about how to communicate as a Constituent. From those lessons, I’ve learned that all contact with elected officials needs to be constructive, respectful, courteous and professional. I know that especially in the Senate offices, there is always going to be some level of resistance and/or an aire of thanks-for-coming-in-now-get-out-I-have-stuff-to-do— all expected, all fine BUT— to see calls going nowhere beyond the ear of a tired kid working the phones put a really bad taste in my mouth.
I spent the end of my day with staffers from Oregon and Minnesota–which makes perfect sense as Claudia and I reside in those states respectively— both of whom were refreshingly and genuinely interested in Oliver and Timmys stories. We looked at the websites, I explained Timmy Stones and both were duly impressed that we make these annual trips here (supported by YOU!!) to reach out a hand to House and Senate members but also that we have been able to maintain a relationship with the EPA. I also expressed my disdain at what I had seen today and was told by my Minnesotan friend that unfortunately, it does happen but that I can be assured that the Senator is working for my best interest.
>insert inward rolling of the eyes here<
But then— as I was about to leave— my staffer disappeared into the back, then came out with a card. I was invited to come to Senator Klobauchars office Thursday morning for a meet and greet!
Claudia told me once: Even though we have our disappointments… things somehow always work themselves out for us and this cause. For the kid-like excitement I have for this town which has segued into my adult ID I am thankful. For the wisdom of my friend that I wish could be here with me, I am thankful. For all of you that have continued to support Claudia and I these past 5 years, I am thankful.
Most of all, I am thankful for my sweet Oliver and hero Timmy. Without them, we wouldn’t be here having saved the lives of thousands of our fur babies through the work that they inspired.
Not One More Like Him. Ever.
-Aundria (& Angel Oliver)
Side note: I told the story of how our first meeting with the EPA came to fruition which ignited smiles in both offices as they commented (to paraphrase) “THATS how you do it!”