Monday, February 14, 2011

A Giving Heart: Neva
A Special Valentine's Artist Story and Giveaway!

Meet Neva - longtime Vegan Etsy Team member, artist, and devoted animal advocate. First, read her moving story. Then, find out how to WIN an adorable prize pack of items from her shop!

Words from the artist:
I've long been active in animal rights, veganism, and animal rescue. I've also been painting, drawing, sewing and creating all kinds of crafts for as long as I can remember. I like to make items celebrating the beauty of nature and animals. I now have two Etsy shops: my original shop, Neva Jewelry and Design, and my second shop, a side project for tiny plush cats called Camp Kittens.

My latest rescue efforts have centered around stray, feral, and abandoned cats in my neighborhood. My husband Sean and I moved into this neighborhood and soon discovered that approximately 60 cats were living on the grounds of the local elementary school, and new colonies were spreading out around the neighborhood as the cats got too crowded. Many neighbors didn't like the cats, and our first involvement was finding some of the cats dying from being poisoned - we rushed them to the emergency vet though it was too late to save them.

We have now spayed/neutered and vaccinated approximately 45 cats and returned to them to the neighborhood. We've received help from some neighbors, so now the cats live in various yards and shelters with a much more manageable number living at the school. We've removed and found homes for about 22 cats who were tame or were kittens. Unfortunately, a few cats were extremely ill and had to be euthanized.

One thing I found through doing a TNR (trap, neuter, return) program on this scale was that some people weren't supportive because they didn't understand its goals. So when I explained to these neighbors that if I was successful, then 1) no new kittens would be born into the colony, 2) the number of cats would immediately decrease as I sought homes for tame cats and kittens, and 3) all remaining cats would be vaccinated against disease, people became very open to the effort. I still sometimes have neighbors stop and thank me as they drive by while I'm walking my dogs.

When we initially began this project, I went out every single day to feed the cats at the school as well as another few cats who made their home bases elsewhere. Now more neighbors have taken on feeding cats, and there are just fewer cats around. Four of the once feral cats, Deedee, Leelee, Pookie, and Apollo, now live inside with us. Deedee was hit by a car and severely injured, and had to stay inside during her long recovery. She was deeply bonded to her mother, Leelee, so I brought her inside to keep Deedee company. Pookie is older and is now deeply attached to our dogs. In addition, after Apollo was adopted but returned to us for misbehavior, he also stayed in our home. He has a great deal of energy and really needs to be with our two boys Liam and Obi so he can get the rough play out of his system every day.

One of my main goals for my Etsy shops is to help finance my rescue efforts, but I also hope to raise money for donations to some of my favorite charities. For example, I did a pre-Christmas fundraiser for Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary. Because I work full time and have an autoimmune disease, I don't always get as many things listed in my Etsy shops as I might like to. But creative work is also my therapy in a way. It's something joyful and fulfilling when sometimes rescues don't go as I planned and the evening news is full of sorrow.

I've been vegan for about 16 years now, after having been vegetarian since high school. I love being vegan, I love to cook, and I love to eat (a little too much). Being vegan is the ideal diet for my autoimmune condition as animal fats and the hormones in animal products fuel inflammation. However, the real reason I'm vegan is because of my love for animals. I can't love them as much as I do and wear pieces of them or eat them. I've never once regretted the decision to be vegan, though even so sometimes knowing the kind of pain animals go through can be heart-wrenching.

I grew up in a family that essentially ate a big slab of meat, an over-cooked vegetable and some kind of starch at every meal. When I look at the colorful rainbows of vegetables I eat now, and the different cuisines I've tried from all over the world, and as I appreciate the subtle flavors of fresh herbs and spices, I can't imagine why anyone would find a vegan diet limiting. Being vegan has expanded my palate and made me appreciate a much greater variety of flavors and textures.
And now, for the giveaway! In order to enter, you must do ALL of the following:
  • mark one or both of Neva's shops as a "favorite" on Etsy
  • follow this blog
  • leave a comment telling us why you like Neva's story and art, and how you've entered!
What you'll win:
  • A prize pack including a postcard and a magnet featuring Neva'a art, a one-of-a-kind handmade pin crafted by Neva, AND a few little goodies from the Vegan Etsy Team!
Entry Deadline:
  • Entries must be made by February 28, 2011. One lucky winner will be announced in the beginning of March!
Good luck to all, and Happy Valentine's Day!


va said...

marked one of the shops as a fav. / squirrel33 .

tumblemumbo at
intl . located

va said...

i am a follower of this blog .

va said...

I like how Neva cares for animals and has made it a goal to save cats and dogs from dying , diseases , and all . I use to have a cat so I know how it feels when you see an animal in need whether it be stray or just in need of a home . I myself am not vegan nor vegetarian but I do care for animals but feeding wild birds here in India .

tumblemumbo at

i did all the requirements to enter this contest . intl.

Linda said...

camp kittens! nawww

melissa bastian. said...

I think Neva's work with feral animals is inspiring, and I love her unique art! (And Camp Kittens are just the cutest!)

-Both of Neva's shops are my "favorites"
-I follow this blog


radioactivegan said...

I am impressed with her work with the local, feral cats. Hearing her talk about it makes me think it may be possible to start a similar program here, where there is also a large population of feral cats. I'm going to start looking around for their colony to see where the cats are staying.

Her jewelry store is in my favorites list. I love the cut-paper pendants!

I have followed this blog for quite a while. It's a great resource for vegan artists and artisans on etsy!

Veganosaurus said...

You're doing a wonderful job Neva! It was great to read the story. And your new Camp Kittens are super adorable!! :)

Bambu Batu said...

We are a retail store, not a manufacturer, so we carry products from many different brands. Our main competitors are other bamboo product manufacturers, and 4 or 5 shops like ours that carry all different bamboo products. Our advantage is in our selection, because we carry so many different brands. And we've been doing this for 5 years, making us the oldest all-bamboo store there is.
On our blog we discuss issues related to environmental awareness, green living, natural lifestyles. Sometimes we also write about local issues for our community, and about topics related to Buddhism, yoga, zen and eastern philosophy.
We will have to share this on our blog