The Good Shepherd Foundation is a non-profit, 501(c) 3 organization, founded in 1949 in California by a wonderful, compassionate woman named Rosalie Gordon. Responding to the cruelty of animal research, also called vivisection, Rosalie waged continuous campaigns to save animals from suffering in the name of science. She labored to stop the sale of homeless animals for use in research, and she started a no-kill humane shelter for abused and unwanted dogs and cats. Rosalie also was a great promoter of spay and neuter programs, and the Good Shepherd sponsored local spay and neuter efforts in California by helping pet owners pay for these services. The Good Shepherd Foundation also worked to protect wild horses and other wildlife in our National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries and helped pass the first legislation in the U.S. banning the use of steel-jaw leghold traps. In addition, the Foundation started Children’s Gardens, a pre-school for children with a focus on animals and nature.
Expanding Our Goals
During the 1990′s, the Good Shepherd Foundation broadened its philosophy and approach towards animal protection by including environmental and human health concerns. After all, animals need a healthy environment in which to live, making environmental issues an integral concern for animal protection in the wild. And the use of animals in medical research cannot be justified if the causes of human disease are related to human, lifestyle factors. To advance the study of cultural/lifestyle factors that cause or contribute to human disease, in 1991 the Good Shepherd Foundation launched the Institute for the Study of Culturogenic Disease (ISCD), run by pioneering medical anthropologists Sydney Ross Singer and Soma Grismaijer. Their research has resulted in several groundbreaking discoveries, including the link between breast cancer and the wearing of constrictive brassieres. To educate the public about these discoveries of various lifestyle/cultural causes of disease, ISCD maintains a website, killerculture.com, which explains the theories and research behind these discoveries, as well as providing instructions for “Self Studies” whereby people can try lifestyle changes for themselves to see the health benefits of ending damaging lifestyles. The ISCD has a publishing branch, ISCD Press, which publishes books on this important medical research. The book, Dressed to Kill: The Link Between Breast Cancer and Bras (ISCD Press, 2002) is now in 6 languages, including English, French, Chinese, Russian, Korean, and Czech and is being hailed a breakthrough by many in the cancer field.
Lifestyle Research Center and Nature Preserve — “THOREAUVIA”
The Foundation cares for a 67-acre nature preserve in Hawaii, “Thoreauvia”, which is home to endangered birds and bats, and also serves as a lifestyle research center for ISCD. Part of this preserve, located on the Puna coast of the Big Island, is old-growth rainforest. We call this Thoreauvia, named after Henry David Thoreau, because of our shared philosophy that emphasizes simple, natural, back-to-nature living, using minimal resources and maintaining a respect for the animals and plants that share the environment with the human inhabitants. The rest of the property is a model for sustainable living, using recycled building materials, solar energy, organic, humane farming practices, and a fully integrated human-animal inter-species community. Thoreauvia also serves as an educational center for learning permaculture techniques, and as well as a lifestyle study center providing visitors an “out of culture” experience to afford a better understanding of the impacts of western culture and lifestyle on health.
Saving the Frogs
Recently, the Foundation has been working on the problems relating to so-called “invasive species” and the hazards to the environment, humans, and non-target animals and plants associated with attempts to eradicate and control these populations. Since 2001, we have been trying to end efforts to eradicate Hawaiian coqui tree frogs, which have been under attack by Federal, State and County agencies. Our position has been the acceptance of the frogs, and we have helped balance the anti-coqui hysteria with sound reason and science. To address this issue, the Foundation launched a new program called, C.H.I.R.P., (Coqui Hawaiian Integration and Reeducation Project), and ISCD Press has published a book on the subject, entitled, Panic in Paradise: Invasive Species Hysteria and the Hawaiian Coqui Frog War. We also created a website, HawaiianCoqui.org , which has helped educate the public about the reasons why the coqui should be accepted as part of the Hawaiian environment. C.H.I.R.P. has been featured in numerous publications and on several television specials, and has helped mobilize Puerto Rico in its efforts to end the war against their beloved coqui.
To the Future…
As we look to the future, we hope our efforts in ending culture-caused diseases will mean less suffering for people and animals, and that the model inter-species community we are creating can serve as a source of information and inspiration for others wanting to live a humane, sustainable, healthy lifestyle.