In a world of people
who couldn't care less...
Be someone who
couldn't care more.
We originally came from the UK where Mark had a successful career in people development and was a recognised authority on the subject of leadership and adult education. Sharon had given up her career to look after our two children and care for our animals, whilst Mark travelled the world running training events, speaking at conferences and even advising governments on development practices.
Our first ever rescue was a wonderful, shaggy white dog named Dougal. He'd been languishing in a tiny kennel for two years, unloved and ignored by his owner, who was finally persuaded to surrender him. We were thrilled to offer him a home, but maybe not as thrilled as he was. Seeing his sheer joy at being loved and valued made a huge impact upon us.
In 2006 we emigrated to Alberta, Canada, leaving behind an opulent but largely meaningless lifestyle, but bringing our animal family of two cats and (by now) six dogs with us. Word soon got around that we were prepared to rescue dogs and seven years later, it was necessary to move, just so that we could keep offering them a safe home.
Mark had been a vegetarian since 1990 and it took a while for Sharon to join him. But when in 2010, having seen a Facebook page called 'Redefining Animal Slaughter as Murder' Mark declared that the whole family was going vegan, nobody argued. We'd always felt uncomfortable with animal exploitation, but never made the connection that dairy and eggs resulted in suffering too. Our transition to veganism was as uplifting and exciting and as it was instant and absolute.
Our new home in British Columbia came with a lot of land that was beautiful, but served no purpose. Then not long after relocating, we were asked if we would consider taking a small herd of unwanted alpacas that were destined for dog meat. We didn't hesitate and the Piece Of Heaven Project was born. More unwanted or destitute creatures soon followed, until today, we have over 90 animals of 12 species (plus the dogs) that we share our lives with.
It was a couple of years before we decided to invite people to visit. When we did, we were awed at seeing the impact that both the setting and the animals had upon them. At the same time, Mark had been battling trolls online, attacking him for the vegan perspectives expressed in his blogs. We realised that many others were subjected to similar abuse; that vegans can become alienated just because of the views they hold. We saw first hand how healing the Project was as we watched visitors leave feeling revitalised and full of determination to make a difference to animals.
As a professional adult educator, Mark was only too aware that most of us are brought up in a way that it is at odds with our true nature; that we can exist in a state of cognitive dissonance and need to unlearn the programming that we have been through in order to evolve. He also understood the power of experiential development and anchoring learning to our environment.
What if more people could experience the harmony and bliss of our 'little piece of heaven'? What if they could decompress from the pressures of a carnist dominated world. What if they could spend time forming bonds with animals and nature in a stunning setting? What if they could reconnect with a sense of vegan purpose and leave with a deep commitment to be more effective animal advocates?
So we decided to develop our place of safety and peace for a wider audience, to become a destination where people can come and do all of the above. We want the project to be a sanctuary for humans as well as our beloved animals. We have BIG plans.
This is the journey we're on. If you'd like to join us, figuratively or literally, please sign up to receive updates from us. We'd be delighted if you'd join us!