Compassion in Action: Q&A with Beth Doane - Vegetarian Times

Compassion in Action: Q&A with Beth Doane


Between planning

Ferdiand’s Ball

(a gala event associated with the Kentucky Derby that benefits a retirement farm for thoroughbreds), launching an eco-fashion line, spending a month in the Amazon, and authoring an environmental-themed childrens’ book, Beth Doane is one busy woman. Here, she takes a time-out to share her mission with



Q What inspired you to co-found Ferdinand’s Ball?


My fellow co-founder and Kentucky native Kim Boyle connected with me via Facebook and asked if I would help create the event with her and her sister Aimee Boyle Wulfeck. I was honored and excited at the chance to be part of a gala with the potential to be the first-ever event associated with the Kentucky Derby to aid racehorses and raise awareness about the issues they face throughout and after their careers have ended. We are now great friends, and I am forever impressed with the power of social media to bring great ideas and people together!

Q Can you explain the event’s name?


Ferdinand's Ball is named after the horse Ferdinand who won the 1986 Kentucky Derby and then was eventually sent to slaughter in Japan. It was a tragic end—he made millions while racing and becoming horse of the year. Our goal is to stop these tragedies from occurring in the future; all our funds benefit Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement Facility. Ferdinand’s Ball will take place April 29, 2010. Tickets are available online at


Q Your eco-fashion brand Rain Tees features artwork drawn by children living in endangered forests all over the world. For every tee that is sold, a tree is donated to a child. How did you first come up with the idea to “save trees with tees”?


I founded and was running a fashion company (Andira) focused on import and distribution and I was just not very happy. I started to learn how toxic the industry was and wanted to do something about it. Rain Tees was my answer! It was hard work as I had no experience—my college major was communication and theater!—but I feel like if we are passionate and determined to accomplish something, it’s always possible. I tell this to high school and college students all the time when I give presentations on my work or the environment.

Q What inspired you to want to donate art supplies, specifically, to children living in endangered rain forests?


I feel that artwork lets us show the world how we feel and is a creative, powerful, and healing experience. It’s one of the most fundamental means of communication; as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. I love seeing the world through the eyes of these children, and their messages are just so powerful that they are literally calling and inspiring people from all over the world to help save these critically endangered rainforests.

Q You just spent nearly a month in the Amazon. What was the purpose of your trip, and how has it shaped what you are working on now?


I went to the Amazon for three separate reasons. First, I went to spend time with the indigenous tribes there. I lived in a small tribal village of the Achuar tribe deep in the Ecuadorian Amazon; it takes three weeks to walk to the nearest road. I was immersed in their lifestyles and customs. By spending time in a tribal community not yet affected by oil drilling, extreme pollution or logging, I could then compare it to indigenous communities that are affected. I also met with two renowned shamans: one who works high in the Andes and one who lives in the jungles of the Ecuadorian Amazon. These shamans are truly living dictionaries of all the plants and animal species that thrive in the Amazon. They use the earth so delicately to heal anything from a cold to a chronic disease.           Secondly, I went to do drawing sessions for Rain Tees. In the tribal village of the Cofan people of Ecuador, we did drawing sessions with the children in their one-room schoolhouse for Rain Tees. This is a village dramatically affected by oil companies. Sadly, so many of them drew dark black oil in their pictures—showing what they see every day. Their artwork will surely create the most powerful collection for Rain Tees so far.            Lastly, I went to learn more about a lawsuit; the indigenous have sued Chevron in what now is the largest environmental lawsuit in history ($27 billion at stake). I visited some of the tragic sites where Chevron has been accused of dumping billions of gallons of toxic waste into the Amazon without cleaning it up. I saw children swimming in water with oil floating on top and saw some children who were dying of diseases like cancer. I was able to meet one of my heroes: Pablo Fajardo, the lawyer leading the case against Chevron. I was able to interview him on the case and was taken on a private tour to the village of the Cofan tribe where some of the worst damage has been done.

Q You recently authored an environmental-themed childrens’ book. Can you tell us a little about it and when it will be available?


I am so excited for this book! It’s launching in time for the holiday season this year and outlines the stories of four children in Central and South America who are faced with extreme deforestation. It showcases what they are seeing and the positive things that can be done. It’s a call to action for parents and children everywhere in the world, and it’s a glimpse into what is happening in this magical place on earth that has the power to shift climate change globally!

—Jolia Sidona Allen, Associate Editor and Web Editor