This years Rooted In Community Youth Summit was held in Albuquerque, New Mexico this past week by the lovely host team from Grow the Future and other local youth organizations.
What is Rooted In Community? It is a national youth food justice organization that brings together youth from all over the country to speak their voice on important food justice issues in their communities.
This summit had been a dream in a lot of New Mexico youth and our co-director Gerardo Omar Marin’s hearts for four years. This past December we were fortunate to have Travis McKenzie & Joselouis Ortiz come up from New Mexico with Jaime Chavez to the Rural Coalition Winter Forum in Washington, DC. We then had Gera and a few other RIC youth come up for it too and the connection was made and spirits and visions were shared for this summit to take place and it happened.
When we all arrived on Wednesday we had a beautiful opening ceremony with some of the indigenous pueblo people doing a earth blessing & a corn dance to welcome us all. After we had a spiritually moving opening ceremony it started to rain and we had to run to get dinner around the corner. Dinner that night was New Mexican blue corn with elk meat, buffalo soup, tortilla & veggies. Delicious! It was great to see so many of the youth trying something new. After dinner we had our intros then watched a powerful video on indigenous foods. A Navajo native came to speak on the film that she made on her taking back her health by doing this diet. Her and some of her family members ate nothing but what was native to their region and what their ancestries ate for three months. She said it was pretty challenging at first due to all the bad food she had been eating and the fact that she was pre-diabetic when she started. She said by the end of the film and the three months she felt a lot better, more health and less at risk for diabetes.
The next day we had youth led workshops on a variety of topics such as Organic vs. Factory Farming and the CIW and the Farmworkers 1 penny more per pound campaign. I didn’t get to attend any workshops because I was doing an equally important task with Maya Salsado the RIC youth organizer by video taping youth for our crowd funding video to help raise money for RIC to continue. Later for lunch we had fajitas with tortillas which where amazing. After lunch the youth went back to the workshops and we finished making videos. Later we had the youth circle where each youth told their story and how they came to food justice, farming or gardening. Man these youth are passionate! Their stories are so inspiring and make me want to really do my part in this movement. They sometimes came from nothing and if it wasn’t for gardening or food justice they might be somewhere else in life. Powerful it felt like the RIC church up in there!
Next was dinner and a little free time with music, soccer and getting to know each other. After all that we went back to the dorms and had a dope jam session with the drums while others had a great soccer game.
Friday we had our field trips. My field trip was to Jemez and my group got to go to this farm called Wada Shiloe meaning Green in the Towa language so its basically Green Gardens. We help weed one of Jemez pueblo indigenous farmer named Obsidian Cas’s (who was a rasta) corn. I learned during this field trip that the Hemish people don’t allow outsiders to know the Towa language or write it down to be able to keep in the tribe which I thought was great. After helping weed we ate lunch at the visitors center and then learned about stick ball and played a game (My team lost). I learned that they have a similar story as the Choctaw people but they plant their balls in the ground before they play and paint their sticks the four directions colors. Next we went in the visitors center and we had one of the pueblo women named Towanna explain about some of the land and teach us some of their culture. She told us she had a dream where this storm was hitting her town and she was in the eye of the storm and she saw some beams like aliens and then realized it was different people from all over the world coming to help the earth. We later after the visitors center went out to the hot springs up in the mountains where we had to hike up. The hot springs where amazing they over looked this beautiful view of the mountains and had mint growing all along the border. On the way home we checked out this farm to school set up where this school had a garden right next to it. After an hour in the car we went to a farm to have our bam bam (bring a message build a message talent show) where we had some incredible talent from beat boxing, to rapping to singing to poetry.
Saturday was our day of action. We started our day with a inter-generational panel of elders in the movement who have been doing this work for many, many years. They talked about everything from non-profits, being true to your causes and big corperations. We then all went out to the local farmers market and prepped for our march. We marched down historic route 66 and to Wendy’s to deliver the Fair Food Agreement letter. I feel although it was hot, this march was super successful! Everyone was pumped! Later we made it to Warehouse 508 a local youth space to have our youth press conference, dinner and our dance party. The press conference was dope with talk on the Youth Food Bill of Rights, Child Nutrition, Water Rights from a native girl named Maya from the Acequia Association experiences of the youth. Tahirah, Maya, a girl from the Food Project, Sahiro from Lots to Garden, and others where represented. Once the youth finished Jaime came up and read some poetry about a fallen sister in the food justice movement Charity. We then ate dinner and had our dance party which is always on and poppin. I got the opportunity to talk to some of the La Mujer Obrera youth from El Paso, TX. Bernice was telling some of us that her Mom and some of the women in the community went on a hunger strike for a week once for Women & Immigration Rights. Her little 12 year old sister was at the protest with them and comes to RIC every year.
Sunday was the last day and we had our last steps like evals, pros & grows and commitments. We then went outside and made a circle, passed around some traditional copal & incense then everyone who brought soil put it in a bowl and we made mud balls while I drummed and Gera played his flute. We were also gifted by Gera with a seed ball from the 13 indigenous grandmothers when they were in Arizona as well as a piece of blue corn from Travis so we could take the spirit of New Mexico with us. I was also gifted some sage from Gera which he said gives good dreams and smells lovely. We then took pictures and did a group hug to finish off our time together and strong bond. RIC 2014 New Mexico was amazing! I will remeber this forever and keep in touch with everyone. RIC is always my home away from home and my family. They mean so much to me! RIC 4 Lyfe!
Big Ups to Grow the Future, Travis McKenzie, Celina Gonzalez, Joseluis Ortiz, Towanna Yapa, Kendell Butler, Margo Faulk, Obsidian Cas, Ray and all the New Mexico planning team, host and community members! You all rock! Much love!
Food Justice Music Video:
The Pueblo Experience: www.floweringtreepermaculture.com
The Kitchen Garden Project Video Grub in Olympia, Washington
When I was at Rooted In Community this year some of the youth brought to our attention that one of their community gardens will be turned into a parking lot. University City High School was built after houses had been cleared during a controversial process known as urban renewal. After a losing battle to keep their houses, a community known as the Black Bottom was pushed out in order to make room for the school, which was completed in 1971. Soon after, another fight took place to allow children of color to attend the school. They then build a community garden next to it. http://axisphilly.org/article/u-c-high-schools-closure-is-a-special-case/
If you have a twitter can you tweet @DrexelNews to save U City Garden and not turn it into a parking lot with the #SaveUCityGarden