This past weekend 13 Rooted in Community advocates gathered to strategize and dream of the future of RIC. Gera Marin (RIC), Maya Salado (Planting Justice/RIC), Vicky Bernal (Student Farmworkers Alliance), Travis McKenzie (Grow the Future), Beatriz Beckford (Why Hunger), Nikki Silvestri (People’s Groccery/Green 4 All), Ari Rosenburg (Cfet), Anim Steel (Real Food Challenge), Doron Comerchero (Food What?!), John Wang (the Food Project), Santos Flores (Tierranegra Farms/DIG) our amazing facilitator Ravi Prasad and I gathered together and got a lot of (at times difficult) decisions accomplished.
Our journeys started on Thursday as we all traveled from the East Coast, West Coast, South East and Mid-West to our beautiful house (which was once an orphanage) tucked away in the woods. From there we spent the next 3 days learning, growing, transforming and making changes that will bring Rooted in Community to a higher level. We also had the opportunity to help cook and prepare delicious culinary master pieces made by our amazing chief John Wang.
This space is a space of family and it feels very safe. That is one of my take aways from RIC is that when I’m around RIC-sters I feel very safe and very loved and that we come together as a community and take care of one another.
Anyway we stared the weekend off on Thursday like I said as we traveled in from all over. When my group got there (we had two trips of cars from the airport), John gave us a tour of the place. He showed us up stairs where there where 6 beds on each side of the room (which reminded me of Annie) and how the different doors led to different rooms in the house. He also showed us a door that led to the basement which no one went down because it felt a little creepy lol. Once everyone got there we then ate some really good pizza from a local pizza place down the street, talked and got some sleep.
Then on Friday morning we got up and had some breakfast tacos then had an opening blessing by Gera, intros and then looked at our agenda and what our first task was for the day. The first day was all about exploring what Rooted in Community means and how we honor and value that. We also talked about short, intermediate and long term outcomes for the work we do.
For lunch we had veggie minestrone soup with grilled cheese and arugula salad and dinner bun (rice noodles), tofu, rice, grilled chicken, cabbage slaw and for dessert mochi w/ red bean paste. I did the blessing for lunch with one of Gera’s turkey feathers he brought. During our long meetings we would stop to do energizers like ninja that Vicky showed us, red wagon that Nikki showed us from her summer camp as a kid and we even did the bounce.
On Saturday a lot of our focus was on the structure of RIC and how we see that going forward. We also did a lot of dreaming of different programs that we wanted to create for RIC.
For breakfast we had oatmeal, lunch pasta with red sauce and pesto w/ kale and caprese salad and then for dinner we had a taco bar with tortillas that I helped to make, green rice, boiled corn (by your truly) and a cilantro pesto slaw w/ pepitas and for dessert some really amazing rice pudding.
We also had some really dope jam sessions before dinner because we gotta keep the culture in agriculture. That night we also split up into two groups to discuss what was important to go over on Sunday. My group stated up till midnight working on the agenda. I was also gifted with a book and bookmark by Gera called Revolutionary Women: A Book of Stencils by Queen of the Neighborhood Collective (which I plan to read this week and do a book review on). That night was Ravi’s last night with us and so we had a thank you circle where we all said what we got out of the weekend with him as our facilitator and also took some group photos with him too.
Sunday was our last day and our only day without Ravi to facilitate for us. That being said though I think we did a bomb job on our own. That day we tried to tie up any loose ends we had opened up on Friday or Saturday and think about next steps and immediate actions. We also learned about sociogracy and holacracy as potential modals of structures for RIC. Before lunch, Gera did a really calming yoga/breathing/meditation which I personally got a lot out of. First we did a little bit of yoga moves then some jaguar breathing techniques and then we did this nice calming meditation. While we were all laying down and meditating, Gera and Santos came around and played the flute and softly drummed around us. While I was lying there I felt like I was in a space where I was asleep yet awake at the same time and saw the color yellow a lot. After doing a lot of brain work for the past two days it felt good to unwind our brains.
For food that day we had breakfast congee w/ fixings, lunch frittas with butternut squash yum, mushrooms, caramilzed onions, cheddar cheese, swiss chard and tomato and mixed greens w/ balsamic vinaigrette, toasted nuts radishes and evoo. Then for dinner we had dal, bangnan bharta, steamed rice, curry chicken, cucumbers and raita and spiced cookies for dessert.
We ended around 7 that night and one of Gera’s friends John who lives in Boston (but comes to DC a lot and who I got to meet when we had dinner last year with Lorette the ED of the Rural Coalition, Gera and his friend Ken Son) came by to have dinner with us. After dinner we had our closing circle and thanked everyone and had a hug roll. Some of us then watched some videos from the 2014 RIC summit in New Mexico and got packed for tomorrow.
Monday everyone got up early and were shuttled to the airport where we all went back home. As I write this it is the day after Thanksgiving, what I am thankful for this year is Rooted in Community. After leaving my organization this year to start school full time I have been looking for a way to stay in the loop with these important issues and you have given me that. Vicky at the end when we were saying our thank you, said something that resonated with me in that she was starting to get a little frustrated with the movement but that being there this weekend helped her feel better about it. I can very much agree with her because it can be hard at times but when I am around RIC family it gets easier. Plus like I said you are a safe place and even though I have only been a part of RIC for 3 years you have become my family away from home for life.
What did I get out of this weekend? One thing that I get out of any RIC gathering I am apart of is the we always bring spirituality and ritual to any gathering. Just having sage burning, the honoring of our families, and the playing of music moves my soul and is so nurturing. I learned what holacracy and sociogracy are, learned some cool energizers and great recipes for meals. I also appreciate Beatriz and John who helped to get all of us there and for shopping and cooking for us. Also Ravi for being a more then awesome facilitator. He was very accommodating to change in how we did things but also took charge and saw when the energy level got low and when we need an energizer or two. He is also a fellow AmeriCorps family.
All in all this was a very dynamic, transformational weekend and I’m defiantly glad I got to be a part of it. RIC Family 4 Lyfe!
PS for some videos from the retreat please visit my fb page or the RIC fb page.