2008 Saturday Sessions

September 20, 2008
Opening Session

Presenter: Will Allen

Nobody wore a tie, except the mayor. We’ll forgive him! The spirit of our movement is comfortable.

This is just the beginning of a long journey. Everyone has an equal place in this movement. You don’t have to own a phone or a computer. Use your neighbor’s! We can communicate with each other. Everyone has equal vote. Growing Power has an equal vote just like anyone else. We want to have shared power and change what’s happening in the country. Let’s make this multigenerational – learn from our elders and pass it on.

Talk about your experiences here with others, and come back next year with more people. Bring more young people. Join a committee; it’s a powerful way to keep connected.

The food you’re eating here comes from local sources.

There was also a review of the various committees and how they will be communicating in the future.

 

From the Fields to the Table: Taking on Burger King for Farm Worker Justice

Presenters: Mike Moon, Family Farm Defenders & Student/Farmworker Alliance

Notes: Background

  • Who makes a living growing food? Whose parents? Grandparents? Great-grandparents? We all have an agricultural background
  • In Wisconsin we lose three dairy farmers a day while milk production stays constant. That means concentration, fewer people on the land, disconnect from food.
  • Two economic sectors are not protected under the labor protection act: agriculture and domestic.
  • In the past 10 years, the State of Florida has brought one prosecution and seven cases of horrific treatment of farm workers: people chained to fences, violence, indentured servitude.
  • The Coalition of Immokalee Workers fights against these injustices. For example, they helped create an agreement with Whole Foods to write a check directly to the farm workers who pick grape and cherry tomatoes and investigate their supply chain for injustices.
  • PBS video – check out the video clip http://www.pbs.org/now/society/ciw.html

Coalition of Immokalee Workers v. Taco Bell and Yum! Foods

  • Working conditions:
    • Carry 32 lb. buckets, running 150 ft in 90-degree heat, working in climate of fear.
    • They couldn’t drink water, were forced to keep working.
    • A 17-year-old boy was beaten for drinking water.
    • The workers went on strike.
  • Workers have not received a raise in 30 years
  • Yum! Foods owns six fast food brands. They and others demand vegetable prices.
  • Growers who want to get contracts keep costs low by depressing wages.
  • Coalition wrote to Taco Bell, but to no avail, so they began a boycott.
  • They began making announcements and organizing actions at Taco Bell restaurants.
  • Students were an integral part because they represent Taco Bell’s target market
  • The goal: Get more companies to sign on to the coalition’s agenda and make it an industry standard.
  • Demands & agenda: One penny more for each pound of tomatoes, demanding workers rights from their suppliers.
  • Florida Tomato Growers Exchange (FTGE): Large and influential. Threatens to fine their growers $100,000 for participation in the ‘penny more per pound’ campaign.
  • In the race to the bottom, Immokalee IS the bottom, the worst conditions, violent.
  • For a grower, costs going up for inputs but pressure is strong for cheaper produce
  • One way to get people connected and aware about food is to get them involved. Ways this campaign does outreach and has success:
  • Website has been key for disseminating information, creative actions.
  • Truth Tour: visibility, credibility, exposure. Build the movement, rally awareness during or on the way to direct action protests at company headquarters

Q & A:

Q: Have you seen this problem transfer to other ag sectors?

A: Occurs in the dairy industry as well, would like to expose work camps in that industry. FFD sees parallel between abused farm workers and small-scale family farms. Want to build awareness about how the market works against the interest of farmers.

Q: Have the campaigns been successful in stumping sales of the companies they target?

A: Yes, 30 Taco Bell stores off college campuses is a BIG deal. Next step for the campaign: Subway. Also, they are in negotiations w/ Chipotle and expecting to settle with them and get them to sign on to the demands of the coalition.

Q: How do you keep fair labor in mind and be a sustainable producer?

A: Have you seen “King Corn“? Watch it; it’s awesome. Food has a real cost, but we expect it to be cheap so that is a real challenge. Transparency is key. “Perfect information” is necessary for the accountability to the consumer so that they can make responsible choices.

 

Survival of the Indigenous Nations in America
Presenters:

Resources:

  1. www.nativeearthkeepers.com
  2. www.protecttheearth.net

Notes: Ben Yahola

  • By reclaiming native food and cultural traditions, reconnecting with the land both experientially and ideologically, the Indigenous of the Americas are working to improve the health and food/cultural sovereignty of their communities.
  • As a part of this effort, there has been an effort to promote the 7th Generation constitutional amendment to the US constitution. The goal is to renew the national debate on the 7th Generation amendment on every earth day and eventually put a bill before Congress.
  • 7th Generation Constitutional Amendment (draft language): “The rights of the people to use and enjoy air, water, sunlight, and other renewable resources determined by Congress to be common property, shall not be impaired, nor shall such use impair their availability for the future generations.”
  • Why the 7th Generation Amendment?
    • The Commons: Historically the Commons had two meanings 1) the ancient ways of protecting and managing the wilds in self-governing bioregions, and 2) the place in towns where wandering craftspeople could stay and where later the rural dispossessed could stay. The great enclosures in Europe & the US over the past 500 have been a great tragedy for human and natural communities.
    • Threats to the Commons: Now the only remaining commons is planetary in scope—and the “tragedy of the commons” is now represented by air and water pollution, vanishing wilderness, deforestation, species loss, and climate change. Life for humans and nature is threatened by economic design as reflected by the political concept of “Takings” which necessitates economic compensation when the government takes private resources whose social, cultural, spiritual and intrinsic values often far exceed a price.
    • Common Property Needs Equal Protection: Currently common property has no legal protection. Yet common property such as air and water are the building block for other rights and freedoms articulated in the Constitution. The 7th Generation amendment is needed to ensure constitutional balance by broadening the notion of takings to help guard against rather than “compensate for” the final plunder of public lands and the planetary commons.
  • Another Native initiative is the Sacred Sites Run, which connects participants to the hundreds of remaining effigy mounds throughout the central United States. As part of this effort, participants are collecting small samples of soil from the numerous sacred sites. “The Sacred Sites Run supports the protection of Native American sacred places and supports sustainable living choices as a way to both honor the ancestors and to preserve the common good for future generations. Therefore, we support renewing the initiative for a Seventh Generation Constitutional Amendment.”

Rick Whaley

  • In 1983, a federal court ruling honored native spear-fishing rights. The ensuing walleye spear-fishing conflict that played out in northern Wisconsin until the early 1990s is consistent with the inherent relationship between racism and land in the United States.
  • While the conflict was framed by predominantly rural white folks as a debate over access to and control over natural resources (i.e., fishing rights), the conflict was in fact about racism and food/cultural sovereignty for the Chippewa people.
  • Angered by what they perceived as “special rights,” opponents of Chippewa spear-fishing rights mounted their opposition with verbal and physical death threats, overtly racist slurs, rallies calling for “Equal Rights for Whites,” and assaults in the media. Even former Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson was lured by the “Equal Rights” talk and sought to jeopardize the Indian treatise.
  • Highlighting the disturbing reality of the conflict, allies, Native activists, and spear-fishers commented that you didn’t need to join Witness for Peace in Nicaragua to bear witness to brutality and injustice; you could be a witness for non-violence in Northern Wisconsin.
  • The Civil Rights movement set a strong precedent for the Chippewa’s non-violent response to the antagonistic and violent opposition. Interestingly, it was also the legal precedent of civil rights law that led to a court injunction on racially motivated protests in 1991.
  • With the law backing the Chippewa, the general public started to see the conflict for the racist dispute that it was, and the tides of the conflict began to turn in favor of the Chippewa. By 1992, the white antagonists had embarrassed themselves too badly to receive impartial press and the injunction constricted their ability to protest on racist terms. The conflict subsided

Donna Yahola

  • Wisconsin Educational Act 31 was established in 1989 in response to the tension between natives and non-natives over fishing rights. It required that Wisconsin public schools teach Native history and sovereignty. While this act hasn’t been enforced, Donna and others are working to develop curriculum about Native stereotypes and other topics to share with the state’s universities.
  • One lesson highlights native stereotypes common in American pop culture such as native women being cast as Indian princesses and Native men as chiefs; Native religion as being backwards and primitive; Natives speaking poor English; children “playing Indian”; images of the drunken Indian; Indian characters being antiquated or uniformly dressed alike; Native women being treated badly by Native men; and numerous others. The presentation prompts reflection and discussion about the diversity and authenticity of Native identity and experience throughout history and today.

 

Dismantling Racism 101 Workshop led by Intensive Leadership Facilitation Training Participants

Notes: This workshop was an active participation session which involved each and every participant in “ice-breaker” activities, re-defining concepts of racism, and an examination of conscious.

Ground rules:

  • Speak for yourself; Use “I” statements.
  • Show respect.
  • We don’t have to agree.
  • Take risks; be brave.
  • Encourage others to take risks, too.
  • Step up and step back, but don’t step on.
  • Express feelings; emotions are good.
  • Don’t blame, shame or guilt. Challenge the statement, not the person.
  • Always do your best!
  • Speak with integrity; be impeccable with your word.
  • Don’t take it personally; learn from others.
  • Don’t make assumptions.
  • Think before responding.
  • Give yourself and others room to change.
  • It’s okay to make mistakes.
  • Hold other people’s hands.
  • Add ground rules later.
  • There are no dumb questions.
  • No interruptions.
  • Listen; quiet is okay!

Definitions:

  • Racism: social & institutional power + race prejudice
  • Cycle of racism: Learning to be racist > socialization > reinforcing racism > internalization > being content; existing with (rather than against) racism > recreation > others learn racism
  • White privilege: An invisible knapsack of special provisions, maps, passports, cook books, visas, clothes, tools, and blanks checks. Options, possibilities, the existing “comfort” choice. To be white in America is to not have to think about it. The ability to judge racism from an owned viewpoint without penalty. Although one might be hurt by racism, they might still be able to live without ever having to deal with it.
  • White supremacy: A historically based, institutionally perpetuated system of exploitation and oppression of continents, nations, and peoples of color by white peoples and nations of the European continent for the purpose of maintaining and defending a system of wealth, power, and privilege.
  • Internalized racist oppression: The internalization by people of color (POC) if the images, stereotypes, prejudices and myths promoted by the racist system about POC in this country. Our thoughts and feelings about ourselves, people of our own racial group or other POC are based on these racist messages we receive from the broader system. It is a multi-generational process.

Activity: The last portion of the workshop involved groups of five creating human-sculpture definitions/representations of the definitions. One member of each group was allowed to move and mold the other “clay” members into a composition that represented white supremacy or internalized racist oppression.

A concluding ceremony followed in which personal emotions and reactions were expressed in a group setting.

Growing Roots with Art Presenters: Andrea Godshalk, GFJI Steering & Communication Committees
Erika Allen, Growing Power-Chicago

Agenda/Description: Community art enlivens the development of a social space. Murals, mosaics, and sculpture provide a powerful dialogue space for community representation of culture, heritage, and issues of social justice. By using vertical wall space people and ideas marginalized and oppressed in the dominant mainstream are able burst forth smashing invisibility. In this work, facilitated by two community artists, we will focus on art as a way of strengthening urban farming initiatives and the work of dismantling racism by making visible, inviting, and declaring their importance and necessity.

This workshop will present the powerful effects large-scale community art can have on sharing and building solidarity and collective vision. We will share examples of this, lead discussion and physically participate in the creation of art that reflects the spirit and intention of GFJI throughout the Gathering. The finished mural will be installed at Growing Power’s Community Food Center on an exterior wall that is viewed by thousands of visitors and passers-by.

Notes: Murals and Community Art Murals create a dialogue space to declare who we are and where we have come from. They depict the history and character of a community or neighborhood.

Examples of art as a social and political vehicle:

Other discussion topics:

  • Incorporating youth within any art movement.
  • Permits for incorporating public art/murals within a community.
  • Difference between murals and graffiti.