Bella Velasquez


Bella Velasquez Interview Transcription (PDF)

Bella Velasquez
May 31, 2011
Arts – Visual, Audio, Tactile, etc.

General questions:
1. What does it mean to you and your community to dismantle racism through the food system?

Well, I think explaining the food system and having people actually know what that is, and the meaning of that dismantling racism comes so close to that, and it’s a good way to reach to people through having them learn what the food system is. Because food and race are not that far apart from each other, and we can really use that to get the people. Especially the way that we did with art, and we had a picture of a perfect garden, but also we also had faces of different ethnicities. We, while going through the art workshops, watched some documentaries about race and how race is an illusion, and it really got us thinking of how we could get that message across the food systems learning and stuff.

2. What would the world look like without an imbalance of power and privilege?
Well, I think a lot of our history would have been different if the people who set the pyramid of power back then, hadn’t done so, because they set it up so that the wealthier would keep getting wealthy and the poor would keep getting poor. And I think, without that, there wouldn’t be as much chaos in the world, and I think humanity would be a lot more peaceful, and people would just be happier and they wouldn’t have to go through so much. You look at countries like Bolivia that have not a lot compared to us, and people that live here still complain that ‘oh my life sucks’, but compared to them, they just have it so much worse. I think none of that imbalance of power would have happened, and if the 90% who are wealthy, if 40% held more than 90% of the wealth, everything would be just so much easier and they could help so many more people. Like, if the wealth was evenly distributed now, so many more people could be helped.

Theme: Arts – Visual, Audio, Tactile, etc.
We all benefit immeasurably from art: it sooths our hearts and challenges our minds in ways we cannot quantify. Art is activism that can send its message across boundaries of race, gender, language, culture, age, and many more. It is also a deeply personal process, one that can help us heal. And because of both of these characteristics, art can also help us build communities and build power for social justice.

1. How do your art, food system work, and racial justice work influence each other?
Well the food system, in regard to racial injustice, you can make art about that, and wanting to make art about that also helps people learn. Words can only go so far, and art can really make you want to reach out to people more than just talking to them. And art has so much more potential than just words, in my opinion. And racial injustice, you can really try and get that message across with art, as well as food system work. That might be more complicated, but you can still get your point across.

2. How do you incorporate art into your food systems work, including work with youth, communities, people who are differently-abled, etc?
Well, I work with youth; Fresh works with kids and we also have them draw out gardens, and when we do workshops about food systems, we also have drawings and we have big long paper that we used to draw out food systems and food mileage, and it helps explain more than just writing down facts. And people who are differently-abled, well, art isn’t just for people who can stand and walk like us, but art can also be through audio, and it just has so much potential. Community-wise, we are hoping to have a mural here in our neighborhood, and if that does happen, it would be really awesome to get communities involved. So, getting the point across is community participation would be so wonderful because a lot of people would be aware of what we’re doing and we could get their support.

C. How do you use the media to promote food and racial justice?
Media can be images as well we are looking to do a billboard that says Fresh and I think that, usually when you look at a billboard, you expect it to be some jewelry company endorsement or something like that. But, I think even though people look at something and shrug it off, subconsciously that’s still there, and using a mural or a billboard, or even the art show we had the other day, it’s just really effective way to get across to people. Whether they want to pay attention or not, it’s still going to be there and some people might not look at it or care about it but some may say “oh that’s cool,” you could always get a point across with that. Food and racial justice art show we do people of different ethnicities perfect garden project, we showed that everybody can collaborate to make something beautiful and sustainable media would be a really good way to do that

Do you have anything else you want to add?

Working at Fresh has been the best thing, I knew the founder of fresh when I was 10 and through an after school program that focused on environmental issues. In this program I was able to plant trees around school and clean up basewoods. In High School my friend Sally told me about this position, this job was perfect, I enjoyed being outside and planting things and being paid for it would be the best thing ever, but the money wouldn’t even matter the job alone would be the best thing ever. I’m extremely proud to be here and explain to people what I do when they ask what fresh stands for. It stands for Food Resource Education Security Help. We try to have fresh food, become more resourceful, educate communities and children, attain food security and have healthy food. Now we have fresh food all the time, its awesome, mom thinks i should work somewhere that has air conditioning and i wouldn’t have to wear sunscreen everyday but I would not trade this work for the world. Now I guerilla plant sunflowers.