Sunday, June 29, 2014

Report from the Community to Community (C2C)-BUF Partnership* Team

Originally posted by Kara Black on May 31, 2014

*A description of the nature, goals and history of our partnership will be posted in the next couple of weeks on the revamped BUF website for those wanting more information

Change is in the Air—Let’s Lead the Way

Nonprofit organizations led by working-class women of color are rare in our area, and we are pleased to be able to partner with this powerful, grassroots, active social change organization that works locally, regionally, and internationally.

Our committee has been buzzing with activity--from on-the-ground social action to planning events to organizing educational opportunities.

Direct Action:

Many of you have likely heard about the on-going hunger strike at the Tacoma Detention Center.  Our Team has been involved over time in vigils and other efforts to improve this facility.  The C2C staff have been actively involved in organizing to support the strikers.  As one of the hunger strike leaders told us at our recent Cesar Chavez event, it was the protesters outside who inspired them to act.  The private corporation that runs the detention facility provides poor food, poor medical care, $1/day wages for work in the laundry or kitchen, and exorbitant prices in the commissary (plus the detainees are protesting the deportation process itself).  Hundreds went on hunger strike, leading to visits to the Center by media, the ACLU, and state and national legislators—and the initiation of a review of the detention centers/detention process by the Obama administration.

Also on a national level, our Team closely watches immigration policy and legislation and initiates signature/letter/calling campaigns at key moments of potential change.  Thanks to all the BUFers who have made calls, signed petitions or written letters on behalf of immigrants.

The Sakuma Farmworker strike of last summer has had wide-ranging effects through the whole West Coast of the US.  The local goal is for the Sakuma farmworkers to be rehired this spring with a fair contract.  Even though there the strike was in Skagit, rather than Whatcom, County—there has been marked improvement in the treatment of farmworkers in our County following the strike. Regionally, there has been an effort that has garnered larger farmworker union support to prevent guest workers from being brought in when there is no labor shortage, and fighting efforts on the part of Sakuma and other large corporate farms to fabricate labor shortages.  The local Sakuma farmworker group has also inspired a larger farmworker group “Ferente Indijina” made up of primarily Mixtec and Triki-speaking farmworkers up and down the West Coast.  With large union support, they are actively boycotting Sakuma berries and Haagen Daas (who uses Sakuma Berries) in large urban areas. Our Team has been organizing local boycott demonstrations as well.

BUFers who wish to show their support of farmworkers in our area, please come join the March for Dignity on May 4th.  Starting at La Gloria’s Market on the Guide at 10 am (the farmworkers actually start walking much earlier from Lynden), we will march to Maritime Heritage Park for a rally, speeches and good food.  Last year, there were a few hundred of us who marched, many were farmworkers.  It was an inspiring experience, and we would love to have you come along!  For those who can’t walk well, please come join us for the rally and food at the park in the afternoon.

Our Team is also supporting C2C in initiating and passing a Whatcom County ordinace to prevent local law enforcement from detaining people on behalf of ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement).  There was a state bill proposed to do just this state-wide, but it died in committee and can’t be reconsidered for another year.


C2C’s annual fundraising and inspirational event, the Cesar Chavez Community Potluck, happened at the end of March, with the tremendous participation of many BUF’ers.  Our congregation was honored with a special “Seeds of Justice” award at the event, and Erika Shepard, Board Chair, and Ann Stevenson spoke in accepting the award.  The organizers reported that they could not have done the event without the support of the BUF volunteers, who coordinated the potluck, the drinks, the compost & recycling and much of the clean up.  We were an integral part of the event on multiple levels.  The event also honored the local democrats (they were also critiqued by the independent socialist keynote speaker from Kshama Swant’s staff in Seattle).  We also heard inspiring stories from people in the midst of great struggle, including one of the men who initiated the hunger strike in the Tacoma Detention Center.

C2C’s Cocinas Sanas (Healthy Kitchens) project has been busy in BUF’s kitchen making organic, non-GMO, seasonal vegetable tamales for sale once a month. They are also hand-making fresh, organic tortillas for sale each week.  Speaking of food, our Team is also starting to plan Koan na!—a Filipino dinner (one of the C2C staff who works with us closely is a Filipino immigrant) to be served to a large group of BUF folks who bid to participate at the BUF auction.

On the social action front, our team is supporting an upcoming dignity dialogue focused on reducing racial profiling in our area. We also supported the first ever legislative reception for farmworkers in Olympia at the end of February, which was attended by the speaker of the house and several legislators.  We are developing a process to coordinate with the UU Justice Network and UU Voices on these types of state-wide activities and initiatives.

Educational Opportunities:

Rosalinda Guillen, the Leader of Community to Community, will be giving the sermon at BUF on April 27th on the topic of economic justice and food sovereignty. We have been hearing from C2C staff throughout the year at the Adult Sunday Forums.  The next will be by Edgar Franks on May 18th on the topic “Another World is Possible”—about the social forum movement that C2C uses as its organizing model.

This month, C2C will be hiring an intern to staff our committee and provide an educational function including keeping up out board on the kiosk and writing blogs for the congregation on what we are up to.

Recently, our Team sponsored “Rooted Lands” at BUF, a film that was part of the Whatcom Human Rights film Festival.  We also successfully encouraged many BUF’ers to attend C2Cs workshops that were part of the WCC MLK conference in January.

Our Team is planning a farmworker art reception, and exploring the possibility of hanging some art by farmworkers at BUF.

Other Updates:

*Rosalinda Guillen, Leader of C2C, has been elected to be Vice Chair of the local Democrats

*Rosalinda is also the Co-Chair of the Domestic Fair Trade Association and has the goal of getting at least on farm in Whatcom County certified as fair trade this year.

*The C2C staff  have been supporting the Justice Department’s investigation of the local border patrol’s practices, and Rosalinda has been meeting with the local border patrol chief to improve relations.  C2C already has a very good relationship with the Whatcom County Sherrif’s office.

*The Raices Culturales youth group has established several new, organic community gardens, and they will be selling and giving away starts and produce.

Our Team is open to any who wish to join in this fun, inspiring and critical work. We’d love to have you.

Yours in peaceful Justice, Kara Black (676-2300)

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