Thursday, October 29, 2015

South African Farmerworkers Visit Belllingham

This was a big week for Rosalinda Guillen (BUF Member and Executive Director of Community to Community-C2C).  She was scheduled to be the keynote speaker at the Community Food Coop's Meet the Directors Dinner. Her organization was hosting farmworkers/small farmers from South Africa as part of their Community Alliance for Global Justice West Coast visit.  And author/activist Eric Holt Gimenez, who has been called one of the world’s most “prominent critics of the global food system” was in Bellingham to present at the Whatcom Food Justice conference--which Rosalinda was helping organize.  On top of all this, Rosalinda was getting ill.

Rosalinda had reached out to the BUF-C2C Partnership Team earlier to ask if several of us might like to take the South African farmworkers out to breakfast, and asked me if I could host Eric at our Inn.  As the week arrived and Rosalinda wasn't feeling well, our contribution became bigger.  I offered to host the farmworkers overnight out at our place as well and cook for them and Eric too, inviting those who had signed up to take the farmworkers out to breakfast.  I went into town to transport them and was fortunate to catch much of Rosalinda's talk with the Coop staff, directors, and members--she was lucidly and powerfully sending a message (despite her illness) that clearly had the audience inspired to take action. 

At home, we all had a fascinating evening talking about farming and South Africa (geography, race relations from the perspective of Black SA's, economy, the consequences of protesting, etc)--my husband Kurt stayed up until 1:30 talking with Peteros, a South African farmworker/organizer. In the morning, Kurt gave Eric and the farmworkers a tour of his small demonstration permaculture farm.  One of the small farmers has been trying to go organic in an area where no one else is--and found the permaculture principles illuminating.  Then we had a healthful brunch together with the whole group--smiles and laughter and goodwill all around.  Connections that will last in our hearts and make changes, however small--but still significant, in how we each live our lives.   
~ Kara Black, C2C/BUF Partnership Team member

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