I am Rooted in Community
A few weeks ago we received an e-mail inviting Project Respect to the Rooted in Community (RIC) Food Justice Summit, and before we knew it we were sitting in the Vancouver International Airport on our way to Olympia, Washington, to meet with dozens of incredible youth and adult allies who are passionate about food justice from all around the world!
It took 2 flights and an hour long bus ride to get there; absolutely exhausting. Once we arrived it was immediately clear that the youth were not there to rest, they were there to contribute every ounce of passion, dedication and positive energy to the work that would be done during their time at the summit.
I took a moment to ground myself in the beautiful Evergreen College space where the summit was based, and made a commitment that I would take advantage of the time I had in Olympia and allow myself to be vulnerable and open to new things.. This decision was key in my journey, because after I cleared my mind of anxieties and uncertainty, I was able to make so many cool friends, eat weird food, and gets my hands dirty. I found pride in my bravery.
I like to sleep in. But there was work to be done and change to be made! Wake up time was 7 or 7:30am every day, so my body definitely felt drained nearly immediately after all of the harvesting and activity filled days. The early mornings were totally worth it because it allowed us to visit at least 2 sites off-campus every single day! The folks who ran the community and public gardens that we visited in Seattle were so hospitable and kind! In return, the RIC youth and adult allies exchanged our time to help out around the gardens wherever we were needed, this mostly included weeding. At the end of our time at each location we would have shared stories, snacks, and a delicious meal for lunch provided by the beautiful folks who act as stewards to the lands we were tending to.
In closing, RIC hosts a”Day of Action” which is a youth-led show of activism that helps find a meaningful end to the 3 day event. This year the theme was “Lending our hands, Lending our voices”, which was created with the intention of lending ourselves to a cause that is affecting the local peoples and their food systems. We were informed that “in the past few years there have been nearly 30 car derailments when transporting oil by train, this is extremely dangerous for the surrounding communities, animals, soil, plants, food systems, open/closed water systems, etc”.. The list went on to further describe how detrimental these derailments have truly been to the indigenous communities living on and off reserve near these toxic spill sites.
We were given the opportunity to attend a viewing of the film “March Point“, which told a beautiful story of 3 Indigenous youth who were experiencing hardship and found refuge in the art of film, depicting the cowardliness of the Shell oil refinery that broke the medicine creek treaty with its presence. Immediately after the movie we engaged in a conversation about how relevant and pressing these derailments were not only in Washington, but across the country.
At the end of these discussion I turned to a friend and asked if the way these conversations were being introduced and facilitated was appropriate considering almost all of the youth who were present were not actual native to that area, nor were we familiar with these ongoing battles. We never really came up with an answer.
This sparked a need within myself to be active in the conversations surrounding the day of action simply because it felt strange to throw myself into something that I didn’t completely understand.
Here in BC we have had our fair share of social action against proposed oil projects which we have been supported every step of the way by locals, allies, and internationally through social media. I found comfort in these acts of support that were shown to my community and home. This gave me the reassurance I needed to continue on in RIC`s day of action in a good way.
There is so much beauty in unity and that’s exactly what we were. You could hear the roaring voices of youth chanting in unison for justice. You could see hand made picket signs as a visual display of the youths distaste for such blatant disregard of the lands right to health. Most importantly, you could feel the sense of community that we had built in the few days prior.
I would like to thank everyone who had a role in organizing, participating, or hosting this event! It truly changed the way I think about food and will help me continue to be conscious about my food and to take action in the future!
P.S. To my youthful family! Please continue to be the amazing, kind-hearted, intelligent, BRILLIANT people I know you to be! All of you deserve a million praises and thanks for the work you do.
Mussi Cho! Thank you very much!