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Our Co-founders have just returned from an educational exchange in Oaxaca and this week we host our compañeras from Puerto Rico as we continue to build locally in the East Bay. A theme coming up for us in this relationship building, this organizing we are engaged in is 'equal exchange'.  How we show up when we are interacting with local community members, other organizations and far-away communities are make-or-break for the creation of successfully transformational projects. What makes 'equal exchange' transformational is that it is a radical departure from traditional cross-cultural relations which are typified by exploitation.

'Equal exchange' is a basic principle of social justice and what we are learning to love about equal exchange is that allows us each of us to be life-long learners and for each of us to be an expert in our own right. As we are blessed to host Ana Elisa Perez-Quintero 'equal exchange' is the perfect description of our relationship. Ana Elisa is a former Brower Youth Award winner which helped us get connected through Planting Justice educator Maya Salsedo who also received the Brower Youth Award. However Ana Elisa knew of Planting Justice before our dear Maya joined the team because of her interest in connecting community gardening and community re-entry for people who have been incarcerated. Ana Elisa is working on developing a 501(c)(3)which will be the first explicitly 'Food Justice' oriented organization in Puerto Rico.

 

http://youtube.com/watch?v=sKUVrb-0OBE

 

In our exchange with Ana Elisa we hope to share our experiences partnering with Insight Garden Program to develop a 'prison-to-garden-pipeline' if you will.  We will also offer up our dynamic food justice curriculum. What we know Ana Elisa has to offer is grassroots community organizing strategies that can be translated from Puerto Rico's unique sights of oppression to the Bay Area's own struggles. We are inspired by Ana Elisa's work networking community gardens, an idea with much potential in the Bay Area. As Ana Elisa and Planting Justice organizers connect our shared experiences and common ground help us to develop a politics of transnational and cross-cultural solidarity. What hurts us here in Oakland, hurts our relations in Ponce, Puerto Rico, what heals us in San Quentin can heal us in Ferguson Missouri.

It might sound like some new-age stuff here but what we are talking about is the exchange and development of community based solutions.

While Planting Justice is designed to be a replicable model -- offering our lesson plans for free to all -- organizers from different regions, cultures and backgrounds have so much to offer Planting Justice. In fact our work has been shaped by historic movements in places like India, Central America, and South America. Furthermore many of the permaculture practices we employ are locally specific learnings honed by indigenous agriculturalists. Our learning and exchange also includes showing-up at and supporting community events in our home town, and that's why this Friday we are doing it big and bringing Ana Elisa along for the ride.
We will show her how we do it in West Oakland first at People's Grocery International Green Smoothie Day and later at the City of Oakland's 'Friday Night Live' Block Party.
- Maya Salsedo, Planting Justice Educator

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