Connecting The Movement(s)...
--Pancho Ramos Stierle
6 minute read
Jul 31, 2015


How are we going to connect #DisobeyingWithGreatLove, #OccupyTheFarm and #BlackLivesMatter?

Anchoring us in stillness, fearlessness, compassion and radical love. That is, merging the outer (r)evolution with the inner (r)evolution. Another way to put it is trying to fully integrate Constructive Programme and Obstructive Program.

So how does all of it apply for this time of dramatic climate change, rampant racism and insatiable-profit-driven corporations, here, in the Bay Area?

One doesn't need to dig deep to find that healthy, organic local food is the foundation of social justice. It doesn't take much to see that our dignity and our effort to become holistic love warriors are fully connected with the land. Take a look at what the Gill Tract community/Occupy The Farm has been working on for the last few years. Here's a bit of background from the sing-up invitation to keep this public farmland to farm:

For over 15 years, faculty, students, and local community have protested the commercial development of the historic Gill Tract Farm and research site, managed by the University of California (UC) at Berkeley. These concerned stakeholders have crafted several alternative proposals, advocating for its preservation as an educational resource (like the 1997 BACUA Proposal). In 2012, after neighbors and students occupied the land in protest of its commercial development, a 1.5 acre section called "Area A," now called “Gill Tract Community Farm” was transferred from Capital Projects to the College of Natural Resources and became a pilot project for a new community-UC collaboration. That project is flourishing, and we hope to see it grow to all 20 acres rather than the commercial development. 

​Meanwhile, the commercial development that would pave over the southern portion of the Gill Tract is slated to begin any day. This development design, with its vast parking lot, big-box grocery store, and high-end housing project is out of touch with community and student needs. A new (Whole Foods)grocery store was built just two blocks from the Gill Tract, making it unnecessary to build another national chain store that trucks in produce from across the globe. Furthermore, the additional diesel from delivery trucks and the removal of bioremediating trees and green space-- in a neighborhood whose air quality is already highly impacted by industry and roadways  -- would be damaging to the public health of the surrounding community.
While the administration of the University of California illegally clearcut 60 trees of the mini-urban forest at the Gill Tract --and then is planing to participate in another devastation to clearcut ~450,000 trees in the Berkeley/Oakland hills with the partnership of Monsanto-- we at Occupy The Farm have been organizing star parties, serving as case study for ongoing (r)evolution, creating medicinal gardens, having Classrooms Under the Clouds that offer workshops, harvesting thousands of pounds of local organic delicious food --today we are in harvest #406, here is a photo sequence of some of the fist ones--, hosting a farm stand ever Sunday and healing plant stands, fomenting intercultural and intergenerational collaborations, and connecting with our hearts, our minds and the land, (and more!) --as you can see at our Real Sprouts satyagraha/direct actions, including several hours of meditation. 

Thanks to our satyagraha, the Whole Foods Market withdrawal was a success. They were the original chain store in partnership with the UC regents but decided to not continue with the deal and now they have a full operating store just two blocks from the Gill Tract. It seems, though, that the UC regents have a different plan in mind that has nothing to do with the heath of people, since they really want to privatize public land and now they are working to pave the Gill Tract with another chain store based in Arizona, "Sprouts". That's why lately we've been spreading the word and walk in Earth First and involved in an intense campaign to boycott Sprouts.

Another way the constructive programme is manifesting at the Gill Tract is the Classroom Under the Clouds. For example, this is the description of the Yarrow workshop:
Not unlike the farm itself, this workshop series will be a community-focused resource, put on by the community for the community to address our needs and desires by calling on the skills and resources available between us. This particular workshop will focus on the medicinal uses of yarrow, and along with experienced herbalist, we invite participants to bring their knowledge to share with the group.​  

The Latin name for yarrow is Achille millefolium (millefolium, meaning "million-leaved plant") Yarrow can be easily identified by its many leaves and little white or lavender flowers near the top of the stalk. Additionally, according to legend, warrior Achilles used yarrow to heal his soldiers' wounds and painted himself with a yarrow tincture to make himself invulnerable to arrows. We hope to harness some of this protective energy in an effort to protect the Gill Tract community and the 20 acres of public land itself.  

There is much to learn from the plants and the diversity of cultural uses of these plants. It is essential to revitalize and pass on our traditional wisdom and consciousness that might otherwise be lost. We have planted a medicinal garden in order to learn to use these plants and to heal ourselves traditionally and consciously, without having to resort to pharmaceuticals or investment in that industry.

Many people from the Occupy The Farm group Hormigas Orgánicas (Organic Ants in Spanish, some of them involved in the Soil Not Oil coalition) have said that their lives have been transformed since they started to garden in their homes and eat fresh healthy organic food, all inspired by the Gill Tract Organic Farm community. A sister even fully recovered from first stages of diabetes just by eating organic healthy food, a lot of it coming from the Gill Tract Farm and her garden.

This connects with the other piece of the puzzle. We must stop the murdering of our so called "people of color" --term only understood in the part of the Planet we call the U.S.A.-- without exacerbating the fractures of society. We must change the junk food GMO (Genetically Modified) diet that is killing us all along with ending the New Jim Crow systems of oppression that are destroying our collective soul. We are here to celebrate life, to honor our youth and, in the process, become the peace and the radical love we want to experience in this Earth.  That is why Occupy The Farm is joining forces with Africa Town; that is our motivation to be hosting BART to HEART in Fruitvale. Planting seeds of solidarity between #OccupyTheFarm and #BlackLivesMatter is a kind of giftivism.

All in all, we contribute in small and big ways to our interconnectedness. That's why the Gill Tract is not only an Albany's residents issue. That's why Oscar Grant is not only an Oakland's residents issue. They are whole Bay Area and planetary issues to continue our collective healing to move towards a more harmonious, courageous, peaceful and wise Earth.

In this time of climate change and for the sake of our children and future generations, it is imperative to put principles before titles and profits. Let's facilitate the growth of organic-local food and healthy entertainment in this precious land to co-create an urban oasis where people can meditate and practice real Science, a mini-food forest where future generations of all colors of skin can soak in our radical love for all beings because #AllLivesMatter!

And because #AllLivesMatter --including non-human animals-- we better put, first, our fierce attention on #Black/BrownLivesMatter now, as it is well explained in Herstory of #BlackLivesMatter. From the same brave queer women a quote from this article::
Love is what sustains us through all the hardships that come with this work. Even love for people who disagree. Love is what will ultimately get us to a place where we can change the World we live in.

Jai Jagat! 

Posted by Pancho Ramos Stierle on Jul 31, 2015

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