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Category Archives: Culture

Changing Alaska

Denali_National_Park
Denali, the Great One!
Picture credit: Nic McPhee from Morris, MN, USA

 

President Obama will be in Alaska today for an Arctic Global Climate Summit.

He is the first US President to visit the Arctic while still in office.

His primary objective is likely to shore up support for climate change programs.

But another more important reason is about a majestic mountain called McKinley.

Today it will officially become Denali and for many Alaskans, it is about time.

You see, the locals have already been calling it Denali since the 1970’s.

The bitter battle over this name change has been going on for many years, those who live in Ohio where President McKinley, for whom the mountain was originally named is from, do not want it changed, but the Alaskan Natives do and today, they will get their way!

Denali is the highest peak in the United States at just over 20,000 feet.

This name change is very personal for the thousands of Indigenous, or Native Alaskans, as it is their name for the mountain in their Native tongue and it means the Great One. “

A separate, but equally important ongoing issue here, is that many of the Indigenous or Native Alaskans in this area, are being forced out of their homes on Kivalina Island, due to recent climate change, namely glacial melting and rising seas.

These Native Alaskans have been desperately trying to save not only the land that they live on, but their Ancestral way of life as well.

Over the years, they have been severely impacted by the Global Warming that has decimated their hunting and fishing abilities.
It has also affected many wildlife species that have either completely disappeared, or been reduced beyond recovery and the situation is alarming to all.

Their culture is just about all that they have left right now and they are determined to protect it.

Global Warming, accompanied by the resultant glacial melting and rising seas, have caused them much pain and grief and given them much to fear for the future.

These people are not at all happy about the way that their Alaska is changing.

 

Places to learn more:

Denali – Wikipedia

Obama renames nation’s highest mountain

Sinking into the Sea

Global Warming

Impacts of global warming in Alaska

Meeting the Global Threat of Climate Change

Arctic Peoples and Ecosystems

Climate Impacts in Alaska

 

 

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Vivir es Increible

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Triqui/Trique Indian boys basketball team
Picture credit:  Unknown

Orlando was blessed to have many fine young athletes in town this week for a Basketball event, and one of the teams that made the news this morning on our local station, WESH TV was from Mexico.
Nothing new here, or was there?
This team of fairly small boys, as far as basketball players go, played without shoes.
But, this is not unusual for them, as they nearly always do so.

These boys come from one of Mexico’s poorest regions, a tiny place in the mountains of Oaxaca, that range from 4,000 to nearly 10,000 feet and the inhabitants are called the Trique/Triqui people, a blended group of Mixtec,   (place of cloud-people), who are known for their beautiful weavings.

This area and these people, are not new to me, as one of my favorite Anthropology Professors at CSUN, had related his summers there, for the past 20 plus years.
Every year, he would travel down to Oaxaca to spend a month with the people, then wrote and brought back what he learned about them to his students.

Years later, when I traveled to the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, I felt that there were strong similarities between it and many places in Oaxaca.
They were both poverty stricken areas, that few outsiders came to and even fewer cared much about.

This young team makes news every time they play, mostly for their lack of shoes, but what people don’t understand is that their lack of shoes, are the least of their worries.
So many where they come from, are desperately poor, with food, shelter and personal safety at the top of their daily wants/needs list, and going without shoes, much lower on it.

Native or Indigenous Mexicans, are at a poverty level of about 80%, compared to the National level in the upper 20’s.

Many of these young players must walk two hours or more, on rough mountain roads just to get to their practices, and Basketball is about the only sport that can be played in such a difficult terrain.

For me personally, the hardest part of relaying this story to all of you, is in knowing that the country where these brave young players live, is in constant turmoil from outside political pressures.

A friend from school traveled down there years ago, quite concerned about the way the people were being treated and was never seen again.

“Accidents” can happen, to those who ask too many questions, or get too curious about local politics.

Just playing their games, must seem like great relief after enduring the conditions that surround them.

Whenever the team travels, they basically have become ambassadors for their people, and the state of Oaxaca, and Global generosity to them and their town, have followed them everywhere.

Their Head Coach Sergio Zuniga, was interviewed by WESH and his pride in their achievements was clearly evident as he spoke.

This week in Orlando, not only was the team gifted with shoes, so was their entire town.

Yes, back home things are very difficult, but as their Team jackets say, ” Vivir es Increible, life is incredible.”

Places to learn more:

Mexican youth basketball team plays shoeless in Orange County tournament

Hoop dreams of Mexico’s indigenous youth provide hope in ‘forgotten’ region

It’s Triqui to play around: Shoeless Mexican team plays exhibition match in LA

Youth Mexican Basketball Team Wins Big Playing Barefoot

Mexican Shoeless Basketball Champions Prove It’s About How You Play, Not What You Have

Trique People – Wikipedia

A History of the Triqui People

 

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Elevating Art in Atlanta

Artwork%20by%20Branden%20Collins%20-%20photo%20by%20Brian%20Smith
Artwork: Brandon Collins
Picture credit: Brian Smith

 

This Press Release was received in my email this morning and because we may actually drive up for it, depending on Doctor Appointments that month, I thought that I would share it here in the Global Culture Blog.

This will be a really wonderful place and way to experience both the fantastic city of Atlanta, one of our very favorite cities and a Cultural Event that will probably be unlike anything that you have ever been to before~

Below is the Press Release, hope to see many of you up there in October.

We’ll be the ones being dragged around by an Airedale!

 

ELEVATE Invites Public To Explore A Social City With Arts Events From Oct 17-23

“This year’s ELEVATE contemporary art happenings in downtown Atlanta will be playful and interactive,” states Camille Russell Love, Executive Director of the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs.

“Our theme is ‘Social City’ and, with the help of more than 100 artists, we are creating an environment ripe for exploration, discovery and conversation.

You’ll have a chance to engage with living sculptures, interactive gadgetry, artist panels, portable art and dance performances, and quite a few surprises.

We’re throwing a huge art and music block party on Friday, October 17 and presenting events and exhibits daily all over downtown through Thursday, October 23.

All events are free and open to the public. Come get social with us!”

Here are just a few things you can experience during ELEVATE 2014:

Branden Collins will use ancient forms of masking and costuming from various cultures as reference points in his exhibit at Gallery 72. His artwork incorporates brilliant colors and tribal elements and encourages the viewer to come closer.

The Goat Farm, working with over 20 artists and designers, will transform ten dumpsters into built galleries, installations and sculptures.  Utilizing art, science, technology and micro-manufacturing they’ll create cozy, inviting spaces.

Among the galleries, located in hidden alleyways and nearby parks, visitors will discover a Secret Garden to make a wish or a Giant Synthesizer where they can make public music.

Strolling through downtown at lunchtime you may encounter La Passante.

These walking French parasols invite you to join them for an intimate poem and a brief respite from the city’s hustle and bustle, an unforgettable experience.

La Passante is co-sponsored by France Atlanta.

Joanie Le Mercier’s unique, light-based projection art will create optical illusions and “geometricize” areas of Atlanta’s urban landscape.  His works combines math with art and immerses the viewer in a journey that conjures space exploration.

Dance Truck will present dance and performance art, complete with lighting, music and all the trappings that you find on a traditional stage…in a most extraordinary mobile setting.

ELEVATE 2014 is being created with a wealth of talented artists and organizational collaboration.

Just to name a few: Casey Lynch, Dustin Chambers, Romy Maloon, Joanie Le Mercier, Jane Garver, Igor Korsunskiy, Kris Pilcher, Branden Collins, The Goat Farm, Mammal Gallery, Dance Truck, The French Consulate and Eyedrum.

Locations for this year’s ELEVATE are:
Woodruff Park, Gallery 72, Five Points Plaza and the Fairlie-Poplar District.

However, many exhibits will take place in unexpected, non-traditional locations around town and some art will be mobile.

Financial support for ELEVATE 2014 is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts and FORD.

ELEVATE is a program of the City of Atlanta, Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs.

For more information,  visit their website:  http://www.elevateatlantaart.com/

and like them on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/ElevateAtlanta

 

Dog friendly places to stay and eat will be added here, as they are found, right up until the Event in October!

One place so far,  that has been confirmed as Dog Friendly,  is the Hotel Indigo, right downtown and across from the Fox Theatre.

More names to be here soon……..

 

As promised some updates.

 

Info on dog-friendly places in Atlanta:

http://atlantaeats.com/blog/pooch-friendly-patios/

http://www.bringfido.com/restaurant/city/atlanta_ga_us/

and here’s the Facebook page of Hotel Indigo:

https://www.facebook.com/IndigoATLMdtwn

 

 

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Father Damien, the Apostle of the Lepers

FatherDamien1873
Father Damien in 1873 arriving in Oahu.
Picture credit: Wikipedia

 

If you ever have the chance to see the film about this man, it is an astonishing work:

Molokai: The Story of Father Damien.

So many biographies tend to be dull, or appear to be grasping for drama.

This man’s life did not need any more drama, it was filled to the brim with it as soon as he arrived in Molokai

I am not sure how many of us ever could, or would, have had the courage to do what he did.

I was a treatment Nurse in a Rehab Center for four years and was surrounded daily by those that society and the state of California considered to be wretched souls.

Many there were merely being housed in a state facility,  that kept them medicated just enough to be safe for the staff to work with, or somewhat controllable.

Some times however, they were not.

I ended up in the local ER three times,  as proof of this.

The third time was the end for my husband,  who said, ” you’re all done there, and you’re not going back.”

I wanted to stay,  knowing how much needed to be done there, but sadly, finally agreed to leave, knowing that he was right.

But back to the facts about Father Damien, who was said to be the inspiration for Gandhi in his struggle to make India and her people independent from England.

Jozef De Veuster was born on January 3, 1840 in Tremelo, Belgium.

He arrived in Hawaii on March 19, 1864 and began a journey of such love and courage,  that the world and its opinion of the disease he eventually succumbed to,  would be changed forever.

Disease was inflicted on the innocent people of the Hawaiian Islands,  by those who came to do business with them, mostly, sailors and traders.

By 1865,  health conditions on the Islands had reached such a crisis level,  that a law was passed to isolate those with what was considered to be the worst and fatal, Leprosy,  to Molokai in a Leper Colony and kept under strict quarantine.

When Father Damien began his work on Molokai, May 10, 1873,  it was assumed to be a death sentence.

Hawaii’s Bishop called for volunteers for this mission and Father Damien was the first to step up.

It was planned that three others would follow him.

The Island of Molokai was for those sad souls who ended up there,  a place of misery and death.

But, Father Damien came and brought with him the changes that would give those afflicted, hope.

Hawaiian people are normally quite happy, loving and affectionate.

Those who ended up on Molokai, were nothing at all like their relatives on the other Islands.

The dedication, devotion, love and passion of Father Damien made those on Molokai  believe that they could do something for themselves, and because of him, many of them for the first time,  found peace.

But their peace came at a high price for Damien, who after 16 years of selfless service to these terribly sick people, finally contracted the disease that would end his life.

Father Damien continued while he was sick,  fighting with all of those on Oahu,  to do what was humane, decent and right for the afflicted people of Molokai.

Before his death on April 15, 1889 at the young age of 49, he had fought against the tyrannical Catholic dioceses and those who controlled Hawaii, who did little to help him or them and forced them to change.

His body at the request of King Leopold III, was returned to Belgium to his place of birth, in January of 1936.

In 1995, his right  hand was given back to the Hawaiian people to be buried in his grave on Molokai.

Long after his death,  Father Damien was finally made a Saint in 2009.

Never has there been one who was more deserving of this,  than Father Damien, the Apostle of the Lepers.

 

Places to learn more:

Father Damien (Joseph de Veuster)

NPS Hawaii – Father Damien

Father Damien  –  Wikipedia

Father Damien

Father Damien

 

 

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I am an ALLY, are you?

ally-gay-rights
I AM AN ALLY
Picture credit:  I AM AN ALLY FACEBOOK PAGE

 

I was just about to write about two Endangered Birds this morning,  when this came in my email.

The Birds can wait until tomorrow,  this is much more important to me and millions of others around the world.

First let me say, that I have felt this way since the 60′s, when I lived in L.A., long before it was fashionable to do so.

It was the time of flower children, free love, inspirational speeches and thinking, yes some of it was quite radical as well, and also sadly, way too many really bad drugs.

It was more importantly, a time of a different kind of attitude toward others.

Did the Viet Nam War/Conflict have anything to do with this, probably.

We were all so very young and so very scared.

We had a common bond,  a mantra,  ” trust no one over 30.”

We were afraid of the violence that surrounded us daily and sought what we thought was a better way to be live, to be.

It was a time of gathering of minds, souls and bodies in support of one critical idea, Peace.

We desperately searched for this state of being that was seemingly just out of  our of reach.

Quite understandably, so many from a wide variety of ethnic and racial backgrounds, came to L.A.  back then in support of what was happening and it was easy to ignore stereotypes, racism and ugliness toward any who were ” different.”

It was the time of,  Hair, the musical that defined an entire generation, and was dedicated to the idea of loving everyone, we were all the same, no color,  or sexual or racial lines, we were united in our determination to stop the prejudice, the violence, the hate and most importantly the killing.

So, today when this came, it simply had to be addressed immediately.

It is who I and millions of others, who were reared up in L.A. in the 60′s,  are/were.

I am now and  will forever be,  AN ALLY.

Won’t you be as well?

And for those who keep asking, I am not a Gator Woman, it is a pseudonym used at WordPress for my Gravatar.

My name is Donna, am so happy to see you here~

 

 

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Helen Hunt Jackson

HelenHuntJackson
Helen Hunt Jackson
Picture credit: Wikipedia

 

Watching the B/W version of the 1936 film  Ramona  last night, was a double-edged sword, it was such a beautiful story of love and devotion, but it was also extremely sad.

It was wonderful at last, to see the visual of the world-famous classic on the big screen.

The film starred Loretta Young as Ramona, who is completely captivating and steals every scene that she is in.

This book and the movie, spawned an annual event  that now brings thousands to the re-creation every year.

They also did so much to express the horrors of the oppressed lives of the California Mission, actually all Indians, in America at the time and the reaction to it was immediate.

Helen Hunt Jackson,  a name that she desperately tried to have removed from her writings,  as she believed it was ” rude ” to keep a former marriage name, was to become the most famous/infamous American female writer of her time, in spite of the fact that she chose a highly unpopular, even dangerous subject:  civility towards American Indians by the US Government.

One of the things that she did,  that made her unforgettable and evermore endearing to me,  was her brazen delivery to every single member of Congress,  a copy of her Cultural/Political blast,  A Century of Dishonor.

This single act made her an instant enemy to nearly every politician in America.

Her hope was that this book would expose the wrongs and help to correct them.

When this failed to achieve her goals, she went to California and became entrenched in Native life there long enough to learn all that she needed to write an even more important work that WOULD finally achieve her goal.

She wrote Ramona!

 

But I digress, here is an earlier Biography that I wrote about her when I was taking books to the masses all over this country, to enlighten the, for the most part,  poorly, culturally educated,  general public about the truth concerning the History and Culture of Native Americans.

 

Helen Maria Fiske was born October 1830 in Amherst, Massachusetts.

Her father was a strict minister/professor at Amherst College and both of her parents died when she was barely in her teens.

She was educated at the Ipswich Female Seminary and the Abbott Brother’s School in New York City.

Fellow classmate Emily Dickinson became a lifelong friend.

Although Jackson’s personal life was filled with tragedy, her first husband was killed and her two young sons both died, the strength of her legacy remains in her passionate writing about the maltreatment of Native Americans.

 

An excellent full length biography of her life is here.

 

The glass ceiling biographies, a wonderful place that has now gone away, wrote this about Helen:

“Helen wrote many books, articles, poems and stories, but her place in history was secured with her 2 most famous books,

Ramona, a romantic tragedy that quickly became a best-selling novel about a young California Indian couple and A Century of Dishonor, a searing exposé on the shameful treatment of Indians by the Government.

After completing it, Jackson delivered a copy to every member of Congress, chastising them with these words, written in red:

“Look upon your hands: They are stained with the blood of your relations.”

The book did not make her a celebrity, on the contrary, it was to be years efore it was appreciated or applauded by most of her contemporaries.

Jackson’ s writing was courageous and many women since have followed her example by also writing about contemptuous Indian issues.”

 

 

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Amish Attitude Adjustment

SharetheRoadGeaugaCountyOhioAmish_buggy
An Amish Horse and Buggy: Wikipedia
Traffic sign:  Ken Lund

 

Growing up in Indiana gave me a strong attachment to the  Amish people  and their unique culture.

Indiana has the second highest population of Amish after Ohio, which is where I was born.

Even after leaving and moving to California, the Amish were always of great interest to me.

My own grandfather, although of Prussian heritage,  looked and spoke very much like the Amish, his dialect of German was like the Old Order Amish and this may have encouraged my deep affection for them.

He was a master carpenter, as are many Amish men and took great pride in the quality of his work.

My abhorrence of guns, war and violence,  may or may not be a result of this.

Later, when my children were young, an Amish quilt was on every bed in our home, all hand-made.

Each time I went back to Indiana for a visit, going to one of the many Amish Communities, was always a part of my trip agenda.

The Amish are in many states across this country, including a few here in Florida,  but the highest population is in Ohio, at about 55,000, where the disturbing story on the news this morning was focused.

There has been a rash, or serious outbreak of measles in Ohio, said to be the most in this country since 1996 and it is believed to have come from within the Amish Community there.

People often believe, erroneously, that the Amish do not believe in any vaccines or immunizations for their children.

Some of them do, some do not, they have varying opinions on the subject, as do many who are not Amish.

The reason for most of the concern in this current measles outbreak is,  primarily because of the risk of it now becoming wide-spread throughout the Amish Community and then to others in nearby areas.

For so many years, both before and after growing up, I heard the snickers, saw the rudeness and listened to the cultural bias and complete ignorance from those on the outside,  towards these gentle, peaceable people.

This lack of understanding, or compassion for the Amish people and their culture, may have played some small part in the murder of  innocent Amish school children.

It seems incomprehensible, that when some people do not understand a cultural group, or a religion, they can and frequently do fear it to the point of spouting hurtful,  social insults, or even harming  those that they do not understand.

The Amish came to this country to escape abusive treatment, it is so disappointing that some here cannot allow them to pursue the religious freedom here that they seek.

So now that once again their community is in the glare of the public spotlight,  that they so constantly shy away from, could we instead of pointing fingers and playing the “blame game,”  perhaps offer instead a little kindness and warmth?

Long before all of the  movies,  the TV shows, the books,  exposés  and all of  the ugly Hollywood hype, the Amish came to America looking for a better life, for religious freedom, for peace.

This Country spends billions helping people all over the world, so why do we care so little for those who live right here in America, perhaps just down the street or across town?

If you don’t know anything about the Amish, won’t you please take the time to learn just a little?

The Amish really are pretty much just like you and me, they love their families and want peace in the world.

Right now, their Communities are hurting, how can you/we not show them some of the same concern that we do to those thousands of miles away?

Perhaps we could all use a little Amish attitude adjustment?

 

Places to learn more:

Amish Missionaries Implicated In Measles Outbreak In Ohio

Ohio Measles Outbreak Traced to Amish Mission Trip

Ohio cases among Amish drive bad year for measles across U.S.

8,000+ Amish Vaccinated As Measles Outbreak Continues

Ohio Amish bearing brunt of measles epidemic

 

 

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Got Books?

Ezra_Cornell's_first_book

An Open Book
Ezra Cornell  annotated the first book he ever owned.
Image: Public domain

 

Something in my email this morning gave me cold chills.

There was a story about the ” decline of reading books.”

I clicked on it instantly and although it was happening in another country, it delivered the point quite quickly.

Children and yes, even adults it said,  are rapidly moving away from reading books.

The entire civilized world it seems, would prefer to do anything and everything on a hand-held,  electronic device of any sort, rather than read a book.

Now my introduction into the wondrous world of the written word,  began quite early, at the tender age of six months, in a playpen with my first tiny,  little book made of cloth.

It was a joyous experience and a happy habit that has lasted my entire life.

I consider books and reading to be the single most important part of any human beings education, without books, without reading, we are simply just another animal on the planet.

This one Human ability, reading,  is truly, what sets us apart from the animal kingdom.

My passion for reading compelled me to ride a  bicycle every single day as a young child, many blocks to the public children’s library in Indianapolis, where I would joyfully fill up the entire basket, take them home, devour them all and then return the next day to do it all over again.

Yes, I was a voracious reader.

This continued until I reached High School, where at last, I was finally surrounded by books everyday, as a monitor in the Reference Reading lab.

Later when I went to College,  after raising my three children, I was once again to revel in the glory of libraries, always looking for just the right book to use for one of my classes.

After College and leaving California to go live in the East, my luck and love affair with books would continue with a cultural book business, for nearly seven wonderful years.

During this time,  I had the great fortune to travel to some of the finest Universities in America with my humble little book business, and yes,  I had the enormous pleasure of being at  Cornell  several times.

At each event, I was thrilled to talk to the eager learners,  who like me, wanted to stretch their minds.

Some of my very best customers were staff and faculty at the schools.

With over 500 titles of wonderful books about Culture,  there was always something for everyone that I met.

It was to become, simply the most rewarding job/career/business of my life.

Sharing the knowledge in those books with thousands of people all over this country, who were starving for information,  was a never to be repeated, or forgotten time in my life.

I will always treasure it.

Now today, seeing this story and reading about the apparent huge decline in reading books, I am left wondering, how the world can go on, how can we as a species continue to learn and grow, if we stop reading books?

Will our descendants give up books completely, will ours be the last generation of great readers?

In the future, will we only gather information from smart phones, e-books, iPads or other?

Do we truly believe that a handheld electronic device can offer the same satisfaction as reading a “real ” book?

The current generation obviously seems to thinks so.

Living in Florida now, I wonder just how well these devices will handle lengthy power outages, Hurricanes and the like?

But, as for me, I cannot imagine, nor will ever accept, a world without books.

 

Most of the reference links below are outside of America, but is it really any different here?

The first link, in my opinion, is the most complete, as well as, the one I most related to, it is a student’s Final term paper and be forewarned, a  PDF:

America’s Decline in Literary Reading

Experts bemoan decline in classic book reading

Decline of reading a concern for e-book publishers

Decline in book reading culture

Book culture in decline

Book reading on decline

 

 

 

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A Serbian Sensation~

drawing2

Dusan Krtolica,  Serbian artist extraordinaire~
Picture credit: Dušan Krtolica

 

A very kind fellow Hoosier just sent me a link to a story about one of the most gifted young artists that I have ever seen.

Thank you  Mosdao  for this information,  it was absolutely awesome.

And here are all of the details about the incredible work of this very young creative genius.

His name is  Dušan Krtolica and he is an unbelievably  talented  11-year-old from Serbia, who has been creating beauty in the form of a multitude of animals of all kinds and drawing  since the tender age of two.

This brilliant young artist has already had several art shows and his future appears to be so bright, that  he may need some really good sunglasses to protect him from the glare of the huge spotlight on his work right now.

Dusan’s dream is to one day be a  Zoologist and the field would be lucky to have one as knowledgeable about such a vast number of animals,  as he already appears to be.

Please do see the links below to learn more about him,  his work is absolutely breathtaking.

The detail found in his stunningly beautiful drawings would be expected of an adult, but to see this in one so young,  is mind-boggling.

Dusan already has a Blog, a Facebook Group that you can join and follow for updates on his work and he also has a Facebook Fan page.

This very intelligent young man is quite well covered in social media and it can only get better for him from here.

His talent and hard work will surely lead him to a lengthy career in the fine arts,  where he will have few peers.

 

Places to learn more:

11-Year-Old Artist Creates Amazingly Detailed Drawings of Wildlife

Dušan Krtolica, the World of Art

DUSAN KRTOLICA FAN PAGE

 

 

 

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The True Cost of Your Food!

migrantchildren

The year  is 1941 and these are the children of Migrant Farm Workers in California.
Picture credit: Library of Congress, Robert Hemmig.

 

As you sit to eat each day, do you ever think about where the food on your table comes from?

Perhaps not, but maybe you should.

The United States has millions of Migrant Farm Workers whose sole means of survival, is to put that very food on your table.

And how do we thank them for this life-giving nourishment?

The truth is not very pleasant, nor often even humane.

The work that they do is back-breaking, with very low pay or sometimes,  even no pay.

They have no health insurance and few rights and even fewer who care what happens to them at all.

Yet, without these Migrant Farm Workers who suffer in silence, we would have nothing, or very little, on our dinner tables in America.

I know of no one who would do the work that they do,  no one!

Would you?

If they are lucky, they and their children will hopefully survive it all.

As most of you who follow my two Blogs know, I lived in Southern California  for over 30 years.

My education was in Anthropology, and my opportunity to learn about Migrant Workers came easily because of these two facts.

My last semester at CSUN was a rewarding one, the hard part was all done and the classes that remained were ones that gave me the chance to study what really meant the most to me, people.

Over the years, I had met and become friends with many Hispanics in California, some were legal residents, many were not, but they were all the same to me, kind, warm and family loving people,  that I enjoyed being with and knowing.

The first  “free study”  Class that I did was about the Migrant Farm Workers who lived and worked in Southern California.

I spent countless weekends for six months,  all over LA talking to and learning about, the way these people lived and worked.

They were so forthcoming in offering me the chance to understand the hard lives that they and their families lived.

In these interviews, the people who talked to me were always men,  their wives and children were still in Mexico and they sent them as much as they could each week.

This was the saddest part of the lesson learned, many times the men would get onto trucks and work for an entire day in a field somewhere, only to be dropped off and told that they would be paid the next day.

But, that never happened they said,  because the next day the nasty people who did this,  always chose another street and another group of unsuspecting victims.

Usually, these men lived as many as 8-10 to a room, sharing what they had,  just trying to survive and send money home.

They were victimized by “legal” Americans who cared nothing for them of their families, but only used them.

The workers of course,  could not complain, as so many of them were not here legally and those who cheated them, were quite well aware of this fact.

This was in the mid 1990’s.

What I did not know about at the time of these interviews,  was all that had been done to those who came before them.

Migrant Farm Workers coming to pick food in California began shortly after the two World Wars,  first in the early 1900’s and then later, in the 1950’s, with the Bracero Program.

California advertised everywhere to bring people there to pick the exploding orange and fruit harvests for the owners who were desperate for pickers.

Those who came, were promised many things and in the beginning they were treated fairly well.

Although unbelievably,  I just learned today, they were sprayed with DDT at the Borders.

But then later after the worker shortage slowed down around the mid 1960’s, things began to change and conditions for the pickers became most unbearable.

Just about this time,  Cesar Chavez began his lifetime of dedication to improving  Farm Worker’s Rights.

He would fight this good fight,  until his death and made such a tremendous difference in their lives.

But silently waiting in the dark shadows all during this time was a sinister evil that few suspected, until it was out of control.

Pesticide poisoning was now rampant among the farm workers, their families and the places where they lived.

There is a small town in the San Joaquin Valley, called  McFarland, where not so long ago, the rate of leukemia among the children there under six, was nearly 80% and many blamed this on the over use of pesticides throughout this entire farming region.

This town is right smack in the middle of the Big Valley, which we Californians jokingly called the “salad bowl of America” because just about everything in a salad came from there.

What no one talked about back then,  however, was the amount of pesticides and the harm they caused, used everywhere in this  Great Valley,  that  all of this wonderful food required to be delivered to America’s dinner tables.

The people who bring you your food and their families,  have paid a great price for this, many paid the ultimate price.

So, now that you know the true cost of your food, perhaps the next time you and your family sit down to dinner, you may say a silent thank you to the Migrant Farm Workers who brought it to you.

 

Places to learn more:

How To Better Protect Farmworkers From Pesticides

Protect Farmworkers From Pesticide Poisonings

California goes mobile to educate farm workers on pesticide safety

Pesticides and Childhood Cancer

Heavy Lift

Florida Farm Workers Allege Pesticide Exposure Is Giving Them Cancer

A Poisoned Culture: the case of the Indigenous Huicholes Farm Workers

Farm Workers Demand Protections From Pesticide Poisoning

Long-awaited EPA pesticide protections a ‘mixed bag’

Farmworkers plagued by pesticides

Farmworkers

 

 

 

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