This month marks the one year anniversary of the brutal and violent eviction of the South Central Farmers. Today, they gather for a special monthly gatheringi at their Tianguis to reflect and celebrate moving forward.
(This report is an individual person's reflection upon visiting the South Central Farmers Tiuangis today, almost one year after the eviction)
I have to admit feeling very sad driving to the bulldozed remains of what was once the South Central Farm this afternoon. The wounds of this loss run deep in many--from the pain felt by the 350+ families and campesinos whose livlihood, community and culture revolved around this 14 acre self-maintained land, to the thousands from California to New York, Canada to Europe, who made the trek out to this enchanted land and made attachment to it.
But today, the strength of the campesinos and community from the farm prevailed. Rufina, one of the elected spokespersons of the South Central Farmers, addressed the crowd during today's monthly (first Sunday of the month) tianguis and declared--"we have been displaced, but not defeated."
Although the pain from the loss of this land has been great, they have had not time to cry, says Rufina, because they have been continuing to move forward, farming new spaces of land, continuing to supply their community with fresh organic produce.
A couple hundred or so people visited today's festivities that featured performances of "boletos" (hope I'm spelling that correctly), and son jarocho--many jaraneros originating from the farm, and then hip hop performances from the Farm Life collective.
People were dancing on the pavement, while others were eating freshly made tortillas stuffed with queso and flor de calabasas, drinking aguas frescas de limon, jamaica, tamarindo, or watermelon, and youngsters entertained themselves with crafts, drawing pictures of vegetables, posters about the farm, and other games.
All of this taking place along the southern perimeter of the 3 times now bulldozed remains of the South Central Farm. It seems that even with that particular piece of land hurt and damaged, that the spirits of her people are still prospering, and that this land is still somehow providing similar refuge, community, culture to the people just as it always has.
Remnants of posters and fabric still can be seen hanging from the fence outside the farm. There are now many more holes in the fencing, and the once huge walnut tree inside has huge trenches dug around its roots and it struggling to stay alive. But from what I they tell me, no matter how many times they bulldoze, more green continues to pop out, and those nopales I think are still sure to return.
The grief of losing this piece of land is still great, but the message today was clear--that the South Central Farmers still exist and are still carrying on. They are now among the rest of the displaced groups and communities thru out the world who are perhaps suffering from their loss but still continuing forward.
Displacement is a reality for indigeous peoples everywhere--from Mexico to Guatemala, Amazon forests of Peru to China. The amazing thing is---that a group of people actually got to become "indigenous" to this parcel of land surrounded by concrete and pavement, narcotics and police helicopters, in L.A. They brought seeds from generations passed down, and the farm became a living preserve for history and legacy of these seeds, families, culture, rituals, and people.
The miracle I think is that we even got to know this struggle here in the "belly of the beast" of the United States.
This to me--is progress. The time I spent in Mexico with the farmers of San Salvador Atenco made it clear to me that their idea of progress was to continue as they have for centuries, cultivating their land and passing down their traditions to their children; and we (our life here in the U.S) represent the regression and loss from this prosperity.
Therefore, it is a great stride forward that the farmers of South Central L.A. brought this struggle back to our domestic front in the U.S. of fighting for land and liberty. And this struggle contagiously captivated the hearts and energy of many, forever changing the hearts and consciousness of so many who have come in contact with it.
I'm happy that my son will forever remember the _inside_ of the farm. When we arrived today--he still was surprised despite our many visits since the eviction. My 7-yr. old son asked why the farm looked so different--still confused that we were not going to return inside of it. Then he said--"oh yeah, that's right. They destroyed it, didn't they?"
I guess I will conclude this "reflection" by just saying thank you to the farmers, and to those who opened up their hearts and land to share it with all those who loved it.
The 13th of June marks one year since the city of Los Angeles broke the hearts of thousands in Los Angeles, and farmers and friends of the farm will gather from 6pm to 8pm outside of the farm in vigil and reflection.
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