Hi there, I am Simone Cardona and I am the Events Coordinator for PICA this year. I am very much excited about all of the wonderful growing (literally and metaphorically) experiences that will continue to be held in this space and community. I will be creating and hosting workshops three times every quarter as well as collaborating on campus wide sustainability events to help bring in a diverse group of people to share their passions, talents, helping hands, feedback, and presence into the agroecology community. In fact, PICA would not be able to function without the community to build, maintain, transform and evolve with it. The growing demands on the earth and as well as the people living on it require social and environmental responsibility that must be addressed in order to see a wiser, more sustainable future. In order to support this transformation requires that the people work together on building empowered, informed, and sustainable communities that support and actively work towards environmental and social justice. This is why I would like to talk about building conscious sustainable community.
The Program in Community and Agroecology asks a thematic question how issues of environmental quality and social justice interact in sustainable communities. How do our local efforts relate? Challenges with the current western capitalist system often include oppression, lack of access to healthy foods, lack of safe spaces, under-representation, and discouragement from participation in the community, or even lack of community altogether. Within small scale communities, it is vital to question the system that perpetuates injustice and oppression. The people carry power to transform their spaces and build community within a vision of the larger systemic problems. Sustainable communities instead challenge those normalities and provide an alternative. PICA provides events and community space where all are welcomed to converge together for collective action in empowerment through agroecology networks and skills sharing.
Recently at the California Student Sustainability Coalition (CSSC) Convergence at Humboldt State University, Mark Lakeman spoke of Portland’s City Repair project that “educates and inspires communities and individuals to creatively transform the places where they live.” The vision includes creative transformation of community spaces, that emphasize the human to nature connection. Gardens are a direct tangible way to connect humans to nature, because every human needs food, and a garden plot is a physical transformation of space. Gardens are therefore, a source of power for communities to come together to collectively resist corporate food industries and their often associated environmental and social injustices. It allows people to build coalitions together to organize for support and giving. Within the vision of City Repair, placemaking is an involved process of citizen engagement, relationship building, landscaping, communal stewardship and actual reclamation of public space. It reflects broader societal issues and contributes to participatory democracy. As people reclaim their space and repair disconnections, they build on a common ground, with renewed empowerment. Placemaking involves natural building ,which emphasises reliance on low cost, low input and low impact resources. It serves to empower people to believe that they can effectively create something that is sustainable and also benefits the community. Placemaking also uses permaculture and public art, which both emphasize conscious, sustainable design.
It is important that our local efforts carry beyond our community too. In order to truly promote sustainability, we must perpetuate our work, knowledge, skills, talents, and passions beyond ourselves with the intent that they will be sustained over time. It is our responsibility to educate, share, and create, and creating sustainable communities is one effective way to do so. PICA follows this model by providing an alternative sustainable lifestyle through community food justice and self sustainable local food sources. It is my sincere hope that my efforts and that of this conscious, sustainable community will grow and carry beyond the grounds of this university to transform the world. We are all activists if we set our minds, bodies, and consciousness to reclaim our spaces and our power!
About the author: Simome Cardona is the PICA Events Coordinator for the 2013-2014 school year.