Monday, February 2, 2009
Tampa: Community, Farms, Media, and the Superbowl
Hey everyone, evan here. someone accidentally gave me the password to the blog, so i'm writing a post!
We left Lakeland, escorted by our new friend Dominique, a UCF student who recently started a project rebuilding bicycles for migrant workers. On our way out of the city we rode past some lovely strawberry farms and stocked up on "fuel" at a local produce stand. We also cycled by a number of trailer parks where mostly latin@ folks live, people who come to florida looking for work and face extreme exploitation at the hands of large-scale agriculture and other industries.
After our 85 mile day from Orlando to Lakeland, the 40 mile ride to West Tampa felt pretty easy. The weather was in our favor and we rolled into town in time to buy some much needed guitar strings before dark.
We pulled in to the Sweetwater Organic Community Farm after sunset, and really didn't get to see the amazing set-up until morning. For us northerners, it was so exciting to see fields of greens in February!
Sweetwater is both an urban farm and a community space that encourages radical sustainability and movement building. Rick Martinez, who started the farm in 1995, was an incredibly gracious host and a wealth of knowledge about organic farming, community organizing, healing spider bites, and so much more. We stayed in his amazing house that he built on the grounds of the farm, which also boasted a stage, greenhouse, and 250-family CSA (community supported agriculture.) Check out www.sweetwater-organic.org for more info about the farm.
Small organic farms like Sweetwater are essential to community's basic right to good healthy food. Especially in these uncertain times of climate change, rising gas prices, and the economic crisis, community farms are not only an important resource but they are necessary for survival.
Since some other shows in Tampa had fallen through, Mark and Joenell set up three events for us at the Farm, and we were lucky enough to spend two nights there. Our first night we played around the campfire for a great crowd of folks from Tampa, Clearwater, Orlando, and beyond. Some unexpected friends showed up, which was a lovely surprise, and it was so nice to be outside in the crisp "winter" air.
In the morning we split up to get some tasks done, had a healthy check-in, and got ready to perform at the Sunday Farmer's Market at Sweetwater. The whole place was bustling with activity, over a dozen vendors selling an array of local wares. We bartered some CDs and t-shirts for some tasty veggie-burgers and smoothies and had a great time playing a bit of a folkier set for the folks who were coming to pick up their CSA, plus a bunch of young folks who came out too. Community Supported Agriculture is a way of directly investing in farms, and a way for farmers to support themselves outside of the traditional market system, and to connect with the community of people who they are feeding.
After the market, we set our sights on my bike, which had finally arrived thanks to the amazing folks from Campus Peace Action at UCF, who brought it to us after liberating it from the evil clutches of the U.S. Postal Service. Art put it together with ease, while i mostly stood by and gawked at his bikey wizardry. One of these days i'll learn to change a flat tire, but fortunately i haven't had one yet.
So apparently the Superbowl is in Tampa at the beginning of February, which neither shannon or i realized while we were booking the tour, which i guess tells you something about us and the amount of friends we had in middle school. Our sunday evening event was billed as an Anti-Superbowl potluck, which attracted the attention of the local Superbowl-crazed media. A reporter from Channel 10 showed up and seemed genuinely interested in what we were up to. Given the mainstream media's track record of twisting stories, tokenizing social movements, and brutally misquoting activists, we were understandably skeptical of the whole thing, but we were pleasantly surprised by the coverage. Check out the video here, featuring interviews with us, Rick, and some music from me and Shannon.
We jumped at the chance to be interviewed, knowing that the story would air right after the Superbowl, when tons of people would be watching TV. I made sure to mention critical current issues, and was really surprised that the mainstream press was willing to print the words "genocide in Gaza." Because of imperialist and Zionist interests, the corporate media rarely portrays any critique of Israel's constant assault on the indigenous people of Palestine. More information on the struggle and supporting the resistance in Palestine at: http://qawemcoalition.org
After stuffing ourselves with delicious local, vegan, organic food, the camera left and the crowd thinned out. we had a really nice time playing a few quiet tunes around the fire, passing the guitar around and swapping stories while most of the country remained glued to the TV-set.
Sweetwater was truly an oasis in the midst of the overdeveloped west coast of florida, and the fact that it's such an amazing place probably contributed to our lateness in leaving the next morning. I think we all felt pretty lucky to have the chance to visit such radical and vital spaces all over the place, and carry with us some real hope. Not the electoral hope that they're selling us on TV, but the real hope that lies in communities organizing to take care of their own basic needs of food, water, healthcare, and resistance.
Tuesday, Feb 3rd, 2009
Sarasota, FL @ New College of Florida
Benefit for WSLR Community Radio and the Alliance for Responsible Transportation
2pm Climate Justice Workshop in the Fishbowl, Hamilton Center.
7pm Concert in Teachers Auditorium, Hamilton Center Rm 8.
Contact Isabel: 240-479-1267