Chat between #foodandfreedom riders Vanessa Bourgeios (V) & Hai Vo (H)

V: hi hai vo

H: hey v. so how're you feelin' after our first 1st f&fr day in bessemer/birmingham alabama?V: I am feeling energized & even more fully prepared for the days ahead. Birmingham is a really amazing city filled with passion & integrity. I'm grateful for our time here.

H: this morning, i'm bringing with me the words and wisdom of the reverend we met at kyoka's local church, hopewell baptist church. it was really cool starting off our journey being blessed by him and his congegration.
  what's one favorite moment you had yesterday?

V: That congregation was amazing. It was really great to have a positive experience in the church as, so often in our lives today Christians get a bad rap for being intolerant & ill informed about real issues. It was really great to see a church so in touch with their community's needs.

One of my favorite moments was meeting with some of the foot soldiers from the 60's civil rights movement here in Birmingham. Their encouragement to us & passion for change was really encouraging.

H: i'm also bringing with me the words of the four amazing children's crusaders that we met at the civil rights institute. my favorite was one of them sharing with us, "We started feeling the power of an idea whose time had come." gah, they were so young. 10, 11, 12 year olds. also i remember them sharing, "the civil rights movement would have ended if not for the childrens crusade." (!) makes me feel pumped about our time as young people. like i have no hesitation. bravery. courage. all with honesty and truth.
  i know! why do they get such a bad rap?

V: I know, they were all so vibrant in their own way. It was one of those "goosebump" moments. realizing we can do anything.

H: that congregation showed me, and i know a lot of us, that there are solid folks out there.
  tell me the story again about one of the young boys you met during the food tasting.
  that was dope.

V: I was just reading an article about the reputation of Christians in today's society. And, a lot of it comes from the fact that the only media coverage many Christians get is of very outrageous preachers doing not so nice things.
  Oh! yeah! So, yesterday I gave a short cooking demonstration. Mostly to high school age boys. I was teaching how to make a healthy pickled veggie mix & also a healthy snack.
  I really didn't expect them to be that engaged in a cooking lecture but they were awesome. When I closed & asked if anyone had questions one boy immediately asked "When can we taste it??"
  It was really amazing to see them not only interested but also coming back for seconds!

H: :)
  it was cool to see you be open with them.
  the group was primarily african american.
  and them to be open with you.

V: Definitely. They were great.

H: how did you feel about that?
  having the food context made me feel comfortable. like we can bring anyone to the table with food and talk about it.
  i had some interesting conversations with folks there, including the childrens crusaders, about food justice.
  they wanted to learn about it.
  one of them said, "i'm here to learn from you. what makes you work for food justice."
  it made me feel alive, liberated, surprised that some of the foot soldiers of the civil rights movement wanted to learn about me, us, and the food movement.

V: Food is such a common denominator. There isn't anyone in the world who doesn't eat
  All cultures use food as a way to socialize & come together so I feel like its an easy platform to reach others.

H: whats your hope for today?

V: To carry the energy & positivity from yesterday into today and arrive in Mississippi with a lot of hope for Courtney & her family.

H: i had a hard time initially getting to sleep last night. thinking about the needs and strength of the rest of the world. thinking about where the food justice will go. thinking about and really starting feeling like this is bigger than me. feeling nervous that i don't have the full support of my parents. they had another dream for me here - a steady job, education, marriage, etc. so far, i've been assured that making sure everyone has basic needs, staying true prevails.
  had to write a little bit.
  you fell right asleep! shoot.

V: Haha yes, yes I did. I knew I would feel better & more clear headed today if I just slept.
  I certainly understand what you are saying about the "American Dream" and the pressure you might feel from others to conform. But, I fully support that feeding people in a way that honors their body & honors those growing the food is the most important way we can take care of each other & the earth.

H: word.
  ok. gotta clean up b4 we roll to europa.
  make sure to bring your frozen ice water!

V: yes!

Day 1's Pictures | Pictures of our ride so far (via Flickr)
Twitter @liverealnoworg #foodandfreedom
8/10/2011 12:09:40 am

I strongly encourage you to follow key family farm (justice) groups (ie. National Family Farm Coalition members at along the way by looking up their web sites online and making advance contacts. This includes the African American farmers of the Federation of Southern Land Cooperatives, Land Assistance Project. Ben Burkett is NFFC president. He's from an FSLC-LAP co-op in Mississippi. Eddie Carthan is also a key (Mississippi) African American farm leader with FSLC-LAP, who can tell you all about the role of black farmers in the civil rights movement. Columbia Missouri is home to NFFC member Missouri Rural Crisis Center, which is online at inmotionmagazine dot com/rural. This has excellent info, including important pre-internet work. Des Moines is home to Iowa CCI, which has been a leader for decades in bringing together inner city people with family farmers. A bunch of us will be at Farm Aid, (and you too?) August 13 in Kansas City, and you can read Neil Young's 1985 full page letter in USA Today by clicking my name. Be sure to check out my YouTube channel, (click my name). You can hear from FSLC-LAP's Ralph Paige and other NFFC historical (pre internet) perspectives in my video posts: "NFFC Farm Bill 1" 2 and 3. This will prepare you for what African American and other family farmers have to say to you about the farm bill, and your comments about subsidies.


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