Category Archives: Environment

Report from New Mexico Women’s March

signs says "Our rights are to up for grabs"

Rights Not for Grabs. January 2017. Photo by Adelita Michelle Medina. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

By Adelita Michelle Medina

I had wanted to travel to Washington, D.C., to participate in the main Women’s March on January 21, 2017, but in many ways, I’m glad I attended the sister march in downtown Albuquerque instead. It was a spirited, diverse and energizing gathering of several thousand women, children and men of all ages, races, religions and backgrounds. Estimates of crowd size have ranged from 6,000 to 10,000, with the latter number offered by the local police. But regardless of the exact size, and despite the cold and wet weather, the march was a big success.   

In these days of uncertainty and apprehension, the marches that took place on that day, in hundreds of cities across the country, provided some much-needed support and solidarity.  Those who participated were reassured that they are not alone, and those who watched the events in their homes, know that people will not be silenced.  They will be heard and they will be seen fighting for their families, cities and country. Continue reading

Reports from May 2015 Indigenous Knowledge Gathering in California

group moving and dancing through room

Photo of Indigenous Knowledge Gathering by Agos Bawi. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Movements in Motion by Angela “Mictlanxochitl” Anderson Guerrero

On May 2nd, indigenous communities, scholars, and activists were invited to the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) in San Francisco to build understanding around culturally competent integration of indigenous knowledge in the academy. A student-initiated event aimed to raise awareness and attention to the value of culturally competent curriculum and programming at CIIS and other universities. The Indigenous Knowledge Gathering was an experience that inspired dialogue, tough questions, and movement to honor the history and sources of indigenous knowledge. Huge awe for our volunteer team who showed up at 8 a.m. and stepped into action to welcome and invite everyone into CIIS. The day was organized to facilitate dialogue and to build community with all types of knowledge keepers. No papers were presented, but each of the presenters were asked to share their testimonies, which in return help ground our self-reflection as a group and dialogue.

Wicahpiluta Candelaria, Carla Munoz, and Desiree Munoz welcomed all of us into Ohlone territories with songs of mourning and joy to start the day. Monique guided and weaved together the stories shared by Ohlone participants Corrina Gould, Nicholas Alexander Gomez, and Jonathan Cordero of their connections to the land and the transformative possibilities of bringing Native people to the table for equitable say and involvement involving the land, indigenous knowledge, and traditions. Laura Cedillo fired up the dialogue by challenging us all to think about the benefits of indigenous knowledge cultivated in the academy?

To slow down and encourage the dialogue to linger among participants, Corrina Gould blessed the mid-day meal that was prepared by Seven Native American Generations Youth Organization, or SNAG. We were honored to be the first to see the unveiling of the SNAG mural, which will travel with Bay Area urban native youth to Hawaii for the cultural exchange with Native Hawaiian Youth from Halau Ku Mana Charter School in Oahu. Huge thanks to Sylvie Karina and Ras K’Dee for sharing the native foods and allowing us to experience the art of the hawks wings wide open carrying all of our traditions.

Jack Gray and Dakota Alcantara-Camacho ushered in the connections starting to form with a powerful dance, O Hanau Ka Maunakea, inviting all of us to swiftly come together in circles of 10 and to share a story of who we are. There are no words to describe how ancestors, sounds, movement, testimony came through the space. We as a gathering started to really to get know one another and our collective intentions. This sharing became the basis for each group’s creation of actions they hope to see move forward. [Living Report and Dissemination To Be Shared Soon!]

Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz’s presentation on “Positioning Indigenous Knowledge in Higher Education” was a moment of poetic justice because it brought into an academic space an indigenous people’s history that validates our stories, traumas, and hopes for all of our peoples. Roxanne also helped contextualize the powerful action of the gathering within CIIS, an academic institution, as a radical moment that she hopes ripples into other institutions.

To bring the dialogue to a pause so it could sit within each of us as we head home, Rulan Tangen and Jack Gray gathered everyone on the ground for our intentions to be heard and to begin to take shape. What followed was transformation, activation, provocation, identification, communication, decolonization, indigenize-nation. The Indigenous Knowledge Gathering committee passed out medicinal tea by Cultura sin Fronteras and white sage seeds were gifted as thanks.

But we were not done… we had to celebrate! After amazing collective clean-up/break-down effort, we were greeted by jams of Ras in the First Floor. Kris Hoag aka “Kwaz” who came in all the way from Bishop Paiute Tribe, gifted us some of his beats from his heart. Then there was dancing and Chhoti Ma dropped in to share more hip hop medicine, then more dancing.  Visiting San Francisco State students and members of Student Kouncil of Inter Tribal Nations or SKINS, Carlos Peterson-Gomez, and Nancy Andrade were inspired to drop some more beats that invited more dancing.

To close it up 14 hours later, we circled up and Antonio from the community shared songs from the Peace and Dignity Run. Pomo Joe and Ras offered Pomo songs of goodness and wellness and a few more hugs of gratitude for all that was given and received were exchanged before we dispersed under the Full Moon light.

Gathering and work will continue…  Please stay posted via our Facebook page Indigenous Knowledge Gathering and our website:

Angela “Mictlanxochitl” Anderson Guerrero was a lead organizer for the event described in this post. She is a Doctoral Candidate in East West Psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies whose dissertation is titled “Testimonio and Knowledge Production Among Transterritorial Mexican and Mexican American Indigenous Spiritual Practitioners: A Decolonial, Participatory, and Grassroots Postmodernist Inquiry.” She is a Council Member of Circulo Danza de la Luna Huitzlimetzli in Austin, Texas, and is finishing her nine year commitment with the Circulo Danza de la Luna Xochitlmetzli in Mexico. Previous positions include Center for Metropolitan Chicago Initiatives, Institute for Latino Studies at the University of Notre Dame; Integral Teaching Fellow at CIIS: Emerging Arts Professional Fellow in San Francisco/Bay Area. She received an M.A. in Public Policy and a Certificate in Health Administration and Policy from the University of Chicago’s Graduate School of Public Policy in 2004.

speakers at talking session

Photo of Indigenous Knowledge Gathering by Agos Bawi. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Medicine in Knowledge by Susy Zepeda

Attending the First Annual Indigenous Knowledge Gathering at CIIS was exactly what my spirit needed as I work to find my ground and honor past, present, and future ancestors on my path. I was pleasantly surprised to find a critical yet warm space where the knowledge honored and spoken came from the heart of Indigenous peoples.  Participants were invited to be fully-embodied in non-hierarchal space, through eating amazing earth-centered food, building community with each other through sharing story, and listening in an accountable way.

The deep lessons of how to exist and live in a respectful way on Ohlone land and collaborate with Native and Indigenous local communities were insightful and instructive.  Corrina Gould, Nicholas Alexander Gomez, and Jonathan Cordero offered interruptions to the usual “othering” that tends to happen in western-centered scholarly work with Indigenous peoples—instead their assertions spoke to the urgency of taking up this work in ways that are accountable to ancestral knowledges, the earth, and all interconnected beings, as well as facilitative of the complexity of  being present as a vessel for transformation. As a queer Xicana Indígena scholar-activist, critical thinker, and practitioner of curanderismo, this gathering was medicine for my whole being.

The collective space created by Jack Gray, Dakota Alcantara-Camacho, and others who offered words, ceremony, movement, and song opened a path for participants to show up for ourselves and each other through small talking circles that facilitated instant heart connections and desire to learn more about each other’s histories and struggle. Roxanne Dubar-Ortiz’s sharing from her 2014 text, An Indigenous People’s History of the United States, offered both wisdom and knowledge about the unseen genocidal and “transcommunal”[1] histories, highlighting the importance of world-wide decolonizing efforts that must also address oppressive dominant social and state structures. The closing movement and creativity brought the gathering full circle. We  all left full of wonderful energy and language to continue the important work of decolonization, solidarity, and loving our whole complex selves.


Susy Zepeda,is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chicana and Chicano Studies at UC Davis.  She is affiliated faculty with the Mellon funded Social Justice Initiative and the UC Davis Race Project. Zepeda is part of a writing collaborative, the Santa Cruz Feminist of Color Collective and a member of the Mujeres Talk Editorial Board.  She is currently working on her first book manuscript.

Photo of Indigenous Knowledge Gathering by Angela Anderson Guerrero. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Photo of Indigenous Knowledge Gathering by Agos Bawi. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Learning and Practicing Indigenous Intellectual Traditions by Alicia Cox

The First Annual Indigenous Knowledge Gathering at the California Institute of Integral Studies was a landmark in attempts to reposition indigenous knowledge in higher education. As Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz stated in her talk, the history of the United States has conventionally elided indigenous perspectives and perpetuated systems of colonization and genocide. Even the “integral” philosophy on which CIIS is founded is one of bridging “Eastern” and “Western” thought with no regard for the intellectual traditions of indigenous Americans. As a researcher and teacher of Native American and Indigenous Studies, the gathering invigorated and inspired me. I look forward to attending this event for years to come, and I urge readers to do the same or, better yet, gather indigenous intellectuals at a campus near you!

The opening panel featuring three Ohlone scholars was particularly instructive. Corrina Gould gave an overview of the Indian Relocation Act of 1956 and the Termination Era of U.S. Indian policy that encouraged thousands of Native people to move from reservations to urban centers like San Francisco. In Corrina’s words, “Indians from elsewhere . . . were unaware of the existence of California Indians.” Subsequently, Indians from all over worked together to create organizations in the Bay Area such as the United Indian Nations, the American Indian Child Resource Center, and Indian People Organizing for Change. The latter organization has been especially instrumental in raising awareness about issues affecting Bay Area indigenous peoples, such as the destruction of shellmounds and other sacred sites by corporate and governmental construction projects. Since the Ohlone people are not recognized by the federal government, they are working to regain stewardship of their Native homelands by creating a cultural easement, a Native women-led urban land trust. IPOC is seeking volunteers to write grants, develop a website, and provide maintenance and upkeep services once the land is granted. Please visit for more information or to donate funds.

The second session was led by Maori Contemporary Dance artist Jack Gray from Aotearoa. During the lunch break, Jack, who is a friend of mine, asked me to sing a song to help open the next session. This was not part of the program, and I was hesitant due to performance anxiety, but I understood that improvisation—a flexibility around the spirit of what is happening—is part of the indigenous intellectual tradition that Jack was offering. To rouse and ready the audience to receive the gifts of the gathering, Dåkot-ta Alcantara Camacho, a Chamorro Contemporary Hip-Hop Theater artist, chanted a welcoming song that honors a great navigator for the knowledge/spirit it takes to travel the seas. I then sang “The Trail of Tears Song” in Tsalagi (Cherokee), Eastern Band dialect, to thank Creator for life and the food, material and spiritual, that nourishes it. Several participants from the Transformance Lab that Jack and Dåkot-ta had co-facilitated the previous week at California State, East Bay, then led the audience in chanting and movement, helping us harness the power of gathering, sharing, and performing to awaken the latent energy and transformative potential that exist in all of us.

Alicia Cox completed her Ph.D. in English with a concentration in Native American Studies at the University of California, Riverside, and she is currently a University of California President’s Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of California, Davis. Her research interests include Native American literatures and gender and sexuality studies. She was born in Kansas City, Kansas, and she presently resides in Oakland, California.


[1] John Brown Childs, Transcommunality: From the Politics of Conversion to the Ethics of Respect (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2003). 

In Honor of Earth Day: Composting at a Workplace

compost photoby Erika Gisela Abad

On one of those rare sunny mornings in Portland, my roommate and I take advantage of the sun, sitting out on the deck and talking about the food we can grow. Growing locally requires a lot of work, preparing the soil, finding the seeds, gauging what seeds and what resources to use because of what it means for our food and the insects that help produce it. The food she and I eat varies and as we replant vegetables and cuttings that can regrow we review where our scraps go and what we can do. At my local food pantry, we have a similar conversation, but we focus on the foods they, Latina immigrant women, bring from their homes, the ways they try to grow it and how to feed the poor. We’re all making ends meet, but making ends meet is also about eating and breathing better. Where we get our seeds and where we get the nutrients we need to grow them is critical in that conversation. At both the Hispanic community’s fundraisers and at home, we’ve established compost systems to improve how we feed our food and how we express gratitude for what the earth provides. It’s about reflecting on what we do with excess, whether that be the plant stuff that can be replanted to produce more food, or the food scraps that we allow to decompose in our yards to revive the soil. I learned about these issues in my grandmother’s kitchen, in the kitchen of many working class women and women of color who had to answer this question: how do we feed ourselves with minimal resources and who can/will share their abundance so that we could make our own?

Living and working in a city like Portland, that collects compost more frequently than trash, I thought composting would open up the conversation about how we each gardened or could begin to garden at home. I began composting at work, initially because I wanted a guaranteed source of used coffee grounds. Coffee grounds are useful for a number of reasons, but I wanted to see what it would take to compost in a work place not otherwise expected to compost. Below, I explain the steps I took and what I used to establish a relatively effective compost system at work.

Materials Needed

  • At least 2 Containers with lids (I started with old coffee canisters but growing practice required five-gallon buckets)
  • Grocery cart
  • List of compostable materials
  • Reminder signs

First, I started by asking the manager if I could set up a small compost station in our break room. On getting permission, I reviewed the places in the break room I could place the canister. While I place my compost bin in the garage which lies off the kitchen, there was minimal room under the sink in the office’s break room.  Given where the coffee was located and what minimal shelf space there was, I placed the canister in the corner behind the coffee pot as that corner was also next to the recycling area.  Putting the canister near the recycling kept all ‘green’ trash in the same place; placing it near the coffee pot would assure minimal mess in transferring used coffee grounds from the pot to the canister.

Once I had a system, I sent a mass email to coworkers. In the email, I explained that the office allowed me to start composting to minimize trash and I answered the following questions: what was the philosophy behind composting? why was it beneficial for our office community? The exercise, for me, was not just about getting free materials for my garden’s compost; it was also about learning how to talk about socially relevant issues in a way that was accessible. In the email, I also explained I would take full responsibility for it. I chose to take full responsibility because I was controlling where the compost was going and, in the first year, I privileged just being able to collect whatever food scraps, used coffee grounds and used napkins I could. Politically, I knew I was asking a lot from my coworkers given each individual’s personal boundaries with ‘dirt,’ mess, and the possibilities of a lingering smell. In asking them to consider adding another practice to their disposal of waste, I wanted to minimize their role in an effort to focus on beginning a cultural shift around what needed disposal and what could be recycled.

The shift required more than an email. A supervisor suggested I post a sign above the trash can as well as next to the compost container/recycling station so to encourage as well as remind other coworkers that we had a compost station. Within a few months, the old coffee canisters I used to collect materials were getting filled every other day. Signage and conversations with coworkers improved and increased participation. Even though we had multiple canisters filling up, it was difficult to navigate given the increased participation. With growing participation, there grew a need to invest in or find larger containers.

As composting was becoming commonplace at work, I had to ask myself what culture of composting I wanted to promote. I was reluctant to buy anything because, from what I had learned, central to the composting philosophy was making trash into treasure. In other words, redefining the possibilities of what could be re-used. While I was still perusing Craigslist and Freecycle for a container a coworker volunteered to buy me one. I appreciated the gesture, as it indirectly distributed the responsibility of composting but, funny enough, as I was walking to the bus the following day with the new one in my hand, I found a three-foot stack of empty five-gallon buckets down the street. I took three buckets and three lids. More buckets lent themselves to easier transport and transfer. Since then, I switch the buckets every few weeks. As we collected more compost, I made a point to integrate used paper towels and brown paper bags to absorb whatever smell would have been produced. The carbon contribution paper provided also contributed to balancing the carbon-nitrogen ratio. While the buckets secured shut, I was wary of what opening them would inspire in well-intended volunteer composters.

Respecting Your Office Mates

Remember, composting is a volunteer effort. We each have our learning curves as well as diverse understandings of what can decompose at the rate we want, based on how we intend to use the compost. If you notice more meat and cheese and oil than your home system can tolerate, send coworkers a reminder email of what the compost’s boundaries are. Be considerate of workplace boundaries and maintain a break room’s culture as a space of comfort/leisure. As can be expected, compost can be messy. We all expect clean break spaces in our office and it was important that I respect that considering I was asking a lot of people by introducing a new practice. The transition to greater support required I pay closer attention to the mess created. I wiped down the bin as well as the surrounding area whenever I saw it getting messy. I equally had to address the initial use of old coffee ground containers so as to minimize the clutter the collection was producing. In other words, as much as the environmental ethos that drove composting was about improving the quality of life, it was important that I equally support a clean and tidy break room. I did my best to keep the station clean, recognizing that the transition could be difficult to accept if the change did not accommodate the initial norm of a compost free workspace. The daily attention cleaning requires is well worth it not only because of what the scraps will contribute to a garden over time.

Gratitude and Sharing

Food scraps take months to a year to decompose; growing food with minimal additives in an environment full of birds, slugs and insects does not guarantee a strong yield. For that reason, as much as I would have liked to, I did not commit to bartering for coworkers’  contributions with food. In an effort to continue building community and finding ways to share what I was growing, I found other ways of saying thank you. I would set out extra greens like kale, mustard, arugula for others to take. I also shared tomato surpluses as they come into my possession. At other times, I would make salsa with the ingredients I grew, buy a bag of chips and leave it in the break room for others to enjoy. Coworker smoothies benefited from the additional greens.

The culture of sharing wasn’t new to the office. Given our economic position, we made the most of what we had and shared when we could. Being able to share good food that was good for us, complemented the community empowerment I had born witness to in the networks of urban gardening in which I had learned so much. In the three years I have been growing food with friends in their yards, with organizations converting lawns and unused lots into food gardens, I learned how accessible each step of the growing food process could be. I did read a little, but friends and co-volunteers were my best teachers, closely followed by what I learned by practice and imitation. As much as composting at work is about decreasing waste, contributing to food’s food, for me, it continues to be about finding a more intimate relationship with understanding what we eat and sharing the fruits of that close relationship with others. While expanding the possibilities of surplus food requires changing a lot of habits, the community built and sustained through the process has been well worth it.

Works Cited

“Portland Composts!” Planning and Sustainability. The City of Portland, Oregon. n.d. Web. 4 April 2014.

“Coffee Grounds Perk up Compost Pile with Nitrogen.” Oregon State University Extension Service. 9 July 2008. Web. 4 April 2014

“Compost Needs.” Compost Fundamentals. Whatcomm County Extension. Washington State University. n.d Web. 4 April 2014

The Freecycle Network.

“Materials for Composting: What to Compost.” Composting for the Home Owner. University of Illinois Extension. n.d. Web. 4 April 2014

“What to Compost.”  Composting in the Home Garden. University of Illinois Extension. n.d. Web. 4 April  2014

Urban Farm Collective.

Erika Gisela Abad, PhD, is grateful for the coworkers who compost at work with her and who helped her review this essay. Her essays and poetry have been published in Diálogo, Mujeres de Maiz, and The Feminist Wire. She learned to garden with the Urban Farm Collective as well as with friends she made while living in North Portland. Since finishing graduate school, she has been supporting the Latino community of her North Portland open and affirming Catholic parish, running between the kitchen and the food pantry, going to where she is needed. She can be found on twitter @lionwanderer531. 

Learning from Mexican and Native Women

August 20, 2012

Photo Credit: Pepe Rivera. Taken June 26, 2011. From Flickr.

Photo Credit: Pepe Rivera. Taken June 26, 2011. From Flickr.

By Theresa Delgadillo

Yesterday, as I continued my work on translating an oral history interview from Spanish into English, I was struck by something that this particular participant in the project said – as I often am in this work. I’ve had the honor of interviewing some very wise and determined Latinas in the project that I began in 2008 to collect the oral histories of Latina leaders in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. These are some very interesting women! Fortunately, I am near the end of the editing and looking forward to sending it off the publisher soon. To get back to my point: my interviewee, commenting on the social customs of Mexico and the U.S., says at one point, “There it is the same as here, exactly the same as here. The only difference is that there is still a fiction that in Mexico it’s different.” She was talking about the acceptability of divorce, but it resonated with me on other levels, such as the changes in daily life, work and environment, partially because there was some interesting news from Mexico recently in the The New York Times about a group of indigenous women in Cherán, Michoacoán, who mobilized against armed illegal loggers and are now defending their town from violence and their forest from deforestation. To readers of Latina/o literatures, or literature about migration, the name Cherán might be familiar, since it was one of the sites of migration to the U.S. portrayed in Ruben Martinez’s Crossing Over: A Mexican Family on the Migrant Trail(2001). The August 2, 2012 article by Karla Zabludovsky titled “Reclaiming the Forests and the Right to Feel Safe,” describes the events in Cherán and the women’s actions as “extraordinary” as it details their effectiveness. Motivated in part by the loss of the beautiful forest that was once their patrimony, a loss that must be visible to them on a daily basis, the women see themselves acting not only for themselves but for future generations. When I read it, I wondered, and not for the first time, if Luis Urrea’s novelInto the Beautiful North (2009) hadn’t come to life – because this is not the first instance in recent years of Mexican women taking the lead to end violence and environmental destruction. Meanwhile, New York State is set to join the ranks of states allowing fracking. In an August 19, 2012 CBS News Report, “New York State to Allow Fracking,” Jeff Glor’s article notes that the process of fracking releases dangerous contaminants that have high potential to endanger air and water supplies, yet quotes local farmers who need the money. The women of Cherán, Michoacán, also need money to live and they are supported in part, according to the article, by remittances from residents who have migrated to the U.S., yet it seems they are living in the aftermath of a disastrous environmental decision and working to make it right. Like the people of Cherán, Michoacán, Mexico, we face some very difficult decisions in these energy-gobbling times, and we might consider what we can productively learn through a comparative perspective that doesn’t consign indigenous women to a lost past, but instead examines the experience of both residents and migrants from particular regions about what doesn’t work – because as my interviewee says: “There it is the same as here, exactly the same as here. The only difference is that there is still a fiction that in Mexico it’s different.”

Theresa Delgadillo is on the faculty at Ohio State University.

  1. María Antonietta Berriozábal  August 20, 2012 at 4:27 PM

    Dear Theresa:

    I find your work fascinating. I am a lover of oral history. Next month my book, María, Daughter of Immigrants, will be published. The first chapters include the stories that my parents told me as a child. With just their stories – no genealogical searches for me – I was able to share the story of my great grand mother and grandparents going back one hundred years. That is rather astounding. To think that these women can share a story, you chronicle them and one hundred years from now someone will be sharing them.

    Another reason for my interest in your work is that in 1995 I attended the Fourth World Conference on Women in China as a member of the US delegation. During the conference I met with women from Central America and some from Peru. Some could not even speak Spanish. They spoke their native dialects, but they had leaders who had learned Spanish and they were our interpreters. One of the reasons they had gone to the Beigjing conference, through great sacrifice, was to tell their stories of how their ancestral lands were being taken by businesses. It is the same story that continues to this day of multi-national corporations raping the environment in other countries so they can provide goods and food for the developed countries like the US and others. But the women were fighting; they were organizing and using their voices. I found it interesting that the leaders of the movements, at least of the ones I met, were mujeres. They wore their colorful clothing almost as the shield of warriors.

    In any event, I appreciate what you are doing very much.


    María Antonietta Berriozábal
    San Antonio, Texas

  2. Theresa (Mujeres Talk Co-Moderator)  August 20, 2012 at 6:14 PM

    Dear María Antonietta,

    I am looking forward to reading the preview of your book that appeared in Frontiers, and to your new book. Please send us an announcement for it as soon as it appears. My project was motivated, too, by the desire to record and share the life stories of Latinas whose experiences don’t appear elsewhere.

    Research in the U.S. has shown that indigenous migrants to the U.S. from Latin America often face difficulties precisely because of the language assumptions that you noted in your experience. Despite language differences, we are all struggling with the same difficult questions about how we use our natural resources.

    Thank you so much for your comments and encouragement, and thank you for sharing your work.

    Take care, Theresa

  3. Lourdes Alberto  August 28, 2012 at 8:31 PM

    In reading this post I am reminded that indigenous people think of themselves as planetary citizens–they fight for their people, their cultures, their history, but also all of our well-being and that of future generations.
    As an indigenous person myself (Oaxaqueña), I struggle with my own part in the depletion of the Earth’s natural resources.
    You know, three seasons ago I started growing a garden with the goal of eventually meeting all of my family’s summertime food needs. It was so fulfilling, so liberating, so unexpected. I know now that my challenge is to remember and live the knowledge my grandparents left me about the land, about plants and about the importance of well-being. As you mentioned, there are tens of thousands of indigenous people from Latin America in CA. Growing up we had an informal plant co-op/exchange. Someone would manage to bring over a plant, flower, hierba, from Oaxaca and we would literally share cuttings–yerba santa, varieties of avocado, ruda. It was amazing! A kind of urban indigenous transnational environmentalism!

  4. Theresa (Mujeres Talk Co-Moderator)  September 3, 2012 at 5:25 AM

    Dear Lourdes,

    It’s good to hear from those that grow gardens for sustainability, and I appreciate the work you’ve put into this important task for three seasons, which, as you say, is a combination of memory work, and living a connection to others and growing food. Thank you for your beautiful note!

    Take care, Theresa

Tucson’s Save Ethnic Studies Event Featuring Ana Castillo

June 11, 2012

By Yovani Flores and Las Pilonas Productions

Yovani Flores participated in Tucson’s Save Ethnic Studies Cinco de Mayo event featuring with Dr. Ana Castillo to support students, attend the public readings of two of Castillo’s banned books and learn from the Saturday writing workshop led by Dr. Castillo. Flores reports, “After two days of student and community discussions, I had the privilege of attending the writing workshop with a group of powerful mujeres, teachers and students from the Mexican American Studies Program. Maestra Castillo invited me to document the events and ‘tell a story.’” Below is Yovani Flores’s photo essay of these events, which is a Las Pilonas Production, © copyright by Las Pilonas Productions.

Yovani Flores is a Puerto Rican published writer, poeta, filmmaker and Chicago native. Flores has lived in Phoenix, Arizona for over twenty years. Her award-winning story “El Llorón,” has been published by Chicana/Latina Studies: The Journal of Mujeres Activas en Letras y Cambio Social, Curbside Splendor Publishing and has been featured on NPR’s All Things Considered  

Las Pilonas Productions is a Phoenix-based collective of three mujeres launched in 2011 during the filming of their award-winning, debut film Thresholds. The collective includes Linda Garcia Merchant, Director, Writer and Founder of Voces Primeras, LLC; Yovani Flores, Poeta, Writer and Producer; Evon Flores Barrera, Visual Artist, SpokenWord Performer and Writer.


  1. Mujeres Talk Moderator   June 11, 2012 at 7:13 AM

    Yovani, this is great! Thank you for sharing your digital story and keeping us all informed about local events. I like the soundtrack! Theresa

  2. Dear Colleagues,

    This film was excellent. I attended the first part of Dr. Castillo’s event in Tucson with my high school baby sister. We are both natives of Arizona
    pero we live in the north. Dr. Castillo’s dedication, passion, and commitment was so inspiring to me. I am moving to Tucson as we read/speak.
    She is awesome and I hope to one day be half as cool.

    Abrazos mujeres,

    Juliette Maiorana

Living Without a Car

May 10, 2012

By Theresa Delgadillo

I rode home the other day in the pouring rain, on my bicycle. A few drops fell as I left my office, a few more as I packed the bike and headed into traffic. The umbrellas were out, the windows on passing cars were all rolled up. Then the deluge hit. I stopped under the thick, spring-green leafy branches of a beautiful old tree by the law school to keep dry. From the pace of the clouds crossing the sky it would probably be about twenty or thirty minutes before it let up enough to get home fairly dry. The safest thing would have been to stay under the tree for a half hour … but I didn’t. As nearly everyone else – with the exception of other bikers and runners along the way – ducked for cover under awnings and bus shelters or hopped into cars, I headed into traffic and in short order was completely drenched. The other bikers mostly sped by – those with rain gear looked just so comfortable (I hadn’t packed mine that day). The runners seemed mostly okay in the rain, several laughed and waved, recognizing another intrepid spirit. Bystanders exclaimed and pointed as this completely empapada bicycle commuter passed by. I hadn’t expected to have a hard time keeping my eyes open, but I did – the rain was that hard and fierce.

It felt glorious. It was a moving massage. It inspired joy. If I go on, I will wind up romanticizing – or maybe I already have – a ride on a warm, spring, rainy day on which I welcomed a change in my daily routine. For the past eight months, my bicycle has been my primary mode of transportation. I actually sold my car in the fall – my way of making sure I didn’t backslide on this new adventure. That’s when I realized anew something I had, in fact, long known: in the U.S. only poor people and New Yorkers don’t have cars. I’ll tell you about the many ways I’ve re-learned this another time, but for now let me note that people look at me a little funny when they learn about my “transportation status.” Part of the surprise has to be about the gap between what people imagine a university professor makes and the lack of an automobile as a sign of lower income levels, but another part of it is surely about the difficulty most of us have imagining life without a car. A friend reports that in her neighborhood the parents have started a “bike ride with the kids to school in the morning pool” rather than the traditional car-pool. At a recent conference, I heard several people comment on how they’d like to live in a more ecologically sound way, but we just don’t provide the structures to allow it. I’ve found myself advocating for those structures more often and in more places now that I’m on the bike everyday, getting myself where I need to go on my own Chicana-power; getting a little bit of daily exercise; saving money on car payments, car maintenance, insurance and gas; not making the environment any worse. I highly recommend it. There’s great rain gear available for commuters so you don’t have to ride in the rain if you don’t want to … but I’ve re-discovered that it’s just rain.

Theresa Delgadillo is on the faculty at Ohio State University and is the Moderator of Mujeres Talk blog.


  1. Ktrion  May 10, 2012 at 7:27 AM

    Love the image of you traveling under your own Chicana power!

  2. Danielle  January 20, 2013 at 8:55 PM

    I never owned a car and perhaps ten years down the road, I will eventually own one.