At Pie Ranch, Food Justice & Collaboration Draw Youth Together

20160815youthcircleWritten by Julia Cohen & Maria Mejia, Summer 2016 Youth Scholars

On July 14, 2016, Rooted in Community gathered food and environmental youth justice groups from numerous cities in California to celebrate and share their work and interact as a larger community at Pie Ranch. Thirteen youth from Ecology Center’s Youth Environmental Academy attended. The day was portioned into blocks, with an opening and closing ceremony, meals, and activity stations. Activities centered around art, activism, and food. There was a workshop on activism through food, another on activism through hip hop, and one for screen printing fabric with positive food justice messages. Towards the end of the day a Youth Healing Circle was held. It provided a safe space where youth were encouraged to share their stories and be heard by the community. The summit ended with a vegetarian tamale dinner shared by everyone in attendance.

All the groups started off keeping to themselves, but as the day went on they began mingling and connecting with one another. It was a rare opportunity to meet like-minded young people passionate about food, environmental, and social justice and activism as well as to collaborate and share ideas and stories.

Youth from the Ecology Center reflected on their experiences, noting what they learned and how the trip affected them:

“While I was at Pie Ranch I felt like I could be myself and no one would judge me or discriminate against me. I learned that I should be more open and outgoing towards others, especially people I just met.” – Mayumi

“I learned many new things about different cultures and how people, like me are in the place they are in right now. I related my situation with theirs and found hope that it can be resolved and to look at the brighter side of things.” – Waleed

“Hours passed and people began to share their stories. Their stories touched me, spoke to me and blend into this beautiful picture of what we were making together.” – Simone

“One thing I feel, there are lots of people wanting to help and save the earth. And I am so happy that I am not alone. Now I feel that all of those people combined can save the earth and water and other resources.” – Shivam

“I had never realized how many local youth organizations related to food justice there were, and it was really nice to be able to meet and interact with the community. Good food and kind people can have and are having an incredibly positive impact on the world, and I would love to be a part of continuing that.” – Julia

As a whole, the group had a very positive experience. They were inspired by the workshops and ceremonies, but most of all they were inspired by the other youth and the sense of community that surrounded them.

These trips to Rooted In Community and Pie Ranch were made possible by generous support from the Horner Foundation.

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