Field Report from Deland… And the “periodismo sin paredes” workshop hasn’t even started!

6 Dec

Stetson University campus is beautiful and we got it for free! I’ve been imagining Emily here. The building where we are has a big mural against homophobia and another bulletin board display against unfair immigration enforcement, coincidentally.

It’s chilly and stetson students had a party outdoors with hot chocolate and a snow machine. The dance contest consisted of people stepping into the dance floor and then being hit with snowballs! Funny.
as of Friday night we have 115 people and they are still arriving, a bus from miami with we count and swer chapters, flic staff and a few other random folks picked up people in palm beach, Miami worker center folks drove up in their own van. Jessica from Lakeland brought a crew. I saw people from Ruskin, lake worth and Apopka here too.

The Lou Dobbs workers are here sponsored by the Nation magazine. They are the landscapers of Dobbs mansion which got fired when the nation broke the story of the hypocricy of Lou Dobbs employing the undocumented.

JP and Grey did a good job in getting sponsorships, tshirts, and a raffle kicking off our second serious effort to get grassroots friendraising going.. They are both ambitious and I think make a good team. We missed JP at the staff de-brief tonight but we started after 10pm and he doesn’t do late nights–so we assigned him the worse tasks–just kidding!
–Fran did got stuck at the registration table again and missed the evening program. .I think she was a remarkable sponsorship gatherer. I was touched by JWJ kicking in $200, given their limited resources. It meant a lot and it was great to see RISEP’s logo which I kept trying to convince Alex they had sent us the wrong one until I finally believed her that they wanted to advertise the union women summer institute. Of course emily wouldn’t send the wrong one!

Going back to tonight’s opening. The first part was setting of the altar.I love my brother Badili who with 30 second notice rose to be my co-curandero, beckoning the spirits. So natural and surprisingly easy to flow with him on that.

And of course power to the people. Whenever I wonder if it’s too hokey and people are disengaged, folks step up and take it to the next level.

Paula was the first with a handmade Rosary that Americo made for her and she always carries. They are so sweet to each other. I am SO glad she decided to be here despite small but persistent disappointments with FLIC staff. She’s sleeping right next to me right now–in the other bed I mean. She definitely has lots of passion to communicate which I believe comes from a long history of work, much of it not properly acknowledged. We’re gonna work on a dinner gala in Winter Haven soon. Tirso again made me cry. Only after Romeo had gotten me chocked up. Romeo waited 18 years on one of those classic Filipino family petitions. It seems like a year ago we rejoiced about calling his number up and he still hasn’t gotten his drivers license. He seemed kind of serious and quiet today so I was glad to see him come up to the altar. Him and I are gonna try to get Winie Tang back on our Board. Going back to Tirso–he pulled out his 40 (yes 40) year old social security card.. The original one, the first one he ever got. Like a trophy of sorts always in his back pocket and all dirty from when he worked in the fields. When he came up to the altar I thought he was going to put his hat. At the Winter Haven Board meeting he laid down his cowboy hat. For two reasons: one it was a gift from his children for his birthday and two it was a work tool– as a campesino. It was lyrical.
The first time Tirso made me weep was at the Avon Park local ordinance back in 07. I was genuinely humbled. It was a deep moment of perspective–of the historical kind. I completely and categorically forgave all his growchyness which I immediately understood as earned and deserved righteousness. But I digress–back to the program. Oh no, one more thing– GLORIA Hernandez better come! She is grief stricken having lost her biological sister who was found dead in her car near Gainesville. She had driven from TX on her way to Homestead looking for work and had stopped to see her son who was in prison. Apparently she was either napping in the car when she died. Gloria also lost her friendship sister, Debbie Nichols, We Count member to heart attacks. We all lost Debbie. I still can see her made up eyes with blue eye shadow and generous smile and healthy sense of outrage. May she RIP. Gloria unbelievably also I believe lost a brother in law. I’ve been meaning to call her to make sure she’s coming but it’s been the busiest week of my life.
1,Returning from puerto rico with impending anxiety (it was a very solid great trip though)
2. FLIC Congress agenda, sponsorship and zillion minutea.
3. ACLU immigration policy deadline to get FL to step it up. (So much to say about that).
4. Debating Rep Snyder– fl 1070 bill champion at a Sun Sentinel panel and subsequent leg public hearing.
5. NPNA hosting next week immediately after congress– it’s just 12 of the most important leaders in the nation and 2 funders. The stressful part ironically is the expectation that they are coming to party town.
OMG–the most stressful thing is the damned DREAM torture. Will they just pass the DREAM ACT already. It’s been bizarre to see daily DREAM events in Miami– they are driven by deep anxiety I believ. It’s such an empotional rollercoaster I can’t even imagine being a DREAMER. It’s the adrenaline drop that dampens the light of life that I worry about.

Vickie got me a dinner plate so I could go directly to start prepping the meeting. (Dinner–OMG It was the best chile relleno I’ve had in a long time. So flavorful.) .The large hall is set up in u shape tables. Not as homey as last year’s Voices for Justice hall but equally comfortable. I was so glad to see Lourdes sitting at the table in a beautiful black blouse with red flowers. She had already diligently read thru the very detailed facilitators agenda that chabe had compiled. ..Lourdes is our Board President btw repping RCMA. She and and Tirso in his ranchero sombrero from FWAF opened up the meeting welcoming everyone. Tirso said there are 30,000 farmworkers in this area where many ornamental/ferns are grown. Many of the farmworkers here are women. Marcos and Ana from FWAF were recognized too. We didn’t see Lariza from YAYA yet but they are the other local host and will tget to acknowledge them tomorrow.

Yet again we stumbled thru the interpretation process as participants weren’t ready with their equipment when the meeting was opened. So that delayed us another 20 minutes though we just started while people got their transistors on the right frequency, etc. We can’t assume that people can interpret just because they are bilingual.

The nominations committee had a difficult decision to make that reflected the growing pains of this organization and its movement inclination. Let’s just say that it’s the tension between being principled and being pragmatic. It’s the best committee of the Board, especially since we’ve been missing Martha from Voices for Justice who was such a pillar for us.

The only reason I have the “luxury” to blog–even if my thumbs are about to fall off because I’m doing this on my bb, is that Juan is carrying a lot of the managing responsibilities. He didn’t seem happy with today because the 4 to 6 teambuilding didn’t happen as planned. Partly because we needed a cat herder which Siria has now assumed.

David on the other hand is enjoying himself! I was so glad David picked me up from FLL when I came back from PR. His MN energy and chilled attitude were medicine because I was wondering if it was prudent to be gone right before Congress. It felt like the right decision to prioritize seeing Icha (aka Alicia), my 67 year old sister to be working with David again and feel a bit guilty that Tom has been out of the picture it’s not right. They are the grandfathers of FLIC.

It’s 3 am. Gotta go. Sorry for rambling.

-Maria Rodriguez

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