'Equal exchange' is a basic principle of social justice and what we are learning to love about equal exchange is that allows us each of us to be life-long learners and for each of us to be an expert in our own right. As we are blessed to host Ana Elisa Perez-Quintero 'equal exchange' is the perfect description of our relationship. Ana Elisa is a former Brower Youth Award winner which helped us get connected through Planting Justice educator Maya Salsedo who also received the Brower Youth Award. However Ana Elisa knew of Planting Justice before our dear Maya joined the team because of her interest in connecting community gardening and community re-entry for people who have been incarcerated. Ana Elisa is working on developing a 501(c)(3)which will be the first explicitly 'Food Justice' oriented organization in Puerto Rico.
In our exchange with Ana Elisa we hope to share our experiences partnering with Insight Garden Program to develop a 'prison-to-garden-pipeline' if you will. We will also offer up our dynamic food justice curriculum. What we know Ana Elisa has to offer is grassroots community organizing strategies that can be translated from Puerto Rico's unique sights of oppression to the Bay Area's own struggles. We are inspired by Ana Elisa's work networking community gardens, an idea with much potential in the Bay Area. As Ana Elisa and Planting Justice organizers connect our shared experiences and common ground help us to develop a politics of transnational and cross-cultural solidarity. What hurts us here in Oakland, hurts our relations in Ponce, Puerto Rico, what heals us in San Quentin can heal us in Ferguson Missouri.
It might sound like some new-age stuff here but what we are talking about is the exchange and development of community based solutions.