Raices Culturales: Cooking Up Racial Justice

12/11/2018 - 11:53am

At Community to Community Development, “We strive to develop projects that come from and are led by the folks from communities that need to affect change for improving the lives of their families and future generations..”

This is the second Youth & Frontline Regranting Program spotlight as part of NEC’s #MakingWaves series. Our grantees are turning tides in the new economy movement - join them and NEC by making a contribution today!


In Whatcom County, in northern Washington state, Community to Community Development (C2C) organizes and builds community for food sovereignty and economic justice. Their work centers the leadership of women, farmworker communities, and others who have been forced to the margins of our economy. NEC’s Youth & Frontline Regranting Program supported Community to Community’s youth leadership program, Raices Culturales: Cooking Up Racial Justice, during their re-launch this summer.

In an interview with Cornell ILR School, Edgar Franks, C2C Organizer, highlights the disconnect between the food we eat and the invisibilized labor required to produce it. “The food system wouldn’t exist without farmworkers, yet we’re just seen as pieces of a big machine that can be easily replaced.” He seeks to “bring humanity back into the food system” and calls for the building of “a new economy that centers farmworkers and poor people and others who are traditionally excluded from decision-making, or who are made to feel powerless.”  C2C is organizing to ensure that when it comes to policy and legacy, “the voice of farmworkers -- their intellect and knowledge -- is respected and uplifted.”

Raices Culturales (“Cultural Roots”, in English) is C2C’s youth program that began as a support space for children whose families were impacted by immigration raids in 2006 and 2009. After a four-year hiatus due to C2C’s support of the farmworker strike, boycott of Sakuma Brothers Berry Farm, and organization of the farmworker union Familias Unidas por la Justicia, Raices Culturales re-launched their summer 2018 program: Cooking Up Racial Justice.

This mentorship project supports local youth of farmworker and low-income families in exploring and celebrating their cultural identities and farmworker legacies. “This program centers learning on the local struggle for farmworker and immigrant rights, and uses cooking and gardening as tools to build community and to uplift cultural traditions,” shares Program Coordinator Kelly Shilhanek.

Youth engage in peer conversations about racial identity and practical lessons in agroecology and environmental stewardship. They learn to grow their own food and transform it into traditional dishes inspired by their identities and histories. The program culminates with public farm-to-table dinner celebrations that “model how the multicultural ‘tapestry of difference’ can be a strength to both the community and economic development of Whatcom County if we are able to embrace it as a people” concludes Sean Hopps, Development Director.           

All of NEC’s grantees are changing the current by building a new economy movement that truly values people and place. Will you join NEC in supporting our members and movement by making a donation today? Your donation will support NEC’s Youth & Frontline Regranting Program grantees, like Community to Community Development!

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