This month, you're helping build the power of farmworker communities in rural California.
Irma Medellin, executive director of El Quinto Sol de America, speaks at a rally about air pollution in her community due to pesticide use. Her sign reads "We Deserve Clean Air." Tulare County, where she lives, has the highest rate of pesticide-related illnesses in the state.
El Quinto Sol de America organizes working class, Latino communities to fight for clean drinking water, pesticide safety, economic opportunity, and cultural dignity. The majority of residents are laborers in agricultural fields and processing plants, predominantly monolingual Spanish speakers.
EQS builds the skills and leadership capacity of their members so they can understand and advocate for policies that support the health and safety of their communities.
Your March funding is going to support their grassroots programs.
Meet Our March Artist: Victor Cervantes
Victor Cervantes grew up in Lindsay, a small town of about 10,000 people in the Central Valley. Victor, along with Irma, co-founded El Quinto Sol De America. He now works with EQS youth on projects that empower neighborhoods through artistic expression.
He attended the University of California at Santa Cruz and majored in art, with a focus on history and social justice. As graduate student at Harvard University, he deepened his focus on promoting cultural diversity and continued to produce art that documented the challenges of Xicanos.
Victor’s passion for the arts has enabled him to promote the richness of the Xicano/Latino culture and that of other communities of color. He has been able to bring attention to various social challenges that often go unseen or ignored. Victor has partnered with dedicated community leaders who believe that the arts have an important role to play in society. He has painted murals at health facilities, youth centers, schools, and colleges across Caliofrnia. Currently he is diligently working to establish a community art gallery that will serve to exhibit the talents of artist from throughout the neighboring rural communities.
In the Studio with Victor
Victor let us take a peek into his creative space. Browse the images below to see where this month's piece was created.
March Recommended Actions
Can you commit to taking at least one action in support of farmworker and immigrant communities this month?
Bay Area Actions
Stand up for clean drinking water for all Californians
TCP (1,2,3-trichloropropane) is a toxic chemical contaminating groundwater in cities and small communities across the state. The state is about to set new legal limits for TCP. Sign this petition to strengthen the limit and join a TCP Action Team.
Get trained on how to respond to ICE raids near you
ICE raids are now reported across California and elsewhere in the US. Folks are needed who are trained as witnesses and who able to show up.
Bring a friend to the Blue Heart Art + Action Mixer on March 13 in SF
You’ll get to meet the leaders of El Quinto Sol, hear their story, and how they are creating change in the Central Valley. Our March artist, Victor Cervantes, will also be there.
Proceeds from the event go to El Quinto Sol and our other grassroots partners.
Join or start a #HeretoStay campaign near you
Speak out against the $66B Monsanto-Bayer merger
The chemical pesticide giant Monsanto is proposed to merge with the pharma giant Bayer, which farmers worry will reduce oversight and competition on agricultural chemicals even further. The Committee on Foreign Investment is set to review the proposed merger this month. Call the committee ( 202- 622-1860 ) to voice your opposition.
Calculate (and learn how to reduce) your water footprint
At least 30% of the produce in your kitchen, on average, was grown in the Central Valley. 80% of CA water is used for agriculture. Your food purchasing decisions impact water availability and quality in rural agricultural communities in California.
Meet the Movement Leaders
Isabel Arrollo, Program Director of El Quinto Sol
"We want our community members to realize that just because they live in a low-income area does not mean that they should not pursue the talent they have within. We help them understand that their voice matters."
Isabel talks with CA Assemblyman Mathis about the challenges of rural communities like Plainview, CA.
Photo credit: Visalia Times Delta
Behind the Scenes with El Quinto Sol
Join us for a virtual conversation with Isabel on March 22nd, 12-1pm.
You’ll get learn about the challenges they face, hear stories from the ground, and ask her your questions about how they build power and self-determination in rural farmworkers communities.
Our conversation will be hosted via Zoom video conference.
Recommended readings and resources for Blue Heart members
What does it mean when a town is "unincorporated"? In this fantastic 3 part series, Citylab does a journalistic deep dive on the water and sewage infrastructure issues that rural, poor, unincorporated towns in California and the many decades of exclusion residents have faced. Highly recommended.
Harvesting Hope: A Micro-Documentary
In this short documentary, we get an inspiring and intimate snapshot of the life of Jose Mendoza, a 16-year-old farmworker and aspiring artist in Salina, CA. He speaks to the challenges of his family and the role of art in his life and a source of pride, imagination, and hope.
Trump’s immigration policies could transform the Central Valley and cripple a $35 billion industry. Approximately 70 percent of all farmworkers here are living in the United States illegally, according to researchers at University of California, Davis.
California cropland represents only 2-3% of the total planted acreage in the U.S. But the state uses nearly 20% of the total pesticides used in the U.S. Over 600 million pounds of actively toxic chemicals are applied to crops each year. Farmworkers in California – over 700,000 and mainly people of color – live and work on the front lines of a toxic barrage and experience more acute pesticide poisoning cases than any other segment of California’s population. Impacts range from rashes to cancer to chronic respiratory illness.
Check out these 10 fiery, visionary poetic voices from the US and Latin America. List curated by Remezcla, a fantastic latinx arts and music blog.
Share Your Thoughts
What about this month's materials inspired you? What made you uncomfortable? What questions or ideas are you left with?
Share your thoughts, questions, and resources with other Blue Heart members across the country through our private Facebook group.
Blue Heart Impact: Your Dollars at Work
Each month, at least $10 of your subscription goes to that month's partner organization. For Boost Up, Pollinate, and Amplify Members, $20/mo or more goes to our partners.
By choosing to be a Blue Heart member you are investing in social change not supported by traditional philanthropy. We believe that model is broken. Responding to the root causes of injustice requires building the self-determination of the communities most marginalized by our dominant, extractive economy. And this means funding the small, scrappy, movement-building organizations on the front lines. By voting with your dollar, you believe this type of transformation is possible.
Next month, Bay Area members will be funding the Anti-Police Terror Project, based in Oakland.
National members will be funding the Brooklyn Movement Center, in NYC.
Up Next at Blue Heart