Bianca Ballará, First-Gen Cuban American, Latinx Activist, Artist
Music, dancing, food, and family were wealth for my grandparents, teachings I was exposed to at a very young age. All of my grandparents were campesinos (farmers). When I remember them, I think about the Cuban sugar cane fields all sharp green-rising underneath a fierce golden sun. I imagine their bodies, drenched in sweat, sowing the land and praying for harvest with deep gratitude.
I never heard my grandparents complain much about their lives, they would always erupt with a good song from a wide smile and a fearless shimmy of the hips. Life was different in the United States, family parties happened less and less and it began to be replaced by a mechanical life. I remember I was a university student when I WOKE UP to the reality that food grows for FREE from the Earth. Why was I chasing money? Why had my parents’ lives and my own grown so gray? It was then that I became determined to learn more about nature.
I never heard my grandparents complain much about their lives, they would always erupt with a good song from a wide smile and a fearless shimmy of the hips.
At the age of 21, I made the decision to completely confuse my parents; I went into farming fresh out of the university. I began to observe the climate cycles and started to grow my own food. Being in nature has taught me more than a university. Mother Earth, quite literally, gives us EVERYTHING: water to drink and bathe in, gives us delicious food, gives us materials to build our shelter with, gives us original beauty, gives us wisdom beyond the human-made rules, and most importantly, the space to be ourselves! The greatest gift I received from my decision to step outside city limits was the freedom to imagine a simpler and better world and way of living. I have dedicated my life work to Environmental Justice and rightful stewardship of our Earth in the Rogue Valley, it is this vision that I hold for our communities. I feel the song of our ancestors and it brings me closer to the Earth.
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