Bianca Ballará, First-Gen Cuban American, Latinx Activist, Artist

Bianca Ballard

Bianca Ballard

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.

DE LA RAIZ is a project dedicated to gathering and sharing stories of the rich and diverse Latinx communities of Southern Oregon. Through personal interviews, research, and visual art, De La Raiz hopes to center and uplift our voices while challenging stereotypes and national narratives of who we are.

More Stories

Stories

Matilde Arias

Matilde Arias

Matilde Arias and her mother always been close. When she was 12, her mom was diagnosed with cancer. Chemotherapy saved her life, but after entering remission, she had a stroke. As her mother worked to regain her mobility, Matilde took on the role as the second adult...

read more
Raul Tovar – Co-founder of Noche de Cuentos Project

Raul Tovar – Co-founder of Noche de Cuentos Project

Raul Tovar During my six month trip in Mexico, a special moment took place in a magical mountain village along the Sierra Madre mountain range in Oaxaca. My younger brother was visiting me during my stay in Mexico and after some eventful days in Puerto Vallarta,...

read more
Rosario “Chayo” Cervantez – Xicana Youth Activist

Rosario “Chayo” Cervantez – Xicana Youth Activist

Rosario “Chayo” CervantezRosario “Chayo” Cervantez is from White City, Oregon. She has been an activist in our community, organizing educational panels with LIFEArt and began the first wide-city Latinx Student Group thatbrought together students from all high school...

read more