Rooted In Community 2017: Greensboro, NC #RICisLit #RIC2017 #Greensboro2017

RIC 2017 in Greensboro, NC is officially a wrap folks. We want to give mad shoutouts to Bevelyn, Noah, Re Re, Jada & the whole NC planning team ya’ll the real MVPs. Also wanna give mad props to Ari, John & Beatriz for holding down RIC on our national board making sure the NC Team had what they needed. CC & her media team with Ayisah helped to document this amazing gathering stay tooned for more pics & videos. Transplanting Traditions served up a beautiful meal on the farm & made everyone want a bambo house. NC Climate Justice Summit & the hand made puppets were awesome and a lot of fun. DJ Alee brought it with music for the Day of Action & Dance Party. Also that Open Mic was so Lit! Lastly we just wanna thank everyone who came to RIC this year from youth to adult allies to guest speakers and everyone in between. All of you are the rock stars of RIC and because of you and your energy we are able to put on a dope RICs every year. Thank you Greensboro & thank you RIC family! 👩🏽‍🌾👨🏽‍🌾💜✊🏽😁 #RIC2017 #Greensboro2017 #RICisLit

#RICisLit was on the tip of everyone’s tongue this year at the annual Rooted In Community Youth Leadership Summit. Rooted In Community or RIC is a national youth leadership network that works to make leaders of our young people through food justice & related environmental justice work. The vision of RIC is of a just and healthy food system in which youth take leadership and offer their gifts to build resilient and thriving communities through food systems transformation. They see youth as designers and creators of dynamic food and health programs, socially responsible enterprises, and people centered policy, in order to generate vibrant communities and equitable economies.

This year RIC was held in Greensboro, NC hosted by the organization Center for Environmental Farming Systems & the youth group Food Youth Initiative.

Bevelyn Afor Ukah first came to RIC last year when we had it in Olympia, Washington. She then expressed interest in hosting the next RIC in North Carolina and so when her and Noah McDonald who is a NC Food Corps member came to our Winter Leadership Institute we held for the adult allies in Boston/Sandwich, MA we talked about the plans for that. Then Bevelyn, Noah and an incredible North Carolina local planning team took on the tasks of planning this whole summit with a little help from the RIC national board for over 7 months. They were amazing, worked together well, we’re organized and got a lot of stuff done together.

Bennett College is were RIC was being held for the week. In 1873, Bennett College had its beginning in the unplastered basement of the Warnersville Methodist Episcopal Church (now known as St. Matthew’s Methodist Church). Seventy young men and women started elementary and secondary level studies. In 1874 the Freedmen’s Aid Society took over the school which remained under its auspices for 50 years.

Within five years of 1873, a group of emancipated slaves purchased the present site for the school. College level courses and permanent facilities were added. In 1926, The Women’s Home Missionary Society joined with the Board of Education of the church to make Bennett College in Greensboro, N.C., formerly co-educational, a college for women. The challenges that were overcome to establish Bennett demand that today’s challenges be met and overcome to ensure her survival.

For more than 128 years women have found Bennett to be the ideal place to foster the constant rhythm of ideas. Each student’s individual need for self-expression and desire for achievement is constantly nurtured. The College fosters a strong respect for every student. Today, in the midst of a very active renaissance, Bennett is preparing contemporary women to be well educated, productive professionals, informed, participating citizens, and enlightened parents. The College offers twenty-four areas of study in Education, the Social Sciences, the Humanities, and in Natural and Behavioral Sciences and Mathematics. Numerous opportunities to study at other higher education institutions at home and abroad are available to continue the educational enrichment of Bennett’s students.

The goals of the College continue to focus on the intellectual, spiritual and cultural growth of young women who must be prepared for lifelong learning and leadership. Since 1930 more than 5,000 women have graduated from Bennett College. Known as Bennett Belles, they continue to be among contributing women of achievement in all walks of life.

We had folks come from the Virgin Islands, New Orleans, California, New Mexico, Philly, New York, St. Louis, North Carolina, Washington State and more come to RIC this year.

The opening ceremony was led by Noah, another youth who works with FYI and Re Re who were the two MCs for the gathering and Ayisah Yusuf a RIC national board member. Ayisah started it with the ceremony part which other folks came up and did some blessings including a local kid from the Lumbe Tribe local to North Carolina. Then Noah told us some history about Bennett College and Shawn from Mississippi did an icebreaker with everyone. When they were done a dope MC did some spoken word. Then they did some community agreements and another icebreaker before getting into their narrative partner groups. Once the opening was over the adult allies had a meeting and then the day was over.

On Thursday we had our youth led workshops & creative workshops. We had breakfast on the campus and then did an hour on Equity in Environmental Justice. We first did an “I Am Poem” which was actually pretty hard to write out but was very beautiful to reflect on your own story. Afterwords we all split up into 12 groups and did some defining of words then we came back together to read our words and definitions out loud. The words Social Justice, Food Justice, Environmental Justice, Community Ownership, Resilience, Cooperatives, Equity, Inequity, Collective, Culture, Environmental Justice, System and Action. My groups word was system and we came up with some really good definitions. Groups came up with really great definitions for the 12 words.

Once the Equity in Environmental Justice workshop was over we then went into the youth led workshops. Next was lunch and then the second round of youth led workshops. After workshop block two ended Alyzza did a talk on 7 Principles of Cooperatives and then people broke into their block three workshops which were the creative writing and art workshops. It was then dinner time and then we had the last workshops of the day which included dance, poetry writing & a movie.

Friday was our field trip day and people slit up into many different field trips including a Greensboro History Tour, Food Systems in Greensboro & Triangle Migration and Food Tour.

Transplanting Traditions Community Farm in Chapel Hill was the final stop for all those on the field trips. Transplanting Traditions Community Farm (TTCF) is located on 269 acres of preserved farmland owned by Triangle Land Conservancy (TLC). With a grant from Blue Cross Blue Shield of NC in 2010, TLC was able to set up the initial infrastructure of the land in partnership with TTCF with the goal to host an educational farm project on the property forever. This unique partnership between TLC and TTCF is the only one of its kind in the Southeast. Transplanting Traditions began in 2010 with complete funding support from a 3-year federal grant through the Office of Refugee Resettlement. In May of 2013, TTCF was due to end this 3-year funding cycle. In response, we launched our first major fundraising effort through the crowdfunding platform, Indiegogo. We managed to raise $15, 571 from 193 individual donors, mostly from the local community. These funds were equally matched with donation from a local family foundation. TTCF is forever grateful to the supportive and enthusiastic local community. This video was made during this fundraising effort.

After a while we had dinner and a few people went on a slip n’ slide people made. After dinner a cypher ended up happening which was dope. Then as we were getting ready to leave an all out water balloon fight started and it was all over from there lol. That day was a lot of fun.

Saturday was our Day of Action. We bored buses to go to downtown Greensboro where we had our action at a local park. For about an hour we had our prep for the Day of Action were the puppet show folks could rehearse and the media team could go interview people and the muralist got to go paint on a Greensboro mural. Once that hour was up the puppet show began which was really cool and had been brought up to DC during the People’s Climate March. We then had speakers come up and from Noah, local youth from the Lumbe tribe, Mercy one of the adult allies, Bevelyn and Jada. Jada and Bevelyn introduced our special guest who were staples in the Greensboro community. Next was our stroll down the streets of downtown Greensboro were we passed historic Woolworth st. were the first lunch counter sit ins in the ’60s were held by high school students. We were led by local band who does marches. Lunch came next which we had meditation food.

Pool time was next so we went back to campus grabbed our bathing suites and headed to the pool which was 45 mins away from campus. Unfortunately since I just gotten a fresh tattoo a few weeks before I was unable to go swimming but still was able to sit in the kiddie pool and chill which was nice because it was so HOT in Greensboro that whole week. We stayed at the pool for about 2 hours then went back to campus and on the way it rained hard.

Later that night we had our open mic and dance party with DJing by DJ Alee. We had a dope MC for the night and everyone who performed from poetry to singing to hula hoop & hacky sack contest to dancing were so good. It was very lit and a lot of fun. Then we had our dance party for an hour and a half. DJ Alee did a great job.

The next morning was our closing ceremony. That involved pros and crows, regional circles and the biggest fan icebreaker. Once that was over Ayisah with the help of Irene from Food What?! did the closing prayer and smudged everyone and then we did the RIC chant. After that it was really time for folks to leave so they took pictures together and said their goodbyes as shuttles took them to the airports or they jumped in their cars and make their way back home.