Today, Community Consciousness team members went to volunteer and help at a cooperative garden stewarded by C.R.E.C.E (Communities in Resistance for Ecological and Cultural Empowerment), a local organization supported by the Santa Ana Building Healthy Communities Initiative. "Crece" in Spanish means grow, which is the best word to describe their essence and intention. Upon arrival, we were met with curiosity and warmth by Abel, Ana, and Evelyn. All around us was abundance, growth, and vitality. As we gazed upon this hopeful vision, we were ready to get our hands dirty. Humble and kind, Abel expressed his gratitude for the help, and delegated tasks among all of us.
As we worked and got to know one another, we began to see how much determination it has taken for CRECE to establish themselves within a community that continues to benefit from the empowering messages that emanate from the work they do. Their mission is to give underserved communities of Santa Ana agency over their quality of life and wellbeing. A major facet of health and wellbeing is access to nourishing foods that enliven the body and spirit. CRECE's cooperative garden seeks to supply residents with food that replenishes them while also restoring the earth.
Equitable food access is an integral part of achieving social justice within communities, and Orange County is no exception when it comes to food deserts. In many parts of Orange County, namely Anaheim and Santa Ana, low-income communities are given minimal options when it comes to healthy, nutritious food. Convenience stores and low-quality produce reign strongly within these communities, leading to public health challenges such as diabetes and obesity in children.
Every person, big or small, dark or light, young or old, has a birthright of abundance and a healthy life.
Our organization was founded on the desire to foster a better sense of community and social cohesion throughout our home of Orange County and beyond. We saw homelessness and corporate greed growing, and we wondered who planted these rotten seeds of disenfranchisement and sterility? We sure didn't, but we felt we were just as guilty if we just stood by and watched them take hold.
Our community compost program, love for our neighbor, and passion for the planet have opened so many beautiful doors that have led us to meet the people who are the warriors of CRECE. We have been looking for more grassroots efforts to support and build with. There is a strength and power in cooperation. In order to fight the good fight for what is honorable and just, relationship and trust need to be built among organizations in working toward a common goal. This cooperative garden is a hub for likeminded individuals and it is amazing to see the exchange of wisdom and ideas. While we were working the garden, Brayan, a group leader from Boys and Men of Color Santa Ana, hosted a garden day to promote "healing of the earth and healing of masculinity". What a powerful idea, one that we might not otherwise have encountered without also pursuing a vision for positive change.
Cooperation is essentially sharing. Sharing culture. Sharing our lives. Sharing our resources. Sharing our selves.
Messages are shared within nature itself, as the sun conveys a message of warmth to the soil to germinate the seeds, so should people convey messages of faithfulness and love when it comes to coming together to create a life of wellbeing. Open communication of messages and sharing is absolutely vital when it comes to effective cooperation.
"Cooperation, not competition is the very basis of future survival and of existing life systems"
Thank you for reading and a huge thank you to CRECE for teaching us more about what it means to be better humans and reach for a better life.