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.
Please welcome Jay Cho as a member of our community! His perspective and artistry inspires thought and reflection while also challenging social norms. When asked about his advocacy and passions, Jay made it even more clear that he is trying break the mold and create a world without limits for those of every size, color, race, or culture.
A little about Jay in his own words...
"My real name is Hyun but my friends and family members call me Jay.
I am 24 years old, born and raised in South Korea, spent my most teenage years until today in Southern California. I'm very excited to participate with an amazing group of artist for this event.
Thank you for this amazing opportunity for me to connect and share my work with the world"
Why do you create?
"Art is something I can feel, not what I see, hear, or taste. I want to inspire others through my work and deliver my story"
What serves your purpose?
"To be the best version of myself. Finding my identity as an Asian living in America was a very long journey.The media portrays Asians to look nerdy, less attractive and unwanted. Watching TV shows, movies and dramas, there was no one that looked like me so I couldn't connect with any heroes or main characters when I was growing up.
But in my head I always knew I was far from being nerdy, I disliked math, and I didn't play the piano. On top of all this, it's also a rare case to see Asians wanting to become a successful artist.
Eastern culture and where I'm from, they teach us that life is all about stability and having a stable salary job.
Through my work and my art, I want to be the example that no matter who you are, where you're from, which color of the skin you live in, listen to your heart because your heart knows what you need"
Jay's interview brought me to tears! Making your own expectation of yourself more important than the opinions of others and living true to yourself is the best thing we all could do! I think a lot of people can relate to societal expectation and stereotypes as a driving force of a lot of the decisions we make and prejudices we may have! It is important to challenge our own biases.
Thank you Jay, for bringing consciousness to our community in your own unique way!
We feel so honored and excited to have Derrik Diza from Disorganized Depictions as a part of our first Art for the People event! Derrik's values very much align with the Community Consciousness vision and mission, where business is meant to benefit the community and purchases are made with a purpose! We asked Derrik what he advocates for and why he creates as an artist.
He went on to describe why he pioneered his apparel company, and the vision he has for himself socially and professionally. He lives his life emphasizing the importance in giving back to his community.
"Disorganized Depictions is an art & apparel company rooted in philanthropy and creativity. The company creates original pieces and clothing that helps to support different causes. Some causes include helping fundraise for foster homes in Orange County, refugees in Yemen, and direct relief to the homeless. The company seeks to inspire creativity and instill awareness through its products and branding. Being involved in Art for People is a great opportunity to help us promote the general welfare for artists and the local community here in Orange County".
For the past six months our organization has been working toward a goal of assembling one hundred hygiene care packages for the homeless community of Orange County. It started with noticing our surroundings and seeing that there was a need within our own community. Homelessness has been an issue in California for a long time and has only now received attention in the media because it has become apparent that the problem is only getting more dire. Our team wanted to make an impact, however small, on the homeless community in our own backyard. Thankfully, there are institutions like the Blum Center for Poverty Alleviation that provide funding to projects that service those who are underprivileged and under-acknowledged.
Our organization started on the basis that we would craft environmentally and socially responsible hygiene products. like our soap and toothpaste, to benefit those in need. Community Consciousness had the dream of providing quality hygiene care such as soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, and menstrual products to those who are experiencing life on the streets. The Blum Center was generous enough to provide us with the proper funding so that we could make this dream a reality.
Careful thought and attention went into what would go into these hygiene care packages. We took into consideration the quality, the environmental impact, and whether items were fair trade or local. The cold-process soap provided in each care package was made with organic oils, shea butter, and essential oils. The toothpaste included was made with xylitol, peppermint essential oil, and MCT coconut oil, all organic where possible. The loofah sponges and bamboo washcloths are completely biodegradable. The menstrual pads and tampons are 100% organic cotton and nontoxic. The Terra Thread pouches used are Fair Trade and provided by a local supplier, Gallant International.
We are hoping that in receiving these care packages, our community can feel cared for and loved. To a more privileged individual, hygiene care is not much of an issue, but to someone living on the streets it can be a struggle to keep up with personal hygiene. We have successfully distributed these packages to the homeless community that is supported by LOTS Ministries. LOTS Ministries provides homeless services such as free laundry, showers, breakfast, clothing, and more at The Crossing Church every Saturday from 7am-12pm. This care package project is our offering to our community. We are working hard to continue projects like this!
Below you will find a link provided by our partner Gallant International - if you would like to find out more about Fair Trade products, please visit their website!