NEFOC Network Monthly Co-Coordinator Update: February 2019

Bonjou mes ami, she:kolli, and greetings dear ones!

We are two months into a complex two year incubation program. You will recall last month a process of learning, nesting, creating, and affirmation. Not much has shifted from in this process. Liberation is never spontaneous (as much as it can seem like it)- every act paving a path to liberation takes planning and preparation. We are about as settled as we’re going to get, but there’s heaps more to learn, and far more pots to stir. There is much enthusiasm, a healthy foundation for support, and a desperate need for an institution that advances land sovereignty. Below you will find a brief update of what we’ve been up to over the month of February and what we’re looking forward to for the upcoming months. As you can see, one of the key pieces of work we’ve begun is the publishing of our new website! This is where we’ll be posting our NEFOC Network monthly updates from now on- this is an internally linked page that isn’t available to the wider public, instead only visible to the NEFOC Network Membership.

Governance and Organization

We have drilled into fleshing out our Action Plan and have engaged the Interim Council for support, encouragement, expertise, and critical thought. Many thanks to our Interim Council members (Neftali Duran, Keely Curliss, Carmen Mouzon, Elizabeth O’Gilvie, Nia Holley, Diana Warwin, Christine Hutchinson, Larisa Jacobson, and Ulum Pixan Athohil Suk’il) for their leadership and hard work as we come together to do the heavy lifting of identifying barriers and challenges to the advancing NEFOC’s Vision and for calling attention to remaining accountable to repairing relationships with Indigenous communities in the Northeast; and establishing the legal framework, corporate identity, and resource and network development strategies. We met for a 4-hour virtual planning retreat, coming away stronger having identified key concerns and carving out some much-needed foundational principles. We look forward to working with our By-laws, Articles of Incorporation, Network Development, and Resource Development working groups over the next 4 months and feel confident that, with their help, we’ll be able to achieve our work plan goals.

Events/Gatherings in which we participated:

Çaca Yvaire speaking on a panel at Land in Black Hands. L-R: Ed Whitfield, Co-Managing Director of the Fund for Democratic Communities; Çaca; Karen Washington, founder of Rise & Root Farm; and Jalal Sabur of Wildseed.

Çaca Yvaire speaking on a panel at Land in Black Hands. L-R: Ed Whitfield, Co-Managing Director of the Fund for Democratic Communities; Çaca; Karen Washington, founder of Rise & Root Farm; and Jalal Sabur of Wildseed.

We’re promoting the NEFOC Community Land Trust model frequently, but it is important to remember that it is simply a tool. A tool we are wielding within truly shifting political environment. A tool we are using to achieve nothing less than actual sovereignty and total liberation. What a project.

  • Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA) Vermont’s Winter Conference (Burlington, Vermont)

    • Stephanie participated over 4 days at the NOFA VT Winter conference- sitting on a 2-day panel and workshop entitled “Decolonization & Regenerative Agriculture: Rethinking Land Ownership in Honoring the Original Peoples of the Northeast”; facilitated planning & education for the newly-drafted territory acknowledgement; promoted NEFOC at other workshops; and called and co-facilitated an ad-hoc meeting of Indigenous community members to discuss their needs, hopes, and desires in their territories, focusing on how we can build lasting relationships within this movement.

  • Black Land and Power Summit (gratitude to our friends at National Black Food & Justice Alliance)

    • Çaca participated in 3 days of community building and tactics mining about land reform and food systems., where li witnessed (and was inspired by) such rare care devoted to the issues of black land loss. When the opportunity emerged, Çaca advocated for a increase in attention to climate migration concerns in organizing, strategy and policy.

  • Land in Black Hands panel in Kingston, New York (gratitude to Kingston Land Trust + The Farm Hub)

    • Çaca participated on a panel discussion about land access and economic development strategies in black communities. Speakers shared their experiences, challenges and victories in creating black-owned food/agricultural cooperatives and black-led community land trusts.

  • Food Equity Gathering at the Massachusetts Avenue Project (Buffalo, New York)

    • Stephanie met with community organizers in her hometown of Buffalo, NY at the urban farm and community education center to discuss food sovereignty issues. Conversations around the intersections of health, food, and land justice overwhelmingly dominated the 4-hour event. The greatest challenges and barriers by far were identified as food apartheid and gentrification. There are some amazing food and land liberation projects and partnerships emerging for NEFOC in Buffalo, and it’s still early times!

Stephanie at NOFA VT

Stephanie at NOFA VT

Indigenous caucus at NOFA VT

Indigenous caucus at NOFA VT

Funding opportunities we’re exploring:

We need money to fund it and a strategy to ensure it goes off properly. In a month’s time we’ll be reaching out into the network to flesh out our strategy. In the meantime, we’ll be testing which technologies and media we need to stay current. In addition to the potential grants below, we are also speaking directly with a number of potential financial and land-based donations with individual donors.

  • Patagonia Media

  • Resist, Inc. (MA)

  • Heinz Family Philanthropies (D.C)

  • New World Foundation (NY)

New institutional relationships we’re cultivating:

We’re reaching out to allied and sibling organizations and forging reciprocal relationships with folks who

Gaining Visibility

We’ve been busily working behind the scenes to create the public face of the Northeast Farmers of Color Land Trust. One of our biggest challenges over the next few months (outside of filing our incorporation documents) is putting together a Communications Strategy while needing to simultaneously gain visibility as an organization. After a month of work, we have published our budding website, with just enough information to promote our work while still honing and crafting the programming, policies, and processes, and relationships that will make NEFOC a fully-fleshed-out entity. Check out the site, Like and Share our accompanying Facebook page, and engage! We will be updating the website frequently on our forthcoming blog as we finish that work, and will be posting thought pieces to spark discussion amongst our wider Land Liberation community. The Facebook page is meant for community engagement and to spread the message about NEFOC, Land and Food Liberation, and related topics far and wide. It will not replace our Google Group, which is an internal communication platform for Network Members.

Looking Forward

Our next month is shaping up to be a tipping point in our work as Co-Coordinators as we finalize our strategic plan that is the roadmap to NEFOC’s success. Our Interim Council members and Allied and Sibling Organizations will be assisting us in developing a financial management strategy, communications strategy, donor strategy, and social network analysis, all to be shared in a working Inception Document. We’re planning for attendance and participation representing NEFOC and land/food sovereignty at events, meetings with potential collaborators and supporters, and are diving in to grant applications, all while fleshing out an interim donation protocol while awaiting incorporation. As we continue to listen to the land, we’re moving with intention, clarity, focus, and critical thought at every turn.

Resiliently, Your Humble Co-Coordinators,

Çaca Yvaire & Stephanie Morningstar