Black Girls’ Retreat

WHEN: September 2020
WHERE: Rochester Folk Art Guild, Middlesex, NY
CONTACT: Rebekah (at) foodforthespirit.org

Food for the Spirit’s (F4tS) Black Girls’ Retreat offers us space to retreat on the land to self-care within a small community of like-minded individuals. Over the course of two days and two nights, in community with other Black women, we will nurture ourselves and deepen our relationships with ourselves, each other, and nature.

Our intentions are to create a space where we practice radical self-care, self-love, and liberation. The retreat will provide us time and space where we can slow down, quiet down, and build community with each other. To deepen our love for ourselves and to build community, we will weave in ritual and celebration in ways that are meaningful to us.

The retreat will be held at the Rochester Folk Art Guild’s East Hill Farm, a 50-year-old intentional community and craft center located on 350-acres in the Finger Lakes in central New York. Harriet Tubman’s homestead is just an hour drive away. There are many creeks and several beautiful natural lakes nearby, and at the East Hill Farm there is a pond and wooded areas with numerous walking trails.

Overnight accommodations are rustic and will include camping on the land and some beds. Six meals, snacks, and beverages will be provided throughout. If needed, there may also be reimbursement available for travel costs.

COVID-statement: We will have plenty of gloves, extra masks, and hand sanitizer available, and we will ask that each participant agrees to adhere to COVID safety guidelines including wearing masks when indoors.

Join us and take some time for yourself! To apply for our 2020 retreat, visit https://bit.ly/F4TS_OurRetreat.

Conversations in 2020 – Session 3

On Tuesday, July 28, we hosted our third and final session of Conversations on Race & Racism in 2020. Once again, we had nearly 50 people in attendance and a video recording of that session is embedded below.

This week, we were joined by a special guest, Danielle Ohlson of Newark Central Schools. Danielle is also a trainer with Wayne Action for Racial Equality. For further inquiry and action opportunities, several resources were offered at the close of Tuesday’s presentation. Those resources are included below.

In 2020, Conversations on Race & Racism are sponsored by 13 libraries in the Pioneer Library Systems. A list of the sponsoring libraries are below.

For those of you who were unable to attend last Tuesday’s program, here it is on YouTube:

Here are the resources for inquiry and action:

Here is a list of the libraries that sponsored this event:

  • Naples Library
  • Newark Public Library
  • Wadsworth Library
  • Marion Public Library
  • Palmyra Community Library
  • Lyons Public Library
  • Geneva Public Library
  • Livonia Public Library
  • Victor Farmington Library
  • Sodus Community Library
  • Clyde-Savannah Public Library
  • Gorham Free Library
  • Macedon Public Library

Conversations in 2020 – Session 2

On Tuesday, July 21, we hosted the second 2020 session of Conversations on Race & Racism with over fifty people in attendance. A video recording of the second session is embedded below.

Two special guests were invited: Alison Espinoza of Rootworker’s Croft in West Bloomfield NY; and Jessica Gilbert from Rushville NY, who is also a PhD Candidate at the SUNY University at Buffalo and a food justice activist.

In 2020, Conversations on Race & Racism are sponsored by 13 libraries in the Pioneer Library Systems. A list of the sponsoring libraries are below.

For further inquiry, participants are encouraged to view a presentation by Chris Bolden-Newsome, an urban farmer and youth educator from Sankofa Community Farm, which is a part of Bartram’s Gardens in Philadelphia, PA.  A link to the presentation and some questions to ponder are below.

For those of you who were unable to attend last Tuesday’s program, here it is on YouTube:

The link to the homework presentation is here: “Chris Bolden-Newsome” and here are some questions to consider while viewing or afterwards:

  • How has your personal discomfort or hopelessness regarding the suffering of others led to apathy in your life?  In what ways do you tune out to the suffering of others?  In what ways might you tune in more to the suffering of others in a way that is productive and leads to action?
  • What might be some opportunities that can emerge from this current racial and social crisis that we are in?
  • What might it look like to willingly and intentionally engage in suffering or struggle together with those that are different then ourselves?

Here is a list of the libraries that sponsored this event:

  • Naples Library
  • Newark Public Library
  • Wadsworth Library
  • Marion Public Library
  • Palmyra Community Library
  • Lyons Public Library
  • Geneva Public Library
  • Livonia Public Library
  • Victor Farmington Library
  • Sodus Community Library
  • Clyde-Savannah Public Library
  • Gorham Free Library
  • Macedon Public Library

Freedom Gardens Thank You

An open letter to the Buffalo BIPOC community,

All around the country community responses to the COVID-19 virus have been varied, most have been uplifting and inspiring and a few divisive and disturbing.  The virus has manifested in Buffalo like it has in other places, spreading in Black populations disproportionally thereby resulting in more cases and deaths. It has exposed and exploited the systematic conditions that arise when poverty and race are neglected and ignored. Our response to this crisis has been to target the underlaying causes that perpetuate the health disparities in our communities…the lack of healthy fresh nutritious food. Our health will improve when we have neighborhoods that prioritize health and wellbeing.   

This letter is a thank you to everyone who contributed to our marketing success and provided funding for Freedom Gardens.  For over a century Buffalo has been the epicenter of Black freedom movements created in response to challenging moments in history. An expansive coalition of community-based organizations announced the Buffalo Freedom Garden initiative to bring organic gardens that inspire resilience, independence and community building to residents in the zip code areas hardest hit by the COVID-19 virus. Our print campaign was launched last week with an ad and article in The Challenger News. The message that Freedom Gardens was our response to the COVID crisis was carried by influencers on social media, radio programs on POWER 96.5, and undergirded by a direct marketing campaign fueled by the power and influence of community-based organizations! Once the community began to take notice in less than five days over 334 households applied for 50 gardens!  I would like to thank all the families and individuals that filled out an application. Your outpouring of support is being used to expand the number of gardens we can establish in an attempt to meet the increased demand.   

Black owned media outlets, Citigroup, WNY COVID-19 Community Response Fund, Juneteenth Festival Agricultural Pavilion Committee, Food for the Spirit, Grassroots Gardens, Access To A-Free-Ka and others played a critical role in organizing, promoting, funding and providing leadership for this initiative.  Please join me in acknowledging our sponsors and supporters. Our best moments come when we unite as a community to do the work of the people! Together we rise! 

Sincerely,

Gail V Wells & Rebekah Williams

Freedom Gardens