Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Quilts Wow at Veg Fest, Connect with Kids

Quilts Featured at 
Local Events in Central Florida 

Veg Fest

People bustled by with recently purchased products and fistfuls of fliers but oftentimes, their eyes would linger over our Blue Quilt. Our table at Veg Fest had plenty of petitions and pamphlets, but the Quilt grabbed the attention of the most people. The annual festival in Orlando"VegFest,"  draws in a huge crowd, partially for the wide variety of vegetarian food options, and partially for people who want to connect with the community. Veg Fest is an annual vegetarian festival that aims to educate people on the benefits of eating a vegetarian diet. People can see what lots of different organizations are doing around social justice and animal rights. At our table, the Quilt - hand stitched and beautiful, prompted questions about the story of the quilters. When people heard the backstory, the injustice that has driven people to create such powerful art, they were taken aback. Many walked off with stories of each square, to absorb later, or to share with the quilters in their families. One person even recognized the Quilt, having read about it in Fed Up: The High Cost of Cheap Food, and was very excited and emotional seeing the Quilt in person.

Veg Fest October 24, 2015
Children too were interested in the Quilt. When the story of Lake Apopka was shared with their parents, two small boys put their change into our donation box, “to help people who can’t get the doctor when they need it.” Their actions are a testament to how art can start a dialogue around social justice! The more people who are aware of the story of the Lake Apopka Farmworkers, the more people who care, the more justice we can get for those affected. 

Youth Rally

The Holy Family Catholic Church held a rally for seventeen different youth groups groups in Central Florida parishes. The Blue Quilt was on display for the kids, as well as many informational materials. The groups heard a talk on missionary work in other countries, and learned all about opportunities to get involved in their community locally. Many youths and parents were drawn to the Quilt, and Farmworker Association staff members were there to share who the quilt makers are, and why they created the Quilt. 

Youth in the community were not versed in farmworker issues for the most part, from understanding the difference between farmers and farmworkers, to how much farmworkers are paid, many youth were shocked at what they heard. Guesses ranged from an 80 pound sack of oranges being worth 200 dollars for farmworkers, to guesses of a dollar per bag,  which is closest to the real amount. Even today, farmworkers only receive 80 cents per bag. Some students were nonplussed that this kind of injustice happens right in their backyards. Many students jumped on the chance to volunteer and be involved in la lucha, the struggle for farmworker rights. A testament to the power of the Quilt, many conversations were began around the Quilts and expanded into a deeper understanding of agricultural labor, oppression, and food systems here in the United States. 

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