Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Toxic Tours Make an Impact; Open Eyes, Minds and Hearts

Interest in the Lake Apopka Toxic Tours and the issues facing farmworkers is increasing!  More and more people are learning about agriculture’s impact on our health and our land, water and air.  The farmworkers on Lake Apopka have an important story to tell that everyone needs to hear.  They want their legacy to be kept alive for future generations.  The Quilts and the Toxic Tours are ways to accomplish that and to capture a history that would otherwise be forgotten.

On February 11, a group that included members of the Labor Justice Subcommittee of the Greater Orlando Human Trafficking Task Force and Bread for the World completed a Lake Apopka Toxic Tour, during which the participants asked probing questions and looked for intersections with their work and experiences.  The discussion was energizing and everyone was amazed to learn about the conditions and realities that exist for farmworkers in their community.  There was general agreement that the Toxic Tour was just the beginning of looking for more ways to work together and to collaborate.  The Farmworker Association participates as a member on the Labor Justice Subcommittee of GOHTTF.

Then, on March 10, a dynamic group of law students from Florida State University Law School stopped in Apopka for a Lake Apopka Toxic Tour on their way to Fort Pierce, Florida to do outreach to farmworkers about the workers’ legal rights.  These impassioned, interested and energized law students were deeply moved by what they saw and learned about Lake Apopka, about conditions for farmworkers historically and today, and about the impacts of industrial agriculture on people and the environment.  But, they were most deeply moved at the last stop on the tour – a visit to former Lake Apopka farmworker Linda Lee at her home in South Apopka.  Talking honestly and frankly about her life, surrounded by her grandchildren and great grandchildren, Linda endeared herself to everyone and the students left with their hearts touched and with tears in their eyes.  No doubt they had some deep discussions together as they later drove south to their destination.

Toxic Tours have an impact on those who experience them.  No one can walk away after a toxic tour without having new questions to think about and new eyes to see the world with.  Farmworkers have a lot to teach us, if we open our eyes, our minds and our hearts. 

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