This post contains an email that I sent to Diana Taylor, Marianne Hirsch, Lee Xie after visiting La Morada in the South Bronx with my colleague Luis C Rincon Alba on September 7th, 2021. The email was intended as an update on our activities there and a reflection on the ZIP Code Project’s relationship to the local community.
Thanks for checking in– the day atLaMoradawas pretty great. The range of mutual aid work they do is incredible, and getting to meet Angeles, Marco, and Yajaira (not to mention Luis himself, who I had only met virtually before now!) was a gift. We volunteered all day; I had to leave by 5 PM, and Natalia kindly packed me a burrito and some peaches…!
Unfortunately, there turned out to be no grocery pick-up today, so we could not pass the flyers out on an individual basis. Instead, we left the flyers with the folks at La Morada and kindly asked if they could distribute them to those who come, especially to the volunteers who like to contribute to the mutual aid efforts (and who are most likely to have time on their hands; after all, time itself is a privilege). After many hours of enthusiastic carrot and beet peeling, Angeles and Yajaira gave us a small tour of their community garden (most of which they only began growing this past spring), and we got to hear a little about their mutual aid plans for the space and its yields.
All this being said, there are a few things I wanted to discuss with you about the Zip Code project, to see how we could connect it with existing community projects in the neighborhood. For example, we would love a better understanding of the “walk” that is a big component of this project, particularly because (depending on how it is structured) a walk may not exactly feel like something for the neighborhood residents themselves, and rather instead like a touristic event for people from outside the community. I am curious to hear more about your intentions for the walk, particularly because, being at La Morada today, I realized that the neighborhood does not exactly need to “get to know” itself as much as it needs to come together to collaboratively create something (and be given the resources to do so). One moving example Angeles told us was of workshops they held at the community garden, to help folks get in touch with the healing and nutritional qualities of their own plants and how they can grow and use them. This really made me think how powerful a collective action like a “neighborhood harvest” would be (just by way of example). I am sure there are ways of making a “walk” transformative, too, but it would take some work, and we would love to be part of that ongoing conversation.
I am sure Luis also has more thoughts to share, so I’ll cap myself off here! Thanks again, Diana and Marianne, for putting me in touch with all the lovely people I met today. I believe Angeles may have snapped some silly photos of us gloved, masked, and holding some beets– I hope she shares them with you!
All the best,