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Moving On with Gratitude: Erika's Departure from CATA and the Legacy of Collective Action



I want to express my gratitude to the community I had the honor to work with these past few years: CATA staff, garden volunteers, youth, Bridgeton Community, and CATA partners.



It has been an honor to have worked alongside so many wonderful people. I can remember that coming into the position, I was just beginning to unravel my connection to the land and connect with my Latin heritage. When I was brought into the Food Justice Program, the community welcomed and introduced me to the Bridgeton community garden. I had no idea that this place and its people would give me permission to embrace my Latinx heritage unapologetically and so much more!


One aspect of the job that I am most grateful for being a part of is the creation of intergenerational spaces where folks of different ages, genders, interests, cultures, countries of origin, etc., come together for the greater good. Despite the diversity, we made space to bond over our love for food and passion for justice.



Since I have been a part of CATA, it has been especially rewarding to see a growing amount of youth presence and involvement in the organization, whether as first-year interns, leaders, or as part of the CATA board. I am eager to see what the youth will accomplish in the future. My hope is for them to get out of their comfort zones, give themselves grace, and always practice self-love and love for their community.



If I were to give any advice to anyone interested in food justice, it's that yes, we are growing food to heal and nourish our bodies, but at the same time, we are actively addressing food insecurity in communities, reclaiming traditions and cultures, asserting our right to health and wellness, and manifesting dreams for a more just and sustainable food system that uplifts food system workers and values their work.



It also involves identifying and dismantling the shackles that hold us back from experiencing true land, BIPOC, and our own liberation.


Overall, my main takeaway is a strong sense of community in Bridgeton, especially in the community garden where you can find folks patiently tending to the earth, giving it the love it deserves and observing what it needs. That same care and energy given to Pachamama and its beings also enables us to better connect to and support, listen, guide, and celebrate each other and the light we bring to this world.


"When we all contribute to the well-being of Mother Earth, we contribute to the well-being of each other."


With peace and love,


Erika

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