Happy New Year: Make Art Not War!

End of Year Appeal from Heather Day, CAGJ Director

Make Art Not War!

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CAGJ Farmworker Banner

My favorite poem, by Salvadoran revolutionary Roque Dalton, includes the beautiful line, “Poetry, like bread, is for everyone”. One of my favorite CAGJ moments this year was during our poetry workshop in May – with Julie Searle – who asked us to reflect, in writing, on the significance of salmon and place. Julie gently asked us to do a go-around, and as everyone humbly shared back their words, I was filled with awe with how beautiful and powerful everyone’s words were! Somehow Julie’s prompts led me to write what felt like poetry, though I’ve rarely attempted that kind of writing. 

I was reminded that just like everyone has the potential to be an organizer (as I was taught in Salvadoran social movement spaces), we are also all artists and poets. We just need to create the space for expression. That is what we did with our Arts & Activism series, and it was a joy to engage community members this way.

As we wrap up this year, we face uncertainty, precarity, and nervous systems stretched by war and crisis. As I look back at 2023, I feel proud that we created opportunities for our community to gather, make connections, and feel joy. These are ingredients for survival, for feeding our hearts, minds and bodies in the face of so many overwhelming realities.

CAGJ will keep creating these spaces with your support! Thanks to a generous donor, all gifts up to $1500 will be matched dollar for dollar! Please consider becoming a Monthly Sustainer today to help us start 2024 strong!

The series introduced us to artists who shared what inspires them to make art for social movement agitation, whether it be protest art (David Solnit) or experiential art (Beverly Naidus) or revolutionary music (Patricia Mazuela). We are so grateful to each one of these wonderful people for taking time to share their stories and experiences with us! 

We also offered workshops where participants learned how to make art with their own hands, whether they knew they were artists already or not. CAGJ organizer and artist Lisa Colligan taught us to make simple block-prints, which were designed to be integrated into a large banner for CAGJ’s Farmworker solidarity work. We were so proud to join the annual May Day Farmworker March with the banner, organized by Community to Community and Familias Unidas por la Justicia in Skagit Valley! 

Artist Morgan Brown

In May, David Solnit and his partner Julie drove up from San Francisco to help us create props using silkscreens for future actions to protest GMO salmon. In a serendipitous moment, the artist who created the salmon artwork we were using arrived at the event at the very moment we were learning to silkscreen it! Morgan Brown is a queer indigenous artist (Tsimshian Ukrainian) who contributed to our 3rd publication in 2020, Recipes for a New Normal (see more of her art and hear her poem in our digital zine)! After she told us about what inspired the artwork, she got to make a silkscreen of it, and David gave her a kit to take home!

The perfect opportunity to use our beautiful salmon props presented itself when the FarmAid concert and festival took place in Indiana. Just an hour away from the concert is the first AquaBounty plant where they produce GE salmon. Block Corporate Salmon collaborated with National Family Farm Coalition and NAMA to organize an action at the site, displaying our silk-screened salmon art, brought all the way from Seattle along with other props.

The fruit of our labor is not only beautiful, it is serving our movements. Today is your last chance to make a year-end, tax-deductible donation: Your gift will be matched, and helps to ensure that CAGJ can remain a strong partner to our Farmworker movements and Fishermen!

We had the opportunity to do outreach to the thousands of FarmAid concert-goers who not only get to hear great music that supports family farms, they can also visit the “Homegrown Village” where organizations have the opportunity to share about their work with the public.

Silk-screened salmon

I cried when I first saw the Block Corporate Salmon booth, so brilliantly conceived of by our colleagues! I felt moved by how we were able to bring Morgan’s salmon artwork alive. It was shared with hundreds of festival-goers, of all ages, who lined up to have the hands-on experience of creating a silkscreen of it themselves. It also presented an amazing opportunity to talk to hundreds of people about why Northwest Tribes oppose GMO salmon and how they could support our cause. I am so grateful to everyone who made that action happen, and to have been able to be a part of it myself, thanks to generous support from National Family Farm Coalition!

I believe that CAGJ’s work has ripple-effects, just like salmon do as they leap through headwaters, and give themselves to a richly intertwined ecological system. Sometimes we know the impact of our organizing, and sometimes we will never know who we touch. But I am confident we’ve collectively raised our voices for food sovereignty in 2023 in powerful ways. 

On this final day of the year, I am asking you to add your voice to CAGJ’s. Together we are making another world possible.

With my son Henry & sister Kirsten

Thank you!

Heather Day

Like You

By Roque Dalton, translated by Jack Hirschman

Like you I
love love, life, the sweet smell
of things, the sky-blue
landscape of January days.
And my blood boils up
and I laugh through eyes
that have known the buds of tears.
I believe the world is beautiful
and that poetry, like bread, is for everyone.
And that my veins don’t end in me
but in the unanimous blood
of those who struggle for life,
little things,
landscape and bread,
the poetry of everyone.

Como Tú

Yo, como tú,
amo el amor, la vida, el dulce encanto
de las cosas, el paisaje
celeste de los días de enero.
También mi sangre bulle
y río por los ojos
que han conocido el brote de las lágrimas.
Creo que el mundo es bello,
que la poesía es como el pan, de todos.
Y que mis venas no terminan en mí
sino en la sangre unánime
de los que luchan por la vida,
el amor,
las cosas,
el paisaje y el pan,
la poesía de todos.

From Poetry Like Bread: Poets of the Political Imagination (Curbstone Press, 2000), edited by Martín Espada. Used with the permission of Northwestern University Press.


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