Love-In-Action Taos held a very successful day of actions on Sat, May 24th. At 10am, Dariel Garner, Kate Keely, Rivera Sun (that’s me), and Marleny “crashed” – with love – Representative Ben Ray Lujan’s coffee and biscochitos hour at Caffe Renato, speaking with community members, Congressman Lujan, and gubernatorial candidate Howie Morales about both March Against Monsanto and the Great March for Climate Action. Special thanks to Taos Democratic Party President, Erin Sanborn, for her graciousness in welcoming two bee and corn costumed activists to the party.
From there, the four of us went to Cid’s Natural Foods, where we paraded through the store thanking the employees and manager for their efforts to provide healthy, organic, non-GMO foods. Bob, the manager, was very receptive to working with us on creating affordable options. We will be calling him soon!
Next stop: Taos Farmers Market. Picking up Peter Harris, we toured the market thanking growers and informing the public about GMOs and other Monsanto nastiness. We enjoyed the hand written signs of solidarity farmers had posted on their booths! Taos Honey indulged us in a photo op with the Bees Are Sweet banner. We rallied the people for a noon march, joined by Love-in-Action members Josie Lenwell, Kimo Ward, Lex Lyford, and celebrated the participation of six marchers from the Great March for Climate Action who also joined us. Jimmy Betts and Ethan, thank you for helping make this happen!
The traditional route up Bent St, down Paseo del Pueblo, to the main intersection, and into the Plaza reminded us that our work is much needed! The most common question from tourists and passersby was “What are GMOs?” My favorite question was, “Who is Monsanto? Is he running for governor?” We handed out fliers that defined GMOs, the health and environmental risks, the worldwide problems caused by Monsanto, the bee colony die-offs caused by Round-up and other neonicotinoids, and resources for healthy food in Taos, NM.
In the plaza, we celebrated the 34th Anniversary of Food Not Bombs, enjoying delicious vegan food and calling founder Keith McHenry (although he lives in Taos, he is currently visiting California) to send him warm wishes and deep thanks for this incredible organization’s amazing work around the world. We want to thank the Taos Food Not Bombs crew who dedicatedly shows up every Sat to feed any and all!
Piling some new-found friends into our van, Dariel, Marleny, Josie, myself, and visitors Lucien (Albuquerque) and Denis (Quebec, CAN) went to Albertson’s and Smith’s where we discovered that corporate grocery stores do not allow photos to be taken in the store. Reassuring the worried managers that we had come in peace, we thanked them for their efforts, handed them a letter and also spoke our requests that they expand the non-GMO products on their shelves, label the GMOs or at least that organic food in non-GMO, and offer these products at discounts on a regular basis to make healthy eating an affordable reality for all people. On Friday, Love-In-Action Taos member, Megan Trulove-White visited Walmart with the letter and spoke to the manager, asking them to pass on the message to their superiors that people want healthy food. Over and over, the managers told us, “When the people demand something, we supply it.” Let’s grow the demand!
Our desert skies cracked open and rain poured down! We joined the Great Climate March at the Taos Visitors Center. Thirty-eight marchers who have trekked from LA and are headed towards DC were joined by Taos community members in the pouring rain. We walked two miles to Kit Carson Park where, under the shelter of the bandstand, Lt. Governor of Taos Pueblo Lawrence Lujan, Tibetan Reverend Yamato, Diné Patricia McCabe Woman Stands Shining, Author William DuBuys, and Great Climate Marchers spoke, offered prayers and blessings, sang and danced! We enjoyed seeing Love-In-Action member Sigrid Allan meet us at the park, too!
It was an incredible, full day of actions with many reflections that came to me overnight.
1) Accentuate the positive! Our banners using local slogans of “Water is Life”, “Corn is Sacred”, and “Chile is Tradition” opened people’s minds and conversations on the streets. Photos posted online generated dozens of shares, likes, and comments. Standing up for what we love and value, contrasted with our opposition to Monsanto, was a powerful technique.
2) Take the struggle to the pivot points of change: managers, growers, and consumers, alike. We were able to open doors for further efforts with Cid’s and the Farmers Market. The other grocery stores, being chains, understandably have a hierarchy to work within, but they have received our message. (We also heard that these chains are very aware of changes in consumer awareness and the shifting trend toward organic, non-GMO food. One store manager said that the company is already preparing for changes due to this.)
3) Provide a clear story and ready information: those fliers and letters work!
4) Join with others for success! This day was made possible by many groups and individuals working in collaboration. Love-In-Action Taos organized the March Against Monsanto. Gaia Mika, Cee Bearden, Ahni Rocheleau and many others worked dedicatedly on the Great March for Climate Action’s arrival in Taos. Taos Democratic Party organized the Coffee and Biscochitos hour, and the grocery stores and Farmers Market were doing their part, too. All of our local actions are paralleled by national organizations that support the international March Against Monsanto, and the national elections endeavors and the Climate March.
5) Love-In-Action works! The spirit of love made a lot of this possible. It began for us when Marleny brought in her work-in-progress, but already incredible corn costume to a Love-In-Action gathering. We took one look at it and said, “No! Don’t make this Frankencorn! It’s too beautiful! Be the real corn that we love!” The banners followed. The receptivity of the public followed the banners, bees, and corn costume. The store managers willingness to talk followed the spirit of beauty and love that we infused in our actions.
Many more reflections will come over time. We learned a lot! I dreamt of some amazing ideas for next fall. A film screening of “Open Sesame: the story of seeds” is coming up on June 14th at 7pm (Kit Carson Boardroom). The Taos Farmers Market invited us to come in costume this summer and give a presentation to the public. The momentum is growing – literally!
At the Great March for Climate Action, two children came up to me and asked if I would put their film about Monsanto and GMOs on our website. I recommend that you watch it … you will want to cheer! The creativity, message, and beauty of this amazing film won my heart! River and Jordan, children of Jenny Johnson, Martin Melendez, made this film for last years Monsanto Video Revolt.
So many thanks to everyone for this amazing time!