It’s been raining in Los Angeles, something we have learned to cherish following years of unending drought and #ClimateChange. Driving though the fields full of life in Oxnard, I always get an extra charge seeing growth and order the farmer’s crop’s bring. Heading up PCH on a day like today when the roads are empty is something of a dream I will never forget and when it’s raining what excitement! The ocean’s hues of grey mimicked in the sky as if Poseidon watched us contemplating his next thunderous blow.
I always love guessing what crops are in season, or who’s growing what these days and I was surprised to see signs for Sweet Strawberries. Seems misleading looking outside my window… And, kind of a Summertime treat in my books as I certainly have never associated Fresh Strawberries picked from the fields and sold off the back of a truck with New Years Eve. As we pulled up to the farms I could see our #MigrantWorkers or #Farmworkers picking away in the rain, bundled as much as they could be, but still. While everyone is on vacation, it begs the question that one seldom stops to ask: When we receive fruit and vegetable year round where does it come from? I think most jump to answers drenched in warmer climates with weightier import export biases as their first answer, but the truth is if you come from Los Angeles and listen to the people then you know where your food comes from.
It makes me sad to see their faces covered to keep the pesticides from their lungs, which I had hoped were long gone with our protests of UvasNo! But as we drove just a few yards further I saw something I have never seen before: Oil Rigs and Methane burning away in the middle of Strawberry fields surrounded by Farmworkers.
Not only do the Farmworkers work day in day out, rain or shine, 365 days a year, in mud up to their knees, covered in pesticides: but they are breathing in gases from Oil Processing Plants that are extracting Oil from the very soil we eat our #LocallySourced #FarmFresh #CaliforniaGrown produce that we believe is better for the environment. Is it? Hydrogen Sulfide is toxic and is a gas that emits from the drilling of oil. The riggers must place detectors on the floor, inside, all around the rig itself and ultimately make the rig somewhat H2S proof. But people continue to experience the dulling of their sense of smell, passing out, and the overall heavy weight air sensation of its presence. The riggers are only required to post warning signs up to 1/4 miles from the rig itself.
When I was out in the field documenting and speaking to the owner I didn’t feel right. I felt light headed, I felt like something gaseous was in the air, and I didn’t like that my fellow people who are trying to work hard are given no choice but to cover their faces with scarves. In the division of labor they truly do only leave the riskiest jobs to those willing to do that work, and I have no doubt in my mind that the Family owned or operated farm had to work hard to get that property if they own it. I have no doubt that they also have to rights to the oil that is being piped through the soil that grows the strawberries we blindly consume on a daily in our Smoothies, Jam, Ice Cream, or Fruit Salads. What I see is a convergence of issues from #NODAPL to #UnitedFarmworkers and #ImmigrationRights. I would never pass up the opportunity to go direct to Farmer for produce, I respect them, just as I would never pass up the opportunity to grab a warm Bacon Wrapped Hotdog: but when oil runs though our soil and through our water it truly does affect every last one of us to the core. Only, in this case, we are being deceived purposefully. There isn’t a thing you do, there isn’t a think you touch, there isn’t a thing you consume that hasn’t been touched by oil: but, when people’s live’s are at stake, when their health is compromised silently in the fields while we sit in our warm houses drinking Strawberry Margarita’s that’s when you have to ask yourself whether you are willing to fight. Are you willing to come together in 2017 and unite as one people?
On the way home driving back down PCH in the cold and dreary rain we passed Port Hueneme and that camping ground just along the water and the road. There was an RV parked with probably about a 50′ larger than large flag pole in tiered form. You know what was at the top of that pole flailing away in the bustling wind? A Long, Red and Blue Confederate Flag the size of that RV. My heart sinks as I write this. It feels like the signs of the beginning, of what to expect. Below it were two American Flags and in the middle a yellow smaller Don’t Tread on Me flag. Maybe if I had ever lived in the south, or ever wanted to visit, maybe I wouldn’t feel so violated. But the beach is my sanctuary and gazing out at the wide open sea it was hard to erase that image. It was even harder to erase the image of my fellow brother and sister Farmworkers toiling away as #BigOil burns in the background.
The owner of the Farm who I of course bought gorgeous berries from, he said the cash went directly to paying rent and not to someone sitting in an office:
Just a couple yards up the road what I’m assuming is an altar to a fallen friend:
#BerryPickers #FarmWorkers #StrawberryFields #Strawberries #OilRigs #SecretOilRigs #ICE #KnowYourRights #ImmigrantsArePeople #FamiliesOverBorders #ImmigrantsAreWelcomeHere #NationalMigrantsDay #ImmigrationRallyLosAngeles #ImmigrantLA #NODAPL #WaterisLife#DefundDAPL #BankExit #StopScottPruitt #ScottPruitt #EPA @EPA @EPAWATER @NPR @ACLU @SEIU #MarchandRallyLosAngeles#DonaldTrump#NotMyPresident #ProtestTrump @chirlausa @UnitedServiceWorkersWest #DonaldTrumpTransition #MikePence #UnitedAgainstHate #StopRexTillerson #Tillerson #RexTillerson #StopSteveBannon #SteveBannon #Bannon #StopRichardSpencer #RichardSpencer #Antisemitic #AntiTrumpRallyLA #Protest #Liberal @HechoLosAngeles #AntiTrump #StillWithher #TrumpProtest #ImStillwithher #LoveTrumpsHate #NotMyPresident #AntiTrumpRally #Hillary #Bernie #Election2016 #PresidentialElection #USA #UnitedWeStandDividedWeFall #Obama #Clinton #PopularVote #Popular #ElectoralCollege #Liberals #WakeupAmerica #UnitedAgainstHate #RejectTrump #RejectThePresidentElect #NoTrump #TrumpPresident #LosAngeles #LAPD #SafetyPinArmy #PantsSuitNation @CBSLA @LATimes @LA_MAG @DeborahNetburn #ABC7Eyewitness @ABC7News @NBCLA @MSNBC @CNN @LATVives @ShaunKing @KTLA @LATimesCitybeat @TheDJTR @senschumer @naomiaklein @democracynow @themightybednar