Those of us who have been following the world’s reaction to Monsanto’s genetically modified seeds are hopeful and relieved every time we learn of a country who refuses to allow Monsanto so much as access to their air space: Austria, Bolivia (who has stringent Mother Earth laws), Bulgaria, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, Peru, South Australia, Russia, France, Switzerland. More are joining the list as the months go by.
No matter how much scientific evidence Monsanto provides in defense of their seeds, an increasing, conscious population is just not buying it. After all, Monsanto ensured the public back in the 1940’s that the insecticide DDT was safe and harmless to humans. It wasn’t banned until 1972 when outside research confirmed that DDT was in fact a toxin, harmful to human beings.
Monsanto is also one of the producers of Agent Orange, a chemical weapon used in Vietnam that was manufactured for the United States Department of Defense as a defoliate. Agent Orange was composed of 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzodioxen, a very dangerous compound of dioxin. The Red Cross found that over 1 million Vietnamese are disabled or have health problems as a result of the use of Agent Orange; it caused birth defects in over 500,000 Vietnamese ...
Chris Bolden-Newsome grew up in a social justice household, the oldest son of small-scale organic farmers and food sovereignty organizers Demalda Bolden-Newsome and Rufus Newsome, Sr. The Bolden-Newsome family comes from the Mississippi Delta though Chris' parents currently farm in North Tulsa, Oklahoma. Chris has been involved in community organizing and education since the age of 13, first as a teacher’s assistant in ESL programming and later through his involvement in issues of immigrants’ rights, all in the southwest region of the U.S. Chris worked for five years with city and community based agencies in HIV prevention and public health education as an outreach educator to homeless and difficult-to-access communities of color in Dallas, Texas and later in Washington, DC. He also has a background in teaching as a before and after school instructor of Spanish, French and English for literacy in DC public schools. Always fascinated by growing food, Chris got involved in food justice initially in Washington, DC by starting backyard gardens while studying anthropology at Howard University from 2001-2004. Chris briefly relocated to Tulsa, Oklahoma in 2008 to work with his family's farm, neighborhood, and tribal entities to increase access and food awareness in low wealth communities of color in the Tulsa area. While working in Tulsa, Chris designed and implemented curriculum for Food Sovereignty programming for youth connected to Newsome Community Farms. In 2008, Chris moved to South West Philadelphia where he co-directs a youth-based community farm and food sovereignty program.
Interview with Chris Bolden
Akilah: What changes and impacts have you seen in Philadelphia’s southwest community?
Chris: In the last two years, I have seen some powerful and important changes in the community. The community garden, for example, Bartram Garden, is 3 ½ acres of orchards, with fruit trees, crop field (food for market). This is the most noticeable. People from ages 6-95 have signed up to work in the garden. There was a great response from the adjoining housing complex. It has been such a blessing. Growing up, I never knew anyone who didn’t grow food. It was exciting to see people 60 and 70 years old excited about growing food. Before, there was no nutrition base in the community, but there is now. We have classes, and new faces are always showing up. We want people to know about growing food and what to do with it. We can and preserve. The relationship building has been the best.
Akilah: Do you come from a family of farmers?
Chris: Yes, and so do you. I come from 3 generations of farmers, 1 free farming family and the rest sharecroppers. My family is still farming in Oklahoma. Mississippi is where we started. The migration north was sort of the end of that experience. My experience in the garden was with my grandmother. She showed me how to pick, how to tend to plants. We had a tendency to move away from farming as a lifestyle when we migrated north, but it is still my lifestyle
Chris: Conflicted, because I live on earth, I am an earth worker, but because I am very aware of my impact as a farmer. The way that farming was done, it was and is doing major damage to the earth. The desertification of the Sahara is a result of farming practices. I have to continuously look for a balance, especially ...
Owner, Inner World Press
Well, since I’m not a year-round gardener, I’m cleaning, pruning and cutting back in preparation for winter. Time to shift my focus. But, hey! Those nasturtiums sure added some great flavor to my salads.
Photo Credit: Jabari Zuberi Images
Last semester. 3 months away from Web & Design certificate. Just won Practice Galleries Best of Show for my dog painting. We have a new addition to our family. Feels great, lots of joy and wonder going on here!
Aaron Joseph, adj.Media
Web Developer & Graphic Designer
Contemplating my next steps and being grateful for all the opportunities that are showing up for me. And praying for the strength to take advantage of all those opportunities!
Jabari Zuberi, JZimages.com
Things are going great! Just finished shooting some fashion spectacles at NY’s Fashion Week. I’ve finally stopped getting lost on the train. Thank the Universe!
President, Graphics Division, Corcoran & Neil LLC
After Akilah started IWP, Lisa was the first person to come onboard. She's awesome, bringing more than 30 years experiences in the publishing business. She is a joy to work with.
The field behind my childhood home in Flint, Michigan is now a forest. Same sun. Same earth. The grass and trees have grown. So have I. Great visit with my parents!
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