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CIW workshop in Orlando

ciw13On February 2nd, over 20 faith leaders gathered at the First Unitarian church of Orlando to stand in solidarity with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ (CIW) March for Fair Food. Coalition partners from YAYA and FOCUS Orlando participated in the day’s events. The event was organized and, in large part, led by the congregation.

We opened with a faith reflection by Reverend Kathy Schmitz; grounding justice work in faith values in order to connect theories of change with practices of change. The CIW orchestrated a skit performed by students from the Social Justice club at Boone high school. Leaders were given a presentation on the history of the CIW as well as a role play of the implementation of the Fair Food Campaign. Later, leaders broke out into small groups, each group having a facilitator. In those groups, folks were asked to brainstorm how to effectively organize and mobilize their communities. They were asked to create a next steps and action plan for congregation members on how they would support the march.

This event was necessary for leader development and outreach. In order to mobilize large groups of people for the march, we have to make sure that we have a strong core group of leaders who can and will move on an issue. YAYA supports farm worker movements (with interests in more than just tomatoes) and is heavily involved with CIW because of their call for justice in the tomato picking industry.

I, as a looming singular subject, learned about new strategies and methodologies to organizing. I feel that the CIW is an important part in the larger narrative for farmworker justice and am pleased to be in a room with folks who are passionate about moving the needle on this issue. Folks can take action by participating in the March for Fair Food in multiple capacities (either by helping with logistics, walking, or donations).

I would like to publicly thank the First Unitarian Church of Orlando for being such gracious hosts, as well as the CIW for helping the training along.

Athia Choudhury.

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