Work Brigade to CAPACES Leadership Institute

On July 25th I had the pleasure to travel with my fellow YAYA, Drew, & my aunt to Woodburn, OR where we had arranged to volunteer with the regional farmworker union- PCUN (Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste / Northwest Treeplanters and Farmworkers United).

PCUN is perhaps unique from other unions in that they are incredibly focused on leadership development, inclusivity, anti-oppression, & empowerment within the farmworker community & movement. Their radio station, Radio Movemiento, is volunteer staffed and has programming in Spanish as well as Mixtec & Zapotec which reflects the community which they broadcast to. Their main focus at the moment, CAPACES, is a reflection of their dedication to educating & training a new generation of farmworker organizers & leaders. CAPACES is a project of PCUN & its eight sister organizations: CAUSA (immigrants’ rights), Farmworker Housing Development Corporation (farmworker housing), Latinos Unidos Siempre (youth leadership), Mano a Mano Family Center (social service), Mujeres Luchadoras Progresistas (women’s economic development), Oregon Farmworker Ministry (faith-based solidarity) Salem-Keizer Coalition for Equality (education reform), and Voz Hispana Causa Chavista (voter organizing and civic engagement).

CAPACES Leadership Institute will build the political consciousness & organizing capacity to sustain & continue the farmworker movement by serving as a space for the members of PCUN’s sister organizations to build their skills & experience by engaging in popular education workshops, organizing trainings, & solidarity building between individuals & organizations. From the CAPACES website:

“Though the CLI will bring people to leadership, its most enduring impacts will be helping leaders:

  • to stay connected with their core motivations
  • to face and address their weaknesses rooted in oppression or in inequitable privilege
  • to understand the anxieties about security and status which they and their families associate with movement leadership
  • to wrestle with often conflicting qualities of patience, determination and steadfastness
  • to balance the sometimes daily feelings of “I can’t believe we have all this” on the one hand and “I can’t believe this is all we have” on the other.”

The institute is on track to open in October of 2012 and PCUN welcomes groups every week that come to volunteer in the building process. CAPACES is a completely green project will be built using all volunteer labor in order to engage the community as well as green builders in conversations about sustainability and the motivation behind the project. Although our “work party” was small in numbers, PCUN’s volunteer coordinator Javier Lara welcomed our presence & provided us with an amazing authentic lunch where we got to try Huitlacoche- a delicious fungus which only grows on corn that is utilized in many Mexican & indigenous dishes.

Olympia YAYA is currently focusing on building our membership so that when our work brigade returns to Woodburn we will be able to work on CAPACES over the course of a weekend & be able to meet & connect with some of PCUN’s sister organizations. Stay tuned!

-Jenny Lee

Olympia, Washington

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