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Archive for the ‘From the Field’ Category

The community mobilization department would not be what it is without the activists around the country keeping us accountable every day in the fight for reproductive justice.

Visiting Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Miami was a whirlwind of a trip being that both happened back to back in one weekend! Yet, despite the hectic travel schedule, it is energizing all at once because of the strong organizing efforts the activists are making in their respective cities.

In the Minneapolis/St.Paul area, the activists are gearing up for a letter writing campaign for contraceptive equity as part of our Week of Action happening the week of August 9, 2010 (more to come on this soon!).

In Miami, MI-LOLA wrapped up a successful weekend-long Self Help Workshop centered on healing and bringing your mind, body, and spirit into the reproductive justice movement. Additionally, they will be  hosting a community forum on contraceptive equity for our Week of Action as well.

In addition to field visits, NLIRH also participated in the 2010 US Social Forum in Detroit. Veronica Bayetti-Flores participated on a panel on environmental justice, which was filled to capacity with activists who were intrigued with our work with migrant farm workers. Veronica and I also hosted a successful workshop on Immigrant Rights as a Matter of Reproductive Justice. The participants at our workshop were very impressed with our work and one of them even stated it was the “best workshop they had been to in the entire conference”. Needless to say, the rest of the participants walked away with a rich understanding of how the immigrants rights movements and reproductive justice movements can work at the intersections.

By Stephanie Alvarado, National Field Organizer

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The women of the Texas Latina Advocacy Network are always ready and willing to do what it takes in order to organize a successful event. This last visit proved to be no different that the rest. With two workshops to scheduled, it was clear that the activists and I had our work cut out for us. One always has to expect the unexpected and be prepared to handle it with confidence and stride, and when we were faced with a last minute tragedy, we came together as a team and completed the two back-to-back trainings successfully. If it had not been for the resilience of the Texas LAN group, the scheduled workshops would not have been possible and would not have been so successful.

We facilitated two workshops; the first day hosted about 30 women and the second hosted 15 women all ready and engaged to learn about Reproductive Justice and how they can organize campaigns around the different reproductive justice related issues in their communities.  Each day brought new perspectives and new insights as to how RJ can be applied in their every day lives, work of promotoras, and community leaders. It was a wonderful example of how a community can rally to meet their goals and execute flawlessly. The team spirit and dedication was truly inspirational, it was activism and grassroots organizing at its best. Without obstacles, one cannot grow or become a stronger person, and the women of our Texas LAN are well learned when it comes to facing obstacles head on a daily basis.

By Stephanie Alvarado, National Field Organizer

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For my first trip to Miami as National Field Organizer, it was truly an amazing experience to see MI-LOLA (Miami International Latinas Organizing for Leadership and Advocacy) in action.

On October 18, 2009 the women of MI-LOLA in Miami, FL hosted an event that introduced Immigration as a Matter of Reproductive Justice. They collaborated with worker’s rights organization Unite for Dignity, who is part of the Reproductive Justice Alliance in Miami. Together they hosted a great educational and interactive event in which the members of MI-LOLA facilitated a reproductive justice 101 workshop and NLIRH facilitated a workshop on the connections between reproductive justice and immigration rights.

Conversations were rich, meaningful, and memorable. People were engaged by each others stories and through those interactions emerged a consciousness of what immigration has to do with reproductive justice. The women not only made the connections but also validated those connections by continuing the conversation during a follow up event on November 2, 2009, specifically dedicated to immigration and reproductive justice.

MI-LOLA along with its partner organizations in the Reproductive Justice Alliance demonstrates the tenacity it takes to continue to organize and educate people on the importance of the inclusion of Latina immigrants in the reproductive justice movement.

By Stephanie Alvarado, National Field Organizer

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MN Sept2009 004Following up from their ‘Health Care Reform and Latina Reproductive Health’ event in August, the women of the Minnesota LAN put together an amazing and enlightening event on September 17, 2009 tackling the issue of Immigration as a Matter of Reproductive Justice & Domestic Violence and Reproductive Justice. NLIRH helped facilitate the Immigration as a Matter of Reproductive Justice workshop, but without the charisma, enthusiasm, and engagement of the women present it would not have been nearly as successful or fun. Casa de Esperanza collaborated with NLIRH in facilitating a great workshop on Domestic Violence and Reproductive Justice as well. Not only was the day of workshops educational, but also inspiring and motivating to those present to witness the degree of commitment the MN LAN has to reproductive justice.

As an organizer, it was truly a great experience to be able to capture the moments where women come together for a cause and helped educate one another on issues so prevalent in the Latino community. It is exciting to witness the MN LAN come together and not talk about these issues, but also begin a plan of action to bring issues like these in the forefront on a state and federal level through advocacy. I can’t wait to see what they have in store for the next time I visit the Twin Cities!

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Two weeks ago, Kierra Johnson, Executive Director of Choice USA and I visited Denver, Colorado as part of the Southwest Partnership. Following our convening in March of this year, our visits with the Southwest Leaders in the region are an opportunity for us to re-connect with them and check-in about the reproductive justice organizing work that is taking place locally.  We met with staff from Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR) and also with members of the LUZ Reproductive Justice Think Tank.

We are always inspired by the reproductive justice organizing being done on the ground across the country, and in Denver it is no different. Folks there are using reproductive justice to build across movements and create a powerful base to fight local laws and policies. COLOR’s most recent campaign is the Campaign for Accountable Public Schools, which was created to promote the youth, family and community voice as key stakeholders in the educational system.

LUZ Reproductive Justice also recently screened a this video about their coalition and their innovative approach to reproductive justice organizing in Denver.

We are definitely excited about the work being done in the region and will continue providing updates as the months progress!

–Maria Elena Perez, Director of Community Mobilization

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Vamos echarle ganas y seguir adelante’ (Let’s give it all we’ve got and keep moving forward) are the words that embody the attitudes of the Texas Latina Advocacy Network organizing for reproductive justice in the Rio Grande Valley, TX. Their momentum cannot be deterred, despite the many challenges faced while trying to bring about change in the communities of “the Valley.”

In August, my colleague, Liza, and I visited the Valley. From being a guest at a radio station to attending a community meeting under the shade of a trailer, I witnessed their work and saw how it transcends through the hearts and minds of the women and children they educate and empower on a daily basis. Their community organizing efforts combine aspects of direct interaction with women on the ground to advocacy efforts. Their advocacy efforts extend from getting transportation services to the colonias to getting more funding for promotoras in The Valley, both being crucial to achieving reproductive justice.

Working in communities that that most people do not even know exist, says a lot in and of itself, but with the efforts and passion of the activists in the Valley, I have no doubt that this will soon change and their voices and needs will be heard and met.

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