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Friday, December 2nd 6-8pm Denver Time
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Thanks to our mentor and strong advocate, Bill McDorman (formerly with the Rocky Mountain Seed Alliance, now at Cornville Seeds) we have been accepted to attend the Food and Agriculture Organization, 9th Governing Body Session on the Treaty for Plant Genetic Resources in New Delhi, India in mid-September.
Last July 20-21, 2022, our team went to Lobo, Batangas to hold a seed school with a group called MABISA. Efren, our Philippines Program Manager, Elizabeth, our Benguet Field Coordinator, and Karen, our Philippines Executive Director facilitated the workshop. The workshop was attended by 20+ participants from the Mabilog na Bundok at Sawang Organic Producers Association (MABISA-OPA), and students and teachers from the Batangas State University.
Here are a few photos taken during the workshop:
Our connection with MABISA begins with our partnership with ABS-CBN Foundation. Back when Gina Lopez was still the director of ABS-CBN Foundation, they implemented some eco-tourism, and livelihood programs in Tublay (an example of this is the Tublay Organic Farming Practitioners Association or TOFPA, wherein some farmers from the Benguet Association of Seed Savers were also members). From that time on, we have been consistently communicating with ABS-CBN Foundation, and they have indicated their interest in bringing our signature workshop in Lobo, Batangas.
MABISA is a community-led organization which was initially organized by ABS-CBN Foundation. Its members belong to Barangays Mabilog and Sawang in Lobo. They currently run the MABISA Eco Farm where people come and visit to learn about various ways of doing agriculture and experience the farm life up close.
Our vision as an organization is to create “hunger-free and healthy communities with access to sustainable, farmer-produced seeds and food”. We also hope to establish community seed libraries in as many areas in the Philippines as possible.
Finding new partners who recognize the importance of saving native seeds and growing food in a sustainable way helps us grow our impact in the Philippines. Every new partner we find brings our communities a step closer towards food sovereignty.
Lobo is a good place to start spreading our advocacy in the CALABARZON region. The ABS-CBN Foundation has already done the legwork in organizing and empowering MABISA to become stewards of their land. Through our seed school, we hope to complement and enhance agricultural practices.
Last weekend, my partner and I were invited to be guests of a story-sharing Pride month event. We were honored to have been given the chance to talk about our relationship and how we’re navigating through all the challenges of being an LGBTQ couple in the Philippines.
At one point in the conversation, I asked if everybody in the audience was out because I was genuinely surprised at the age range. There were children as young as 10 and adults in their 40s or 50s. The answer was interesting because many said that they were only partially out. By that, they meant that they were out to their friends and not to their families or some iteration of that.
It hit me that I am one of the lucky ones because I am now at a place where I can confidently express who I am without fear of rejection or judgment. Years of self-work and support from family and friends have afforded me that.
My experiences moving through a sometimes kind and an oftentimes hostile environment for LGBTQIA++ has compelled me to always try to be a safe space for people. Reserving judgment has more benefits that we could automatically just glean from the surface. What happens when we allow people to be fully themselves without fear of criticism almost always creates a beautiful outcome. When we let let people tell their stories through their lens unencumbered by the need to fit in or to please, the space becomes freeing. And freedom, we know from history, is something our ancestors fought for. It is also something we continue to fight for today.
Last March, we launched our seed sovereignty campaign. While the use of the word sovereignty has become more common, the concept is still rather abstract and difficult to define. The closest I’ve come to a direct translation in Filipino is “kasarinlan” which means “to be in control of the self”. It would be very easy to just say it means independence in English but like every language, Filipino has nuances in how it formulates words that just giving a direct translation results in losing some of the depth of the original word. To give a little context, kasarinlan comes from the root word “sarili” which means self.
This idea of autonomy is similar in every arena. In seed sovereignty, it is fighting to regain control over the growing, saving, and sharing of seeds. In the LGBTQIA++ movements, it is fighting to create safe spaces to just be and fighting to be afforded the same rights and freedoms as everyone else.
It is so much easier to give up. But that’s me coming from this privileged place of being open about who I am. The hope that someday, the children who were in the audience would not have to struggle and would not need to come out because they’re loved and accepted for who they are is what gives me strength to keep on. Every battle won is like a reassuring hug to my younger self: it’s going to be okay.
Fighting for freedom in the present is holding on to the vision of a better future: a future where kasarinlan is not just an abstract concept but a reality.
You all will probably remember Anjanette Wilson as Graduate Fellow for Global Seed Savers. She joined us in that capacity last June 2021.
After completing her Masters in Environmental Management from the Western Colorado University in May 2022, she has now joined GSS as Development Coordinator! As Development Coordinator, Anjanette will work with the GSS Team, donors, and board members to provide logistical coordination and administrative support to implement Global Seed Savers’ donor engagement and fundraising strategies.
Welcome to the team Anjanette!
Here is Anjanette’s introduction:
“I am THRILLED to share that I’m starting a new position as the Development Coordinator at Global SeedSavers (GSS)! I am feeling both excited and grateful to be able to continue working collaboratively alongside cutting edge nonprofits and community led organizations to address climate justice by supporting on-the-ground food and seed sovereignty operations.
I am also extremely excited to continue strengthening my relationship with the GSS team as I have been with GSS since the spring of 2021 as their Graduate Fellow. My fellowship, a position in joint collaboration between GSS and Western Colorado University’s Master in Environmental Management (MEM) Program, helped me develope my MEM project “Growing Communities, Saving Seeds: Nonprofit Operations and Storytelling of Seed Sovereignty Movements in the Philippines.” I focused on the operational and technical support for GSS as an international organization. A few highlights from my fellowship include the implementation of a donor CRM tool (for a better donor management system), environmental storytelling, and creating impact reports.
I’m truly looking forward to contributing to the global movement of seed saving as a practice for climate resiliency, securing Indigenous rights, and preserving our Filipino culture!
HUGE thanks to Sherry Manning for giving me the opportunity to grow and the courage to break into new roles that shape me into a better environmental activist and professional. And more HUGE thanks to the GSS team for fostering a work culture that cultivates a positive mindset, authentic relationships, and sustainable growth.
Here’s your friendly reminder that when leaders invest in you, your dreams become goals!”