Urban Gardening and New Friends

Today was a packed day. We were out of the house by 8AM and headed North for about an hour to the neighborhood we’ll be working in for the next month.  We arrived at an urban garden in Suba, a green paradise in the middle of a troubled neighborhood.  The women who run the garden were displaced 10 years ago but created this beautiful haven where all sorts of fruits and vegetables are grown.  Since they’ve only used 3/8 of their land, they offered to give Taller de Paz a piece of the rest for our urban gardening workshops.

Our task for the day was to create a long planter.  It was much harder than I first expected because the grass was gnarly and stubborn, but then some Talleres (the kids participating in Taller de Paz) came along to help.  Andres, David, Miguel and Brian (to the left) were eager helpers that made the task much more enjoyable.  In fact, they taught me several words in Spanish and Miguel even gave me a lesson in manners.  What happened was that I needed to use the bathroom, so Miguel took me to the head gardener who is this matronly woman that everyone respects a lot.  I told her “Yo quiero ir al bano” (I want to go to the bathroom) to which Miguel followed up with a whisper of “por favor” (Please).  Haha! I couldn’t stop laughing for a while.

After a few hours in the garden, we had a DELICIOUS and CHEAP lunch around the corner.  Mango juice, soup, garbanzo beans, vegetables, plantains, rice AND an egg for 5000 pesos or approximately USD$2.50! Incredible. I was in heaven.  Then we walked over to a library/school called the Owl’s Nest, where we had a meeting to talk about the weeks to come.  But before that meeting, two ridiculously adorable boys, Cesar Felipe and Gabriel David at the school took a liking to us and asked us question after question.  After about thirty minutes of their questions, I decided to turn the tables on them and said I wanted to interview them with my camera. I asked them “Who are you?” (my friend back at Swat, Sarah Kim, started this wonderful project of asking this question on tape).

Later, I asked them “What is your favorite reason for being a kid?” and then “What would you like to tell adults?” The last question was inspired by this awesome video of Severn Suzuki speaking at the UN Earth Summit in 1992 at the age of 12, telling adults that they need to get their act together basically.  It’s pretty mind-blowing so do watch it if you have the time!

As we were getting prepared for the meeting, the boys had created a song which consisted of the alphabet song which I taught them, and my name.  It goes “A-B-C-D Me-you-key” and they sang it over and over and over again.  It was quite endearing actually.  Since my Spanish was definitely the worst out of everyone at the meeting and because I’m actually a ten year old at heart, I kept goofing off with the boys who had by then joined our meeting.  They contributed a lot of great ideas for our week of non-violence that will happen next week.  At the meeting, we met with other cool folks who do recycling work, work at the library and also a really cool 27-year-old artist Jose Ignacio who wants to create an artists’ collective in a village a couple hours outside of Bogota! I’m so excited to collaborate with him and the others.  I could write more, but today was such a long day so I think I’ll turn in early! Good night!



About Miyuki Baker

Miyuki is a resident of the place where circles overlap. As a queer, nomadic, multi-racial/lingual female mixed-media artist activist and healer, she uses common or discarded objects, personal anecdotes, public spaces and performance to make accessible art that brings non-mainstream identities and ideas into maximum visibility. After graduating from Swarthmore College in 2012, she traveled for 14 months as a Watson Fellow to fifteen countries documenting the intersections of art and activism in queer/trans communities in blog posts and self-published magazines while making performance art. The eight magazines Miyuki created on this trip (queerscribe.com) and their strong media following exemplify her illustration/graphic design, storytelling and people skills. Her work has been featured in several magazines such as Hyphen, Broken Pencil and Knik, blogs and radio shows, well-known for their interactive and eye-catching mixed media approach to activism that utilizes both online media and on-site performance and workshops. This fall she will begin the PhD program at UC Berkeley in Performance Studies. You can follow her travels at heymiyuki.wordpress.com and email her at heymiyuki@gmail.com

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