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Encampers Translate their Experience into Action

things I experienced in the Encampment were once in a lifetime. I received skills to help me affect justice in my local community. The Encampment not only gave me these skills but also a sense of revival, hope, and inspiration to keep on helping my Latino community and those in need." Litzy, Oxnard, CA)

Litzy, an undocumented young woman from a farm worker family, empowered by her EFC experience, revived an ailing Dreamers club at her school and went on to Advocate for legislation to protect the rights of farm workers and immigrants. She reached out to a local legislator and connected to the state Dreamers organization. By persevering, she not only created a Safe Zone in her school for undocumented youth but was instrumental in passing district-wide legislation to create other such spaces.

The EFC summer program provides a living experience of community and participatory democracy that fosters engagement, introspection and agency.

Encampers learn:

  • critical thinking;
  • the power of community and collective action;
  • organizing through the use of arts;
  • how to make an action plan to put their passion for social justice to work;
  • and a new framework from which to drive social change.

Encampers participate:

  • in a multicultural community with ongoing community-building and conflict resolution activities;
  • in Social Justice in Action workshops that focus on identifying an issue and developing an action plan;
  • in community mapping, where they explore issues specific to their home communities, learn about how their local government works, and make connections with local activists and government representatives;
  • in sharing their communities with each other and learning about the intersectionality of issues;
  • [in field trips that introduce them to local communities and representatives, elected and informal,
  • in service learning in community-based organizations with a multitude of approaches to social justice issues;]*
  • with a larger intergenerational network that helps them put their experience to work in their home communities over time.

[*in 2020-21, due to COVID-19, the curriculum will not include in-person field trips or service learning.]

In 2019, the Ventura County Pesticide-Free Soil Project (PFSP) evolved from a collaboration with EFC alums, local schools and community-based organizations shining a light on the issue of pesticide-use at school sites and its impact on people in the surrounding neighborhoods.

PFSP’s “Compost Tea Parties” started the process of creating the first — and second — pesticide-free schools on the Oxnard Plain, which immediately helped improve soil and air quality for the surrounding community. That area has one of the highest pollution levels in the state, due to pesticide use. Several off-shoots, including an online nature-based climate solutions curriculum project and the “Heal the Earth” initiative, launched by third graders, are also the result of the PFSP initiative.

Under the leadership of Florencia Ramirez, our Environmental Justice and Action Project (EJLAP) director, the Pesticide-Free Soil Project (PFSP) continued during the spring and summer of 2020. PFSP responded particularly to COVID-19 by working with projects and initiatives addressing food insecurity, pesticides, farmworker health and policy work on the use of pesticides in Ventura County and throughout the state of California.

This fall/winter, with new PFSP Internship director Juna Rosales Muller facilitating the intern training, the interns are:

Training in regenerative agriculture and organic farming at the Abundant Table. Specifics include carrying out farm-based activities, such as working with plants, produce, tools, soil, seeds and irrigation; participating in training sessions onsite, such as lectures, demonstrations and workshops; and interacting with Abundant Table members and partner organizations, such as the Rodale Institute (socially distant, outdoors, masks on).

Planning to start a sustainable garden at Rio Real Elementary School, in a community with many farmworker families, as part of a school district-led process.

As part of these projects, photographing, documenting and interviewing people for use in developing and executing a ONE HEALTH social media environmental justice campaign with the two farms as the setting, and using that material as a springboard to discuss concepts such as climate change, carbon sequestration, soil health, human health, farmworker health, pesticide use and water scarcity, as well as illuminating a path forward.

And more: visit the EJLAP/PFSP web page.

Arts play a crucial role in the EFC approach to learning and community building.

"I live on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. The Encampment community has given me the greatest gift, and that is my voice. It has given me a set of tools and skills that help me advocate for Native American struggles. I have been active in the Standing Rock protests."— Deanna M. (SD), 2015 MS, 2017 Intern

Most recent alums do some sort of community service and/or social justice activity after their Encampment experience. These youth are all between 15 and 18 when they participate in the program. The full impact of their EFC experience will be unfolding over the next decades.

We have many EFC alums who have gone on to be well-known public servants and activists such as: Eleanor Holmes Norton, Barney Frank, belvie rooks, Miles Rapoport, Ada Deer, Peter Neufeld, Gale Brewer, Glory Van Scott and Jason Warwin.

Your support means that the EFC can continue to change lives and help young people work for social justice. Every donation – of $10, $25, $50, $100, $250, $500, $1,000 (or more) – is an investment in a more just world for us all. Donate now by using our online system or mail a check to Encampment for Citizenship, PO Box 1210, Aptos, CA 95001-1210. encampmentforcitizenship.org