BY MATT PECKHAM, CONTRIBUTOR
Augsburg’s Environmental Justice and Social Change class took a trip to Mexico from March 11 through March 19.
Students were encouraged to engage with speakers and to analyze how the speakers’ presentations related to food accessibility, food justice, food sovereignty and social change. These presentations took place in, and students stayed in Cuernavaca, San Miguel de Allende and Mexico City.
In Cuernavaca, students were housed at Augsburg’s Mexico campus and commuted to a Nahua village in Amatlan, conducted a market- basket survey and visited the group Luz y Libertad. On the Cuernavaca campus, students learned about Mexican history, and about the campus’ sustainability initiatives. In the indigenous village of Amatlan, Ignacio “Nacho” Torres Ramirez spoke about the history of Amatlan, and his aunt, Dona Irene Ramirez, led a tour of her organic corn- fields. The market-basket survey was a comparative price analysis of food and retail items in Cuernavaca and in Minneapolis. Luz y Libertad is a Catholic women’s group that give seminars on women’s self-esteem, crafts, nutrition and money management. In San Miguel de Allende, students stayed on the Via Organica ranch and toured the Via Organica cooperative, the Via Organica farm, and Eco-Aldea, a sustain- able, planned community.
The Via Organica restaurant and store sells and prepares organic foods, and provides small-scale gardening work- shops on its patio garden. Via Organica’s ranch utilizes sustainable farming practices such as the use of permaculture, natural fertilizers, rain water captivation and clay pot watering systems to produce vegetables, herbs, eggs, and meat for the Via Organica restaurant. Eco-Aldea is a sustainable community that captures solar energy and rain water and utilizes natural septic systems. In Mexico City, the class was housed with the Benedictine Sisters of Guadalupe and visited the Basilica de Guadalupe and the Pyramids of Teotihuacan. Hermana (Sister) Fabiola discussed the symbolism and historical and cultural significance of the apparition of the Virgin of Guadalupe. After receiving context, students toured the Basilica de Guadalupe, which hosts the nearly 500-year-old image of the Virgin of Guadalupe, places of worship and museums. The Pyramids of Teotihuacan mark an ancient metropolis, the home of the Pyramid of the Sun and of the Pyramid of the Moon.
Learning in Cuernavaca, San Miguel de Allende and Mexico City provided the students with not only credits or graduation requirements, but also with numerous voices to reconcile, as students consider how to pursue environmental justice and social change in Minneapolis and in other places.
This article first appeared in the Friday, March 31, 2017, Edition of The Echo.