domestic violence awareness month at the farm

Our Program Coordinator, Sarah Nolan, just informed me that the majority of farmers out there are women even though we often think of the guy-farmer. Certainly, this is the case on our farm. We are five women living on a farm, and we are learning how to farm day by day. First the planting, then the weeding, then the pest control, then the harvesting, and then the cooking.

Our bodies are growing stronger ….as are our hearts….because the most basic part of our work is learning to respect the earth from which we came — our Mother Earth. It’s a very basic concept: we live in a world that encourages hierarchical dualism where the rational mind, the male, quantity, heaven … over the heart, the female, quality/relational, and the earth/nature. It makes sense to me that after 5000 or more years of this way of thinking, us human beings have forgotten to respect the earth and the food that comes from it. And, you can see where I’m going, we’ve lost respect for women along the way.

Over this last month, which just happened to be Domestic Violence Awareness Month, I’ve been called to recognize and pay attention to DV in the lives of our community members here at the farm. My own home culture NEVER talks about DV, but I’ve cultivated a Break the Silence sub-culture around me with my work at the Sexual Assault Crisis Agency and Interval House (http://www.intervalhouse.org/)and the Women’s Resource Center at CSU, Long Beach (http://www.csulb.edu/divisions/students/wrc/).

Nevertheless, I’m surprised with how frankly and openly DV is spoken of here in the culture of Ventura County. No hush, no nada — it just is and happens often and people are tired of it, so they talk about it a lot. The stories I’ve heard — of growing up with an angry and abusive father and/or husband — have just floored me, and in the midst of the discussions, I’ve cried.

BUT! something about respecting the earth that I am working with has given me HOPE! (as is our Non-Violent Communication Workshops!) My relationship with the land is becoming a prayer that change is and that in my relationships, we can manifest our dream of a world without hierarchy, without privilege, without oppression. A community where love is valued more than power and relationships and empathy is given more attention than control and production.

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