Thursday, October 1, 2009

Meetings & Conversations

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

It was another full day. I feel as if I could stay here for many more weeks, just to be able to really take in the conversations that are available. I sat down next to someone just “by chance” at a meatpacking plant today, and – within a few minutes – he shared a powerful story. He came forty-five years ago, worked in the fields and now works at the plant. Every person carries a powerful story with them, if we could only listen to one another.

The local paper, the Yakima Herald Republic, ran a front page story on my presentation tomorrow and my visit here. It was somewhat overwhelming… Tonight I will review what I hope to say tomorrow. I can’t fully bring all of the conversations I have been hearing together for a presentation here, but I must speak in context.

I started the day with a meeting with Tomas Villareal. Our meeting was interrupted by an organizer from the UFCW who needed Mr. Villareal to go with him. We went to a local meat packing plant, Washington Beef. They employ around 800 people and process something like 1,200 cows daily. The facilities were so much bigger and seemed so much better than anything Agriprocessors has. They have been unionized for 11 years. That was an interesting experience, but very short as I needed to come back to Yakima to meet with Sandra Aguilar, the daughter of Isabel Aguilar. Sandra is a social worker with Catholic Charities Housing program. She shared with me about the program and gave me a tour of their senior housing complex. It is quite impressive to see the work they do – providing temporary housing for workers, low-income apartments throughout the valley, a first time home buyers’ program, educational programs and community building. Again, another conversation that could go on for hours.

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