Last week, ShiftMeals had honor of hosting Impactful Structural Change, Land Sovereignty, and Reparations. Watch the recording here.
We were joined by Tracy Zschau from Vermont Land Trust, Akua Deirdre Smith Shabaaz of BlackOUT Collective and Drinking Gourd, Alison Nihart, an Agrarian Commons Board Member, Melody Walker Brook of the Elnu Abenaki Band and Steffen Glenn Gillom who is President of the Windham County Branch of the NAACP.
This panel began by discussing why it is so important that we reframe our understanding of land access.
Akua explains how the goal shouldn’t be to give more marginalized folks access to land, but rather to create a new collective governance system that takes into consideration both colonization and the African diaspora, while celebrating and promoting the importance of collective land stewardship. She goes on to say that whenever you use or see the word “access” – think about who is in charge of giving out that access. Who has the power?
Melody, who is an Abenaki activist, artist and educator, poses a similar question to the audience saying first, we must ask, “What does land mean to you? How can we support each other’s stories, initiatives and make sure we all have access to our truth?” She explains how people in Vermont, and around the country have forgotten what land really is. “It’s your relative and you can’t really own it…This is the land of my ancestors. Land is identity. I would like the State of Vermont to remember that.”
The panelists also discuss how, because colonization has been so successful, it is extremely difficult to subvert.
Many of the panelists urge the importance of educating others about colonization, creating and supporting more collective stewardship projects, and actively working to dismantle colonialism.
This panel, which ran close to 90 minutes, includes so many more important conversations that we couldn’t possibly distill down in this recap. In honor of Indigenous People’s Day, we hope you will give this discussion a listen and consider learning more about these fantastic panelists and their projects.
Here’s where you can find them.
Tracy Zschau, Vermont Land Trust | vlt.org
Akua Deirdre Smith Shabaaz, BlackOUT Collective & Drinking Gourd | reparationssummer.com/who-we-are
Steffen Glenn Gillom, Windham County Branch of the NAACP | windhamnaacp.org
Alison Nihart, Vermont Agrarian Commons | agrariantrust.org/agrariancommons/vermont
Melody Walker Brook, Elnu Abenaki Band | youtube.com/watch?v=vFSRiQ2h6NY
We hope to see you for our next and final webinar, BIPOC Womxn and Femmes: Navigating Vermont’s Food System, this Thursday, October 15th at 12pm.