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Like so many others, we are devastated and heartbroken by the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and countless others. Our thoughts and prayers are with their loved ones.

2020 has challenged us on so many levels. The silver lining of these challenges is that it is providing an opportunity to focus on what really matters even when it’s difficult. It allows us a chance to acknowledge aspects of our reality that open a deep and very old wound so we can reconnect as a whole Earth community.

There’s a painful divide in our culture, one that is hundreds of years old. 

If you’re following the Black Lives Matter movement, you’ve probably heard the phrase “structural racism”. But what does it mean beyond its definition?

What you may not know is that BK Farmyards (our first business name) was rooted in social justice… specifically food justice.

In our Brooklyn community, we recognized that there were higher rates of asthma and chronic diseases like heart disease, Alzheimers, and diabetes among people of color.

And there was also less access to fresh, affordable, organic and culturally appropriate foods among our communities of color. As we converted unused land to farms, we focused on how we could make a difference in our own community and bridge the fresh food gap causing higher chronic disease and illness happening in our own neighborhoods.

One of our projects, the Youth Farm, provided leadership and job opportunities for young people of color. It was a space for people of all races and ages to come together to explore what food justice means.

We started getting press because it was an exciting project.

So we made an internal agreement. Media and press were only allowed to cover the project if they were willing to use the words “structural racism” in their article. We wanted to use our platform to acknowledge biases in our country that lead to unequal health burdens placed on people of color. 

Some media agreed to use the phrase. But many editors took it out, because it was scary to acknowledge. As you might imagine, we also lost a lot of press. But it didn’t change our mission… or our minds.

The message that Black Lives Matters is prevalent now, because of all the people willing to take the risk to stand up and give voice to what’s important.

On the one hand, my heart hurts because it took hundreds of years and cost hundreds of  thousands of sacred lives to acknowledge this massive structural divide. 

On the other hand, it makes me want to sing.

Because we’re here now, acknowledging what’s been here for far too long and investigating it together.

This moment in history is beckoning us towards something new… 

It’s time for us to listen deeply.

It’s time for radical self acceptance.

It’s time for us to make space for all the uncomfortable conversations, because they are the ones that matter most.

We are being met with new information and all the ideas we stood by yesterday are going through a metamorphosis. Together, we have the power to shift this transformation into a beautiful new life and improve the health and well being of all our communities.

It’s time to acknowledge our own fears of speaking out and taking risks.

Conversations are the glue that holds us together, that connects us.

And it’s a time to forgive ourselves when we accidentally stick our foot in our mouth and say something that is unintentionally biased.

Because biases gone un-investigated can lead to fatal errors in judgment.

And if you feel called to DO something, there are a couple things you can do to amplify the message that Black Lives Matters.

You can join a protest and help the people of this movement create more peace simply by standing next to them and uniting your voice with theirs so they feel and are heard.

And have an uncomfortable conversation with someone that doesn’t look like you.

Have them with your friends and family too.

Remember, your garden is wonderful place to sit and listen and celebrate the biodiversity of this Earth too.

If you are interested in supporting food justice organizations, check out Just Food in NYC and Civil Eats throughout the U.S. 

If you’re anything like me you’ll want to jump to solutions immediately…it’s human nature. But I am reminded of a conversation I had with Nikki Silvestri in 2013 when she was Executive Director of  The People’s Grocery in Oakland. 

I was telling her that I felt helpless, that I just wanted to DO something…, to be part of a solution. 

And she told me that the only thing to do was to love.

To face the pain and bring love and radical and unconditional acceptance of myself and others.

It’s time the wounded voices of our communities be heard and the broken heart of our culture be healed. Peace comes from opening our eyes and ears and hearts.

Is it possible that we are ready for that? The Black Lives Matter movement gives me great hope. 

I appreciate you for reading this email. For listening and searching for answers to your questions about what matters to you.

Peace & carrots,
Stacey Murphy & the GYOV Team