Getting to Work at the Soul Fire Farm

The past

couple days we’ve have been excitedly getting down in the dirt at the Soul Fire Farm! It has been exciting visiting with friends out here in Grafton, New York on an incredible sustainable farm. We spent the day yesterday exploring the land, learning about the chickens, and planting some potato plants. Working hard at the Soulfire FarmIt has been a great learning experience working with Leah and Jonah, who own the land here and built the beautiful eco-home they live in. They built their home from scratch using all natural materials found from the land, timber wood frame, straw bale and natural plaster construction, and even a solar hot water heater.

Its been a very celebratory gathering here as friends and companheiros from the area came bringing partners, family, and kids for a delicious potluck to kick it all off. We had a great night sharing music and performances among all the talented folks here. We were especially lucky to have a performance from the kids here who sang their own version of “This Land is Your Land,” singing “This land was made for planting seeds”.

Special musical performance by Taina Asili and Gaetano Vaccaro

Also Taina Asili performed for us and was accompanied by her husband and bandmate, Gaetano, on guitar, as well as Leah, who did a silk trapeze act for us all overhead! It was incredible.

Yesterday we had a great visit at the Peace Pagoda where we connected with Buddhists from Japan who are doing peace work here in the United States. The visit was very meditative and had a sacred feel as we all partook in playing fan drums together, along with a couple Japanese women who have come to live at the Peace Pagoda after the tsunami and Buddhist nun who built this peace pagoda, Jun Yasuda.

Inacio shared a couple songs during the ceremony and through translation we all connected, communicated, and enjoyed the songs in Portuguese, English, and Japanese.

Peace Pagoda

I was comforted and intrigued when Jun Yasuda reminded us that “we must play our drum for others, not for ourselves,” resonating with me not only for that moment, but also as explanation for why we all act, make music, share, write poetry, grow food, sing, and really, why we were all there together.

The Ciclovida crew at the Soul Fire Farm

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Finding Nuestras Raices in Holyoke (and Worcester!)



The whole group in front of a beautiful mural in a Holyoke community garden

This week we got to come back to our roots (nuestras raices) in Worcester and have a packed screening of Ciclovida at Clark, as well as meet some incredible folks at Nuestras Raices in Holyoke!

We got back to Worcester late on Tuesday night, and on Wednesday had the chance to stop by Worcester Earn-a-Bike, where the whole bike system was built, to do some tune-ups on the bike system while we are in our hometown.

Community Fire at Clark

That night, we had an intimate community fire with Clark librarian Rachael Shea, who for the last 3 years has hosted monthly Sacred Fires for all in the Clark community. It was a great chance to connect, talk, and share food around one of the most primal, instinctual ways of gathering. As a regular fire-goer, I know the smell of the fire almost makes you forget that you’re in the city and brings you back to your connection to land and earth. We laughed, shared stores, and had great converstaion.

Jarabe performing at Clark

That night, the Worcester screening brought out a huge crowd (of almost 100 people!) from Clark as well as the broader Worcester community. We had a couple special guests: Sergio Castillo, local Worcester activist, film-maker, and musician, and Loren Feinstein, co-producer of Ciclovida. Many friends, neighbors, and fellow organizers turned out for a wonderful high-energy event.

Discussion after the movie at Clark

The night concluded with discussion including Ivania and Inacio sharing that they had certain perceptions of the United States before coming here that are shown by the market and the media, but that they are happy to find many people in the United States resisting capitalism.


On Thursday we rode out to Holyoke and had an incredible time with all the great folks at Nuestras Raices. We were welcomed and given a tour by Diego and Ramiro, two incredible organizers with Nuestras Raices who showed us their aquaponic system in their greenhouse and also explained their work over the last 5 years to get fresh, healthy food fo local schools by connecting them with local Puerto Rican farmers.

Sharing seeds in Holyoke

They have worked to get culturally relevant food for young people (in a city that is 36% Puerto Rican) by getting produce that is typical of Puerto Rican cooking, raised by Puerto Rican farmers, and served as Puerto Rican food in Holyoke schools (for example changing Friday Pizza Day to serving a Puerto Rican dish every Friday).

We got the chance to meet several local farmers who showed us around 3 incredible community gardens that are supported by Nuestras Raices. Each one had its own feel but all proved to be important community spaces that are clearly a source of nourishment and vitality in Holyoke.

That night we had a wonderful event at Nuestras Raices where the whole Readnex Poetry Squad joined us for the first time and rocked us all!

Readnex Poetry Squad

During the discussion, an audience member raised a really interesting question about what the greatest challenge was during Ivania and Inacio’s journey. Ivania shared that the hardest point in the trip was when they passed through one stretch of Brazil where they didn’t encounter one farmer for 5 days! They passed by vast stretches of industrial agriculture, sprawling green monocrops, feeling isolated as they saw only a single person driving a big machine to harvest crops and spray pesticides. She said as they went through this really tough portion she just asked “Why are we doing this? We rode off on our bikes to connect with farmers, and we are not meeting any farmers here!”

Forest garden in Holyoke

The next day we closed out our visit in Holyoke with a tour of the incredible “edible forest” of Matt’s Holyoke friends who we stayed with. We got to explore the incredible bounty of their permaculture garden, sampling sweet violet flowers, potent garlic chives, spicy mustard greens, fresh cilantro, and sea kale.

Our bounty in the forest garden

We had the most beautiful breakfast all picked right from the garden, with eggs from their 3 chickens in the backyard as well. Then, as if we hadn’t had enough amazing agriculture, we got a tour of the Nuestras Raices finca where they farm over 7 acres of land, provide a place for farmers to learn new skills, raise livestock and animals, and provide education programs to get kids gardening and farming.

Nuestras Raices Finca

It was a gorgeous place with such great potential and possibility for growing local produce and giving people a place to get back to the earth.

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Companheiros Brazileros em Framingham

Ciclovida event in Framingham

We saw many Brazilian flags waving as we rode our bikes into Framingham from Boston. The Ciclovida team had a great 20 mile ride together as we headed for our event at Casa do Trabahaldor in Framingham for our screening. It was a great event with Portuguese as the primary language spoken; this time the small group of us who could not converse in Portuguese had to wait for translation, a nice switch from the usual. We met some great companheiros from Brazil, and Ivania and Inacio even discovered that one of our new companheiros, Diego, actually used to live in the same part of Brazil and had the same friends as Inacio in the 80s! What a small world! Everyone enjoyed sharing stories and connecting experiences, and Ivania even led everyone in a shared often sung by women activists in Brazil! “Pra mudar a sociedade do jeito que a gente quer, participando sem medo de ser mulher” (“To change society the way we want, we have to participate without fear of being women”)

We were invited to come to an action for Brazilian workers in Framingham who are each owed between $1000 and $6000 of stolen wages that the contracting company, Pulte Homes,  has not paid for the work they have done. Casa do Trabalhador organizes to fight for worker’s right and everyone’s right to get paid for the work they do. We joined about 20 others at the action on the company’s job sight at 6:30 in the morning to stand in solidarity with workers who were striking. It was the first action taken by Casa against this company and they are hopeful that they can negotiate to get the back-wages paid for workers who are owed in total over $40,000.

Protest of Pulte Homes, demanding that workers get paid for the hours they work

We enjoyed a great time with new and old friends in Framingham and were glad to connect with so many welcoming people. It was a great town to pass through that made Ivania and Inacio feel a little bit more at home meeting so many other Brazileros who have crossed borders into the United States. We were invited to return to help start up a community garden and hope that we will be able to reconnect with the companheiros we met here and work together.

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Worcester to Boston: Seeds and Cycles

Time is flying and so are we! From place to place as we connect with companheiros and spread the seeds of the Ciclovida project and the struggle for justice and ecology.

We had a great weekend getting to connect with friends and companheiros in Providence, Worcester, and Boston.

English For Action Cup

On Saturday morning we wrapped up our time in Providence with  English For Action‘s annual Soccer Tournament. The Ciclovida team kept our wheels spinning on the field: showing off our bike system and charging our batteries for the Worcester May Day rally later, while also playing a bit of soccer ourselves! No big wins on the soccer end of things, but we had plenty of success with people hopping on the bikes and bringing energy for the Ciclovida tour!

Worcester May Day Rally

We headed off to Worcester for the May Day Rally on Saturday afternoon where we were welcomed by many familiar faces from the Worcester Immigrant Coalition, Stone Soup, Worcester Earn-a-Bike, Worcester Roots, Mosaic Culture Complex, and more! It was a beautiful event in preparation for International Workers Day on Sunday and brought out many people to enjoy the many talented Worcester musicians, and speakers from Carpenters Local 107, the African Council, and the Ciclovida team, as well as Reverend Sarai Rivera, Randy Feldman, and Kwasi Sarpong.

Evan Greer performing at Worcester May Day

So many friends in Worcester were excited to meet Ivania and Inacio after seeing the incredible movie premier last fall, and Ivania and Inacio were excited to see the rest of the Ciclovida team’s home city of Worcester.

On Sunday the Ciclovida team pedaled out of Worcester, headed for the May Day Rally in Chelsea that afternoon. We enjoyed a beautiful ride through the hills of Massachusetts, taking a stop in Framingham for some Brazilian fare, since Framingham and the Greater Boston area has the highest concentration of Brazilian people in the world, outside of Brazil.

Chelsea May Day Rally

We continued on our way to Chelsea where we connected with others at the rally at Chelsea City Hall. Then we headed off on our way to Cambridge for an event at the Harvard School of Design, organized by Matt’s sister, Rachel.

Jarabe performing at the Cambridge Event

We had a great event with over 25 people coming out to see the movie and engage in discussion afterwards about the challenge of changing consumer culture in the United States, seed-saving networks, and how to raise awareness about GMO foods and the health problems they pose. We also heard about local projects including a community garden in Arlington, the Cambridge Climate Week (May 13-21), and work being done by an audience member from India with Association for India’s Development.

Spirit Child performing at Roxbury event

On Sunday night we had an amazing, high-energy event with United Neighbors of Lower Roxbury – A Village at Work, South End Lower Roxbury Open Space Land Trust, and Boston Cyclist Union.There was a very welcoming and social atmosphere to the whole event as everyone gathered around for a barbecue and delicious food.

Outdoor Screening in Roxbury

The night was perfect as everyone took seats in the Frederick Douglass Peace Garden to enjoy the musical performances of Evan Greer, Spiritchild, Jarabe del Sol, and Inacio, but it was a little chilly for Ivania who sat huddled under the mounds of blankets.

Evan Greer and Spirit Child rocking together for their "Back to the Roots Tour"

After the screening there was a smaller, more intimate discussion as everyone huddled in closer, and we closed with a prayer to ground everyone in the moment and bringing us all together

The Ciclovida team wrapped up the night be having tea with some new friends, some Northeastern students who lived up the street and invited us in to warm up, talk some more, and sing some songs before we headed back on our bikes to Cambridge.

Closing Circle
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Press Coverage of Ciclovida by Providence Journal

Check out the video coverage of Ciclovida by the Providence Journal:

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People Power in Providence

We kicked off this past weekend with an amazing event at PrYSM, Providence Youth Student Movement, an incredible community space for youth whose vision is “to confront and end state, street, and interpersonal violence affecting the Southeast Asian community in Rhode Island”. It’s a beautiful, colorful, open space full of energy with powerful words about the mission, vision, and value posted all over the walls as well as art and signs of all the incredible organizing work being done here.

The night kicked off with the PrYSM break dancing group rocking the floor and blowing all of our minds with their incredible moves! Then we enjoyed the powerful music of Soldiers of Life (SoL), Butterfly and Big Sythe who moved the audience with their soulful singing, and resistance-inspiring lyrics.

SoL rocks PrYSM with beautiful powerful rhythms

We had a full house at PrYSM, full of people from many different groups and communities, young and old. We’re feeling the power of people tonight as we see all the incredible work of the youth here involved through PrYSM’s SOUL (Students Organizing for Unity and Liberation) and SeaQuel (Southeast Asian Queers United for Empowerment and Leadership) programs for young people. We also got to hear from other people involved in Fuerza Laboral out of Central Falls who are organizing to stop the exploitation of low-income and immigrant workers in Rhode Island and a couple people spoke about the experience of coming to the US from Colombia and the Dominican Republic.


We also heard from the Environmental Justice League of Rhode Island and ECO Youth about their food justice program to make more healthy food options available to people living in Providence. The energy in the room was incredible as people shared information about all the work they are doing on the ground and connecting it to the continued struggle and resistance of Ivania and Inacio.

Full house at PrYSM!

The night closed out with Evan Greer and Jarabe del Sol sharing more of the revolutionary rhymes and rhythms as they did a collaborative free-style, and the room was resonating with energy and resistance. As everyone stayed around after the event to connect, trade contact info, and share ideas, Inacio’s words rang true: “there are seeds here that will grow the large tree that will bring social revolution.”

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Braking Ground On the Green at Brown

Rocking the green at Brown University

Today we rocked Brown University, pumping music from our pedal-powered PA system on the green. Jarabe did some free-styling on the mic while biking at the same time! Incredible! We had a great film showing last night and today had the great opportunity to talk to more people about how our pedal-powered system works, during our workshop in the center of campus. We met many curious Brown students who took turns powering the system and charging up our batteries for the show tonight at Providence Youth Student Movement (PrYSM).

Screening at Brown University: Rachel moving the audience with her poetry

Last night we kicked off our tour in Providence with a great event at Brown University with the Brown’s Earth week and emPOWER, a coalition of the environmental groups at Brown. We had another charged event as Rachel, a Brown student, opened with some incredible eco-poetry.

Evan Greer bringing the energy with "Ya Basta!"

She was followed by Evan Greer, who played her first show with us tonight and rocked the audience, as we all sang out “Ya Basta!” together, calling for an end to hundreds of years of oppression, colonization, racism, domination, imperialisnm, homophobia, and sexism.

In the discussion that followed the film, we were excited to hear about local projects including the efforts of the  Providence Fair Food group that is working in solidarity with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, fighting for worker’s rights and fair wages for farm workers.
Some people also shared announcements about May Day (International Worker’s Day) rallies coming up this weekend for International Worker’s Day: one in Providence and one in Boston on May 1st, which Ciclovida will be at. Also, Ciclovida will be joining the May Day rally in Worcester tomorrow, Saturday, April 30th.

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