For almost 18 years, the Mohawk Valley Latino Association (MVLA) has provided emergency services such as rent assistance, housing, food and groceries, translation and interpretation, and immigration services to vulnerable people in the community of Utica and the greater Mohawk Valley area. With the COVID-19 pandemic, these needs have increased.
We are now looking for a home to address the emergency services as they arise. A place where people can grow healthy food, cook, eat and celebrate community and tradition together.
MVLA and First Circle announce the launch of La Abundancia, a communal space, and garden in the Cornhill neighborhood in Utica, NY.
We have in mind a class of up to twenty intergenerational and intercultural students who will design the MVLA Permaculture Demonstration Garden at 28 Scott Street in Utica. The School for Ecosystem Advocacy is a curriculum for developing workforce and life skills using the permaculture principles and ethics as a framework. This training will benefit people of all ages. In all aspects of this program, special attention will be paid to engaging with and supporting the voices of people of color. This training will spark ingenious ways to adapt to the COVID economy.
Here's our vision:
As I make my way into my office I see the MVLA Women's Book Group sitting in the garden. They call me over to express their gratitude for having such a lovely place to meet, and how much they loved designing the outdoor living room where they meet. One of them is teaching permaculture to children from Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Ecuador, El Salvador, etc. We chat about where the students are in their lessons as I eat a delicious breakfast tortilla that the group made together in the kitchen this morning. The women's children call out to me, inviting me to watch a dance number they will be performing at the Annual Celebration of our new home, La Abundancia. Another group of older children is putting in a new garden bed. This one is centered on vegetables and herbs which are popular in Colombia, where the children were born.
A grandmother texts me to say that she is bringing over more face masks. She asks if there is a room in the Sala de Donaciones or Donations Room. Thanks to generous contributions from people in our community, the room is now well organized and there is plenty of space for the masks. Today we have a meeting of the La Abundancia Advisory Board, so I head to my office. I am personally overwhelmed with gratitude for the partnerships created and strengthened over the past year. Despite the chaos and hardship experienced by our members in 2020, this communal space and garden was born. Now MVLA has a home, and I know it will grow and support this community long after I am gone.