Durham: The Fight for Housing, Employment and Farmworkers Rights

Prometheus Radio - Posted on 20 March 2010

Student Action for Farmworkers facilitates theater, media, audio and arts projects with youth to portray the reality of farmworkers and advocate for their rights.  They met with us to explore radio as a tool for building awareness of the structural inequities facing farmworker and immigrant communities in the United States.  Together, we asked: how can we use radio not only to give information but to actually create transformation. We shared some of the incredible mechanisms that two farmworker-run Low Power FM radio stations, Radio Conciencia of the Coaliton of Immokalee Workers and Radio Movimiento of the Northwest Treeplanters and Farmworkers are using to build a participatory radio that works to transform their working conditions and organize their communities.

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El Kilombo Intergalactico is a collective and also a community space in Durham where different groups who share similar inequities and situations come together to meet, strategize, and work.

The space is 30 feet wide and 150 feet long but it holds so much.  There are computers with internet access, a café, a meeting space, a library, a children's section with books and toys, a large blackboard to scribble dreams and plans, inspiring art, and a window full of seedlings nearly ready to be planted in their community garden.

Students, immigrants, workers, youth, children and many more participated in the birth and maintenance of this space.  While sitting around the table, we could feel that we were in a space with a huge heart, to the left and from below.

Our meeting was brief, because with work, family, and responsibilities time is so valuable.  Together we exchanged food, books, and hugs while learning important lessons.  When we sat down to speak we asked about the spanish-language radio program they produced, which was broadcast through the University Radio station.  They told us that for many reasons, mainly the incredible work-load and responsibilities they carried, they decided to stop producing radio and instead to focus their efforts on projects that address their basic needs:  work and housing.  In addition to a re-focussing of priorities, their schedule had been changed three times by the University and they were not sure that the Spanish-speaking community was able to find their programming and listen.  While they are currently not producing radio, they noted the incredible value that the process of radio production held for the members of their collective and in the future they would be interested in being involved in a community radio station that was truly participatory.  
El Kilombo
has launched two new self-employment cooperatives:

    •    A natural (non-toxic) cleaning cooperative.
    •    A construction cooperative

In addition to these two self-employment projects they have also recently purchased space for members to live collectively and to address this essential need.