GARDENERS GIVING WHAT GOVERNMENT WON’T: MINI-DREAM ACTS FOR MIGRANTS

October 16, 2007

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(Bay Area Gardeners Foundation founder, Catalino Tapia, an unidentified friend and Catalino’s panza sharing a cheerful moment beneath the trees in Redwood City, California)

The big immigration news out of California was Governor Schwarzenegger’s veto of the California Dream Act legislation last week. But the allegedly immigrant Governor is hurting – not killing- California Dreams. Less known, but of no less import than the news of the veto, is this story in today’s SF Chronicle about the Bay Area Gardners Foundation. It tells the very inspired and inspirational tale of Catalino Tapia, a 63 year-old gardener in Redwood City California who started the Foundation along with a dozen other gardeners to help Latino students pay for college.“This year,” according to the story, “the foundation gave out nine scholarships of $1,500, almost double what it distributed in 2006, its first year.”

Tapia came to the US with a 6th grade education and $6 in his pocket and exemplifies a reality that more of us should wake up to: we need grow our own. Whether its families and hometown associations that sent $50 billion in remittances to families across Latin America last year or whether its those atlas-like mothers who who facilitate the upward mobility of white middle class women while carrying and caring for families in the US and Latin America, Latino immigrants are leading. In much the same way that Latin America is leading its own way past the economic and political failure of the Washington Consensus at the root of much migration, immigrants in the US have much to teach us about how to do with and, increasingly, without government.

Again, we see a new more autonomous politic developing as a complement and/or alternative to that “ethnic” politic focused almost exclusively on hitting the government pinata for economic dulces to drop out.

But let me not dwell on the past. Let me instead leave you with that beautiful gardener who reminds me so much of my and many of our parents who carried and poured their tears and sweat into this land so that we might blossom.

Another pic that says so much about why the future is so ours:

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When we let these political defeats defeat us we forget what our parents would tell us if we asked them about such a loss: Forget the Dream Act; Remember the Dream – and Act.

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