We at Pan Valley Institute are pleased at having completed the mid-term of the ArteVism Fellowship Program. The most significant accomplishment is that the four Fellows have developed a strong bonding despite having to build a long-distance relationship by virtual communication.
The Fellows supported each other recruiting and forming a learning group of 13 members, Latinx youth artists and activists who will volunteer their time exchanging knowledge and collaborating with the Fellows in the creation of a project that will intersect the arts and active citizenship.
Due to COVID-19, the ArteVism public presentation will be in the form of videos instead of theater plays as originally envisioned. To ensure the safety of the community, Fellows are also organizing small civic engagement - public art presentations that will tell the story of why voting matters and how voter suppression and policing has impacted communities of color in California;s Central Valley.
“During the last two months amid a pandemic, I have learned very much from trial-and-error,” said Ariana Cruz Araiza, a PVI ArteVism Fellow. “I have learned how important it is to bring our full selves to the program, but also to treat ourselves with kindness. This is a recurring theme in many folx’s lives during this time.”
Ariana added, “Of course, no one predicted the circumstances we find ourselves in, regarding COVID-19. However, I have learned and am still learning how to balance self-care and stressors that come with COVID. This is a very big accomplishment due to the severe lack of mental health resources in my county.”
PVI work around COVID-19
We continue our advocacy work collaborating with the Central Valley Pandemic Response Taskforce. The main focus has been to gain California Governor's attention on the importance of ensuring COVID-19 health protection for Central Valley residents.
Along with the letter sent earlier to Governor Gavin Newsom, an additional letter was prepared in conjunction with the Chicano Latino Democratic Caucus and was submitted to Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, Chair of the Latino Caucus. In addition, a petition was filed by Worksafe and the Lawyers Guild to strengthen the infection controls at worksites.
With the distribution of 1,000 COVID-19 Care Kits, we will be wrapping up the service of providing personal protection items. The care kits have been created as a small gesture of care and concern for farm worker families during these unsettling times.
The kits include a package of five cloth masks for family members working in the fields, two cloth masks for regular use, hand sanitizer, and educational materials produced by the Pan Valley Institute with the help of young Mexican and Mexican Indigenous artists.
The COVID-19 Care Kits are intended not only to provide basic personal protection items, but also to express solidarity and gratitude to our essential workers, the majority of whom are Latinx and Indigenous immigrants.
Upon distribution of these 1,000 kits, we will have reached 4,000 farm workers in the San Joaquin Valley in partnership with other organizations. This project has provided remarkable opportunities for building a solidarity network and demonstrating how much Valley residents truly care for one another.
We will continue responding to COVID-19, focusing more on providing information to farmworkers. We have produced educational materials crafted to represent the San Joaquin Valley Farmworker community.