Lessons learned from my 15ñera in the movimiento

Queridos Compañerxs,

As some of you may know, I’ve been a part of el movimiento campesinos emigrante de Oregon before I even knew it. Porque el moviemiento doesn’t have a start or finish. Como dijo un sabio del movimiento, “We must take the long view: our work comes out of and adds to a history; the ‘arc’ of social history is with us; and the struggle must and will continue in others’ hands.

And, its with this spirit in mind, y con mucho amor, that I share my lessons learned, and ones I’m still working on, de mi 15ñera trabajando en el movimiento. These aren’t listed in order of importance; they just came out of me in this order.

1. Keep moving: I’ve had the privilege to work in three different organizations and have held many roles, most of which weren’t in my job descriptions. Some of my favorites have included: tour guide, smiles provider, peace maker, convener, agitator (with a smile), storyteller, and wannabe graphic designer and handy person. The movement is always moving, so we must keep moving.
2. Try to see people as whole: I’ve been disappointed at people many times. Sometimes it’s been a brief disappointment (one instance) y avecez it’s been several for a longer period of time. I’ve let many down and will continue to do so. I’m sorry from the bottom of my heart. Please try to see me for all that I am.
3. Stay grounded: I remember the time when I transitioned from my role as Organizer at Farmworker Housing Development Corporation to Development Director. The people I came in contact with became mostly white. It was rough. Then my ancestors reminded of the gift they gave me—storytelling. They also reminded to try my best to continue to be in community—because la comunidad has the solutions we are looking for. Sure, it meant gaining a few pounds and working evenings and weekends, but it’s fun.
4. Build your network internally and externally: The movement gives you the freedom to do this. Relationships are the water the feeds our movement. We are part of a larger ecosystem. Your network and relationships will come in handy in times of need and opportunity.
5. Everything is progress in the movement: I remember when we ‘lost’ Measure 88 (2014-Oregon’s Driver Cards Ballot Measure). I also remember those same first-time voters voted to pass a 60M school bond in Woodburn, elected Oregon’s first Latino majority school board in Woodburn, elected Oregon’s first Latina immigrant indigenous State Representative in the first minority majority house district, and many more to come. Pace yourself, find your balance, and take the long view.
6. If you’re not growing as a person, then you can’t expect others to do so: Guillermo Marin, a Mexican indigenous culture activist and promoter once said “La ignorancia de sí mismo es la mayor ignorancia” (self-ignorance is the greatest ignorance). The movement has taught me much about my privileges as a man, able-body, whiter Latino, heterosexual, now middle-class American citizen, and many more I’m still learning about. I’ve also had the opportunity to learn more about my roots than in any formal classroom. It’s been a major source of strength. Remember all that you are and are becoming.
7. The people are the best part: The best part of being in the movimiento are the people I’ve met along the way. The work changes all the time. There are many highs and lows. But, the people are beautiful. Some people I met just for one day. Some I’ve had the honor to work alongside them for years. Algunos over a decade! And, while I may not see them often, they are always in my heart. Some have left us, and I may never see again. I wish I could wrap my arms around everyone I met along the way, thank them for being part of my life, and tell them I love you.

Aging movement baby, servidor y compañero—Jaime Arredondo

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