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Planting a new world in the shell of the old

Olympia Assembly advocates a radical vision for our town – one which includes an emphasis on direct democracy and city governance by the people themselves, as well as cooperation amongst neighbors to meet our needs when the established system fails us. We assert the right of all members of our community to freely access the necessities of life, from food, water, and shelter to a healthy environment and social atmosphere. We assert further the right of people to make this vision a reality. Through our working groups and partner organizations, like Vangardeners and Really Free Market, we advance strategies based on the principles of collective solidarity, direct action and mutual aid.

The Vangardeners are a non-hierarchical collective that organizes around ecological justice, guerrilla gardening, and food sovereignty. Food sovereignty is the idea that people should have autonomy over what they consume and what they consume should be nourishing, culturally appropriate, and non-exploitative to the people and land on which it is produced. Food sovereignty has been an element of many revolutions, including in Mexico, (tierra y libertad–land and liberty), Cuba, Nicaragua and others. These movements inspired Vangardeners’ formation, in tandem with the belief that food, being necessary for survival, should be a human right. The conditions under which we acquire this necessity shouldn’t be determined by corporations who exploit farmworkers and land.

Building revolutionary community

Olympia Assembly

Vangardeners launched in June 2019. Summer and fall were spent building the community needed to create a movement. Some of the projects undertaken include making seed bombs, planting, distributing free food and hosting educational workshops. The project has brought together in community projects such as the Really Free Market.

The Really Free Market is a mutual aid project of Olympia Assembly that hosts free “stores” in downtown Olympia. The idea is to meet the needs of people where they’re at, and anyone can freely give, take, exchange or trade items, clothes and other supplies.

This project has attracted people who weren’t otherwise involved in organizing efforts, and compelled them to become involved in other projects. Food and climate change are issues that impact everyone. Food and climate change intersect with struggles against hierarchy in its many manifestations. The struggle for food sovereignty is an aspect of one’s struggle to stay alive and decide the terms under which one lives, not merely survives.

Many people aren’t granted resources or skills to provide themselves with healthy and nourishing meals, nor the knowledge to cultivate foods to create such meals. Those skills have been fostered through this project. This project improves the lives of individual community members, while improving local living standards generally. Vangardeners has experienced successes in decreasing alienation between people, food, and nature—a goal of the project.

In spring 2020, Vangardeners plan to participate in the Many Trees/Build Soil project to plant thousands of chestnut trees. Chestnuts are an excellent food source that can be used to make flour. Planting trees also creates oxygen, directly combating climate change. In the case of a natural disaster, it is crucial to have localized food systems that are more reliable than food produced thousands of miles away in unknown conditions. For this project, the Vangardeners are looking for land near Olympia to grow chestnut trees. We plan to use our efforts to help these projects initiated by the non-profit, Build Soil, and an independent project, Many Trees.

To help with this project or to offer resources, contact

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