First, a big thank you!
Anytime we can leave Fresno it’s a go. When I first heard our staff was going to Chico for a retreat I was ecstatic . Not only was I going to meet my coworkers in person for the first time, I was going to introduce them to my fungi friends. Dennis and Eddie are vastly different except their love for nature and mycelium. Dennis AKA Dennis the Chemist is well, a chemist who loves festivals, fungi, and playing devil’s advocate. Eddie on the other hand is a teacher who is all about culture, land sovereignty, equality, and having a good time. The drive up was interesting since D&E had never met, and their personalities are completely different. We went from Bomba Estereo, to Odesza, to Cumbia to Korn. It made that 5 hour drive feel like 8. It was great :/ We arrived at night and set up close by everyone since it was dark. We’d have to wait until the next day to meet everyone.
Morning I look out of my tent and see Dennis in a fetal position freezing. I laughed at first then told him to get in the car and turn the heater on. Eddie wakes and starts on the hot chocolate. I start with the oatmeal and see a friendly face. Jessica Alvarez-Parfrey the leader who walks side by side. I met both Aya and Jess for the first time less than a month prior and was happy to be reunited in Semi-nature. The campsite was a bit weird being so close to a Starbucks and AMPM but had some interesting areas and was close to the restoration site Chico TEK was working on. I don’t remember all the funky names some of the invasive weeds/plants have, but we took them out. I mean I didn’t take them out, the team took them out and there isn’t an I in US. To be honest the work I was doing was more of vibing. When you only know or work with someone via zoom or google meets lots of things get lost in translation. Connecting with a larger community is what I was hoping for. Chico Tek, Mongol Tribe, and David Cobb didn’t disappoint. Mel and Nathan, our two new board members, represent themselves and their organizations to the fullest. GANG GANG!! Marissa is the best, I mean I always had respect for her consistency and mad long writings, but she radiates love you can feel.
To be honest the main reason we all came together was because of Ali Meders Knight. She did not disappoint, funny, authentic, and unapologetically Indigenous. I meet a lot of organizational leaders who advanced because of privilege or academics, but rarely do they inspire. I missed the first part of the presentation because I felt like cooking. I made a stew using the three sisters and maybe a couple of cousins to the milpa. Eddie made blue corn tortillas with Oaxacan blue corn and topped the stew with puffed amaranth. Vegan indigenous meal made with love to share with our new extended family. As custom to the warrior society we served the children and women first, then took our meals and joined the circle. Ali was knowledgeable, present, humble and hilarious. After a bit people started to trickle out. We made plans to check out the exhibit Ali made showing her apothecary .
Leaving was a bit more difficult since we came with 3 people and left with 4. As far as camping is concerned 3 people = like 6 people given all the stuff we bring. Luckily for us Gabby is a team player and didn’t mind cramming in a kia forte. Gabby, who is also a network organizer with TUS made the drive home more entertaining since the chemist and I had an audience. We stopped in downtown Chico where we stumbled upon this health fair aimed at hispanic heritage month. It was fun seeing Eddie and Gabby dance with the community and the passion fruit paleta I got was fiyaah! We wrapped up and met the team at the apothecary . Grass that is salty, indian potatoes, buckeye, manzanita berry sugar, acorns, the amount of newly acquainted ingredients made me giddy. My love for food has taken me from the fine dining kitchens into this new world of traditional ecological knowledge with ingredients that are ancestral yet foreign to me. It was an amazing experience with familiar faces and new ones that left me in a state of appreciation. Like many, the draw of transition and the fight for a regenerative future is the reason I started working for this organization. There are so many things in my world that are oxymoronic or paradoxical that have me wondering why I even try. Then I reflect back on this retreat and replay all the beautiful moments, faces and realize we are our future ancestors. The future never looked so weird and I love it!