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  • Writer's pictureAsh Patton

2023 Year in Review

It has been a very intense year of deep sorrow, and incredible promise for our Black to the Land community here in California.  One of our founders, one of the brightest of lights, and my dear daughter Sarai “Bibi” Montag passed away in February.  After pausing our activities we decided that we needed to continue on with renewed vigor to make the vision that Sarai had for a safe place for healing for Black people, young people, and women, a reality.  

The centerpiece of this work has been moving forward with the incredible privilege and opportunity to take up stewardship and governance of The Emerald Earth Sanctuary, a 189 acre permaculture homestead and non profit entity, physically located in Boonville, Mendocino County.  Black to the Land has been engaged in a process for nearly two years, which is overseeing the transfer of stewardship and control from white folks to black folks.  This has been a journey of incredible learning, transformation, and healing.  We really believe that this process that we are undertaking can be a blueprint for similar endeavors throughout the world.  We are gratified to find white community willing and able to practice true allyship and engage in meaningful acts of reparation that involve the material transfer of resources and knowledge.  We are truly excited for the immense possibilities that this project holds, and will be keeping folks up to date as the process moves forward.  This land base and project is at the core with Sarai envisioned, and we continue on in her honor, knowing that she is with us and guiding us.

Black to the Land has also been engaged in several projects and campaigns.  We have been partnering with the Emiliano Zapata Street Academy independent public high school in Oakland to create a community garden project. We are also working with the youth of Street Academy to develop and carry out a “Rights of Nature” educational and preservation campaign focused on the Navarro River Watershed project, which is a groundbreaking community-led endeavor in Mendocino County.  Stay tuned for updates about both of these projects.  

Another project that Black to the Land has undertaken has been the development, and piloting of a community science research project focused on the emotional and physical benefits of nature connection for black folks, particularly young people.  We were sponsored by two large environmental coalitions, The Anthropocene Alliance, and Thriving Earth Exchange which seek to empower grassroots ecological activism and  received assistance and guidance from an incredible team of experts and dedicated activists.   The end result was a Summer Nature Immersion program which was carried out on the land at Emerald Earth Sanctuary.  We had over 20 participants, and were able to collect data and testimonials regarding the benefits of the pilot program.  This has resulted in published work, and invaluable insight into how to refine the program in coming years.  Here are some links with more information. 

Our work on the land has continued into the Fall and Winter.  We are in an intense process of developing our core and our culture, and have been meeting several times a week, as well as spending time on the land together.  This culminated in a retreat over the Winter holidays in which several of us, along with beloved community allies stayed on the land, and began to work through the next phase of this process. We are really excited, and look forward to sharing our journey and the fruits of abundance that it will offer the world!

Another beautiful aspect of our work this year has been the development of relationships with like minded organizations as partners and mentors. We are blessed and excited to have the chance to work further with these groups, and to have their support in so many ways.  Some of these groups include Movement Generation, Occidental Arts and Ecology Center, East Bay Permanent Real Estate Collective, KnowThyself Inc., People of Color Sustainable Housing Network, as well as quite a few emerging relationships with other groups.  If your group sees a natural alliance with our work, we would love to set up a meeting and talk! 


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