Halifax workshop: Making the world a better place— one tortilla at a time
By Becky Thomas
On March 14, a crowd of roughly 40 people gathered outside Halifax’s Roberts Street Social Centre, ready to bid adieu to those last six weeks of winter, with warm tortillas and talk of revolution.
They came to take part in an event called Viva la Tortilla!, a workshop promising a tortilla-making session with food sovereignty experts, discussions on activism in Honduras and Halifax and a film screening of the Mexican documentary, Super Amigos.
The event was the brainchild of Emma Feltes, and this reporter, designed to engage the public on issues of community development and social mobilization and talk about the five months spent in Honduras working with incredible grassroots social activists in the barrios (slums) of the city of Tegucigalpa.
The trip was funded by the Atlantic Council for International Cooperation (ACIC) and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)’s International Youth Internship Program – a program that sends hundreds of young Canadians overseas every year to gain international experience and to help promote positive development.
Feltes and this reporter worked with the Honduran Committee for Action for Peace (COHAPAZ) and Movimiento Madre Tierra, two small Honduran organizations working to mobilize low-income Hondurans in the struggle for social and environmental justice. The power and beauty of the grassroots social movements and the incredible activists around were compelling and consequently the decision was made to share the experience with folks in Halifax .
So Viva la Tortilla! was born. Feltes and this reporter teamed up with inspiring local activists, including Halifax’s own Raging Grannies, and representatives from the Cities and Environment Unit and the Lake City Farm to focus on three main issues: social mobilization, urban activism and food sovereignty.
The event kicked off with a warm welcome to the shivering crowd and a quick musical performance by the Raging Grannies, followed by a mass exodus out of the cold into the cozy Social Centre – which moonlights as a zine library and screen printing studio. The participants then split into two groups, one moving upstairs to discuss ways to strengthen social movements in Halifax, and the other staying downstairs to explore the concept of participatory urban planning and the potential role of community members in designing their own cities.
After some great discussion and a short break with 100 percent local snacks and fairly traded coffee the group split again, some to watch Super Amigos – the story of masked activists fighting against corruption, homophobia, animal rights, pollution and poverty in Mexico City – while others rolled up their sleeves to learn the secrets of making revolutionary tortillas.
These were no ordinary tortillas. These were Tortilla Mejoradas, a.k.a. Super Tortillas, infused with locally-grown beets, spinach and carrots to increase nutritional value and made in many splendid colours.
The people who worked with Feltes and this reporter in Honduras are the inventors of the Tortilla Mejorada and they are spreading the recipe across their country as part of their work to engage low-income Hondurans in discussions and workshops on themes like nutrition and food sovereignty. Their work in Honduras is not just about better tortillas and better recipes. It is about better lives for the people who struggle most.
So whether people came out on that chilly March day to find ways to make their city a better place or just to get a few bites of a fresh tortilla, everyone left with the taste of revolution still lingering on their lips.