Teresa Camou is probably the earliest true activist of our own age my siblings and I ever met. She is a tiny, tiny woman, smaller even than our family peanut, Rivera, but she is fearless, and the heat of her passions for justice and empowerment and joy rocked our large loud family back on our heels when we met her in Vermont.
This astounding woman has been working with Bread and Puppet Theater since the late 90s, and she’s worked with farmers and children on the ground in Mexico, where she’s from, doing theatrical dramas with puppets, signage, movement, and whatever they could get their hands on to educate and raise awareness about GMOs and Monsanto, and the impact they could have on their life bread, which is corn.
She and her team, Aldo Hernández, Ariana Rico, and Gisela Zermeño, are currently running a Kickstarter campaign to finish their documentary about what’s been happening to rural life and farming in the face of the same urbanization and industrial agriculture pressures we’re pushing against here. Their documentary explores the many faces of corn in Central Mexico, where corn originated, and shows what we stand to lose in the march towards generic.
I work everyday with food, and farmers, and eaters, and so her subject matter matters to me. We have a central question in America that we’re struggling with even if we have trouble speaking it. We have ALWAYS had a subsidized lunch, and we don’t see what impacts that has extrapolated into our homes, our fundamental economics, and outside of our own borders.
Finally, to me, there is nothing more true, or right, than the people from a place and from a culture navigating their own narratives of that place and people. As the state that lumps everyone who’s not from Maine into being from Away, there’s an instinctive understanding of this here. Would we prefer a Mainer to tell our stories, rather than folks from Away, no matter how much we like them? Would we prefer those stories told with world class skill and the insiders perspective? If we could tell stories in both Maine-speak, and world speak without judgement about our education, intelligence, or class, wouldn’t we prefer that as well? I won’t speak for anyone else, but I would.
Every village in the world, whether in central Mexico, or a piece of US zip code has the challenge of educating their youth, knowing they may never see them again. Teresa is a phenomenally talented woman, intelligent, incisive, compassionate, and sharp. She’s gotten herself a world class education, but it hasn’t deterred her from the places and people she loves and is passionate about. If crowdfunding means that Teresa, Aldo, and Ari can use their talents to live and work in the places they want, to be social justice artists with rural partners, then we have a mechanism to help them to help redress ‘brain drain’.
I’ll be supporting this because it’s a project about a matter that matters, being done by people who should. I’m too Yankee to really feel comfortable talking about other people’s money, but check out their site here. At the very least, marvel at their soil, and the very idea of dry farming, which is matter of course for others, but not much in practice in Maine…