March 21: Join Us for Borderlands of the San Joaquin Valley!


What are we planning? Borderlands is  live story-telling event that challenges the common misunderstanding that the Central Valley is an agricultural wonder of the world because of a magical mixture of technology, capital and land. We will be shining a light on the communities of people who have come to the Valley from around the world with cultural, social and ecological farming knowledge that has helped to build the farming industry—and who skillfully criss-cross cultural borders dozens of times a day as they shape the landscape of the San Joaquin Valley. Borderlands will present stories, performances, music and food from this wide variety of immigrant communities.


(Image by Patricia Wakida:

The event draws its title and inspiration from feminist scholar Gloria Anzaldua, whose 1987 book Borderlands/La Frontera rearranged everything we thought we knew about borders. Anzaldua showed us that borders can be places that divide and that they have a surprising ability to assert themselves wherever cultures meet, but they can also be places of tremendous resilience, resistance and reinvention. Even though the San Joaquin Valley is located hundreds of miles from the US/Mexico border, there are less-talked about borders everywhere in the Valley, which creates a place that’s both challenging to navigate and extraordinarily rich.  

When/where is this happening?  March 21 from 4-7PM (just after the 3rd Annual CIRS Rural Justice Summit) at the Merced Multicultural Arts Center

How can I get tickets? You can buy tickets for Borderlands (and register for CIRS's Justice Summit, while you're at it) at:

Who will be performing? We're lucky enough to be working with diverse mix of poets, writers, playwrights, musicians and activists in the Valley who will be sharing their stories at Borderlands.

The evening's line-up includes:

Poetry reading by Marisol Baca, 

Art by Patricia Wakida & Janaki Jagannath, 

A performance of Ours to Lose by playwright Yia Lee,

Youth-produced audio pieces about personal food histories,

A conversation between food scholar Nina Ichikawa and Buddhist priest Brian Nagata about the history of Buddhist temples in the Valley,

Screening of the Pan Valley Institute documentary From Our Roots (Desde Nuestras Raíces) along with stories by women from the film,

Live music

AND a new Cal Ag Roots audio piece featuring Janaki Jagannath, Isao Fujimoto, Nikiko Masumoto, Cecelia Tsu and others!

One night only-- don't miss it!


Inspiration! From Borderlands/La Frontera (1987) by Gloria Anzaldua:

To live in the Borderlands means you

are neither hispana india negra espanola ni gabacha, eres mestiza, mulata, half-breed caught in the crossfire between camps while carrying all five races on your back not knowing which side to turn to, run from;

To live in the Borderlands means knowing that the india in you, betrayed for Soo years, is no longer speaking to you, that mexicanas call you rajetas, that denying the Anglo inside you is as bad as having denied the Indian or Black;

Cuando vives en la frontera

people walk through you, the wind steals your voice, you’re a burra, buey, scapegoat, forerunner of a new race, half and half-both woman and man, neithera new gender;

To live in the Borderlands means to put chile in the borscht, eat whole wheat tortillas, speak Tex-Mex with a Brooklyn accent; be stopped by la migra at the border checkpoints;

Living in the Borderlands means you fight hard to resist the gold elixir beckoning from the bottle, the pull of the gun barrel, the rope crushing the hollow of your throat;

In the Borderlands you are the battleground where enemies are kin to each other; you are at home, a stranger, the border disputes have been settled the volley of shots have shattered the truce you are wounded, lost in action dead, fighting back;

To live in the Borderlands means the mill with the razor white teeth wants to shred off your olive-red skin, crush out the kernel, your heart pound you pinch you roll you out smelling like white bread but dead;

To survive the Borderlands you must live sin fronteras be a crossroads.

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