Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Gardening with a .38-cal Hoe

BY SAYRAH NAMASTÉ “We are turning weapons of destruction into tools of construction,” says Albino Garcia, director of the South Valley organization La Plazita Institute. He means it. Guns are being turned into garden tools from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, June 18, at 831 Isleta Blvd. SW. RAWTools is bringing a blacksmith forge, APD is providing four confiscated guns, and La Plazita youth will help repurpose them into tools that can be used to grow food. The community is invited to watch the forging and to eat farm-fresh food, enjoy live music, and learn about how community groups are addressing violence. Powerful testimonies from both victims and perpetrators of gun violence will be offered. I have admired the work of La Plazita Institute for many years. It serves youth in custody and those previously incarcerated, gang-involved youth, and veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. We have worked together to create small organic farms in the South Valley. The food grown is eaten by incarcerated kids at the Bernalillo County Juvenile Detention Center. The people at La Plazita stick their neck out for the people that others carelessly label thugs. “Everyone at La Plazita is a BTDT. Been there, done that,” Albino likes to say. He hires former felons and former gang members who have transformed themselves and want to stop the cycle of violence for the next kid. They use an indigenous model of restorative justice that has convinced judges, cops, prosecutors and probation officers that there is an alternative to locking up a kid for life. RAWTools, a Colorado Mennonite group, puts the ancient Bible verse “They will beat their swords into plowshares” into practice. Their mission is to repurpose weapons into hand tools to be used in the creation of something new, preventing the weapon’s use for violence and creating a cycle of peace. What RAWTools does with a forge, La Plazita does with people. The event is organized by the Albuquerque Mennonite Church in coordination with La Plazita Institute, RAWTools, New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence, Immanuel Presbyterian Church, Veterans for Peace, the Southwest Organizing Project, and my organization, the American Friends Service Committee. For more, visit Facebook and search on the keywords Guns Into Gardens. Sayrah Namasté is an organizer with the American Friends Service Committee in Albuquerque. She writes about events of interest to Albuquerque’s activist community.            

The following Gardening with a .38-cal Hoe is courtesy of

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