(Sunday) Class, Race and Ethnicity: Oppression, Community, and Action

Oppression exists, and is a part of all of us, by virtue of being born into a world where it exists. Because racism, classism, and inequality are longstanding features of western culture, we must engage in a restorative dialogue that will enable us to become empowered. Where is that dialogue occurring, are we a part of it, and how can we bring more people in to the conversation? These are some of the questions to be addressed in this dynamic panel. In addition, the true connection between environmental justice and social inequality will be at the heart of this discussion, because we cannot have one, without the other. Hear from area leaders what steps are being taken, at the local level, to address these concerns, look at the root causes of inequality, and deepen our understanding of how to move forward.

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Mark Hughes is the founder and director of Justice For All VT (JFA VT), a grassroots organization committed to racial justice within Vermont’s criminal justice system, and restorative dialogue through advocacy, education, and relationship-building. In 2017, with community support and JFA, Hughes pioneered and successfully passed H.308, the most progressive racial justice bill of its kind, in the country, addressing racial disparities in statewide systems of criminal and juvenile justice. Recently, Hughes has helped launch a Vermont chapter of the nationwide New Poor People's Campaign, in conjunction with the Repairers of the Breach, as a call to a moral revival in this country. Focused on the unification of all people across race, class, marginalization, division, oppression, faith, and ideology, this moral revival is a call to all to understand how our unification and commitment to each other and the planet are imperative to sustaining our lives on the Earth.  Mark is a passionate advocate, educator, and relationship-builder with a powerful humanity and tenacity.

Mark Freudenberger is a member leader and volunteer maintenance coordinator at the Pine Island Community Farm in Colchester Vermont. Pine Island Community Farm is the neighborhood farm for a diverse community of primarily New American users in the Greater Burlington area. It is intentionally evolving to meet the demand for locally produced and culturally significant foods, as well as provide a locale where people can deepen their relationships with the land, nurture cultural values and traditions, and broaden their community connections. As it seeks to rejuvenate the spirits of all who use it, Pine Island Farm works in harmony with the natural environment, ensuring that both people and place are better for having been a part of this endeavor.

Chuda Dhaurali and his wife Gita - refugees from Bhutan who resettled in Vermont in 2009 - began raising goats on the Pine Island Community Farm in 2013.  Chuda’s father had a large, diversified farming operation in Bhutan.  Chuda raised 80 goats his first season and began working to create what was initially called the Vermont Goat Collaborative.  The following season, he expanded his herd to 120 goats, and now raises about 350 goats per year.  He also purchases and resells spent goats from Vermont dairy farmers. Prior to settling in Vermont in 2009, Chuda had spent 20 years living in a refugee camp in Nepal.  Now he lives in one of the two houses on the 230 acre plot with his wife Gita and their two children, raising food for his family’s and community’s consumption.