Almost one year ago, many of us traveled to Washington, Boston, Syracuse or Seneca Falls, and many of stayed and rallied here in Utica. From that point on, our shared desire to Resist the Trump-Tenney agenda and to fight for human rights, justice and dignity for all led to huddles, the creation and growth of Indivisible Mohawk Valley (originally Forward Mohawk Valley), and widespread volunteering for local Democratic committees, non-profits such as the Refugee Center, and other local resistance groups in Camden, (CAAM), Madison County, and elsewhere.
TheUtica Women’s March, is going to take those efforts to a whole new level. The organizing committee led by CNY Citizen Action convened earlier this week and brought together many resistance, labor, faith, and community groups. Like the 2017 Women’s March in DC, this one has women of color at the forefront. The goal of the Utica Women’s March on Jan. 20 is to mark the anniversary of the Resistance movement and build community and solidarity as we head into 2018.
We need many volunteers to make this event successful.
Week before the event:
help paint banners and make signs
pass out flyers around Utica
provide transportation to and front event for those who have no transport
drive people who are unable to walk the route
walk around event with clipboards and get people to sign in
act as marshals for crowd control and safety
help clean up after the event
Whether or not you can be at the event on the 20th, can you help us with the Utica Women’s March? Please let me know what you are able to do. I will put you on the respective volunteer list, and a volunteer coordinator will call you about that job.
Also, please don’t forget the very important Indivisible Mohawk Valley meeting we have this Sunday, 2-5 pm at Schuyler Commons (1776 Independence Square, Utica). We will hear more about the Precinct Program, which is how IMV is going to help win the 2018 congressional election by electing Anthony Brindisi to replace @OneTermTenney. We will be signing up for the roles, and getting organized with next steps. We will hear more about Citizen Action and also the Puerto Rican families arriving in Utica and how we can help them (a collection will be taken).
I am so excited to see how far we have come in the past year, and also where we are headed in our work together for social, economic, and racial justice, women’s rights, immigrant right, and human rights. We are determined to change the public narrative in our own community, influence our elected representatives, and elect representatives who share our values around justice and human rights.
See you this Sunday, Jan. 14 at the IMV meeting, and on Saturday, Jan. 20 at the Utica Women’s March!
*Sunday, January 14th @ 2-5pm @ Schuyler Commons, 1776 Independence Square, Utica — IMV monthly meeting. Agenda includes: guest speaker Kristina Andreotta about CNY Citizen Action; Sonia Martinez (MVLA update on what we can do for families arriving from Puerto Rico), precinct program; 2017 election data results; and, strategizing timeline for 2018 victories. 2-2:30pm is social time!
*Tuesday, January 16th @ 6pm @ Waterville Public Library — Waterville’s Women in Action grassroots group meeting. Come learn about the grassroots precinct program and strategize how to build progressive support in the southern towns in Oneida county.
*Saturday, January 20th, 10:30 am-1:00 pm @ 7 Rutger Place (YWCA) is the starting point, and the destination is City Hall, Utica Women’s March. Marks the anniversary of the birth of the Resistance movement, build community and solidarity as head into We need MANY volunteers before, during and after.
*Wednesday, January 24th @10am-3:30pm @ First Presbyterian Church of Little Falls, Social Justice with Politically Diverse Communities Workshop. Great opportunity to learn about state and federal budget issues related to poverty and homelessness. Sign upHERE.
America is one of the most diverse countries in the world, making defining American culture a difficult task to undertake. Considering the many traditions Americans from all walks of life adhere to, pass down, recognize and celebrate, one would be hard pressed to capture all that she encompasses and constitutes. Nevertheless, the University of Michigan took on the challenge and came up with 101 characteristics that define American culture.
The “Melting Pot” has been a fitting description for as long as the question of her identity has been pondered, but thanks to the break down, specifics have been added to our cultural description. Since her independence 241 years ago, America has steadily evolved into a more perfect union representative of the many facets of the world. People from all walks of life can adequately represent what it means to be an American.
As the world turns, including our own democracy, we decided to post this question to various Americans in New York City and other parts of the state: How do you describe American culture? As you’ll see, the question wasn’t easily answered…
Once upon a time, not too long ago, there were bread makers hard at work in the wee hours of the morning mixing, pounding, then shaping and waiting for the right moment to send their perfectly raised dough to the oven for their turn to transform into an important food staple; fresh baked bread using four simple ingredients; flour, water, salt and yeast.
“It’s about 18-hours worth of work. From the time that I start to mix the sour dough starter, mix the dough, let the dough ferment to rise, shape the dough and then bake it. The baking part is the fastest and the easiest; it’s in and out of the oven in about 30-minutes… It’s the 16, 17 hours ahead of that time when it’s fermenting. That’s where the flavor comes from and that’s where most of the work is,” said The Kneady Baker, (Joe Silberlicht) one of the last remaining American bread makers still true to using simple wholesome ingredients with roots firmly planted in the food culture of farm to table eating. For many, that starts with fresh baked bread, which is increasingly becoming harder and harder to come by. It’s no secret that mass-produced foods, especially breads, in the age of profit over people is pushing us further and further away from healthier options.
Even so, if you’re lucky enough to live near the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains in upstate, New York you can get your hands on this backsliding food choice. In addition to his 30 delivery customers, Silberlicht sells his fresh baked breads every other Saturday in Utica. The pop-up shop where you can also get your hands on imported cheeses from Italy and humanely raised meats from Bach Farms in Mohawk is held at a unique gathering spot called, The Other Side; a small trendy place on Genesee Street where many events ranging from Jazz performances, speaking engagements, community group meetings to little pop-up shops take place.
Most people in America have become accustomed to commercial bread void of the simplicity of days long gone and packed with a long list of complex preservatives for a longer shelf life. Even the simple taste of bread has changed drastically along the way. Bread may have lost some appreciation and value in our modern-day society but luckily there’s still a man hard at work keeping the fairy tale of the community bread maker alive. “The dough is always talking to you, the trick is learning to understand what the dough is saying,” Silberlicht says explaining the importance of bread. “I think bread is very important and you can certainly find that in great literature, that bread being the staff of life and all of that, but I think that the bread you buy in the supermarkets today has enormous number of ingredients in it that don’t need to be in bread.”
Other than the four core ingredients, Silberlicht only uses simple flavorings like ground coffee for color and flavor for his European black bread or sesame seeds to create his signature sourdough master pieces. He says his bread is simply better for you. “The bread that I bake is going to be wonderful for four days to about a week. But it’s not going to be in a bag on the counter still soft for 3 or 4 weeks like a lot of commercial bread might be. And, it’s all those additives that they put in there that I just don’t think are necessary. It’s much better to have a good loaf of bread, eat it while it’s fresh and get another good loaf of bread.”
In the era of heightened food sensitivities especially to gluten, Silberlicht says choosing fresh baked bread with simple ingredients is the way to go. “As long as they’re not diagnosed with Celiac disease, I like to ask my customers to try the sourdough bread because a lot of people who feel bloated from having a lot of the supermarket bread, when they eat my sourdough bread they find that it’s much easier for them to digest and they can enjoy bread again.”
Silberlicht says although his freshly baked breads may not hold a long shelf life like store bought breads do, the benefits of eating healthier breads are positively impactful. “You can even make other recipes like bread pudding or Fattoush,” a Middle Eastern salad calling for toasted bread.
A trip to the bi-weekly fresh food pop-up shop invokes impressions of a very different time. Imagine turning the pages to sections of American history and immersing your senses in a simpler life when food wasn’t too complicated, or over processed and cheapened with additives like pink slime, lye, sodium nitrite and nitrate, or other hard to pronounce synthetically created additives like butylated hydroxyanisole and hydroxytoluene. With this in mind, it isn’t hard to imagine the nostalgia the fresh bread, cheeses and meats inspire. This pop-up shop is undoubtedly special.
Add to that experience the imported cheeses and other Italian delicacies from Mike Formaggio who operates “The Cheese Island” or Isle De Formaggio. His import business brings him back to his roots in Utica every two weeks from his Westchester home. Formaggio started the pop-up shop two years ago selling his cheeses and Italian delicacies like olives, sardines, olive oils and pastas. Soon after, he was joined by The Kneady Baker and later Judy Bach with Bach Farms, offering pasture raised pork, grass fed beef and lamb. Bach says she’s proud of her farming methods. “The way we raise our animals…we’re bringing something fresh to your table that was humanely raised.”
Making bread and other healthier food options a good staple of the diet again may be a far reaching goal for many but not an impossible one if good fortune provides you access to a dedicated bread baker like The Kneady Baker, and his fellow shop keepers Mike and Judy, still upholding this aspect of our healthy food culture.
The Latino Festival at Hanna Park brought out many people to celebrate a unique culture, and its significance as part of the fabric that makes up our American culture. The event marked its 11th year this time around, highlighting the lives of Latinos in the Mohawk Valley.
Latinos have called the area home for many years. They’re comprised of a diverse group of peoples from Mexico, Central and South America, and Spanish-speaking Caribbean nations. Latinos have made enormous contribution to society and American culture as a whole, however, according to a NYS Office of Cultural Education study, a historical account of their lives and migration across New York State is surprisingly very limited. Latino influences are all around us. Nevertheless, the commercialized celebrations of Latino culture barely cover the day to day realities many of them face in communities all across New York. In other words, Latinos are still struggling in an increasingly hostile world despite being one of the fastest growing communities across the state. And, we’re barely taking notice of it from a historical and archival view point, according to the study.
The State Education Department also found that only a handful of organizations are keeping historical records of Latino history and culture in the state. The researchers responsible for the publication; A Guide to Documenting Latino/Hispanic History & Culture in New York State stress that the discovery of limited data makes it all that more important for people, especially in the Latino community, to collect and record artifacts and make records to help preserve their history in New York. The study also serves as a guide for anyone interested in becoming a record collector. Another important notice taken by the researchers is that Latino activists and politicians on every level of government across the state take on tremendous tasks to support their community, but rarely get any type of official recognition for their contributions, making it even more troublesome to keep historical records and documentations of Latino lives.
With this in mind, it’s only fitting to mention the organizers of the annual Latino Festival in Utica; Sonia Martinez, Anthony Tony Colon, Lindy Colon, Kevin Marken and Ed Jackson, board members of the Mohawk Valley Latino Association, (MVLA). Mr. Colon said, “The Latino Association was formed approximately 14-years ago and we decided that every year we would have an event, invite friends and family from the community, not just Latinos but everybody, and here we are. This is our greatest turn out so far and we certainly are very supportive of the community and this is just another example of being members of this community.” Through its work in the community, MVLA in many ways serves as an unofficial collector and preserver of Latino culture in Utica.
Martinez, a founding member of MVLA fits the description of one of the community leaders that contributes substantially to Latinos in Utica. Her many contributions go largely unrecognized. Martinez is constantly on the move helping with language services, assistance with housing, social and immigration services, and even acting as a chauffeur to help those struggling make appointments. Young Latinos throughout Utica have benefitted from Martinez’s service and activism. The Latino Festival is a great opportunity to highlight the culture and its roots, and document the achievements and contributions being made by Martinez and many others like her.
Like any other official event, the festival opened with the singing of the National Anthem, sang by Lindy Colon, followed by greetings from the organizers, special guests, and local politicians, including Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente, State Senator Joseph Griffo and former Congressman, Michael Arcuri.
Marken sums it up best when he said, “It’s a rich tradition. With the food, the music, the language, all of the different elements that really help America to be what it is. And the Latino, Hispanic cultures are some of the most critical important parts of that entire wonderful thing that make it up to be America.” The study noted that the Puerto Rican community is not only the largest and oldest Latino community in the state; they’re also the most documented. Their documentation and archives started in 1972 at Hunter College, “It is the only archives in New York State that is devoted primarily to Latino documentation.”
Here are some historical events and milestones in Latino/Hispanic history worth sharing:
Spanish American War 1898
Puerto Ricans granted U.S. citizenship 1917
Immigration acts of 1965 and 1986
Events in Latin America leading to emigration: Cuban revolution (1959), Dominican rebellion and U.S. occupation (1965), wars in Central America, etc.
Aspira Consent Decree (1973) which led to the Bilingual Education Act,( later renamed the English Language Acquisition, Language Enhancement, and Academic Achievement Act, as a result of No Child Left Behind.)
Efforts to achieve economic, social and political change remain an on-going struggle in the Latino community right here in Utica. Find out how you can help advance these goals by contacting MVLA to join local, grassroots work already underway.