Feminist Women’s Health
Black Farmers Collective
Yuko Kodama 0:00
Up next KBCS reporter Kevin Henry speaks with Hannah Wilson, the farm manager at Yes Farm, an urban farm initiative of the Black Farmers collective. Wilson creates community building events in educational activities. And she also grows food to provide Seattle communities of color with access to fresh produce.
Kevin Henry 0:22
Tell us about some of the activities and programs.
Hannah Wilson 0:24
Some of the programming that we do include working with other gardens across the city, to help them with, you know, setting up a garden, talking through what programming might look like for them. And intentionally making sure that those gardens are Black led or led by folks of color. At the farm, I’ll invite school groups, organizers, educators, and want to get youth and families involved in this work so that they can carry on this knowledge to their families and also build that relationship with the land that maybe has been broken from living in the city, or especially for Black folks, just thinking about the trauma that Black folks have speaking to the history of slavery, and just exploitation of Black people and the land. So how can we rebuild that connection to the land that is healing and fulfilling, and empowering, and sort of like with this lens of like self determination and food sovereignty? Educational programming is centered around the seasonal work that we’re doing. So for example, this month, and next month, and maybe a little bit into June, we will be doing sort of like planting and how do you choose your crops? And what crops like grow well together? And how can we grow food that’s ecologically sound and, and thoughtful of like, the ways that indigenous folks have been stewarding this land since time immemorial. And also pays homage to all the cultural backgrounds that we have at the farm. So whether that’s Black folks, African immigrants, folks of color, who come to the US and maybe have lost that connection to the cultural foods. And then this summer, I’m really hoping to create spaces where we’re cooking food, where we’re bringing in folks who practice wellness. So that could be having a Black yoga teacher on site. Having herbalists and folks who have practice in herbal medicine and traditional medicine, teach folks how to make their own medicine. Thinking about like meditation circles and, and how health is all of these things. It’s food, it’s getting outside and being active. It’s putting the right things in your body all around and doing more preventative health measures, which is not how our healthcare works these days.
Kevin Henry 2:59
Food is like this catalyst for bringing people together for a positive reason. I would think that there’s a lot of diverse volunteers that you have and community members, I mean, you can be a child or you could be a senior citizen and still be involved in what you’re doing.
Hannah Wilson 3:16
Absolutely. I think that’s part of why I love this work is the world we live in this society that we live in is pretty unsafe for a lot of marginalized folks. And so how can we create a space that not just accepts or like welcomes these folks but invites them down and like cherishes their presence on this farm, the way that they should be in every space that they walk through. And I’m speaking as a mixed race, Black person who identifies as queer and disabled and just thinking about the spaces I grew up in, like White suburbia, and how unwelcomed I felt and like how unsafe I felt in those spaces. And so how can I carry that experience going forward, to make sure that folks see themselves in a space. And I think that’s part of what’s really special about The Black Farmers Collective is that we are hiring young Black folks to take leadership and like really take responsibility for all these garden spaces that we’re in. And then when we work with youth and families, we’re like, hey, look, it’s you know, it’s a young Black person holding probably multiple identities at once, who’s doing this environmental work, who’s doing agriculture work. That also is like fun and like culturally relevant and brings in community and all different types of knowledge. But it’s not just about farming. It’s also about the environment and like, how can we create hyper local food systems that can be resilient in the face of climate change, and honor all different ways of stewarding the land?
Kevin Henry 5:00
You said you felt unsafe. Could you go in a little more detail about what was making you feel unsafe in those environments.
Hannah Wilson 5:07
I think growing up, I just didn’t see myself in any of the leaders that were in my communities. So I didn’t have, you know, teachers of color, encouraging me to be proud of my identity. I didn’t see folks with disabilities, walking through the world and being cherished and everything that they are. And I didn’t see a ton of queer folks that look like me. Growing up in California, I did see queer folks, but I didn’t necessarily see queer folks of color, you know, with families or, or just doing their thing. So I think I just felt unsafe, because I didn’t see where I belonged. And, and people were, you know, it reflected in the ways that like, my social life, you know, played out and, and also in the ways that like, I made decisions about like my future, like, I just didn’t know where I would fit in, because I just didn’t see leaders who looked like me in these environmental spaces, or in these like organizing and community building spaces, in that White suburban town that I grew up in. So I didn’t feel empowered to take leadership as a kid.
Kevin Henry 6:22
You know, there’s people that might hear this interview, and they say, “Well, I just go to the grocery store and get my groceries”. And it just seems like, oh, you know, I want to go, I gotta go to a farm and go through all this. How would you, I guess, encourage them or sell them on the idea of changing their diet and changing their lifestyle when it comes to nutrition.
Hannah Wilson 6:42
When I talk about food sovereignty, and how important it is to connect with land and food, it goes back to the idea that industrial agriculture is really exploitative of the land. And as a result, we don’t get produce that is as good for us and like as nutritious and and like flavorful as we could get if we like grew our own food in our backyard, or in an urban farm, or just from like a local small farm. And when we have that disconnect with food, it’s like, we’re not able to be a part of this food systems conversation, talking about what we want from our food, and how important it is to us. And I think that like when we are more connected to the food system, we see all the ways that society intersects at food, because everyone needs food. You know, if you don’t have food, that means maybe you can’t show up fully at school or work, or in your life, especially if you’re a person of color, who comes from a certain background. If your food is not something that is culturally relevant, then you may not be able to like celebrate your own culture and like celebrate your identity, and how can you feel good in yourself if you’re not eating food that makes you feel good. And also, it gives you a certain amount of control, just thinking about the history of displacement, and exploitation of Black folks and Indigenous folks in this country, a lot of us were tied to the land. And that’s like, where our culture and community and all of those things collided. And that meant that we had self determination, we had sovereignty. And then like, as the years have gone on, we see, like slavery, and then migration, and redlining and gentrification. Racism in our healthcare system, racism in our education system. There’s all these places where we’re not being taken care of very well. And if we are able to learn from the land and be connected to the land, it’s really good for the mind, body, and spirit. And a lot of our old traditions with Black folks like dating back to Africa, are connected to nature and like our relationship with it, and like how we take care of it. If you’re able to grow your own food, you don’t have to pay for food, you can create, like economic development out of growing food. You know, there’s so many ways that it empowers. I have to mention food access, and like food insecurity. And the ways that our lack of access to produce in communities of color is often intentional by our systems of oppression that are present in this country. And so we see a lot of what we call now ‘food swamps’ where it’s not necessarily that there’s no food around, but there’s a lot of unhealthy food around, that leads to all these health issues. You know, high blood pressure, diabetes, all these things that cause intergenerational trauma in families because they’re not healthy and they they have limitations and all this stuff gets passed on. And so if we’re able to grow own food and just like the system, we can take charge of our health and stop that idea that we just can’t eat healthy, because that’s just not what we have access to.
Kevin Henry 10:12
Well, I’m glad you mentioned the part about the intergenerational thing that happens with, you know, with parents, they’ve assumed a certain lifestyle, in terms of food, and they’re not familiar with programs such as what you’re talking about. If they don’t know about it, then they’re not going to be a part of it. And so then their children might ask, “Hey, what are my options?” They just say,” Well, it’s just this one option, let’s go to McDonald’s or something”.
Hannah Wilson 10:38
Kevin Henry 10:39
This kind of perpetuates the cycle over and over again. And you’re right about the the increased rates of cancer and things like that in people of color. Anything you’d like to add along with, if you wouldn’t mind giving out your website. So people, if they want to volunteer to participate in the programs, they know how to get in touch with you.
Hannah Wilson 10:59
Yeah, I think, you know, one last thing I want to mention is, one of the big things that The Black Farmers Collective is wanting to do is think about the bigger picture of why there’s so few black farmers and like why we’ve lost all this land over 100 years now. And our efforts as an organization are centered around not just that sort of urban farming, education and community building aspect. But also, how can we get more land and train new Black farmers or just farmers of color, so that they can acquire land and achieve that sort of like economic development that creates more success in our communities essentially. So I do want to mention the fact that we have a new four acre farm in Woodinville, and we’re doing our first year, this year where we have 40 families who are going to be fed through our CSA boxes. And we just hired a new farm manager who’s a young Black man. So this is his first farm, and so there’s just so many layers to this. And then going forward, we’re also going to just be creating the school system where we connect with other rural Black farmers in Washington and in the surrounding areas, who might need assistance in making sure that they don’t continue to lose their land and that they have support, like financial support, admin support. And also just like making sure that we can uplift their work so that they can find that connection to folks who want to buy their food, or if they are wanting to be in the Black community, like how can we make sure that food goes to the Black community. That farm is also an effort to bring in more farmers of color and train them and give them the resources they need to become a farmer, because one of the biggest barriers is that it takes so much money to start a farm, you know, you have to buy the land, you have to build all the infrastructure. And then you have to jump through all the hoops, the bureaucracy of getting all the paperwork in and getting grant funding. And that’s a lot for a Black farmer or a farmer of color, who hasn’t inherited land or hasn’t inherited, you know, money to get the education that is required to do all of those things at once. And so our hope is to like, bring that all into one place, in a place like very accessible and supportive, where they can find community with other Black farmers and farmers of color, who are also going through the same process.
Hannah Wilson 13:41
You can find us at blackfarmerscollective.com, or follow us on social media @blackfarmerscollective. And then you can come and volunteer at Yes Farm and hopefully soon at Small X?, which is the four acre farm, to get involved. And then also folks who are educators, organizers, leaders in our community can reach out and see what creative ways we can collaborate and bring more folks into this work.
Kevin Henry 14:09
Thank you very much.
Hannah Wilson 14:10
Yes, thank you for having me.
Yuko Kodama 14:13
That was Yes Farm farm manager, Hannah Wilson. Speaking with KBCS’ Kevin Henry. Yes Farm is an urban farm initiative of the Black Farmers collective. For more local stories you can visit KBCS.fm or subscribe to our podcast anywhere you pick them up.
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Adverse Childhood Experiences and Long Term Health Impacts
A study on the impacts of adverse childhood experiences (ACE), including exposure to emotional, physical, sexual abuse, or household dysfunction on adult long term health was published in 1998. The study found a relationship of ACE exposure to increased heart disease, cancer and chronic lung disease in adulthood. Since this study, many public health agencies have had an eye on this issue as they strategize for better health outcomes in our communities.
Dr. Benjamin Danielson is a Medical Director at Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic in Seattle. He describes ACEs and its impacts with KBCS’s Yuko Kodama.
Produced by Yuko Kodama and Jesse Callahan
Photo Credit: Seattle Children’s Hospital
Adverse childhood experiences or ACEs are difficult events that happened during infancy to youth. Studies have found a correlation of exposure to ACEs and long term health problems in people. Odessa Brown Medical Clinic’s medical doctor, Dr. Benjamin Danielson, speaks with KBCS’s Yuko Kodama about the study on ACEs.
The ACEs story goes back to studies done by a physician in the Kaiser Healthcare System in Southern California, who was wondering why the health outcomes for many of his adult patients were just not responding to the interventions that he was suggesting and doing. And so he started to cast this broad net and ask more and more questions. And over time found that these tenthings kept coming up in people’s backgrounds, especially large combinations of these ten things. And the most important part to me is that this was a community that was socio-economically actually relatively well off. This was community that was majority white. It was the background of these economically comfortable, mostly white, adult people who then related their stories and their experiences as children, and included these elements in them. And from that, a number of different researchers at different sites, including Harvard, and out in California, started to look at those correlations and do some of the regression analysis and the other fancy math, that then turns that into a pretty strong relationship that you can measure, count and create expectations based on.
what are some of the examples of what an adverse childhood experience could be?
The mostly things that you would recognize as unfortunate events for a child to experience, like the exposure to domestic violence in your home, the experience of having had neglect or physical punishment be a big part of your life, maybe living in a home where parents struggle with mental health conditions in a way that really adversely impacts your well being, things like that. the seriousness of adverse childhood experiences is important to think about, partly because I believe before we had much language around ACEs, many people, of course, sort of inductive knew that the hard experiences that you had, could have this impact on you, long term. But the ACEs studies actually brought that into a very, very clear light. And it’s pretty unusual, in some ways, to find something where there’s this direct correlation between the number of events and the step-wise increase in risk for illness. So I feel like it was the first time that you could pull these ideas of social exposures, things in your life happening around you, even if they’re not to you, and long term health outcomes. It’s a pretty remarkable and powerful and painful, full of a deeper story, though, than just a score, or a specific risk for heart disease, or depression.
So ACEs, does that also include things like historical trauma and epigenetics kind of things?
ACEs themselves do not include the epigenetic impacts themselves. They’re really specifically talking to the experiences that a child had, I think the continued thinking about ACEs has started to speak about community ACEs and broader generational ACEs, which does start to bring this conversation about historical trauma into scope. However, the original studies were really about what does an individual experience in their early years, how does that translate into their lifelong health? The other two important things to remember that ACEs does not speak to in any way at all. One is the impact of poverty in this country, on your health, and the other is the impact of oppression like racism on your health.
So that’s one thing, to understand it as a medical professional. And, you know, be aware of it as you’re working with people, right. But then there’s the other aspect of it, which is, medical professionals usually come into things when someone is feeling sick. So where does that put medical professionals then, in looking at this?
Such a good question. Where does that put medical professionals? Or what is where does it imply that maybe some of our training and preparation should be directed in a different way. I’m a primary care pediatrician. So I have a huge respect for prevention, and supporting wellness, not just intervening when someone is ill. Also working within those young age groups, I feel like it puts pediatricians in the space to be potentially especially impactful, on terms of affecting lifelong health. So suddenly, as a pediatrician, I feel like, I might be able to help someone who’s in their 80s down the road because of the work that you do during their childhood. The second thing for me is that as a pediatric primary care provider, among nurse practitioners, and doctors, and PAs, and all of the other wonderful types that are out there, we are all also very much involved and invested in supporting children’s social determinants, the world of exposures and experiences around them, not just their bodies, even if you think about their whole bodies, which is a stretch for some healthcare systems to think whole body, whole mind, it’s also important to be thinking whole family, whole community whole of experiences, and perhaps even the timeline of experiences, the life course, if you will, then you start to think about maybe the ACEs that mom experienced when she was a child, maybe you start to think about the genetic components that go into the creation of a child. And what ACEs those genes are exposed to. I’ve come to believe that ACEs exist within a circle of toxic stress experiences that happen in your life.
As I’ve already mentioned, the original studies were done in people with a fair amount of security economically, and who didn’t face as much racism as other people do. And so that tells me that anybody can experience a number of ACEs and they can affect your life. It also tells me that there’s a separate circle, maybe called oppression, toxic oppression, that has its own impact on your life, even if you could say that you never experienced those ten ACEs, racism and the other oppressions out there have their own impact on your well being, you can’t solve an oppression problem by saying you’re going to fix ACEs problems. But there is a huge amount of overlap and people who have to face both racism, and an ACEs score of seven, really deserve as much attention as you can provide.
And there’s a third circle, I call it toxic capitalism, other people would call it poverty. But those are all separate circles, and they can affect your well being independently or together. We’ve heard stories of Serena Williams having a near death experience in giving birth, that really almost cost her her life as a black woman in this country, not because she was socio-economically deprived, because she is in the well-to-do categories. But the racism and oppression that we have in our country have an impact on her health and her chance to have a healthy birth experience. We’ve seen plenty of folks also in low income communities who are strong together and have wonderful community experiences, and low ACEs experiences, and those communities are thriving, we should reject the idea that you have to be well off in order to thrive as a community.
So I feel that there are these three intersecting circles in our lives. And some of them overlap and some of them don’t capitalism, toxic capitalism anyway. Oppression, like racism, and marginalization, able-ism, all of those isms, the way we treat the LGBTQ community still in this country, the many different ways that we um… we other in a way that is degrading and detrimental. And then there’s a circle called toxic stress. ACEs is an important one of those. Just to make it slightly more complicated, I think there are two others in that circle too. Because I think ACEs by themselves doesn’t do justice to the stress that some people feel, you may not have had those ten things happen in your life. But you might have every single day, the trickling constant mini-crisis experiences that then wear you down that weather doesn and wear down your ability to withstand illness, to hold off emotional stress and trauma. And I think that day to day drip drop, drop of the stress hormones in your body. And those experiences in your environment also have this detrimental effect on your health. And so I don’t want to say that you only get to talk about bad health outcomes from stress if it’s in the frame of ACEs, because there are other stresses that happen.
I hear too many times a mom say ‘My car broke down last week. I had to figure out how to get alternate transportation. My job does not give me the chance to have paid leave off. And my grandmother lives far away from me now. So for me, in order for me to get to this clinic, even… to even start getting care for my child, I have to deal with all of these many crazies. And now I don’t know when I go home, whether we’re going to have food on the table that’s healthy, or whether I’m going to have to make some necessary but harder choices about the nutritional content that I’m feeding my child’ . None of those are ACEs, right? And yet, they all have a pretty important effect. And if you live through your life with those going on every day, that’s pretty hardcore.
There’s a third set that I think are mild stresses that happen at critical times in your life. And the most important example to me is childbirth. Where just something mild and unexpected happens, but it sets inside of usual sense that something else more deeply is going on, something else is wrong. I think of the mom who goes into the hospital expecting a vaginal birth, and then has a C-section occur, and everything could go great with that C-section, everything could go fine. But that is traumatic to have that change in your expectation. And I thnk there are lots of parents who then leave that experience thinking something else is wrong, something else is going to go wrong with this child because I didn’t expect that first thing to happen. And now there’s something else going on there that I think it’s not quite doing it honor to call it worried-well. There’s something in there about you’ve had an experience, not a serious, serious one. But it happened at a key time, and it changed the way you felt about how secure you are about the well-being of your child. And all of that means I think our healthcare system should be addressing those things, instead of waiting till someone’s sick and trying to treat them.
You know, medical professionals could then become advocates for the entire family, do you find yourself in that kind of position from time to time?
Yes, we’ve actually tried to structure our clinic around really thinking more environmentally more holistically about what a child needs to thrive and be happy. One example is that we’ve created a special fund that is not designated in any particular way. We call it a basic needs fund. And it’s really there to respond in the moment to the kinds of stressors that a family might experience. Just before this interview, I was weighing in on a special fund request from a family that was trying to get other family members closer to this family. They were going through a lot their child has sickle cell disease, and they really needed their whole family to kind of be together and be able to embrace, and a grandmother is living in another state. And they needed help getting that grandmother transported here. That’s so funny that ties together so many parts of what we are talking about already, but we’re able to make a contribution to the transportation needs to get grandmother into closer connection with this mom and this child, as they are managing this really hard diagnosis called sickle cell disease.
What are some of the ways that you interact with the family and your interest in the environment of a child?
I’m going to speak maybe from our best intention, best hope, best heart optimistic view. Because I don’t know if we ever get it right all the time. But I’ll share what our intentions are and how we try to make sure those are impactful.
One is that we keep trying to build more and more time into our visits, our encounters. There’s so much more to the experience and health and the well being of a child than could ever show up in a 20 minute visit, right? So we try to intentionally build a lot more time into visits, even ones that on the face of it should be brief. ‘ Can you recheck my child’s ears to make sure that ear infections getting better’. That should be you know, five minutes of peeking in an ear and talking to a mom. However, what happens so often is right near the end of that five minutes is this, oh, by the way moment, we call it, where a mom might say just’ oh, by the way, we are about to get kicked out of our apartment’ , or’ Oh, by the way, I haven’t shared this before. But we’re survivors of domestic violence. And I’m getting more worried that a threatening person is trying to, trying to find me and get back into our lives’ . And it’s , I think it’s a horrible moment in healthcare when someone would say something like, ‘ Well, good luck with that your ears are fine and see you next time’ . That would be the worst, the worst kind of care possible.
We try to make sure that we have a moment to listen, hold that space. And also, if possible, start a path of support in the, in those moments. So that takes time first. The second thing it takes is being unafraid to ask, I will share that healthcare professionals, especially young ones, come with this worry about ‘ Please don’t ask me something I don’t have an answer to’. And I get it on the one level. But it’s there’s a lot of hubris and saying I only want to have conversations when I know the answers to them. And I think that’s pretty unfortunate. Th ey’ll say stuff like I feel like It’s a harm to a family for them to share something. And for me not to be able to do something about it. And I kind of understand that. But boy, what would it be like if we all went through the world, only having conversations that we knew the end of?
Anyway, we try to build a different mentality into our clinic and say,’ Wow, that looks tough’ . And that I can only sit here and feel this with you and hold this with you. And maybe we can start to build in different kinds of responses. I mentioned our basic needs fund, which is sometimes important. We think about our care as a team. And sometimes it’s our social worker who has a connection and ability to listen in a way that is especially important and they can be part of that visit. Sometimes we need different expertise. And we have a program called a medical legal partnership, which is kind of amazing. Just what you can do, and you bring different kinds of minds together to help work on challenging problems. When it comes down to housing rights, or educational rights or access to services, the partnership between a medical person, social services person and a lawyer…that can be really powerful. So I hope that we continue to stress and push and stretch ourselves to be able to take on problems that today that feel really difficult because I think their solutions tomorrow that are going to be pretty amazing. That’s a piece of the model that we’re trying to build. We’re trying to live out where we talked about when we say that healthcare should be more integrated with lots of team members coming together in the name of supporting a child and their family and the community around them.
And then the last thing for now I’ll say is that we also try to get outside our walls as much as possible to make sure that we’re sometimes more conveniently in the spaces that feel more comfortable and safe to families in order to be good listeners in those spaces instead of on our own terms. It’s important for it not to always be a home game, right? Can I have some away games? Oh, and one other things I’ll say that structured into our visits, especially in the first year or two is we try to incorporate more of an understanding of things like parenting confidence, and the social services and support that come with that.
We try to look at more for things you would expect, like maybe postpartum mood concerns. But also we try to get a little more deeply about like, how do you feel about being a parent? How hard does it feel right now, who’s there to support you what’s important to you… em..culturally, or from a community perspective in order to, to do that as well as you want to. There are actually some evidence based screening tools that we use. One we stole from Australia. And there are some other tools that we use that are just more responsive to what the community tells us they need. We really do need to reform our healthcare training process. I feel like I experienced many, many students who came into their medical training as wonderful listeners and caring human beings full of compassion. And then the listening skill gets squeezed out. The sense of compassion sometimes gets blurred and blunted. And you see people requiring almost a period of recovery from their training in order to regain their souls. I’ll say it that way. And I think that’s just a shame.
On top of that, we create a health care system that is American, and it’s worst ways the sort of solo cowboy who’s trained to be this hero who’s going to swing into town, fix those poor deplorable people and make them better. There’s so many bad messages and the way we verbalize and don’t verbalize what we’re saying to people who go into training and healthcare. Healthcare is at its best, such a team sport, and it’s so much better actually when it’s people from many different circles. You know, take that lawyer, take that teacher, take the social worker who’s skilled in those ways, take the mental health provider, take the… maybe the health care provider hasn’t been exposed to medical school quite so much. Put them together. You’re gonna have a much better clinic or whatever you want to call it. Then you had before uncommon partnerships are so important.
That was Dr. Benjamin Danielson speaking with KBCS’s Yuko Kodama.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai
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