|Calling NORPAC to the table |
Tuesday began at the Centro Cultural Community Center in Cornelius. After a breakfast of cooked rice and milk (cow or soy), everyone gathered outside. Multicolored signs and a giant puppet rose into the clear blue sky. Walkers practiced chants. Peacekeepers in their orange vests coordinated with each other. Everyone suited up, stretched, and got ready to go.
Atop a pick-up truck that would be leading the Walk, the organizers had built a simple piece of installation art meant to represent their demands: a table covered with a "rich bounty of food" (paper mache), and surrounded by four chairs. Three represented, respectively, the farmworker, the consumer, and the organizations that are trying to help (the Eccumenical Ministries, PCUN, etc.). The fourth, left empty was for NORPAC, to represent the Walk organizers invitation to the cooperative to "join the table" and address the workers' needs.
Around 9:00, the Walk started, led by a bright yellow banner, through the streets of Cornelius. The march suffered no obstacles except an ambulance. No one had any trouble from cars or people. The peacekeepers kept people on the sidewalks, and made sure the walkers didn't get too spread out. The whole way, the walkers chanted slogans.
Outside of Cornelius, the Walk reached a field where workers were harvesting strawberries. Far away, they toiled under the sun. These particular workers make 15 cents for every pound of strawberries they harvest, but this field had already been hit earlier in the season, so the fruit was very small. More work, then, was necessary to gather a pound. The walkers stopped here, lined up along the road, and attempted to communicate to them through bullhorns. Individuals made their own pleas, and the walkers chanted Spanish slogans in unison. Though the workers paused at first, and stood to see what was happening, they were soon back to work again. There is little time when one is making so little money per pound.
Some participants on the Walk were surprised to find such a small number of people in those particular fields that day, and wondered if NORPAC, knowing the Walk would be coming this way, had sent the majority of workers elsewhere.