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[:en]Welcome to the Grassroots Greenhouse! Meet Our Sprouts[:]

December 2021
[:en]Let’s not sugarcoat it: It’s been a rough year. More than that: It’s been a rough nearly three years now. In several informal office polls, the results are in and no one wants to hear the phrase ‘unprecedented times’ ever, ever again.

But if there’s anything we’ve learned from our partners (aside from, of course, the need for food, land, and Indigenous sovereignty, and the vitally important nature of the right to self-determination), it’s that the need to hold onto joy is more important than ever. No matter how slim or far away it may seem, there’s always hope for the future, and it is essential to find things to remind ourselves of that.

So without further ado, here are some seeds of hope that we at Grassroots have been nourishing since 2020. In order of appearance: 

Vera Tanamá

Vera Tanamá fluttered into our lives in May 2020, a moment of joy when we sorely needed it! Nearly two now, Vera Tanamá still brings us smiles during Zoom meetings, where she is delighted by waves, furry companions, and exciting new photo filters.

Her mother says, “Vera Tanamá was named for the season of primavera (spring), Vera, and  Tanamá for the Tanamá River located in Puerto Rico. Tanamá means mariposa (butterfly) in the Taino language.

She is curious and creative and very affectionate; she loves to distribute kisses to animate and inanimate things. She loves to go on neighborhood adventures looking for wild turkeys (pavos)  She loves babies, fruits, and animals, especially gatos, “arfff,” rabbits, butterflies, and cows. She also likes stars and la luna and pizza! She likes to name her toys and play with any kind of cable. She enjoys participating in zoom calls to look for gatos (especially Frida) and arfff and also giving kisses to some of the participants 🙂 and she calls me Babi!!! Never Mama or something similar. As I said she is very creative and doesn’t want to follow what society imposes – and I love it!!!!!!! I want to educate her for FREEDOM. I hope I can.”


Adam made a grand entrance in September 2020. Since then, he has grown into a happy, lively tot with a full head of luxuriously curly hair. The first of his siblings to be born in the US, he still remains deeply connected to his Palestinian roots, and has already made his small but powerful voice heard at rallies for freedom.

His father says, “Adam made our life full of happiness, love, and steadfastness. He is reminiscent of my dream of liberation and justice with peace. He is me. 

“He just likes breastfeeding and we are planning to wean him soon.”


Maria was joyfully welcomed into the family from the other side of the world in January 2021! Since then, she has already proven herself an intrepid traveler, a curious investigator of Zoom screens, and a fast-moving bundle of all-around cuteness.

Her parents say, “Maria Arisa Schiavoni made her entrance on January 21, 2021 in Bangkok, Thailand. At nearly a year old, she’s full of energy and zest for life. Favorite pastimes include taking things apart, making noise, dancing, enjoying books, admiring animals, removing her socks and shoes, spontaneously bursting into applause, catching the attention of strangers, and playing with anything not intended to be a toy. She’s an adventurous eater and especially loves legumes of all sorts.”


Esmeralda Fay López Tramel joined our family in early October 2021! An avid swimmer since before birth and a new citizen of Spain, she’s already proven that good things come in small packages. We are excited to see her zest for life as she grows!

Her parents say, “Esmeralda’s name comes originally from a word for a flash or sparkle, and she is certainly sparkling for us. She makes us smile with her diva-esque poses, and she makes delightful and dramatic sounds that really have us wondering.

“Luckily she has taken to breast-feeding well, and we wonder if she will pick up her mom’s liking for fine coffee from the milk. Sometimes she seems annoyed that she can’t walk yet, and the hum of a car on an open freeway seems to calm her down, so maybe she will be into travel like her parents.

“Her smiles are starting now, at 2 months, and she really brightens up the room. Looking forward to introducing her to her Grassroots family.”

And we certainly can’t forget our furry family members:


Biko (named for Stephen Biko) came to the Mersha/Lloyd household in September 2020.  He was originally Sara’s father’s cat, and we inherited him from Sara’s parents when they moved. He has brought a lot of love to our family! He is an affectionate cat who gives hugs, loves to curl up on laps, and sleeps with Ayana’s stuffed animals.  We are grateful to our neighbor, Ayman, who gives Biko love when we are away.


Tuta, a former farmcat (and possible former comrade-in-arms of Biko), pounced her way into the Nijim household late last year where she brings great delight to her father and siblings, and has won over her cat-ambivalent mother. Tuta loves sunshine and curling up with dad during Zoom meetings.


Seli wriggled on-screen in early 2021. Since then, she’s brought us smiles with her playful nature and boundless energy. Though still a young pup, she’s already traveled extensively and undergone one major surgery, but that hasn’t kept her down! She loves attention, the outside, and chewing on anything she can get her jaws on.

Frida Katlo

Frida Katlo was welcomed into her forever home in January 2021. Little is known about her mysterious past, except that she was a street cat at one point, and that a previous owner had her cruelly declawed. A sweet and affectionate little cat, Frida has adjusted to the good life and most loves long naps, snuggles with her human, luxurious baths, and wild-caught salmon from her uncle. Also, catnip.

We hope meeting some of our small family has brought you joy! They certainly make us smile every day. Here’s to a new year, a fresh start, and cherishing the beauty still to be found in the world.
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