Janaina Stronzake a member of the Brazilian Landless Workers Movement (MST), will be visiting five cities on the U.S. East Coast over the next three weeks to learn about what local communities in the U.S. are doing to defend their right to food and to share her life story in the movement. Janaina’s trip is organized by the U.S. Friends of MST, Poverty Initiative, Why Hunger, and Grassroots International. A snapshot of Janaina’s agenda appears at the bottom of this blog. Originally from Rio Grande do Sul, Janaina and her family joined the movement in 1985 in Parana state. The Landless Workers Movement (MST), a partner of Grassroots International, has been at the forefront of social action for agrarian reform and food sovereignty in Brazil for more than 25 years. The MST works with peasants to identify and settle on underutilized land, gain legal title to the land and bring it into productive use. Through these efforts, over to 350,000 families have been settled and another 89,840 families are living in encampments, awaiting title to their land. Janaina’s family and their comrades established one of the early MST settlements where members owned and worked the land cooperatively. While her parents and extended family cultivate a small farm, Janaina and her siblings work for the MST in different activities at state and national levels. For instance, Janaina has worked in the past in the MST’s gender sector organizing campaigns and training of new members. She has also been one of the instructors at MST’s Florestan Fernandes National School, a training center for grassroots organizers located in São Paulo state. Her brother is a lawyer working for the MST and one of her sisters has worked with the Via Campesina in Venezuela.
With the goal of building a strong global food sovereignty movement in Brazil and Latin America, the Landless Workers Movement fosters farmer-to-farmer exchanges and often collaborates with food sovereignty advocates in the United States and Europe. Through learning exchanges and speaking engagements, the MST brings inspiration and extends solidarity to rural and urban communities throughout the globe. The MST is one of the most inspiring examples of what food sovereignty looks like — it combines a sophisticated understanding of agroecology with a practice of building a movement to secure land rights, even amidst brutal repression. Janaina grew up in an encampment where her community fought hard to have a piece of land to grow food and their hopes of a better future. In many ways Janaina and her siblings are the realization of that hope. As a young adult, she followed her siblings’ footsteps and went on to help other landless families to achieve their land rights. After over a decade in the movement, Janaina became a leader within the MST, using her position to nurture leadership in others. Please note that events are still being organized. For the most up-to-date information, contact US Friends of MST at www.mstbrazil.org, or Grassroots International’s Program Coordinator for Latin America Saulo Araujo at firstname.lastname@example.org. New York City October 14 – Speaking engagement at International Day of Rural Women and World Food Day event at United Nations in observance of the U.N. World Food Day. Janaina will be in the panel called “Food Security: Global Policy and Grassroots Realities.” Other panelists are: Sharon Brennen-Haylock (UN Food and Agriculture Organization); Arrmanatha Nasir (Permanent Mission of the Republic of Indonesia to the UN); and Diana Duarte (MADRE). October 15-16 – Participation in the Black Farmers and Urban Gardeners Conference “Growing Wealth, Health and Justice.” The event will “convene farmers, students, consumers, activists and organizations from across the country.” October 23 – Speaking at event organized by the Brooklyn Ethical Society. Boston October 20 – Visiting the New Entry Sustainable Farming Project in Lowell, MA October 20 – Speaking at Encuentro 5 in Chinatown Boston. “Building Grassroots Power: The Experience of the Brazilian Landless Movement (MST) in Brazil.” The event is open to the general public. October 22 – She will meet with The Food Project staff and youth and will tour growing sites. After the tour, Janaina will speak to youth members about the meaning of Food Sovereignty. Philadelphia October 27 – She will speak at Critical Refusals Conference in the University of Pennsylvania. Janaina will present on a panel called “Class-based Movement Building: Organizational Forms and Strategies.” Baltimore October 28 – Janaina will be one of the keynote speakers at the Fair Development Forum. Washington, DC October 30 – Janaina will be at a house party to meet with local Grassroots International supporters and friends, For more information, contact info@GrassrootsOnline.org. November 1 – Janaina will be speaking on two occasions at American University. For more information, contact info@GrassrootsOnline.org