‘Tequio’: Community Building with MICOP

11.20.18 — ‘Tequio’ in Mixtec culture is defined as community obligation, or a spirit of working together to assist and uplift one another. 

Today we’d like to highlight one of our agency partners, the Mixteco/Indigena Community Organizing Projecto (MICOP). MICOP is an organization working to strengthen and empower Mixtec and indigenous immigrant communities in Ventura County. Reaching around 6,000 people each year, MICOP champions a range of services such as language interpretation, health outreach, food distribution, and cultural promotion.

 

Community members select Food Forward produce, gleaned from the Oxnard Farmers Market.

Who makes up the Mixtec community?

Indigenous to Southern Mexico, the Mixtec people are a linguistic and cultural group with roots predating Spanish colonization. The Mixteca region covers most of the state of Oaxaca as well as some neighboring states. Mixtec culture is significantly different from “Spanish/Mestizo” Mexican culture — and there are minimal resources dedicated to preserving this rich cultural and linguistic history. About one-fifth of Mixtec people will live in the United States at some point in their lives, many out of economic necessity. Soil erosion dating back to European exploitation has decimated much of the region’s agricultural land, making migration the only viable option for many Mixtec people. There are an estimated 20,000 indigenous people from Oaxaca living and working in Ventura County today.

 

Community members gather before receiving fresh produce.

MICOP’s work in the community

Many Mixtec people are strawberry farmworkers and speak neither Spanish nor English, but one of many indigenous Mixtec languages. This language gap often leads to discrimination, exploitation, and poverty. MICOP aims to fill these gaps by organizing Mixtec community members and providing basic services, youth leadership programs, literacy and education classes, and a community-supported radio station that broadcasts in indigenous languages. MICOP empowers the community to draw on their tradition of “tequio,” or community obligation, to support each other and overcome barriers. They celebrate traditions like Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), and Guelaguetza (a regional dance festival celebrating all indigenous groups) to build community strength and pride, and add to the cultural diversity of Ventura County.

 

Kids sitting together while their parents wait to pick up fresh fruits and veggies!

Food Forward + MICOP

Food Forward is proud to support MICOP with donations of fresh surplus fruits and vegetables from the Oxnard Farmers Market. Donna Foster, Operations Manager at MICOP says that “Food Forward has been a valuable partner in assisting the community to access fresh local produce each month at no cost. Our families greatly appreciate receiving this bounty!”

We are grateful to partner with MICOP and support the amazing work they are doing in Ventura county. And we are grateful for your support, which allows us to continue providing produce to our community members from all corners of the world!

 

Arts and crafts at a produce distribution event!

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