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Santa Cruz Indymedia | Arts + Action | Health, Housing, and Public Services | Immigrant Rights | Labor & Workers
Santa Cruz Festival del Nopal Celebrates Third Year
The Third Annual Festival de Nopal took place in downtown Santa Cruz on Sunday, July 22.
The Festival de Nopal featured many local food vendors using nopal, or prickly pear cactus, in a variety of cuisine such as pupusas, huraches, salad, tlayudas, baked potatoes, fries, and tacos. The event, founded and coordinated by City Councilmember Tony Madrigal, celebrates the significance of the nopal in Mexican cuisine and showcases the plant's versatility and healing properties. The well-attended daytime celebration included a recipe contest, a nopal cooking demonstration, the selection of a festival queen, performances by clowns and live music as well as free nopales for festivalgoers to take home. Consumption of nopales has been shown to improve one's metabolism, balance the digestive system, and lower blood sugar and levels of triglycerides and cholesterol, two of the most common fats in the human body. Nopales are high in vitamins, minerals and fiber.
The festival's program was put out by the Day Worker Center, part of the Community Action Board of Santa Cruz. Day laborers seek work on a day-to-day basis, often without a formal relationship with an employer. They perform work in a variety of locations and do wide range of work, and have long been part of Santa Cruz County's labor force. However, many work in dangerous conditions and are underpaid or exploited. The Day Worker Center will function as a safe and dependable hiring location that encourages laborers to be aware of and exercise their rights. According to their mission statement, "the Day Worker Center in Santa Cruz County exists to facilitate the hiring of day workers, both men and women; and to guarantee them dignified wages and safe working conditions in accordance with U.S. and California law. Additionally, the Center offers a variety of supportive services and training opportunities to its members to enrich their skill sets with the goal of providing quality services to the community." In May 2007, a group of local day laborers, law enforcement representatives, government, business, community health and human service organizations as well as immigrant rights advocates formed the Day Worker Advisory Council. A year later the group joined with the Community Action Board (CAB), and became a formal program of CAB in 2011 with the Center set to open sometime this year. The Center will provide a safe and legitimate place for day laborers and employers to participate in hiring negotiations, which will hopefully improve the relationship between laborers, police, and community members as well as providing assistance in regards to workers' health and safety issues. Full-time paid staff and volunteers will manage the Center and support the Day Worker Committee to assist with daily operations, perform outreach and coordinate on-site social services. Those interested in helping the Day Workers Organizing Committee can contact them via the Community Action Board at 406 Main St., Suite 207, Watsonville, CA, 95076.
The Helping Cactus was an art project facilitated by Women's Crisis Support, which provides crisis intervention, including a 24-hour crisis line, crisis counseling, support groups, and referrals and information about domestic violence or sexual assault with offices in both Watsonville and Santa Cruz. At the booth, workers talked to children about their experiences with violence and bullying as they participated in the art project and encouraged them to pledge to speak up to stop violence in our communities. If someone you know needs help because of domestic violence and/or sexual abuse, contact Women's Crisis Support at 722-4532, 425-4030, or 1-888-900-4232.
shirt design by artist Robin Maclean
fruit carving demonstration by the Center for Employment Training
El Tercer Festival del Nopal se Celebra en Santa Cruz