Carmen Cortez

Organization: Tierras Milperas; Community Agroecology Network

For the last 10 years Carmen has focused her community organizing and learning on creating community processes for the recuperation of traditional foodways and traditional ecological knowledge systems. These, she sees as the basis for igniting self-organization and community autonomy for the construction of alternative food and economic systems where land and labor are no longer exploited. She forms part of a community where land teachings and the values of a subsistence livelihood are just a generation away enabling the praxis of community methodologies that nurture futures beyond this industrial society and its current economic tentacles. She generates alternative learning and cultural spaces where community knowledge is shared, practiced, and created from the perspective of the land, collective interdependence, and always across generations. Radio, community music, and agroecology are the tools that support this work. Currently she serves in the commission on community governance; a work committee supporting the Assembly and governing council of the campesino led community garden organization, Tierras Milperas. Here she co-builds social processes for food sovereignty, agroecology, community land tenure, and self-governance. In her role as associate director at the Community Agroecology Network (CAN) she supports with organizational transitions and accompanying seed recuperation and youth empowerment work with the network’s rural communities of Southern Mexico. Carmen grew up in an urban inner-city of Southeast Los Angeles where her parents migrated with their milpa seeds, being themselves campesinos in northern Mexico. Carmen holds a PhD in Ecology from UC Davis.

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