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Thousands of agricultural workers live in or migrate to Ohio to work in its number one industry, Agriculture. These workers are often an afterthought, stuck in the background, and we aim to bring their stories to the forefront. Not of the people calling the shots but those who toil in the fields and harvest the food we eat, those who care for livestock and work in dairies. We want to know why they do this backbreaking work, how they got into the industry, and their hopes and dreams. We also seek to explore the dangers of these occupations and the history of worker protections in agriculture, especially those of farmworkers and foreign agricultural workers.
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Now a proud Toledoan, Gwen Short was born and grew up in Dayton, Ohio. As a kid, her favorite activities included exploring streams, turning over rocks, and planting in her family’s garden. Later, she would take that sense of exploration with her as she became an outdoor educator out west. Gwen got into that work to make an impact by fostering stewardship and sustainability within participants. Gwen saw how participants in her programs and those around her were deeply affected by the legal systems in our society. Now, Gwen has shifted from an education-based to a legal-based approach to impact and works as an attorney for immigrant and agricultural worker rights.
Wendy Aviña transplanted to Ohio from Texas 15 years ago. Born in California to Mexican immigrant parents, Wendy experienced firsthand the daily barriers and inequalities many immigrants endure. These experiences have led her to select career paths that enable her to help empower immigrants and farmworkers wherever she resides concerning civil rights, education, immigration, and access to health care. Wendy has listened to countless stories of disappointments, hardship, sacrifice, determination, gumption, and bravery throughout her work. Now she hopes to bring you these stories in Farmworker Chronicles.
Voices Around Us™ is supported in part by American Rescue Plan Act funds allocated by the City of Toledo and the Lucas County Commissioners and administered by The Arts Commission.