On Earth Day this year we had the opportunity to visit Mankato State and the Mankato Area Activist Collective in order to give our presentation on the problem with palm oil. They were celebrating Earth Week and thought it would be a good idea for us to come down to celebrate... we agreed!
On Thursday April 21st a handful of us twin city folk took the 2 hour trek down to Mankato. We arrived a little late, but arrived in time to enter an Intro to Sociology class and gave a short 10 minute speech on who we are and what we do and more importantly the evils of Cargill.Afterwards, one woman told us she will talk to her friend who works at Cargill the next time she sees them!
We took a short break and then headed to the auditorium to have a longer more in-depth conversation on palm oil, Cargill, and what we as Minnesota activists can do to change the production of palm oil. we had a very open dialogue and got into things that even stumped us ranfolks, like the cycle in which palm oil is produced.
Once more we were offered to enter another class, this time a class on globalization. We gave our little diddy on the problems with palm oil and opened up the classroom for questions. An African man started the conversation by commending on us on the work that we did. He then began to tell us his story, and the story of palm oil in Africa. How it's used in everyday life and how it fuels the local economies. The story shifted as he told us how large corporations came in offering benefits if the people of land let it be used for palm oil production. Many people said yes. The corporations then began bringing in different subspecies of palm and messed everything else up. He told us how his people never thought of fighting back like us Minnesotans have and offered us a chance to come into his community and give our presentation.
Through out the course of a couple hours we were able to give our presentation on palm oil to over 50 different people and give a different perspective of monocultures and consumerism. Most students don't recognize what goes into their comfort food their eating during finals. It was also a learning opportunity for us because we all knew that Palm orignates from Africa, but we've never heard any first hand accounts.
Hopefully, we will be able to get back to Mankato in the near future for more classroom and community presentations.