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C2C celebrates 15 years of advocacy Friday in Bellingham

BELLINGHAM — A unique grassroots organization that supports immigrant and farmworkers’ rights in Washington state is celebrating 15 years of fighting back. Community to Community Development (C2C) is holding its 15th anniversary in Bellingham, highlighting some of its accomplishments over the past decade and a half.

Liz Darrow, C2C’s media coordinator, says the group has helped families after immigration raids, supported the nation’s first indigenous-led farmworkers’ union — Familias Unidas por la Justicia — and pushed state legislation that created an oversight board for a federal guest farmworker program.

But she notes that C2C often has to go around the existing power structure to accomplish its goals.

“When people create change for themselves and by themselves, it’s a lot more impactful and it’s a lot more sustainable,” she said. “So that’s the silver lining of not having power structures on your side is that you can make the road by walking, so to speak.”

Darrow says the group has plenty of work to do, and chief among its concerns is the climate crisis.

The anniversary event, called Making the Road by Walking, is on Friday, Oct. 4 at 5 p.m. at Boundary Bay Brewery in Bellingham. (Click here for tickets.) The name of the event refers to a poem by the Spanish poet Antonio Machado.

Edgar Franks, political director of Familias Unidas por la Justicia, says his union would not have been as successful without C2C’s support. He adds that the group, where he once was an intern, has seen farmworkers through a lot and still plays a vital role in communities.

“With the attacks on immigrants and on workers, stock market crashes and what-have-you that has happened in the last 15 years, C2C has always been able to maintain in the community and be the voice for some of the people that have been forgotten about or marginalized,” he states.

Kara Black partners with C2C through the Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship. She’s watched the group grow in power over the past 15 years and says it’s a rare type of grassroots organization.

“It’s led by women of color,” she points out. “It’s led by people who’ve been where the people are that they’re working to support. It’s not an organization you find everywhere, and it’s really, actually an honor to be able to participate with this organization and to support this organization.”

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