Community Voices: Alas Abiertas

Our Community Voices series highlights the Back of the Yards residents, youth, and workers that make up the vibrant fabric of our neighborhood. Here we celebrate our neighbors, share our collective successes, and focus on the beauty and perseverance that defines Back of the Yards.

Alas Abiertas Co-Founder (and Plant Chicago Outreach Associate) Cristal Alba, sat down with fellow Co-Founders Margarita Romero, Felicite Tambaud, and Maria Vargas to talk about their experience in the community and at the Plant Chicago Farmers Market. Interview was conducted in Spanglish (U.S. dialect of Spanish that combines English and Spanish); Scroll down for an all English translated version

 

Cristal: Can you please explain to us who Alas Abiertas is?

Margarita: Alas abiertas es un grupo de mujeres, que somos diferentes, pero nos une algo en común: el haber pasado por momentos difíciles y el tener del deseo de superación.

Felicite: Ultimately, we want to continue our business [selling homemade goods including pies and Mexican food catering] para poder ayudar a otras mujeres a ser independientes financieramente y emocionalmente.
Cristal: How does Alas Abiertas connect to its neighborhood here in Back of the Yards?

Margarita: Es donde nos encontramos, we all come from different places, Maria viene de Cicero, Felicite and I are both coming from Mexico, and [Cristal] de California. Su Casa, [women’s shelter located in Back of the Yards] gave the three of us, [Margarita, Felicite, and Maria], shelter y ahora queremos ayudar a otras mujeres en el camino de homelessness a transición a sus propios hogares.

Felicite: [Back of the Yards] tambien es la comunidad donde vivimos y es una comunidad donde nos identificamos. Es una comunidad marginada que necesita apoyo, donde hay varios recursos y vemos nuestro futuro aquí, no todos saben eso.

Maria: Participamos también en el mercado de Plant Chicago en la planta que nos ha ayudado a conocer nuestras capacidades y ha sido un buen punto de inicio para nosotras. El ser parte del [Peace and Ed] coalition también nos ha dado otra oportunidad de conocimiento entre la comunidad y participando en eventos de la comunidad apoyamos estas iniciativas.
Cristal: Tell us about Alas Abiertas relationship with Plant Chicago.

Margarita: El mercado nos ha ofrecido una manera de obtener dinero y compartir con nuestros hijos y enseñarles como trabajar, kids like the plant, les gustan las gallinas.

Felicite: Al participar en el farmers market ayudamos a la economía local. Compramos frutas y ingredientes dentro de la comunidad y la gente que nos compra también es de la comunidad. In that way, we are supporting our neighborhood and keeping the money here.

Maria: Estamos agradecidas por la oportunidad de iniciar nuestro propio negocio, pero queremos ver más fiestas con cumbia, un toro mecánico, y cerveza gratis, (We all laugh).
Cristal: How can Plant Chicago support more initiatives like Alas Abiertas?

Felicite: Ver más diversidad dentro de la planta, para que la comunidad se sienta identificada. La Planta también tiene que ir hacia la comunidad no solamente invitarla a ir a la planta.

Maria: Things are good at the plant, estamos muy agradecidas por el apoyo que nos han dado, pero sería bueno que los productos fueran más accesibles, we can’t afford the prices.

 

Cristal: Lastly, ¿cuáles son los planes de Alas Abiertas para este verano?

Felicite: Participar activamente en cada mercado de Plant Chicago, los invitamos a todos a venir a visitarnos.

Margarita: Tambien queremos crecer, aprender más sobre como tener un negocio y ayudar a otras mujeres a usar el mercado como un espacio para vender sus productos y tener empleo.

Maria: Esperamos ser una inspiración para otras mujeres, y poder ayudarles en los inicios de ser empresarias.

 

Community Voices: Alas Abiertas [fully translated version] 

Cristal: Can you please explain to us who Alas Abiertas is?

Margarita: “Alas Abiertas is a group of women, and we are all different, but we have one thing in common: we have been through difficult times but still have the desire to overcome.”

Felicite: “Ultimately, we want to continue our business [selling homemade goods including pies and Mexican food catering] to then be able to help other women in becoming financially and emotionally independent.”

 

Cristal: How does Alas Abiertas connect to its neighborhood here in Back of the Yards?

Margarita: This is where we all met, we all come from different places, Maria comes from Cicero, Felicite and I both come from Mexico, and [Cristal] from California. Su Casa, [women’s shelter located in Back of the Yards] gave the three of us, [Margarita, Felicite, and Maria], shelter and now we want to help other women on the path from homelessness to transitioning into their own homes.

Felicite: [Back of the Yards] is also the community in which we live, and it’s a community that we identify with. It is a marginalized community that needs support but that has many resources and we see our future here, not everyone knows that.

Maria: We also participate in the Plant Chicago farmers market at The Plant, that has helped us see our capacities and has been a great starting point for us. Being part of the [Peace and Ed] Coalition has also given us the opportunity to be knowledgeable of our own community and we support our community by participating in community initiatives.
Cristal: Tell us about Alas Abiertas relationship with Plant Chicago.

Margarita: The farmers market has offered us a way to earn money and spend time with our children, teaching them how to work, kids like the plant, they like the chickens.

Felicite: By participating in the farmers market we are helping our local economy. We buy fruits and ingredients within the community and the people who buy from us are also from the community. In that way, we are supporting our neighborhood and keeping the money here.

Maria: We are grateful for the opportunity to start our own business but we want to see more parties with cumbia, an electric bull, and free beer, (We all laugh).

 

Cristal: How can Plant Chicago support more initiatives like Alas Abiertas?

Felicite: See more diversity inside The Plant, so that the community can identify. The Plant also needs to go into the community not just invite the community into The Plant.

Maria: Things are good at the plant, we are grateful for the support they have given us, however it would be great if the food products were more accessible, we can’t afford the prices.

 

Cristal: Lastly, what are Alas Abiertas plans for the summer?

Felicite: Participate actively in each market with Plant Chicago, we invite you all to come visit us.

Margarita: We also want to grow, to learn more about running a business and to help other women to come to the market and use it as a space to sell their products and earn some income.”

Felicite: We hope to be an inspiration for other women and to be able to help them in becoming entrepreneurs.

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