Culture

The People In The Fields: Coachella Valley Farm Worker Documentary Project

In the background, silent, with worn faces and weathered hands, a group of people pick produce or fruit, sorting or packing goods. “Bultos,” says Noé Montes, a Los Angeles-based photographer. A bulge in the ground, that’s how most people imagine farm workers, he says.



Montes, who grew up in a family of farmworkers that labored in California’s Central and San Joaquin Valleys, started taking photos of farmworkers early on in his career and mainly on his personal time. But after applying and being awarded a fellowship from the Alicia Patterson Foundation, he narrowed his initial idea of doing a statewide farmworker photo project down to the Coachella Valley area.



He eventually settled on an idea: the Coachella Valley Farm Workers project.





Montes interviewed and photographed 15 residents throughout a two-year span starting in 2015. All of them come from different backgrounds. Some immigrated to the US under the Bracero program, others came undocumented looking for work in the fields, and some were children of farm workers that went to college and now returned in hopes of uplifting their community.



Coachella Valley Farm Workers -Jeronimo Estrada- Jeronimo was born in 1962 in the state of Guerrero in Mexico. Among the reasons he left school was that he had started to see Mexico as a failed state and realized that an education would not necessarily pull him out of poverty, “Many people in Mexico have to live resigned to poverty.” Over the years he walked the hundred mile distance between the U.S-Mexico border to the Coachella Valley six or seven times, sometimes in the desert heat, he says it’s what you had to do. Jeronimo came to the U.S. to work in the fields, he has raised a family and bought a home and he continues to work in the fields. Jeronimo’s son, Castulo, is the Assistant Engineer for Coachella, CA and the Vice President of the Board of the Coachella Valley Water District. In this position Castulo is involved in making decisions and recommendations as to how Riverside County’s resources get allocated. For the first time in history, the population of the Eastern Coachella Valley has a seat at the table when decisions about services and infrastructure are being made. —See the whole project at coachellafarmworkers.com, link in my Bio— #coachella #coachellavalley #farmworkers #immigration #labor #foodsystems #socialjustice #americaneconomy #documentaryphotography #photography #aliciapattersonfoundation #community #generationalprogress

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Montes said he didn’t want to show the common image of a farmworker hunched over in the fields, but an intimate side of their lives at home, at a playground where they grew up, or with their partners.



“They’re not a symbol of poverty or a metaphor for inequality,” Montes said. “They’re people.”



Coachella Valley Farm Workers- Juan Torres and Margarita Torres- Working in the fields is hard arduous work that many people do for their entire lives. There is no health insurance and there are no retirement plans. People work until their bodies can’t do it anymore and then they have to figure out how they are going to survive the rest of their lives. If they are lucky they have a little bit of savings or their family helps them. Some people have Medi-Cal or Medicaid but most people don’t. Many retired farmworkers live on only the few hundred dollars they receive from social security every month. Margarita Torres. Juan’s wife, passed away in 2015. —Read the rest of his profile and see the whole project at coachellafarmworkers.com, link in my Bio— #coachella #coachellavalley #farmworkers #immigration #labor #foodsystems #socialjustice #americaneconomy #documentaryphotography #photography #aliciapattersonfoundation #community #generationalprogress #healthcarereform

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Montes said that he understands that life working the fields is tough. Many of the issues that farmworkers were fighting over 50 years ago — like shading or bathrooms — or dealing with — homelessness, domestic violence — are still the ones seen in their lives.



Coachella Valley Farm Workers -Silvia Paz- Silvia photographed where she grew up in La Peña, a mobile home park just southeast of the town of Mecca California. Half of her family stayed in the border town of Mexicali because they did not have legal residency in the United States. Her mother worked in the fields in the Coachella Valley in order to sustain both households. She remembers her childhood as carefree but as she started growing up she began to think about inequality. Her mother’s situation seemed especially unfair to her and she began to question the fairness of a system in which there was such a lack of opportunity for people with very limited resources. Silvia excelled in school and received a B.A. in English from the University of San Diego and a Master’s in Public Policy from Harvard University with the goal of returning to the Eastern Coachella Valley to work for the betterment of her community. Currently she is interested in trying some of the ideas of the Government Alliance on Race and Equity in the valley. These ideas stem from the fact that many of the countries current policies and systems reflect institutional racism that was in place when those systems were developed, to address this the decision-making matrix in government moving forward should include an equity analysis. —Read the rest of Silvia’s profile and see the whole project at coachellafarmworkers.com, link in my Bio— #coachella #coachellavalley #farmworkers #immigration #labor #foodsystems #socialjustice #americaneconomy #documentaryphotography #photography #aliciapattersonfoundation #community #generationalprogress #GovernmentAllianceonRaceandEquity

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Yet, his upbringing gave him an appreciation for the social assets that farmworkers possess.



“Because I grew up in that community I know what those people are like: very intelligent, very sophisticated thinkers. They have so much to give to their own community but also to society in a larger way, our understanding of each other,” Montes said.





Montes is currently working on exhibitions locally to showcase his photos.



Coachella Valley Farm Workers Maria Machuca (photographed with her father Simon Machuca) Maria credits people working before her in the community as people with vision and sees herself as part of that continuum. She is loving and protective of her community and tries to balance progress with tradition. Her experience has taught her that through a process of building relationships with people that are different than you things get accomplished. “If you do the work, change happens”. She does the work, day after day, year after year. Seeing the positive change in her community nurtures her and gives her energy. — Read the rest of Maria's profile and see the whole project at coachellafarmworkers.com, link in my Bio — #coachella #coachellavalley #farmworkers #immigration #labor #foodsystems #socialjustice #americaneconomy #documentaryphotography #photography #aliciapattersonfoundation #community

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For now, he’s posting regular updates on his Instagram.





Visit the Coachella Valley Farm Workers Project here.

Santiago, Chile Is The World Capital Of Dembow: According To Spotify, No Other City Listens To As Much Reggaeton As This One

Entertainment

Santiago, Chile Is The World Capital Of Dembow: According To Spotify, No Other City Listens To As Much Reggaeton As This One

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According to Spotify, Santiago, Chile is the world capital of reggaeton. Panamá and Puerto Rico may have been the birthplaces of the genre, and Colombia it’s biggest producer, but Chile’s capital city, Santiago, is the indisputable capital of the genre right now, with over 400 million plays per month. 

Every single song in J Balvin and Bad Bunny’s collab album ‘OASIS’ made it into Chile’s Top 50.

credit Instagram @jbalvin

This year’s biggest reggaetón collaboration saw two icons of the genre, Bad Bunny and J Balvin, drop OASIS, an eight-track album which was pretty much the soundtrack to the summer of 2019. Every single song from the album dubbed “la joya del género urbano” by many critics, made it into Chile’s Top 50 on the very first day of being released (!!!). Surprising no one here, given that both J Balvin and Bad Bunny are trailblazing icons of the Latino genre and some might even argue that their influence in mainstream fashion and culture is reaching ‘icon’ status as well. “What we are seeing with reggaetón in Chile is a great testimony to the absolute powerhouse that is Latin America when it comes to building and delivering audiences for Latin artists,” said Mia Nygren, Managing Director for Spotify in Latin America.

With over 400 million plays per month, Santiago, Chile is the biggest reggaetón listener in the world.

credit Twitter @spotifynews

Twice as many reggaeton songs are played in Santiago as they are in the second biggest reggaetón loving city: Mexico City — which has nearly double the size of its Chilean counterpart. To put that into perspective, Santiago, Chile is responsible for 10% of all reggaetón streams in the world. In this city, the average reggaetón listener will play 126 songs a month, which is more than double the average amount of songs listened to by fans in orther cities where the genre is also popular. The artists who are getting the most streams in Santiago are worthy of a reggaetón hall of fame: Bad Bunny, Anuel AA, J Balvin, Ozuna, Daddy Yankee, Nicky Jam, Karol G, Don Omar. The giants of the genre are joined by newer artists such as Sech, Lunay, Myke Towers, Rauw Alejandro, Jhay Cortez, Tainy, Zion y Lennox and Dalex.

The city has been home to hardcore reggaetón fans since the genre’s early days. 

https://www.instagram.com/p/B3M6pFYD3b4/

Reggaetón was born in the late 90s and early 2000s. What’s now referred to as “old school reggaetón,” emerged as an iteration of reggae, dancehall and hip-hop but with Afro-Latinx roots. Santiago has been home to some of the genre’s most loyal fans since the old days. In the early days of reggaetón or, ‘reggae en español’ as it was called for a while, a specific subculture of Chilean youths emerged. The genre was most popular amongst working, middle class teenagers known as Pokémones.

Pokémones are the original Reggaetón fans, their loyalty to the reggae-inspired beat goes back to the early days of the genre.

Credit Instagram @yotambienfuipokemon

Self-proclaimed ‘Pokémomes’ called themselves that for the way they wore their hair. Long and spiky and swept to the side like a character of the anime series. Pokémones had idiosyncratic music choices that were complemented with a particular aesthetic and unique style. In Santiago, reggaetón-loving teenagers would come together in parties of around 4,000 people to listen to their preferred music. Back in the day, pokemones would dance to the dembow of Jowell & Randy, Wisin & Yandel and Acrangel, the original OGs.

Only last year, Mexico City held the top spot as the “world’s music-streaming Mecca”.

Credit Twitter @cheriehu42

Before Santiago was crowned ‘the world capital of reggaetón’,  Mexico city held Spotify’s “largest listener base worldwide”. According to the streaming service, in 2018, a lot of major artists owed their high figures to Chilangos and their love of streaming music. Adele for example had nearly 5 hundred thousand listeners in Mexico City, making it her top city even ahead of London (which only recorded 323 thousand listeners). Another surprising artist to have Mexico City as his top for Spotify listeners was Ed Sheeran with nearly 9 hundred thousand listeners.

A Woman Lost Her Job At A Panera Bread After She Posted A Viral Video Of Her Warming Up Frozen Mac And Cheese

Entertainment

A Woman Lost Her Job At A Panera Bread After She Posted A Viral Video Of Her Warming Up Frozen Mac And Cheese

Social media is a wonderful tool when it comes to connecting with friends across large distances and finding a community. However, social media can also come with its own downfalls. Take the recent lesson learned by TikTok user @briannaraelenee. She posted a video on TikTok from work and it went viral eventually leading to her losing her job. Here’s what went down.

A viral video about Panera Bread’s macaroni and cheese took on a life of its own after it was posted.

The video shows an employee preparing the macaroni and cheese for a customer. The food is frozen in a plastic bag and is dropped into boiling water to warm up. The video isn’t anything revelatory in itself since a lot of restaurants warm up frozen foods that are shipped to locations to insure consistency.

Her next video was dedicated to explaining how the food was still good.

It didn’t take long for the video to go viral. As of the time of this writing, the video had almost 1 million views. Despite the text on her first video of “exposing Panera,” @briannaraelenee told people to keep eating at Panera because the food is delicious.

She quickly followed up with a video near tears apologizing to an Anthony.

The TikTok user really wanted to keep her job. She is making it clear that she likes her job and was not trying to tarnish or attack Panera Bread. One can only assume that she made the video without thinking about it.

She kept her fans, new and old, completely up to date on her journey from Panera employee to unemployed.

She was all smiles when she explained that she was told that she was let go. As she puts it, they were parting ways, like a breakup. She then explained that she is not being fired for the video. Instead, she is being fired because she had her phone out and her nails were too long, both violations of health safety regulations.

The next video showed her in tears as she drove away.

It’s hard to lose a job so unexpectedly. However, it seems that @briannaraelenee saw it coming when her video of the macaroni and cheese started to go viral. It was only a matter of time before people at Panera Bread saw the video.

While some might think she’d be full on clout, she is letting everyone know that it is not the case.

LOL. It’s like becoming famous. As soon as it happens, everyone you ever met is going to come out of nowhere to hit you up. Obviously, they think you are going to do them some kind of favors or will help give them their own social media clout.

The woman took to Twitter to address all of the concerns from followers.

Credit: @BriiRamirezz / Twitter

She is really holding herself up here. Not only is she taking responsibility for what she did, but she is also telling everyone else to calm down.

Not everyone is buying that her tweet was not coerced.

Credit: @SassmastatT / Twitter

You can’t really blame them. Social media is filled with lies and questionable moments. It isn’t too shocking that the Panera employee’s sincere responses to the scandal are being questioned.

Other people are just genuinely impressed with her composure throughout the whole thing.

Credit: @mikegstowe / Twitter

It really is impressive. She took responsibility for her actions and took the consequences in stride.

She does want to leave everyone this one special PSA about phone usage at work.

Solid advice. Hopefully, people can learn from her mistake.

READ: This Man Is Using TikTok To Bring Younger People To Old-School Jams And His Fans Are Loving It