Fighting Back on 2 Fronts
"We're a freight train loaded down and we're going to
be hard to stop."
These words can be lodged in two contexts in Immokalee these
First, there is a meaning they were given by a stakeholder of the community who attended one in a series of community meetings to rally ideas and support for a $40 million federal empowerment zone grant to jumpstart employment and better housing. Gene Hearn meant there is so much burning desire for economic diversification in Immokalee that grant officials will be hard pressed to ignore the community's request - as they did four years ago.
Last week they sponsored a public walking tour of the town's
slums where the rents rival some of Naples' finest apartments.
Because housing is scarce - and because many of the workers
are aliens who need U.S. work and fear deportation - only the
bravest tenants will complain to landlords of government code
enforcers about conditions that no human should have to endure.
Take it or leave it, says the Immokalee establishment whose
agribusiness sector refuses pleas from hunger strikers and even
President Carter to discuss pickers' wages better than 40 cents
per 32-pound bucket of tomatoes.
Religious Leaders Concerned have faith in the truth. They
promise to hold more tours, for citizens to come and see for
themselves, from September through the winter harvest.
Good luck to them.
They vow whatever it takes to amass a constituency - locally,
then statewide, then nationally - that demands responsible economics
and corporate stewardship. They vow this is the beginning of
the end of capitalizing on others' misery.
For more information about Immokalee's federal empowerment
zone grant campaign, call Barbara Cacchione or Deborah Preston
in the Collier County Government planning office at 403-2300.
Both endeavors are uplifting. They demand a stop to grinding
up people and spitting them out.
The time is long overdue to strike back at what's wrong in Immokalee and be a part of the lasting solutions.