Hamilton Farmers’ Market vendors appeal to the Sub-committee

December 8, 2010 § Leave a comment

Directed and Edited by Eddie Farrell
Produced in co-operation with Friends’ of the Hamilton Farmers Market

Appealing the Sub-Committee: Dec. 9th, 10:00am, and 16th, at 9:00am, at City Hall, Council Chambers

A group known as the Friends of the Hamilton Farmers’ Market met to talk about the stall-holder applications that were withheld from the newly renovated Farmers’ market. Jennifer Hompoth sent Anna Bradford, the culture division director for the City of Hamilton, and the members of the market Transition Sub-Committee, a letter of concern on behalf of Friends of the Hamilton Farmers’ Market.

Here are some highlights of the letter:

“I write as a member of the Friends of the Hamilton Farmers’ Market, and seek to address my concerns to you with reference to issues of equity of access as these relates to literacy, language issues, and technology as pertaining to the application and appeal processes…

Let me try to explain the first, the issue of language and literacy, by way of a story. Concerned that some vendors might face barriers submitting the request to speak to a committee of council form on the City website, a group of three of us – all twenty-somethings with macbooks and PCs in hand – ambled into the market early last week. We invited vendors to join with us, in a huddle near the only location with acceptable free wifi, to fill out their forms and submit their appeals requests online.

One vendor shyly approached, eager to give her name and information, as if to hinge all hope on the complex process set out before her. Not wanting her to spend precious moments waiting for my clumsy data entry, I absent-mindedly replied, “oh, just write everything down on this piece of paper.”

Minutes later, following some time spent diagnosing my misbehaving laptop computer, I looked up at her. She shook her head, “I don’t know.” Inscribing her address, as I had requested, was a moment of shame and confusion. She had only managed to write her name, in large, clumsy print.

Although I have extensive training in anti-racism and have worked all my life with people from a range of cultural backgrounds, it was this moment which made me realize that I had placed my assumptions of literacy in the foreground, without considering the person with whom I was speaking. All while attempting to intervene in an access issue!

It would be deplorable to see Hamilton’s emphasis on the ‘local’ as a way to divide the market merchants, and consumers, whether this be based on ethnic, racial, or class lines. I urge you to examine how the lens of the ‘local’ has been employed to dismiss or exclude particular types of goods, and more importantly, the cultural groups and vendors to whom these products belong.”

You can read the full letter here, on Raise the Hammer.

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