Meet Yuri Bahena - Re:Own Program Manager

 Photo byJess Elysse Kornacki,  Art of Her

Photo byJess Elysse Kornacki, Art of Her

Originally from Guerrero, Mexico, Yuri is one of the best cooks you will ever meet, and, if you ordered Tamales during last Holiday's Tamale-Thon, you'll know that first hand. And perhaps it's that undeniable leadership in the kitchen that makes Yuri a passionate advocate for her community. While Yuri didn't grow up with agricultural experience, her love for cooking gave her an immediate appreciation and connection with growing her own food when she started with Re:Farm in 2010. 

In 2012 Yuri became a Promotora and in 2016, Yuri became the full time manager of the Re:Own program. The program exists to create a self-sufficient economy, owned by the community. It helped incubate the Westwood Food Co-Op, where Yuri sits on the Board of Directors. But, in early 2018, Yuri had an experience that changed her perspective entirely on why it was so important to have a strong, locally-owned economy... 

 Photo byJess Elysse Kornacki,  Art of Her

Photo byJess Elysse Kornacki, Art of Her

In January, Yuri was forced to leave the home she had lived in for 7 years... 

Her landlord decided to renovate and get it ready to put on the market. And then it hit her... 

"I had worked so hard to pay my rent over these 7 years, along with all of my other bills. And I realized, I was making someone else rich." 

For years, Yuri knew she believed in the work she was doing, but suddenly it took on a new urgency. So many of the previous years' participants had to move to places like Aurora, and even Greeley, to find affordable housing. 

Yuri has spent 5 years learning and responding to the concerns of Westwood's residents. And their gardens were often times small ways to make life just a bit easier. Often times, families are able to preserve their harvest and eat healthy year-round, freeing up those dollars to spend on other expenses. But, in this world, that isn't enough. 

 Photos by Jess Elysse Kornacki,  Art of Her.  Jewelry featured created by  Mujeres Emprendedoras  and can be found at the Westwood Food Co-Op.

Photos by Jess Elysse Kornacki, Art of Her. Jewelry featured created by Mujeres Emprendedoras and can be found at the Westwood Food Co-Op.

"It's hard to find stability in this current world; rents are expensive and we are politically divided. We helped so many families establish their gardens and provide them with at least a small amount of stability, and now they are gone. I knew I had to find another way to help families not just find stability, but find a way to prosper. We've fought so hard to improve this neighborhood, and now that it's happening, we deserve to be here. We should be the land and business owners determining the direction of our neighborhood." 

Your support will help Re:Own begin to develop the capacity of local entrepreneurs in Westwood to start finding ways to not only start building their own personal wealth, but keeping it in the community, therefore determining the trajectory of their neighborhood for generations to come.