This was written by Field Project Manager Liz Hurtado:
Latinos play an important role as stewards of our land, water, and air as it is naturally a part of our culture. During Latino Conservation Week and every week, EcoMadres encourages the Latino community to raise awareness about how important it is to protect our natural resources so children can enjoy the great outdoors for years to come.
Latino Conservation Week is an opportunity to demonstrate our communities’ commitment to conservation and shines a spotlight on the many contributions that the Latino community has made to protect our land, water, and air.
As madres, tías, comadres, and abuelas, we all have a duty to protect the health of our children, and having access to a clean, safe environment is important. However, clean air, water, and soil are not equally distributed, and climate change is making those inequities worse. Climate change is also directly affecting the quality of the air we breathe and the water we drink. Many Latino communities are disproportionately exposed to dirty air because of where they live, learn, and work, making them more vulnerable to the health impacts of climate change than others. Their ability to get out and enjoy the outdoors is impacted by these injustices.
EcoMadres, a program of Moms Clean Air Force, focuses on building the public and political will for clean air and a safe environment. The program aims to build support for equitable, just, and healthy solutions to pollution so that no community is left behind.
In honor of Latino Conservation Week, we asked our EcoMadres what conservation means to them and what they are doing in their communities to fight for clean air. Here are some of their thoughts:
“Conservation means to me understanding connections. And supporting them so they can be as strong as they possibly can be. Connections in the natural world around us and connections in our communities. When we understand connections around us, we can more quickly notice if something is wrong and we can more quickly do something about it. I want the Latino community to know that I’m here and that together we can talk to our legislators to point out what’s wrong around us and to demand change. To demand change for a safer present and especially for a safer future for our children.” —Karin Stein, Iowa Field Coordinator
“Trees are super important in a time like now where we’re experiencing extreme heat all over the country. Trees can help reduce temperatures in city streets by up to 10%. Those are lifesaving degrees. Unfortunately, in places like Houston, Latino communities do not have the benefit of the abundance of trees like we see in more affluent communities. This Latino Conservation Week, let’s think of a plan to change that. To make sure that our communities are also benefiting from an abundance of trees so that pollution is felt differently, heat is felt differently, flooding has a different impact, and overall, we can have happier and healthier communities.” —Erandi Treviño, Texas Field Coordinator
“Conservation reminds me of the lineage I come from, and the hard work, dedication, and commitment Latinos have had to these lands. As I continue to do this work, I continue to discover more of where we came from and what I can do to ensure que las generaciones del futuro también puedan gozar y disfrutar de la belleza de madre Tierra.” —Yaritza Perez, Florida Field Coordinator
“Most of my childhood I played outdoors, with dirt, water, leaves, and sticks from dry trees, and I was very happy. My father taught me to take care of the land and water. He said that ‘we must appreciate and take care of what sustains us,’ referring to the fact that we grow most of our food on the land. And conservation reminds me of all that. So, I want to pass those teachings on to my children, which mainly now has a deeper meaning, that as Latinos we can enjoy nature responsibly, as our ancestors did.” —Ana Rios, New Mexico Field Coordinator