July 16 – July 24 is the ninth annual Latino Conservation Week! Latino Conservation Week (LCW) is an initiative of the Hispanic Access Foundation to recognize the past, present, and future contributions of Latinx communities to conservation efforts, and to encourage more Latinx* people to engage in both outdoor recreation and conservation.
So, you may be asking yourself, why does the Latinx community get its own week of conservation? Read on!
Society has historically excluded BIPOC* communities — including but not limited to Latinx people— from many social structures and spheres of influence, and the environmental conservation movement has been no exception. In turn, this has led to the misperception that Latinx and other communities of color do not care about the environment. Yet studies in the past few decades have repeatedly shown that Latinx and other BIPOC communities report greater concern than their non-Latinx, white counterparts with respect to environmental issues such as climate change.*
So, why LCW?
The fact is, artificial barriers to engaging with nature do continue to exist for communities of color, from transportation to language barriers to outright safety, yet none are insurmountable. Initiatives such as Latino Conservation Week help eliminate many of these obstacles by providing opportunities that are accessible and relevant to participants. They are key to both highlighting the current work of Latinx conservationists, and for engaging new conservationists of all ages. Like other affinity efforts, LCW was established to create a joyful space within the conservation realm for people to celebrate shared culture and experiences, to celebrate the diversity within the Latinx community while not being exclusive nor detrimental to other cultural affinity groups.
No single person or group will solve all – or even one! – of the environmental issues of our day on their own. Communities of color and all people living in poverty do, however, face the brunt of the impact of these environmental stresses, so engaging members of these communities creatively, meeting them where they are, valuing what they have to offer, and amplifying their voices and efforts is essential if we’re to have any hope of addressing the issues successfully.
To me, this only elevates the importance of the work that Teatown and similar organizations do in bringing people to nature, teaching them about it, so that each individual can forge their own connection and path to action. As Teatown’s new Community Outreach Coordinator, I will strive to ensure that our outreach is intentional, accessible, and responsive to the needs of all the diverse people in our area. Have ideas? Please let me know!
Latinx vs. Latino vs. Hispanic— what’s the difference and why does it matter? Learn here
BIPOC: What does BIPOC mean?
Which racial/ethnic groups care most about climate change? Yale Program on Climate Change Communication: Which racial/ethnic groups care most about climate change?
Learn more about LCW: www.Latinoconservationweek.com
Although this year, we don’t have specific programming planned for LCW here at Teatown, there are so many ways to contribute to conservation by volunteering a bit of your time regardless of your background. Nature needs all of us!
Here are just a few local organizations with ongoing conservation volunteer work in our area – check them out!
Scenic Hudson: https://www.scenichudson.org/get-involved/volunteer/
Latino Outdoors – NYC: hosts bilingual recreational and conservation events throughout the year in NYC and Westchester: https://www.eventbrite.com/o/latino-outdoors-nyc-new-york-city-16547879950
If you can’t do anything outside, your computer or phone are very powerful tools! Everyone can engage with elected representatives regardless of age or voting status, because we are all their constituents and we all live with the consequences of their decisions.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Community Outreach Coordinator