Climate Justice through Latino Voices

En Español Abajo

BostonCAN’s mission is to help as many residents of the City of Boston as we can to take action on climate change. One of the ways we’re trying to strengthen climate justice activism is by highlighting the voices of Boston’s Latino communities through our Latino Engagement Campaign. In this effort, we have been blessed with two great consultants and some wonderful partners, such as Egleston Square Main Streets, Asociación Multicultural Unida, and JPNDC.

Our initial consultant, Juan Sanchez, laid the foundation for this campaign with two focus groups for Latinos to discuss sustainability and climate change. With participants from 5 different Boston neighborhoods and 6 home nationalities, these native Spanish speakers shared their concerns and their visions for their communities. Among the lessons we learned from this process: that family and good, safe jobs are high priorities, and that many Latinos in Boston already see the connections between climate change and their personal choices, and share the same concerns as other climate activists.

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Catalina Justiniano, our new Latino Engagement Consultant

When Juan took on full-time work with Sustainable Business Network of Massachusetts, Catalina Justiniano stepped into his shoes to help organize a neighborhood weatherization training event, a “barnraising” to use the term popularized by Home Energy Efficiency Team (HEET) in Cambridge. Building from our focus groups, we decided to make this barnraising more family-friendly, with special children’s activities in a safe space close to the barnraising, and a mini career fair when the work was completed. And to further increase the likelihood that Latinos would participate, we committed to having the barnraising at a Latino’s home. We are calling this event a “Minga,” which is a Quechuan term used in some Andean communities for collective agriculture work days to benefit of the community.

Catalina, like Juan, is a recent graduate of Tufts University’s Urban and Environmental Planning Master’s program. Catalina has a BA in Architecture from her undergrad days in Chile and has worked with various Chilean government agencies on energy efficiency in housing, so her background is perfect for this task. She and BostonCAN Coordinator Loie Hayes have been visiting homes in Jamaica Plain and surrounding areas, helping Latino homeowners understand ways that they can improve their home’s heating and cooling capacity.

BostonCAN has also been invited to sit on the Advisory Board of Pueblo Nuevo, a new project, led by WBUR’s Con Salsa broadcaster, José Massó, to draw attention to new climate-conscious social norms in Boston’s Latino communities. José is excited about the way the barnraising will contribute to Pueblo Nuevo, and he’s already pledged to help us with social and traditional media, before, during and after the barnraising!

You can volunteer for the Minga and help out in all sorts of ways. The event will take place on January 12, 2013, and we hope to get as much of the JP and Roxbury Latino neighbors—and climate activists in general—to participate in the fun and learning. To register or offer help on-line  or send an email to minga.bcan<at>gmail.com.

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