For many U.S. Latinos, environmental outreach and engagement aren’t as accessible compared to others. Yet a recent study shows that Latinos, particularly those who prefer to speak Spanish, really care about our planet. According to a study out of Yale University, a huge percentage of U.S. Latinos have never been contacted by an environmental organization working to reduce global warming or tackle climate change. These findings are startling considering a 2017 poll that showed that Latinos care more and are more aware of environmental issues than African Americans, Native Americans, Pacific Islanders, Asian Americans, and Caucasians. Various advocacy groups are now targeting Latinos, where often environmental outreach programs have never been accessible.
Philadelphia leading the charge when it comes to engaging the Latino community around environmental issues.
Partnering with community organizations and neighborhood leaders, @GreenworksPhila is working to ensure environmental efforts accurately reflect Philadelphia — and spread equity across all of our neighborhoods. https://t.co/UypLvT0Zhf
— City of Philadelphia (@PhiladelphiaGov) July 27, 2018
The Philadelphia Office of Sustainability revamped its outreach effort this year by hiring a community strategist to find ways to engage with the Latino community. Christine Knapp, director at the Office of Sustainability, says they needed more community input especially after feedback for its sustainability plan for 2016 showed people wanted to be included in the process.
“We haven’t engaged Latinos, and we haven’t engaged with any community sufficiently well on these issues.” Knapp told The Philadelphia Inquirer.
The city is working with several sustainability programs including one to reduce temperatures in Latino neighborhoods.
On May 7th, 2016, Philly kicked off a wave of US climate justice protests for #BreakFree2016 with our call for clean air and environmental justice. #righttobreathe "Our city’s future cannot be powered by the dirty energy economy. We know that the South Philadelphia oil refinery is responsible for two-thirds of air pollution in the city of Philadelphia. We know that almost a quarter of our kids have asthma, twice the national average. And we know that the refinery is situated in the middle of low income communities of color."
The program, called The Heat Vulnerability Index, is a new program recently launched to reduce temperatures in neighborhoods of color, which face environmental injustices frequently. Program volunteers ask residents whether they need more trees, know how white roofs can cool structures, or even understand how heat affects health.
The need to engage Latinos around environmental issues prompted Washington-based GreenLatinos to team up with Moms Clean Air Force to create Ecomadres.
GreenLatinos was formed to address local and national environmental issues that affect Latinos, like the heat issues in Philadelphia. Mark Magaña, the CEO and founding president of the GreenLatinos says caring about the environment is instilled in Latinos more than people think.
“Latinos learn their stewardship of the land through their grandmothers and parents,” Magaña told The Philadelphia Inquirer. “They eat all the food on the plate, turn off the light when they leave the room, eat all the parts of the animal, use water wisely because it might not come the next day; things that we do organically, because it’s in the back of the chanclas.”
Ecomadres is a collaborative program that focuses on bringing Latina moms together to advocate for the environment.
Communities of color face disproportionate health impacts from smog-related pollution.
It's beyond time to #CutMethane
Learn more 👇https://t.co/MKshIophV9
— Moms Clean Air Force (@CleanAirMoms) August 4, 2018
Ecomadres wants to address issues of clean air, climate, and toxins affecting the health of Latino children and families. The hope is that by addressing these issues, communities will stand up and advocate environmental issues within their own homes. The organization did a study that showed 68 percent of Latinos live in areas that do not meet federal air quality standards compared to 58 percent of Caucasians. By educating and advocating in communities, they are showing that Latinos can get behind and support environmental organizations.
Ecomadres has chapters established in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Nevada, New Mexico and Texas.