My Park is Yosemite

#MyParkIsYosemite

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My first time hiking Half Dome.

Yosemite National Park is certainly a special place, both in its physical beauty and grandeur but as well as in the imagination and mind of what we envision as majestic national parks. It is embedded in the mythology of the National Park Service with a rich history that includes the Buffalo soldiers, John Muir and Teddy Roosevelt, and of course its role in being a precursor to the National Park Service by being protected by Abraham Lincoln in 1864 before the establishment of Yellowstone National Park in 1872.  Yosemite is also special in that it is a world-class destination so close to so many communities in the Central Valley of California and yet not many in those communities may always easily access it.

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CA Mini-Corps Outdoor Education Program Instructors training in Yosemite to provide outdoor education to Migrant students throughout CA.

Growing up in the Central Valley I would often hear about Yosemite, but it would be years before I would really get to discover its beauty. I recall as a college student finally entering the Yosemite Valley on a morning with light fog and emergent sunlight. It was magical. I would return to explore Tuolumne Meadows and Lambert Dome. Later, with a group of friends we scaled Half Dome, and returned several times to repeat that experience. Whether it was walking Mariposa Grove with park rangers as we trained Latino college students to be outdoor instructors for migrant students, or simply hiking the Panoramic trail with friends, Yosemite kept providing a diversity of experiences. It is that diversity that presents an opportunity—to welcome a diversity of the American public, from near and afar, to enjoy a diversity of experiences within the park.

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It is important to me, as a Latinx immigrant, a US Citizen, an English-Language Learner, and the first in my family to go to college, to be a role model of how our parks are for all—and the work we need to continue to advance in true inclusivity. I strive to exemplify how my cultura is important to me in these spaces, and how we create more inclusive environments to welcome all regardless of background. Yosemite welcomed me in its grandeur, and as a Yosemite Centennial Ambassador, I want to extend that invitation to others. We much to do but we also have much to celebrate, and regardless we start somewhere. Since that first time I wandered into Yosemite Valley, I have visited many other national parks and public lands and yet in many ways My Park Is Yosemite. It does not have to be yours or it can be, so long as you can see and feel yourself reflected in such a place.

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En este año que celebramos el centenario de nuestros parques nacionales,  vengan, encuentren su parque, están bienvenidos, es mi placer ser su embajador y guía.

This post is part of the #MyParkIsYosemite campaign. If your park is also Yosemite, join us! If you want to express your love for other parks or other public lands share that too! #Next100 #PublicLandsForAll #EncuentraTuParque

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José González is the Founder of Latino Outdoors. He is a Yosemite Centennial Ambassador and represents Latino Outdoors in several coalitions including the Latino Conservation Alliance and the Next 100 Coalition. He also serves on a National Park Service advisory committee and has been recognized with several honors, including the National Wildlife Federation, Grist Magazine, and The Murie Center.

To learn more about the Next 100 Coalition, check out this site and sign the petition.


New Years Resolutions: Outdoors Edition by Cynthia

Happy New Years! It is 2016 and many people are ready to start the new year with resolutions to either be healthy, share time with the loves ones, or go onto a new adventure. I am very excited to share that I made not one resolution, but six resolutions that are all focused in the outdoors in some way or the other. Here I share my resolutions with descriptions and fun images!

  1. Growing food!
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    Image taken at my former job in New Hampshire as we put the garden beds to ‘bed’ for the winter. I will be doing the same this year at my new job with Growing Places in Leominster, Massachusetts.

    Growing up in the warm, tropical island of Puerto Rico, I had the privilege to learn how to grow vegetables, herbs, fruits, and other delicious food. Gardening has been part of a family tradition for many generations and I find gardening to be my zen! I get to plant a seed, tend for it and later on harvest the fruits of my labor. I hope to garden this year, spend time with family and friends at the garden, and enjoy delicious meals we create with the garden products! My favorite and family tradition dish we make is Sofrito, a delicious sauce that is pretty much the secret ingredient to a lot (if not all) Puerto Rican food dishes. My family and I also save seeds of cilantro and peppers as we LOVE those crops!

  2. Volunteer at a farm!
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Image taken: September 2015 at my friends, Kohei Ishihara’s farm: Movement Ground Farm in Berkley, Massachusetts.

I love farms! My past experience with putting my hands in the dirt, weeding, and of course, meeting new people have been at farms. I have friends who are farmers and I love them for taking on, what I consider, the most important job in the world! Being nurtures, growers, and feeders of their communities, farmers are superheroes on my book. Therefore, I love supporting farms by visiting, volunteering as much as I can during the season, and purchasing their goods!

 

3. Keep on researching Latino/a/x Outdoor and Environmental work!

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LO loves being part of America Latino Eco-Festival! L-R: Jose Gonzalez, LO Founder, me being silly, and Asnoldo, LO Colorado Ambassador. Image taken: October 2015

I love reading, writing, and learning more about my cultural roots and the environment. My resolution is part of my ongoing career as an Environmental Educator. I want to keep learning from Latino Leaders, community members, and other in the Environmental movement their steps, questions, answers, solutions, and much more in regards to Latinos and the Environment. I hope to attend conferences, connect with other human beings that are interested in the work of making the environment an inclusion to all. I want to also learn more and part-take in the conversation about the Afro-Latino(a/x) identity in the Environment in the United States. I can’t wait for what I will discover!

 

4. Keep on walking in the woods…

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Did a morning walk in the small trail next to my work office! Image taken: January 2016

I want to keep on taking walks and hikes in many trails as possible. I enjoy being in the woods, using my learned skills of plant identification, take some time for me in the woods! There is something about being able to walk in the woods, maybe it is the sounds of the wind embracing the trees, the sound of my boots against the snow/ice as I make my way to the magical land called the woods. I am looking forward to many walks and hikes with loved ones, by myself, and new people!

 

5. Discovering more spiritual practices related to the outdoors!

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Altar created during the America Latino Eco-Festival. Image taken: October 2015

As a spiritual being, I enjoy anything related to madre tierra. This year, I want to learn about more spiritual practices which include rituals, writings, and much much more that bring me to the outdoors. I am in the journey of discovering more the spiritual practices of my cultural roots. My family has a mixed ancestral spiritual practices coming from both Africa and the Tainos. I am in the self-discovery phase of these spiritual practices and I am hoping that year I will be  able to tie in the new information with my current spiritual believes. I am very honored, thankful, and excited for this resolution!

 

6. More time with my familia outdoors!

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My family and I got to see the Springfield Christmas Parade and enjoy arts, music, and quality time together! Image taken: December 2015

There is nothing more precious than spending time with your loved ones outdoors. It is fascinating, fun, full of laughs, jokes, and love. I am looking forward to spending time with my family and friends in outdoors activities. Many outdoors activities I have done with my family have been attending outdoors events such as parades, go to the park for a walk, attend the pool during the summer, and create funny looking snow mans during the winter! These are all full of memories for me and have been ideal to get us outdoors, enjoy one another, and experience nature!

 

These are my six new years resolutions which I am extremely proud to put into place for me. They all include the outdoors in many ways! I would love to read/hear your new years resolution and how they include the outdoors by sharing on the comments section!

Happy New Year!


Timeline of Latino Farmer Movements in the U.S.

I had the honor this summer to work, grow, and be inspired by Soul Fire Farm located in Grafton, New York. Soul Fire Farm ia family farm committed to the dismantling of oppressive structures that misguide our food system. I was a co-facilitator for the 2015 Black and Latino Farmer Immersion Program (BLFI) which was an incredible experience for me as a Latina, food justice advocate, and educator.

BLFI Session 1 participants and facilitators. Photo by: Jonah Vitale-Wolff

BLFI Session 1 participants and facilitators. Photo by: Jonah Vitale-Wolff

BLFI Session 2

BLFI Session 2 participants and facilitators. Photo by: Jonah Vitale-Wolff

As a Latina Environmental Educator, I had the pleasure to research and learn about the Latino Farmer Movement and History in the United States. This information was gathered to teach two 1-hour sessions in conjunction with Leah Penniman, food justice educator and farmer at Soul Fire Farm. The class was titled: “Black and Latino Farmer Movements”. The information below is a small portion of the great historical presence Latino had and continue to have in the U.S. Food system. The information that has been gathered includes farmer movements and historical anecdotes that are related to Latinos and farmland.

Latino Farmer Movement  Timeline

1903: More than 1,200 Mexican and Japanese farm workers in Oxnard, California organized the first farm worker’s union called the Japanese-Mexican Labor Association (JMLA). “Later, it will be the first union to win a strike against the California agricultural industry” (Southern Poverty Law Center: Teaching Tolerance Project, n.d.).  

 Source: United Food and Commercial Workers 324. (n.d.) 1903 Oxnard Beet Sows of Seeds of Diversity. Retrieved from: https://www.ufcw324.org/About_Us/Mission_and_History/Labor_History/1903_Oxnard_Beet_Sows_the_Seeds_of_Diversity/

Source: United Food and Commercial Workers 324. (n.d.) 1903 Oxnard Beet Sows of Seeds of Diversity.

1933: Possibly the largest agricultural strike called El Monte Strike, was led by Latino unions in California. The strike was lead to protest the declining wages rate for strawberry pickers. By May 1933, wages went down to nine cents an hour. Growers agreed to a settlement in July including a wage increase of twenty cents an hour or $1.50 for a nine-hour work day (Southern Poverty Law Center: Teaching Tolerance Project, n.d.).     

1942: The Bracero Program starts. This program was created by executive order to allow Mexican citizens to work temporarily in the United States. The work for the braceros were low-paying agricultural work. A total of 4.6 millions people signed the Bracero contract. The program ends in 1964 (Bracero History Archive, n.d.).

1950: Agreement Governing Employment of Puerto Rican Labor came into place to hire Puerto Ricans for season agricultural employment in the United States (Missouri Farm Labor Bulletin: Division of Employment Security, 1950).

1965: Cesar Chaves and Dolores Huertas funded the United Farm Workers Association (UFWA) in Delano, California. Huertas becomes the first woman to lead such a union. They joined a strike started by Filipino grape pickers in Delano. They organized the Grape boycott in the U.S. and Canada. The grape boycott became one of the most significant social justice movements for farm workers in the United States (Southern Poverty Law Center: Teaching Tolerance Project, n.d.).

1965: Luis Valdez, American playwright, actor, and film director, funded the world famous theater called “El Teatro Campesino”. El Teatro Campesino was the first farm workers theater in Delano, California. Actors entertained and educated farm workers about their rights (Southern Poverty Law Center: Teaching Tolerance Project, n.d.) 

Source: San Francisco State University. (2007). Cultivating creativity: The arts and the Farm Worker’s movement during the 60’s and 70’s. Retrieved from: http://www.library.sfsu.edu/exhibits/cultivating/intropages/teatrocampesino.html

Source: San Francisco State University. (2007). Cultivating creativity: The arts and the Farm Worker’s movement during the 60’s and 70’s.

1993: Coalition of Immokalee Workers in Immokalee, Florida comes to place to raise 1 cent per tomato pound for farm workers (Keshari et. al, 2014). The Coalition of Immokalee Workers successfully created the Fair Food Program which growers, buyers, and corporations signed up to raise one cent per pound. Other sections of the Fair Food Program include: industry-wide implementation of a 24-hour complaint hotline and rapid complaint investigation, worker-to-worker education on worker rights and responsibilities,  human rights-based Code of Conduct with enforcable zero tolerance policies for forced labor, child labor, violence, and sexual assault, and industry-wide monitoring of the Fair Food Program (Fair Food Standards Council, 2014).

1995: Acequia farmers in San Luis Valley in Colorado joined other local activists-driven organizations to oppose and successfully defeat corporations and mining companies. If not stopped, the corporations and companies would have redeveloped land in San Luis Valley. The major concern was land take over and contamination of water supplies. Acequia farmers also joined protestors to secure a ranch in San Luis Valley (Peña, 2005).

2006: The Great American Boycott took place by immigrants, including Latinos. The boycott was a protest against a legislative proposal which did not go to Congress, however, it was a high vote from the House of Representatives (The Library of Congress, 2005). The bill would have made residing illegally in the U.S. a felony and impose stiffer penalties on those who employed non-citizens. What stood out in the Great American Boycott was that some California’s politicians and religious institutions urge people to not partake in the boycott. Three major companies were supportive of the protestors. The first company was Cargill Meat Solutions which closed 5 U.S. beefs plants and two hogs plants. 15,000 workers from Cargill attended the boycott. The second company was Smithfield Food of Virginia who stated on their press release it will take time during the boycott to help employees write to U.S. Senators and representatives demanding change of immigration laws.The third company, Tyson Food, shutdown meatpacking plants to have workers attend the boycott (Lendon, 2006).

2009: After a dead tragedy of a farm worker in Burlington Vermont, the organization Migrant Justice- Justicia Migrante, comes to light to build the voice, capacity, and power of the farmworker community and engage community partners to organize for economic justice and human rights.  Migrant Justice-Justicia Migrante, has been working on building networks of farmer workers, farmers and allies to pass legislature in Vermont to provide access to licenses regardless of immigration status (Migrant Justice, 2014).

Source: Migrant Justice. (2014). Retrieved from: http://www.migrantjustice.net/

Source: Migrant Justice. (2014). Retrieved from: http://www.migrantjustice.net/

2014: Migrant Justice-Justicia Migrante created the Milk with Dignity! Campaign to improve the livelihoods of dairy farm workers and farmers by enlisting participating retailers to purchase and provide premiums to dairy farms that comply with Migrant Justice’s Milk with Dignity Code of Conduct. Migrant Justice-Justicia Migrante’s farm worker leaders have been engaged with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers to learn their process in regards to the Fair Food Program (Migrant Justice, 2014).

References

Bracero History Archive (n.d.). About the Bracero Program. Retrieved from: http://  braceroarchive.org/about

Fair Food Standards Council. (2014). Fair Food Program Annual Report. Immokalee, FL: Justice Safer Espinoza. Retrieved from: http://www.fairfoodstandards.org/reports/ 14SOTP-Web.pdf

Keshari, S, Rawal, S, Longoria, E, and Fish, H. (Producers), & Rawal, S. (Director). (2014). Food Chains (Motion Picture). United States: Screen Media Films. 

Lendon, B. (2006, May 1). U.S. Prepares for ‘A day without an Immigrant’: Organizers plan massive boycott on Monday to stop business as usual. CNN. Retrieved from:

http://www.cnn.com/2006/US/04/28/boycott/index.html

Migrant Justice (2014). Milk with Dignity! Campaign. Retrieved from:

http://www.migrantjustice.net/milk-with-dignity

Migrant Justice (2014). Photo History Timeline. Retrieved from: http://migrantjustice.net/sites/default/files/2014-11%205%20anos%20de%20lucha%20%282%20paginas%29.pdf

Missouri Farm Labor Bulletin: Division of Employment Security. (1950). Recruitment of Puerto Rican Labor for Seasonal Agricultural Employment. (Bulletin No. 5). pp. 40-42  Retrieved from: https://www.vec.virginia.gov/vecportal/employer/pdf/ FarmPlacementHandbookPT2.pdf

Peña, D. (2005) Mexican Americans and the Environment: Tierra y vida. Tucson: University of Arizona Press. 

Southern Poverty Law Center: Teaching Tolerance Project. (n.d.). Latino Civil Rights Timeline, 1903-2006. Retrieved from: http://www.tolerance.org/latino-civil-rights-timeline.

The Library of Congress. (2005). Bill Text 109th Congress (2005-2006) H.R.4437.RFS. Retrieved from: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c109:H.R.4437.RFS: