Latinos

Nature, Motherhood and Mother Earth Celebrating Nature during Hispanic Heritage Month

By Isabel Long

I remember with nostalgia the picnics with my family in my dear country of origin, Chile, in South America. The picnic lunch always began by making the sandwiches followed by boiling eggs which are a classic in Chilean’s picnic culture. My parents were not the outdoorsy type, but nonetheless we all enjoyed our time in nature, with the ever-present majestic Andes Mountains surrounding us. Now in the States, every time I bring my little son to the beautiful Washington & Old Dominion trail by our house memories of past picnics come to me when I see families, mostly Hispanic, picnicking next to the stream.
I think it’s not a cliché that we, Latinos, are attached to our families and that the meals we share are special events of communion among our loved ones. In this sense, picnics are an example that with the same love and passion for nature we are closer to the “social outdoors experience” than the “solitude hike” portrayed by the influential American conservationist, John Muir.
As Hispanics, many of us share an indigenous cultural heritage which values the connection to our origins in Mother Earth, la Pachamama, commonly depicted in indigenous Andean culture. This is a value that I want to pass on to my son. Mother Earth provides for us, therefore it is our responsibility to relate to her in sustainable ways. Nature gives us much more which is of importance for a healthy child, the value of simplicity, interconnectivity of environments, and overall, nature also provides us with beauty to our spirit. In a world bombarded with material “needs”, overrated individualism and overly produced “beauty,” I strongly believe that time in nature will be translated to positive emotions, fun memories and interesting knowledge that I can pass on to my dear son. It would be Pachamama’s heritage to him, passed through his mother to stay with him for years to come.

About the author: Isabel Long is native from Chile. She works for the Bureau of Land Management- Eastern States at the Department of the Interior. She is the co-founder of BLM-Eastern States Diverse Youth Outings Project in partnership with the Sierra Club, the National Coalition on Climate Change (NLCCC), The National Hispanic Environmental Council (NHEC), and the Cesar Chavez Charter School in Washington D.C.

Isabel lives in Arlington with her husband Jonathan and her son, Dante. She enjoys bicycling, hiking, walking, practicing yoga, and traveling.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Hispanic Heritage Month:Raul Soto

By Raul Soto

Looking back at the last eighteen months since my appointment at EPA, I am struck by the incredible passion I have been exposed to during my interactions with both region and program offices alike. During this Hispanic Heritage month, I can honestly say that I have been privileged to work alongside individuals that wear the agency on their sleeves and open their hearts to the needs of the American public. Interfacing with dedicated professionals throughout the agency has solidified my appreciation for the deep resolve I see manifested when I gaze upon individuals seeking to assist communities in need.

When I consider the theme of Jobs & the Economy, I consider a personal hero – my dad. Here is a man that I can honestly say never groused about getting up and going to work. He loved his job and it showed. It might never have paid much, but it was enough to raise a family of six and allow for some discretionary spending like a bike or a football to while the time away on hot Saturday afternoons growing up in South Texas. His oft-quoted phrase to us was: “Your work ethic is a reflection of your personal character”. “Mijo”, he would tell me, “Con ganas, todo es possible”. With effort, anything is possible.
In the 1990’s, Hispanics were heavily reliant on employment as a main component to personal income. Close to 70% of adult Hispanics were in the labor force by necessity. In recent years, with the great recession in full swing, many Hispanics/Latinos struggle to maintain and preserve their households. Still, they remain resilient.

Education continues to be a major contributor to economic fortunes for Latinos. Its positive effects were in evidence during a summer EPA-sponsored interns networking event. During the course of the morning I came across a young man and woman from Texas A&M- Kingsville. The young man declared he was going to take his younger brother under his wing and educate him about the mission he had been a part of. The young lady was so thoroughly committed to the role of Latinos in environmental justice, she is considering the possibility of a graduate degree. Their unbridled enthusiasm and appreciative demeanor so motivated me, that I feel rejuvenated and resolved to keep mentoring those who strive to be good role models and stewards of our environment. Con ganas, si se puede!

About the author: Raul Soto is the Associated Assistant Administrator for Office of Diversity, Outreach and Collaboration

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.