This year Defenders of Wildlife partnered with Hispanic Access Foundation and numerous organizations across the country to celebrate the inaugural Latino Advocacy Week. Defenders hosted a writing workshop led by acclaimed poet Jovan Mays about “Finding Your Why.” If you want to get more involved with advocating for wildlife issues that matter to you join our Biodiversity Ambassador program – text “ACTIVIST” to 52886 to sign-up!
Rosie: Hello all! I’m Rosie Sanchez, the Field Coordinator for the Rocky Mountains and Great Plains program of Defenders of Wildlife located in beautiful Denver, Colorado.
This year Defenders had the honor to participate in the inaugural Latino Advocacy Week, sponsored by Hispanic Access Foundation and numerous organizations across the country.
Caitlin: And I’m Caitlin Cattelino, a National Outreach Representative in Denver as well! The goal of Latino Advocacy Week was to empower Latino communities, organizations, families, and individuals to become advocates for the issues that impact their daily lives, including environmental concerns and injustices.
The 2021 Conservation in the West poll found higher percentages of Black, Latino, and Native American voters to be concerned about issues like climate change, pollution of waterways, and the impacts of oil and gas drilling on our land, air, and water.
Rosie: This week was and will continue to be important because now is the time to advocate on issues that impact the Latino community. Now is the time to empower and uplift Latino voices to create big changes through democracy for issues that impact us the most.
In the words of Laura Esquivel, Vice President of Federal Advocacy and Policy, of the Hispanic Federation “Systemic inequality is baked into our governing laws at every level and environmental protection laws and enforcement are no exception.”
Caitlin: To celebrate Latino Advocacy Week, Defenders hosted a writing workshop with Jovan Mays called “Finding Your Why”. Jovan is the emeritus Poet Laureate of Aurora, Colorado and a National Poetry Slam Champion.
In this incredible event, Jovan lead participants through a workshop to explore creative ways to express support for and advocate for biodiversity. Identifying why you care about protecting the environment is a critical tool in your advocacy toolbox and that personal narrative can be used in the calls you make, the letters you write, the testimonials you give, and the meetings you attend.
Jovan: One of the things I was really into when I was a little kid – I was really into trees already.
So naturally Ms. Chambers is sitting us down for our first poetry lesson – my head’s going off –
“I’ve not heard of this tree and I’ve studied trees for the greater part of this year.”
So Ms.Chambers says, “Alright, does anybody have any questions?”
And I said “Mrs. Chambers, can you tell me where the POET-TREES grow?”
And she was like, “Jovan – poetry is not a tree, it’s like a style of writing.” And she gave me one of the most sage pieces of advice that I’ve gotten in my whole entire life, she said “Jovan, believe it or not, poetry is your own language.”
Rosie: To say the webinar was a success would be an understatement! Using writing as the catalyst for activism and connecting with the root of our drive was a tool that I didn’t know was missing for my advocacy.
If we are being honest, sometimes advocacy and activism is daunting and can be draining, but when you connect and draw from the well from which your initial motivation comes from, the days when you feel like the hill is too hard to climb or you feel like you aren’t making a difference come few and far between.
Jovan was gracious in the space that he opened up for vulnerability and creativity! There was participation throughout the presentation with a lot of powerful sharing and joy.
Sebastian: Hello, my name is Sebastian. I believe it’s crucial to spread the word awareness how our ecosystem has been destroyed in a local and global way. I’m speaking for all of those who should have justice – for our animals and ecosystems.
We can start local by not throwing garbage on the ground and recycling.
Respect our planet is to respect the way it should be treated. Thank you!
Rosie: To hear from the next generation of activists like Sebastian was moving and contributed greatly to the collective for empowering our Latino community.
Caitlin: Defenders was thrilled to partner with Jovan, the Hispanic Access Foundation, and other Colorado organizations to promote Latino Advocacy Week.
If you’d like to learn more about how you can speak up for the wildlife issues that matter to you, sign up to be a Biodiversity Ambassador with Defenders.
Text “ACTIVIST” to 52886 to sign-up!
We’d love to have your join our community of advocates!