“Our public lands and waters are deeply connected to our stories, provide a place for families and friends to connect and relax, offer ample opportunities to create memories with loved ones, and are economic drivers from coast to coast,” said Maite Arce, president and CEO of Hispanic Access. “By including local residents in the protection and regeneration of their waterways, we can begin to build a strong foundation of community knowledge and enthusiasm to sustain positive change.”
Access to clean waterways, such as urban streams and waterfronts, is a powerful lever for changes that restore biodiversity, provide access to nature for Latino communities, and ameliorate the climate crisis. Although rivers flow through nearly 640 million acres of public lands in the US, many communities around the world are cut off from their local waterways, because the rivers have been dammed, forced underground, diverted, or overdrawn.
In addition, communities of color and low-income communities are often located in areas situated next to polluted water sources and flood-prone areas, contributing to environmental injustices and climate vulnerability. Centuries of discrimination, land theft, and redlining have ensured that in the United States, it is largely white communities who live near clean waterways.
“This film expands the narrative of what it means to engage Latino communities, to encourage the understanding of the importance of familia, community, faith y cultura in our efforts to improve our society and protect our environment for future generations,” said Arce. “It is critical we recognize the exclusion of communities in the processes of planning for, responding to and recovering from these adverse effects, but also recognize the contributions of these resilient communities to our country and the ambition and commitment to take action to address these urgent matters when it comes to clean waterways and watershedsCommunity engagement is integral to ensuring access to clean and restored waterways. By including local residents in the regeneration of their waterways, such as training locals how to conduct river cleanups and water quality testing, we can begin to build a strong foundation of community knowledge and enthusiasm to sustain positive change.”
To learn more about the film project and to watch the videos, visit https://hispanicaccess.org/cartasdeamor.