The environmental champions of tomorrow will rise from the Hispanic community. Poll after poll has shown high support from Hispanics toward conservation and protecting our environment. In fact, many express the belief that we have a moral obligation to care for our public lands. But, there hasn’t been much to engage Latinos in this effort — until now.
In October 2013, Hispanic Access Foundation held the inaugural summit “Exploring Stewardship in Protecting and Preserving the Environment,” which was attended by several prominent religious leaders from Western states. A significant outcome of this summit was the formation of Por la Creación Faith-based Alliance.
This Alliance of religious leaders seeks to develop stewards of God’s creation by engaging and educating this generation to leave a legacy for the future. This group is recruiting other religious leaders to educate Hispanics and encourage them to take an active role in supporting the nation’s public lands and protecting our natural resources across the west.
“We need energy development for our nation’s energy independence,” said Pastor Joseito Velasquez from Healing Waters Family Center in Denver, Colo. “But we also need to protect wildlife and other aspects of God’s creation in our public lands. We can do both.”
Making a Difference
In just a short time, Por la Creación has made significant progress. In December 2013, Hispanic Access Foundation arranged for the founding members of the Alliance to meet with the White House, Department of Interior and their elected officials in order to introduce this new group and explain why it is important to building tomorrow’s stewards.
Additionally, the Alliance has successfully recruited new Hispanic religious leaders to the effort. A February 2014 event in Palm Springs, CA brought together over 60 faith leaders from the area. It was the first time these pastors ever met together, as the environment issue is one that they all agree on. The group is also planning outings to Joshua Tree later this spring, which will introduce dozens of young Latinos to the National Park, and a similar trip is under development to Colorado’s Browns Canyon.
Their leadership will be instrumental in sparking change that preserves our natural treasures for future generations — bringing balance and fairness to how our nation views conservation in relation to energy development.