Last month, well over 30 environmental and community organizations came together to celebrate the 2nd Anacostia River Festival. This family friendly event offered an opportunity for Latino communities in Maryland to enjoy a day by their local river while learning about the amazing work that these organizations are doing to protect our mother earth and how to get involved on these initiatives.
Participants were able to enjoy nature and open spaces through activities such as boat tours, recreational fishing, arts and crafts, and rowing among others. In addition, the Festival provided an opportunity to learn about some of the issues that affect the quality of our local environment. Through hands on activities, parents and children learned about water pollution, air quality, local fish and wildlife and how to improve environmental conditions in their neighborhoods among other things. And all of this happened in a culturally and language appropriate format to overcome some of the barriers that prevent many of these environmental organizations from connecting with Latino audiences.
The Festival took place on the last weekend of the Hispanic Heritage Month and families went from table to table learning and engaging in conversation. Mayra Patricia Coreas who was present at the Festival and helped to recruit volunteers for the event shared that the Festival [in Spanish] “was nice and educational for youth and children”
Edith Morejón, a community member and leader also said that the Festival was [in Spanish] “relax, fun and learning with our family. A very interesting activity because of all the information we found out about”.
“Through this Festival it gives me the strength to learn more of our mother earth and in that way to defend it so that our generations enjoy a clean environment and without pollution. Each activity performed at that Festival was very valuable to our families and to learn from community resources and agencies what they do for the environment” added Candida Garcia [in Spanish], a local community leader in Hyattsville, MD.
We want thank the organizations, volunteers, and above all our community members for all their help in making this event a success. As we continue to work with the environmental community to become more diverse in its make-up, it is also our hope that for these organizations which the festival represented the first opportunity to engage a Latino audience, this is only the beginning of a successful relationship.
We also want to thank our partner organizations that helped make this event possible:
- Prince George's County Parks and Recreation
- Anacostia Watershed Society
- Chesapeake Bay Trust
- Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments
- Friends of Sligo Creek
- Anacostia Riverkeeper
- Audubon Naturalist Society
- Chesapeake Bay Program
- Interstate Commission of the Potomac River Basin
Chispa, meaning “spark” in Spanish, is a program launched by Maryland League of Conservation Voters Education Fund in 2014. Chispa Maryland works to ensure that Maryland Latino families and community leaders are a powerful voice for protecting our air, land, water, public health, and future. Chispa Maryland works with Latino families, community groups, faith-based organizations, and elected officials to identify and address unique environmental issues facing Latino communities in Maryland.