Written by: Russell Corbin, Chispa Maryland Intern
This Latino Conservation Week (LCW) we sat down with our Chispa Maryland Director, Ramón Palencia-Calvo, to learn more about his passion for the great outdoors and our involvement with LCW this year.
Latino Conservation Week, which this year lasts from July 14th-22nd, is a national event organized by the Hispanic Access Foundation.
Question: When did you start developing your passion for the environment?
I had this love for nature instilled in me since I was young. I remember how I spent my summers at my grandparents’ house in the woods of Galicia, in Northwestern Spain, replanting native species of vegetation such as chestnut and oak trees. I was also fortunate to travel the world as a child with my family. By visiting a variety of environments and biomes, whether in Africa, Europe, or the U.S., I gained a greater
appreciation of the diversity and beauty of our planet, and felt a need to protect it.
Question: Why is environmental advocacy important to you?
I believe it is an ethical issue and a justice issue. My dedication to this work is a manifestation of the lessons I learned through my Catholic upbringing: respect for nature, respect for others, and respect for life. I also recognize how low-income communities and communities of color, with which Chispa Maryland works with most, are disproportionately affected by environmental pollution. By working with and for these communities and providing leadership opportunities, Chispa Maryland is able to empower some of the people most affected by climate injustices and provide some of the tools needed to make their communities healthier and more resilient and adaptive to climate change.
Question: What are the goals for LCW?
- Provide Latino families and youth with outdoor recreation opportunities near their homes.
- Demonstrate the Latino community’s commitment to conservation
- Partner with Hispanic community leaders and organizations to support local and national conservation issues.
- Inform policy makers, media and the public of the Latino community’s views on important local and national conservation issues.
I believe participating in outdoor activities makes people happier and healthier. Although Latino cultures are generally very well connected to Mother Earth, We often lack the opportunities to enjoy the outdoors past our local parks or urban rivers due to barriers such as lack of transportation or financial means. However, Latino Conservation Week is a time when Latinos have the opportunity to reclaim and spend time in the outdoors.
Question: What does Chispa Maryland do to celebrate LCW?
In previous years, Chispa Maryland has hosted canoe based clean-ups in Baltimore and garden planting events. But these events are only a few of the outdoor community events Chispa Maryland organizes. For us at Chispa Maryland, Latino Conservation Week happens every week of the year. This year, Chispa Maryland has partnered with the Anacostia Watershed Society to host two Anacostia River boat tours on July 14th and 21st. (To see details for the boat tours, go here).
From our involvement in Latino Conservation Week, we aim to join the national conversation on environmental issues and demonstrate the leadership and participation of local Latino communities in our state. By connecting different Latino groups and environmental organizations, we are able to establish meaningful relationships in order to continue the fight to protect and love our Mother Earth.