Fotos y Recreo Celebrates a Decade of Latino Conservation Week

  • Posted on 7 August 2023
  • By Jenny Lopez

Taking up Space for Nature Stewardship from the Heart : Reflecting on ‘Fotos y Recreo’ Latino Conservation Week Celebration 

A decade of Latino Conservation Week signifies not just growth, but a deeper understanding of the vital connection between the Latinx community and the environment. When you imagine a Public Lands Conservationist or Nature Steward, what comes to mind? If you asked those who joined us at our “Fotos y Recreo” Latino Conservation Week celebration at Crystal Cove State Park, you are likely to have heard, “Someone like us, someone like me.”
Every year, as part of Latino Conservation Week (July 15-23) organizations partner across the country to hold intentional community events, such as “Fotos y Recreo” to elevate community relationships and reaffirm our relationship to Public Lands.  “Green spaces are intentionally denied to us and it is time to reclaim space as we belong in these spaces,” was an acknowledged truth and reality for nearly a dozen volunteers from communities throughout Los Angeles and Orange Country, who purposefully planned this main event in a predominantly homogeneous area to intentionally practice taking up space in a Public Lands setting. HAF’s contribution made it possible to support three BIPOC-identifying local community businesses as part of this effort. 
As practicing conservationists and nature stewards, on Saturday, July 22nd we successfully implemented low-waste practices to be more climate-friendly, such as bringing a reusable water bottle, plates and utensils to enjoy a tasty plant-based tamale meal. Some community members even brought extra reusable dishware to share with others. Now that’s a community effort, and a clear reminder that we have been practicing conservationist ways with our families, even before we probably had the English word for it, at least that’s been my experience as an English learner. 
Just as noteworthy, about a quarter of community members reduced their carbon footprint that day by carpooling together from the Los Angeles Historic Park to Newport Beach. That day, our collective decision-making transcended to tangible climate action. We did that, comunidad.
For 3 months, BIPOC - identifying volunteers  intentionally curated a welcoming, accessible and inclusive experience that offered an opportunity for our community to reflect, connect with each other, and experience joy.  Intention being the heart and driving force of our community event. 
Community was invited to participate in an artistic screen-printing experience, as facilitated by Self Help Graphics, a mindful interpretive hike through the sloping hills of the state park, and opportunity to take self-portraits in nature by a special community photographer. Throughout the day, community members reflected on a felt sense of gratitude. 
Gratitude to self for carving out to time to reconnect with nature for overall wellness. Gratitude to friends and family for extending an invitation to share time together in nature. Gratitude for children and Elders coming together to share in the moment and remind us that nature stewardship is within us, all, if only we cultivate it. Gratitude for community holding space for each other’s mind, body and heart restoration while in nature. Gratitude for taking up  space as Brown, Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, in the face of microaggressions on the day of our event. 
As one volunteer shared, “It felt natural to come together and to feel like we’re part of this community. We felt seamless. This is reaffirming [of the value in] sharing and being in community.” The experience of “fluidity” and “ease” was felt collectively as we practiced being flexible with each other, established trusting relationships, and committed to also enjoying the experience of working toward a common vision for the day. 
To learn more about ways to get involved with the Angeles Chapter, you can find a time to connect with the Chapter Conservation Program Manager.

Jenny Lopez (Pronouns: She, her, ella) is an advocate for nature connection and holistic community well-being. Her commitment to addressing the nature access gap has led her to participate in the Nature for All Leadership Training Program and anchors her role as an Outings Leaders for Sierra Club’s Inspiring Connections Outdoors Program. 


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