Below is the full transcript from the Climate Resilience Roundtable: Stories of Resilience From the Frontlines of Climate Change webinar. It is sectioned so you can easily follow along with the video recording.
Genevieve Flores-Haro, Mixteco Indigena Community Organizing Project: All right everyone, we’re gonna get started. So once again for those who are just joining Good morning, I’m Genevieve with MICOP. I’m going to be passing it on to our interpreters because we are going to be operating in a multilingual space so that everyone has the instructions on how to access this meeting and the language they’re most comfortable with.
Maria Lozano, Interpreter: The Community Environmental Council has a strong commitment to creating language justice spaces. For this reason this presentation will be held in Spanish and the webinar will be interpreted simultaneously in English and Spanish. So please listen and speak in the language you are most comfortable. And using this function we hope to create a more inclusive language justice space that can inform our work outside of this space and better help us break down power dynamics in regards to language. This section, and each section below in ‘Introduction’, is repeated in Spanish by interpreter Nayra Pacheco.
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Teresa Romero, Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians Environmental Director: Good morning. I’m Teresa Romero, and I’m with Santa Ynez Chumash. I’m the Environmental Director and welcome. I am from the ancestral village of Tityu in northern Chumash territory, and I want to acknowledge my ancestors and the lands that we are on today. I am here because of my ancestry. I asked that we all listen today to the stories being shared, that we listen with open hearts. And I want to bless each of those that are sharing their stories today with us all and to their voices, and that we listen with open ears and open hearts. And I send blessings over to us all. And I thank you for being here today. Thank you.
Ana Rosa Rizo-Centino, Facilitator: The purpose of our gathering today is to talk about our experiences that occurred during natural disasters. And what it is that we need to do to keep strong as we face challenges around climate change. You will hear from many folks who will share their stories of resilience. It’ll be good for all of us to listen, as Dennis mentioned, with open ears and an open mind and an open heart. And after hearing from the folks who will share their stories, we will also have an opportunity to talk amongst ourselves to share how this experience has been to be in a space in which the main language is Spanish, right? To share how this experience is because that’s usually not our reality. Then we are going to have the opportunity to have lunch and then after we take a break we will come back and listen to other participants. And so I want to start off introducing Jorge Toledano. He is an organizer with MICOP and he was a farm worker before that. And he has also worked with Lee de las campesinas creating videos around sexual harassment and he’s going to share a lot of good points with us so please, let’s give our all of our attention to hold again.
Stories of Resilience – Jorge Toledano
Jorge Toledano, MICOP Community Organizer: Well, good morning. My name is Jorge Jorge Toledano and I’m a community organizer with the community organizing project Mixteco Indigena. I’m from the Ñuu Savi community: people of the rain. As a people, we’ve overcome a lot of challenges since the invasion up until today, we left our home country to look for a better future for our families. And we immigrated to this country in which there is some form of respect, supposedly, and that’s what it is, it’s presented as having full respect here. But when we get here, we have to face other challenges in terms of language, customs, and our day to day life. And we have lived through discrimination, abuse at the in the workplace, and in many aspects of our lives. We have to be resilient, and we but we always put our best foot forward, we’re always working hard. You know, like, we we really step up to these challenges as indigenous people that we are, we’ve lived through this and more we continue to be in the struggle of, of support social justice, so that we can fight against discrimination and, and these divisions amongst so many groups and communities, because within our own race or our own country, that discrimination exists, we have always exists among our politicians, you know, you know, politicians will say, go to other countries, oh, you know, this country doesn’t have human rights, but it within our own country, we don’t have rights as indigenous folks.
So for us, those of us who are here in California, those of us who live here in Ventura, the largest fire that I’ve ever experienced was the Thomas fire a few years ago, and it was a very strong fire. And we saw so many things surface in which the indigenous community in the fields suffered a lot. So we’re going to talk a little bit about what I went through, during that fire. My family and I were working in the fields and others in construction and other jobs like that. And so when the fires came, the power went out. You couldn’t see anything in the streets and we didn’t know what was happening. We didn’t know why the power was out, because often that information isn’t available. You know, we just saw the smoke.
Now, we don’t have a medium to be informed in our own language. Often the streets will be closed, but we don’t know why. Because we don’t speak English. And so when the authorities close the streets, they’ll post up notices in English but not in Spanish. And so imagine someone who doesn’t even speak Spanish, how are they going to understand? So the power goes out, the food goes bad in the fridge, and all of the food that you have to refrigerate, the perishables, goes bad. And so I dare say that 80% of farmworkers in the county of Ventura 80% of them are indigenous Zapotec Mixtec, Triques, and from other communities. And so the majority of indigenous folks in this county are Mixtec, and Zapotec, who are working in the fields. And when that happens, when there’s a fire, or any kind of disaster that happens, we’re not receiving the information as quickly as others are getting in their languages or in English or Spanish. And so we are fortunate while we’ve worked very hard to break that language barrier with Mexico, indigenous community organizing project and other colleagues that we’ve worked with.
We have a radio show, or we have access to be able to do Facebook Live, to inform our community about everything that’s happening in regards to the fire, and so all of that is what we’re doing to break these barriers. But there’s a lot more that we have to be thinking of in regards to the information that is publicized. Often when we’re working, we’re affected by the smoke, it’s a lot of smoke that we’re inhaling. And I don’t want to say that in our own towns or countries, our lands, but you know, there, we don’t have any fires, yes, we have fires there. But the difference is that here, there’s a lot of chemicals that are used in power plants or agriculture. And all of that rises when there’s fires. And so that’s another set of chemicals that we have to inhale and the farm worker can’t go to do a regular medical checkup. Why? Because we don’t have health insurance.
We don’t have the economic means to go get checked or see a doctor. Often, when the fires happened – it was weeks that the fires were going on – the smoke didn’t let us work. And as a result of that, the ashes that fell on top of the crops, the berries, everything that we were working on, all of that went bad. And you know, it didn’t pass quality control. So imagine that we’re working eight to nine hours a day, when the fire was happening, we were working maybe two hours a day, four hours a day. And after the fires, there wasn’t a lot of work to do, because the product available to harvest wasn’t available, as it usually is, prior to the fires. All of that brings up a lot of concerns for us, because we are not eligible for unemployment. Why? Because we don’t rely on a valid social security number for this country. We also can’t demand that the hours be paid.
You know, if you work two hours, or if you work four hours, you’re gonna get paid two because the employer can’t really give you sick time off. And so I appreciate those who have collaborated with us like Lideres Campesinas, Future Leaders of America, like CAUSE, who created an organization called 805 Undocufund, and they were providing support for the undocumented folks who were affected by the fire. And so I got to be a volunteer for that program. And listen to the stories of the people who were affected, and believe me, there’s a lot of things that we can’t solve as much as we want.
And it hurts. Because we’re in a country where we’re supposed to uphold respect for human rights, or, you know, we predicate that this country, in front of other countries, is one in which the human rights of people are respected, but they aren’t, and much less are the rights of farmworkers or indigenous peoples. And it’s hard to be sharing this, but this is what we’re experiencing in this country.
Ana Rosa Rizo-Centino, Facilitator: Thank you, Jorge. Does anybody have any questions for Jorge? Before we continue?
Thank you for your work and for your hard work in the community.
Jorge Toledano, MICOP Community Organizer: Yes, of course.
Ana Rosa Rizo-Centino, Facilitator: The next person will be JJ Ortiz and he is coordinating a program called Turf 2 Surf. It is a program of a reintegration program for folks coming out of juvenile detention centers in Santa Barbara, and through this program, you’re changing violence cycles of violence by teaching us to surf. So thank you, JJ, for being here with us.
Stories of Resilience – JJ Ortiz
JJ Ortiz, Turf 2 Surf Cofounder: Good morning, everybody. Yeah, my name is JJ Ortiz, co-founder with the Turf 2 Surf. To follow with what Jorge was saying, I’m a first generation Mexican born here, my mom immigrated from here. So to connect the dots, we primarily worked with at-risk youth that are active in a gang or affiliated with gangs or kids that were coming out of boys camp, coming out of juvenile institutions. And we even got to reach out to some of the guys that were AWOL from boys camp. We luckily had access to them and then got them to participate.
We held multiple two week programs for these youth in the summer which, for us, worked in different facets. We had an element where we would bring people that were associated with the local community college and so they could, these youth could get informed with programs or even start thinking about attaining higher education after high school. And connecting those dots. We also gave them basically just two weeks of having something a little bit different than their everyday summers.
As a youth myself, I did live close to a boys club, but I always felt out of place. When it came to the boys club, I did run with the gang. I was hanging out with the fellas. And so when it came to choosing between us and the kids that were actually paying for the daycare at the boys club, we were second fiddle and oftentimes we got kicked out. We provided this two week program where these kids could have fun for the summer even though there were towards the end of being kids, you know, they’re young men at this point. We would take them surfing and give them everything they need. Surfing is not a cheap sport. It wasn’t attainable to me as a youth. I came across surfing as a young kid not having a daycare, but going with my mom to work and cleaning houses and going to these beautiful houses on the beach and seeing kids in surf camps and that’s where the idea got started.
So knowing how that felt, we provide these two weeks with these kids to be kids again and learn how to surf and also bridge the gap between their culture and beach culture and start getting them used to getting out of their comfort zone. We did that for seven years and I still talk to a lot of the fellows that participated in the program and a lot of them are doing well, and some of them are still dealing with the struggles and working past that. But yeah, that that was Turf 2 Surf.
Ana Rosa Rizo-Centino, Facilitator: Jorge, how can people become more active in helping indigenous people living in America?
Jorge Toledano, MICOP Community Organizer: I think respecting our culture, our language, the way we think is a start. That’s the main thing that we want to get through. Everyone has their own ideas. So we all have to be responsible for respecting each other. It’s also important to learn people’s history, especially indigenous people, and where we come from.
Ana Rosa Rizo-Centino, Facilitator: Is there anyone running for office that comes from an indigenous culture?
Jorge Toledano, MICOP Community Organizer: At the moment I don’t have a lot of knowledge if anyone is running for office. But there’s a lot of people that are focused on, especially helping our indigenous communities. And we’re working with a lot of people that are working to help us and respect us and get across what we’re trying to accomplish. Every day we are waking up and working and even right now with the pandemic happening. We get sick, but we still go out and work. But we are facing other problems such as lack of hours and not being paid, or adequate hours. I know I qualify for my 80 hours, but they told me that I don’t qualify, and they don’t give you any explanation as to why they’re doing this. They just tell me you don’t qualify and they just ignore yo when you ask them questions.
Farmworkers, we never get a break, whether it’s raining, there’s fires. They say that there’s a thing that says “there’s never a break for those that are always tired”. And that’s especially true for farmworkers. We are working through the pandemic and I’ve had to work under conditions including strong rain and strong winds.
Ana Rosa Rizo-Centino, Facilitator: It isn’t just issues for indigenous communities, it is for all farmworkers. But we are working towards finding solutions. Thanks to everyone’s efforts, we are making strides in the right direction. But we still need more help. It’s awful because we are so close to the beach, but we can’t even experience those luxuries sometimes just because we are always working.
Here’s a question for JJ in the group chat.
Kids, young guys don’t always feel comfortable at the beach because of the cultural divide. Do you feel this is a cultural issue, we need to address knowing that more families need to be at the beach to cool off as the climate heats. And we have more hot days and also in the chat. They’re asking for the name of the program, which I saw you just answered Turf 2 Surf. So do you have an answer for Sharyn’s question, JJ?
JJ Ortiz, Turf 2 Surf Cofounder: Yeah, most definitely I think going to the beaches, depending on where you’re living, you know, and where I grew up wasn’t very close to the beach as far as having access or ride to go there. Yeah, a lot of these kids didn’t even know how to swim. We had to teach them how to swim before they participated in the program. But yes, it is a little bit different. When you go to the beach, you go with your friends and your mob, and like, you know, five deep, then you start turning heads, who are these guys? They don’t look, they don’t look like they belong here. And so yes, there’s a cultural divide there, of not feeling comfortable, because it’s not where you usually hang out. And also, because you’re not used to being seen there in a group like that. And so people might get uneasy because you’re not wearing the board shorts, you know, you stand out, but that’s what the whole program was about. It was about breaking down those barriers and also connecting people from the beach culture and from, you know, a beautiful gang culture, but you know, that has a lot of positives as wel
Ana Rosa Rizo-Centino, Facilitator: Thank you, JJ. I mean, Dickey shorts are more comfortable anyway. Right.
There’s another question for Jorge in the chat. Is there a possibility to make a video about farm workers during the pandemic?
Jorge Toledano, MICOP Community Organizer: There have been a lot of reporters that have come to Interview us, news sources mainly, just to see what the day to day is like.
A lot of news sources come and follow us in our day to day life. But sometimes our bosses don’t allow cameras to fully document everything that’s happening.
One of the main policies we face is who’s allowed to speak to these interviewers. just because our bosses are very strict about what they say, what the workers say, about the conditions in which we are working. And that’s one of the main challenges that we’ve been facing.
We run into the challenge of who can even record something so genuine and so real about our day to day life. Because there are so many barriers and so many restrictions
But I think there is a way in which we could make this work. We did have people that have spoken and have shared their experiences. But many times we are restricted because of our work schedule.
But there’s restrictions because their bosses are worried that we will speak out about the injustices that are happening in the workplace. And that’s why these restrictions exist.
Ana Rosa Rizo-Centino, Facilitator: Thank you so much for sharing.
Are there any financial logistical barriers for Turf 2 Surf kids to reach the beach? Are parking fees, transportation, major issues for access? Do these kids face harassment? Or does it stem mostly from culturally ingrained images of who gets to be at the beach?
JJ Ortiz, Turf 2 Surf Cofounder: I mean, to give you a little taste of that, I know, E60 ESPN did a little kind of story on the surf program. We took a bunch of kids to the US Open of surfing just to get them to experience that and experienced surfing on a competition level. One of my best friends is Bob Martinez, one of the only Chicano surfers that went pro and was on the top 100 surfers in the world. And right when we got there, we were being followed by a police presence. And till they told us to leave. So that was like, one incident that the cameras caught. What that experience is like, and so, yes, there are barriers. We literally had provided, you know, thanks to Channel Islands, here in Santa Barbara, we provided everything the youth needed from sunscreen to beach towels. There are definitely barriers that come from there, you know, not having enough to get to the beach, or even providing them with lunch. So you go to the beach and have nothing to eat after being in the water. So yeah, there’s definitely that.
Ana Rosa Rizo-Centino, Facilitator: Thank you, JJ. So I’m not seeing any other questions for Jorge and JJ so we’re gonna move on to the video.
Stories of Resilience – Juanita Colmenares
The video is of Juanita Colmenares and she is a volunteer with CAUSE. Juanita is a volunteer with Elsa and we are going to play her video now. And we want to thank JJ and Jorge for their testimonies. Thank you for sharing their experiences during these difficult times.
Juanita Colmenares, CAUSE Grassroots Leader: Hello, my name is Juanita. And I am asked to share my story that I’ve been sharing I’ve been I’ve been experiencing with these natural disasters, and especially the pandemic,
I have some questions, and I’m gonna answer them.
And truly yes. For us, I work at a hospital. And where I worked, sometimes we have vacation time. It’s not a lot of time.
Often we have to work more as is because we have to pay rent. And we have to just save money to be able to afford a lot of the things that we need.
On a day to day basis, because rent is so expensive. To think about having to relocate and think about where we have to move. Sometimes I also think about like, what if I wanted to get a different job? Where would I go to find one. Amidst this pandemic, we’ve had our hours cut, and we’ve tried to look for other jobs. But often, there aren’t many available. And we struggle a lot.
And we also struggle in finding people to work as well in this hospital. So we’ve been finding staff to fit the roles there, then there’s a lot more work for us that we have to do.
Given the current conditions, I had to rent out one of the rooms in my house. I have a daughter and a son. And so, you know, I do worry about having people living in my home because I have a daughter. And so you don’t know what might happen. Question number three is: What resources do community members need to face natural disasters? And so what information is very important? It helps us plan.
Financial health would be important, I know that money is scarce, but perhaps folks who have money available to them that are wealthier could support in some way as people go through these difficult times. Hopefully, there’s something that we can establish for folks to donate and contribute and just ways for the county in the city to be better prepared for these disasters and therefore better protect our community. Just any kind of hub where we can access resources and aid. That would really help me.
We need to have sites where people can sign up to receive information. And I know that there are, but we need more of that, so that we can help each and help ourselves. And sometimes we think we’re not well off, but there’s people who are even worse off. And so let’s think about how we can help one another. I think that that’s what we need, but most importantly, information that has sites where there’s food distribution, clothing, donations, anything like that. Because it’s, it’s a very critical situation.
Right now, you know, there isn’t enough money to go shopping right now. And it’s barely enough to be able to afford food on the day to day. And so, in my case, I only have one job. And so I need to source whatever we need.
There are just many creative means to cover our basic necessities. And so thank you for all of this work that you all are doing to consider what it is that we need. And hopefully you all come up with good ideas and are able to support these communities. And I hope you have a good afternoon and goodbye.
Ana Rosa Rizo-Centino, Facilitator: I know that for many the audio wasn’t very good. I had seen this video before starting. So I wanted to highlight one of the points that she was mentioning, in case you couldn’t really hear her. First of all, she was sharing that for many workers, their hours have been cut where they work. And so it’s very hard to pay an affordable rent so she’s had to rent out rooms in her apartment to be able to cover rent. And basically asking folks who have more resources available to be able to share these resources, if you can share my provide funds to donate funds, food or blankets or clothing if you have extras of those, basically for those who have more to give more during these very difficult times. So now we’re going to take a five minute break and we will return at 10:50 a.m. with Ana Rico from the Community Environmental Council. Thank you for being here and we will return at 10:50 a.m.
Stories of Resilience – Marcus V.O. Lopez, Araceli Reyes, Keihla, and Maria
Marcus Lopez was raised in the San Fernando Valley and he is an educator in Santa Barbara. He’s a mentor. He’s an interpreter. He’s an activist. He dances with the resistance group and he pretty much does everything. He went to UCSB because he studied political science. And he is working on his master’s in education with an emphasis on indigenous communities. And he is focused on ethnic studies and working so that it becomes a requirement in order to graduate. He’s a mentor and a coordinator with a lot of youth groups such as Nature Corps, Just Communities, Santa Barbara Barbara Police Activities League and many more. Please welcome him. Thank you for being with us.
Marcus V.O. Lopez, Barbareño Chumash Tribal Council: Haku. Hello, everyone. My name is Marcus Victor Oliver Lopez. I’m Chumash and Chicano. And in sharing the stories of resilience today in the same way as our previous panelists, it brought up a lot of emotions and stories that I had in my mind about what I wanted to share, but now is a little different. Jorge started off talking about the Thomas fire and how there was the biggest fire he’d ever seen. And it was a huge fire. We could see it here from Santa Barbara. During the first days of the Thomas fire, I was lucky to be involved with a community of folks, which we gathered a lot of supplies to take down to the Ventura Oxnard area. Nairo Pacheco, who’s one of the interpreters today. We were in a cul de sac and just waiting for stuff. And we drove down to give the stuff to families that would really need those items. And who knew that that fire would spread all the way to the hills here in Santa Barbara.
Luckily, there’s a misconception about what Santa Barbara is and what even Montecito is. It’s not always just full of rich people. My family has been living in Montecito for a long time. Since the 1800s, we’ve been living there and owned our land there. Unfortunately, due to discrimination, we weren’t granted the abilities to get insurance, to get these things that normal people would have that ability, that privilege to have these things. Because we are indigenous, we are Chumash, we are, you know, people of color. A lot of discrimination. A lot of people are looking to take the land out from under us, from our family.
And so once the Thomas fire was put out, several weeks later, we had a storm that caused a lot of what people say debris flow. Now technically, I call it a mudslide. I was on the property. Luckily, there was a huge explosion from a gas line that looked really close and looked like my neighbor’s house was on fire, and was blowing up from my window. And so I got up and went to my little casita, my little home, walking over to my dad’s little home who’s my neighbor. And I go and look at that, it looks like the neighbor across the fence looks like their house is on fire with his scraggly hair, we wake up in the morning, your hair is all over the place and he’s looking like let me get ready. Let’s go over there and see if we can help. And during that time, we turned around and started taking pictures of the night sky all lit up in orange from this explosion. Our property is where Montecito Creek Pretty much meets the East Valley Road or some people know it as the 192.
I’m looking, hearing what sounds like 10 trucks rolling, coming down fast and rotating from having my eyesight in one direction rotating to the opposite side. And with the orange night sky, seeing a wave that was 2530 feet, it was hard to determine. But seeing that wave pass through and seeing trees, snap like toothpicks and sing it all go. And for those brief moments, figuring out how am I going to be safe climbing on the roof, going into my truck and driving out of there running. I chose running. And when you are in these heightened situations there’s like this blankness in my mind of what transpired.
My dad says I was yelling to run and get the F out. I don’t remember saying that. But he says he heard me say it, yelling it. And as I ran to higher ground through mud that is just piling up higher and higher. Getting to the street, and seeing electrical poles. The wires kind of like a wave. And then transformers blowing. I thought that was the end. I’m glad it wasn’t. I looked back behind me and my dad wasn’t there. So I turned around and went back. And that initial wave was that big moment. We were able to get my aunt out of her house. Get my uncle awake. We were all in different little homes on our property. And on the other side of the creek, we lost some homes and some other structures and vehicles. But in that area or my uncle’s neighbors, they lost their lives. And so as we were fortunate to walk out of there, walk through power lines and to be on a kind of island, as we couldn’t leave without military assistance.
The questions that are coming to my mind are, how can the communication have been better to those communities? Because the neighbors of my uncle who lived on the other side of the creek, they passed. They weren’t rich in the little homes there too. And as we tried to go back or as I tried to go back, go back and forth, the blatant discrimination from visiting police forces that were asked to come to the area. There are some local sheriffs there like “Mark is cool. Go ahead.” Because my dad and uncle stayed they’ve never left. Local sheriffs that I knew that built relationships with and working in this community, they knew. The local CHP, they knew. But when visiting people came – no access. I don’t fit the description of a Montecito resident and I’m lucky that the work that my family and I have done over the decades through the danza that I do through la casa de la raza, through all these different community members, some here present today, we’re able to lend a helping hand to our family, so we can clean up and start the rebuilding process.
Are we finished? That’s been two and a half years and by no means are we finished. There’s still the distrust that we have in government. Because of the past governments, the United States government has towards their policies towards indigenous peoples.
How do we change that? How do we have the right people, leaders, to mend those situations, mend those communities, to help out can be the Mixtec and Zapotec communities that have migrated here. They’re living here with us. How do we do that? How do we have nonprofits? Listen to us, indigenous voices. Nonprofits have land, you don’t get access to them. There our lands. Land acknowledgement that my fellow Chumash person Teresa gave. That’s wonderful. But certain nonprofits need to give back some of that land. We need to fight to allow us to go back to our homelands to do our ceremonies. So that way, we can invite other communities to be part of those ceremonies. So that way, we can move forward in this world together and build a stronger community. We know you’re here. But we need that, that strength. We’ve been here and been resilient for hundreds of years. And we’re going to continue being resilient, that doesn’t change. But wouldn’t it be nice if we didn’t have to be resilient 24 seven. And we can work together and break down some of those huge barriers. I’d like that. I would like to see that in my lifetime.
That mudslide was not the first natural disaster I’ve experienced. But I wanted to share that frightening and traumatic time with you all. It is connected to Thomas fire, debris flow, and how we work towards communicating with our communities to be prepared, and be ready. Thank you.
Ana Rosa Rizo-Centino, Facilitator: Thank you, Marcus Victor. Are there questions for Marcus Victor before continuing.
What technology is accessible? Also, where can people give their surplus of resources to?
Marcus V.O. Lopez, Barbareño Chumash Tribal Council: I noticed from the last fire that the county information published in Spanish wasn’t accurate. And it was cut off. Only part of the information was being published. So I had to connect with county officials to ask them that they change the information and have it be accurate and complete. So I think that that issue of language justice is a key form in making sure that the info reaches people. And in regards to resources and many of the organizations here I make sure that these resources get to the community. I know that Casa de la Raza provides food every week from Tuesdays and Thursdays. And so this is one organization that can do it. MICOP, CAUSE, many of our groups helped to make sure that these resources can get to people. So I think the answer would be that there’s a lot of ways to have those that reach folks. If there are no more questions for Marcus we will continue.
Ana Rosa Rizo-Centino, Facilitator: Thank you so much, Marcus, for your testimony. I know this was a very hard period for you.
In our community, thank you for your testimonial and sharing your story. And I hear that question like we are so resilient, but why do we have to be so resilient all the time?
Thank you, Marcus. We are resilient. But why do we have to be so resilient through colonization, capitalism, and everything that happens right now. The next person who will speak with us is Ana Rico. She works with the Community Environmental Council and she will share with us a video. Thank you, you’re like a namesake to me and you’re welcome to share your story.
Ana Rico, CEC Community Ambassador: Thank you so much for everyone that is here today. I’m Ana Rico. And the ambassador for Santa Barbara’s Environmental Council in Southern California. I’ve been working on the frontlines during the pandemic. As part of a project called CARE. We are offering the community resources and immediate help. For people that don’t apply for government resources. We ask people how has the current situation affected you and how can we help you?
The main thing is how can we listen to these people and how can we help them based on what they say? Sometimes people just need to vent and say their stories because we’ve all been experiencing different circumstances and different challenges.
We mainly just try to help and listen. But right now what we’re going to do is show you guys three videos.
One of them is Guadalupe, she’s a farm worker. And two are other people that have been working and just sharing their experiences during these difficult times. The video is in Spanish but the Subtitles are in English. And I will play this now.
Araceli Reyes, Farm Worker: In Los Alamos, it is hotter. Very hot. I’ve heard a lot of stories of fainting. I’ve heard of a lot of people getting dehydrated. It is difficult to work in the field. Like I said, the climate is already a bit hot and often workers are pregnant or have some medical condition that affects them. That’s why they had put in these little houses. If you feel bad, you’re supposed to take a rest for five minutes. They don’t allow it…they don’t do it. They keep working.
Apart from climate – overpopulation in housing. It’s stressful – overpopulation in a single home. And, unfortunately, we have to be like this because that’s all we can pay.
Keihla Rivera, Retail Worker: I’m Keihla Rivera, My mother has systemic Lupus, which is an autoimmune disease, which makes her one of the incredibly susceptible people who more than likely would not be able to recover from COVID. She also has issues with her lungs and with breathing, and she has fibromyalgia and all these different things. It was definitely scary knowing I have immuno-compromised people in my family that very likely could lose their lives based on my exposure to people.
Maria Delgado, Full-Time Mother and Caregiver to Adult Child with Disabilities: My name is Maria Delgado. My experience was very dificult, because as a mother with an incapacitated son, they didn’t help me at all. And the second time – the landslide – the new fires came after the rain. There was a lot of ash falling. The police knocked and said, “You have to get out of here.” But I said, “I don’t have anywhere to go with my kid,” “No, you have to get out,” he said. For thirty minutes I waited outside. With my child, risking that I get sick. I had pneumonia and my son has diabetes. There was a lot of ash that fell on us. Then waiting for transportation from EasyLife. “Where are you headed?” they asked. “We don’t have anywhere to go.” So they took us to Isla Vista. But it was very ugly there. They did give us food. But I had a lot of issues with my son because I couldn’t change his diaper. Because, since he’s grown, they couldn’t share anything to help me change my son. That was exceedingly difficult for me. Having to carry him all the time, sit him down, and take him to the bathroom.
Ana Rico, CEC Community Ambassador: Your son, how old is he?
Maria Delgado: He is 24 years old.
Ana Rico, CEC Community Ambassador: I want to share more about Maria. She’s living in Santa Barbara with her son who is 24 years old. And this happened two years ago. At that moment he was 21. He is in a wheelchair and he has difficulty hearing. As a mother, I put myself in her position.
Trying to explain what’s happening with your child and sitting next to people that just don’t know and have never experienced that. Hearing that it was very difficult for me to hear. Like I mentioned, I have children. And it’s very difficult because I try to think about her situation. And not just her situation, but everyone else that has experienced something similar. And sometimes there’s simply no help. Sometimes they tell you go find help here, go there, talk to this person. But sometimes because of our situation we just don’t qualify for this help. And it’s such a big frustration that so many people just don’t understand. But you know, you just need this help, but there’s no way for you to access it. It could be that you don’t have the proper documents. You don’t qualify for the resources.
She had no direction as to where to go during this situation. But thank you so much for the space and letting us share the story.
Ana Rosa Rizo-Centino, Facilitator: Just a statement of appreciation to Marcus for the call to return land and support native people to reconnect with their ceremonies and ability to invite others to join in those ceremonies that will build community cohesion and help reunite our broken culture. Another person saying thank you, Marcus. What kind of land reparations from nonprofits are wanted and needed in this region at this time? I’m not sure if you want to talk about Hutash street at all and any ways that people can support that fight.
Marcus V.O. Lopez, Barbareño Chumash Tribal Council: Well, land reparations are different from renaming a street. There’s a nonprofit that’s in our community that owns a lot of land. And we don’t know, the Santa Ynez band of Chumash Indians have a great community center up there, that’s the tribal Hall. And they’re building a museum. And that’s gonna be a fantastic place for people to gather. But Santa Ynez is kind of far, for some of us that don’t have means for transportation. Down here in Santa Barbara, there is no place for us to gather. We have to go and ask people to use their space to gather. And the biggest one would be the Nature Conservancy, which owns maybe, I’m going to guesstimate, about three fourths of Santa Cruz Island. That’s a huge Island. And we own three, four segments, maybe even a little bit more. But not having access to our old village sites, not having access to our ceremonial sites, not just on the islands, but here in the mountains as well, in the Los Padres National Forest. Not having that access and trying to reach for it and trying to attain it and do it the proper way. It’s a lot of barriers, a lot of paperwork and a lot of meetings, which I feel that that we’re up for, but it is a huge process. And Ana alluded to the renaming of Indio Muerto street to Hutash Street. Here in Santa Barbara, we’ve had Indio Muerto for a long time, and it’s taken a long time to get it renamed. And there is a meeting at the City Council on September 29 where they will be listening to our presentation to get it renamed, we’ve already presented to the Santa Barbara neighborhood Advisory Council. They were all for it. And so we look forward to having it renamed. If anybody would like to write a letter of support, hopefully the organizers here can share my information. And I can send those letters of support to myself and to the Santa Barbara City Council.
Ana Rosa Rizo-Centino, Facilitator: Thank you so much. Marcus Victor.
Are there any other questions? Well, if there aren’t any other questions, I think that this is all we have.
He’s writing in his contact info. And yes, that’s it. That’s all we have for this morning session. Right now. We are going to take a break and then we are going to return at 1:00 p.m. correct?
Okay, Ben, so I thought that was after the break. But if we want to do the panel now we can. Let’s go ahead and move forward with that.
Panel – Genevieve Flores-Haro, Lucia Marquez, Teresa Romero, Jennifer Hernández
I have Genevieve Florez-Haro, Associate Director of MICOP, Lucia Marquez, who’s an organizer with CAUSE, we have Teresa Romero, who is part of the Chumash Salinas, a band of Chumash and then Jennifer Hernández, who works for the Community Environmental Council. So thank you for all of those who shared your stories of resilience. We’ll continue with the panel now.
Jennifer Hernández, Energy and Climate Program Associate, CEC: I can start us off while everybody works up. And then thanks. My name is Jen Hernandez. I’m the Energy and Climate Program Associate with the Community Environmental Council. Can everybody hear me?
And yeah, thank you to everybody for sharing your stories. I’m really grateful to be here speaking with you all and Lucia, Teresa and Genevieve. We’re collaborating on this roundtable through the essential Climate Justice Network, where a group of social justice and environmental organizations that are working together to create a more resilient and just region at the intersection of climate change and racial injustice.
And I want to thank the attendees also for being here to listen, I think it’s really important to recognize our role and to recognize the privilege and the power of some of our own organizations and agencies to keep these stories live. And to really let them drive our work. We also have an opportunity to slow down a little bit and acknowledge the history of who’s helped create the pathways for many of the resiliency and climate adaptation solutions that we’re able to advocate for and put into our programs and plans. And these experiences that we heard about today are the same ones that have driven movements that sometimes take lifetimes of labor in organizing the fight for. And it’s working.
There’s still a great disparity in access for people not just to these solutions, but for their voices to be heard and for their experiences to be validated. And even just for them to exist safely, even during natural disasters. When it seems like that would be a basic right extended to anyone. So we have the opportunity to recognize these deeply embedded power structures that we maybe didn’t create, but we are working within and re-examine how to make them better, whether it’s by redefining what it means to do environmental or conservation climate work. And advocating within the agencies we work for to do planning differently and center the stories that we heard today.
So I’m glad to be able to play a part in facilitating these spaces where these conversations can keep happening. Thanks again.
Ana Rosa Rizo-Centino, Facilitator: Thank you, Jennifer. Yes. So if each person can speak a little bit about your organization, and what you are doing to create solutions for climate change, and as I mentioned resilience in our communities.
Genevieve Flores-Haro, MICOP Associate Director: Yes, I can go. Good morning. Once again, my name is Genevieve Flores-Haro. I’m the Associate Director with Mexico Indigenous Community Organizing Project. We’re better known by our initials MICOP or MICOP because we’re multilingual. Right.
And so you all heard from my colleague Jorge, a little bit about the work that we do. Basically, we have worked in Ventura County since 2001. Our founder was a nurse who saw that there was a large community of folks who spoke Mixteco. And from then we grew into a very large organization. We have approximately 75 people on our staff. And sometimes people think that we’re tiny, but no, we’re kind of big. And right now we’re working in Santa Barbara County and Santa Maria. And we serve the indigenous migrant community.
We’re not technically an organization that works on issues of the environment, but due to the community that we work with, it’s part of the culture. You heard from Jorge that the Mixtec people and their language, they’re people of the rain, Zapotecs are people of the clouds. And so there’s a very deep connection our communities have with the environments and so that’s why we’re here right? Because it’s about preserving our languages, our cultures and to, you know, add our little grain of salt in this area, which is our home now, you know where migrants were not original peoples of this land, that’s the Chumash people. But as caretakers of our own land, we want to contribute to this space.
And so part of the work that we’re doing is elevating these voices and advocating for folks who don’t have legal documentation so that they can access certain needs that they deserve. But we’ve seen through COVID-19, that the farm worker community is still working. And it’s very deep, what our colleague Marcus was saying about resiliency. Why is it that we always have to be resilient? Sometimes resiliency is just us working within a broken system, right.
So we’re here advocating for this within the system. You know, to advocate for access to health care, access to funds, perhaps be you know, due to your immigrant status, you can’t access and to be able to provide this information in our languages, speak our oral languages. So we did two videos, PSAs, radio, to be able to connect with the community so that they are informed as well. So we do a little bit of everything.
Ana Rosa Rizo-Centino, Facilitator: Thank you for being here. Thank you, Genevieve, would you like to continue Teresa?
Teresa Romero, Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians Environmental Director: Good morning, again, thank you. I’m Teresa Romero and I am with the Santa Ynez band of Chumash Indians. I’m the Director for the Environmental Department here. And I’ve been here for about five years now. I’m also a Chumash community member. I am both Northern Chumash and coastal Chumash.
Some of the projects we’re working on here in my work with Santa Ynez are working on climate change adaptation. And we have finished a vulnerability assessment that is throughout Chumash traditional territory. For those not familiar, that’s about 17,000 square miles and covers five counties, including, of course, Santa Barbara County. And as part of that, we are conducting research to the greater Chumash community. To find out what’s important to the Chumash community.
Our assessment is complete, and I have received additional funding, which will assist with planning efforts, again, with outreach to the local Chumash community, to figure out and determine the best ways to protect our resources. And I’m going to echo as a Chumash community member, some of the issues that Marcus brought up regarding access because some of our resources, our own lands that are held by nonprofits or private landowners. And it’s really important for us to have access to the lands which are sacred to us, where we go for ceremonies, where we pray, and to understand that the resources are part of us. They’re in our DNA. And we need to protect them as the original people here. It’s not something that we can separate from ourselves.
So it’s just really important for those that are in the environmental nonprofit arena, and all of the nonprofits to understand the resources are where foods or traditional foods are, where our traditional medicines are, and it’s really important to be able to protect those things. And here on the reservation, we do have a small tribal nursery, and we’re working on building food security in the community here locally. That’s really important for all the indigenous community. To create this food security for ourselves for our communities. It is what keeps us well and healthy. And if you’d like to keep up with us, we do have a Facebook page, it’s you can just look for SYCEO. And that’s the Santa Ynez Chumash Environmental Office. We also have a website. It’s SYCEO.org and thank you for allowing me to be here and speak.
Ana Rosa Rizo-Centino, Facilitator: Thank you Teresa. Lucia, would you like to speak from the organization CAUSE?
Lucia Marquez, CAUSE Policy Advocate: Yes. Hi, everyone. I’m so happy to be here. Again, my name is Lucia Marquez, I’m a policy advocate with CAUSE. There’s a lot that our communities have to be resilient for, at least in the Central Coast. We’re dealing with drought, extreme heat wildfires, and across the nation, this pandemic, and when disasters hit our community, whether it’s all of those things, the impacts to frontline communities are often really similar, whether that’s disruptions to work, or unsafe or unhealthy working conditions, lack of safety, net or income relief, language accessibility threats to housing security and difficulty accessing health care.
You know, Jorge, what he said earlier, was, frontline communities are already experiencing many injustices on top of when disasters are hurting our communities, like pollution, poor air quality, lack of access to green space. And so really, when disasters are hitting communities, existing disparities are only exacerbated.The work that CAUSE is doing is intersectional. We’re working on immigrants rights, housing, workers rights, all of that work through our advocacy is with efforts to make our communities resilient through the injustices that already exist in our communities, but only become intensified during these disasters.
And so some examples of the work that we’re doing, I think, Juanita did a really good job. Apologies for the poor audio, but you know, sharing her story around what she has to do to maintain her housing, the safe place to live during this difficult time. And some of the work that we’re doing that is really trying to get stronger tenant protections. This applies during day to day, outside of a pandemic or a wildfire mudslide. But even then, we’ve lost a lot of housing stock during the Thomas fires during the mudslides, and that threatened housing for a lot of people in Santa Barbara County, where a lot of the wealthy homes in Montecito were unsafe to live in and tenants throughout Santa Barbara County were being evicted for no cause of their own and really threatening their safe place to live.
And so we’ve been working across the region to pass eviction protections, where tenants are protected to maintain their homes if they’re following their lease. Also trying to put caps on drastic rent increases. Those are the threats that are being experienced in our communities right now that we’re working to, you know, protect our tenants to give them rights to be able to maintain a healthy place to live.
Also addressing workers rights, where we’ve been working with statewide partners to address the wildfire smoke and protection for workers, especially outdoor workers, where employers are required to provide their outdoor workers N95 respirators when air quality is threatening to their health. That’s something that we have as a temporary standard, but we need it as a permanent standard. We need those protection for workers, because we know wildfires are our new normal. That’s something that’s going to come into our communities, probably every single year, and we need to make sure that outdoor workers like farm workers have safer working conditions than they currently have right now.
I think we heard it from some of the speakers about difficulty around the income safety net. That is a really difficult thing. If you’re undocumented, you don’t have access to FEMA, you don’t have access to unemployment. And that’s one of the most challenging things that has been experienced during this pandemic. And so we’re trying to get a permanent safety net for all workers, including undocumented workers.
And those are just a few examples of the work that we’re doing across the region that’s really trying to address resiliency among our communities. And this is work that needs to be held strong. It’s policy that we need even outside of disasters because these are all the existing inequalities that our communities are faced with and are out of a disaster.
Ana Rosa Rizo-Centino, Facilitator: Thank you so much to all the panelists that participated and share their stories today. At some point before we close, if you filled out the survey that we are going to use in the discussions in the afternoon this discussion is going to start at 1:00 p.m.
And we are going to have our interpreters to help us during these discussions. If you need someone to send you the link for this discussion, make sure to put it in the chat and share your email so that we could share the link with you guys because the link will be different. And also fill out the questionnaire that we are providing so that we can get your thoughts over how this event went. And also which times and days would work best for you guys. In the future when we do these again.
This was put on by the Community Environmental Council and the Central Coast Climate Justice Network. Thank you so much to our committee that helped plan this event. Here is our committee that helped put this on so that this event could go as smoothly as possible.
Thank you to the Community Environmental Council for taking this event into consideration so that we can continue making a difference. You can find out more about the Community Environmental Council by going on their website and other work that they are doing around climate resilience. Thank you so much everyone for sharing their stories.
And I just want to finish with asking this question. We are very resilient people. But why do we always have to be resilient? We are allowed to enjoy life’s pleasures. And it’s part of life and part of having a healthy life. And we hope to take the lessons that we heard today to heart and to continue using these stories with the work that we are doing.
Afternoon Breakout Discussions
Welcome back. Thank you all for rejoining us. We were enriched by the stories that you heard this morning. This is a breakout discussion part of the roundtable so the breakout rooms will be by language so no interpretation will be needed. If you speak in English our break out, it will be in English. If you speak Spanish it will be in Spanish. But when we’re in this large room, we will be speaking in Spanish and Nayra Pacheco and Maria Lozano will again go over how to activate the language interpretation for when we’re in the main room today.
Remaining sections in ‘Introduction’ are first said in Spanish by interpreter Nayra Pacheco, and then repeated in English by interpreter Maria Lozano.
Maria Lozano, Interpreter: Welcome back to this session will be facilitated in Spanish with simultaneous interpretation in English and Spanish. So please listen and speak in the language you are most comfortable.
Multilingual spaces are created collectively so we will review some guidelines to help support language justice in this dialogue session.
Please speak one person at a time so that the interpreters can capture everything you say.
We ask everyone to speak at a slow and moderate pace.
Please keep your microphone on mute when you are not speaking to avoid background noise.
If you’re bilingual please do not switch back and forth languages in the same sentence. And make sure to speak in the appropriate channel to ensure you are heard or interpreted for or choose original audio.
Contributions from the entire group are welcome.
Just a minute after we finish giving the instructions we will activate the interpretation feature. If you’re on a computer you will see a globe pop up on the bottom of the screen. If you’re on your phone, you will see three dots on the bottom right hand side of your screen. Click on these and select the language to speak if for some reason the original speaker sound is louder than the interpreter you’re listening to. You can mute the original audio at any given moment.
Thank you, we may now begin.
Ana Rosa Rizo-Centino, Facilitator: When we are in our small breakout discussions, you can turn your audio microphone back on any instructions that you may need will be on the chat in English and Spanish. And the Google Doc that we will be working on will also be on the chat if you need help. Or if you have comments or questions, please write them in the chat. So for the Google Doc you’ll have to you’ll have to go to http://tinyurl.com/crr. So our dash notes, so you can see the link in the chat. Please write your name, your affiliation, your pronoun, and anything that you are grateful for, from what you have learned in this session. And please write in an asterisk next to your name if you speak Spanish.
We will be working out of this document in our second discussion later on. The goals for this roundtable and what we learned from them in the webinar in the morning are to deepen our understanding of the compounding impacts of climate change, and the socio economic vulnerabilities on our frontline and most impacted workers, as well as those of indigenous peoples. We want to give power in agencies to communities to share their stories and share their solutions. These communities are already experts at responding to crisis, right. As we heard earlier, we’re very resilient.
We want to ensure that important voices are heard about our problems and concerns and ideas are heard by those in power and people Who are in decision making roles that make decisions that affect or help us and incorporate into climate and community planning efforts. For all of our communities and the Central Coast, we want to generate solutions to be more climate resilient, that these solutions be centered in justice and equity. The principles for the day are to be present, please put your phone on silent, close your email, and just focus on being present with each other. Here in this virtual space, to the greatest extent you are able to please, please, in any other kind of work during this time, don’t do it. Just bring in your fullest self, open your mind and your heart so that our dreams and visions can be shared.
And please ensure that all voices are welcome, honored and heard. Stay curious about what you’re here listening to and commit to learning from each other. This is a safe space. So we will need to create and build trust and strong relationships to be able to move the work between organizations together. And its perspective and the broader system view and collaboration. And these collective efforts are what will make us successful. We invite you here, as I mentioned, to bring your whole self, don’t just bring your professional self. Right, we invite you to take off your usual professional hat, we want to be clear, none of us, not a single person, organization has all the answers. It’s not possible for one organization to fix all of the problems we’re facing today. So please bring in your gifts, right because we all carry our own gifts as individuals that we can share. And we will only succeed if we all bring what we have to offer.
We’ll take note of everything that is shared here so that we can learn together we will synthesize it, and everything that we take note on and then we will send those notes back to you so that we can work together, collectively, to elevate and enhance our capacity to get things done at the pace and scale needed. We believe that today we will move towards a shared vision with strategy and collaborative action. For climate action and resilience for our communities. We won’t get all the way there. But together we will move in that direction in a meaningful way. Okay, so thank you so much. And we will put these principles into action and we welcome your voices and we invite you to connect with the other participants in a more intimate way. In a minute Iris will invite you to small breakout groups of five people and you will have three to four minutes to share your reflections with each other from this morning’s webinar, right with the stories that were shared by our colleagues. So please ensure that if you are Spanish speaker, please ensure you have an asterisk before your name in the row “comm”.
if you don’t know how to do that, please send a message to Iris Kelly. when you’re not sharing, your role is to listen deeply. It’s not about assuming, or asking questions, you’re just listening, you will be with the same group and both have breakout sessions and this is to help build trust and deeper appreciation for each other.
So for the first discussion, and dialogue, the questions will be, what was your experience of this morning’s webinar? How was it to be in a space where the conversation was in Spanish? As a Spanish speaker or as a non Spanish speaker? What was that experience like for you? What resonated with you from what you heard? So those are the questions and now Iris will put us into rooms to have these deeper, more intimate conversations for about 20 minutes. If you get put in a breakout room that is not your preferred language, please exit the room and we’ll reassign you Okay, so thank you so much. And hopefully your discussion dialogues are productive and that you learn a lot from them.
To ensure participants feel free to discuss openly, breakout groups are not recorded.
Ana Rosa Rizo-Centino, Facilitator: Great to see all your guys’ faces again. If you guys could share just a couple points that you guys were talking about in your breakout room? We want to hear your guys’s thoughts. And if you guys would like to share with everyone else.
Chris Ragland, Healing Justice Santa Barbara: Hey, yeah, I’ll go for it. I have a couple things that I heard in our group. Everyone had really unique, I think insight into what happened in the webinar and all very good. But some things that stood out for me were, you know, how do you confront when you hear something? such as you know, Nature Conservancy runs or owns most of Santa Cruz? What does it look like to give that land back? What happens when you work for Nature Conservancy? How do you actually process that and address something that almost competes with the work that you’re doing?
I heard that the bilingual aspect was really interesting. And it almost made people go inward. Instead of being so visual and paying attention here, it invited folks to close their eyes and listen a little bit more in a different way. That was really good.
A term that I heard, talking about protecting peace and having always coming back to a place where anxiety and the problems of life aren’t totally consuming you, I heard the term “forest bath”. So go outside, get your hands in the dirt, you know, don’t necessarily live in what’s happening in social media or what’s happening in the work that you’re doing, but actually go out and experience the world. Yeah, those are three really big ones for me, and plenty more, but don’t want to take up too much time.
Ana Rosa Rizo-Centino, Facilitator: Thank you, Chris, for sharing your story.
Mark Alvarado, One Community Bridge Project: My interpretation is turned on. I’d like to go next, if I could.
Ana Rosa Rizo-Centino, Facilitator: I think you have the go ahead, Mark.
Mark Alvarado, One Community Bridge Project: Okay, okay. I didn’t hear that. Anyhow. Okay. So our group, everybody shared initially. And what we got, well initially, came away was that there was an emotional tone that everybody experienced with the sharing that took place. Everybody kind of felt something one way or another, which was kind of, I thought, interesting. I think for all of us who were in the early sessions, we felt some kind of emotional connection to the narratives that were being shared.
One thing about the bilingual aspect of it was somebody stated that it kind of slowed down the whole agenda where people could really kind of be more involved. It forced them to be more thoughtful in the process than them just taking for granted that it was in English. And because it was in Spanish, there was like more attention, paying attention to what was actually being said. So I thought that was an interesting takeaway.
As well as we have a participant that lives in Sonoma, and who is surrounded by two fires right now. And so it was interesting to hear their perspective and the need for more political will, to get them more into a place of resiliency, and what kind of I don’t know, if they’re specifically at this level of communication, that we are around community issues, but I just thought that that was good that we kind of had an out of town perspective of what we’re doing. That maybe he could probably take some of what he’s learning here back to his community and maybe vice versa down the road. So I’ll stop there.
Ana Rosa Rizo-Centino, Facilitator: Anyone else want to share? Thank you so much Mark for sharing.
Jennifer Hernández, CEC Energy and Climate Program Associate: I can share. Yeah, our group had a few people who were kind of on both sides, planning the event and attending the event. So, we kind of talked about how part of the point of this was to come in as listeners and how some for some of us, sometimes we’re in the room, it’s either representing our organization or as an expert voice and how different and nice this was to just be here to listen and sit with what was said.
And also, just being grateful for some of the things that maybe were hiccups, or maybe weren’t,. It was really just the voices of the people that we were there to listen to. And that’s really what was the most important part that stood out for everybody. Being on the other side of the language interpretation was interesting, and just hearing the difference between the languages and how the words and the concepts come across differently. And then also just hearing some of these concepts like land recreations that are really, really big and really challenging and leaving me wondering how to address those and wanting to work toward.
Ana Rosa Rizo-Centino, Facilitator: Thanks Jen.
Alhan Diaz-Correa, CEC Community Ambassador: In our group we were talking about how impactful it was to have a space where people could share their stories and especially have this space in a bilingual way.
We mainly talked about how emotional today was and how difficult it is to find solutions to such big problems but it’s important to know that sometimes help isn’t going to be easy. And there’s a lot of obstacles that we have to face along the way before we can actually make some impactful change and that’s something that we talked a lot about in our group and how just having the emotional aspects played a big role in finding these solutions.
Ana Rosa Rizo-Centino, Facilitator: Thank you Alhan for sharing. Now we will continue to the next portion of the event.
And now we want to focus on what is most important for us as a community. What is it that we can do to strengthen our resiliency in the face of these challenges presented by climate change, for all of those who are in our community, particularly those who are most vulnerable to these impacts, and to those people that you represent or that you work most closely to.
How can we figure out what we need to elevate in the planning processes, and the agendas held by non profit organizations and agencies and networks that are participating with us today. So now, we will invite you to be in your breakout groups once more. With your facilitator. You’ll have your boat with a captain, and they will share instructions and you will take notes. Each person in the group will be able to add notes to the Google Doc if you feel comfortable. Please take a moment right now to reflect in silence on the following questions:
- What must be done, but might be missed to build a just climate resilience with the communities you work with and represent?
- What do we have to pay attention to?
- What are your best ideas for enhancing resiliency and addressing vulnerabilities?
- Are there ideas you heard about this morning? or other ideas that you hold as well?
- What are you willing to do to engage in the community? And what kind of support do you need in terms of resources? Particularly when talking about under-resourced and marginalized and most impacted communities.
These questions are in the notes in the document if you want to review them, you can each add a plus one or just a one to the ideas in your group that you feel are the most important or that resonate and that you feel most deeply in your heart. We ask that you leave a few minutes at the end of your 25 minute session to choose as a group. The idea that you all agree is the best and that you want to share. Now, I am going to invite you again to join your group for 25 minutes. Please keep note of your group number and click on the link in the Google Doc with your group number on it.
Okay, so you’ll have 25 minutes in this group. Thank you.
To ensure participants feel free to discuss openly, breakout groups are not recorded.
Ana Rosa Rizo-Centino, Facilitator: Welcome back everyone.
You turn your translation on. I’m going to give you guys one more minute to do that. Let’s take five minutes to share what you guys discussed in your breakout rooms. Whoever wants to go first. What’s the one main idea you guys discussed?
Carrie Kappel, LegacyWorks: I can share for our group. We were group five. There were a lot of good ideas shared in this group. But the thing that we kept coming back around to was food security and food sovereignty as a basic human right and a really pressing need for a lot of people in our county. Right up there with housing as a human right. It was hard to decide which one to elevate. But we talked a lot about food and ways to expand access to opportunities to grow your own food and for indigenous cultures to have access to traditional foods and foods that are culturally important.
Ana Rosa Rizo-Centino, Facilitator: Does anyone else want to share what they discuss in their group?
Jennifer Hernández, CEC Energy and Climate Program Associate: I can share out for our group of three. We had also a few ideas that I think one we talked about the most was what Marcus spoke to, which is having conversations about who owns land, and nonprofits that own land. And how to start that conversation about returning land to indigenous stewardship, but also about where the funding comes from to conserve those lands. And what conservation means and who’s conserved for and what we can possibly do around where the money comes from and put stipulations on that to make sure that the indigenous communities are brought back into the conversation when those decisions are being made.
Ana Rosa Rizo-Centino, Facilitator: Thank you, Jen. Anyone else?
Lucia Marquez, CAUSE Policy Advocate: I could share what was discussed in group six, we spent a lot of time talking about community engagement within planning. And so this is the planning process. This could include general plans, climate action plans, public health plans, emergency plans, and really making space for incorporating community voices and community experiences into the way our communities are shaped and that really helps inform what community resiliency looks like – individual and individual communities. But I think that there’s a lot of ways to do community engagement. And oftentimes, it’s not done in a culturally competent way. And so really rethinking what that community engagement looks like to be as accessible as possible for participation of, especially, frontline communities.
Ana Rosa Rizo-Centino, Facilitator: We were group number two, one thing that came out was funding. I know it’s sometimes a difficult topic to discuss. But many communities are underfunded. And we want to focus more on investing in our frontline communities. And in order to create resistance and resilience, it starts with funding. And that definitely does start with creating more spaces like this. And having more community members give their opinion and give their experiences. And the people that share their stories, they are giving their work by taking time out of their day to discuss in webinars like this.
Some issues that people run into are that there’s not enough interpreters to translate and our group definitely discussed a lot but we always came back to the idea of funding. And change is definitely going to start with investing in these communities. It is important not to just tokenize the people that come and speak but also get them involved in creating lasting solutions.
Thank you so much to everyone that shared. after this is over definitely take time to look over the google doc and look at the notes and what everyone else wrote. There’s a lot of inspiration and a lot of collected inspiration. So let’s take these ideas and keep working and create lasting solutions.
These resources will definitely be there and we’ll keep you guys updated on these resources and just keep checking. We are part of climate resistance. We sometimes make the distinction of climate change and us but we are all a part of it and we’re all part of making the difference and creating justice and economic justice, environmental justice. It starts with us. Language justice is definitely a part of creating intersectional change.
It’s important to get everyone involved despite language barriers. We are taking one step in the right direction to create this language justice and break down these barriers. I know when I was little, and I was translating for my mom, and I remember seeing how people would look at my mom, and how they would look at her because she didn’t know how to speak English. And I think this part of breaking these barriers is a part of respect. Jorge had talked about how this country is all about respect. But sometimes some of the most vulnerable communities aren’t receiving the respect that we so preach. So it’s important to take time to make sure that we are including everyone and being as intersectional as possible with the work that we’re doing going forward.
We also have to make sure to talk about Black Lives Matter and also getting them involved into this conversation. I want to thank everyone so much to everyone that talked and shared. It really touched my heart hearing all these stories. And we are so honored to have heard so many of these experiences and stories. I want to thank our translators Narda and Maria, thank you so much to everyone who listened. And you guys took the time to really find solutions based on these experiences and keeping these conversations going. Thank you, Chris from Healing Justice for bringing us one of our speakers. Thank you, MICOP and the Chumash community. Yes, thank you so much to all of our organizations that played a role in today’s event. And for getting so much of your time and your heart. Don’t forget to take the survey that we are about to provide. And on the fourth page of the Google Doc, you can provide resources and notes.
On September 29, there’s gonna be another event focusing on the change of the street, originally named India Muerto and how they’re trying to create a change in by changing the name of this street because it’s simply not politically correct and very disturbing for people of this community to have to see every day. So we’re gonna keep working on making a safe space for everyone. And that starts with that street. That’s one way that we can create change. And that will be on September 29. So if I forgot anything else, or if I forgot to thank anyone else, please feel free to interrupt me and let me know. Thank you so much to all of our orgs that helped out today.
Sharyn Main, CEC Director of Climate Resilience: Ana Rosa and to everyone I’m Sharyn from the Community Environmental Council and I just wanted a special thank you everybody. Unmute and let’s give Ana Rosa a big hand. Beautiful job. Thank you. That was beautiful.
Ana Rosa Rizo-Centino, Facilitator: Thank you, everyone. Thank you.