Published April 20, 2012
| Fox News Latino
Fox News Latino is proud to present inspirational stories from Latinos all around the world doing their part to celebrate the importance of Earth Day.
Looking down on our planetary home, from inside a military cockpit 33,000 feet up, is how my environmental consciousness was strengthened. Flying above the earth for years, realizing that’s it’s only a sixteen hour trip from the U.S. west coast to the capital city of Saudi Arabia gives one the big picture like nothing else. I was deeply affected by the smallness of our collective home.
One day years later, while working for a large European conglomerate in a corporate sustainability role, I had an opportunity to pursue a question that had been rolling around my mind: as the U.S. green economy picks up steam, what role, if any, are Latinos playing in this innovation wave? That question led to an article, which then led to a two-year research project and the book Latinnovating: Green American Jobs and the Latinos Creating Them. I had discovered a hidden environmental innovation and leadership wave. I was compelled to write these stories and share them widely as a public speaker.
Many school children in the U.S. learn about the three Rs “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.” In some places, we have a fourth, “Rot” for composting. The advantage many Latino children have is this: their grandmothers, mothers and communities have been practicing these resource-protecting concepts for generations. They likely are most familiar than most classmates with the concept of creative reuse. As we celebrate Earth Day annually (really now Earth Week in many places), let’s take a moment to celebrate the connection between cultural values many Latino families teach their children and the foundational importance of those values in the emerging green economy.
This weekend you will meet a diverse group of Latinos whose families trace back to four different nations. They are running green businesses and organizations, creating inventions to positively impact their communities and our nation. Here are a few of the stories you’ll enjoy as we celebrate Earth Week.
On Friday: Graphic designer and industrial printer Carmen Rad found a way to produce zero-waste promotional banners and billboards to reduce fumes and waste in landfills. She’s leading the transformation to sustainable practices in her industry.
On Saturday: Read about Rosamaria Caballero-Stafford launched a national eco-consulting company that has already trained over 700 independent eco-consultants around the nation. They determined that the best way to green our nation is to green one home, one business at a time.
On Sunday: Solar developer Luis Rojas is taking school buildings off the fossil-fuel-powered electrical grid and putting them onto solar energy systems. He’s using his accounting background to construct financing packages that make it easy for school districts to say yes to renewable energy, while keeping more money in their operating budgets.
These stories affect audiences deeply when I speak at universities, professional associations, middle and high schools. The nation needs these images and stories; the planet needs these ideas and many more like them. I decided I would be the one to find these “Latinnovators,” spend the time getting to know them, learn enough about their industries to then communicate the value of their innovation, ideas and in many cases, their businesses. We need to study and multiply these examples. Why? Two reasons.
1. Our children need educated, accomplished, professional role models who share cultural values to aspire to emulate.
2. Our fellow American citizens need a steady flow of positive images of educated, accomplished, professional Latinos to counter the increasing negative imagery of stereotypes.
As speaker with a book, a rare author who happens to have a professional marketing career in her resume, I knew something very important as I took on this project: NOBODY changes their mind about something they believe they know, until you prove it with many repeated examples that counter the status quo. So I offer examples to Fox News Latino readers to inform and inspire this weekend in celebration of Earth Day and Earth week.