09/22/17

“Yo Cuento Outdoors”~The Stories of Latino Outdoors. Part 1

What is Latino Outdoors?

I asked myself that very question a few years back. Fast-forward to now and I can tell you exactly what Latino Outdoors is and who the community of amazing leaders that help support this beautiful organization are.

José G. González is an educator, environmentalist, artist and the founder of Latino Outdoors.

This organization helps connect Cultura with the outdoors with a growing and inclusive vision for the future in conservation, the environment and often just plain recreation in open spaces.

Latino Outdoors is a Latino-led and volunteer-powered organization which has inspired many to celebrate their culture with the outdoors. Even though we have a focused celebration of the Latinx identity, everyone is welcome regardless of race, language, socio-economic background, and ethnicity! The support of these unique, amazing individuals who are our volunteer leaders and the passion they have for Tierra Madre (Mother Earth) is what I would like to share with you. Their voice, their story and what the outdoors means to them. I myself have been a volunteer for over two years and I can honestly tell you it has been nothing short of amazing.

It is an honor to be a part of sharing what makes us unique in our passion for what we do. During the month of Hispanic Heritage Month I will be highlighting the stories of us. Who is Latino Outdoors … keep reading!!!

“Yo Cuento Outside” Q & A with Carlos Jorge Miranda~Website Coordinator for LO

 

1.What are the earliest memories of you in the outdoors with a connection to Nature?

My earliest memories of being connected outdoors would be driving to Muir Woods in California and going to the beach most summers. Going to camp Mather outside of Hetch Hetchy in Yosemite National Park is another treasured memory. This was a week long camp for families a few miles from the park entrance. During these trips I would spend lots of time with my uncles learning how to hike properly and fish very early in the morning on the Tuolumne River and American River in California.

Yosemite National Park (2005)

2.What is your story in relation to what you do now in the outdoor space?

I mentioned earlier I spent lots of time outdoors as a kid but as a young adult I would lose sight of that passion. In 2007 I went through a traumatic spinal injury that happened on the job, this would make it even more difficult to go outdoors and travel as a whole and as I was going through rehab I learned to modify any outdoor activities to accomodate my disability. I’ve been able yo camp again, hike and do light backpacking despite my injuries. This is one of the reasons I work with disabled students and show them the power of “Modified Dis-Ability”. I am a father of a 5 year old and I see now that education, outdoor conservation and diversity in education but also in our wild and public spaces is crucial to our and generations to come.

3.What makes the outdoors special to you?

It makes it a special place because it brings my thoughts to a neutral place, I am able to slow down and enjoy being on the moment. One of the disadvantages of living in San Francisco is the hustle and bustle, one of the advantages is trails are within miles.

4.How do you celebrate the connections between a Latinx identity and the Outdoors and how do you “count” yourself afuera?

As a current student at The University of San Francisco in the Latino/o/X American Studies department, culture, history and legacy is at the forefront of what drives me as a student, father, spouse and educator. I feel I am able to share outdoor spaces with those that may have not been exposed to it but also don’t have the means of transportation.

Counting as an “Identified” person of Color, also as a larger than average tattooed guy from San Francisco’s Mission district I have come accustomed to the stares and have used that as an ice breaker to educate people on diversity and outdoor equity for those underrepresented in these spaces.

Photo credit-Veronica MIranda

5.How do you see this in others and the communities around you?

One of the things I do see in others in the LatinX community I live in is lack of resources, education and specialist who are of the same ethnic background to bring fourth the opportunity to experience even local outdoor spaces. This is the main reason I was excited to volunteer with Latino Outdoors and continue to work with them and I am now going on two years with them. I see the power in planting the seeds on the molecular level with those that know how to fertilize the soil in their own communities and that is what has made Latino Outdoors successful. They are also a wonderful team of volunteers and leadership roles.

6.Tell me why it is important to you to do what you do?

It matters because as a student, I love to educate and see that spark ignite in people of all ages. I love the memories that also come from hikes and walks from our elders who remind me that we come from the Tierra.

Photo Credit~Veronica Miranda

La Familia Miranda~Carlos Jorge, wife Veronica and son Mayuteo.

Muchas Gracias to Carlos for sharing what makes him and what he does special to his own family and Latino Outdoors. I am so honored to call him my friend and he really is a special soul and stories like his are what we will be sharing with you during Hispanic Heritage Month. Let your story be told and may you be inspired by some of our Outdoor Familia and stay tuned for another story!
Southwest Ambassador for Latino Outdoors~Josie Gutierrez
10/16/16

Estamos Aqui Documentary: Latino Outdoors at The White House

Latino Outdoors at the White House

                “Estamos Aqui: We are here”.

 

A few weeks ago I was asked to join Latino Outdoors at the White House for a very special screening of “Estamos Aqui~A Celebration of Nature y Cultura”. This film was directed by award winning filmmaker, guest speaker and founder of The Nature Kids Institute Mr. Kenny Ballentine. Estamos Aqui is co-produced by Kenny Ballentine and Jose Gonzalez. Gonzales is the founder of Latino Outdoors and a member of the Latino Conservation Alliance.

The Latino population is the fastest growing American demographic. They are also among the most under-represented groups in conservation, outdoor recreation, and environmental education organizations – Latino Outdoors.

 

What are the causes and consequences of this divide? What are the challenges and opportunities? Latino families and individuals from all over the United States are already connecting with their history, their culture and their communities. In the Estamos Aqui documentary you get to meet these inspiring people, hear their stories and discover how our connection to nature simultaneously makes us unique and brings us together.

 

Estamos Aqui Documentary: Latino Outdoors at The White House  -  FitFunAnd.com

Familia- Latino Outdoors

The film would not only make it’s premiere at The White House but during Hispanic Heritage Month. To recognize and celebrate the contributions and the importance of Hispanic and Latino Americans to the United States and highlight our heritage and culture as we diversify the Outdoors. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity for us all. The mission and goals of Latino Outdoors to be visible with top-level conservation leaders as well as members of Congress is exceptional. The film was beautiful and it made me proud to be a part of this story. The story of Latinos and the relationships we are building with Nature and not leaving our Culture at the entrance of a trail but making it part of the journey.

Here is a link to the speakers and panel that occurred right before the screening. Enjoy!

Latino Outdoors Panel & Speakers

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Latino Outdoors at The White House!

 

The opportunity also included a tour of the East Wing at The White House and WOW! The rooms are rich in history and we took it all in. We individually absorbed the day and how special it was. It’s not everyday that these moments happen. The smiles were endless and the energy was amazing.

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Once we actually made it pass all security checkpoints we were allowed to do a self-guided tour of The East Wing. Welcome to The White House! We were allowed to take pictures with our cell phones and off we went. Exploring the East Wing was a surreal experience for us all. The wing had a Green room, a Blue room, a Red room and the opulence and history was definitely felt as we walked the corridors.

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The East Wing has nine rooms and as you exit you have a great photo op under The United States Seal.

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In my wildest dreams I would not have imagined that my love of Nature would have blessed me with a beautiful Outdoor Family and a trip with them to The White House. I recently celebrated one year as Ambassador for Latino Outdoors~Southwest. We are volunteers, active stewards and advocates for natural spaces. The importance of sharing our stories and empowering the next generation of Latino leadership in the outdoors is evident in this organization.

Dream. Believe. Achieve. 

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 Fitfunand … Estamos Aqui: The White House with Latino Outdoors.

09/25/16

Mi Vida Latina. #TXLatinoBlog

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I must have been about 7 years old at the time this picture was taken. I remember my mom brushing my hair and picking out my clothes. I was always up for a photo shoot. Smile!

When I look in the mirror today, I see who I am, what I have become and who I still want to be.

 

My parents met in middle school. They eventually married and just had me. Happily ever after is not what happened. They divorced by the time I was about 6 or 7.

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A testament to the love they had for me and the eventual mutual respect they had for each other in parenting me is the smile you see on my face.

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My parents were both born in Texas. I am 2nd generation Mexican American on my Father’s side and 3rd on my Mother’s. I naturally picked up the Spanish language, Gracias a Dios! My parents never really taught it to me but it was the language spoken on both sides of my Familia. It was how I could communicate with my Abuelita. It was la musica my Grandfather sang.

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My Mom and her parents Cristina and Domingo Garcia.

My Cultura was playing all around me and I was never the wiser!

 

The soundtrack of my youth is Mariachis, Musica Chicana and my Abuelo (Apa) playing his guitar as he sang Spanish songs.

Pets were chickens, ducks and my horse Big Red. My dad bought me one because he said I asked for one, lol. The chicken’s and duck’s were gifted to me every Easter (by me Dad) and I am forever grateful that my grandfather (Apa) had plenty of land to care for my pets.

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Me and my horse Big Red.

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My Sweet Sixteen.

La comida was so traditional that my expectations are high. I was raised on homemade tortillas, and frijoles from the jarro. Nopalitos, carne asada, chorizo, sopas, arroz con pollo were food for my soul. The salsa was always made from the cilantro, tomate, cebolla y chili piquin picked straight from my Abuelita’s backyard. Amor was comida and it showed.

Medicine was El curandero (the medicine man) for any ailment that the “Sangre de Chango” otherwise known as monkey blood (not really monkey blood) couldn’t cure. Aloe Vera was the plant kept in the front yard for burns and scrapes. If you still weren’t cured no worries because you probably had “ojo” (the evil eye) and having your Abuela rub an egg over your body as she prayed in Spanish somehow did the trick! The egg is then cracked and placed into a glass of water with a broken stick to make a cross on top of the egg. After a certain period of time the egg starts to separate and the more it does the worse the “ojo”.  I only wish my Abuelas were around to cure me without having to head to the local pharmacy.

The Amor is what cured us all.

 

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Mis Abuelas Cristina y Manuela.

My parents loved me unconditionally and gave me the best of themselves. We were rich in culture and that was my happy. We weren’t rich but I always had what I needed and the most important thing for me was that they were always present in my life and I knew I was loved. It showed in their actions as it does to this day.

I am a lucky girl! I looked in the mirror as a child with no clue of who I was other than happy.

 

I look at myself in the mirror now (still happy) and see the past, the present and the future. My past was an abundance of Cultura, Tradiciones y Amor. The present is the family I have raised and the future is full of promise.

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Mi Familia.

I grew up!

 

I am a daughter who became a woman, who became a Mom, who became a grandmother!

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A dance recital with my granddaughter.

My family is my backbone and the love and traditions I was raised on is what I hope my girls have had a taste of. I still can’t cook a tortilla but I know what restaurant makes a good one. I don’t usually play Spanish music on the radio but they know the sounds of a good Mariachi. I do make a mean Fidello, family approved!

I have lived a lifetime and my dreams have now taken me Outside and into Nature. I became an ambassador for Latino Outdoors a year ago. An organization engaging, empowering and inspiring communities to share and identify Cultura and the outdoors.

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Me and my Paleta.

I can’t be anyone other than me and I carry this in my heart. I am a proud Latina born and raised!

 

National Hispanic Heritage Month is honored September 15th to October 15th. It is a month to pay tribute to the generations of Hispanic Americans who have positively influenced and enriched our nation.

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This post is a part of the #TXLatinoBlog Hispanic Heritage Month Blog Hop. Visit the bloggers listed below as we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month together/juntos! Follow the hashtag #TXLatinoBlog on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, too.

Que Means What – Being Latina Enough – Wednesday, 9/14

MexiMoments – Importance of Learning the Language as a Child – Thursday, 9/15

The Social Butterfly Gal – Mentoring Young Latinas – Friday, 9/16

Juan of Words – Mexican-American Culture – Monday, 9/19

Sweet Life– Food Recipes – Tuesday, 9/20

The Optimistic Heathen – Sharing Our Heritage with the Kids – Wednesday, 9/21

Modern Tejana – How to Live Your Latinidad in Mixed-Race Families – Thursday, 9/22

The Esposa Experience – Navigating the Pressures of Traditional Esposa Expectations – Friday, 9/23

The Nueva Latina – Mexican Independence Day in Guadalajara – Saturday, 9/24

FitFunAnd.com – Self-Reflection and Latino Outdoors – Sunday, 9/25

VodkaGirlATX – Latin-Inspired Cocktails – Monday, 9/26

Momma of Dos – How Mexican I grew up! – Tuesday, 9/27

Family Love in My City – Immigration – Wednesday, 9/28

Creative Meli – Basic and Healthy Latin Cooking – Thursday, 9/29

Mejorando Mi Hogar – Being Latino or Hispanic – Friday, 9/30

Power to Prevail – Body Shame in Latino Culture – Monday, 10/3

Teatrolatinegro – Latin@ Theatre Show in Houston – Tuesday, 10/4

Candypo – Being a Latino Military Spouse – Wednesday, 10/5

Coppelia Marie – Am I a Bad Latina Mom? – Thursday, 10/6

The Restaurant Fanatic – Cocina Latina – Friday, 10/7

Haute in Texas – Mothering Latinas When You’re Not a Latina – Monday, 10/10