Jennifer Tirado: Latinx Conservation Week Reflection

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icon-clock July 21, 2020

Overseeing a Conservation Service Corps as a Latinx leader is incredibly powerful and reminds me every day of how fulfilling it is to not only reach my instinctual, divine connection to earth and protection of its resources but the instinctual desire to do service and be of service to others in my community. To witness our young people of color experiencing the same fulfillment of service and connection to land, connection to the solutions presented, and being ready to serve unconditionally will always fill us with pride. Our GCF leaders have the deepest desire to contribute and solve the challenges that exist on earth, we say they are the energy source of our work.

Jen addresses residents, supporters and local NYCHA gardeners during Bay View Houses Farm launch visit. Credit: Green City Force.

As GCF, we represent a diverse family of conservation leaders on the ground. We think of innovative ways to build alignment with our extended communities, as we know it takes a critical mass of allies to see the dent that’s needed for significant environmental impacts and shifts. The Corps’ core mission is this: building partnership with residents of NYCHA to extend the education about conservation and sustainability, so we can reach and change behaviors, whether that be in energy, waste, water, plastics, etc.

Our Corps members put themselves on the line to meet, reach and educate communities to shift the paradigms of current behaviors, as well as grow and maintain large scale open green spaces in NYCHA communities for the production of locally grown food for residents. I witness the pride in them as they reach hundreds and thousands of community partners year after year and provide needed services like locally accessible veggies and relatable conservation education.

Since the quarantine orders in place this spring, our work has not stopped despite the several hurdles. Our dedicated staff cultivated and planted the land, distributing over 6,000 lbs of produce since March and have seen awe-inspiring leadership from our Alumni in support of the work at our sites during this time. Our eagerness and need to keep moving and pushing for the residents in the areas we serve is at the forefront of our hearts and minds. Meeting the needs of local food in a time of such uncertainty is a true test of our work. I am incredibly proud of the dedicated staff on the ground that I witness first hand, by any means necessary contributing to the local food needs and distribution push across the City. It is gratifying to witness the overwhelming support given by volunteer representation at each of our service sites and new food partnerships through city agencies and local pantries.

The farm sites are now at their production heights with the help of the alumni Eco-hub Fellows, who are supporting produce distribution to local residents to complement existing emergency food box programs and much more. We have been able to reach 737 residents at our five sites through our wellness checks to provide resources on food and safety accessibility and understand the needs that exist.

Jen and her family at Mariner’s Harbor Farm Harvest Festival. Credit: Green City Force.

In Service and Solidarity,

Jennifer Tirado, Chief Service Officer