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Driven by Culture, Connection and Comunidad

September 16, 2021

Green 2.0 Team


Photo of Maite Arce, photo credit Maite.

Driven by Culture, Connection and Comunidad      

By Maite Arce

Maite Arce is the founder and CEO of Hispanic Access Foundation. She is an environmental movement leader working to connect Hispanic and Latino communities to the political power of Latinx communities. She lives in Purcellville, Virginia and her ancestral origins are of the Cochimi people of Baja peninsula and her Spanish roots. In this guest blog post to mark the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month, she shares her motivations and the connections that infuse her passion for nature and community.

When I was a child, I lived in Baja California, Mexico by the ocean and ate fresh foods from the sea. I would walk to play by the ocean and the surrounding natural landscapes. The ocean was so big with sparkling waters, and the sea life was abundant. Moving to an urban, low-income neighborhood in Southern California provided a quite different environment – blacktops, alleyways, and a lack of safe and natural park space to play.

I married a wonderful man, Ted, who was raised in Alaska and shares an appreciation for wild spaces. He and his dad were responsible for hunting and fishing to provide food for his large family – like my own family back in Mexico. This love for the outdoors was passed down to our sons, Luke and Noah.

I am inspired to work in environmental conservation due to my love for the outdoors and by the cultural, historical, economic, and spiritual connections that my community has to the environment that I share with them. I am concerned about the climate impacts that threaten our coastal communities and am currently reading The Ravaging Tide: Strange Weather, Future Katrinas, and the Coming Death of America’s Coastal Cities by Mike Tidwell.

Photo of Maite Arce, photo credit Maite.

Latinos place a high importance on clean air, water, public lands, and want action on climate. Yet Latinos and other communities are more severely impacted by climate impacts like heat, drought, and natural disasters and historically have had unequal access to the benefits of nature. I see the opportunity to help nurture those connections to support greater engagement, connections, and advocacy that leads to improved health in our communities and equitable access to the benefits of nature for everyone.

Hispanic Access Foundation establishes a bridge that provides a path to the development and rise of Latino leaders and elevates their voices in areas where we are underrepresented. We work to build community around issues that are important to the health and well-being of Latinos and other communities. If we are going to achieve ambitious goals like President Biden’s 30×30 goal, improved health and educational outcomes, and representation in STEM fields, it is only through creativity, collaboration, and shared leadership that we will achieve it. The ripple effects that Hispanic Access and many other organizations are part of creating we hope will lead to an equitable society.

We can aim to build a culture of community, collaboration and creativity with our peers, but we cannot do this work alone. Please help us by participating in a way that is true to you. Be a part of our initiatives like Our Heritage, Our Planet Film Week during Hispanic Heritage Month and Latino Advocacy Week in March. Follow Latino/a/x leaders on social media including @LatinoOutdoors and support their voices. Keep up with HAF on social media, sign up for our monthly newsletter and press releases to learn more about how you can engage with us. HAF’s Conservation Toolkit is a great resource. Volunteer with Latino Outdoors, Outdoor Afro and other community partners to support them as they provide high-quality experiences for the community outdoors. Meet with your local elected officials and introduce yourself to learn what they are doing to integrate equity and justice into environmental policies.

But above all else: go outside, stay engaged, and advocate!

For more information about Maite, follow her on Twitter @maitearcedc.

To learn more about Hispanic Access Foundation, visit and follow on Twitter @HispanicAccess.