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Going Beyond Making a Difference

September 19, 2023

Green 2.0 Team

Mujeres de la Tierra staff member Sujei Milagros Alston engaging with community members at Composting 101 at Junots Family Park. Photo Credit: Mujeres de la Tierra.

Going Beyond Making a Difference

By Mujeres de la Tierra

Mujeres de la Tierra is an environmental equity nonprofit founded with the guiding principles of respect, advocacy, self-determination, bravery, and creativity. Mujeres inspires the healing of La Madre Tierra by working to build grassroots community leadership and capacity among historically unrecognized communities, especially among those who are low-income, immigrant, and/or communities of color. We firmly believe in the power of one and that community action and social change starts with an individual’s commitment to challenge, inspire, mobilize, and lead. In this blog, Mujeres shares some of their methods of community engagement and empowerment in Los Angeles and beyond.

When it comes to community engagement, Mujeres’ effective methodology is inspired by our guiding principles:

  • Engage to Empower
  • Nurture and Amplify Voices to Speak Up and Speak Out
  • Be Respectful
  • Educate and Inform not Indoctrinate
  • Be Honest –“Replace Fear in our Hearts with Facts in our Head”
  • Be Transparent: Communications are based on Facts, Science and Data
  • Cultivate Leadership and Ownership
  • Listen with Ears, Eyes, Head, and Corazón
  • Strengthen the Work through Collaboration and Partnerships

Our engagement efforts begin with gentle gestures of acknowledgment and appreciation and provide tools of empowerment by using facts, data, and science through culturally relevant platforms. We are connected to the community through residents’ input, platicas, listening sessions, Telenovelas in the Park, and other means of interactive conversations and communication.

Mujeres implements a family-first approach, which means we frame the benefits of nature-based investments through the perspective of mothers, children, and families. We ensure our meetings provide age-appropriate educational and entertaining programming for children and youth. Through relevant cultural messaging and communication, Mujeres revises a project’s vocabulary to ensure a connection between our project goals and those of the community.

Our platicas are brief casual conversations with community members. The goal of our platicas is to meet community members in spaces they are familiar and comfortable with and to provide them with educational tools before inviting them to a workshop. In this way, community members are familiar with the underlying workshop content and are equipped to ask informed questions. Our platicas range from 30-minute conversations to an hour and a half. They also vary in number of attendees, depending on the culture, request, and availability of each community group.

Mujeres de la Tierra has learned that traditional door-to-door canvassing is not always effective, so we developed “Caminando por Espacios Comunitarios” as a means of listening to community members’ stories, opinions, and concerns in public spaces.

After extensive field research and visits, we speak to community members at their children’s schools, community centers, laundromats, taco stands, and bus stops, among other spaces. Our goal is to meet community members in spaces they visit regularly and are comfortable with.

Community members at Mujeres Water Talk event at Juntos Family Park. Photo Credit: Mujeres de la Tierra.

We document these individual conversations in two distinct ways: a questionnaire and personal notes written by our engagement team members. The questionnaire is devised for statistical analysis about how community members would like to be engaged in future projects. Our engagement team members also have journals to write down these oral stories. We meet regularly with our team to discuss their thoughts and lessons learned.

Mujeres prides itself on hiring residents from the local community to lead our on-the-ground engagement. In addition to strengthening the environmental consciousness and leadership of local community members, this approach allows us to provide jobs, when possible, to community members to engage their neighbors. Mujeres’ belief is that community members know their neighborhoods best and we have much to learn from their expertise.

Through our engagement efforts, Mujeres de la Tierra has inspired continued advocacy. For many of the people we speak to, they are ignited with a sense of community ownership and inspiration for future involvement. Community members share many ideas with us about how they would like to continue their advocacy for healing La Madre Tierra and addressing the climate crisis through nature-based investments.

To learn more about Mujeres de la Tierra and their community engagement work, you can visit their website. You can also follow them on LinkedIn and Instagram.