Empowering Green Leaders to take Action

Originally posted by Verde on 3.27.2019

Everyone should have access to the tools and information they need in order to make the changes they want to see in their communities.

“When you attend programs [like Líderes Verdes] you learn that you have a power. You have the power to organize more people and make changes for your community,” said Melecia Torres, a 2019 Líderes Verdes participant, “It’s called empowerment.”

Líderes Verdes is a leadership program that empowers latinx community members in Cully to learn about and take action on environmental issues affecting their communities, such as air quality, housing, and transportation. Melecia was already active organizing around housing issues through the Cully Mobile Home Program, and joined Líderes Verdes to further her leadership development. The goal is that Líderes Verdes can help community leaders learn the skills needed to build their collective power.

The 2019 cohort includes ten community leaders; five past Líderes Verde graduates and five new participants that are paired together to build mentorship relationships. The group comes together throughout the year to attend trainings, monthly meetings, and events that help prepare them to take on leadership roles in their community.

“The greatest power one can have is information,” shared Cirilo Garcia, one of the new Líderes Verdes participants and an active Cully Mobile Home Program participant.

Monthly trainings draw on the wealth of knowledge from our partners. OPAL offers training on transit justice and environmental justice, Latino Network provides trainings on civic engagement, local government and more.

Melecia shared that understanding government systems and the roles of each elected official helps community leaders decide who to talk to when there is a problem in the community.

A large focus of the program is learning about environmental justice. The leaders will be learning about local sources of air pollution, like the many industries that operate in Cully.

“It’s important to know about and notice that we are a place with an unsafe environment for our health,” said Yoni a Líderes Verdes graduate who has returned this year to provide mentorship and continue to learn.

But importantly, at the heart of the Líderes Verde program is learning to build relationships within community.

“I learned how to feel less nervous when I’m around people I don’t know very well,” said Cirilo.

And it’s through relationships and motivating their neighbors that the leaders feel like they can make change and have power in their community.

“We feel part of this place and want to contribute to improve our communities,” Melecia said.

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