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  • Writer's pictureBrian Gómez

My time at the North American Environmental Education Conference and the White House!

Updated: Apr 4, 2023

Recently I took a long-haul trip that took me to Washington DC and Tucson, Arizona. Besides a flight delay and a lost wallet the trip was insightful and made for a lot of learnings like the connection between local education efforts, national policy, and international climate action.

I began my trip with Green Latinos to meet congressional offices, and the White House including the Council on Environmental Quality, EPA, and NOAA. Green Latinos is an amazing advocacy organization that was set to launch its Latino Climate Justice Framework. This really spoke to me as some of the work on the air and energy committee in Chicago at the Sierra Club deals with the issue of air monitoring. Latinos and my community are disproportionately impacted by air pollution including my younger brother who has asthma. His school was featured in this Guardian Article around the air pollution developers like Amazon have caused by popping up in communities.

Communicating with Illinois offices and being joined by Latinos across the mainland U.S and Puerto Rico was powerful, and although some offices received the framework more warmly than others, it was a bold step to ensure our constituency is represented. Meeting with EPA and NOAA and CEQ was also powerful. A colleague of mine shared his painstaking experience of having his home destroyed by a tornado and the challenges with FEMA in getting funding to rebuild the home, leaving him homeless.

A delayed trip and lost wallet later I landed in Tucson to receive an award for my efforts in Environmental Education (EE30U3O). There I became inspired by young people around the world using their gifts and skills to educate others and inspire them to take action. I heard from people in Arizona as well- training others in outdoor education that would hopefully help CEQs comment at the White House that there where not enough Latino applicants for the National Park Service.

And so after a 10 day marathon trip ending with some rest and a camping trip at Yosemite, I reflected on the interconnection between educating those most at the margins of climate and empowering them to take a stand in places like the White House where decisions are made every day that affect people like us.



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