Clean Power Alliance is proud to celebrate the contributions and leadership of Hispanic leaders in energy, clean technology, and as environmentalists during Pride Month.
Cris Gutierrez – Community Advisory Committee Member
1. How do you/your family/your community celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month?
Over the years Hispanic Heritage Month has centered on my work with youth of Hispanic/Latino/Latinx heritage and joy. When I was teaching, I would delve with my students into the creative work of artists, such as the writings of Sandra Cisneros or the muralist Diego Rivera. Those accomplishments complemented our studies of activists, such as Cesar Chavez, Delores Huerta and the United Farm Workers. The artists would stimulate the imagination of youth whose own creative expressions led them to be open to their communities and the world in unexpected ways, realizing that their voices mattered. Now, as a climate, ecopeace and justice activist, I value our Santa Monica community uplifting Hispanic/Latino/Latinx youth as enlivened community leaders and to recognize them formally as public leaders.
2. What is one of your favorite Hispanic Heritage Month memories?
Decades ago, anticipating Hispanic Heritage Month, taking Ana, one of my former American History Humanitas students, to meet and dine with Sandra Cisneros is a fond memory. Ana had written an insightful piece about Cisneros’ The House on Mango Street. There was Ana sitting up straight, shy and intentional in her attentiveness and conversation. Sandra Cisneros leaned in to learn about Ana and her dreams. Cisneros’ vivacious embrace of Ana and her ideas boosted her confidence. There was a coming together, a communal experience, emerging.
3. What are some of the key ways you believe we can highlight and celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month?
Hispanic History Month can showcase and celebrate the contributions of the Hispanic/Latino/Latinx community with a youth-elder “conversation” in a gathering or project that a makes vivid how efforts and accomplishments cross generations and can shape a better future for a multicultural, multi-ethnic diverse democracy that protects communities and Earth Mother.
4. How can we continue to raise awareness of Hispanic Awareness Month and what community issues do you feel are critical to highlight this month?
Hispanic History Month needs to have a pulse or echo throughout the year by having community voices allude to a theme that may be central to a particular year or loop back to what’s come before. Right now, helping communities see how their good work leads to climate actions and environmental justice is important. For Clean Power Alliance that means putting in the hands of Hispanic/Latino/Latinx communities the power that they have to help make their neighborhoods clean and resilient with renewable energy.
5. What is the connection between renewable energy and Hispanic Heritage Month/the Hispanic community?
At the heart of Hispanic Heritage Month needs to be a consciousness of “la familia.” For family is essential to Hispanic/Latino/Latinx roots of understanding, and the existential truth is that humanity is ultimately a family who is a part of Nature. As the source of our renewable energy is the sun or other natural forces, our familial relationships and kindred concerns of human and natural communities become evident. As the Hispanic/Latino/Latinx communities see themselves and grow in those relationships, renewable energy becomes a source of both practical and personal resilience.