Here at LCV’s Chispa we’re ramping up to engage, elevate and organize Latino communities and leaders in six states and at a national level to build their power in the fight against climate change. As one of the only Latino organizing programs of a national environmental organization, we know that what happens at the local level matters. Chispa helps to ensure that Latino families have a strong voice and the political power to influence the decisions and policies that impact our communities.
Chispa (national and six states) joined Hispanic Heritage Month of Action (HHMA), a national campaign from September to October to encourage Latinos to register to vote during a month-long celebration of Latino culture and community. In collaboration with LCV’s civic engagement program, Chispa programs registered over 6,000 Latino voters. Over the course of the elections, Chispa registered a total of 12,369 Latino voters in four states and launched a nonpartisan Get out the Vote (GOTV) effort in Arizona that knocked on 58,623 doors prior to Election Day.
October 10-13, four Chispa leaders attended the Building Equity and Alignment for Impact (BEAI) initiative forum in Houston, Texas on how to integrate justice and equity into the implementation of the Clean Power Plan. This was the first CPP-focused gathering of foundations, environmental justice groups, national environmental organizations and other progressive groups. The meeting resulted in two asks: sign-on to the Jemez Principles for Democratic Organizing and the Six Environmental Justice Points of Alignment for National Allies.
LCV and Chispa staff traveled to McAllen, Texas in October to present at the National Association of Hispanic Publications Annual Convention. Chispa Communications Director Betsy Lopez-Wagner spoke on a panel about Latino issues and interests not being covered by mainstream media and other outlets, while promoting and sharing a presentation on Latinos and the environment and stories from frontline communities.
LCV/Chispa Facebook Live!
On October 21, Chispa and LCV’s Congressional Champions program hosted and promoted a Facebook Live event with Congressman Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ). Jennifer Allen, SVP for Community and Civic Engagement, and Rep. Grijalva talked about protecting and expanding public lands and parks, clean energy, and his work to highlight the racial diversity of conservation and environmental leadership. The video has been seen over 18,000 times.
In Solidarity with Standing Rock
Chispa’s National Director Ernesto Vargas traveled to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota November 24th to deliver a book compilation of tens of thousands of LCV members’ names. These 30,000-plus members signed an LCV petition in support of the Water Protectors and the tribe. Several members included a personal message, prayers, pictures and other expressions of support. Dave Archambault Sr. and other leaders of the Standing Rock Tribe welcomed the support during a large Thanksgiving gathering of about 600 people on Thanksgiving Day.
LCV joined the People’s Climate Movement
In November, LCV and Chispa became official partners of the People’s Climate Movement. Chispa has been engaged in a social media push, radio interviews and other media support for the march. Join us, here.
Latinos Support Climate Action
Chispa assisted in highlighting the new Latino Decisions poll that found over 70 percent of Latinos in key states say it is very and extremely important that the next president and Congress to take an aggressive stance on global warming or climate change. As such, Chispa’s Communications Director joined Telemundo’s Telenoticias Washington on December 15 to talk about the poll and the Chispa program’s climate work. Click here to watch the clip in its entirety.
In the Resistance
In November, LCV and Chispa became official partners of the People’s Climate Movement, and throughout January, we joined and/or led actions during the “first 100 hours of resistance”. On January 14th in Las Vegas, Denver, Phoenix and Washington, D.C., we joined the #HereToStay rallies to support immigrant families who face renewed threats from the Trump administration of deportation and incarceration. Chispa and LCV also organized and participated in local actions – from sponsoring the National Women’s March to #First100Days mobilization of our national membership, media and social media outreach.
A settlement agreement with Xcel Energy was announced in September 2016 that offered recommendations to the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to advance Colorado’s clean energy economy and provide new customer choices while maintaining reasonable rates. Leading up to the settlement, Protégete volunteers phone-banked wrote letters to decision makers, sent petitions to the governor, and convinced eight local Latino officials to sign an official statement on the initiative. Since the recommendations were announced, Protégete has mobilized their volunteers and community leaders to participate in PUC town halls, including Elena Rago, a Protégete’s promotor, who spoke at a town hall.
In the fall, Clark County Commissioners approved a proclamation celebrating Latino Conservation Week and acknowledging Chispa Nevada’s work with the Latino families on climate change and environmental issues. Two local Spanish newspapers covered the proclamation, featuring photos of the Chispa Nevada team. Latino Conservation Week was organized by Hispanic Access Foundation and included over 100 events across the country.
This January, Chispa Nevada launched Raices (Roots, in English), an environmental radio show. The inaugural episode of Raices welcomed listeners to a year of Sunday shows centered on sharing civic engagement stories from the field, sustainability tips and lessons, news and information on environmental issues and opportunities for involvement in local actions. The program has the potential to reach over 8,000 listeners a week. Future shows will feature local and national Latino leaders, Chispa volunteers and staff and will drive listeners to sign up for mobile alerts and other actions.
On February 23, U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto, Chispa Nevada and other groups gathered for a roundtable discussion on the future of Nevada’s public health, clean energy economy, and important environmental safeguards following the confirmation of former Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator. See more, here.
Chispa Arizona has been a vocal opponent of the barrage of anti-rooftop solar proposals from Arizona’s utilities. On August 11th, the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) rejected Unisource Electric (UNSE) rate case proposal to impose additional charges on rooftop solar customers. Eight Chispa Arizona volunteers attended the commission’s hearing in Phoenix. Read more about it, here.
On January 17th, a delegation of 15 Chispa Arizona volunteers delivered letters to the offices of Senators McCain and Flake urging their opposition to the nomination of Scott Pruitt as the head of the Environmental Protection Agency. They also took to the streets to rally the local community to call elected officials and fight back against the unfit, climate denier nominated to take office.
After an unsuccessful round at the state legislature advocating for environmental justice legislation, Chispa MD doubled down on building a strong, organized base and was met with success. On August 23rd, Chispa MD graduated its first class of Environmental Justice & Action Promotores, which included 14 Latina mothers and community leaders. Maryland State Senator Víctor Ramirez and the Director of the Prince George’s County Department of the Environment Adam Ortiz attended the graduation.
On October 15, Chispa Maryland’s inaugural Festival del Rio Anacostia — Anacostia River Festival became a reality. The festival, a vision of Chispa Maryland’s Program Director, Ramon Palencia-Calvo, offered a free bilingual, family event to introduce and engage Latino communities in the Anacostia River Watershed’s environmental issues. With a focus on water quality and water resources, the cultural event welcomes other regional environmental groups and included recreational activities like fishing, rowing, nature walks, boat rides and workshops on the Anacostia River and watersheds, as well as water quality testing.
In early August 2016, Chispa Connecticut formally launched. With one staff person, the program is focusing on building a base of volunteer leaders and a cohort of youth who can fan out into the community to conduct initial surveys and register Latino voters. After graduation, their first class of 11 promotores conducted more than 100 surveys within two weeks and received an invitation to appear on Telemundo to talk about their efforts came.
Chispa Connecticut Program Director Wildaliz Bermudez was invited to discuss Latinos and Voting in Connecticut on the state’s NPR-affiliate, sharing the how important the issue of the environmental protection is for Latino voters. You can listen to the video clip, here.
During the 2018 legislative session, as part of a multi-year campaign, Juntos, community leaders and decision makers will introduce and champion state level policy to promote increased access and state investment in renewable energy and green jobs.
In February, mother and youth leaders along with Juntos staff, who are now registered lobbyists, traveled to Santa Fe to testify at the Senate Conservation Committee. The community solar gardens bill was “rolled over” both days and is rescheduled for early March. The team used the opportunity to observe other bills, including a bill that Juntos was able to have Conservation Voters New Mexico add to their legislative agenda that seeks to prohibit the state from leasing or selling lands for a border wall.
Juntos leaders also dropped off letters to representatives and senators from Juntos volunteers seeking climate action. Leaders were able to meet with Representative Martinez, Representative Rubio, Representative Sarinana, Representative Trujillo and Senator Lopez.
For more information about Chispa, visit: www.lcv.org/Chispa, @ChispaLcv and text ChispaENG o manda texto con ChispaESP a 877-877 to join the movement for climate justice. Learn more about “The Powerful Tool Communities Can Use to Hold Elected Officials Accountable for Climate Action” here.