Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Green Festival in Chicago highlights Latinos

In the picture from left to right are Mitchell Posada, Manny Flores, Marisol Becerra, Rolando Acosta, Carmen Vidal-Hallett (me), Dennis Salazar and Carlos Chavez.
On Saturday May 22, 2010 I participated on a panel discussion with other Latinos in Green in the Chicago Area (all mentioned in the above picture). The panel was hosted by Mitchell Posada from Cafe Media. Mitchell asked everyone how they got involved in the Chicago green movement. I was the first to answer that question. I mentioned that back in 2002, the City of Chicago Department of Planning and Development (DPD) started to request from developers green features in their Planned Developments (PDs) and I was a Lakefront and PD Coordinator in DPD at the time having the opportunity to offer my own ideas about green development. Little by little all Departments were involved and I was suddenly part of the Mayor's Green Team. I also wanted to bring to Chicago my native country (Brazil) best green practices and I completed a research with a grant from the Graham Foundation comparing the City of Curitiba in Brazil and Chicago. Mark Hallett, my husband and I showed the research results to many organizations in Chicago and all the City Departments. I believe the results inspired Chicago in a very positive way. For example the Bus Rapid Transit for which Curitiba is famous for is now being considered in Chicago.

We also discussed how to bring more latinos into the green movement. More "Education" opportunities was highly recommended by all panel participants and Manny Flores made the strongest statement about it mentioning engineering and green technology careers for latinos. We were also asked about what we have all done in our personal lives to contribute to the reduction of the carbon foot print. I mentioned that our family has given up the car only using transit and the I-go car. A member of the public reacted very strongly against that idea and made me realize that there still a lot of people that can't see the benefits of living a life without the car. We can spent hours arguing about it but like Marisol Becerra pointed out, we had to agree to disagree. In my mind, changing old peoples' habits is difficult but it is not so difficult if we start with the youth and in fact without an environmentally conscious future generation the world will be lost. The latino community is the fastest growing ethnic group in America and their involvement is crucial.

I pointed out in the discussion that another important way to participate on the Climate Climate Action plan is to get involved in your community. I personally strongly support Edgewater, my neighborhood and helped to create the Edgewater Environmental Plan 2020 This very diverse community has a strong latino population that we need to attract and involve to make a strong difference in Chicago. There are hundreds of latinos involved in construction and landscaping for example. Just imagine this work force highly trained to perform energy efficiency retrofitting in your neighborhood and creating rain gardens alliviating the storm water management on our sewer system and contributing to reduce the heat island effect planting native perennials and building rain gardens!

1 comment:

Daniel said...

Thank you so much for sharing it.
We all have a responsibility to future generations to help insure that we are taking care of our planet so they have the same opportunities as we do. Printing as an industry is a heavy user of electricity and natural resources such as trees to make paper. There are ways that printing companies can participate in helping to reduce their impact on the environment.

Green Printing