My road to the TEDx stage started three years ago when I first started feeling like I HAD SOMETHING TO SAY! A lot of people who know me would probably think I ALWAYS have something to say, but in this way, it was about a message to the world, to whomever would listen, about what we needed to change about how we approach sustainability and climate change in communities of color.
But, just because I had something to say didn’t mean I was prepared to deliver that message. It took years of growing into myself, into my spirituality, giving myself permission to own my indigenous roots, have time to fail, and time to reclaim myself. In this time, I went for and lost a job that was central to how I saw myself, I helped a family member through a health issue, I did research on my family roots, I grew in my spiritual practices that drew me closer to my ancestors, and I started showing up as a whole person in my work – merging my thereto only volunteer efforts for equity with my work as a sustainability professional.
Three weeks out from my talk I was in a bit of a crisis. I had unbraided the elements of my talk that I had so neatly presented in my application and sat with them as separated themes: the importance of the Latinx community based on population and their passion about climate change; the belief that we do more than we are given credit for in our environmental activism; and that if the climate movement could connect to the Latinx community, they could connect to a buried part of themselves that made them care about climate change in the first place, and that this connection could bind them to everyone who cares about the planet, allowing for the growth of a global movement big enough to stop climate change.
However, these strands didn’t feel like enough. They didn’t seem substantiated. And what about the importance of tying in climate change as the result of colonialism, racism and patriarchy? I sat with my individual strands stressed out and full of anxiety. But then, I sat on the floor, cross-legged. It grounded me energetically and reminded me of temazcalli. Instead of a lecture, I thought about a talk, in a circle, in community. It was then that bringing in my own story and that of my family became the obvious common thread that could bring it all together. Without all that personal work of the past three years, I would still be sitting with strands.
With this final ingredient, the complete ownership of myself and my family story, I could re-braid all the elements of the talk with new ones from my and my family’s story – those of racism and resilience, but most of all an inherited reverence for the land that cannot be separated from ourselves. I found a strand that I think will resonate with other Latinx, other people of color, and the White communities. I found something that when we any of us soul search deep enough, we find our indigeneity and connection to the land. We are all indigenous to somewhere. This connection to the land is a relationship. It lives in the heart. If we want to connect to one another’s relationship to the land, we have to connect to where it lives. Stopping climate change starts with the heart.