HOW WE DEVELOPED A JUST RECOVERY PROMOTORA NETWORK
Written by Gabriela Orantes, Just Recovery Fellow for the Just Recovery Partnership
In the aftermath of another devastating wildfire season exacerbated by the pandemic, the core partners of our Just Recovery Partnership convened to decide how to deepen our support of families and communities across the region. Our brilliant leaders decided to invest in local immigrant women who are leaders in their own right and hold our communities together–recognizing their critical role as mothers, culture ambassadors, domestic workers, promotoras, census outreach experts, radio hosts and so much more.
Out of this, we launched the Just Recovery Promotora Network in January 2021, and so far we’ve hosted two virtual gatherings with the promotoras. These gatherings are carried out all in Spanish and the focus has been to create spaces where the women feel centered and supported. Take a look at how the Just Recovery Partnership dreamt up this exciting new plan!
First, the Latino Community Foundation brought together our core Just Recovery partners to reflect on how things were going six months into the pandemic and on the heels of the third major fire we’ve been through together in three years. We were excited to share the news that because of the work of the Partnership, we’d received a significant influx of investment into the LCF’s Wildfire Relief Fund and they had $100K to invest back into their community.
Much of the session was spent listening. They told us the real challenges that distance learning created for our families and the day to day struggles of immigrant parents trying to navigate the new reality for their children’s education. Broadband access remains an immediate need that illustrates how short-term investment to meet the needs of Latinos could create more long-term stability and opportunity for the community. There was also a curiosity about how to build on mutual aid models emerging within this year so they are able not just to meet basic needs, but build power in the long term.
They also invited us to think about crisis preparedness in a different way. Too many Latino families don’t have the resources to get prepared. Our leaders identified stipends as a way to compensate women in the community for the countless hours they spend training their peers on emergency preparedness, developing and informing evacuation plans, and advocating with county officials for continued investment in our neighborhoods.
At the end of the session, we heard loud and clear: We’re in an economic crisis, not a leadership crisis. Our partners in Sonoma and Napa Valley support hundreds of women working on the ground in their communities as promotoras, community advocates, radio hosts, interpreters, and cultural ambassadors who never get paid for their labor. Now through the Just Recovery Promotora Network we are providing 45 community leaders with $1,000 stipends, laptops, and training over six months that supports their digital fluency and strengthens their leadership.
Stay tuned for more news from our Just Recovery Partnership as we build out our first Promotora cohort this year. Initiatives like this recognize the inherent power and leadership within our communities. Investing in that power is just one way we work to make change, not charity.
Image taken during our virtual kick off event for the Promotoras in January. Doña Estela Ortega shared a poem that her grandmother had taught her when she was a young girl in Oaxaca, Mexico. She passed this poem to her daughters, granddaughters and now to our Just Recovery Promotoras.
Poema de la Mariposa
Un mañana hermosa
jugando en el jardín
me encontré un gusanito que se arrastraba así (mover el dedo para arriba y para abajo)
subió por una rama hasta que se canso
tehio su capullito se acostó y se durmió
pasaron tres semanas y una mañana hermosa se abrió el capullito y salió una linda mariposa
– Doña Estela Ortega, Promotora con UpValley Family Center
“Eso nos hace ver que de un insignificante gusanito llega hacer una gran belleza también en lo que nosotros podemos llegar a ser y a convertirnos y salir de todas nuestra penas de todos nuestros problemas que tenemos o circunstancias que se nos presentan.” – Doña Estela Ortega, Promotora con UpValley Family Center