“When we were born, we were born out of this need to shatter stereotypes of Latinos and communities of color as it comes to the environment. The perception out there was that we were not engaged because either lack of interest or because this was not a priority or a core value.” Irene Vilar, founder of ALEF.
The 4th annual Americas Latino Eco-Festival (ALEF) is happening in Denver October 13th through 15th. This years festival’s theme is “People and Forests First: Shades of Hope.” Irene Vilar, the founder of ALEF, says the festival is a multi-cultural environmental gathering hosted by Latinos to leverage Latino leadership across all sectors for conservation gains.
“They’ve been working in toxic communities, in immigration issues, they’ve been working in health and education with environmental agendas, but within those other sectors. So the festival tries to congregate this leadership to show that there has been a movement for a long, long time.”
Vilar says the conservation movement has been traditionally mono cultural despite the work of movements throughout Latin America. The Latino movements that are working on many different social justice issues are also involved in environmental issues. ALEF is one way to bring that work to the forefront and advance the ecological issues with input from Latino leadership across many different organizations.
The festival will have many different activities including environmental films, family days, interactive exhibits, youth training, and over sixty partnerships throughout the country that come together to advance the ecological movement. ALEF has recently partnered with the National Forest Service for Latino Youth Conservation and Climate Ambassador Program.