The Oregon coast line. Photo credit: Dave Herring
Jaime Arredondo. Photo credit: Kim Nguyen
Executive Director, CAPACES Leadership Institute
I’ve lived in Oregon’s Mid-Willamette Valley for over 32 years. I’m originally an immigrant from Las Ranas Michoacan, Mexico. When my father came to this land in the 1970s, he couldn’t believe what he saw—abundance! A place where the impossible seemed possible and where ordinary people could do extraordinary things. So, he and my mother made the decision for us to immigrate. The first decade—the 90s—was all about survival. Whether it was hiding because of our immigrant status, trying to navigate a new language, living off my little brother’s WIC, or getting sick because of the poisons we were exposed to working in the fields—we were just trying to hang on to the dream.
The second and third decade have been full of stability. Now in my fourth decade in the Pacific Northwest, I finally see the abundance my father saw, and I believe it’s possible for everyone here and those that will come.
Jeremy Barnicle [Ecotrust’s Executive Director] sent me an email on July 14, 2016, that read:
Pardon the unsolicited email, but I am the Executive Director of Ecotrust and I’d love to meet some time to hear more about [Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste (PCUN)]’s plans and work. Let me know if you’re willing and able and I’ll come to you.
All the best,
He came. Not long after that, I found myself presenting at an Ecotrust staff meeting on the topic of “Farmworkers and the fruits of their labor: Issues facing Oregon’s farmworkers.” I’m still working for the plight of farmworkers, but I have a much wider audience now because of people like Jeremy.
There’s a major imbalance in Oregon’s food system. Farmworkers in Oregon, most of which come from Indigenous descents, are dying on the job and are going hungry. This, despite carrying thousands of years of wisdom and practice cultivating our lands in healthy ways for all living beings. Someday their children will become the largest population in Oregon. I’m already living this reality in the Mid-Willamette Valley. Ecotrust can help restore balance, which in turn will help our environment and our communities’ journey towards realizing their full potential—our gift to the Pacific Northwest.
Alex McBride. Photo courtesy of Alex McBride
Climate Philanthropy Advisor, Emerson Collective
I was born and raised on the East Coast (Atlanta, Ga.) and didn’t travel to the area until I was an adult, so for many years the Pacific Northwest had a dreamy-like quality in my head. I was always taken aback by the beautiful pictures and loved reading about hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. My first visit to the Pacific Northwest was to Portland with an organization called Center for Diversity and the Environment (CDE), which brought together environmental professionals of color from around the U.S. It felt amazing to be amongst other people of color, enjoying nature and brainstorming about how to make the environmental movement a diverse, supportive and welcoming space to all. I’ve had many visits to the Pacific Northwest region since, and now that I have multiple family members and friends living in the area, it’s become a place that feels like home.
Also a CDE connection! CDE hosted a Gratitude Gathering at [the Natural Capital Center] back in February 2017. I remember the warmth of the space and the great connections made that night with the folks that gathered that night. I had also heard about Ecotrust’s work for a while, through friends and colleagues working in the environmental space. My more “formal” Ecotrust connection was a conversation with Jeremy that ended with him kindly offering to drive me to the airport. It was fun to see Jeremy point out his favorite spots along the drive, while talking about his excitement and vision for the org.
Ecotrust is modeling what equitable climate solutions look like. I personally find programs like Ag of the Middle [Accelerator] and the Redd on Salmon Street are really inspiring, not only because of the direct climate benefit to the region, but because of the hope (and successful framework) it provides to our neighboring practitioners, policymakers, scientists committed to building more resilient communities, economies and ecosystems.
Alexandria “Alex” McBride is a Strategy Director with Waverley Street Foundation. Previously, she was the Climate Philanthropy Advisor with the Emerson Collective. …
Jaime is a proud immigrant from Las Ranas, Michoacan, Mexico. He is the Executive Director of the Capaces Leadership Institute and has worked in the nonprofit sector for nearly 16 years. …