El Cilantro: Little Village Youth Speak Out

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A young Little Village activist blogs about her experience at an environmental justice conference last month on an Indian reservation in North Dakota at El Cilantro, the blog of Young Activists Organizing as Today’s Leaders.

“As a Chicana I realized that our culture’s youth are less and less connected to their roots,” writes Brenda.  “Everything I learned that weekend inspired me to look into my family background and to feel more proud of my culture.  This weekend words like land, culture and nature had more meaning than ever before.”

Brenda was part of group of YAOTL members who attended the Protecting Mother Earth Conference sponsored by the Indigenous Environmental Network and hosted by the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nations at Four Bears Park in the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation.

Along with workshops and cultural events, including a pow-wow and a water ceremony, participants learned about the Three Nations’ struggles with the oil industry.

Other posts on El Cilantro include a report on a field trip to the City Farm near Cabrini-Green, the Lincoln Park Green City Market, and the Waters School’s community garden; an analyis of the treatment of women in fashion magazines and the patriarchal ideology it reveals; a report on the Power Shift conference in Washington, D.C., in April; and a poem criticizing “mainstream hip hop” (which “is not hip hop!”):

“Does he try to fool you by telling you he has all these honeys chasing after his money?…

“Hip hope was not made so you can brag about your fame!”

YAOTL is a project of the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization which seeks out creative ways to educate and organize young people on environmental justice issues in the community.  An example:  working with LVEJO’s open space campaign to get a park built in Little Village, YAOTL is organizing youth to push for a skateboard park within the park.

Toward this end, the group is holding a Skate Jam on August 27 at Albany Park and 31st Street.  They’ve gotten a block party permit and will be setting up ramps for a skateboard competition, along with a stage for local performers and a skate galley displaying skateboard art by young artists.

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