Juan Reynosa, who has worked closely with Green For All as he organizes for green jobs to New Mexico, was just profiled in The Nation. Congratulations Juan, your work certainly deserves to be highlighted and shared.
You Voted: Now What?
By Kristina Rizga
December 15, 2008
This article was jointly published by The Nation and WireTap magazine.
If you talk to the 27-year-old community organizer Juan Reynosa, it becomes obvious why the rhetoric of President-elect Obama mobilized a record number of young voters. Similar to many of his peers, Juan is tired of hearing what he calls the "endless gloom-and-doom scenarios." When he organizes young people in Albuquerque or in his native rural town of Habbs, New Mexico, he wants to talk about solutions and hope. He doesn't dwell on polar bears drowning--he wants to talk about how young people around the country are retrofitting old, polluting buildings, putting on biodiesel-powered concerts and pushing their cities to support municipal green jobs programs.
This summer, the League of United Latin American Citizens asked Reynosa, the field director of New Mexico Youth Organized (NMYO), to speak to a group of Latino teenagers about the environment and sustainability. He entered a dark, stuffy classroom filled with more than forty 13- to 17-year-olds, looking at slides of stranded polar bears on the melting ice caps accompanied by a lecture on the end of human civilization. While the numbers and facts were urgent and terrifying, kids were falling asleep. As someone who'd been organizing young people since 2001, Reynosa knew that pushing teens into the arena of civic action required translating tedious data into engaging stories--and it wasn't happening here.
Many teenagers today have grown up uploading their opinions, pictures, blog posts and reviews. They expect to participate, to interact. Reynosa and his co-worker Cyrys Gould opened the blinds and windows. "We just asked a lot of questions," Reynosa explains, "and talked about what they could do.... At the end, one young person said, 'I'm going to grow my own garden.' Another said, 'I'll save my allowance to buy some organic food.' Another high school student wanted to open a green club in his school," Reynosa recalls. The best way to engage young people is not to lecture them but to genuinely solicit and respect their opinion, Reynosa explains.