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Mending the gap: Latino involvement with mainstream and local environmental organizations a pilot study in Los Angeles County, California
The modern environmental movement in the United States is at a crossroads; following its current path, represented by mainstream national environmental organizations that struggle to gain the support of racial and ethnic minorities, it may lose the momentum and influence it has gained in the past decades. A second path is one that relies on the collaborative efforts of national and local organizations, as well as individual community members. These organizations must gain the support and involvement of racial and ethnic minorities to address the issues of built and natural environmental and social well-being that affect every member of the diverse U.S. population. As a first step towards this realization, the current research sought, through personal interviews, to construct a more thorough understanding of Latino relationships with “environment,” as well as with mainstream and local environmental organizations in the Los Angeles area. Through thematic analysis of these interviews, as well as non-participant observation, the research developed a theory of Latino environmental consciousness and action. This theory aided in the creation of a final report that includes suggestions regarding appropriate ways to explore and initiate conversations with local Latino groups or individuals, or locally operating mainstream organizations, in order to pursue mutually beneficial cooperation. The report was given to all organizations with which interview participants were involved, with the goal that meaningful collaboration between organizations could begin to take shape immediately. This project also serves as a catalyst for further research that is needed to shift the environmental movement in a more representative, diverse, and successfully influential direction.