Position Title(s): Program Coordinator for the People of Color Sustainability Collective
What is PoCSC?
The People of Color Sustainability Collective is an initiative that aims to make UCSC a leader in environmental justice by raising awareness about the contributions that people of color have made towards the environmental movement. We create opportunities for critical dialogue about environmental justice through student discussion spaces, student of color caucuses, social media awareness campaigns, workshops, and speaker presentations. PoCSC is an Ethnic Resource Centers’ initiative that works in collaboration with College Nine, College Ten, and the Campus Sustainability Office.
What does “sustainability” mean to you?
To me, it means living in a way that always stays true to my roots and honors my ancestors who paved the way for me. It also means living in a way that doesn’t jeopardize the ability of my future generations to live a healthy, safe, and happy life.
Why did you get involved with sustainability?
My dad was a farmworker and growing up I remember not being able to hug my dad when he got home from work until he changed out of his work clothes and into clothes that were not covered in chemicals. Growing up I always wondered why my dad would work in a place that could cause harm to himself or his family’s health. Once I got to college, I started taking courses and doing research that helped me better understand the causes of environmental injustices. I got involved with student organizing so I could learn more and help support communities like my own.
How has sustainability related to your role(s) at UCSC?
As an undergrad at UCSC, I was involved in several sustainability spaces: Take Back the Tap, Student Environmental Center, Education for a Sustainable Living Program, and IDEASS. I am currently the coordinator for the People of Color Sustainability Collective and as a part of this initiative, we host events, workshops, and speaker series where students can have dialogues about the intersections between race, ethnicity, class, gender, age, culture and the environment. Through these events we also work to challenge the mainstream definition of sustainability to be inclusive of underrepresented communities.
How do you practice sustainability in your daily life?
I try to practice sustainability in everything that I do. When I wash dishes, I’m conscious of the water I use. I try to keep track of my leftovers so I don’t waste food and I try to share rides when I can. In the winter time, I take out my Mexican blankets before I even think about turning on the heater.
Have you had a favorite sustainability moment at UCSC?
For me, I loved the 2016 Inter-Org retreat. It was great to meet new people and participate in such awesome workshops.
She asked the PoCSC interns about their favorite moments and this is what they shared:
Geena Talley: “My favorite sustainability moment was the PoCSC “Art Tools for Environmental Justice” chalk event-- I felt a huge sense of community as well as pride in our artwork and our goals."
Catherine Alfaro: “My favorite sustainability moment was going to camp Campbell and sharing a space of learning & growth with many different people all working towards different aspects of sustainability.”
Cristal Gonzalez: “My favorite sustainability moment was going on the InterOrg retreat that encompassed different perspectives and aspects of sustainability. It was great being surrounded with other folks with similar life experiences in a space that is not always reflective of that in my opinion. I also enjoyed our “Art Tools for EJ” event, in particular the aspect where we were able to create our own art. It was a very empowering experience.”
Raymond Lebeau: “I enjoyed co-facilitating Art Tools for Environmental Justice and learning about the history of the environmental justice movement.”
Are there sustainability practices you’ve picked up specific to your background or culture?
Yes, so many! When I think of sustainability, I think of “rasquachismo,” a term used in Chicanx art to describe a style that’s rooted in creativity, survival, and resourcefulness. Dr. Tomás Ybarra–Frausto who coined the term says it’s rooted in the saying “Hacer de tripas corazón” ––make do with what you have.
My mom practices rasquachismo all the time. She loves going to quinces/baptisms/weddings because it means she usually gets to take home the centerpieces that she then repurposes into a wide variety of things. She even re-gifts them sometimes! Whether it’s reusing plastic cups and utensils for parties or using old rags to stuff pillow cases, my family’s always instilled the importance of finding as many different purposes for something as possible.
If you know of a person or group on campus that you think we should profile, or if you would like to be profiled, please send us an email at susted[at]ucsc[dot]edu.