Category Archives: CCHE

Chief Administrator for precinct 3 agrees to meet with colonia residents at site of potential walking trail

Chief Administrator for Precinct 3 Dr. Mona Parras

Our campaign to get a walking trail for the colonias north of Alton has taken a step forward this week. Dr. Mona Parras, Chief Administrator for precinct 3, has graciously agreed to meet with colonia residents in order to walk the site of the potential walking trail.

Next Thursday morning, August 18, colonia residents will be able to walk the 3-mile-long canal with the chief administrator and share with her their concerns, which include having a safe place for residents to exercise, tire and trash dumping, and tall grasses harboring insects along the canal. See a slideshow of the potential recreational site by clicking here.

With a little attention, the walking trail could be a scenic and safe path for the neighboring colonias to enjoy.

The potential walking trail would serve the surrounding 6 colonias, residents of which have trouble finding safe places for recreation. While many city parks are located within a couple miles of residential neighborhoods, colonia residents often travel five or more miles to the nearest playground or soccer field. And without pavement, streetlights or sidewalks, not even colonia streets provide adequate conditions for regular exercise.

For those reasons, colonia residents are looking forward to the opportunity to meet with Dr. Parras, share with her their concerns, and thank her for devoting her time and energy to the issue.

Alton colonias creating a path toward justice

Colonia residents look at this 3-mile-long canal and see a potential walking trail serving the surrounding six colonias.

Residents in Valley colonias like Mi Sueño, Mi Suerte, Buena Vida, Buena Fe, Serenidad, and Eduardos 2 are among the RGV residents who find health care impossible to afford, and even harder, a sanitary nearby place to “walk it off.”

While many city parks are located within a couple miles of residential neighborhoods, colonia residents often travel five or more miles to the nearest playground or soccer field. And without pavement, streetlights or side walks, not even colonia streets provide adequate conditions for regular exercise. Combine that with no car or money for gas and you have the perfect recipe for a stationary, in doors lifestyle and fertile ground for diabetes, childhood obesity, and other stationary lifestyle-related problems.

While colonia residents of precinct 3 work towards their long-term goal—a park for the six colonias to enjoy—we have found an immediate opportunity for Joe Flores to help combat the neglect of poor communities who are simply looking to better their lives and that of their children.

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Las Colonias del Norte in Alton have located a perfect location for a walking trail around a 3-mile-long canal in a conscious effort to remain healthy. Canals like these have been turned into hike and bike trails in McAllen and San Juan. And Field Operations Director of Hidalgo County Precinct 4, Humberto Garza, has promised to look into creating a similar walking trail north of colonia Trenton Mirrors in Edinburg.

“The main problem is the dog corpses which smell, tire and trash dumping, and tall grasses which harbor dangerous insects,” says Ana Garza from Buena Vida. Just like lack of access to recreational areas has helped increase health problems in poor communities, structural problems related to waste removal and official neglect have contributed to the unsanitary conditions in and around the canal.

With a little trimming of grass and leveling of dirt around the canal, coupled with colonia residents’ own effort in combating trash dumping, the walking trail will be a scenic and safe path and pastime for the neighboring six colonias to enjoy.

Communities Creating Healthy Environments (CCHE) initiative of the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation is correct when stating that “the childhood obesity epidemic facing the nation is a byproduct of years of neglect and disinvestment in communities that has undermined our children’s ability to eat well and be physically active.”

“People need to get back to being more physically active,” says LUPE Organizer Yvette Salinas. “There are people who drive to the gym to lift weights and tone up, but we shouldn’t have to solely depend on expensive gyms or far away parks. Physical activity should be fully integrated into our lives, no matter where we live. And with facilities like these, it can be!”

Popular Education: Constructing Power and Democracy in our Community and Organization

Do you learn better by listening or by doing?

LUPE leaders and staff learned by doing in a training on Popular Education by Colectivo Flatlander member Pancho Arguelles.

Popular Education uses pictures and activities to encourage discussion and reflection on the issues affecting our lives. Popular education is based upon the principles that all people have knowledge, based on their experiences in life, and all people have dignity as human beings. Through reflection, participants bring their own knowledge to the educational process, becoming both students and teachers. Popular Education has as a distinctive element the political intention of building a knowledge that turns into collective action for liberation and social transformation.

Working with Pancho, LUPE is beginning to use popular education methods in our organizing. More than 20 LUPE leaders and all LUPE staff trained with Pancho in using popular education to cultivate democracy in our organization in order to build power.

“We learned the importance of reaching the roots of not only the problem,” says LUPE Executive Director Juanita Valdez-Cox, “but also the solution so we can create real and permanent social change.”

Popular Education helps us identify, through democratic process based in reflection, the change we want and helps us animate our community to participate in that change. Colectivo Flatlander tell us: “If we eliminate the reflection part, we are reducing organizing to mobilizing, if we eliminate the action part, we are just intellectualizing the struggle.”

They continue: “We are looking to construct Power: personal, community and popular power; to transform our lives and our reality, to construct a more just and humane world for everyone. This is our intention, but the intention needs a path.”

Pancho is helping LUPE find our own path, one built with collective knowledge and dignity.

Check out more on Popular Education on Colectivo Flatlander’s website.