Ding Dong, Let’s Talk about Lead

Last week, we told you about a group  working to green the famously unsustainable city of Houston. This week, we bring you: Cool Environmental Stuff in Unlikely Places, Part II.

From an article in the Tucson Citizen, we learned about Promotoras del Barrio (Spanish for "neighborhood advisers"). Founded in 1999, Promotoras has trained some 150 Spanish-speaking women to go door to door in Tucson, disseminating information about lead exposure, water quality, and other public health and environmental issues to the city’s Latino community. The idea for the program isn’t entirely new:

It is based on a model popular in Latin America, where women with experience or training in issues such as public health go door to door to share information.


In the United States the model works well in communities where people might not have access to information because they don't speak English, don't have computers, or don't have access to transportation, said Julisa Villa, a program graduate who works as a community organizer with the Border Action Network, an immigrant-rights group.

Promotoras del Barrio struck us as particularly cool for two reasons: 

  1. It’s in Tucson, a city that, despite being hot, is certainly not widely considered a hotbed of environmentalism.
  2. It focuses on Spanish speakers. Although Latino communities in the U.S. have often borne the brunt of environmental crises, those in the mainstream environmental movement haven’t had a great track record of reaching out to them.

And guess what? The federal government thinks the program is cool, too. The EPA has just given the organization a $250,000 grant to support its efforts, and later this week, a few members of the group will receive Congressional medals. Promotoras sure do beat your average doorbell-ringers when it comes to usefulness (Yes, vacuum salesmen, we’re looking at you.)