In our partnership, we have researched and considered the work done by PCUN (Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste) in order to identify possible projects that would tie together our organization partnership with all that we have learned about environmental engagement from our class. One possible idea for an engagement project is a language exchange initiative, where a program could offer basic Spanish language instruction to farm owners and other stakeholders who would benefit, while simultaneously providing English language instruction and assistance to farmworkers, many of whom are native Spanish speakers from immigration backgrounds who may lack the resources to pursue English language education. At the core of engagement is communication, which is often obstructed by barriers in language comprehension. By facilitating instruction in both Spanish and English language proficiency for relevant stakeholders, our project could hopefully help facilitate communication between parties that may come into conflict, giving farm owners increased understanding and thus empathy of their employees, and giving farmworkers an increased ability to communicate their needs.
WHAT (The Issue)
As an organization that primarily communicates with the Latinx community, PCUN emphasizes language accessibility in their publications, services, and correspondence, such as in their Radio Movimiento, which includes programs not only in Spanish but also in Purepecha and Mixteco, two prominent indigenous languages spoken by many members of the immigrant and farmworker community. However, we see the opportunity for increased engagement across language barriers. A language barrier between farm owners (and other stakeholders, particularly those in positions of authority) and the Latinx community of farmworkers represents an obstruction of communication and thus engagement.
HOW (The Means of Connection)
In order to address this issue, our project could entail helping with the creation of a program for PCUN that would provide basic language instruction for different stakeholder groups in Spanish and English, respectively. PCUN already has many programs in place that include educational aspects and bringing groups from the community together, such as with its Healthy Workplace initiatives. We can build off their already existing resources and strategies to form our program. We would hope to make our project more of a long-term program to help build engagement. In our class we have discussed many factors of engagement and different methods of communication, but something that may be overlooked is language comprehension, which forms the entire basis of communication and without which engagement is impossible. This is why PCUN, with its bilingual staff and publications, has such an important role in facilitating communication. By offering language education, PCUN would have the ability to directly empower the community they represent and to give farm owners the opportunity of engaging on a more deep and empathic level with the community.
WHO (The Participants)
We have spent a lot of time examining the actors that play complex roles in PCUN’s work as an organization. There are many different stakeholders involved and they do come into conflict. A language barrier is one thing that makes communication difficult. We envision this project as helping build the foundation for increased engagement between the Latinx community that PCUN represents and the farm owners and authorities whose interests may come into conflict. Since PCUN works a lot in communicating the needs and rights of farmworkers, helping to break down the language barrier would be aligned with PCUN’s goal of ensuring Latinx voices are heard.