Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Conversations on Water, Hablemos del Agua

The Coalition of Mexican-American Associations (COMA) and Hispanics for Political Action have organized an educational water forum targeting a Latino audience on March 6. I am also pleased to learn Pacific's School of International Studies Inter-American Program is co-sponsoring the event and hosting it on-campus here in Stockton. (Click here to see the flyer.)

When I agreed to speak at this event last year, I was hopeful that it would be an opportunity to meet Mr. Paul Rodriguez or other representatives from the Latino Water Coaliton and learn more about their perspective. I was disapointed to learn this week that they had declined the invitation to participate.

Last spring, COMA invited me to speak at one of their monthly meetings about the foreclosure crisis and the devastating impact it has had on the economy and communities in the Valley. The Coalition is a group of grassroots groups that has been around for a long-time. I think this was the most diverse group I have ever spoken to in terms of age and income, high-school students, elderly, business-owners, laborers, local politicians, and more.

By coincidence, this housing presentation was a few days after the Latino Water Coaliton's April 2009 March for Water that had received a lot of media play, and another item on the agenda was to pass a resolution asking the city to rename a street in honor of Cesar Chavez. I was moved listening to the passionate feelings people have for Chavez. We ended up spending part of our time discussing the Water March and the conflicted feelings it created in the community. Arturo Rodriguez' column on the water bond in today's San Francisco Chronicle reminds me of that conversation.

I feel honored to have been invited back to speak to this group about water. They were supportive of me (special thank you to Esther Vasquez) when a Latino leader misunderstood and took public offense to my early comments about water and jobs.

I regret that I will have to rudely leave this event immediately after my remarks, as I would like to listen to much more of this conversation. Unfortunately, I have to catch a plane to Washington where I will be attending a board meeting of white guys in suits at the National Association of Business Economists meeting, a place that couldn't be much different.

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