By Joseph Arrington
Over 100 Latinx leaders, ages 18-35, came from all parts of Utah to participate in a summit at the Thomas S. Monson Center in Salt Lake City in late June. (“Latinx” is a gender-neutral term for persons of Latin American descent, commonly used today.) The summit was hosted by Casa Quetzalcoatl, a non-profit organization whose mission is to expand the knowledge of each member of Latinx families through formal, cultural, and civic knowledge. Led by co-founder Joél-Léhi Organista, the first annual Imaginemos Latinx Summit created an urgent, collective vision to guide and empower the Latinx community.
The influential Latinx leaders, represented countries including Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, and Brazil. They were selected to participate in a day of workshops and panels to learn from each other as leaders in different industries. Panels on business, technology, medical and health care, art, and media were among the topics discussed, highlighting not only the current success of young Latinx leaders in the field, but also how the Latinx community can continue to expand its contribution to these sectors.
By the end of the summit, the different sectors were divided into groups, centered around an ancient Aztec agricultural methodology called “chinampas.” This advanced water system was a sustainable, multipurpose ecosystem that involved weaving a web of sticks together to float on water, with a network of mud and reeds to form the chinampa. This complex system allowed the Aztecs to produce up to seven crops in a year, compared to a maximum annual yield of three crops in mainland fields.
The chinampas ideology is the basis for the collective vision that will emerge from the inaugural summit over a period of five to ten years during which leaders of different professional sectors, or the summit’s Chinampas, will plant the seeds to help the Latinx community achieve their professional goals. As stated in a Mexican proverb, “They tried to bury us, but didn’t know that I’m a seed.”
The process, inspired by the Aztecan chinampas, of increasing the contributions of Latinx members in the community is broken down into stages: Beginning, Early Blooming, Continual Blooming, and Producing.
The Beginning Stage is meant to help promote early accomplishments, while the Early Blooming Stage allows the formation of deep roots in the soil to have nutrients for further growth. The Continual Blooming Stage is about nurturing people whose career path is clear, but they are just not quite ready to be producing in their field. Which leads us to the Producing Stage, with Casa Quetzalcoatl stating that “[t]he plant is grown. It is producing … a constant flow of nutrients to the whole sustainable ecosystem. … What this plant produces is going to be judged by others. … However, those judging will never know the whole story of the plant’s journey, trauma, healing, restoring, pruning, and transformation.”
The Imaginemos Latinx Summit taught the future leaders initial steps to help their plans come to fruition, such as how to nurture “the crop,” have patience, avoid “growing in an unsafe direction,” and the importance of continual “pollination.”
In the coming weeks and months Chinampas and Community Leaders will be selected to begin the vision and goals that each group of leaders set to increase Latinx involvement in their professional sector.
To learn more about the summit and Casa Quetzalcoatl, visit https://casaquetzalcoatl.org/imaginemoslatinxsummit.