Uplifting Communities of Latin America's Diaspora: Guest Post by Pablo Estrada

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October 15, 2021
Four people stand in a circle for an outdoor meeting at a worksite

Pablo Estrada started on the GRID Alternatives Greater Los Angeles Outreach team in 2020.

My name is Pablo Estrada and I was born in the San Fernando Valley (Van Nuys, CA) and spent half of my life in Palmdale. I am a first-generation graduate from UCLA and the eldest of four boys in my family. My family is originally from Guatemala, the little country right underneath Mexico and the land of la eterna primavera (the eternal spring). I enjoy bike rides, sports, and spending time with my family and friends as much as I can.

An important part of my history that I would like people to understand is that there is more than meets the eye when talking about Latin America in the United States. Many times we forget as people in the United States that there is more to Latin America than holidays and cheap eats. These countries contain history and melting pots of cultures that not only make up who we are as people, but also make an important contribution to the country as a whole. From acknowledging our indigenous roots to understanding European and African influences in our everyday lives, regardless of where I was born, I still carry the values and history of Guatemala deeply rooted in my identity. And I find it very inspiring to know that my voice contains a whole culture, country, and family behind it, ready to be heard by everyone. So next time anyone plans to investigate Latin American history or culture be sure to look at it in a lens different from what you're accustomed to, because not every story is the same and it matters who narrates the story. Always look past the surface and I guarantee you will not be disappointed.

GRID Alternatives works with people that remind me of my own family: people from humble backgrounds and very grateful people who only look to better their community. These people are very community-oriented and understand the importance of creating resilient neighborhoods. We work with people who appreciate the help we provide, and they are always open to spreading the word to help out their neighbors.  Each and every one of these folks remind me how much of a melting pot the region really is—these people have forever created a mark on their communities and it just makes each city within our region so unique.

My identity has influenced the way I perform my role at GRID in a positive way. Many times when speaking on the phone with one of our homeowners, I approach it as though I was speaking to someone in my family. Being able to connect with people immediately not only makes my job easier but also allows me to help them to the best of my ability, often going above and beyond for them. I believe that my identity as a Latino in a region that has a large percentage of Spanish speakers has also allowed me to provide trust among myself and the homeowner. This not only makes the conversation easier, but also helps in protraying GRID as an organization that will provide help to anyone, regardless of their language or background.

I enjoy the interactions with people from all walks of life. I also enjoy doing this community work with great coworkers. Everyone at GRID understands the mission and vision, always doing their work to the best of their ability. They also understand that as a community organization we must always look to serve the community first and advocate for communities that need help the most.

Solar allows communities to become resilient. In this day and age where climate change is becoming much more apparent in our daily lives, we must do what we can to provide communities with the tools to become resilient. Solar is a tool that can help vulnerable communities to combat climate change and everything in-between.

As a society we often forget to include these vulnerable communities and many times these communities are the ones that are most affected. With solar, we are taking the first step in giving these communities a voice and a tool to create a community that they are happy to be part of.