So these beginning three weeks of August have been incredibly eventful and rewarding for many reasons. Fort Larned’s Centennial Event is called Picnic in the Park, and I believe this is a great opportunity for Hispanic Communities to come out and have a great first experience with Fort Larned. This event is going to have activities for kids, animal exhibits, cannon and gun demonstrations, a talent show, and talks about the history of Fort Larned. I’ve been told it’s a very different type of event than Fort Larned is used to, but the centennial celebration is unique and literally come once every 100 years (zing*).
I decided to make flyers in Spanish for this event, head out to Great Bend (a nearby town) and stick to dozens of places. I also brought out English flyers, because I’m not a person that purposely excludes people (yay inclusiveness). I went out to a popular Spanish Catholic church where I talked to Mercedes, a respected member of the church- I found this out prior to going to the church so I knew who to look for. I talked to her and ask if I could promote the event at her church. She gracefully told me that she will talk it over with the priest. I thank her and appreciated her venturing out into the politics of the church for me. Later on, she told me that they will be sharing the information on their bulletin. I also went around to different businesses kindly asking them if I could post the flyers. Majority of the place said yes. Some said no. Some said yes, and two days when I went by the business…there are no flyers in sight. Which is completely understandable- it’s their business- but why you play with my Fort Larned outreaching heart?!?! BUT OVERALL established, family owned and/or non-corporation businesses are supportive of these outreaching efforts. Also, the library was a great place to outreach, for the staff was completely supportive. And libraries are honestly the best space to do it because people come to libraries for all sorts of reasons and are already using a government run facility. It’s mostly easy to redirect them to Fort Larned- a free park filled with knowledge.
Definitely my favorite part of talking to people about Fort Larned is inviting them out and making them feel important to Fort Larned even though they have never been, especially to my Hispanic communities. I talked to an older lady at Payless, and was like, “yo! Please come to the event, it’s going to be fun for the grandkids” and basically giving her the details of the event. Her husband was afar, and was trying to interrupt our conversation…..and she turns over to her husband and was like, “can’t you see I’m being invited somewhere??” And instantly turn her head back to me. And I end up fishing several flyers from my car so she can give to all her children, so the WHOLE family can come out. It’s vital when outreaching to making potential visitors feel important and to be the face of the organization, so they already have a connection to Fort Larned when they go home… making them want to come out to Fort Larned and enjoy it. I am happy to be the face of Fort Larned and their liaison.
Other than outreaching and connecting outsiders to Fort Larned, I went to the LHIP Conference of 2016…and my goodness gracious it was amazing. To be around like-minded people, people of color who have similar and different experiences to mine, and important leaders of diversity, relevancy, and inclusion in federal agencies was seriously thee most rejuvenating coexisting space this summer. We had conversations that mattered to us, and the topics that we spoke about were important and thought provoking. It was a space of growth and reaffirmation that my experiences as a brown Chicana are real and valid. I got to talk to Julie Chavez (and hug her omg!), granddaughter of Cesar Chavez and trusted assistant to Barack Obama, about my experiences as LHIP interns. I got to go the Denver Art Museum and discuss Westernization of indigenous art. I got to go to the region NPS office and network with important people of the NPS. And most importantly, I got to have a space with my fellow interns where we talked about the things that were concerning to us as interns of the NPS. I have much love and respect for my fellow interns because after a couple of weeks in rural Kansas, I wasn’t sure if it was okay to be angry, or to question people, or stand up for myself. After spending time and conversing with my fellow interns, I learned that my experiences as a brown Chicana are real. I am happy to say that I found my space in the LHIP conference, and its cause for inclusion ad diversity efforts.
So coming back to Fort Larned, I was/am ready to make lemonade. I know now that my position as a Latino Heritage Internship Program intern is a powerful position. So I have continued to reach out to organizations and individual people to help with my Hispanic Community outreaching efforts. I have used my resources at the Fort and invited my coworkers to participate in a Spanish promotion video for Fort Larned, and it has been fun. Post-LHIP Conference and my newly restored power-house-of-a-brown-Chicana- intern-ness-of-Fort Larned, I am happy to say that I will be attending a NPS Centennial Event at Cesar E. Chavez National Monument where Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell will be, to express my concerns and solutions of the topics of inclusion, diversity and relevancy for the next 100 years. I hope that this conversation brings new opportunities for me in the National Park Service, and I hope to make a though-provoking impact in the busy political agenda of Sally Jewell.