Growing Up with Madre Tierra

They say that the things you are introduced to you at a young age will remain with you forever. Growing up in northern Mexico, Culiacán Sinaloa, I spent some of the most critical years of my life living with my amá, my grandma Guadalupe. We lived in a big mysterious cream-colored corner house just five minutes away from doña Teo’s tiendita and 20 steps across a cyber (a spot where community goes to access computers and internet). During those years under amá’s wing, care, and guidance, I had the opportunity to learn how to nurture the earth and live more sustainably.

Amá always lived and taught me the more sustainable way of life, starting with how we washed our clothes. Amá has a lavadero by the bathrooms; I would help her wash clothes and head to the patio, where we would hang our “chiras” on the tendedero. The patio was always a fun and busy area. That was the space we used to dry our clothes, play with our familia, and we would also garden there. Two of the four walls are covered with plants, matas, and all types of greens. One of my favorites was her Hierba Buena that she would use to make me a tea at night.

One of my grandma’s precious trees. Árbol de Tabachin 

Not only did amá teach me how to wash my clothes more sustainably by using the right amount needed and how to garden from early on, but she also taught me about the harmful effects of gas and opted to instead use an electric stove, where she would spend extra hours cooking the menudos, caldo de pollo, and all the time consuming Mexican foods one can think of. My grandma always taught me how important it is to take care of what we have and take only what we need.

One of the most important teachings she passed on to me, and that I keep close to my heart, is how to be resourceful and innovate with what we have. This includes the many uses of containers where we would store different things. Growing up with her was always a mystery. What will the butter container have in it this time? Is this box of cookies really cookies, or is it full of sewing items? I only found out when I opened them. This is because my amá was so resourceful and would upcycle anything she could, making art and finding new homes for items others see as trash.

All the tips and tricks my grandma shared with me were a lifestyle. She would go out of her way to take care of a plant, how she didn’t care if the food would take longer because of the small electric stove to avoid potentially toxic fumes, or how she air-dried our clothes in el tendedero so they wouldn’t shrink thus conserving precious limited resources. It all has a deeper purpose; it all was done with love. It is all to protect and nourish.

Amá and I back in 2021 when I went back to visit her and my familia in Culiacán

This moment of reminiscence brings me back to the present day. Are our “Earth Day” practices looking like Guadalupe’s everyday life? What more can I do? What more can we do? We can take collective action.

More now than ever, Madre Tierra needs us. She loves that there are ones who care for her, water her, nurture her, and flourish her. But it is time we do more for her. We must give back just a little bit of what she gives to us.

I invite you all to get to know our Chispa programs, and if there is a Chispa program in your state, join us! Taking care of Mama Tiera looks different for everyone but, there are actions we must all take that will strengthen our unity and the possibilities to make it happen. Help us make it happen! Join us in fighting for our beautiful Earth, the planet we call home, and beautiful people we call comunidad.

As I look around and breathe in the low quality air we do now, I know we must all come together and demand decision-makers to protect Madre Tierra. Our decision-makers have the power to be responsive to their communities and to do what is suitable for the health of Mama Tierra and nuestra gente. Join us by urging the EPA for clean truck standards. Stringent standards will ensure we create a planet where our air is cleaner and our communities healthier. Our comunidades are suffering with every breath they take and we need urgent reform and climate action now! 

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