“CAPACES de Verde”—literally “Green CAPACES” and “Green-Capable,” brings together the innovations and intersections of communities in adjacent geographies but, for the most part, different worlds.

Portland is rapidly becoming an internationally-recognized center for green design and construction.  With a very few exceptions, Latinos generally and Latino construction workers have no role in this trend.  Though Latinos make up a sizeable portion of the residential and commercial construction workforces, they are already being left behind as the “green” wave sweeps in.

As we constructed the Institute we used “Passive House” techniques,  by recruited labor and participation from the ranks of both “green” and “brown”. The project offered unique opportunities that:

  • Demonstrated that the energy super-efficient features of “Passive House” are suitable for a meeting facility and can slash heating and cooling energy usage to the point that we can almost heat the building with just our own hot air!
  • Trained immigrant workers, and others who stepped forward as volunteers, in green-building techniques such as de-coupling outer and inner walls, and “living roof” installation and planting;
  • Fostered candid dialogue on the commonalities and contrasts that “sustainability” connotes for green activists, for Latino immigrants and for the organizations who serve and organize them, addressing questions like “where do green cards fit in the green world?”

We believe that the Institute building will be a “go to” installation for green design and will attract visitors from around the corner and around the country.

We cannot claim that these relatively modest efforts will close the equity gap rooted in class and race, but we believe that CAPACES de Verde will make a tangible contribution, and set a powerful and notice-worthy example..

CAPACES de Verde began with a community forum on Saturday, May 14th, 2011 at PCUN’s Risberg Hall, located in 300 Young Street in Woodburn, co-organized by PCUN and Farmworker Housing Development Corporation, plus the rest of the CAPACES network, and by Greenhammer.  At the forum, we introduced our movement, our vision for the Institute, and the building design and strategies and we conducted the first dialogue.

With the building completed, we will continue to organize additional dialogue sessions and trainings throughout 2013.  We’ll also air reports about CAPACES de Verde on Radio Movimiento, KPCN-LP, 95.9 FM, PCUN’s low-power radio station whose studios occupy a 1913 farmhouse located steps away from the Institute construction site.  And we’ll take up some of the many good ideas that we’re confident will surface along the way.

To sign up for “CAPACES de Verde” activities and updates, contact Abel Valladares at abel@capacesleadership.org or (503) 510-5257.