Nuevas Voces/New Voices

Nuevas Voces is a program and network that builds leadership and advocacy for environmental justice among the residents of riverfront neighborhoods near downtown Providence, RI with acute public health, stormwater, flooding, transportation, toxic exposure, and heat challenges. To address these challenges, Nuevas Voces centers resident aspirations and concerns in co-governance with municipal and state agencies, environmental coalitions, and other groups. Nuevas Voces leaders work to ensure that their most affected neighbors have the greatest say in community development, resource allocation, and emergency preparedness at all levels, including in WRWC’s work. Nuevas Voces participants are compensated financially for their participation and ongoing efforts, and provided with additional supports such as childcare, Chromebooks and hotspots.

Now in its third year, Nuevas Voces consists of a 10-month resident-to-resident training and empowerment program delivered in Spanish, monthly community gatherings featuring guest speakers, and placement and support in seats of advocacy and power. Participants now lead the program, sit on WRWC’s board, and are compensated through WRWC to also sit on municipal and state agency commissions, committees, and boards. Examples of key placements include:

  • Community Health Coordinator, Olneyville Neighborhood Association
  • Sustainability Policy Associate, City of Providence Office of Sustainability
  • Director of Family and Community Engagement, Providence Public Schools 
  • Policy Committee Member, Providence’s Human Relations Commission 
  • Olneyville Green Justice Zone (GJZ) Leadership Team Member, City of Providence Racial and Environmental Justice Committee (REJC)
  • Comité Directivo Members, Providence Tree Plan’s Neighborhood Planting Program
  • Community Programs Director, WRWC

Para obtener más información sobre nuestros programas de Nuevas Voces, Campeones y otros programas comunitarios, comuníquese con Miosotis Alsina, Directora de Programas Comunitarios, en malsina@wrwc.org.

For more information about our the Nuevas Voces, Campeones, and other community programs, please contact Miosotis Alsina, Community Programs Director, at malsina@wrwc.org. 

Nuevas Voces Spotlight

Nuevas Voces graduates Jenny Mercado and María José Gutierrez now co-facilitate the Nuevas Voces program, which began in April 2023 of this year. Recently, María José and Jenny shared their knowledge with the University of Chicago’s Institute for Mathematical and Statistical Innovation (IMSI), including a visit to IMSI in January. This collaboration will produce VECINA (Visualizing Environmental and Community Information for Neighborhood Advocacy), a community- and data-driven tool to help residents get critical information and connections to decision-makers. VECINA will empower local leaders to advocate for their communities, particularly in the contexts of environmental and social justice. Residents can tell their stories to provide vital information to neighbors and to encourage investment. Past and present cohort members are excited by the prospect of creating videos in the languages most accessible to their neighbors and uploading them to the site, which will also feature curated data streams made accessible to the people who need them most through this impactful collaboration.

Reflecting on her experience with Nuevas Voces, Jenny noted, “Since I came to the United States from Nicaragua, my life has been about school, work, and family. I was not aware that my family and I are living in a flood zone. Now I understand about flooding and emergency preparedness, and I can help my community. I know how the system works now–there’s power out there. Now I understand it and can be a part of it.”

In this video, Dr. Carrie Diaz Eaton, Associate Professor of Digital and Computational Studies at Bates College, talks about collaborative work with Nuevas Voces and IMSI to develop VECINA. She reflects on the process of working with partners, how it influenced aspects of tool development, and key features of the process that led to its success.

Campeones de Combate Climático

Campeones de Combate Climático (Campeones) or Climate Champions is a group of resident leaders, all Spanish speaking graduates of WRWC’s Nuevas Voces program, ready to learn about and get involved with all nature-based climate resilience projects around the Olneyville neighborhood.

During their first gathering in March 2023, the Campeones group members learned about:

  • What a nature-based stormwater Green Infrastructure/streambank restoration project looks like from start to finish
  • What each phase of a project entails
  • Who is involved at each stage
  • What a typical timeline is and variables that can affect it
  • How to set and measure impact goals

Campeones members are participating in a range of WRWC projects, including:

  • Gotham Greens Greenway nature-based solutions at the end of DeSoto Street: One of our Campeones brought this site up even before we began our discussion of projects, saying that she used to live on DeSoto Street and felt that it needed some stormwater help
  • San Souci Streambank Restoration: This streambank in Olneyville Square is eroded to the extent that the new Greenway on this street is in danger of falling into the river. The Campeones are getting involved at the start of the design phase for this project, for which the United Way of Rhode Island is a neighbor and partner
  • Buttonhole Wetland Restoration: As part of a bike path project adjacent to Buttonhole Golf Course in Providence, WRWC is taking advantage of the opportunity to improve a wetland and streambank within the project area
  • Preferred Equipment Property Retrofit: WRWC is at 60% design on a nature-based site retrofit next to the Manton Dam Fish Passage Project on an industrial property next to Manton Pond. It will include swales, roof to ground planter boxes (rain boxes), a bioretention area improvement, and parking lot pavement removal. Campeones are helping the WRWC River Rangers build rain boxes
  • Parking Lot Retrofit Acorn and Kinsley in Providence: This parking lot collects stormwater and runs off directly into the Woonasquatucket. Campeones will begin at the beginning, thinking about solutions and advising as the project progresses

Are you prepared for another flood on the Woonasquatucket River?

Check out this video WRWC made with our partners at ONE Neighborhood Builders to help prepare neighbors for climate change.