Honoring Stories and Building Connections at Conexiones Summit 2019
Max Williams, OCF CEO and Sabrina Parsons, OCF board member from Eugene, welcomed more than 240 Latino leaders who gathered to connect, share, learn and commit to measurable actions for Oregon at “Conexiones Summit 2019: Connecting Our Stories for a Common Purpose” on October 14-15, 2019 at The Oregon Garden in Silverton.
The Latinx experience is multi-faceted. The summit, hosted by OCF’s Latino Partnership Program, featured keynotes, sessions and music performance exploring a range of lived experiences and stories.
Connecting our Stories for a Common Purpose
Keynote speakers, from Sonia Manzano on “Becoming Maria” on Sesame Street, to Ezra Ayala on identity and dramatic life experiences on “What Shapes Us,” to Yosimar Reyes on using poetry to understand and re-frame immigration in “We Never Needed Documents to Thrive,” and to Fabi Reyna about unequal opportunity but the potential to shift narratives about women guitarists and bassists in “Potential vs. Opportunity,” they each highlight in their personal stories the experiences that set them on a path to create changes and impact.
Sessions and workshops led primarily by Latinos on a range of topics from the Student Success Act, the Latino Student Success Plan, to community building, Latino leadership, emotional health, how to run for public office and a plenary about Latino education priorities, was an indication of what the growing Latinx community in Oregon will need to lead and be involved in in the near future.
In a powerful storytelling and listening session, seven Latino Oregonians shared moving life experiences around universal themes of power and change. Summing up seven powerful and distinct stories, Latino Partnership Program Director Roberto Franco says, “it’s through stories that we share with one another that we show our humanity. It’s story and storytelling that give us the context for who we are, why we are here, and what our purpose in this world is.”
At the summit, two photo exhibits brought a visual storytelling component. Berenice Chavez’s large prints referenced social issues as a visual ethnography of family, love, separation and belonging. Another exhibit, commissioned by Bienestar, “Dreamers of Oregon: Out of the Shadows” featured photos and written stories from DACA recipients who courageously stepped forward to participate.
At the conclusion of this year’s Conexiones, attendees were invited to reflect on the theme of connecting our stories for a common purpose. As a young and growing population, Latinx with their multifaceted experiences will undoubtedly help to redefine the future of this country and of the American project.
Conexiones Summits are biennial statewide gatherings of Latinos and partners in education, nonprofits, business and government working together to improve the lives of Latino Oregonians convened by Oregon Community Foundation’s Latino Partnership Program. This year’s Conexiones Summit was generously supported by a funding partner The Ford Family Foundation and sponsors Country Financial, Moda Health, Maps Community Foundation, PGE and Legacy Health.