CultureSeed facilitates forums and experiences to energize positive change, and create consistent opportunities to listen, plan and act alongside our region’s underserved youth. Because of a large regional Latinx demographic, CultureSeed collaborates with community partners to create the annual Columbia Gorge Latinx Youth Summit. This is an opportunity for Latinx youth to be seen and heard, and name their barriers to thriving. The Latinx Youth Summit is a regional conversation on identity and place, addressing Latinx youth sense of belonging, and self care.
The Columbia Gorge region is home to more than 80,000 people, 20% of which are Latinx. The first annual Columbia Gorge Latinx Youth Summit was created in 2018. To clarify, we use Latin(x) instead of Latin(o) in solidarity with youth efforts to create gender neutral language. Summit participants were all low-income Latinx youth 13-18 years of age that live in White Salmon, Trout Lake, Hood River, Odell and The Dalles. Through three days of games, critical thinking activities, outdoor exploration and time to connect during an overnight summit, youth felt safe enough to share their stories in ways they had not done before. This safe space, or as we call it “brave” space, nurtured honest conversations around the barriers Latinx youth have to thriving in their communities. Youth are then supported in picking a project they can implement in their communities that support their growth.