Americas for Conservation + Arts
Americas for Conservation + the Arts (AFC+A) and its two central initiatives: The Americas Latino Eco-Festival (ALEF) and Mandel Vilar Press (MVPress) were established in Colorado out of a frustration and a hope.
Books and Democracy
Our founder, Irene Vilar became a published writer having been an avid reader. She became an editor because the books she loved most were going out of print, sacrificed to market forces. Concentrating on numbers and profit margins at the expense of quality does incalculable damage to the health index of cultures, democracy, and individuals. This reality only gets worse by the shameful fact that less than 1% of what US readers read is in translation. In contrast, in some European countries such as France and Germany the figure is closer to 30%. This is why MVPress is such an urgent call to action and a central initiative of AFC+A.
But social change through publishing—mainly through academic adoptions— is slow and it takes a long while to penetrate culture and make an impact. Americas Latino Eco-Festival (ALEF), now in its 5th edition - addresses this organic slow pace of cultural literacy making. An annual seed gathering uniting diverse communities for a sustainable future and highlighting how Latinos are not only the fastest growing consumer group, but also the greenest, is our "publicity" platform for igniting a change in the overall narrative of Latino Americans (and communities of color in general) and the environment.
AFC+A, ALEF, and as of 2015 MVPress (our publishing arm dedicated to diversity in publishing) exist today because of the dedication of hundreds of visionary leaders who have infused our programming with the legacy and momentum mainstream media has denied peoples of color for way too long, and of course, because of the generous spirit of our many volunteers who at different moments have taken their watch at the helm and proven the insurmountable value of social capital. All our volunteers share in the belief of the power of civic action and the arts to engage the traditionally disenfranchised to be advocates for themselves and their families, and to build alliances to increase our collective understanding of our capacity to address the environmental justice issues our children will be facing.
The history of Americas for Conservation + the Arts is young, somewhat emotional, and filled with longing but its story is very old, almost ancient: the need to reconcile peoples and places for a sustainable future.