Building relationships with new communities is not only an advantageous decision for cultural institutions and organizations, it also their responsibility. All communities deserve to have fair access to parks, services, or cultural centers and organizations must work to meet their needs and serve them in a way that respects and values their differences.
The Community Outreach and Engagement Toolkit is meant to help organizations think through the complexities of developing a strong and thoughtful relationship with the Latinx community. It is designed with cultural institutions and organizations in mind and raises critical questions related to cultural competency, diversity in staff and interpretation, and supporting the next generation of patrons and professionals. In some situations, organizations are looking to appeal to and interact with Latinxs. In others, organizations are more focused on improving their connection with the Latinxs who already make up part of their users or visitors. Whether making a new beginning or building on what is already there, this toolkit provides steps to establishing mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and the Latinx community.
Each slide of the toolkit presents an action that organizations must consider taking. The slides are supplemented with a brief explanation of what the actions mean or entail, questions to reflect and discuss as an organization, and related resources and materials. The order of the actions is a suggested direction. For example, the toolkit recommends organizations first get to know the Latinx community and themselves before approaching Latinx community leaders and Latinx-serving organizations. The open-ended questions are aimed at facilitating internal discussions about possible cultural misconceptions, work culture, and finding some middle ground in community partnerships among other important concerns. The related resources and materials are links to valuable and informative articles, blogs, and websites that address many of these actions more in-depth.
Ultimately, you cannot ignore the ways in which this country is changing. Successful outreach and engagement is crucial and commands time, open-mindedness, and a commitment to inclusivity and diversity. The goal of this toolkit is for cultural institutions and organizations to understand that engaging with the Latinx community requires more effort than translating materials. Organizations must go beyond saying they value inclusivity and diversity, they need to take the right steps to create a relationship with Latinxs built on trust and respect.
To see the Community Outreach and Engagement Toolkit, click here
For an annotated bibliography on Latinx community outreach, click here.
For more background on the creation of the Toolkit, check out Camilla’s blogs via the Retrieving the Past: UMBC History Interns blog: Engaging with Diverse Communities: My Summer with Patapsco Heritage Greenway, Creating the Community Outreach and Engagement Toolkit for Patapsco Heritage Greenway, and Final Project for Patapsco Heritage Greenway and Final Reflections.