Written by Alicia Lueras Maldonado
This entry continues our series highlighting the work of our allies in New Mexico and the common good in action. Click here to read the previous entry.
In New Mexico we are not distant from the common good. We have a deep understanding of how we are connected,” says Adriann Barboa, Field Director for Strong Families. “As New Mexicans, many of us share the same stories and have dealt with the same experiences. We make it a point to base our work on “lived experiences,” Barboa says.
Strong Families New Mexico, a state based program, of Forward Together, works to shift culture and create new policies that recognize the many kinds of families in our state.
“We are constantly told how poor we are and how our lack of education keeps us at the bottom of the barrel. We are pitted against each other. But, it takes just a few minutes talking with your neighbor or someone you meet to see the similarities in our lives. It is very possible that someone you love has had problems with substance abuse, or is an immigrant or is dealing with financial difficulties. When we see ourselves in others it is easier to relate and to support solutions that benefit the community as a whole.”
This is the lens that Strong Families has brought to their work in Santa Fe as they fight for policies that “lift up the common good” and support all New Mexicans.
On February 11, 2015, Strong Families and its partner organizations held their Strong Families Lobby Day and distributed their Legislative Report Card to all 112 legislators. Over 70 community members from across the state participated and were able to meet with over 40 legislators one-on-one.
The report card was cross-sector and included information on the various bills Strong Families and their partners were supporting such as, loan cap bills, a minimum wage increase, LGBT rights, and internet infrastructure. “The bills we are supporting impact the common good, and bring together allies from various sectors allowing them to learn from one another and support each other. Depending on our specific issues we still care about the bigger picture,” says Barboa.
There is a conscious effort on the part of Strong Families to decrease the distance between legislators and their constituents. They have found that supporting partner organizations and their specific issues increases trust and helps to build bridges between sectors and organizations.
Barboa states, “Personally, I try to show up for others. To connect. We are approaching our work with the mindset that we all have a connection to one another and that part of our heritage and tradition of ‘respeto’ or ‘respect’ ties us together. It ties us to the common good.”