All posts filed under: English

In Puerto Rico, Activists Transform Abandoned Land To Build Food Sovereignty

This article was published in NextCity on September 19, 2022. Read full version here. Versión en español aquí. The structure of an old sugar mill sits in a once-abandoned parcel of land in Ponce, a city along Puerto Rico’s southern coast. Believed to be owned by the Puerto Rico Department of Housing, the space was used for over two decades as an illegal landfill.  It’s one of many abandoned buildings and spaces in Puerto Rican cities, the result of countless ongoing social, political and economic crises, coupled with a barrage of deadly earthquakes and storms. But that land, about 10,000 square feet, is also one of a growing number of abandoned places that have been reclaimed by communities. Organizers of the El Huerto Urbano del Callejón Trujillo, the community garden and gathering space that has since taken over the dumpsite, say their aim is to effect change and take into their hands what the government is neglecting. Cotinue reading here.

Panel addresses social elements of food security

Oprima aquí para leer en español. Below you can watch the panel’s recording. Click here to access all the plenaries and panels of the conference. On April 19, a panel composed of four voices from Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands addressed the issue of food security at the 3rd Caribbean Climate Change Conference. Social, justice and equity elements were incorporated into the discussion, without ignoring the environmental and agricultural production elements.

On not suffering (much) in graduate school: Part 3

Oprime aquí para leer la versión en español. Oprime aquí para encontrar la parte Uno y acá la parte Dos. Todo tiene su final, nada dura para siempre. Tenemos que recordar que no existe eternidad… (“Everything has its end, nothing lasts forever. We have to remember that there is no eternity…”) I failed to include that Héctor Lavoe and Willie Colón’s song in my virtual thesis presentation (or defense). How nervous I was that day! I even forgot to record myself. So, I guess that could consider it an exclusive event. The nice thing was that I presented from my room in our house in Juana Díaz, Puerto Rico; the place where I have lived for more than 20 years. The not so nice thing was that I did it a few weeks after the passing of grandma, who was so excited for my graduation. There have been many other not-so-nice moments since I started that quasi-limbo called, “graduate school”. I have navigated many of them in a way that has reduced hurtful feelings. Others …

Obstacles Puerto Rican Farmers Faced after Hurricane Maria: Information for Future Adaptation Strategies

Versión en español aquí. This is the English version of an Op-Ed published in El Nuevo Día on March 24, 2021 (open access here). The title here was modified. Literal translation: “Obstacles post-Maria: Future Strategies for Agriculture. The challenges that Puerto Rico has faced due to hurricanes, although painful, could serve as a source of information to prevent or avoid future damages, or to better cope with them. Another hurricane season is coming this summer, and we know that the agricultural sector is one of the most affected by climate shocks. Here I share data from 405 Puerto Rican farmers on the most common obstacles they faced to recover their farms after Hurricane María. Understanding the obstacles they faced could help identify which strategies would better facilitate recovery from future impacts. These data are part of a study, carried out between May and July 2018, in collaboration with agricultural agents of the Agricultural Extension Service of the UPR.

I am part of #TheGrist50

Versión en español aquí The Grist chooses every year 50 fixers across the US that are doing important work at the intersection of climate change, social justice, wellbeing, and the environment. “The final 2021 Grist 50 includes emerging leaders in climate, sustainability, and equity who are creating change across the nation.” Check out the list here, and my part here. Learn more about Grist 50 here.

Looking for Moths Under the New Moon

Esto es una traducción del ensayo, “Buscando mariposas bajo la luna nueva en El Yunque“, publicado el 12 de marzo de 2021 en la revista 80 grados. This is a tranlsation of, “Buscando mariposas bajo la luna nueva en El Yunque“, published in 80 grados on March 12, 2021. I was thinking of two things while walking: that my legs could not hold me anymore and that I wanted to see a coquí, Puerto Rico’s endemic frog. We had been within the green labyrinth of El Yunque, Puerto Rico’s tropical rainforest, for almost four hours. Although I wanted to look up and appreciate the plethora of stars, I kept my gaze down so that the flashlight on my head would light the way. Falling down on one of those paths, full of rocks and roots, while carrying a backpack full of scientific equipment, is not a pretty picture. There were times when I slipped, but still had not fallen. I was in the back of the line, walking slowly to see if I could spot …

My interview at the In Common Podcast: Talking about food systems research, wellbeing, and grad school life

065: Food systems, communicating science and taking care of yourself in academia with Luis Alexis Rodríguez-Cruz Click here to listen “In this episode, Courtney speaks with Luis Alexis Rodríguez-Cruz, a PhD candidate in Food Systems at the University of Vermont. They discuss Luis’ unexpected path to his research on Puerto Ricans farmer adaptation and food security following Hurricane Maria. Courtney and Luis also talk about Luis’ efforts in science communication, sharing his research in Puerto Rico and beyond. Finally, they discuss a blog post Luis recently published on “How to not suffer (much) in graduate school” and his take-aways for taking care of yourself in academia.”  

My Unstructured Structure and the Meadow of Flowers

This is the final reflection written for the University of Vermont course, “Writing Across Disciplines”, taught in spring 2020 by Dr. Caitlin B. Morgan. The essay was written in May 2020–Thus, when it says, “this semester”, “now”, etc., it refers to January-May 2020. In the start of the semester, I wrote that I would focus my efforts on writing a piece centered on a food systems story for my Writing Across Disciplines course. Moreover, I stated that I would allocate time for daily writing. Now in the future (May 2020), which, like Luis Rafael Sánchez says, “always comes dressed as the present”, I can say that I have not followed my plan thoroughly. I wrote the food systems piece, but it has yet to become what I want it to be. I allocated time for work, but found myself often not writing on such times. Nevertheless, I have written what I wanted or what I was assigned to write. In this present-future I can say that my structure is an unstructured one, and it works. …

PR-SPAN’s Science Rising Initiative to Bring Visibility and Awareness in Puerto Rico’s Election Cycle

This was originally published in Ciencia Puerto Rico on October 3, 2020. Oprime aquí para leer en español. Puerto Rico has been immersed in a constant recovery cycle over recent years. Disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes, and the one we are experiencing now with the COVID-19 pandemic, make evident the underlying inequities and social and political dynamics that perpetuate the vulnerability of the Puerto Rican people. Facing the disproportionate effects of climate change and with climate extremes upon us, coupled with the current social and political crisis we are experiencing, it is important that policymaking be centered on scientific evidence and equity. Thus, the Puerto Rico Science Policy Action Network (PR-SPAN), a Ciencia Puerto Rico initiative, has the objective of raising visibility and awareness with science (conCiencia) by bringing often-unnoticed topics to the public discussion in this election cycle in Puerto Rico.

On Not Suffering (Much) in Graduate School: Part 2

Presiona aquí para leer la versión en español. I wrote a piece in 2018 about the strategies and habits that helped me go through my terrible first year of graduate school (2017). I started that piece with a verse by Sol Fantin: The problem of time is not that is short, but swift. Time has passed, and what I wrote is still valid. It is important to know why we want a PhD or Masters before throwing ourselves in, to be informed about the place before arriving, and to develop a meaningful relationship with your advisor. Moreover, one should create healthy habits, and build a community of friends and people that support one another. Here I expand on that list with new strategies, and I reinforce some that I mentioned in 2018.