Strongest Town 2022, Round 2: Durango, CO vs. White Salmon, WA

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Residents gather to receive COVID-19 vaccine shots at one of the five pop-up clinics since 2021 that have been spearheaded by local organization Communidades. The fiesta-style series encourages a culturally sensitive approach to healthcare, bringing the community together in celebration of health for all people as they enjoy tamales to eat and atole, a warm Mexican beverage to drink as they await their opportunity to receive a free COVID-19 vaccination or booster. So far, the turnout at each event has been double from the past, with more than 500 community members receiving vaccinations.

A Latino/a/x-led environmental and social justice organization, Communidades formed to amplify voices for environmental and social justice. When a mobile home park in White Salmon was closed in 2020, the organization mobilized the residents, meeting weekly and helping them to prepare to speak at a packed public hearing about the evictions. The activism helped spur the city council to make changes to the mobile home zone to prevent a similar situation in the future. “It was empowering to see these moms, Latinas, tell their stories in their own language, in Spanish. They talked about how the evictions have hurt their families and demanded the city council and the mayor to prevent this situation from happening again,” recalled founder Ubaldo Hernandez.

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