Tomas y su bad ass bicicleta

Honoring Hispanic Heritage Month con "Algo Más Grande!"


Russell Johnson, President and CEO, and Jesse Hardman of Internews

Queremos hacer un fuente de información, queremos informar y empoderar a la gente.

We envision an equitable, connected, and thriving community.  Hispanic Heritage Month reminds me of the people I have met through my time with HealthSpark Foundation who have enriched my work through friendship, knowledge sharing, and connections. 

I am not bi-lingual and the language barrier with Spanish-speaking colleagues has hampered my ability to learn and collaborate.  That experience led HealthSpark to expand our thinking about our work and include a focus on storytelling and power-building in communities of color.  With a partnership forged with Independence Media Foundation, we provided grant support to identify where Spanish-speaking residents get their information and which sources of information are considered ‘trusted’. 

The Listening Post Collective has been interviewing local Latino community residents to help answer those questions.  An unlikely source was identified through an interview that highlights the importance of understanding and relating to Latino culture – in this case a community project that gives immigrants a space to connect, share their voices, and build “bad-ass bicycles.” 

By November HealthSpark hopes to have a set of early findings and recommendations from The Listening Post to help inform its strategies, and perhaps those of others, to improve our communications and connections with our immigrant neighbors who are contributing their culture and lived experiences to make Montgomery County a better place. -Russell Johnson, President and CEO, HealthSpark Foundation


Tomás Flores (pictured above), recently left me a voice message that said, “queremos hacer algo más grande,” “we want to do something bigger.” Flores runs Champions LowRiders bike club, a community project that gives the growing population of Mexican and Central American immigrants in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, a space to connect, share their voices, and build bad-ass bicycles. Now he’s looking to expand his mission. “Queremos hacer un fuente de información, queremos informar y empoderar a la gente,” “we want to create a flow of news,” he said. “We want to inform and empower people.”

Tomás is one of many local Latino community connectors I’ve been listening to and learning from the past six months, along with my Listening Post Collective colleague Melissa Ortiz. We’re doing this in Montgomery County, PA because the local Latino population is growing, in population hubs like Norristown it’s already around 40%. You’d never know it, though, based on what’s left of local media. Google Alerts almost exclusively turn up stories focused on violence when it comes to the Latino community, and few government agencies make critical information available in Spanish.- Jesse Hardman, Internews and project lead with the Listening Post Collective