A veteran organizer and proud father of three sons, Chino was born and raised in East Flatbush and Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn and has 20 years of experience in community-organizing and leadership development, campaign strategy, conflict resolution, gun violence/gang intervention, and Human Justice healing praxis. Through NuLegacy, he continues his unyielding journey to dismantle oppression through the creation of an ecosystem of liberation and healing accessible to all, especially youth of color who suffer from the debilitating legacy of criminalization.
Through programs such as Audre Lorde Project, Prison Moratorium Project and Center for NuLeadership, Chino recognized his potential as a leader and visionary in uplifting and transforming the lives of at-risk, gang-affiliated and formerly incarcerated youth. His charisma and pedagogical approach, shaped by his own personal experience in the streets and within the criminal punishment system, have won success and praise in the field of youth leadership development training, specifically applied to youth labeled “dangerous” and “hopeless.”
He has appeared in numerous publications and media outlets, including Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs by Johann Hari, Village Voice, City Limits, The AVE Magazine, BET, and Caribbean Life.
What excites you about your work?
I’ve been working alongside and training two people as they develop outdoor skill sets. It’s been exciting to witness their deep sense of love and appreciation for nature. Our next phase of skill-building takes us to a four-day walk on the Appalachian Trail. I’m looking forward to walking with them and seeing them apply everything they’ve learned. It’s also time for winter crops, so I can't wait to get garlic, onion and other things into the ground.
What feels rich and abundant in your work right now?
Love, heart and the communal desire to learn more. And to be outside in nature. Always that.
Who do you dedicate your work to?
To my sons and every person who has ever wanted to be in nature but didn’t know how to or was scared. To my ancestors who took care of Mother Earth.
Where are you drawing inspiration from these days?
I’m inspired by all the queer and POC who are framing and/or creating space for people to be outside and learn about nature. Also, all the people doing healing work with nature as a foundation. But I'm mostly inspired by the people who are not yet sure about being outside, camping or hiking, but do it anyway. That bravery gives me endless inspiration. Watching and helping people take that very first step is so precious.
Right now, I’m reading two books, We Do This ‘Til we Free Us by Mariame Kaba and The Cannabis Grow Bible by Greg Green.
What something you didn’t know that you now understand differently with wellness?
I always understood that a person’s environment is foundational to their wellness. I now know that there’s also an environment within. What we put in it and how we care for it plays a deep roll in our well-being journey.
What is your own wellness practice?
I’m always outside in nature while always being deep inside myself. I pray in the shower because, for me, the water helps me flow. Whenever I’m off-center, I regroup the best by spending 3-5 days camping and hiking with my sons or with my dog. I talk to nature and listen. I build with my loved ones and, most of all, replay all the things I’m thankful for.
How can people reading this support your work?
Get in touch with us. Have an event with us. Help with our fundraiser to establish a permanent space to bring youth and adults who want and need to heal. Give money. Tell others about us. We want to roll with anyone who wants to bring healing to people and to the land.
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