I recently attended a very interesting meeting of the Bay Area Open Space Council, a grouping of nonprofits and government agencies concerned with managing open space. One presentation (available on their website) concerned the effect of increasing ethnic diversity on public support for open space. The presentation was short, but had mostly positive news. Here it is in three steps:
1. Support for open space increases with education and income levels.
2. Recent immigrant groups tend to have lower educational and income levels, and those levels rise in subsequent generations.
3. Despite being a (mostly) recent immigrant population, Hispanic voters tend to support open space preservation at the same rate as non-Hispanic whites.
In other words, the Hispanic population is starting off at a higher level of support for open space than non-Hispanic whites (“Anglos”). As subsequent generations move up the income and educational ladders, we can expect even greater levels of support, magnified by the increasing Hispanic population. (Polls of other ethnic groups also showed encouraging support for open space.)
The challenge for environmental nonprofits is to attract and support this powerful constituency, as well as the many other constituencies in San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties. This is something that we here at CGF are working on, need to be working on, and will continue to be working on in the future.