Saturday, August 6, 2011

Tour of Latino Nashville

Visiting one of Conexion America's constituents in Country Meadows.  He said, "primero Dios" - "God willing" - over and over again when describing his future plans. The man in the khakis is standing at the former level of the floor of the trailer, before the flood.

Earlier this week, I went on Conexion Americas' innovative "Tour of Latino Nashville" - an up-front look at Hispanic people and businesses trying to integrate into the broader Nashville community.  Just for the record, there are plenty of Latinos in Nashville who have fully integrated, but those still in transition are the focus of Conexion's effort - and this tour.

After this week's tour, there was one word that described the main takeaway:


If you've never been on this journey through the lives of some of the most vulnerable Hispanic Nashvillians, here is a sampling of my photos and tweets, taken straight from the my live tweeting (@muybna) and from my camera:

On tour of Latino Nashville w/ @conexion_TN - just visited Country Meadows in Antioch, where 2010 flood wiped out trailers  

About to eat a taco at the window of Carneceria San Luis, on tour of Latino Nashville with @conexion_tn (99 health score spotted)

The 99 health score for the San Luis hot dog cart 

Get the beef tips taco, spicy pork taco, and Mango nectar at Carneceria San Luis, at Linbar and Harding - that was my awesome menu

Cheery host feeds us tacos, chicken in his beautiful home, which he wants to pay off and rent. Tells table, "We are illegal."

About deportation risk: "If something is going to happen, it's going to happen." Son is 21, U.S. citizen, and wouldn't go back to Mexico.

Runs own business, self-sufficient in Nashville. In Mexico, very hard to find work after turning 32. "My dream is to be a U.S. citizen."

After bought house, wondered if right decision - they could lose everything if deported. But "I want to die here. MX really not an option."

After 9/11, lost welding job he had had for 5 years when employer discovered his immigration status. That's when wife started cleaning biz.

Little girl behaves well when mom takes her to house cleaning jobs. Bought 87 Ford Tempo from customer; bartered 3 cleaning jobs for it.

"We're really lucky to be here, to work here. We have limitations, but you have to do what is available. For us, it's a blessing."

"My father died 10 years ago, but I didn't get the chance to go. Couldn't risk not being able to come back and provide for family."

Wife: my mom has 13 children. I was 2nd oldest and had to help out. I finished middle school only. When my son graduated HS here, it was big

Was volunteer for 3 years in son's high school. Teacher "was like a four-leaf clover" - connected us to so many people.

Son wants to join Marines. Sponsoring his parents' immigration petition now that he turned 21. Attorney says it has a 50% chance of working.

Correction: only Dad has a chance at fixing status, b/c overstayed visa. Mom crossed border w/o visa, has no chance

Dad: immigration filing confirmation is "my favorite paper" (I've been live-blogging my tour of #latinonashville with @conexion_tn) 

"We found @conexion_tn because our job - Jose Gonzalez heard about this couple cleaning houses and pitched Conexion's services

@conexion_tn's new board members say takeaway from today's tour is "uncertainty"

Key hook at our hosts' house

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