The fear of public speaking tends to rank higher than the fear of snakes, clowns, dentists, and even dying. So why is one intrepid soul from Modesto, California creating a stage where Latino community organizers and leaders do just that?
Last Friday, I had the pleasure of speaking with Anthony Macias, the founder of Al Grano Talks. Talking on the phone, he opened up about the inspirations and obstacles of creating a space for Latinos to share their stories, struggles, and ideas in 15-minute long speeches.
What was your inspiration to start Al Grano?
"I used to work at a nonprofit that dealt with local issues in Latino communities. I was mainly volunteering at the time, and when I became part of the staff I started seeing a lot of miscommunication with the Latinos. We'd try to reach out, but they tended to be insular with their families and routines, surrounded by the same things, where they just go to work and come home. I thought, 'How do I open up these windows [of communication]? What's the best way to help them know what's going on around them?'"
Watching TED talks at the time, Anthony saw the potential of the spoken word to share ideas and increase engagement in the community. Anthony explained how watching these talks online inspired flares of curiosity within him, and that if this curiosity could carry him to new ways of thinking and leading, maybe it could also be an outlet for other folks in the community. As he put it: "Once you get someone into curiosity mode, they go on and on..."
Was it easy getting started and finding people to speak at the first event?
"Honestly, it's been one of the toughest things I've ever done. It's a challenge, especially organizing through the internet. A lot of Latino families and elders aren't online, so it was hard finding people. But I used the farmeros (the farmer community) as an outlet to find people to speak."
Have you personally spoken on the stage?
"[laughs] No no, I like to be the behind the stage kind of guy, the video, the website side of it. I do the tech. It's been a great way for me to use what I'm good at in tech [and] organizing on the ground."
I encourage you to check out some of the media on their website. All the talks are recorded in order to be shared and circulated. Note that everything's in español.
Anthony will be coming to the S.F. Bay Area later this month to join us at the CA Tech Fest in Richmond, and we're excited to have Al Grano's presence at the event.
Get in touch with him here: firstname.lastname@example.org, or meet him at #CATechFest.