Member Profile: THE-TREE Institute:

It's about Education, Arts and Culture!

THE-TREE Institute is one of 28 statewide organizations who met in January, 2012 as founders of the Health Care for All-Oregon coalition to advocate and implement Universal Health Care for everyone in Oregon. THE-TREE was founded in 2006 in Washington State, by Sandra Hernandes with Latino immigrant friends. In 2007 Hernandes moved to Oregon to work with Latino communities to implement strategies such as the Portland Day Labor Center and Comprehensive Immigration Reform. Since then, as the executive director Hernandes has implemented a collective structure and taken THE-TREE to work with communities of immigrants and refugees in Multnomah, Marion, Hood River and Washington Counties.

Sandra Hernandes, Ph. D, is a Brazilian political educator, Theatre of the Oppressed joker-actress, economist, and licensed psychologist who moved to the United States in 1998 to study at the University of Washington. Her ethnographic-cultural research included the study of Pedagogy of the Oppressed (Paulo Freire), study-performance with Augusto Boal, creator of Theatre of the Oppressed, Capoeira Angola with Brazilian masters, and Cuban Salsa with Adolfo Mirabal, Cuban artist, founder of !Cuba y Que!, and president, co-founder, and cultural organizer of THE-TREE Institute.

THE-TREE (THEatre for Transformation and Radical Education for Evolution) is a grassroots nonprofit organization led collectively by immigrants and refugees who envision that knowledge and resources are to be shared equally in order for people to exercise power and achieve their political dreams. CHARLA (Collective Health Advocacy and Rights of Latinas/os and Africans), was created in 2009 and performed the Street Pill-Bill play in Salem at the Health Action Day for over 350 members of Health Allies Advocates. Later, using storytelling and theatre techniques, Hernandes guided 42 Latinas/os and their children to co-create !CHARLAS VIVAS! a video in Spanish about Latino health disparities, stress, and Immigration issues.

In 2010, the CHARLA Advisory Board was implemented by five grassroots organizations, with 35 members who were trained in advocacy and leadership, under Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed principles and techniques, created and performed at the first Oregon Legislative Forum Theatre, Health Equity is for the Health of the Majority. In 2009-2010 THE-TREE co-created ACHE’ (Alliance for Children's Health and Education) with the Oregon Health Action Campaign (OHAC), and with the technical assistance of Ellen Pinney advocated for HB 2009 (establishing the Oregon Health Policy Board and Oregon Health Authority), nominated a Latino representative, and passed and implemented Healthy Kids in Oregon.

Also in 2010 THE-TREE co-founded POCHEC (People of Color Health Equity Collaborative) with Oregon Action, the Urban League and APANO (Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon), funded by the Northwest Health Foundation. THE-TREE engaged other Latino organizations, such as Causa, Oregon Latino Health Coalition, VOZ Workers’ Rights Education Project, Mano a Mano Family Center, Mujeres Luchadoras Progresistas, The Next Door Incorporation and African Women’s Coalition.

During the 2011 Oregon Legislative session, CHARLA members provided public testimonies for SB 99 (Insurance Exchange), HB 3311 (Doulas), and SB 97 (Cultural Competence for health care providers), telling their stories at the Senate and House Health Committee hearings, and implementing three Dialogue-Community events inside the Capitol building. CHARLA’s historic meeting with the president of the Senate, Peter Courtney, led him to take SB 97 to the Senate floor for a successful bi-partisan vote. HB 3311, an initiative of CHARLA partner, The International Center for Traditional Childbearing, passed!

In 2012, CHARLA evolved to include allied groups, such as Portland Jobs with Justice Health Care Committee and Occupy Portland, to organize and perform for over 120 people in Portland, at the Legislative Forum Theatre, The State of Equity: The Right to Occupy Your Health, Citizenship and Education, funded by the Meyer Memorial Trust and the Northwest Health Foundation.

On Wednesday, December 19, THE-TREE is throwing a benefit party for CHARLA and the Health Care is a Human Right Movement--Occupy SALSA for EQUITY-8 to 11p.m. at The Grand Café, 832 SE Grand AV in Portland.

!Cuba y Que!
*Latin-African Rhythms
*Cuban Salsa-Rhythm class
And Special Performances:Exotic Afro-Cuban dance  

Latin Cuban & Brazilian food; no host bar: 21 and over.    
Tickets: $7–reserve your spot at (503) 901-6285

Half-sheet flier: please download and distribute