Tracy L. Barnett

Independent writer, editor and photographer

Tracy L. Barnett is an independent writer, editor and photographer specializing in environmental issues, indigenous rights and sustainable travel. She has served as Travel Editor of the Houston Chronicle and the San Antonio Express-News, and is currently based in Guadalajara. She is the founder of The Esperanza Project, a social change magazine focused on the Americas, and serves on the editorial board for Intercontinental Cry, a magazine dedicated to indigenous struggles around the world.

As a bilingual author and journalist, she has written in English and Spanish for a wide range of magazines and newspapers including the Washington Post, BBC, USA Today, National Geographic Traveler en Español, Esquire Latin America, Yes! Magazine and Huffington Post.

At the Chronicle and the Express-News, she won numerous writing and editing awards, including the North American Travel Journalists Association’s top award for destination travel and the Lowell Thomas Award from the Society of American Travel Writers.

She is currently finishing a book on sustainability initiatives throughout the Americas. She was a founding editor of Rumbo Newspapers, a group of Spanish-language newspapers serving the immigrant communities of Texas. She was also the founding editor of Adelante, a bilingual newsmagazine serving the immigrant communities of Central Missouri, based at the University of Missouri School of Journalism, where she taught for ten years, serving as assistant director for Investigative Reporters and Editors, and worked at newspapers in Missouri, California and Illinois.

She has traveled extensively throughout the developing world and has worked with Latin American journalists since the early 1990s in a variety of capacities. She is the author of four books for high school students. She has a BJ and a master’s degree, the latter specializing in science writing, from the University of Missouri. She can be reached at TracyLBarnett (at)

Yes, there's a crisis on the border. But it's not what you think it is.

I spent Christmas week on the Texas border, writing about the activists from all over the country who were spending their holidays camping out in front of the now-famous Tornillo Detention Facility, where nearly 3,000 migrant teens were being held. That camp is now history, with the last child leaving last Friday.

YES! Magazine
How Do 2,800 Migrant Children in Detention Spend the Holidays?

It's Christmas morning, and artists and activists are planning a procession around the perimeter of a child detention center here in the Texas desert. On the Mexican side, beyond the sprawling tent city, the Guadalupe Mountains loom.

YES! Magazine
When Crafts Become Activism: A More Beautiful Movement

Sarah Corbett never dreamed a cross-stitched teddy bear could change her life. But looking back, she realizes that that's when it all started. Corbett, a professional campaigner for causes and charities, was preparing to board a train from London to Glasgow to give yet another workshop on training people as activists.

Should fires in national parks be allowed to burn?

“If we’re always thinking about fighting wildfires, then we’re not investing enough in learning how to live with them,” says Michael Kodas, author of "Megafire: The Race to Extinguish a Deadly Epidemic of Flame."

The Esperanza Project
Running for Temaca

We came from all over the republic and beyond to run for Temacapulín, Jalisco, which has been fighting inundation from a hydroelectric dam for more than a decade. We were here for a historic "Carrera con Causa" - Race with a Cause - to enjoy the charms of a threatened yet defiant pueblo and to bask in its legendary thermal waters.

Rice Business Wisdom
The Last Straw: If Plastic is Out, What's Next?

For some, it was the baby albatross whose autopsy revealed a belly full of bottle caps and other plastic debris. For others, it was the video of the sea turtle with the plastic straw stuck in its nostril, a team of marine biologists trying to remove it with a pair of pliers as it struggled in anguish. It’s hard to say what finally catapulted the global plastics crisis, generations in the making, into the mainstream.

The Texas Observer
To Bag or Not to Bag: Retailers at a Crossroads after Texas Supreme Court Strikes Bag Ban

Mauricio Treviño is every retailer's worst nightmare. On a field trip that included a walk along the Rio Grande recently, his grandmother, Laredo businesswoman Tina Treviño, took Mauricio and her nine other grandchildren to a taquería for lunch. The restaurateur brought their order, served in Styrofoam and double-bagged in plastic.

Intercontinental Cry
Wixárika medicine under siege

When a Wixárika elder speaks of his culture, he starts at the beginning of time. He then takes you through a storied journey to the five directions — the five cardinal sacred sites to which his people have travelled since time immemorial. The Wixárika must cross half of Mexico’s vast expanse from desert to sea, in order to leave their offerings, gather the sacred waters and connect with the wisdom they need to live their lives. Each step on this journey and each stop at a sacred spring renews...

Global Sisters Report
Lessons and memories from the Web of Life

Darién's endangered wetlands represent all the intricate natural systems that support life on this planet. I saw this as I watched the crystaline waters of a spring mingle with salty tidewaters and pour into the murky River Tuira below, one of several that feed the wetlands system. I saw a crocodile lurking in the shadows, a warning that we were entering territory that demands respect. And I felt it in the current of the tides that pulled us forward, at times with a force capable of capsizing...

Global Sisters Report
From Death Squads to Web of Life: Sr. Melinda Roper's Journey

Melinda Roper was at the helm of the Maryknoll Sisters in 1980, when four U.S. churchwomen were murdered in El Salvador. Under her leadership, the sisters fought for justice, for the churchwomen and for those they represented.

Thomson Reuters
Mexican authorities urged to boost security after indigenous activists killed

Double homicide comes amid a resurgence in violence from drug cartels and follows a spate of killings of journalists and activists By Tracy Barnett - National, state and local officials warned the Mexican government of increasing violence and the need for extra security in the state of Jalisco, where two indigenous brothers were shot dead last week.

Global Sisters Report
Washington hearing is activists' last hope in battle over Panama dam

Speaking in a panel before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights are, from left: Ileana Yahaira Molo Alvarado of La Red de Derechos Humanos de Panamá; Evidelio Adames Arjona of Universidad de Panamá; Weni Bagama; Osvaldo Jordán; Adriano Lasso Ramos of the Comité en Defensa de la Isla Pedro González; and Chloe Schwabe of the Maryknoll of Office for Global Concerns.

Global Sisters Report
A wall in their river: Flooded Ngäbe communities continue to fight dam

The Barro Blanco dam: Despite years of fierce resistance, the dam on the Tabasará River has submerged indigenous homes, farms and sacred sites. To local communities and environmentalists, the hydroelectric project has become a symbol of everything wrong with Panama's model of development.

Intercontinental Cry
Voices from Standing Rock

OCETI SAKOWIN CAMP, N.D.-A winter lull in activities for Water Protectors at Standing Rock is about to come to an end. An executive order confirming the incoming administration's commitment to forge ahead - not just with the Dakota Access Pipeline, but with the cancelled Keystone XL - has so...
Mexican ranchers and indigenous people urge government to solve land conflict

At issue are vast stretches of property that ranchers want for intensive agriculture but their neighbours want it for subsistence farming By Tracy Barnett LA YESCA, Mexico, Dec 19(Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Audelina Villagrana has run her ranch in Mexico's Western Sierra Madre mountains on her own since the death of her husband 23 years ago, herding livestock, hiring local Huichol people and even raising a young Huichol boy like a son.

The village that survived a war

"This is the bridge where the war started," said Mustafa as we crossed over the sparkling Miljacka River that divides the Bosnian city of Sarajevo. I had walked over this bridge before, just to admire the view, but had not realised its significance: on the afternoon of 6 April 1992, this is where snipers mowed down two young women as they joined a peace march.

Washington Post
San Antonio Missions preserve Native American history in Texas's first World Heritage Site

Two weathered gravestones sit in a small, dusty rectangle in front of the grand Spanish church at the heart of the nation's newest UNESCO World Heritage Site, the San Antonio Missions. I've been to Mission San Jose many times - to attend the lively Mariachi Mass, to photograph its antique majesty, to reflect on the history of this place and its role in the settlement of the American Southwest.

.: ITESO | MAGIS | profesiones + innovación + cultura
Rob Hopkins y la red de Transición: el poder de simplemente hacer las cosas (Rob Hopkins and the...

¿Qué pasará cuando se acabe el petróleo? Ésta fue la pregunta que se hizo Rob Hopkins, ambientalista inglés preocupado por el cambio climático. Con una diferencia: en vez de sumirse en el pesimismo apocalíptico, y armado con el espíritu del punk, Hopkins y sus amigos resolvieron que no había que esperar soluciones desde arriba, sino empezar, ya, a construir alternativas: monedas locales, bancos de tiempo, huertos urbanos, energías renovables.

San Antonio's Missions declared a World Heritage site

Five cherished portals to America's Spanish colonial past have just been elevated to the stature of Machu Picchu, Stonehenge and the Taj Mahal with Sunday's decision by the World Heritage Committee of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to grant World Heritage status to San Antonio Missions National Historical Park.

USA Today
New national monuments honor human rights

A utopian village that became ground zero for the labor rights movement, a Hawaiian jungle that became a hell for World War II prisoners and one of the country's most popular whitewater rafting destinations were elevated to national monument status last week.

USA Today
National Parks: Revisiting "America's best idea" | Roads Less Traveled

Historian and author Wallace Stegner once called the National Park System “America’s best idea.” Nearly a century after the park service was established, most who have had the privilege of visiting a few of our national parks would be sure to agree. Nothing captures the grandeur of this fragile, beautiful, incredibly diverse planet the way that our national parks do – and to be sure, I’ve been privileged to see quite a few. So naturally I was delighted when USA Today invited me to help out...

Huicholes: The Last Peyote Guardians
Huicholes: The Last Peyote Guardians

Huicholes: The Last Peyote Guardians is an award-winning documentary about the Wixarika People, one of the last living Pre-Hispanic cultures in Latin America, and their struggle to preserve Wirikuta, their most sacred territory and the land where the peyote grows, the traditional medicine that keeps the knowledge of this iconic culture of Mexico alive. I served as associate producer and contributor to the film and coordinator of the 2014 North American Film Tour.

Intercontinental Cry
People Land Truth

Written by IC Magazine's volunteer contributors, People Land Truth 2014 features more than two dozen original stories including Rudolph Ryser's analysis of Russia's ongoing efforts to swallow fourth world Nations, Jay Taber's alarming essay about the growth of religious right wing hysteria in the US, reports on indigenous resistance to resource extraction in the Pacific Northwest, Lapland, Kenya, Mexico and the Chagos Archipelago, and many other important articles that you won't find anywhere...

.: ITESO | MAGIS | profesiones + innovación + cultura
Vandana Shiva: La Gandhi de las Semillas (Vandana Shiva: The Gandhi of Seeds)

Inspirada en los principios éticos y políticos de Gandhi, Vandana Shiva se ha convertido en una de las voces más críticas ante las políticas de industrialización de la agricultura. Las promesas de prosperidad y desarrollo, denuncia, en realidad producen más empobrecimiento, deterioro de la salud y degradación del medio ambiente.

Westways Magazine
In the Wake of the Ancients

At this spiritual center of the Polynesian universe, at the foot of the sacred mountain, I sought an answer to the question that brought me here: in this land of the perpetual honeymoon, does anything remain of the raw, wild spirit of the original Polynesians?

.: ITESO | MAGIS | profesiones + innovación + cultura
El efecto Butterfly (The Butterfly Effect)

It’s hard to say what was the most dramatic moment in that 738 days that Julia “Butterfly” Hill spent atop that platform in a redwood tree named Luna. Perhaps it was the day of that bitter storm and many others that ensued. Perhaps it was the day that a massive helicopter buzzed her tree and nearly blew her to her death with the 300 mph winds created by its updrafts. Perhaps it was the day that a fellow tree sitter had the rope he was standing on cut out from under him by “Climber Dan,” a...

Esquire Latin America
Huicholes en Pie de Guerra (Huicholes on the Warpath)

For the Huicholes, the territory of Wirikuta, in North Central Mexico, is sacred; for a Candian corporation it's the site of its next big mining project. Meanwhile, the inhabitants of the village of Real de Catorce are divided between those who need a job and those who see the mine as a menace. The debate is growing stronger eery day and it's traveled as far as Canada and the United Nations.

National Geographic Travel en Español
Panama City

Take that, Henry Morgan. The notorious Welsh privateer and pirate would be stunned to see what became of the city he burned to the ground in 1671. With a skyline that bristles with towers and a sparkling coastline, Panama City has been compared to Miami – except that, as Lonely Planet has jested, more English is spoken. “Monaco with bananas,” was the title of a 2008 article in Forbes about the extraordinary investment boom that was just getting underway then and continues today. (In...