07 Sep A Day of the Living in Coachella
Giant blocks of Styrofoam carved with a chainsaw and hours of sanding into massive skulls for the day of the dead. Teens and their volunteer mentors sweating head to toe, smiling and covered in white Styrofoam chips.
How do you spell empowerment? RAICES, that’s how. This grass roots organization founded by a posse of Coachella residents more than a decade ago is vibrant, creative, and powerfully motivating for its teen clientele.
Blending equal measures of art and leadership training the organization thrives on dialogue and community activism. I had a long conversation with Jocelyn Vargas, the brilliant director of RAICES, who, like many of the others involved, was raised in the neighborhood, got herself a great education and came back to make a difference.
Terrifically refreshing to meet someone who talks the talk, walks the walk, dances the dance, and gets down and dirty with the styrofoam sculpture too!
I had a great conversation with the teens too…about eight or nine of them, all giddy to share their experiences at RAICES, to show me their art, to invite me to participate in their festivities, especially the upcoming Day of the Dead, which I will have to catch in year 2 of the Irvine Grant project.
It was an added pleasure to meet Tone Rubio, a local artist, who volunteers extensively at RAICES. He walked me through his impressive online painting portfolio, and shared his passion for the work he does with the kids there.
All in all a great day of learning how Coachella grass roots arts activists are kickin it.
Check them out at www.raicesdelvalle.org