EL PASO — It’s third down and eight and wide receiver Isaac Perez needs to make a play for the Burges High School football team. He just hopes he can see the ball. For Perez, the play won’t be just pitch-and-catch like it is for any other player. Catching the ball and running for the touchdown is a process of complex decisions that are made from the moment of the snap, to the instant the ball leaves the quarterbacks’ hand. Perez has to twist his body so that his right side faces the incoming pass.
EL PASO — Yoga –the fastest growing form of exercise in America– is connecting the body, the mind and spirit of El Pasoans in greater numbers than ever. Currently over 20 million Americans practice yoga on a regular basis and five new yoga studios emerged here in the past year, drawing as many new practitioners to bend and stretch as there are different reasons to join. “Yoga is an ancient Indian body of knowledge that dates back more than 5,000 years. The word yoga comes from the Sanskrit word yuj, which means ‘to unite or integrate,” according to the website the a-b-c of yoga. Yoga then, is about uniting a person’s consciousness with the universal consciousness.
EL PASO — Whether they were dressed as a banana, boxing champion, a huge hand flipping the bird, or just plain decked out in glow sticks, one thing was certain, they celebrated the first Halloween of its kind running through downtown. Thanks to Downtown Glow, the first annual event by Flow Entertainment, El Pasoans had a place to celebrate Halloween in a healthy, fun and bright way. The event took place on October 31 on one mile of closed streets including Oregon and Main. “We had seen this concept in other cities and saw that it was very successful,” said Crystal Bocanegra, co-founder of Downtown Glow. After seeing an event like this in Las Vegas, Crystal and her husband Alby decided to use their experience in event planning to create one where participants could enjoy what their own city had to offer.
EL PASO – A once destroyed alleyway covered in syringes and broken bottles in downtown El Paso was turned into a thriving garden by a group of volunteers brought together by the El Paso Permaculture Group (EPPG). “Permaculture is a way of life that helps everyone, and teaches you to respect the earth,” said Claudia Paolla, a volunteer with EPPG. “It teaches the children to learn about their food sources and to appreciate the environment.” EPPG invested staff time and money to set up the garden for nearby families and taught them how to tend the crops. Created about a year ago with the help of various activists and volunteers, EPPG continues to reach out to the community, creating gardens in local schools and unexpected places. Permaculture is a growing movement that examines the issues and problems brought up by the way human beings relate to the earth.
SAN ELIZARIO, TX – There’s only one place in El Paso County where a family can see work by hundreds of artists, visit a veteran’s museum, get a homemade empanada at a café, see a live band at a restaurant that’s right next to the jail that once housed Billy the Kid, then walk a few blocks down the street to a community garden. This is the San Elizario Historic district, also known as “San Eli,” home to the only art district in the county, located about 10 miles east of the city limits. “We started this madness out here in 2009 with the Main Street Gallery and things just quickly grew,” said Al Borrego, a self-taught artist who invests most of his time promoting San Elizario and all the artists. “I take pride in my community and I think with the history and talent out here, it’s the perfect place for something like this.”
There are over 100 artists exhibiting their artwork in about 40 galleries, with more venues on the way. The artworks range from traditional acrylic and oil paintings, to iron and woodwork as well as sculptures, stained glass and jewelry.
CIUDAD JUAREZ, México – Ya no hay músculo en lo que alguna vez fueron sus rápidos y veloces brazos, ni tampoco agilidad en su caminar o en sus movimientos. Su memoria lo traiciona y con frecuencia se retira a su esquina, ignorando el bullicio a su alrededor, ensimismado en sus pensamientos. Duerme de 5 de la mañana a 5 de la tarde y por las noches juega Solitario y ve televisión. Pero lo que más disfruta es sentarse en una pequeña banca en la banqueta de su casa y fumarse un puro. Entonces, los vecinos llegan a saludarlo y los niños, esos que no habían nacido cuando él estaba en la cúspide de la fama, le recuerdan lo grandioso que fue en el cuádrilatero.
CIUDAD JUAREZ – The 10-year-old boy’s stable family life, his modest home, and a routine that included going occasionally with his parents to Peter Piper Pizza for dinner came to a catastrophic end when the drug war plaguing Ciudad Juárez struck home killing his entire family. Caught on the street in a crossfire of warring gangs, Juan dropped under a nearby parked van, covering his eyes. Everything turned fuzzy. When he came out from under the van, his father, mother and sister were dead and he was an orphan. A few weeks later, Juan boarded a bus with 12 other children en route to Rancho 3M to a private Christian orphanage and school founded by American missionaries in the nearby town of Guadalupe.
EL PASO – Almost every child has had a dream of being a famous athlete or sports superstar, but only a small percentage actually achieves this dream while still in college. For the talented lucky few who do make it into college sports, sometimes a wrong choice – abusing drugs or alcohol – can swiftly end the dream. Wrong choices almost ended the collegiate athletic career for Tom (not his real name), 25. He tested positive on a drug-test in 2009 after he smoked marijuana while on the football team at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP). But he said he learned his lesson and he made sure not make the same mistake again.
EL PASO — After their share of blood, sweat, and heartbreak at the Sun Bowl, four former University of Texas at El Paso football players won the opportunity to reach the next level in their careers – the NFL. The 2012 UTEP graduates recently signed by NFL teams as free agents are Joseph Banyard, Matthew Camilli, Donavon Kemp and Antwon Blake. “I have sacrificed so much for this moment and it feels so unreal,” Banyard said.”I know very few get this opportunity.”
This rise to the national professional ranks of these four players marks a milestone for coach Mike Price, since it is the largest group of ex-Miners to be signed as free agents since he has been leading the team. “The coaches have molded me from a young man into a grown man and to have tough skin,” Banyard said. Banyard is coming off a great senior year as a running back with the Miners.
EL PASO, Texas – Sergio Villasenor often worries for his relatives across the border in his home city of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. Members of his family have dealt with four assaults at their place of business in a city still wracked with drug cartel-related violence. It isn’t as bad as it was even a couple of years ago, when the city of more than a million people recorded 3,103 murders. But Juarez is still unsafe territory for the El Paso Patriots midfielder who works across the international border from where he lives. “The truth is that it’s really hard to live in Ciudad Juarez, so I’m trying to find ways to bring them here (to Texas),” Villasenor said, “for a better state of being.”
One must pay the cartels for the right to operate a business in town, or perhaps be forced to close, or have their establishment burned down, Villasenor explained.