Middle school track and field upgrade brings neighborhood together

From running after a soccer ball to running on a track, the kids and adults in Segundo barrio have been given the feel of getting a fast break off the starting line of a track. Former Guillen Middle School student Angel Luna made a vow to himself. He promised to run everyday of the year after work to be fit and healthy. “I had made a goal for the year. I made a promise for myself to come everyday, for the whole year now,” Luna said.

Community hub La Fe promotes well being of Segundo Barrio residents

It began with a simple dream of a small group of resolute mothers discussing community problems in a one-room apartment in the Segundo Barrio during the 1960s. Through stiff determination and unflinching courage, the “Mothers of La Fe” cobbled together a non-profit organization to empower families immersed in poverty, unemployment, lack of health care and gang violence. Since that day more than four decades ago, Centro De Salud Familiar La Fe has helped countless families, many of them recent immigrants to El Paso, resulting in the empowerment of a predominantly Latino community. Segundo Barrio, located south of downtown El Paso near the U.S.-Mexico border, is the city’s oldest and most historic neighborhood, housing a community deeply rooted in Mexican culture. “I have always said that all the people in La Fe are my second home,” said  Esperanza Tijerina, who attends citizenship classes and English at the La Fe Culture and Technology community center and is preparing to apply for U.S. citizenship.

Homeless conference focuses on strategies for regional collaborations

EL PASO – The projected image of a middle-aged man prostrate on the sidewalk, wrapped in a blanket in front of a downtown shop presented a stark image of homeless hopelessness highlighted by the daybreak sun. “What really gets to me the most is that what I see a potential worker laying down in the street in front of a local business where he can’t work because he doesn’t have a home,” said Annette, one of a small group of homeless and former homeless persons who presented a series of stark photos they had taken to a recent conference here. The projected images entitled “Voices and Images of Homelessness” told a story of fear, anger, but also one of hope and joy in life. “I see people trying to survive. There is nowhere to go.

Borderzine redesign reaches out to Border Life readers across all platforms

The 6-year-old online Border Life magazine, Borderzine, crosses another milestone this month with a redesign, enhanced digital features and visuals to better reflect its mission to publish rich relevant content about the borderlands by multicultural student journalists. A few of the exciting changes include a responsive design that allows readers to easily navigate across computer platforms and mobile devices, an updated logo, new story categories covering “Immigration and Fronteras” and “Diversity and Ideas” as well as a snazzier portfolio page to showcase the multimedia journalism of our student reporters. Here are some highlights of what we’ve added:

 At the core of the new Borderzine.com is the responsive web design, which makes the site look good across computer platforms and on mobile devices.  We’ve updated our look with a fresh, new logo inspired by the sunrise over a Southwest landscape – the vibrant glow of a new dawn in multicultural America.  New category sections on the home page showcase our unique and varied content.

Judge Escobar (Kristopher Rivera/Borderzine.com)

Judge Veronica Escobar – A belief in the electoral process and the need for economic development

EL PASO – When she was running for the position of El Paso County judge Veronica Escobar listed her top three accomplishments in public service this way: lowering the cost of government, protecting the taxpayer and improving access to health care. In a recent interview, she cited her interest in the redevelopment of downtown El Paso as an example of her dedication to economic growth. “The downtown renovation project isn’t happening fast enough. I am a huge supporter.”

Escobar said she wants to see downtown renovation bring El Paso back to the thriving city it was in the 1950’s until bad leadership brought it down in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. To her, downtown renovation means two things – the recreation of a wonderful community and the encouragement of economic activity.

It's all about the community, believes Susy Byrd. (Alex Gandara/Borderzine.com)

Rep. Susie Byrd believes in success through hard work and listening to the community

EL PASO – El Paso District 2 Representative Susie Byrd cast a vote on June 14 along with three other City Council members that restored health care benefits to gay and unmarried partners of city employees reversing an initiative approved by voters last year. Byrd stands by that vote, which sparked a recall effort against her, Mayor John Cooke and Representative Steve Ortega.  “This is less about me and more about my community. Our community has been tainted by religious leadership that seems very intent on tearing down our gay and lesbian community rather than building it.”

Byrd said that at stake is an issue of discrimination that the city needs to combat and something that the community has to repudiate for the rest of the world to see. “We are a very generous welcoming hopeful community and we embrace people of all backgrounds.”

She sees herself as a confident individual who above all cares about her community and says that her accomplishments are nothing more than her duty to the citizens she represents. She says her strengths are getting into the weave of policies and projects, working through ideas and implementing them.

Beautifully renovated on the outside, San Elizario church is crumbling on the inside. (Kristopher Rivera/Borderzine.com)

Crumbling from the inside out, a Mission Trail chapel prays for support

SAN ELIZARIO, TX – A chapel dedicated to San Elizario has stood on this spot  since the days the conquistadores wound their way north on the old imperial Spanish mission trail along the Rio Grande, but the current church built in 1877 is falling apart. Extensive repairs have maintained the exterior of the church, but the crumbling interior looks like it has been damaged by a violent exorcism. The walls have been battered by storms that weakened the adobe and created numerous pits and cracks. Lillian Trujillo, a tour guide for the church who has deep family roots in San Elizario still sees beauty in the existing structure. “Even though it’s damaged you can see that it’s a beautiful church.

Immigration Integration is a term used to describe immigrants who have the same opportunities as natives. (Jesus Sanchez/Borderzine.com)

The integration of immigrants into society benefits them and their new country

EL PASO — When an immigrant in France is stopped and searched by police in a subway or airport, nobody looks twice. In France where immigrants are usually Muslims, North Africans, or Algerian that police action is a routine daily activity. In the United States, where immigrant usually means Mexican, we would see that profiling by police as a violation of human rights. But the United States is not the only country with immigration issues. Other countries around the globe also have to deal with immigrants entering their country illegally such as Central Americans migrating to Mexico.

Creative Kids: ten years motivating youth through art and more

EL PASO — When Andrea Ingle invited her husband Stephen to teach her special education class at Canutillo Middle School with the little left over art supplies she had, the couple had no idea it would lead to their life’s work providing an artistic outlet to children and teenagers throughout the border region. That classroom experience combined with their own backgrounds in the arts was the spark for creating a non-profit organization, Creative Kids Inc., that uses the power of the arts to help youth, including teenagers at risk of dropping out, to achieve academic and personal success. Ten years later, Creative Kids has a main studio and gallery in a 16,000-square-foot warehouse called the OLO Gallery (Other Learning Opportunities) at the recently renovated Union Plaza Arts District in downtown El Paso. The organization serves over 600 youth a year ranging in age from 4 to 18, and provides special programs for children battling cancer, children with disabilities, and disadvantaged and at-risk youth. It also has a long list of impressive local, regional and national sponsors, from the National Endowment for the Arts, Texas Commission on the Arts to the City of El Paso and the Hunt Family Foundation.