On a Saturday afternoon in East Austin, I met Danza Azteca Guadalupana performing at Edward Rendon Sr. Park at Festival Beach. The group is made up of kids and young adults dressed in Aztec inspired costumes. They group performed in front of a Mexican American audience of approximately 200 people as part of a community festival benefiting Cristo Rey Catholic Church.
I met Theresa Gonzales at La Plazita Institute in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The organization works with the most marginalized and vulnerable population of the South Valley, which is a neighborhood just south of Albuquerque. Theresa experienced an unfavorable upbringing due to poverty and addiction problems in her family. She also faced education barriers and spent time in the streets. She refers to that experience as “street knowledge”. Despite the odds, she is an avid learner and is constantly looking to improve not only her life but also the community of the South Valley, New Mexico.
The South Valley is also referred to as the Town of Atrisco or the Atrisco Land Grant by people in the area. Theresa is a land grant heir of 2 historic land grants – the Town of Atrisco and Cañón de Carnué.