By: Mario Conde
Calexico and Mexicali share a unique border community where people have community, economic, and family ties with one another. In a time where a candidate for President of the United States is proposing to build a big wall to divide our county, two neighborhoods signed a unique binational agreement along the U.S.-Mexico border that will focus on brining urban art to both cities.
On Saturday, August 20, a signing ceremony was held in Mexicali to formalize an agreement that will exchange arts and cultural events between Kennedy Gardens Neighborhood Project and Proyecto Calle 13 of the Santa Clarita neighborhood in Mexicali. This transborder agreement was made between two neighborhoods that similar history of activism and community involvement that decided to break border barriers to create something unique in favor of its people. The Kennedy Gardens Subdivision was established in April 1972 in Calexico, California. A total of 299 homes were pre-fabricated in this subdivision. Santa Clara Neighborhood is located in the city of Mexicali, Baja Califonia, Mexico. Proyecto Calle 13 was established to promote the urban arts along the neighborhood and its beautification.
These two neighborhoods will work to create urban art, both in Calexico and Mexicali, with the help of artist from both sides of the border to help create art in both cities. The plan is to also look for artist in California so they can see the opportunities to exhibit and create their art in this area. Proyecto Calle 13 has worked on a mutual project on the fence on the Mexican side and the plan it to rehabilitate the border mural project on the U.S. side as well.
This international exchange of two cultures that share a similar history pretends to be open to art groups along the U.S.-Mexico border to join and help them achieve common cultural projects for the benefit of both Calexico and Mexicali.
Kennedy Gardens Coordinator Javier Gonzalez stated that he was excited to be working with Proyecto Calle 13 in this binational project.
“This is a movement that will help beautify our cities and help bring a better quality of life to our neighborhoods.” Gonzalez said.
Proyecto Calle 13 started at the Santa Clarita neighborhood in Mexicali and participates in several activities and are looking forward to collaborate with other neighborhoods along the area. Thoma Gin, Coodinator of Proyecto Calle 13, said that they have been able to improve the image of Santa Clara through the arts and that has inspired their youth to do their own art projects at their houses and around the neighborhood.
“The participation of children, youth, and our neighbors has been important to reconstruct Santa Clarita.” Gin said. “Art saves communities.”