Bounce Back! Celebrating Our Young People, Our Communities, and Our Resilience

Mural by Felix Rodriguez / Photo by Luis Peña

The first-ever Bounce Back, held on October 6 in Española’s Valdez Park, was a great success!

A collaboration between Tewa Women United, Spanapalooza Crew, Northern Youth Project, and the City of Española, Bounce Back is about building community, belonging, and respect among youth to begin creating new narratives as we move into the future.

The day was full of live performances from local bands, skating demonstration, youth mural competition and community workshops!

Melody and Carmella, Forrest Titla, Anthony Romero, Nate UNEK Francis, Felix Rodriguez, Emily Ewings, and Israel Haros created amazing pieces for the community to witness and appreciate.

Celina and Autumn Gomez, A’Gin Project Youth Organizer, worked their magic to bring in the bands and Skate Demo MC’s from Maize Skateboards. Most of these connections are relationships that we have established over the years and they were all willing to join in on the event. Local bands Innastate, ADHD, Snot Goblin, and G Precious performed and brought the fire.

Special thanks to our Saa’Yaa-in (Grandmothers) who blessed us and held it down all day.

The Story Behind Bounce Back

We are faced with various barriers and hurdles that we are overcoming and have overcome throughout the years. It is our hope that the young people of the Española Valley recognize the strengths and commitments that we and others have made to ensure they are fully supported in their growth and challenges.

Our young people and community members are craving spaces for community to come together to enjoy music, art and activities. It is our hope to fill in the gaps to provide for community to ensure they are given positive and healthy spaces.

We began the planning process by reaching out to the previous Spanapalooza crew and see if there were doing the event this year. We work with youth in the local schools through our A’Gin Healthy Sexuality and Body Sovereignty Project and were interested in supporting an event focused on youth this year.

We reached out to Luis Pena, Enrique Martinez, and former Spanapalooza crew, as well as the Northern Youth Project, and decided to create a new collaborative approach to their longstanding event. We wanted to honor the work they had already put in and also to continue to create space at the Skate Park for young people to come together.

After a few weeks of brainstorming and attempting to figure out what we would name the new event, we came up with the “Bounce Back”. Through the work we do with Tewa Women United (TWU) and our A’Gin Project, we’ve learned about the impact of generations of historical trauma, intergenerational trauma and individual complex trauma on our lives to this day on many levels. We wanted to focus on healing and resilience. Thus, the intention of our name is to build on the concept of resilience.

The effects of trauma in our community is huge and we also understand that resiliency is part of who we are, our strength! Our peoples have managed and maintain their lives for us to be here today, despite the everyday oppressions we face.

The Espanola Valley is recognizing that we are strong and have the ability to “Bounce Back” from what we have faced.  When you look up the word “resilience”, it is having the ability to “recover” and bounce back from misfortune or challenge.

We want to acknowledge that trauma exists in this community but we must not stay stagnant and recognize there are alternatives, allowing us to “Bounce Back”.


Many hearts, hands and brains came into play to make this happen. This event was created with through heartfelt reflection and lessons learned from the previous Spanapalooza crew, Northern Youth Project and Tewa Women United and was sponsored by the City of Espanola, Initiate Skateboarding and Tewa Women United.

There was much outreach to community and support came from Double O DJ’s from Ohkay Owingeh, A-1 Portables, TWU Staff, TWU’s Circle of Grandmothers, A’Gin Youth Initiative and community members who volunteered their time to make this all happen. We thank our partner local organizations for supporting the event: NM Acequia Association represented by Miguel Santistevan, who was also a founding member of Spanapalooza and a member of the Seed Sovereignty Alliance, Northern New Mexico College represented by Richard Sedillo and students, Life Link represented by Adan Baca, a local poet, Barrios Undios represented by Lupe Salazar and her family, and Israel Francisco Haros Lopez and crew with Water Hummingbird House.

Thanks to Tru GarciaButter Garcia and Crew for always supporting the cause. Thank you to Northern New Mexico CollegeNew Mexico Acequia AssociationThe Life LinkBarrios Unidos NM, Local Artists: Unek FrancisAnthony Soekhuwa Pin Romero, Forrest, Carmella, Melody, Felix A Rodriguez and his partner, Israel Francisco Haros Lopez & Emily Ewings, to ALL the volunteers who came out and handled the food, made runs for us, handled the kids space and helped with all the details in bringing it all together & many more people! There were so many community members who contributed to make this happen! We do this for the Young People and the Community – this is for you.

Everyone showed up, which is the most important part of it all, and created space for young people to see their work and the hope we all have in the community.

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Kuunda woha / thank you!