Milpas On the Move: By Sharon Byrne
Continuing on with my favorite season, Autumn, there are some great things going on in the community. You can certainly participate without having to live or work in the Milpas area. We take all comers and welcome you as honorary Milpaserenos!
Check these out:
Light Up The Night – Illuminado de Noche – Milpas
We’re heading into the darkest time of the year, when days are short and nights are long. If you’re a bicyclist on the street after 5 PM, you’ll be biking in the dark. On unlighted streets like Gutierrez, that’s super dangerous unless you’re lit up like a power plant. So Bici Centro, a wonderful Eastside neighbor, is giving out lights and safety manuals to low-income cyclists in the area to make them more visible at night time. It’s free, and geared for Spanish speakers. They’re looking for volunteers. Speaking Spanish is not necessary, as they’ve got solid bilingual team leads.
The program runs 5 nights:
Milpas – Nov 3rd
Carpinteria- Nov 4th
Old Town Goleta Nov 5th
Westside- Nov 6th
Milpas Nov- 7th
For more info, go to www.bicicentro.org.
Day of the Dead – November 2nd:
1. Casa de la Guerra – 11 AM – 4 PM – Benefit for Adelente Charter School
2. Casa de la Raza. 5-10 PM.
One of the best things about America as a nation of immigrants is the importation of culture that broadens us, and expands our possibilities as a nation. The melting pot has its sweet spots, certainly. It’s also the American way to innovate and re-invent traditions from the Old Country (whichever one yours happens to be). When my parents grew up long ago in the north of England, All Hallows’ Eve was decidedly not fun. It has a history in the British Isles as the night when evil spirits walk the earth. Better lock up your farm animals and bar the door. In contrast, we Americans dress up little children as the things that go bump in the night, and send them out to get treats. Make fun of what scares you, and play with the dark side, rather than fear it. Brilliant.
Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, my all-time favorite holiday imported from Mexico, has a similar connotation. Don’t think zombies and graveyards. Day of the Dead is a day to get out pictures and keepsakes of relatives that have passed, put them on an altar, inviting them to be part of the family again, celebrating them with family and friends. Death is presented not as something sad, or to be feared, but to be embraced, as a part of life.
Adelente Charter School’s celebration of Dia de los Muertos at la Casa de la Guerra downtown features food, music, art and dance. I’ve seen some of the children’s art going into the event, produced by the Incredible Children’s Art Network, and it’s gorgeous. This is a fundraiser for the school, and should be a lot of fun for families.
The evening celebration at la Casa de la Raza is a stunning array of community, light, and life. The altars the Casa staff puts together are breathtakingly beautiful. It’s one of their best events, and before you ask, no you don’t need to speak Spanish or bring your passport for admission. Their doors are open to all, as a Mexican cultural heritage organization, and they want you to come in. Really. They are very warm and welcoming.
If that isn’t enough, let me further tempt you: they have great food at the event, and a bustling Mercado where you can get all kinds of cool Day of the Dead items.