We Are Melrose (WAM) Street Festival

WE ARE BACK! And we have a date: Saturday, June 11, 2022 ~ 12pm-5:30pm.

After a two-year dormant period due to the Covid-19 Pandemic, Nos Quedamos is delighted to announce that its annual community-wide celebration, WE ARE MELROSE (WAM) Street Festival, is making a much-anticipated return on Saturday, June 11th from 12pm until 5:30pm! (observing all mandated and precautionary health & safety protocols, of course). This year’s theme is “Healing and Resiliency.” The festival will take place at East 160th Street between Melrose & Elton Avenues, adjacent to Yolanda García Park (named after Nos Quedamos’ founder). We will also be celebrating Nos Quedamos’ 29th anniversary!

As you can imagine, we couldn’t be happier than to showcase the best cultural ambassadors of the Bronx in a multitude of LIVE in-person entertainment genres from dancing, music, spoken word and poetry, performing arts and more in the heart of the South Bronx: MELROSE COMMONS. The event is a family-friendly gathering with lots for everyone to enjoy, including organized game-play, face-painting, raffles, as well as a dynamic culturally grounded story-telling session geared to younger audiences and family. In addition, numerous service providers will be tabling to share a wealth of relevant and timely resources throughout the day from health to housing, and more (including give-aways and swag). Download the hour-by-hour event schedule HERE.

One of the capstones of this festive and diverse multi-cultural celebration is Nos Quedamos’ annual HARVESTING CULTURE AWARDS that celebrate Community, Culture & Commitment.

These awards recognize the bountiful accomplishments of Bronx pioneers and stakeholders who have made positive contributions to the well-being and forward development of Melrose Commons and South Bronx. This year we recognize 8 dynamic, community-minded champions across a spectrum of vocations and commitments, including an emerging voice making an impact. Read more about the awards and 2022 recipients HERE.

Check out our 2022 WAM Commemorative Poster and the Artist.

Click to download poster (PDF).

LAURA ALVÁREZ is an award-winning illustrator, author,  designer, visual artist, muralist, community activist and educator. She was born in Valencia, Spain and studied Fine Arts in Spain and England. In NYC, she juggles her city job, her artist career, and her commitment to her Bronx community. She has been a teaching artist with several organizations and city agencies.

She is the Co-Founder, Vice-President and COO of BxArts Factory, a non profit organization whose mission is to make art accessible to everyone in the Bronx. The organization believes everyone has the ability to tap into and engage their creative capacity. Her mantra: “Everyone is an artist.”

More about Laura: Instagram | lauralvarez.com

Artist Laura Alvárez.

People Financial Power and Fun Family Recreation

Thanks to our partners at the Lower East Side People’s Federal Credit Union and the NYC Department of Parks (Bronx) we will have two dynamic mobile vans providing two valuable kinds of resources: information and technical assistance toward your financial freedom that takes our day-to-day realities into account from the ground up, and a fully-loaded gym/playground on wheels with organized activities from physical competitive and retro game-play such as soccer and jump-rope to challenging skill-sets like board games, chess/checkers, among others. Something for the whole family to enjoy and bond!

Remembering Nos Quedamos' co-founder, Rafael Negrón: 4/4/34-5/13/22

“Rafael has made a difference in so many lives through his leadership as co-founder of Nos Quedamos and beyond. I’m grateful and humbled to have been able to stand on the wide shoulders of their work. May he Rest In Peace. Sending healing prayers and comforting hugs to his family. I am so sorry for the loss.” — Jessica Clemente, Chief Executive Officer, We Stay/Nos Quedamos, Inc.

Nos Quedamos will take a moment of silence in Rafael’s honor at 3:50pm. His family will be in attendance.

WAM CULTURAL PERFORMANCES (lineup in formation)

MazArte Dance Company

MAZARTE DANCE COMPANY is inspired by traditional Mexican dances and brings its folklore back to life, combining dance, research and indigenous art. Our work honors the cultural vastness of Mexico as they embody the fusion of Mexico’s old and new as part of Mazarte’s mission to preserve these dances for the community and generations to come. MazArte endeavors to create a union between dance, research and indigenous art to promote our Mexican cultural heritage, bring history to life and produce educational programs to our communities. We want to expand cultural awareness and an appreciation that will nurture diversity and inclusivity.

More about MazArte Dance Company

MazArte Dance Company. Photo: Ed Álvarez (@inthebx)

BombaYo & Dr. Drum

BOMBAYO ignites the ancestral rhythms of Bomba, an African derived music and dance tradition developed in Puerto Rico. The synergy of call and response singing, drumming and dance provide the foundation for a dynamic interplay between the solo drummer and dancer.In the spirit of Sankofa—looking to your past for a better future—BombaYo members draw from the bomba tradition to enrich their lives and embrace their cultural legacy. Through workshops, cultural presentations, performances and partnerships, BombaYo engages communities throughout NYC area to raise awareness of Afro Puerto Rican culture and to connect Bomba to the vast traditions of the African Diaspora.

More about BombaYo

BombaYo.

Chief Joseph Chatoyer Dance Company

CHIEF JOSEPH CHATOYER DANCE COMPANY is committed to showcase Garifuna culture with an educational experience that involves drumming, singing and dancing as a means of preserving and raising awareness about our cultural heritage, language, history, and multiple-task dance forms.

The Garifuna folkloric ballet company was founded in February 2009 in New York City with eight members, and named to honor the legacy of a brave Garifuna men who fought fearlessly against the European influence in defense of our territories in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and received a positive and overwhelming reception from our Garifuna community, especially from the younger generations who embraced our traditions as a connecting point to its related historical and cultural legacy. The founders understood the importance that tangible cultural heritage is not the cultural manifestation itself but rather the wealth of knowledge and skills that is transmitted through it from one generation to the next. The South Bronx represents one of the largest converging points of the Garifuna diaspora.

Chief Joseph Chatoyer Dance Company.

POETRY: JESÚS "PAPOLETO" MELÉNDEZ

JESÚS “PAPOLETO” MELÉNDEZ, also known as “Papo”, or “Papoleto”, (born June 13, 1950) is a New York-born Puerto Rican poet, playwright, teacher, and activist. He is a member of the Nuyorican Movement. He grew up during the Civil Rights Movement, Black Power movement, and the emergence of the Nuyorican Movement in East Harlem. His titles include the play The Junkies Stole the Clock (1974), and Hey Yo/Yo Soy! 40 Years of Nuyorican Street Poetry.

His honors include a fellowship from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the Louis Reyes Rivera Lifetime Achievement Award, an Artist for Community Enrichment Award from the Bronx Council on the Arts, and a joint fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and Combined Arts of San Diego. Melendez lives in New York City.

Melendez’s poetry collections include Casting Long Shadows (1970), Street Poetry & Other Poems (1972), Concertos on Market Street (1993), and the bilingual volume Hey Yo! Yo Soy! 40 Years of Nuyorican Street Poetry: The Collected Work of Jesús Papoleto Melendez (2012, volume 1). His work is also featured in Nuyorican Poetry: An Anthology of Puerto Rican Words and Feeling (1975, edited by Miguel Algarin and Miguel Pinero), Bum Rush the Page: A Def Poetry Jam (2001, edited by Tony Medina and Louis Reyes Rivera), and The Norton Anthology of Latino Literature (2011, edited by Edna Acosta-Belén, Harold Augenbraum, María Herrera-Sobek, Rolando Hinojosa, and Gustavo Pérez Firmat). His play “The Junkies Stole the Clock,” was produced by Joseph Papp’s Public Theatre, New York Shakespeare Festival’s Nuyorican Playwrights’ Unit.

More about Papoleto: Instagram

BOOK READING: KARLA MAYENBEER CRUZ

"The Adventures of Pepita Morales at City Hall: The Fight to Save el Jardin"

The Adventures of Pepita Morales at City Hall: The Fight to Save el Jardín is a warmhearted and enthusiastic story that follows Councilwoman Pepita Morales on her journey to save a beloved community garden from being destroyed. This dynamic story introduces children to social themes such as political organizing and community building, while also reflecting a strong and positive representation of the Latinx community. Pepita Morales is a strong and caring female protagonist that is a leader to her community and relatable to young girls and boys of Latin American and Caribbean background.

KARLA MAYENBEER CRUZ was born in Venezuela and grew up in Queens, New York. She graduated from John Jay College of Criminal Justice with a degree in English Literature and minor in Political Science. Karla has over 10 years of experience in political activism and organizing, which allows her to write stories for her young readers that show the value in creating community and taking up space by amplifying unique and diverse voices. With her debut children’s book, The Adventures of Pepita Morales at City Hall: The Fight to Save el Jardin, Karla is ready to challenge the status quo and create a space for Latinx children to feel seen and heard.

More about Karla: Instagram | kmayenbeercruz.com 

POETRY: URAYOÁN NOEL

URAYOÁN NOEL is a translator, poet, and critic who is the author of a dozen books, including Transversal (University of Arizona Press), a New York Public Library Book of the Year, In Visible Movement: Nuyorican Poetry from the Sixties to Slam (University of Iowa Press), winner of the LASA Latino Studies Book Award, and Nicole Cecilia Delgado’s forthcoming islas adyacentes/adjacent islands (Ugly Duckling Presse). Noel’s books have been named finalists or semifinalists for the National Translation Award, the Best Translated Book Award, the PEN America Literary Awards, and the Modern Language Association book prizes.

His international performances include Poesiefestival Berlin, Barcelona Poesia, and the Toronto Biennial of Art, and his work has been exhibited at the Museum of the City of New York and the Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico. Originally from Río Piedras, Puerto Rico, Noel lives in the Bronx and teaches at New York University as well as at Stetson University’s MFA of the Americas, and he serves on the board of the Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural and Educational Center.

More about Urayoán: Instagram | urayoannoel.com

COOKING DEMO: RAMON PÉREZ

Utilizing Succulents from Traditional Community Garden Harvests

Celebrity chef Ramon Pérez (Havana Cafe) will be conducting a hands-on cooking demonstration utilizing items traditionally harvested in Melrose’s regional community gardens, from a custom recipe that can be easily replicated at home by attendees for their family.

Chef Ramon will be joined by members of Nos Quedamos’ Environmental Justice Youth Team to discuss their resiliency and green-space work in Melrose Commons and related tie-ins (see below).

Sponsored by Havana Cafe.

About our sponsor HAVANA CAFE: The first and best “Cuban” Restaurant & lounge in the Bronx. Est. 2010.

RESILIENCY UPDATE: ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE YOUTH TEAM

Youth Envronmental Justice Team.

THE ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE YOUTH TEAM is a leadership development program which teaches the youth about community organizing. What does it mean, what are some examples, and then putting it into practice. The way they put it into practice is by using the existing space of a rooftop garden where community led conversations can take place to address issues such as green space access, food insecurity, and air quality while promoting the priority of health and wellness. 

Our goal with the Youth Leadership Development Project is to cultivate a youth base for Nos Quedamos and ensure that we are prepared to build on and promote the legacy of community-led change and empowerment into the future.

Sponsored by  Hispanic Federation, Institute for Resilient Communities, NYU Future Labs, Levitt Foundation, New York Foundation, North Star Fund.

The garden network will act as a base for organizing the community toward policies that center community health and food justice in the South Bronx, with young people leading the charge and engaging their friends, families, and neighbors in dynamic programming. The gardens will allow us to address vital community needs, while increasing the capacity of young organizers to get involved in our larger campaigns.

The Youth Leadership Development Project will bring the voices of youth and young adults into our work and empower them to effectively educate and organize their peers, family, and neighbors towards food and environmental justice for Melrose. With this project, it will allow us to build our youth base needed to pass the baton forward to a new generation of community leaders. In addition, our activation of gardens and local parks aims towards the big-picture goal of increasing the self-sufficiency of our community by creating access to quality, healthy food and fresh fruits and vegetables that we plant and cultivate ourselves.

Listen to our stories: nosquedamos.org/youth-voices-matter

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WE ARE MELROSE - In The News (2018, 2019)