Dia de los Muertos
Helping a Community Heal
“Young people in our community needed a way to remember those that have passed” explains Natalie Pohley. “In 2014, our community lost so many kids. It placed our remaining youth at risk, of suicide and other destructive behavior. The cultural tradition for Dia de Los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a very healing and positive way to bring youth and adults together to honor our ancestors and people close to our hearts who have passed on.”

Marigolds, top, are the traditional symbolic flower for the Day. Above, Stan Padilla is one of the leaders for the event.

This partially explains why Natalie Pohley and Rocky Zapata accepted local artist Stan Padilla’s offer to develop the annual festival. Held every year at the cusp of October and November, the event hosts a variety of traditional activities including cultural education, crafts, altar construction, poetry, music and light refreshments.

The Bigger Picture
Dia de Los Muertos is also part of the couple’s nine-year-old “Hip Hop Congress” program. Supported by the county and other community grants, the activities use music, art and hip hop culture to bring a community of all ages and backgrounds together in positive and meaningful ways.

You may already be aware of some of their programs, which include:
• Growing Peace Camp, held in the summer, for kids 5-18 years old;
• The Annual Earth Day Festival;
• Fourth Friday Open Mic Night at the General Gomez Center.

Hand made treasures and food are left as gifts of honor to those who have passed on.

To learn more about this valuable community asset, please visit auburnhiphopcongress.strikingly.com/

Photos by Rocky Zapata

Rebecca Martinez
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