Things That Matter

The Pink Seesaws Along The U.S.-Mexico Border Won Design of the Year For 2020

For many years now, when you think of the U.S.-Mexico border, you think of the families torn apart by cruel and inhumane immigration policies and of kids and families being thrown into cages.

One artist tried to highlight the cruelty happening at the border, while also providing local children with a happy distraction, through an art installation at the border zone between El Paso, TX and Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua.

Now, that art installation is gaining international recognition for its aim to bring together a physically divided community.

Pink seesaws installed along the U.S.-Mexico border have won a prestigious design award.

The collection of bright pink seesaws placed along the border wall between a section of El Paso and Ciudad Juárez is being recognized for its importance. The art installation/children’s playground that allowed people to interact through the border wall has won the prestigious Design of the Year award, with its creators saying they hoped the work encourages people to build bridges between communities.

The Teeter Totter Wall, which bridged across El Paso in Texas and Ciudad Juárez in Chihuahua during a 40-minute session, was described as not only feeling “symbolically important” but also highlighting “the possibility of things” by the judging panel.

Original story published July, 25, 2019:

Lately, when you think of the U.S-Mexico border, you think of the children being kept in cages, of migrant folks being kept in unthinkable conditions in detention prisons, and you think of the possible construction of Donald Trump’s beloved wall–among other negative connotations that the border brings. Then there are times when heartwarming images and scenes from the border show that despite the weaponization of the border, we’re still connected to one another in many ways. 

Architect and artist Ronald Rael designed and installed pink seesaws at the border for children from the United States and Mexico to play together.

The art installation, “Teeter-Totter Wall,” was created by Rael, an architecture professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and Virginia San Fratello, an associate professor of design at San Jose State University.

The custom-built seesaws were placed on both sides of the steel border fence that separates the U.S. and Mexico. The artist called it “one of the most incredible experiences of his career” in a post he shared on Instagram. 

About a decade ago, both Rael and San Fratello had designed the concept for the seesaw at the border for a book titled “Borderwall as Architecture.” Now, the drawings became a reality. 

Despite the negative headlines that dominate the news cycle every day, it’s refreshing to see artists like Ronald Rael use their platform and creativity to spark positivity and strengthen our sense of community. 

“The wall became a literal fulcrum for U.S.-Mexico relations and children and adults were connected in meaningful ways on both sides with the recognition that the actions that take place on one side have a direct consequence on the other side,” Rael wrote in his Instagram caption. Rael also gave a shoutout to the team who helped make this powerful art installation a reality in Cuidad Juárez, Mexico.

CNN also points out that the New Mexico town is also where a militia detained migrants in April (the ACLU called it a kidnapping), and where a private group began building its own border wall with the use of millions donated to a GoFundMe campaign. 

Last week, the Supreme Court also gave Trump a victory in his fight for the construction of a wall along the border. Further, the Supreme Court allowed the administration to use $2.5 billion in military funds for it. 

Despite all of the negative news surrounding the border, it was a different scene there on Monday near the Sunland Park stretch. Instead, it showed a heartwarming and lighter scene compared to what we’ve recently seen.

The art installation that this artist created is also meant to serve as a reminder. A reminder that “we are connected” and “what happens on one side impacts the other.”

The pink seesaws showed people from both sides of the border coming together in a unifying act. Children and adults alike on U.S soil were recorded playing with children from the other side. These light-hearted scenes from the border make one for if only a second forget the actual reality of it all. 

RAICES, a non-profit focusing on immigration legal services in Texas, shared on Twitter that “Art is such a powerful vehicle for change”

In the past, other scenes of art installations at the border have made rounds. For example, The Guardian notes the time when an architectural practice in Mexico designed a pink interpretation of Trump’s border wall. 

Claudia Tristán, the Director of Latinx Messaging for 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke also praised the art installation for the message it spread. 

“The symbolism of the seesaw is just magical,” she wrote in a tweet. “A #Border fence will not keep us from our neighbors.”

The video of architect and artist Ronald Rael that’s also making rounds on social media shows him saying that the seesaw that there are still “good relations the people of Mexico and the United States.” Therefore, the seesaw can portray that we are “equal” and the wall, he says, cuts those relationships between us. 

Ultimately, it is important to remember that with or without the U.S.-Mexico border, much of this land belonged to and will always belong to Native Americans.

We need to remember that the homelands of tribes including the Kumeyaay, Pai, Cocopah, O’odham, Yaqui, Apache and Kickapoo peoples were all split into two by the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and the 1853 Gadsen Purchase–which is what makes up modern-day California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas

So while it is important to highlight the positive and humanizing images on the U.S.-Mexico border when we can, we should also be mindful of the indigenous communities to which this land belongs to. 

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NFTs: What Are They And What To Do With Them

Things That Matter

NFTs: What Are They And What To Do With Them

ROSLAN RAHMAN / AFP via Getty Images

Non Fungible Tokens, or NFTs, have been all over the news lately. The latest version of digital currency is having a moment as everyone gets in on the craze. Here’s a quick breakdown on what they are, how you can get one, and what to do with them.

The world is buzzing about non-fungible tokens.

NFTs are the latest craze in digital currency. Superficially, it looks no different than buy art digitally. NFTs are unlike other forms of cryptocurrency in that they are blockchain-based assets. People are able to exchange Bitcoins with other Bitcoins or equivalent amounts in other digital currency. This is not the case for NFTs. NFTs are unique to themselves. This gives people the chance to own a specific token.

The owner of the digital image can then resell the image for a profit or a loss based on the future of the market. This means that the NFT you buy today could bring in a big profit or a breathtaking loss.

There is a lot of concern about the environmental impact creating the NFT community is causing. According to The New York Times, studies are showing that creating digital art to sell as NFTs is creating large carbon footprints that are negatively impacting the environment. Some in the community are looking for a solution while others think there is no changing the environmental impact.

There is still a lot of debate about how NFTs really work.

There is one explanation that is going viral on Twitter and has caused a whole discussion about what NFTs really are and how they are valued. Like all sellable items, NFTs get their value from supply and demand. Their irreproducibility adds to their value because it is a unique item that only you own, much like a piece of art.

The first high-profile piece of art to sell as an NFT was Mike Winkelmann’s “Everydays: The First 5000 Days.” Winkelmann, also known as the digital artist Beeple, created a new piece of art every day for more than 13 years. The collage of these pieces of work sold by Christie’s for $69,346,250. The buyer was Vignesh Sundaresan, the founder of the Metapurse NFT project.

Yet, it is important to know that buying an NFT gives you ownership of the art, not the copyright.

“I think that people don’t understand that when you buy, you have the token [or NFT]. You can display the token and show you own the token, but, you don’t own the copyright,” Winkelmann, told CNBC Make It.

NFTs are part of the Ethereum blockchain.

As the popularity of NFTs continues to spike, so does the value of Ethereum. This means that if you want to get serious about the NFT investments you are seeing, you should consider getting yourself some Ethereum.

You can set up an account on Coinbase to start buying Ethereum if you are interested in joining in on the craze. Coinbase is a digital space where you can trade cryptocurrency.

If you want to get more into NFTs, check out mitú’s NFTs on OpenSea.

mitú is offering three different NFTs of the beloved Guacardo. The animated avocado is being sold in three “Lord of the Rings” inspired images. The bidding starts at 0.1 Ethereums (about $27). You can see the images on the mitú OpenSea page where the bidding has begun.

READ: Do You Combine Finances With Your Spouse? Latinas Answered!

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Even Though He Couldn’t Cross The Border, This Abuelo Sang ‘Las Mañanitas’ To His Grandson From Across The Rio Grande

Things That Matter

Even Though He Couldn’t Cross The Border, This Abuelo Sang ‘Las Mañanitas’ To His Grandson From Across The Rio Grande

GUILLERMO ARIAS/AFP via Getty Images

Since the very beginning of the pandemic, we’ve been overwhelmed with stories about people being kept apart by the virus. But despite the challenges that so many of us have faced during this pandemic, we find a way to make things work. And that’s exactly what this grandfather (who lives near the U.S-Mexico border) did to make sure that we was able to spend time with his grandson as he celebrated his 4th birthday.

Thanks to travel restrictions they couldn’t be together but they found a way to celebrate.

A heartwarming video is trending on Mexican social media showing a grandfather making his way to the U.S.-Mexico border to wish his four-year-old grandson a happy birthday. Although they couldn’t be together because of travel restrictions thanks to COVID-19, the grandfather managed to sing the traditional Mexican birthday song Las Mañanitas to his grandson, who listened from the other side of the Rio Grande in Piedras Negras, Coahuila.

The user who uploaded the video to YouTube identified the man as Isidro González and his grandson as Santiago.

With microphone, keyboard and speakers in Eagle Pass, Texas, Grandpa asks about his grandson. “Santiago, where are you? He raises his hand” and the video shows Santi. “I love you. I love you very much ”, you can hear the grandfather shouting and the grandson replies that he does too.

“Congratulations, Santiago. He is turning 4 years old ”, says the grandfather and the singing begins.

For many families residing in Eagle Pass and Piedras Negras, the pandemic restrictions imposed by the United States have meant they cannot cross the border to see family. González did not let that stop him from wishing his grandson a very happy birthday.

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