Ruckus on the Rio
Ruckus on the Rio
Help re-invent the Rio Grande as a binational performance space for Mexican and U.S. artists and entertainers.
Help re-invent the Rio Grande as a binational performance space for Mexican and U.S. artists and entertainers. Read more
About this project
Help build infrastructure & a program that showcases enduring relationships between the U.S. and Mexico, replacing stereotypes with events that promote cultural exchange, recreation and education on our shared international border.
Legal justification for our work
Article VII of the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which ended the Mexican-American War, states, "...navigation shall be free and common to the citizens of both countries."
As long as they are floating on the river, musicians, actors or speakers are all technically "navigating", and can perform for (or with) people on the U.S. shore.
Why this project is needed.
Tourism to border towns like Nuevo Laredo has plummeted since the outbreak of narco-violence around ten years ago. Few people have suffered as visibly as the street musicians of Nuevo Laredo.
"It takes a month to earn what we used to earn in a weekend," says Juan Martell, from El Cielo Norteño, who plays in the video.
That's Juan paddling, on the day he reunited with friends, one year after they'd staged a riverside "Posada Norteña" for an audience that included U.S. Border Patrol, to demonstrate how the river belongs to everyone, and how cross-border exchange can restore lost connections.
More importantly, creating performance venues on the river challenges deeply ingrained misconceptions of the region that permit some to contemplate construction of a border wall.
(Click here to see results of a decade-long study drawing on data from 1400 police departments which concludes that U.S. border cities are among the safest in the nation).
Laredo is the perfect place to demonstrate how direct experience can trump rumor and television news, and lead to a future where both nations take full advantage of the river that is their shared resource.
The critical infrastructure to begin this process is a lightweight aluminum modular stage that can be transported between sites we have identified for binational events at half a dozen cities along the Lower Rio Gran de (the wooden stage used in the Posada Norteńa was a wooden prototype, disassembled three years ago).
Materials and construction of the stage is a one-time expense, and accounts for a large portion of our $39,000 budget. Insurance, transportation, consultant's fees, purchase of a used truck and trailer, and the cost to film and produce a video of the October 9 event at Laredo/Nuevo Laredo account for the rest.
Subsequent events at other sister cities will cost less than $10,000, and will be funded by host cities and private entities who represent the principal beneficiaries.
But we need the Kickstarter community to pay for this first one in Laredo.
We start in Laredo because of our history working there, because of the presence of a small natural amphitheater on the U.S. side of the border, and because the proximity of the Tex-Mex Railroad Bridge, the oldest trestle crossing into Mexico, provides a backdrop that symbolizes inter-dependence between nations.
The program for our first October 9 "Ruckus" includes music, food, recreation and culture.
- Music will be provided by a double brass quintet, comprised of musicians from Laredo and Nuevo Laredo, performing "A Little Bridge Music", scored by Laredo-born George Saenz, a graduate of the Berklee School of Music and trombonist with multiple grammy-award winner Lila Downs.
- Nuevo Laredo-based Laberintus Teatro will perform "Cruzando Los Dias", their award-winning short play about emigration and lost love on the Border.
- Historical tours of surrounding St. Peters District, Fort MacIntosh and Nuevo Laredo neighborhoods. will be provided by the Webb County Historical Commission
- Vendors on the Mexican shore will provide food. Transport to the vendors will be provided via kayak and paddle raft, captained by Laredo and Nuevo Laredo city lifeguards trained by Jaime Wright of Xaman Expeditions.
- Mexican Canoe Federation and U.S. Canoe and Kayak Association paddlers will compete in head-to-head sprints on the river.
- For the benefit of other sister cities, filmmaker Miguel Garcia will direct LISD student cameramen in documenting how the cities of Laredo and Nuevo Laredo work together to stage this paradigm-shifting event.
Coming 4 weeks prior to the U.S. general election, the event offers a timely opportunity to sponsor reasoned discussion of immigration and border security issues. Performance sites have been scouted at multiple sister cities along the lower 400 miles of the Rio Grande. Each locale, provides an opportunity for artists and entertainers from both sides of the border to perform together in safe, beautiful and utterly unique settings on the banks of the Rio Grande.
Help the world discover a Rio Grande few know about, a river that's a haven for endangered, threatened, and listed species, a potential venue for international dialogue … and a great place to party when the sun goes down.
Partners in this effort include cities, non-profit organizations, champion kayak racers from the United States and Mexico ... and you. Check out our rewards page, and see what we offer you for becoming part of this historic effort.
See you in Laredo!
Risks and challenges
Skepticism and disbelief are the initial reactions of many when they hear what we're doing. (Including locals are victims of the media hype about the danger of the river as much as anyone.) We overcome their objections with a virtual avalanche of media that attests to our collective experience conducting thousands of people on Rio Grande kayak tours, (see our Facebook page, "Kayaking Laredo") along with multiple binational races (Google "Los Caminos del Rio" "Big River Foundation" and "Rio Grande") as well as even more unlikely events (for information about our floating binational wedding packages, see www.bigriverprojects.us)
All of our activities are undertaken in accordance with the law and in regular communication with U.S. officials: No one entering a boat from the Mexican shore can set foot on U.S. soil. Anyone who leaves the U.S. shore and sets foot in Mexico has to return through a formal port of entry.
Any event involving water is inherently risky, of course, and to assure safety for all involved, on both sides of the river, we will have City of Laredo and City of Nuevo Laredo lifeguards, trained in river rescue as part of our program, present throughout the event.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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