The City Magazine June 2023

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June 2023

EL PASO/LAS CRUCES magazine

FASHION · HEALTH · lifestyle

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

Shelley Mozelle | shelley@thecitymagazineelp.com

EDITORIAL

Senior Editor

Erin Coulehan | erin@thecitymagazineelp.com

GRAPHIC

Editorial Design

Ernie Sanchez Creative | ernie@thecitymagazineelp.com

Graphic Designer

Maggie Blum | maggie@thecitymagazineelp.com

ADVERTISING

Associate Publisher / Director of Sales

Chaz Wilson | chaz@thecitymagazineelp.com

Operations Manager

Mari Van Pelt | mari@thecitymagazineelp.com

Account Executives

Megan Langford | megan@thecitymagazineelp.com

Omar Samaniego | omar@thecitymagazineelp.com

Veronica Nevarez | veronica@thecitymagazineelp.com

ASSISTANT

Editor-In-Chief Assistant

Amber Lanahan | info@thecitymagazineelp.com

HOW TO REACH US

415 East Yandell El Paso, Texas 79902 (915) 225-0265 | info@thecitymagazineelp.com

Cover Design By: Ernie Sanchez Creative

Letters addressed to The City El Paso Magazine become the property of the magazine, and it owns all rights to their use. Letters may be edited for space. All rights to the contents of this magazine are owned in full by the magazine and may not be reproduced in whole or in part without written permission from the Editor in Chief. Views expressed herein are those of the authors and advertisers and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the ownership or management of the magazine.

All rights reserved.

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From the

ne of my favorite books – by one of my favorite authors – was inspired by El Paso and the apocalypse. According to legend, Cormac McCarthy returned to the Sun City after a long visit with his son in Ireland and was moved to write the awardwinning dystopian novel that’s as haunting as it is hopeful.

The story takes place after the end of civilization as we know it, with the two main characters called “The Man” and “The Boy” because names -- identities -- no longer matter. Despite the desolation, The Man instills duty, integrity, and resilience in The Boy, termed “carrying the fire.”

“The good guys carry the fire,” says The Man. “The bad guys don’t.”

This month, we’re excited to shine a light on some of the good guys in El Paso who are doing their part to carry the fire in their respective industries.

From taquerias and animated film, to indie rock and tech, the men in these pages are fueling a better future.

For example, it’s virtually impossible to travel from one site of the city to the other without passing by an In*Situ Architecture project. Bill and Edgar of In*Situ -- our cover stars -have transformed El Paso while preserving the historical integrity of iconic buildings. Their vision for the future, love of their craft, and lively partnership are inspiring other business professionals to dream bigger and rethink their expectations of El Paso.

Let’s go, boys.

In this issue you’ll get to know El Paso’s own “Masa Master,” interviewed by Claudia Flores, who is raising awareness on Indigenous methods of making tortillas by preserving the craft and educating the community.

You’ll also read about the coalescence of language and tech, in Amber Lanahan’s story, that is adapting education and apprenticeship to contemporary circumstances for students.

Plus! We have a one-on-one with FitFam!

I’m not often nervous or starstruck about interviews, but felt like I was talking to the mastermind behind Gossip Girl or getting to know the wizard behind the curtain in Oz during our phone conversation -- it was so cool. What I learned is that El Paso continues to be a community where the people care about each other (and also love a little bit of gossip, but who doesn’t?).

This issue was created during a crazier-thannormal time in the magazine as we navigated leadership transitions alongside moving offices. We’re a very woman-driven team, but relied heavily on our guys -- Chaz WIlson, Omar, Samaniego and Ernie Sanchez -- to keep the whole team (and magazine) moving forward.

May we all continue to carry the fire.

12 June 2023
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Erin COULEHAN Senior Editor Megan MEHL Jade Rachelle CARRASCO Dr. Ogechika ALOZIE Sergio OLIVAS Amber LANAHAN Jose SOTO Stephanie AMERENA Contributors Claudia FLORES Jordan LICON
www.thecitymagazineelp.com 17 June 2023 JUNE 2023 VOLUME 111 contents Features Here and Now 28 From Napkins to Reality By: STEPHANIE AMERENA 102 ‘The Weird Kidz’ Take Pride in El Paso By: JOSE SOTO 68 Inside In*Situ Architecture By: ERIN COULEHAN 22 The Lust Frontier By: MEGAN MEHL 112 The Scene 18 Hygiene for Your Health By: DR. OGECHIKA ALOZIE MD MPH 102 68 28

Health Hygiene for your

June 2023 18
| By: OGECHIKA K ALOZIE MD MPH |

Acan not only avoid becoming ill, but also ways to enhance our health and improve the overall quality of life. It’s easier said than done, but the promotion of health awareness is key. We can save a lot of lives by focusing on preventable health problems and encouraging early detection screenings for diseases like cancer, heart disease, and depression. At the very least, address them as soon as possible.

To take care of your mind, body, and soul all year long, it is essential to practice regular self-care. You can talk to a physician or clinician who can guide you through the process of engaging in self-care and hygiene routines that include physical activity, skin care, sleep, mental health, and sexual health.

Alcohol health effects are connected more to the benefit of our social circles than the alcohol itself, although some studies cite red wine as a positive health benefit. TLDR - If you are drinking, drinking with friends, social circles bring more benefits than alcohol on its own!

By moisturizing your skin through massages, facials, and daily applications, you are helping to protect your skin’s natural moisture barrier, especially in a warm, dry environment.

Don’t have a skincare routine?

Start with a simple routine that includes:

• Cleanse twice a day to remove dirt, sweat, products, and bacteria

complexion that also prevents breakouts

• Moisturize after cleansing to preserve natural moisture levels

• Practice safe sun by applying mineral sunscreen -- even on cloudy days

We often talk about the medical side of health but not enough about mental health. You should think about your mental health and ask yourself what makes you happy: people, places, things. As you go on your life journey, I believe the closer you get to those things that make you happy, the longer you’ll live.

The importance of sleep for both physical and mental health cannot be overstated. In fact, there is data to support that practicing good sleep hygiene can

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positively impact productivity while also making a person happier.

Dr. Merrill Mitler, a sleep expert and neuroscientist at the National Institute of Health, explains that “Sleep services all aspects of our body in one way or another: molecular, energy balance, as well as intellectual function, alertness, and mood.”

Sleep affects almost every tissue in the body, which means that getting enough sleep is crucial to healthy mental and physical function.

Research suggests that lack of sleep can increase a person’s risk for obesity, heart disease, and other infections. Insert doom music since I don’t sleep great!

June 2023

You can improve your sleep hygiene with these tips:

• Go to bed around the same time each night and wake up around the same time each morning (yes, even on weekends)

• Sleep in a dark, quiet, safe, and comfortable space

• Make sure to exercise daily but not right before bed

• Limit electronic use a few hours before bed

• Avoid alcohol and stimulants like caffeine late in the day

In thinking about hygiene routines, we should also devote the same consistency to mental health hygiene. We should actively work to protect our mental health like we commit time to brushing our teeth twice a day.

Taking care of your mental health is crucial because it also has physical benefits. Stress hormones like cortisol can lead to several adverse health impacts, reports a 2020 article published in the journal “The Physiological Society.”

Having a mental health hygiene routine can improve emotional regulation, which a 2016 study published in the “Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews” reports can bolster resilience in older adults.

A relaxation/stress reduction routine can help set the pace for a good day and reduce stress.

To improve your mental health hygiene, try the following:

• Practice positive self-talk

• Drink eight glasses of water a day

• Take social media or technology breaks

• Spend time with your loved ones

• Set bills to automatic payments

• Set goals and choose one to focus on

• Write a gratitude list

Say “no” to activities you don’t enjoy or don’t want to engage in Now to the fun stuff.

Quick footnote: Learning to say “no” is a critical part of global health that many of us have learned quite a long time ago. This doesn’t imply being rude or mean, but an understanding of one’s limits and engaging socially when happy is critical to getting the most benefits of socialization.

If you are sexually active, sexual health is an essential component of physical and emotional health and should also have a hygiene routine.

To have a safe and enjoyable sex life, one suggestion is to create a sexual hygiene checklist:

• Obtain consent from a partner

• Test regularly for STIs

• Wear condoms

• Use proper cleansing products

• Check in with your emotions

• Determine your sexual values

So there you have it! Ways to improve your health this summer. Hope you enjoy every moment. Take time for yourself and cherish your family, friends, and moments. That’s what makes life worth living!

21
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Mastering the Game
Love The Lust FrontieR

or the men’s issue, I wanted to explore the masculine topics of power, dominance, control, and competition in romance. Namely, how important is it to have the upper hand in a relationship? And how does fighting for control serve us in achieving our goals in love?

All relationships are a balancing act: give and take, feminine and masculine, yin and yang. In a perfect world, should a couple strive for equal footing in a romantic relationship? Maybe an imbalance of power is what makes love so captivating and exhilarating in the first place, the game of cat and mouse, the uncertainty and excitement.*

In most partnerships, the balance shifts over time as the relationship progresses through various stages like courtship, sex, commitment, marriage, and parenting. Power transfers easily with changing circumstances.

ego in an instant. I would guess that it’s actually more about our own desire and insecurity. We all want what we can’t have.

It’s possible that, as humans, we are programmed to chase after people who are so biologically desirable that they have countless options for mates, making them statistically more likely to reject us. I hate arguments about our biological impulses because they don’t make any sense in the context of our world today, where we are seeking more than offspring. You won’t find me chasing after some macho guy with a bunch of baby mamas.

I refuse to believe that everyone in the dating pool is indifferent. If that were the case, you wouldn’t be reading this!

a chip on our shoulder and the walls around our hearts are a little higher. Maybe it’s impossible for us to resist the games, because despite being a species wired for companionship, our old traumas and the fear of getting hurt are also deeply ingrained in our psyche.

For example, imagine two attractive, successful people in their mid-thirties, both equally great catches. Both have been unsuccessful in love, but they both deeply desire marriage and children. However, Partner A has a lingering case of Peter Pan syndrome,

I’ve heard it said that the power in a relationship resides with the person who cares less. But why on Earth would apathy register as sexy to us? People who are truly uninterested are not doing it for power, they -- by definition -- care very little about what the other person thinks. But they have the ability to completely crush another person’s

This leads me to believe that we’re all out there faking it and trying to play it cool, at least in part. We follow prescribed “rules” about how long to wait before texting, how many dates before sex, how to achieve the right balance of showing enough interest but not too much interest. We are unwilling to show our hand because there’s a fine line between showing too much and showing too little.

When we’re young, dumb, and don’t know any better, games are common. We’re still figuring out what we want and what we can get away with. But as we get older and live with the heartbreak from past experiences, maybe there’s more to it than that. We carry

which prevents them from fully committing. Whenever they develop feelings for someone (or when someone tries to tie them down), they engage in the relationship but start feeling suffocated as emotional intimacy deepens. This triggers their instinct to push the other person away. There could be many reasons for this behavior, but it’s common enough that most people reading this will recognize this tendency as one of their own or something they’ve experienced in dating.

Now consider this situation from the other person’s point of view. Partner A pursued them and demonstrated interest through their actions, making Partner B feel desired and

www.thecitymagazineelp.com 23 June 2023
F

acknowledged. This validation is like a drug. They go on several dates, enjoy each other’s company, and may even become intimate. Then, suddenly, Partner A shuts down and begins to retreat. Naturally, Partner B takes it personally, especially since nothing significant happened to trigger such a drastic change. The more Partner A pulls away, the more Partner B feels compelled to chase them.

The thing is, they’re both afraid of the same thing: that they aren’t good enough.

Partner A is too scared to let someone get close for fear of rejection, which they may disguise as not wanting to be tied down. Partner A’s rejection confirms Partner B’s greatest fears about being unlovable. Because Partner A is the one to withdraw, they appear to be the one with the power. But how powerful is someone who is too scared to pursue what they truly want in life? If Person A can keep sleeping around

forever, never revealing their heart to anyone, maybe that feels safer and creates a false sense of control. They may even convince themselves that if they just find the right person, they can keep things surface level forever and never have to take responsibility for anyone else’s emotions, much less their own.

According to attachment theory, these two types of people are drawn to one another like moths to a flame. Though both people want to find love, they have different defense mechanisms stemming from their upbringing or past relationships. Maybe it’s as simple as that – some people play defense with their hearts while others play offense.

In our society, we equate emotional detachment with power. But if you’re all alone and craving genuine human connection, no number of one-night stands will fill that

June 2023
The Lust Frontier Special Events Art Exhibits Concerts Parties Films And MORE Find out about: CHeck us out! learn more at: thecitymagazineelp.com/calendar Contact Mari VanPelt at mari@thecitymagazineelp.com Trying to add events? 915.225.0265 Locally Owned & The most up-to-date calendar in El Paso CALENDAR POST YOUR EVENT ON OUR CALENDAR!

void inside of you. Please don’t mistake this for judgment – I would never judge someone for their chosen lifestyle as long as it’s what they really want and they are transparent with their partners. I just believe it’s a pattern that emerges as a response to pain, and breaking free from it can be challenging. When we try to avoid pain, we often perpetuate it for ourselves and hurt others in the process.

Power is a delicate dance, and no two individuals will ever wield it equally. We all have our own strengths, desires, and contributions to bring to a relationship. I have a feeling that the closer two people can come to balancing that power, the more successful and secure their relationship will be. Balanced power stems from both partners being equally vulnerable and putting in equal effort. It’s built on mutual trust.

For those of us who are single, there is much to gain by breaking old patterns and taking the biggest gamble of all – letting our guard down and allowing our authentic selves to be seen. If you’ve ever been in love, you understand why they call it “falling.” Control is an illusion, especially in love. It’s a game that cannot be mastered until you surrender.

*Just a quick note that extreme power imbalances such as relationships involving emotional or physical abuse, substance abuse, or coercion are not part of this discussion. If you or someone you know is involved in a dangerous or abusive relationship, please seek support through the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233.

June 2023 The Lust Frontier

Meet Michael Kelly, PhD PdNHF’s Vice President of Programs

Dr. Kelly brings 24 years of expertise in population health to the Paso del Norte Health Foundation. Supported by the Health Foundation’s Board, talented staff, and many community partners, he manages a comprehensive initiative to strengthen diabetes prevention and management resources. His passion for diabetes prevention and management stems from his personal experience with diabetes. Having received his own diagnosis in his 20s, shortly after completing a Ph.D. in Health Education, fuels his passion for promoting healthy behaviors, medication adherence, and leveraging scientific data to help individuals manage diabetes. The Paso del Norte region grapples with high rates of diabetes, with approximately 11% of El Paso adults diagnosed and an additional 3.4% undiagnosed with diabetes, according to the CDC.

He is grateful to work with community organizations, like Project Vida and NMSU Extension Service, which offer prevention programs for pre-diabetes patients. Likewise, Dr. Kelly oversees grants for NMSU, UTEP, Texas A&M Colonias, and Juárez partners that manage diabetes management efforts offered by promotoras. He also collaborates with El Paso Children’s Hospital on the Empower Program for overweight children and Texas Tech Dental School for a diabetes screening program. Finally, Dr. Kelly oversees funded programs from UTEP that evaluate programs and PHIX to gather and manage diabetes medical data.

In collaboration with community partners, the El Paso Center for Diabetes, a medical advisory group, and members of the Diabetes Alliance, Dr. Kelly, and a marketing team spearheaded a compelling health communication campaign. Diabetes Now What? Signs and Symptoms provides a free and confidential online diabetes type 2 risk test. This test not only helps individuals connect with medical providers but also provides personalized suggestions for managing diabetes effectively.

As June ushers in men’s health awareness month, Dr. Kelly humbly challenges men across the region to take the free risk test by scanning the QR code below.

www.thecitymagazineelp.com
DiabetesNowWhat.org

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June 2023

El Beso Taqueria R

From Napkins to Reality

ight next to the notorious Little Bit of Texas is a little hidden bit of El Paso greeting customers new and old with a chorus of Topo Chico bottles spelling out the word “TACO” in the front window. This invitation of culinary delight comes from Raul Almanza’s dream turned reality, El Beso Taqueria.

Almanza’s love for the culinary arts and dream of owning his own restaurant has been with him since high school. While he had wanted to pursue that dream, he did not want to leave his home of El Paso behind. So, for the time being, he shifted his focus to corporate business. However, that idea and that passion never left him.

The dream for El Beso Taqueria began in 2015 when he began planning the concept from the back of napkins that built upon itself piece by piece. Much of his inspiration came from within his own family and heritage.

Starting with his father who had his own El Beso Taqueria 30 years ago and how he kept one of the main focuses on his grandfather’s carnitas recipe. Beyond that, the name Beso Taqueria comes from how his grandfather was from Guanajuato, Mexico and lived near the “Callejon del Beso” or Alley of the Kiss.

When asked if that was the only reason for the name, Almanza explained it also comes from the fact that when you bend down to take that first bite of a fresh taco it’s in the same motion a person would make to lean in for that perfect first kiss.

The building itself called to Almanza when he found it by chance and saw it had all the makings of a restaurant already built within its walls. The foundation was there and when he drew more concepts on another napkin with his contractor, the contractor said this was one of the most fun projects

29 www.thecitymagazineelp.com
“Hecho a Mano” June 2023

he has ever worked on. In January of 2023, El Beso Taqueria’s doors opened. Despite the struggles and uncertainty from the pandemic, El Beso Taqueria was able to survive and thrive.

The first steps into El Beso Taqueria radiate with each paint stroke on any available wall. Almanza painted his passion on the walls with phrases like, “Infiel En La Dieta. Nunca En El Amors” or “Unos Besos O Que? Tacos De A Beso.” Each made by hand with a personal touch and a story. This lively personality is seasoned throughout the restaurant and even makes its way into the kitchen with “Made in Chinga” proudly printed on the stove vents. The Mexican glass soda bottles, luchador masks, fortune birds with notes like “Every day is a new opportunity to grow and change,” and the other pieces of art provide a sense of novelty while also providing a calming and fun atmosphere.

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Nurturing the concept of casual romanticism, Almanza ensured that his restaurant would be a place where you can enjoy a first date, second date, or anniversary in a less stressful environment. Rather than being nervous at an overly expensive restaurant, someone could enjoy the food and talk about what they see in the restaurant without realizing time is passing. Even the WiFi sign, “No Hay Wai Fai Platiquen Entre Ustedes,” reminds the customers that you do not need WiFi to enjoy the company you are with.

The El Beso Taqueria team, including Almanza himself, follows the motto of “Hecho a Mano” as they are at the restaurant and in the kitchen early in the morning to ensure the high standards of the marinated meat and the fragrant herbs that are cut to proper quantities. The handmade touch doesn’t stop at the main dishes as they also mix the agua frescas and even the refreshing paletas that give a blast of summer nostalgia at the first soft bite.

The tacos themselves continue the casual vibe where each customer can pick the different meats in their tacos. Unlike most taquerias, there is no fear of commitment when it comes to choosing flavorful meats. Even with the vegan option. While the recipes are from family, the ingredients are resourced from local vendors. This is the case with everything on the menu including their signature creation, the Quesabirria Picsa. A 12-inch flour tortilla birria taco, with a generous cup of the “healing” birria dip ready at the center of the pizza cut slices. When asked what his favorite item is on the menu, Almanza said, “It’s hard to pick a favorite child. They are all so good.”

Expansion can be in the future depending on customer demand since Almanza loves to hear feedback from his community and loves to see the impact he has in any small way. The brand itself has expanded in certain

June 2023
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ways when he sees El Pasoans wear El Beso Taqueria merchandise on the street. With ideas always flowing, Almanza designs shirts, hats, and post cards that are rotated and have exclusive releases. With his constant engagement with El Paso, Almanza plans special give aways on special occasions and holidays. For example, on Mother’s Day they gave out flowers for each customer to give to their mothers or mother figures.

As one to never settle for stagnation and complacency, Almanza keeps up with what is new in the culinary world and continues

to build his dream one detail at a time to enhance the experience further.

When asked what he would want readers to know about the restaurant Almanza said, “It’s a little spot that people need to come to see at least once so they can know what’s hidden in this corner of El Paso.”

When asked what he would want the readers to know about him Almanza said, “I put myself into the business so I think that’s where the focus should stay.”

www.thecitymagazineelp.com 31
OVER 2000 RUGS FROM EVERY REGION OF PERSIA A room without a rug is like a kiss without a hug 915-842-8414 6600 North Mesa Suite 404, El Paso, Texas 79912 eppersianrug.com Stop by for a cup of tea and browse Repairing Cleaning Padding

Men In Business Profiles

some of El Paso’s most hard working men in business. In the pages that follow, you’ll get to know industry leaders who work to keep the local economy thriving, define the future of their respective industries, and generate plenty of business buzz around town.
Meet
SPECIAL ADVERTISING | 33 Photographed by: SERGIO OLIVAS Ray Borrego 522 W San Fransisco Ave. El Paso, TX 79901 rayborrego@rayborregoregroup.com

What is your specialty?

Customer solutions with a strength in new home client services. Providing a seamless client journey in all aspects to guide their financial investment and create a long term real estate solution through our services.

What distinguishes you as a business/business owner?

Our collaborative approach of catering to each client experience from applying our 13 plus years experience in new home real estate services. Our achievement last year in helping over 400 families get into a new home profoundly resonates with our committment to help all families achieve their goals for a new dream home.

34 | SPECIAL ADVERTISING
OLIVAS
Photographed by: SERGIO

Ray Borrego

522 W San Fransisco Ave. El Paso, TX 79901

rayborrego@rayborregoregroup.com

Why should readers turn to you for your needs?

Our 13 years of experience has allowed us to see and feel a lot of our El Paso real estate market shift, and enables us to offer more to our clients as they embark on a life changing transaction. Our approach allows us to guide and comfort our clients in all aspects involved in the purchase or sell of a home before they even get started.

What do you love most about what you do?

Our endless connection with people, and working as a team to help our families achieve their goal of home ownership Our team philosophy allows us to deliver on our people skills and consumer understanding, and enables us to work in an industry that fosters our expertise. We bring value, undertanding, and clarity to help navigate the current volatile market conditions.

SPECIAL ADVERTISING | 35 Photographed by: SERGIO OLIVAS
Photographed by: SERGIO OLIVAS 36 | SPECIAL ADVERTISING & THE BERKeLEY 317 E Mills Avenue (915) 234-2863 berkeleylounge.com THE Davenport 140 Montecillo Blvd, Suite C1 (915) 234-2704 davenportsocialclub.com

THE DAVENPORT AND THE BERKELEY

What is your specialty?

At The Berkeley Lounge and The Davenport Social Club, we strive to bring upscale luxury nightlife to our guests. At both establishments, we try to cater to an older more sophisticated crowd with five-star service in an ultra-lux environment.

What distinguishes you as a business owner?

As business owners, we treat everyone who walks thru our doors as guests in our home

Why should our readers turn to you for their needs?

Without community support, creating Berkeley or Davenport would not have been possible. Whether our guests are looking for a new hip date spot, group celebration, or private party, we encourage new guests to stop by and enjoy a handcrafted cocktail with a great vibe carefully curated by our team.

Why do you live, work and love El Paso?

We love the hometown feel, the friendliness of El Pasoans and Juarenses, and of course the weather!

What do you love most about what you do?

Being a business owner definitely has its challenges, but working with such great people and my amazing team is priceless! Also, being a part of every aspect of the process from creative direction to networking and customer service, is rewarding in itself.

Photographed by: SERGIO OLIVAS SPECIAL ADVERTISING | 37
by: SERGIO OLIVAS 38 | SPECIAL ADVERTISING
Photographed

1122 Montana Ave. El Paso, Texas 79902 915-307-5796

www.aapsychiatry.com

What is your specialty?

Psychiatry Specializing in Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation for adolescents and adults.

What distinguishes you as a business / business owner?

Born and raised here with the mission of bringing the most up to date treatments in psychiatry to El Paso. Specializing in Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation treatments utilizing neural navigation & EEGs.

Why should readers turn to you for their needs? Patients will receive the most up to date treatment options, receive a comprehensive evaluation with psychological, neuropsychiatric and EEG to properly diagnose and develop a treatment plan.

Why do you live and work in El Paso?

My roots are here, I love El Paso and am proud of our community. I want to continuously enhance psychiatric care so El Pasoans do not feel they have to go out of town for care.

What do you love the most about what you do?

The ability to help others feel better about themselves and improve their ability to function. My job is very rewarding when patients express their appreciation for changing their lives.

Photographed by: SERGIO OLIVAS Alfredo H. Arellano PMHCNS-BC, PA El Paso TMS
SPECIAL ADVERTISING | 39

Borderland Bail Bonds

425 Myrtle Ave, El Paso, TX 79901 (915) 542-1911

Borderlandbailbonds.com

40 | SPECIAL ADVERTISING
Photographed by: SERGIO OLIVAS

Borderland Bail Bonds

425 Myrtle Ave, El Paso, TX 79901 (915) 542-1911

Borderlandbailbonds.com

What is your specialty?

Borderland Bail Bonds has been serving El Paso for over 25 years. We specialize in commercial bail bonds.

What distinguishes you as a business / business owner?

IMy work ethic and that of my staff is something we don’t take lightly, we put our clients first. Being the best in the industry is something I strive for each and every day.

Why should readers turn to you for their needs?

From experience and exceptional customer service, myself and my staff offer our clients outstanding knowledge in this industry, That is what makes us the best in this industry.

Why do you live and work in El Paso?

I was born and raised here in the borderland. El Paso is so unique in itself and our people are amazing. I truly can’t think of a better place to offer my exceptional service.

What do you love most about what you do?

I love helping people and the satisfaction of them being relieved of having their loved ones out of jail as soon as possible.

SPECIAL ADVERTISING | 41 Photographed by: SERGIO OLIVAS
42 | SPECIAL ADVERTISING Photographed by: SERGIO OLIVAS Alloy Wheel Repair Specialists (915) 261-3913 call or text 4652 Osborne Dr El Paso, TX 79922 awrswheelrepair.com

What is your specialty?

Wheel and Industrial Powder Coating, Wheel Refinishing, Wheel Remanufacturing, Curb Rash Repair, Wheel Straightening, Cracked Wheel Repair, OEM Wheel Replacement, Wholesale Wheel Repair, Wheel Paint

What distinguishes you as a business / business owner?

Locally owned and operated since 2009. Our team is passionate about providing each customer with superior service and highquality results. We understand your vehicle is an integral part of your life.

Why should readers turn to you for their needs?

We understand that your vehicle is an integral part of your life and work, and our wheel repair and wheel refinishing services will ensure that the wheels on your vehicle are safe.

Why do you live and work in El Paso?

My wife Melissa and I moved to El Paso in 2002. I was involved in my family’s tire business. What was intended to be a short stay (1-2 years) turned into 20 plus and counting! El Paso has been a wonderful place for us to raise our family of 3 kids. El Paso is large in population, but has a small town feel when it comes to networking and business. We have enjoyed our time in this city and plan to stay for several more years to come. As El Paso continues to grow our business we will also continue to give back!

What do you love the most about what you do?

What I love most about my industry is its always changing. We continue to adapt and find new ways to offer our customers superb quality and service.

SPECIAL ADVERTISING | 43 Photographed by: SERGIO OLIVAS
Alloy Wheel Repair Specialists

Chauffeur Service Limousines

David Andrez Herrera

David Mark Herrera

(915) 494-5555

(915) 637-8737

(915) 253-0552

6501 Boeing Suite J El Paso, TX 79925

cslimousines.com

cslimousines@aol.com

Clean, comfortable, convenient, and affordable modern sedans, vans, SUVs, sprinter vans, buses, mini buses, and limousines. Coach Buses from 27 to 50 passenger range, and Mercedes Sprinter 15 passenger van.

44 | SPECIAL ADVERTISING
Photos provided by Chauffeur Service Limousines

What is your specialty?

Clean, comfortable, convenient, and affordable modern sedans, vans, SUVs, sprinter vans, buses, mini buses, and limousines.

What distinguishes you as a business / business owner?

Collectively over 60 years of experience in the industry. CSL is the pinnacle of Black Car service. Services are offered throughout El Paso and Juarez, including the Southwest Reigon. Chauffers are licensed and bonded.

Chauffeur Service Limousines

David Andrez Herrera

David Mark Herrera

(915) 494-5555

(915) 637-8737

(915) 253-0552

6501 Boeing Suite J, El Paso, TX 79925

cslimousines.com

cslimousines@aol.com

Why should readers turn to you for their needs?

Chauffer Service prides themselves on being prompt and exceeding clients’ expectations. Vehicles are always immaculate.

Why do you choose to live and work in El Paso?

Chauffeur Service was created and is managed by lifetime El Paso natives. CSL supports local community organizations.

What do you love most about your job?

We are a part of the most important events, and help people make memories from key business meetings to family events.

SPECIAL ADVERTISING | 45
Photos provided by Chauffeur Service Limousines
46 | SPECIAL ADVERTISING Photographed by: SERGIO OLIVAS Moonlight Bar & Grill (915) 852-4136 16000 Ashford St. moonlightbargrill.com

What is your specialty?

Hard work is my specialty. I learned it from my family other firefighters and carry it as a firefighter and in business. Our burgers are high-quality, and our new brunch menu is a customer favorite.

What distinguishes you as a business owner?

My ambition, creativity, and unique vision, along with my amazing team and family, distinguish me as a business owner. They motivate me to be better and I’m passionate about what we do.

Why should readers turn to you for their needs?

I’m a young businessman with a drive to learn and improve. I’m hardworking and ambitious, striving to advance in my journey. I’m passionate about my business and succeeding and making my family proud.

Why do you live and work in El Paso?

El Paso is a city filled with endless opportunities for personal growth. I’m grateful to be living in a place that inspires me to pursue my dreams and achieve my goals.

What do you love most about your job?

I enjoy delivering memorable experiences for my customers, from delicious meals to great times with friends and family. My business pushes me to grow daily as a person and as a entrepreneur.

SPECIAL ADVERTISING | 47
Photographed by:SERGIO OLIVAS
Moonlight Bar & Grill
48 | SPECIAL ADVERTISING Photographed by: SERGIO OLIVAS La Estrella Meat Market 1810 George Dieter Dr. (915) 921-6643 12801 Edgemere Blvd (915) 307-6302 13700 Eastlake Blvd (915) 231-6613 965 Resler Dr. (915) 301-1564 108-120 N Festival Dr. (915) 307-7649 COMING JUNE 2023 North East: 11400-E Sean Haggerty Dr. East Far East Horizon West Mesa Hills

What is your specialty?

At La Estrella Meat Market we specialize in marinated quality cuts, and everything for your cookout needs.

What distinguishes you as a business?

Our customer service and customer satisfaction can be our greatest distinction as a business as we are one out of many meat markets in el paso.

Why should readers turn to you for their needs?

This year, we set a goal and are looking forward to expanding our meat markets to the Northeast side of El Paso, located on 11400 E. San Haggerty, suite 501. We are also really excited to announce that we will be certifying with the State Of Texas as a Meat Processor that will enable us to sell processed meat to the

public at our warehouse location 5548 El Paso Dr. All of these projects wouldn’t be possible without the constant support from the beautiful city of El Paso!

Why do you choose to live and work in El Paso?

Our company currently only operates in El Paso because it is our home town where we grew up and prospered in. We have hopes of offering the La Estrella experience across the state in coming years!

What is the best part of your job?

The best part of my job is being able to show up as the leader of such a great staff and team that has helped us get to the platform that we have now.

SPECIAL ADVERTISING | 49
Photographed by: SERGIO OLIVAS
La Estrella Meat Market
50 | SPECIAL ADVERTISING Photographed by: SERGIO OLIVAS Eco Living Home Improvement 4727 Osborne, Suite A300 (915) 808-7876 Ecolivinghi.com Refrigerated Air • Artificial Turf • Windows • Professional Duct Cleaning • Roofing And More

What is your specialty?

Eco Living Home Improvement

Our speciality as a company is fulfilling our customers home improvements needs. We cover From the top to the bottom of the house, Our plan is to be a one stop shop for the families of El Paso.

What distinguishes you as a business?

Ecoliving distinguishes itself for its customer service, we are dedicated to being a reliable and trustworthy company, that will always have a solution for our customers.

Why should readers turn to you for their needs?

If El Paso Families are looking for a place where they can get all of their questions answered and all of their needs covered, Ecoliving is the right place. We are committed to being the best option in price, quality and customer service.

Why do you choose to live and work in El Paso?

It’s great working in El Paso. The people from this city are caring, loyal and just awesome. Its great to work with people that are well informed and prepared. Our city is one of a kind and we are extremely lucky to be part of this community.

What is the best part of your job?

The best part of our job is helping El Paso families with any needs. Being there for people that lost hope because of previous bad practices from contractors. It feels comforting to be a company that always follows through and is willing to go the extra mile.

SPECIAL ADVERTISING | 51
Photographed by: SERGIO OLIVAS

Austin Contreras, Texas Realtor

Keller Williams Realty

NRG Real Estate Group

License# 777676

RAustinC88@kw.com

(915) 256-7814

RAustinC88.kw.com

AustinContreras

aye_sizzle

52 | SPECIAL ADVERTISING
Photographed by: SERGIO OLIVAS

Austin Contreras, Texas Realtor

Keller Williams Realty

NRG Real Estate Group

License# 777676

RAustinC88@kw.com

(915) 256-7814

RAustinC88.kw.com

What is your specialty?

TX-Licensed Realtor, expert in locating dreamhomes & maximizing property sales. Exceptional choice for real estate needs driven by attention to detail, experience, integrity, & dedication to hard work

What distinguishes you as a business professional?

As a dedicated El Paso Realtor, I offer personalized service, extensive market knowledge, and cutting edge technology ensuring seamless, successful transactions tailored to client’s unique needs.

Why should readers turn to you for their needs?

As an El Paso native with deep roots in this city, I value delivering top real estate services and treat clients like family, reflecting our tight-knit community.

Why do you live and work in El Paso?

I love El Paso and have had the opportunity to represent this great city in many aspects including as an athlete, a teacher, a coach, and now as a real estate professional. I am proud of this city and as a realtor I can help others achieve the same dream of truly calling El Paso Home!

What do you love most about what you do?

I love fostering meaningful connections with clients, guiding them through crucial decision-making, leveraging market expertise, and ultimately witnessing the joy of finding their dream home.

SPECIAL ADVERTISING | 53 Photographed by: ???? SERGIO OLIVAS
aye_sizzle AustinContreras
54 | SPECIAL ADVERTISING Photographed by: SERGIO OLIVAS Longhorn Maintenance Heating & Cooling Inc. 14317 McMahon Ave. El Paso, TX 79928 (915) 852-7334 longhornairep.com

Longhorn Maintenance

Heating & Cooling Inc.

14317 McMahon Ave. El Paso, TX 79928

(915) 852-7334

longhornairep.com

What is your specialty?

Top notch residential and commercial HVAC services and sheet metal fabrication, I serve our community as a mechanical contractor who is highly reputable for providing excellent service in El Paso for over 30 years.

What distinguishes you as a business professional?

I grew up in this industry alongside my father and he instilled hard work and customer loyalty in me. I have never let his lessons leave my mission for excellence here at Longhorn Maintenance Heating and Cooling.

Why should readers turn to you for their needs?

We are very highly rated, our customers come first. We deliver top quality products in a timely manner, have over 10,000 hours of combined expertise, and provide innovative heating and cooling solutions and personalized service.

Why do you live and work in El Paso?

I was born and raised here, I love El Paso and its amazing people. My family has served this amazing community for over 30 years, and we are excited to serve El Paso for another 30 plus years to come!

What is the best part of your job?

I’ve enjoyed working side by side with my father, and take great pleasure in building relationships with new clients, while nurturing my existing clients. Mutually rewarding partnerships is our goal.

SPECIAL ADVERTISING | 55 Photographed by: SERGIO OLIVAS

Silas Baca, EXP Realty

915-497-3398

1218 E Yandell St. El Paso TX 79902

silasbaca.exprealty.com

What is your specialty?

I specialize in providing expert advice and helping my clients navigate through the process of buying and selling Residential, Farm/Ranch, and Commercial Real Estate here in El Paso and across Texas.

What distinguishes you as a business / business owner?

My military experience and attention to detail allow me to serve my client base at a higher level and meet their needs. Also, being a virtual brokerage and globally known gives us the upper hand.

Why should readers turn to you for their needs?

Readers should turn to me for their real estate needs because I can provide expertise in negotiations, mitigate risk, and build strong relationships with clients to ensure their needs are met.

Why do you live and work in El Paso?

I was born and raised here. After the military I moved back to a city with great culture and great hard working people, and this makes it a great city to work and live in. We love El Paso!

What do you love the most about what you do?

I love meeting new people and building a relationship with them. I also enjoy helping them either invest in their future with real estate, or find their dream home! It’s a blessing to see them excited!

56 | SPECIAL ADVERTISING Photographed by: SERGIO OLIVAS
cyrusadvanced

Vivabuilder.com

What is his specialty?

Dr. Jorge Almaraz has had a long journey within different industries facing different challenges of going through the ups and downs as most entrepreneurs go through all while growing his knowledge and expanding his area of expertise to build businesses of national impact. He has been an entrepreneur for over 29 years, with 21 years in the dental, credit, and finance world, plus 8 years in the financial services industry.

What distinguishes Dr. Almaraz as a business owner?

His entrepreneurial journey began in 2000 while attending dental school. He was introduced to mentors that would soon guide him into the financial world in 2007 where he acquired the expertise and the knowledge to venture into opening his own companies. His new venture was then developed into a successful software company named Credit Track, which has helped thousands of people throughout the United States. Credit Track’s mission is to offer entrepreneurs the opportunity to open their own business.

Why should readers turn to him for their needs?

In 2015, as the visionary and inquisitive person Dr. Almaraz is, he decided to expand on his knowledge and business experience and joined the financial services industry. Today, Viva builders is dedicated to helping people and building financial wealth through financial services products and systems. Viva Builders has become an excellent national platform to build entrepreneurs.

What do you love most about what you do?

My passion is to help people and put them on the right path. Collectively, I have helped thousands of people within these separate entities. As an entrepreneur, my mission is to inspire and motivate people not only in the United States, but internationally.

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Photographed by: SERGIO OLIVAS
Viva Builders
N Stanton St # 701
886-0331
416
(915)

Joe Loya

(915) 667-9533

breakingthecursellc.com

What is your specialty?

My specialty is helping people.

What distinguishes you?

In my opinion, what sets me apart from others is my honesty and transparency. I never try to “sell” you. I simply provide you with the information and education so that you can make the best decision for you, your family and your home.

Why should readers turn to you for their needs?

That’s simple. TRUST. You know that you can trust me to help you.

Why do you live and work in El Paso?

El Paso is HOME! I was born and raised here. The only time I was away from El Paso was my short stint in the U.S. Navy. I LOVE

Photographed by: SERGIO OLIVAS Joe Loya

O: (915) 747-6917

UTEP Engineering

What is your specialty?

My current position as Dean of Engineering is an intriguing combination of skill sets. My expertise lies in biomedical optics, sensors for healthcare, and novel materials. I also consider myself a successful instructor who enjoys exploring how to improve the learning experience for students.

What distinguishes you as a business professional?

I view leadership through the lens of service, and understand that education is centered on people and, therefore, people need to be at the center of all decisions. As a leader at UTEP, “people” refers not only to our students, staff and faculty but also to the larger community.

Why should readers turn to you for their needs?

I am a global citizen, and the additional experience of working in industry, government labs, and academia enables me to approach issues and solutions from a number of different directions. My experiences enable me to find distinct solutions.

Why do you live and work in El Paso?

I have never experienced such a bi-national, culturally vibrant city. With UTEP’s mission of inclusive access to education, I couldn’t be in a better position to help enrich students and the community.

What’s the best part of your job?

Students are the center of my professional world. Watching our students come to UTEP as freshmen and grow personally and professionally until they are ready to graduate and change the world is inspiring.

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engineeringutep
Photographed by: SERGIO OLIVAS

What is your specialty?

At CultureSpan Marketing we provide full-service marketing and advertising solutions for a multicultural audience. For over 40 years our agency has proudly served the Southwest with award winning creative and media strategies that get results.

What distinguishes you as a business?

As an agency that communicates with our community in both English and Spanish, we practice an approach called transcreation. Simple translations just won’t do, so we work to develop messaging that is culturally relevant, that way we are speaking with our audience and not at them.

Why should readers turn to you for their needs?

Our service mantra has helped us to remain a go-to agency in the region. That’s because we don’t have clients, we have partners. We see ourselves as an extension of their team, and we only succeed if they do.

Why do you live and work in El Paso?

El Paso is my hometown and I’m a UTEP graduate, so applying my skillset right here is very important to me. El Paso is a vibrant community going through a renaissance, and at CultureSpan we’re all about supporting and amplifying that.

What do you love most about what you do?

At CultureSpan we believe that Message Matters and I really internalize that credo. I have seen the positive impact that our marketing and advertising can have on the community, from supporting city initiatives to affecting improvements in public health. It’s amazing to be part of a team of changemakers.

culturespanmarketing.com 915.581.7900 SPECIAL ADVERTISING | 61
Toll Free: (855) 99KASTL or: (855) 995-2785 @kastllawpc KASTL LAW, P.C. kastllawpc Twenty years of fighting for our clients injured in car accidents. Passionately pursuing justice ♦Car Crashes ♦Truck Wrecks ♦Industrial Accidents ♦Slip-and-fall Accidents ♦Premises Liability Accidents ♦Catastrophic Injuries ♦Brain Injuries Office: (915) 765-6600 KASTLLAW.COM Time is crucial after an accident or injury. Do not hesitate to call today.

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For Chef Mateo Herrera, the art of cooking lies at the heart of ancient traditions and it’s for this Herrera seeks to preserve the authenticity of such methods when it comes to his business.

From turkey tamales to fresh handmade tortillas, Herrera seeks to share the value of these traditions in a new way with locals.

Herrera started in the kitchen at age 16 as a dishwasher. From there, his passion and fuel for food inspired him to pursue the field.

“I quickly started moving up and working with food, and just kind of fell in love with it,” Herrera says. “I noticed working in the kitchen was putting me through college and paying my bills. I loved going to work, the rush, the feel of it. I was good at it and kept climbing up the ladder.”

When in college, Herrera pursued an art major, a craft that would later be rediscovered through his passion for food. For Herrera, the art comes not only in the presentation of a plate, but also the work behind the scenes such as the preparation and sourcing of quality ingredients for his products.

One of the key elements is the freshness. According to Herrera, for the tortillas and tamales, he dedicates hours of his day to a process known as nixtamalization.

The traditional process consists of the maize preparation in which dried kernels are cooked and steeped in an alkaline solution, usually water and food grade lime. After draining the mix, the kernels are set to dry to form a dough which is the base for tortillas, tamales and other products.

“I consider my food to be art, in some ways and I’m not talking about all the fancy plates, I’m talking more of what it stands for,” Herrera

and try to highlight what we have here. There are a lot of local plants and animals that people have forgotten about. For thousands of years, we existed and the main difference was our connection with the land.”

Located on Indigenous lands, Herrera believes this place of origin holds great significance that is meant to be shared with the community. According to Herrera, acknowledging the connection between the land and what it has to offer is a mindset worth exploring.

Herrera, who is a single father, teaches his daughter about the land and caring for it. Together they embarked in the chef’s business, and according to Herrera,

www.thecitymagazineelp.com June 2023 65

teaching the younger generation to care for the planet is a value that starts at home.

“Everything we have, everything we need is given to us by the land and once you start working with it and see how much it offers, then you see the larger picture of what’s happening to the planet,” Herrera says. “If we don’t teach kids about the land, how are they going to grow and care for it? The more they learn about how our ancestors treated the planet, or used to make homes out of dirt, could help them learn to appreciate this land as well.”

For Herrera, the appreciation for this land translates into his project La Puerta del Sol, a business that was born during the pandemic to share his knowledge with others while building a business for his daughter.

The project’s name originates from the geographical borderline between Ciudad Juárez and El Paso.

June 2023
www.thecitymagazineelp.com
Masa Master in the Sun City

“We’re literally the borderline and it has always existed, it’s not a physical door, but people have always been crossing through this land for thousands of years even,” Herrera said. “It’s documented that this borderland area and parcel has been an important crosswind. It’s an invisible doorway in the land of the sun.”

Owning a restaurant was the dream of a lifetime for Hererra, and the chef reaches people in the community with his weekly and monthly tortilla subscriptions, workshops and other products through La Puerta del Sol. Herrera says this allows him to build a connection with those who are interested in his process, which is also an important factor for his business model.

“If someone doesn’t really understand what I’m giving to them, it feels a little wrong in my heart to make a transaction. So, one way of counteracting this is through the online subscription,” Herrera said. “I want to be your tortilla guy, but I also want to know you and your needs for tortillas. I want to be that guy who can provide a service but also get to know you. It’s hard to balance it out, and a bit unconventional, but is tied with what I believe.”

June 2023
68

Inside In*Situ Architecture

Architectural innovation is transforming the landscape and lifestyles of the El Paso community that is amplifying beauty, functionality, and legacy from streets to structures. El Paso’s human geography continues to evolve as the urbanization of neighborhood, like downtown, draw people out of their homes and into the heart of the city

In*Situ Architecture is a collaborative architectural practice led by William Helm, AIA, and Edgar Lopez, AIA, that is reshaping El Paso’s architectural footprint while also preserving historical integrity. Helm founded the practice in 2011 with a goal to set a new standard in contemporary design — and is succeeding. The practice is at the foundation (and forefront) of the community’s cultural renaissance, with a number of private and public structures designed to enhance the Borderland.

“In*situ Architecture is a vibrant local firm sensitive to the unique challenges of designing and building historical renovations. Jordan Foster Construction has partnered with Bill Helm and Edgar Lopez on numerous projects over the years, including the awardwinning Plaza Hotel Pioneer Park. We look forward to our continued partnership,” says Darren Woody, Chief Executive Officer of Jordan Foster Construction.

Under Helm’s and Lopez’s leadership, In*Situ is intentionally-diverse and offers specialized expertise from a variety of markets that work to complement El Paso’s existing geography and express the duo’s love of the community.

Helm, who has lived in El Paso for 25 years, appreciates the region’s unique environment and notes the juxtaposition with his childhood.

Editorial photography by JORDAN LICON

Additional photography provided by IN*SITU ARCHITECTURE |

“I grew up in northeast Indiana in a rural community on my grandfather’s farm,” says Helm. “It was an idyllic childhood; we could go out and run the farm all day. It was a different time, we’d spend 12 hours a day out playing on the farm, or in the woods and in the barns, and we didn’t have to worry about much. My mom was home with this all day long, every day. So that was wonderful.”

Both Helm and Lopez say they knew since childhood that architecture was their calling.

“I just like designing buildings. I started drawing rural farm buildings by just sketching them when I was in first grade. Just as I was

69 June 2023

sketching the buildings I saw around me, my first grade teacher, Mrs. Perry, looked over my shoulder and said, ‘What are you doing? Oh, you should think about architecture.’ So, like that it just stuck,” says Helm.

Early exposure to the work of architects like Frank Lloyd Wright and Louis Sullivan deepened Helm’s interest and certainty that architectural design was for him.

“My parents took us on a lot of road trips to visit friends elsewhere, and so I think from the age of like, 10, when we went to visit one of my dad’s good friends who lived in New York City, and then that did it for me. I fell in love with the urban environment and buildings and cities.”

Today, Helm is the principal in charge at In*Situ where he works hand-in-hand with

Lopez to make history by building a better city one project at a time.

“Our mission is to leave the city more beautiful than we found it for the next generation, and that’s what we’ve been busy doing for the last 10 years,” he says.

Lopez experienced a similar early calling to architecture from the other side of the border in Mexico.

“I’ve loved to build bridges and buildings since I was very little,” says Lopez, “and I would burn them because of pyromania,” he deadpans.

His father and others added tinder to his fire by discouraging his passion to become an architect.

“They would tell me, ‘You’re never going to make it! There are so many architects,’ so then it became a challenge,” says Lopez.

Lopez is In*Situ’s principal project architect, and has practiced with leading architectural firms in the United States and Mexico.

For both Helm and Lopez, El Paso is home and they continue their passion for making their mark on the community.

Helm left for graduate school in 2003 and returned in 2008 to co-manage another architecture office, which is when his and Lopez’s paths crossed through an introduction by mutual friends. They began studying for the Architectural Registration Exams together and as they studied began brainstorming the kind of architectural practice that they would like to form.

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Helm left for graduate school in 2003 and returned in 2008 to co-manage another architecture office, which is when his and Lopez’s paths crossed through an introduction by mutual friends. They began studying for the Architectural Registration Exams together and as they studied began brainstorming the kind of architectural practice that they would like to form.

“I left [El Paso] for Buffalo and that’s how I came full circle and then back to architecture. I just couldn’t shake architecture out of my blood,” says Helm. “It was a really good time for somebody, like myself, who already had

this predilection for historic architecture, and preservation, to jump into the middle of what was going on downtown.”

The Plaza Hotel’s historic renovation is testimony to the expertise and artistry that goes into In*Situ projects. Helm provided insight during the early phases of predevelopment, where he assisted in assembling the design team from across the country.

“Edgar and I really love practicing in El Paso as an architect here. I think it comes back to El Paso being a big city but with a small town feel, where everybody knows everybody and

you can very quickly have an impact if you choose to make your career here,” says Helm.

Today, it’s difficult to drive through the city without seeing a structure that In*Situ has touched.

“What I love about my profession,” says Lopez, “is that I can see myself when I drive through the city and know that I’m one of the reasons a building is there.”

In*Situ works on a number of public projects that expand and enhance the experience of the city for residents.

June 2023
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Lopez designed the Paseo de las Luces, a $6.4 million project along the southern corridor of El Paso Street that features Art Deco archways with strings of hanging lights.

“Edgar took really great design cues from the architecture of the street to develop and those archways became the centerpiece of the street,” says Helm. “It’s been really gratifying to see that it has become an icon; it’s all over social media and always gets featured. It’s become an identifier of the city itself.”

While Helm and Lopez don’t pick favorites when it comes to projects — “it’s like asking my favorite kid!,” Lopez says — both agree that the Westside Natatorium is very special.

The project was one of In*Situ’s first and was made possible through a 2012 Quality of Life bond after an extensive process that included advocacy efforts by local swim clubs who would be utilizing the aquatic complex.

“The biggest and most vocal community group were the users; it was the swimming clubs that had really pushed the projects,” says Helm of the pressure of making sure the In*Situ surpassed expectations.

In*Situ worked with the City of El Paso Museum and Cultural Affairs Department’s public art program and internationallyacclaimed artist and architect, Marc Fornes, to integrate a major work of public art into the architecture of the structure. The result is a work that frames the entrance of the building with a sculptural canopy called “Marquise.”

In*Situ was (and continues to be) lauded for the project, but Helm and Lopez agree that it’s the approval of the swim community that means the most and recall the first swim meet.

“To see the joy of the kids in the pool that day,” says Helm. “They had a facility that was not just a box over a pool. Instead, they ended up with this facility that has a grand

view of the mountain. We routinely receive comments — even to this day — that that’s people’s favorite place in the city to swim.”

In*Situ’s success is buttressed by the partnership between Helm and Edgar, a yin and yang relationship where each is strong individually and empowered by the other.

“We’ve created a space where, on a daily basis, people love to come to work because we create and we resolve problems. It’s stressful sometimes but I love it, and we work together so well because we are so different,” says Lopez. “Bill is businessoriented and I’m more into the design point — even though he is a really good designer and has a really good eye — but I think that’s how we complement each other.”

In*Situ is currently working on renovating The Kress Building, and celebrated the project’s groundbreaking in late Spring.

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Inside In*Situ Architecture
To see the joy of the kids in the pool that day, They had a facility that was not just a box over a pool. Instead, they ended up with this facility that has a grand view of the mountain. We routinely receive comments — even to this day — that that’s people’s favorite place in the city to swim.

“This is an incredible project which supports our vision for a vibrant and dynamic El Paso community,” said El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser. “I am excited to see the completed project of this historic building which will further the redevelopment of our city.”

The renovation of The Kress Building is made possible through a private-public collaboration between Foster’s Franklin Mountain Investments and the City of El Paso. In 2022, El Paso City Council authorized a performance dependent incentive up to $2,049,000 for the Kress Building’s redevelopment, while Foster invests $18.4 million in the project.

“I am extremely proud to see the official beginning of what will be one of the more complicated construction projects we’ve undertaken in Downtown El Paso,” said Foster, founder and Chief Executive Officer of Franklin Mountain Investments. “We look forward to bringing the iconic Kress Building back to life and preserving much of its original character and iconic look.”

The redevelopment and preservation of The Kress Building’s three levels is an extensive project that In*Situ can’t wait to bring to fruition, which includes a basement-level “grotto” style luxury spa that will connect

to The Plaza Hotel via underground tunnel. Additionally, The Kress Building’s first floor will revive the beloved original soda fountain and lunch counter, as well as a coffee shop, bar, multitude of culinary spaces, and more. The second floor will be available for private screenings, events, and entertainment.

“This building means so many different things to residents in our City, and it’s gratifying that we can help bring back some of those memories,” Foster added.

At In*Situ, Helm and Lopez are able to not only revive history but also set the foundation for the city’s future.

“This era of rebirth for downtown feels a bit like it must have felt for Henry Trost when his brother convinced Henry to move to the Sun City to make his mark in architecture here,” says Helm. “The opportunity for us is not unlike Trost’s — we could have worked anywhere in the world, but we made the choice to invest our life’s work in this city we love so much – knowing we can help take the city to the next level.”

“The work we create is not an ephemeral thing,” says Lopez. “That’s one reason we’re so excited about The Kress Building — to bring it back to life.”

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Max Villaronga: Guiding the Journey to Digital and Inclusive Banking

As President and CEO of Raiz Federal Credit Union, Max Villaronga leads the 87-year-old local financial institution dedicated to serving the El Paso community. Committed to fostering positive change, he guides Raiz’s team through their current digital transformation journey to empower members with innovative financial solutions while prioritizing diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Although not originally from El Paso, Villaronga was captivated by our border city’s distinctive binational and bicultural aspects. His desire to make a difference led him to Raiz Federal Credit Union. “I saw the potential to help more people and create a bigger impact in the community,” shared Villaronga, reflecting on his decision.

Raiz has emerged as a pioneer in digital banking by providing accessible platforms and innovative products to equip members with the right tools to navigate the financial landscape. Villaronga envisions the future of Raiz as a leading fintech credit union, creating high-paying jobs in El Paso and serving members through all stages of life.

Villaronga extends his heartfelt appreciation to those who have played a crucial role in Raiz’s extraordinary journey – the credit union’s staff and members. “It is their trust, feedback, and partnership that have fueled the credit union’s growth and success,” shares Villaronga. Grounded in the credit union philosophy of people helping people, Raiz continues to build an institution focused on making a positive impact.

In addition to the credit union’s active support of numerous non-profit causes, it also manages its own programs that aim to make a difference in the lives of those in need, notably those who have been underserved. Raiz prides itself in the work done to make DEIBA a cornerstone in the organization and the community. “I aim to cultivate a magnetic company culture that attracts some of the brightest and most engaged talents from across the country to El Paso. By utilizing the power of our collective skills and embodying the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion, we can genuinely transform lives and build a brighter future for El Paso.” Villaronga emphasized. Experience the possibilities that Raiz offers and embark on a journey toward your financial wellness at www.raiz.us

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June 2023 76

FITFAM PHENOMENON THE

The digital age has made it possible to vicariously experience life online and almost in real time. From crowning to cringe-inducing moments to crime, hundreds of thousands of El Pasoans keep up with local goings on through social media. Like the proverbial tree falling in the forest:

If something happened in El Paso that wasn’t posted on FitFam, did it really happen?

FitFam is a social media account with more than 300k followers that operates as El Paso’s unofficial (and anonymous) Instagram ombudsman. The account has evolved as a page for the local fitness community to a hybrid curated news and culture platform similar to Deux Moi.

Today, FitFam is the most popular Instagram account in El Paso and has a follower count of more than half the city’s population. The anonymous creators behind the account continue to work day jobs while remaining dedicated to posting content, often breaking major news and working with local broadcast journalists, law enforcement, and city officials to keep the community informed in real time.

The City Magazine reached out to FitFam for an on-the-record conversation about the phenomenon of the account and what it’s been like to watch it grow.

The City Magazine

FitFam has become a local cultural phenomenon and trusted resource, where did the inspiration to do this come from?

FitFam

My brother and I used to be really into fitness and bodybuilding. I started off probably eight

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ONE THING I CAN APPRECIATE ABOUT PEOPLE FROM THE BORDERLAND –ESPECIALLY IF YOU’VE GROWN UP HERE – IS THAT THEY KNOW LIFE ISN’T ALWAYS PRETTY. THERE’S SOME VERY DARK SIDES TO LIFE THAT A LOT OF PEOPLE GROWING UP HERE HAVE EXPERIENCED.

years ago, just as a totally fitness page to post fitness tips, memes, things of that nature -- but very light-hearted, very much more geared towards the gym audience. Then slowly, we started posting more happenings around the area, like events or funny videos that we thought were interesting. Followers would request that we post other things or suggest that we use our platform to put information out there since we had a growing audience.

TCM

What do you consider FitFam’s “industry” to be?

FF

I’ve never even thought about that. We’ve been labeled as some kind of information aggregator. That’s the best word I can think of, just an aggregator.

TCM

What have been some of the most memorable posts you’ve made?

FF

When the Cielo Vista Walmart shooting happened on August 3, 2019, I was fortunate

78 www.thecitymagazineelp.com June 2023 The FitFam Phenomenon

enough to hold a position at that time within the city government. Of course, during that day, there were a lot of rumors going around, a lot of official outlets putting things out. We were able to use our platform that day by posting officially verified information, dispel any rumors that were going on, and provide updated information. Typical news outlets are at the mercy of their editors and corporate, they were kind of delayed in information output. Luckily, we don’t have that kind of bureaucratic system that we have to adhere to.

You post so much, from the local high school student who earned the Amazon scholarship to hard news. How do you decide what to share?

FF I want to put news out there that really matters to the average El Pasoan. I ask myself questions like, “If I’m a regular person from the lower valley, am I going to find this funny? Is this relatable to me?” I pride myself on being from El Paso. Growing up from a pretty average background, I know that the average El Pasoan doesn’t want anything sugar coated. They don’t look for anything that doesn’t relate to their tax bracket.

TCM

Something I really admire is the way you’re able to really succinctly contextualize the news, and I think that’s one reason people are so receptive to it. What’s it like for you to go out and see people talking about the page and posting about it, then knowing you’re the mastermind behind it -- you’re behind the curtain like the Wizard of Oz.

FF

It’s cool, and not something that I realized. It’s so good to know that we have an effect, and a lot of it is positive, but it’s also kind

of scary sometimes because we post something or something that people don’t agree with or, you know, some people might have friends whose mug shots were up there and that effectively makes us a target.

I can’t hide behind a new station -- it’s just me. So it is kind of scary. So there’s good and bad. I like the fact that people look to the page as something relatable and reliable.

TCM

How do you protect your anonymity?

FF

I’ve never put my personal views into it, or talked about myself, or my experiences. I’m careful not to give away too much, especially as of late because the last two years have been very divisive.

TCM

You’re in the unique position of knowing El Paso better than almost anyone else at this point because of technology and social media. What do you think are some of the best and most special qualities about El Pasoans, and El Paso as a community?

FF

One thing I can appreciate about people from the Borderland -- especially if you’ve grown up here -- is that they know life isn’t always pretty. There’s some very dark sides to life that a lot of people growing up here have experienced. In El Paso, we don’t really believe in sugar coating or beating around the bush. People here are very direct and truthful. You’ll always get a straight answer.

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CONNECTING THE COMMUNITY Through Language & Technology

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Communication has never been more complex as modern society continues to evolve both language and technology at a rapid rate.

For those seeking to expand their knowledge of technology into a career or businesses looking to develop their IT department, look no further than El Paso’s own Language Acquisition Research Foundation. Spearheaded by CEO Barron White and Director of Technology Daniel Barlow after realizing a shortage of tech graduates completing their certifications or seeking better opportunities outside of the Sun City.

Together, this dynamic duo has created the only apprenticeship program of its type west of Lubbock.

“It initially started as language research.” says White. “I was headed in another direction looking at those with hearing disabilities and monolingual Spanish speakers within our district. I hadn’t seen places anywhere looking to accommodate those members of our community as a way of providing them with job training opportunities.”

White would reach out to Barlow, a bowling buddy and former Vista College professor to pick his brain on IT and teaching philosophy. With that conversation, the seedling that would grow to become the Language Acquisition Research Foundation (LARF) was planted.

Today, the mission of LARF is to develop, facilitate, and integrate language and technological processes into the community in order to advance and prepare people for future success.

White and Barlow came together with an insight into the world of teaching and technology to formulate an alternative to existing methods offered throughout the

region when it came to the education and certification of those aspiring to get into tech. They achieved this through two key factors.

The first is CompTIA, an internationally recognized nonprofit organization that sets the bar for the various careers inside tech, and their apprenticeship program. Unlike a standard internship, which leaves interns shuffling with busy work more often than not unpaid, White and Barlow’s apprenticeship grants their apprentices the chance to obtain on-the-job experience while said job offers them payment for hours worked and an opportunity for job security.

“We have a huge deficit of professional IT workers here in the community for a couple of reasons. The first being we don’t focus on certification,” states Barlow, “so students are paying to attend these schools to sit there. They manage to obtain their Associate’s degree, but without any certifications, they hit a brick wall.”

LARF’s Bilingual Pre-Apprenticeship/ Apprenticeship program opts not to implement a traditional GPA grading method for their apprentices to avoid prioritizing their apprentices studying to pass a final over taking the time to absorb the material they need to learn. In choosing to prioritize the certification of their apprentices, the apprentice works to understand the subject matter while obtaining a certificate attesting to their successful completion and comprehension of the material.

“The second reason current graduates have difficulty succeeding is the lack of experience.”, Barlow continues. “In the off chance these graduates do make it past the certification hurdle, the next thing these jobs are going to ask is if that graduate has any experience to back their degree. Once again, for many of these graduates, the answer will be a no, and once again, the door closes on that job opportunity.”

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DEVELOP FACILITATE INTEGRATE

LARF apprentices not only have the advanced lecture benefits provided by CompTIA, but through the foundation’s partnership with local businesses looking to cultivate their IT department, apprentices can gain field experience through a mentor’s guidance.

In doing so, by the time an apprentice obtains their Computer Support Certification, they would’ve already completed about 12 months’ worth of on-the-job experience.

A three-way contract between foundation, student, and business, LARF’s apprenticeship program allows students to obtain a practically free education. The foundation and the companies with whom they’ve partnered fund the apprentice’s education while working hand in hand with the student to offer training and mentorship.

Companies primarily serve to benefit from this partnership as they invest in

an apprentice who will come out of the program with not just their certification and on-the-site experience already in place but apprentices who come out of their training into a company whose inner workings they already know and are ready to work in.

This program especially assists businesses who seek potential staff through third-party sites such as Indeed, which charge their clients a service fee for providing them with candidates the company would need to invest the time to train (and quite possibly discover) is not a good fit. A LARF apprentice has worked with the company throughout their apprenticeship, so the company already has insight into that individual’s knowledge and work ethic.

Meeting with individuals within the VA advisory board, Borderplex Alliance, Region 19, and many others, LARF continues to work hard to spread the word about the benefits this

84 www.thecitymagazineelp.com Connecting the Community

apprenticeship program is set to have on the El Paso economy, from its pre-apprenticeships that works to extend the program into local high schools by offering students the opportunity to graduate with not just their diploma, but also with three weeks worth of training and an employer, to the boosting of the local economy by keeping trained IT specialists working for local business.

This program introduces a system into the city framework to strengthen IT certification, affordable training methods for potential employees, and enhance the staff retention rate for local businesses within the Borderland. The Language Acquisition Research Foundation is a group that strives to fulfill its mission statement. Develop, facilitate, and integrate language and technological processes into the community at large to advance and prepare individuals for future success.

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hen pro-golfer Arnold Palmer said that “concentration comes out of a combination of confidence and hunger,” he was talking about golf, but the axiom can be applied to other aspects of life -- and golf -- as two El Pasoans are changing the course of local sports apparel by integrating teamwork and the community into their endeavors.

Desert People Golf is a local apparel brand inspired by El Paso’s unique Southwest lifestyle, which celebrates the region’s multiculturalism that is influenced by life on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border. The brand was created in 2022 by Joel Martinez and Giovanni Peraza in an effort to provide locals with sartorial options for expressing El Paso pride and practicing safe sun on the golf course.

“We’re just two average golfers who play the game and love our city,” says Martinez. “We thought it would be nice to have a really cool hat to wear on the course.”

According to Martinez, he and Peraza first recognized an opportunity to launch their own brand after many afternoons spent at kids’ birthday parties that followed mornings on the course and noticed that many of the other dads were also dressed in big brand golf apparel.

Peraza suggested starting a local apparel company even though both he and Martinez had day jobs.

“I was like, ‘Look, you have your full time job. I have a full time job. It’s gonna be tough. But you know what? let’s give it a shot,’” Martinez says.

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Peraza began work on the logistics while Martinez utilized his skill as a graphic designer to tell the story of the region.

“Everything that we share here is just such a unique experience that we wanted to tell this story through our hats and for the designs; most are inspired by the game of golf,” says Martinez of

the collection that’s designed to pay homage to his and Peraza’s home.

The snapbacks are available for purchase online or in person at Perfect Swing 4 U and come in a variety of options that include five panel, netback, or a water-resistant mesh back. A few of the styles in the collection feature PVC patches that showcase local landmarks and symbols of the Sun City, while others boast a 3D embroidered logo with a printed pattern inspired by the desert on the panels and beneath the brim that are emblematic of the Borderland.

June 2023
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The Desert People Golf monogram logo on each hat portrays an aerial view of a golf course inside a circle divided into three parts to represent the region’s tri-state border.

“If you play golf close to the U.S.-Mexico border, you’re going to have a very different experience playing golf here and we want to celebrate that,” says Martinez.

The hats’ designs incorporate local iconic structures, like the Asarco smokestacks and the late lagartos who lived downtown with desert shades that are reflective of the local landscape.

“Desert People Golf is more than just apparel,” says Martinez, “it’s a lifestyle.”

More than anything, Martinez says the hat collection embraces and appreciates the culture of El Paso and the comfort of returning to the community, even if it’s after a vacation.

Martinez describes his family’s love of travel and his curiosity to play different courses in different locales, but says the experience always amplifies his love of El Paso.

“I always come back to El Paso and appreciate that we have some unique golf courses that we should celebrate,” he says of local courses. “When you play golf in El Paso, you’re surrounded by the mountains and some courses are literally right next to the Border Highway.”

Martinez muses that at courses like the one at Ascarate, golfers could -- in theory -- hit a golf ball across the other side of the border into Juarez.

“We obviously don’t recommend it and I’ve never tried it,” he laughs, “but the point is it’s that close that you could do it.”

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WelcomeSam Ray Club to

June 2023

40-hour work week consisted of religious caffeine runs, before and during the physical strains of warehouse duties. Thirty-minute breaks have never been about enlightenment, but rather how fast I could clock in and out on time without stumbling in my steel toe boots.

Until the beginning of spring arose.

March 29th, to be specific, and it was as if I was gifted with a remarkable stranger, who unlocked an entirety of musical inclinations and talent to me.

Dark hair that hugged the frame of his jawline, dangling gold-plated earrings peeking through, and distressed jeans that approached my car. As he took orders for a local coffee shop in El Paso, many cars waited behind mine. In that fragment of time, I met Gianni Ortega, rhythm guitarist of indie band, Sam Ray Club, a borderland gem that tugs on the heartstrings of listeners. Not just by their music, but their outstanding charisma as well.

I later had the opportunity to meet each member, vocalist Grant Gonzalez, drummer Sergio Ortiz, bassist Raymond Ortiz, and lead guitarist Ian Martinez.

This is not just a band, but a brotherhood that possesses captivating artistries, passion, and devotion to their craft, with each connected in the precipice of El Paso’s music scene and shows, including “Hexenzense,” “Melancholy 10,” “Worm Ceiling,” and “Beach Cowboys.”

Originating in 2022, there is a significance and history that also influenced them as a whole.

“Sam Ray’s Club name comes from one of my favorite Sams in the world. As soon as you hear one of his songs, you can immediately tell that it’s his. No one else sounds like him, and he created a genre and sound of his own,” Gonzalez says.

The band began its musical expedition by performing admirable covers and personal interests and played its first show on September 9th, 2022, hosted at the Music Gallery, where fans gathered inside the venue, and as far as the sidewalk to indulge in their uplifting performance.

Since then, the band has been making appearances throughout the city with their electronic instrumentation and pulsating vocals at The Galleria Lincoln, Lowbrow, Love Buzz, Whole Lotta Denim, The Circle, and the Cosmic and Grounded Art Studio.

pursued music at different junctures of their lives, but through fate, each individual became a proficient addition to the indie genre that is Innovated by the eccentric and infatuating sensations of jazz, indie, hip hop, 90’s alternative, and punk rock music the members listened to while growing up.

“I’ve always wanted to make music. One day, I discovered what would be my favorite song of all time called, ‘Is There a Place I Can Go’ by Trudy and the Romance. I just wanted to recreate that same feeling it gave me when I first listened to it,” Ortega says.

Gonzalez, the band’s vocalist, explains the desire in his lyrical journeys that establishes his truth, which is translated in each correlated ballad.

“I’m the kind of person who has to write based on real life. Emotional experiences give me something to say. Even if it’s fictional, it allows me to get over situations and directly addresses someone or how I feel. Something has to happen to me in order to write. Like emotional packaging and being able to push subjects,” Gonzalez explains.

A93 June 2023

For example, the band’s single “Murakami No Bass” emphasizes on loss, romance, and the sexual tension within a friendship. The creative process behind the single expresses an “emotional arc” that Gonzalez describes as a “Reflection on the experience of losing someone you were once really close to. There’s so much bad blood that you could be in the same room but never speak. It’s universal.”

With grand fidelity, Sam Ray Club toured throughout Texas with Late Night Drive Home in March of 2023, venturing through Houston, Waco, Dallas, and San Antonio.

“The fans and venues treated us differently; it was like an out of body experience. Seeing all the venues and meeting new people. I didn’t think we were such a big deal, but we were taken care of,” Martinez says,

highlighting and punctuating El Paso’s finest euphonious revolution of local talent.

In addition, Sam Ray Club will be touring again in July, beside Late Night Drive Home among the west coast and Arizona deserts, and will soon voyage throughout Albuquerque, Phoenix, San Diego, Los Angeles, and Santa Ana.

When asked about where they see themselves together as a band in the near future, each member didn’t fail to withhold and mention one another with gratitude.

“Touring a bit further, or one specific state at a time. To not rely on a full-time job for housing and food, but instead keep making music and being able to support myself,” Ortiz explains.

It is important to note that Sam Ray Club is, in fact, well on their way towards stardom, with striking intellectual versus melodic essence, purpose, but most importantly a message.

For anyone aspiring to start their own band or pick up an instrument, Ortiz advises, “Don’t listen to anybody but yourself, unless they are looking out for you. Stick to it. Practice. It is fulfilling.” Thus, Martinez emphasizes on pursuing music by going against societal norms.

“Don’t do it because it’s cool or it looks cool. Do it because you like it.”

Sam Ray Club encourages everyone to push themselves to truly live unapologetically in order to create, never refrain or restrict yourself from different genres, and use creativity as a result of the unfortunate

Welcome to Sam Ray Club June 2023

circumstances that are inevitable in our lifetimes.

Gonzalez then adds, “Well, definitely don’t do it to be cool, but be cool.”

Gonzalez, Martinez, Ortega, Sergio Ortiz, and Raymond Ortiz recently announced the release of their first full-length album destined to make your heart grow fonder, with over fourteen songs in production. Accelerating an anthem for those chasing a dream, stuck in between romantic barriers, and with love and respect for the art itself.

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A special thanks to Carla Ojinaga and employees of Hotel Paso Del Norte.

In literature, the genre of Romance takes readers on adventures far away from home as the protagonist explores exotic locations, learns lessons in true love, and faces challenges head-on while on their journey of self-discovery. Tim Z Hernandez, acclaimed writer, performer, and professor of creative writing at UTEP, has made El Paso his home and is singing his truth through poetry.

“El Paso was the place that I never would have wanted for myself to come to,” he laughs, noting the region’s desert landscape compared to the lush green he loved in Colorado. “But now after being here nine years, I realized it’s the place that I needed to come to. El Paso is my ancestral homeland.”

Originally from California, Hernandez says he was familiar with local writers but unable to relate.

“There were writers like Gary Soto, writers who were writing about teen life and things in the

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San Joaquin Valley that are familiar. But the language he was using, the language that a lot of writers from the area we’re using, did not resonate with me,” he says. “I had something grittier to say.”

He left California for the forests of Colorado, where he attended college and sought to find his voice as a writer.

“I just felt like I had to get far away from home. I knew that because the San Joaquin Valley had a long literary legacy, and I didn’t want to sound like everybody else and come out of that same machine. So I had to get away,” he explains. “The only place that made sense to me was to go somewhere where it was green, and in a way, that I never knew that didn’t look like anything I grew up around. To me, it was the Colorado Rockies.”

After college, he returned to California and started a family, which upped the ante when it comes to his artistic need to create art.

“When I had children, it felt even more urgent to write. I felt suddenly like, ‘Okay, I need to make a life out of this,’” he explains. “Some of my friends who are artists and had children were always like ‘Don’t have kids, you’re never going to do what you want to do, you have to put all your dreams aside.’ And for me, it was the opposite: the moment I had children, it was like everything became urgent and necessary and vital.”

Hernandez’s work has been featured in The New York Times, The Atlantic, NPR, and more. His debut collection of poetry, Skin Tax, earned the American Book Award and is an exploration of masculinity. Before writing the collection, Hernandez, who was 20 at the time, lived with his mentor, a national poet laureate, and his wife who challenged the young poet.

“Masculinity is always something that has been at the forefront of anything that we’re

doing. She’d say, ‘I would love to see a writer one day, a male writer, write about his own masculinity in an honest way, She said, ‘I challenge you to be that writer,’” Hernandez recalls. “That was my first teacher.”

Issues of masculinity impacted Hernandez not only as a writer, but also as a person

experiencing machismo in different settings and situations throughout his life.

“Machismo is not just in Hispanic or Mexican circles. I saw it in white friends and asian friends whose dads were just as macho, so I’m always looking through that lens and thinking about the ways it translates into my writing,” he says.

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Hernandez approaches his writing by way of resisting finger-pointing and applies introspection.

Hernandez’s life in El Paso is working out for the best as he remains mindful and kind to himself.

“I think to myself, ‘I’m going to make it as a dad as a single dad, I can do this. I’m going to write about it, I’m going to document it. I’m going to do this,” he says.

Hernandez quit drinking six years ago and says sobriety has enhanced his journey as a father and artist.

Hernandez is a single father, and brought his two children with him to El Paso after being offered a job teaching in the Creative Writing department at UTEP. Initially the adjustment was difficult, but he drew on ancestral strength to persevere.

Hernandez has an altar in his house that includes a photograph of his maternal grandfather who he never knew but still feels a connection to.

“His wife died when my mom was only 10 years old and he was left to raise children by himself, the youngest child was one,” he says. In addition to the trauma pursuant to the loss of his wife, his grandfather was a Korean war veteran struggling with alcoholism.

“He failed pretty quickly and all the kids were placed in foster homes,” says Hernandez.

Although Hernandez initially questioned making the move to El Paso, he found purpose in breaking cycles of generational trauma.

“I think I’m here to be a success as a single dad, not to follow my grandfather’s footsteps, but to use his story as a way to motivate and inspire me,” says Hernandez. “So, I gave him a more prominent place on my altar.”

“I wanted to be on-call as a dad 24/7 and handle my business,” he says. “Now, my kids are still here with me in El Paso and thriving. I’m publishing books, and I love it here. Then, I see my kids feel more at home here than anywhere else.”

Creative lifestyles are often romanticized with issues of addiction, substance abuse, and self-destruction but many writers, including Hernandez, have found creative avenues through healthy outlets.

“I started to feel like there is a potential inside of me and an untapped potential of everything, of being a human in the world and being a teacher. I knew there was untapped potential that I would never get to as long as I was drinking alcohol,” he says.

Now, his writing is more honest and bold.

“I was hiding a lot of my experiences and a lot of my pain. I had nowhere to put it, it was all going into the writing,” he says. “When you’re polishing a mirror, at first you’re afraid of what you see. Then, after a while, you start to stare at it and try to come to a different understanding. I felt like I was polishing the mirror every time I would write and am grateful for it. There’s nothing to hide anymore.”

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“I’m always trying to call out my own machismo that is still shaping the way I speak, the way I act, and the decisions I make in the world,” he says.
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Weird Kidz’ ‘The Take Pride ElinPaso

For many artists and creators, their hometowns are synonymous with their creative outlet as they tend to stand as important factors within the work. This is true of Zach Passero, an animator who grew up in El Paso and whose most recent work, a fully-animated film titled “The Weird Kidz,” recently had a special screening at the Plaza Theatre hosted by CreativElPaso and El Paso Film Festival.

Having grown up in El Paso during the 1980s as a latch-key kid, Passero’s “The Weird Kidz” is filled with personally-treasured memories of childhood memories.

“The Weird Kidz takes place in 1985,” said Passero. “I grew up off Westside Dr. near Highway 28. There was a strange freedom in all of that. The parents were busy with work and their lives, and the kids were trusted to go about their business and be home in time for meals.

“The Weird Kidz” sits in that sense of freedom and adventure of being a ʻlatchkeyʻ kid. I think some modern viewers will sense the difference there in the way kids are living today, and those who grew up back then will perhaps get a ping of nostalgia.”

Passero graduated from Coronado High School and then went on to attend the University of Southern California Film School. After graduating, he returned to his hometown, working as an editor and VFX work. Most recently, he edited the Texas-centric political documentary “The Pushback” and “First Date,” which was selected for the 2020 Sundance Festival. Passero has also created music videos for artists such as Ministry, Jim White, Califone, and Jim Ward.

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Even though Passero moved away from El Paso, mostly to big cities in California like Los Angeles and San Francisco, Passero said he “loves coming back to El Paso.”

“That was where I met ‘The Weird Kidz’ producer Lucky McKee and made most of the deep creative friendships that have lasted in my life since,”

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said Passero. “I found the core people who love to create together and work on one anotherʻs projects. That core creative family has expanded over the years as we finished film school, started working, and expanded out into the world; as we’ve found kindred spirits. But I love El Paso. For me this place, the people, the culture, the desert are all really inspiring to me.”

That inspiration is evident in “The Weird Kidz,” the animated feature that took Passero eight years to make.

The film is entirely written and single-handedly animated by Passero and follows a 1980s cinematic zeitgeist of young people experiencing a “coming of age” time in their lives filled with adventures, some horrors, and commodore.

The feature sees a group of pre-teen boys, an older brother and his girlfriend take off for a weekend campout only to encounter a desertic creature known as “The Night Child.” As the jovial group sets out on their trip, they not only encounter “The Night Child,” but also many conversations and experiences that tend to mark the transition from children into teenage years.

“The Weird Kidz” borrows from 1980s staples like convenient stores and arcades, as well as local folklore to drive a nostalgic narrative told through animation, making it relatable and enjoyable in today’s zeitgeist where many stories are told digitally through devices.

Passero said that his own experiences as a teenager in El Paso is something that he wanted to relay to his own children through “The Weird Kidz.”

“When they do finally get to experience the whole story, I like that they’ll see a film that features shifts of empathy and understanding of the characters of one another and the world around them,” said Passero. “I like that they’ll see a group of friends that are just who they are and wonderful and accepted in their group for it. And I like that theyʻll see a film that celebrates the adventures and camaraderie that groups of friends create and go on together.”

As for the animated features future, Passero said he is simply excited to continue showing it to different audiences.

“Now that it is done, I want to share it with audiences everywhere,” said Passero. “With the festivals that ‘The Weird Kidz’ has been lining up, that is just starting to happen and it feels great. Ultimately, the goal is to get it distributed. Hopefully it makes it a little easier to make the next film. I’m itching to start work on something new, putting the lessons used in making this film to work on the next.”

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Yes, Chef! Savoring Fine Dining

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The luxury of fine dining is being made accessible to households across the Borderland as one chef creates culinary masterpieces from El Pasoans’ kitchens.

Chef Gabe Onsurez is a personal chef, traveler, and dad to two bulldogs (one English, one French) whose technical expertise are matched only by his love of art. Onsurez is a multi instrumentalist musician whose love of performance led to a career in the kitchen.

While he wasn’t passionate about school, Onsurez says he loved coming home from classes to cook dinner for his sister and brother-in-law, then realized “cooking was fun for me and a natural ability. “

He made a tray of sugar cookies for his nephew’s birthday that caught the eye of the neighbor.

He dropped out of UTEP and moved to Scottsdale for culinary school, an education and experience he describes as intense as it was exhilarating.

“At the time, I only cooked for my family at home. I grew up around food, my mom and dad were both very good cooks and I would

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Onsurez returned home in 2005 and was later offered a live-in position as a personal chef for a local family.

“They liked to be surprised, every day, with dinner especially. That was fun for me because I could go to the grocery store and see what looked good and ask, ‘What do I feel like making today?’ That’s when I really got the opportunity to expand with different cuisines, ingredients, and wine pairings,” he says.

Onsurez cooks organic and seasonal for clients and loves preparing Asianinspired dishes.

“I love all the flavors and I love that you can make it pretty healthy,” he says. “Personally, I love Indian food and to eat in bowls because it’s just fun to me. It’s comforting for me.”

Growing up, his family would gather for menudo eaten with lemons -- not limes -- and saltine crackers, a simple culinary tradition that laid the foundation for his appreciation for dining experiences and sharing food with others.

“I don’t need a lot of praise or compliments,” says Onsurez. “But when I’m cooking for someone, they’re tasting the food, thinking about it, and really taking it in. Then, they’re quiet for 10 to 15 seconds and I hear them say ‘mmm’ or ‘that was good’ is what I love. It inspires me.”

Onsurez’s schedule is pretty steady, with dedicated clients Monday through Thursday and dinner parties or other private events on the weekends.

“I would do dinner parties every day if I could, it’s what I love to do. I’d do a minimum of three to five courses for 12 people or less,” he shares.

As El Paso’s culinary scene expands, Onsurez is looking forward to exploring new tastes while savoring the success of his peers.

“There’s more to El Paso than Mexican food. I love our Mexican food -- don’t get me wrong,” he says. “It makes me very happy and proud to have fusion restaurants and fancy gourmet restaurants, lots of Asian restaurants, and more diversity. It’s fun to watch friends and colleagues open up their own restaurants then watch them succeed.”

June 2023
Yes, Chef! Savoring Fine Dining At Home

El Paso’s leading ladies were feted at The Melting Pot to celebrate the women’s issue of The City Magazine, with a special appearance from Horacio Gutierrez Jr. of the April issue.

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Lovers of aerospace and automobiles

gathered at the War Eagles Air Museum in Santa Teresa to appreciate luxury cars and trucks at the Spotted: El Paso 2023 High End Car Show that featured dozens of foreign and domestic vehicles and many Instagram-worthy moments.

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The future of sustainability and environmental awareness is bright in the Borderland as community members at Tesla participate in efforts to educate the public that coincide with federal policies that implement new technical standards to support clean energy technology across the nation.
| Photos courtesy BRANDON ARPIN |
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