Quien Es Tu Gente | May 10, 2024

Op-Ed: Celebrating Storytellers of the Rio Grande Valley

Words by Fátima Garza
Edited by Abigail Vela

Ten people grouped together smiling and posing for a photo inside a conference room with a television in the background with text, “Welcome!”
Academy participants at Hub of Prosperity Farm. Photo courtesy of Ruido Studios.

Authors note: There are many more ways to share your stories; the outlets mentioned in this article are just a few ways to get involved. 


The Rio Grande Valley has a powerful collective voice and at the heart of the community is storytelling— a driving force for change. To me, storytelling in the RGV looks like many things: it is the cuentos or dichos that are passed down by family, a local film with an impactful message, a photograph that features someone or a place we recognize, a poem that helps heal, an article that keeps our community empowered, a panel discussion that inspires and the list goes on. 


I witness the power of storytelling in our home every day, and one thing is always certain: we care deeply for each other and our home. As I reflect on this, I feel grateful for the people who came before me, those who surround me, those whom I do not know, and the stories yet to be told. 


This story is about them— about us.

Rudio Studios Academy

Through my previous experiences working and living in the RGV and my current work with Ruido Studios, a new organization that aims to uplift borderland narratives, I have gotten the opportunity to collaborate with passionate, loud, unapologetic, nurturing and caring people. A particular event that made this evident was our first Ruido Studios Academy, where over a dozen communicators and storytellers with different backgrounds and experiences gathered for two weeks to learn and share knowledge. 


Every single person brought unique insight, and together, we had fruitful conversations. The panel discussions and workshops centered around the state of narrative and its role in social justice movements, the intersection of art and activism, forming a brand as a local business or social media hub for the community, digital organizing in the borderlands, and the story of self. Something special is that all the panels and workshops were led by and for local storytellers and community leaders.

During the Academy, I was reminded every day of the talent we have in the Rio Grande Valley. I was also reminded of how powerful our voices are and can be and the collective effort that goes into shaping our region’s narrative and cultivating the change we want to see. The Academy gave a glimpse of the amazing work that people have been doing for years to care for and celebrate our home and community. This is a testament that our collective voice and efforts thrive far beyond any border.

Why is storytelling important?

Sharing stories is intrinsic to us as humans. It is how we preserve culture, connect with our ancestors, care for our community and build solidarity. People have historically attempted to silence borderland communities and continue trying to every day. Storytelling has been an act of resistance and love for years and continues to be. In a world where institutions, corporations, and people in power are threatened by our existence and voice, it is important to celebrate our community and uplift our stories. 

Here is what Academy participant, community storyteller and creative Lupe Pardo had to share: 

What is storytelling to you? 

Storytelling is a spiritual and psychological process used to share, heal and bond people. It’s the medicine of community and is the greatest power builder!

How and why do you share stories?

I share stories as an act of care! I use them to connect with people, validate their (and my own) experiences, and explore my own thoughts, feelings and understandings.

What narratives are you trying to shift or share? 

I want to amplify the decentralized networks of care we already experience in our communities: ‘vecino’ culture, matriarchal family structures and the artists and storytellers who are cultural leaders in our community.


Person in a purple tye dye dress with dark hair and blunt bangs smiling, wearing glasses with her eyes closed.
Lupe Pardo, community storyteller and creative. Photo courtesy of Lupe Pardo.

What advice would you share with someone who is trying to make their voice heard and wants to start storytelling but needs to know where or how to start?

Make a zine! Write a story that speaks to your own experience. Create something and share that within your circle, whether that’s your friends, family or someone else you trust. Do it with someone and replicate that until you’re connected to a community that enjoys you for who you are, be your authentic self.

For more information on getting involved in zine making, follow
Never-Before-Zine, a zine collective based in the RGV that promotes DIY art education and preservation.

Cultivating Community

So many of us are making ruido for our community, and that is what makes our home thrive. I have felt embraced and supported by those who have made it easy to share my story and feel proud of my home. 


If you do not know where or how to begin sharing your voice, if you have felt burnt out or stagnant in your creative journey but would like to continue, or maybe you just moved back home and didn’t know who to reach out to, there is a community that makes it easy for us to create and explore. 


Whether you write a story for Trucha, explore filmmaking or borderland archival practices at ENTRE Film Center, attend the Academy, join a local book club Beyond Borders, organize with your community, write poetry alongside local poets, record your family stories, connect with your vecinos or share your lived experiences with a friend, you have a voice and story worth sharing. 


Together, we can create a narrative that nurtures, uplifts, and celebrates us and our home. 

People smiling for a photo showcasing their certificates of completion.
Photo courtesy of Ruido Studios.

Mira Más

Closup of a woman’s tired brown eyes with cleaning products surrounding her.
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Sketch that depicts future around independent media and storytelling in the Rio Grande Valley.
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Op-Ed: Celebrating Storytellers of the Rio Grande Valley

In a world where major news outlets paint the Rio Grande Valley in a negative light, local storytellers are collectively fighting to showcase the voices of our community. From zines to film, there’s always something for our community to help build our narrative towards the truth and empowerment.