Traveling Through A Latino Neighborhood: Las Chicas Y Chicos De Blossom Street

By Steve Dorchester and Araceli Esparza | October 7, 2021


“Las Chicas y Chicos de Blossom Street” is an animated poem written by Araceli Esparza in which she lovingly revisits memories and weaves tales about a diverse Latino community of family-like neighbors living close together in apartments on Blossom Street. Life in this neighborhood is communicated through the narration of a little girl named Luz, and the photographs and journal she keeps.

Las Chicas y Chicos de Blossom Street

Door propped open with tree sticks, hanging out on Blossom Street, with one-step stoops,

Welcome to my street. I’m Luz, Luz Maria if you’re formal.

Our days are filled with family news, pretending and playing, and tiny jumps. The day goes by and we dash from one playtime to the next.

Chicas y Chicos are girl kids and boy kids and everyone in between.

This is us, we are like little picture moments at sunset.

I live with my grandma, my lil sister Ana, a blind duck, and my Tío. I like to hydro garden and I’m big on organic compost. They call me mija.

Izzy, my friend, is learning to do perfect cartwheels. Like the sunshine she pokes my eye!

Purple Carrots, spring morning air, and washing leaves. In my sister Ana’s little hands there’s something new and old. She’s a fourth generation piscadora now urbana.

Next door, stuck in their room with Wi-fi, clicking a keyboard, and swishing a finger pad. Junior doesn’t fix mofles he fixes code, night until day.

Upstairs lives Paco and Pedro. Free time, is dress up time, that’s when Pedro wears pink, he banana smiles and drinks atole. Paco prefers green tacos and ham!

When she wants to be like every boy neighbor, Ana plays the latest ultimate game and double dares us to race, she wins most of the time.

With his empty cupboards, half-filled plates, Luis comes over for Grandma’s tacos de jamon y pan, but on Sundays he puts ketchup on his tamale!

Best dressed, with shiny white shoes and tapping toes. Beta has two Papis who swing her over puddles and carry her to pick the blooming lilacs across the street.

Con Los Vecinos, with our Neighbors — we learn how to ride our bikes in the parking lot, together we have a cookout and be like family — none of us are related, still we talk, argue, and laugh like familia.

Okay let’s race, Beta says and her dress flutters against the wind. Ana with holey toe shoes, makes up for time, jumping over onion beds. While Mago, speeds up and stops short at the corner. Her arms are ready for the Olympics. No one told her she couldn’t walk, they told her, she could fly.

Izzy gets stuck on Saturday meetings at the local Centro Communitario. A stand up for your rights Mami equals tag along girl kid. When she comes home, Izzy skips upstairs, finds her friends, to compare drawings on tablets.

The Twin’s place is always busy with parties. Viernes de Quinceneras, Sabados de Cumpleanos y Domingos de Virgincita. Paco y Pedro wonder when will the cheek pinching ever end. Four cheeks aren’t enough.

In the next building over, tight as pea pods, Juan and his three brothers and one sister sleep in one room they call theirs. In their dreams they can be anyone.

He asks me when the beans will come up. Soon, very soon, I show him.

Through the city’s dusty roads, fresh air smell breaks through, against the orange sunset I step off my Tio’s truca to wave goodbye as the geese fly north.

I smile at our garden.

For me, all of them are my friends, we have adventuras, vidas, y laughter!

Somos los de Blossom street. We are from Blossom Street.

About the Animation

Brought to life by Steve Dorchester (art & animation) and Beauxregard Neylon (audio design) the richly-packed narrative has a lot of ground to cover as the lives of these numerous characters co-mingle and intertwine. Like a dream, the depicted vignettes may encapsulate the bustling activity of a single day, a long Summer, or a Lifetime.

When conceptualizing the scenes and the artwork, Steve aspired to balance a tricky line between sincere reverence and details that honor the “real” lives depicted in Araceli’s heartfelt poetry and a joyful, playful “feeling” that someone may experience when lost in daydreams of cherished memories. The intention was that illustrative depictions would be stylized and simplified but not disrespectful nor distracting due to creative choices. They would also be believable enough to communicate the real-life ideas and emotions in the poetry.

In production, much of the artwork was created by free-cutting elements from paper with scissors and scanning those pieces into digital format where the outlines were traced, modified, assembled, and animated into the colorful world of Blossom Street. Tools from Adobe’s Creative Suite software were used to put it all into motion and bring it to your screen.

In a conversation between Araceli and Steve preceding the early storyboarding and design stages of production, it was shared that the Poet simply made up the idea of having Luz’ family keep a blind duck as a pet. Araceli didn’t quite know why she had thought of that, but it was interesting to her. In the written poem the blind duck exists as only three quick words spoken in a list, however Steve opted to expand that idea just enough to add an extra thread of comical whimsey weaving through the piece.

Steve Dorchester

Steve Dorchester is an animator at PBS Wisconsin; enjoying Wisconsin life.
Araceli Esparza

Araceli Esparza

Araceli Esparza is a poet, writer, and teacher based in Madison. She is an MFA graduate from Hamline University, with strong migrant farmer roots, and named 2015 Women to Watch by Brava Magazine. Araceli is also the host of the podcast, Midwest Mujeres.

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