After a two-year hiatus, the Paseo por el Westside returns to the Rinconcito de Esperanza with a full day of events on Saturday.
Paseo por el Westside translates to “walk through the West Side,” and the main events are walking tours led by Esperanza Peace and Justice Center Executive Director Graciela Sánchez and her brother Xavier, both lifelong residents of San Antonio’s West Side.
The walking tours begin at the Guadalupe Theater, with a 9 a.m. culturally-focused tour led by Xavier Sánchez, followed by a more politically-focused tour led by Graciela Sánchez at 10 a.m. The 9 a.m. tour will repeat at 11 a.m., and all tours are free and open to the public.
On the grounds of the Rinconcito, a variety of activities will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., including historic preservation workshops for city residents, health and healing workshops, and food demonstrations. Vendors will be on hand with arts and crafts and civic activism materials, and entertainment will be provided by community entertainers including Conjunto Heritage Taller, musician and scholar Juan Tejeda, Esperanza resident singer Azul Barrientos, and Westside storytellers.
The MujerArtes Cooperative studio occupies an adobe building at the Rinconcito and will be holding Mi Madre, Mi Amiga, an exhibit and sale of handmade artisan goods in honor of Mother’s Day, until 4 p.m.
A full list of events is available here.
The Paseo originated as an effort to save the nearby Pink Building, once the home of Westside politician Guillermo “Willie” Maldonado, a contemporary of Henry B. González, who anchored a Mexican American political movement in the 1940s, ’50s, and ’60s.
That the building stands now is a testament to the activism of Sánchez and her Westside cohort, who successfully persuaded then-Mayor Julián Castro to dedicate City funds to the preservation effort in the late 2000s.
The annual Paseo commemorates that accomplishment, while raising awareness of other preservation projects in what was once known as the Villa Guadalupe neighborhood, including the Guadalupe Theater and the Progreso Building across the street, which now houses the Guadalupe Latino Bookstore.
Sánchez said past tours have attracted professors and students, but that the tours are meant for everyone, including current residents curious about the neighborhood’s history, former residents who want to see how things have changed, and tourists interested in learning more about San Antonio beyond the downtown area.
Preservation maintains the generational continuity of neighborhoods, Sánchez suggested. In the words of one lifelong Westsider quoted in a published history of the Pink Building, “Lo que somos, no podemos borrarlo.” (What we are, we can’t erase it.)
“We just have to preserve what’s left to make this something important for the city and all its residents, as well as people who are visiting,” Sánchez said.