REGENERATION FESTIVAL ::: Taos Celebration of the Young (Aug 31 – Sept 3)

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The 2nd annual Taos Celebration of the Young took place in venues throughout Taos, NM on Labor Day weekend. In addition to inspiring music and spoken word performed by talented young people, a number of community organizations took part in this call to action to heal the violence and despair which are devastating the lives of so many youth. One such organization is Cycles of Life, a collective based in Albuquerque that “supports, encourages, and strengthens youth to realize their innate potential as compassionate leaders for the 21st century through Bicycling, Gardening, and Art.” Jake discussed their mission and his motivation for participating in Regeneration Festival:

Regeneration Festival: Grand Finale: Labor Day 2012 (Photo Album by Christalyn Concha)



COMMUNITY ORGANIZED. (AND COMPLETELY UNCOMMODIFIED). for ways you can be involved! for schedule of events in Taos!


The Celebration of the Young Presents:


Worldwide Healing Festival for the Next Generation

August 31st-September 3rd 2012 (Labor Day Weekend)

In the small town of Taos, New Mexico there has been three youth on youth homicides and one youth suicide this summer alone. My name is Lyla Johnston. I am 22. And having been raised here in Middle America, I can tell you there is a serious lack of love in the lives of our young people. In the Lakota philosophy, children are wakan, they are sacred. They are closer to the creator than we are and they should be honored and loved with all of our hearts each and every day. They are the future. They are the ones who will carry on the magnificent creation story we are a part of. And yet we continue to ignore them and control them, to shape them and break them in a one-size-fits-all education program, and allow corporations to mold them into consumer citizens. We do not recognize their inherent value and their inherent wisdom, but continually try to convince them to participate in a competition-based economy, prioritizing the speed of production over social morality and quality of life. This deprecation of their lives is reflected in our communities were drug addiction, depression and violence are a common story.

Last summer in our small town we had at least four unrelated youth suicide attempts in the span of one month! This is when our event took root. We called it the First Annual Taos Celebration of the Young. The main goal of the event was to send a unified message to our young people, loud and clear, that we loved them and we understood that they were having a hard time. Through this event we’d like to help young people of all ages (from infants to people in their twenties) feel cherished, celebrated, supported and honored as the sacred beings that they are.

This intention manifested somewhat miraculously as a four-day town-wide party that found a home in over twenty venues in town and reached hundreds of young people. There was a two-pronged strategy in the design of these events: prayer and outreach. Many of the events involved various spiritual communities to lay down a prayer for the health of our young. We believe that suicide, homicide, depression and violence are spiritual issues and they demand a spiritual solution. This solution ranged from Indigenous American ceremonies, to Kirtan chants, to moments of silence in Christian churches, to running as a form of embodied prayer, to the four-day fast that many people participated in.

To more directly connect with our young people we had many outreach events. To name a few, we had a community skillshare event (entitled the University for the Young), a free dance party, an essay contest where young people read their views to the mayor of the town and a final bash in the local park where we saw many of our young people perform for us and show their artwork.

This year we are going to do it again with the theme of regeneration. We are so tired of burying our children in the ground. From this comes so much sorrow and pain. But just as the forest fires clear the slate for new and fertile creation, so too are we ready to begin anew and regenerate from within as a global community starting with our most precious population, the youth. Last year’s event inspired a sister celebration in Boston that will be happening in unity with ours this year. We are encouraging cities and communities to join us around the world to make some gesture of love and support for the next generation, whether it’s a small prayer group, or an attractive community event, or a whole, four-day healing festival, we’d like more participation from our people across the globe this Labor Day weekend.

This year’s celebration will look a lot like last year’s with some interesting new twists including a free heavy metal concert called High on the Fire Inside where all musicians will pledge sobriety for the event, a fashion show by young indigenous artists, a take the day off work for your kids-day on Friday August 31stand the formation of a young Truth and Reconciliation Council to heal racial and gang tension in our town. It will take place in venues such as including Kit Carson Park, Taos Plaza, Quail Ridge Inn, Taos High School and many other places.

2011 Taos Celebration of the Young: Photo by Rick Romancito, The Taos News

We are in need of support now. There are many tasks that need doing and we’d like to involve people of every generation, spiritual and sexual orientation, race, gang affiliation and political party. Through this event we will be united as one human nation for our beautiful young people. If there is anyone who feels compelled to help with the organization of this event in Taos or any other place on earth, please call 707-857-6126 or email We have provided simple ways to participate and suggestions for creating a splash in your community at

Some specific things we need are young organizers, artists, musicians and participants, workshop leaders for the intergenerational skillshare (past classes have ranged from DJ lessons, to film creation, to breakdance, to wilderness survival, to children’s art classes), photographers and journalists. We need people to tell their stories so we can heal proactively together. We also need ideas and suggestions and people who are passionate about creating a beautiful event for our young people. There is always something you can do and we need as many hands as possible. It is time for our regeneration.

MEDIA: Stanford Student Driven to Revive Culture and Prevent Youth Suicide (Indian Country Today Media Network) / Video Spotlight: Student Promotes Regeneration Festival to Show Youth They Are Sacred (Indian Country Today Media Network) / Four-Day Taos Celebration of the Young Lifts Off (Taos News, 2011)


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