In Española, New Mexico a mural brings the community together with one message: 100% can thrive.

In Post-Pandemic New Mexico a mural sends a message about ending the trauma that’s crushing our children and families

Dominic Cappello
6 min readJun 15, 2021


Can a mural change the trajectory of society, ending historical trauma and health disparities? The mural is a symbol. If enough people believe the message painted on the wall, profound positive action can follow. The message New Mexicans are sending (and singing) is radically simple: 100% of our children and families can thrive. “Can” being the operating word meaning, “have the capacity to.”

An original song is produced and shared at the mural event.

To build that capacity for creating a caring society where 100% of families can thrive in New Mexico, the 100% New Mexico initiative is partnering with artists and change agents across the state to engage in a groundbreaking process of identifying barriers to the vital services for surviving and thriving and collaborating to end the barriers.

“Groundbreaking” is not used for dramatic effect, as our initiative is about building health clinics with medical, dental and mental health care in schools, designing affordable living spaces to end housing insecurity, installing software to link food pantries to create a seamless system of food security, forging public and private sector partnerships to make app-based ride sharing a norm in rural counties to end public transportation disparities.

The list of local projects the initiative is working to design and implement is focused on moving families and communities from surviving to thriving, including building the infrastructure to harness our nation’s vast wealth and channel it toward parent supports, early childhood learning, fully-resourced community schools, youth mentoring and job training aligned with the job market. (Ask us about our designs for the nation’s first 100% Family Center as a one-stop service hub for ten services.)

Congresswoman Teresa Leger Fernandez meets with muralist Cruz López and son.

The mural’s message is that emerging from this pandemic that isolated us, we must unite with the mantra “100%.” This is not an empty slogan, it’s a measurable and meaningful process we are tracking in every county engaged with the 100% New Mexico initiative.

To be clear, the mural’s message invites every New Mexican to engage in the process of reinvention in their cities and towns. The message of 100%, however, is competing with many other messages with very different agendas.

The 100% Mural Project is part of a statewide initiative designed to ensure ten vital services.

Our Message Vs. 1,000 Others

The mural’s message of “everyone’s in, no one’s left out” and “fight the three-headed hydra of apathy, envy and fear” is more important than ever in this time of conflicting messages about addressing the future, trauma, adversity and the vulnerabilities exposed by the pandemic.

The 24/7 “Go back to normal” message: We in the USA are being bombarded with the message, “Let’s get back to normal.” To that we say, “You mean a normal where our children are traumatized, our parents struggle without resources, and our most vulnerable communities lack basic services and a path to self-sufficiency and livelihoods? Do you mean a “normal” that means each state and city is woefully unprepared for the next epidemic with a higher fatality rate? We cannot afford to buy into this message which amounts to denial and willful ignorance at best and lack of compassion and cynicism at worst. The only message worth listening to is: We are building a new normal where 100% thrive.

The national government’s “Trust us, billions of bucks will fix us” message: We hear on our mobiles messages about billions of dollars coming to all fifty states to strengthen health care, education and job creation. We must track the dollars with vigilance to ensure that funds actually get to localities to build infrastructure. The last time the federal government did something truly measurable and meaningful was the creation of Medicare in 1965, so while we are hoping for the best in 2021, we must be prepared for the worst — and scream loudly for course corrections that guarantee that the promised mega-dollars are spent on ensuring systems of care serving 100% across each state. The message we require from the feds needs to come in a publication titled: How each county builds sustainable systems of care, safety and empowerment for 100% of residents.

Preventing and healing trauma requires local action.

Trauma is a symptom of a society that fails to care for all its people. Trauma requires a political solution on the local, state and national levels. Trauma can not anymore be viewed only as a family problem for people to talk about. Nor can it be solved solely by books, documentaries, slick websites or messages of hope. It can can be solved by a message leading to action that says:

Unite behind a framework for change.

Work to ensure ten vital services for surviving and thriving for 100%.

Focus our vast wealth on ending trauma and social adversity.

Evaluate progress making the entire process transparent.

100% is possible.

Never underestimate the power of a mural to inspire. Anything is possible with a shared vision painted on a public wall. Look at the images from the 100% Mural Project in Española, New Mexico. Here in the beautiful North Valley, situated between the cities of Santa Fe and Taos, you see the spark of an inspiring idea on a street in downtown Española.

You will see that the 100% mural was, and is, celebrated by artists, musicians, change agents, elected officials and community members of all ages. As you stand in front of the mural painted by ten local artists of all ages, you can sense connection, creativity and compassion.

If you can see promise in the pictures and words documenting the 100% mural project, you can be part of making history by creating a future where 100% can thrive.

I leave you with the words of US Congresswoman Teresa Leger Fernandez, speaking at our 100% Mural event.

“We are seeing that those who act are those who are in the community, those who are closest to the issues, those who are closest to the families…because nothing grows from the top down. A child doesn’t grow from the top down, a plant, a tree, a building or your homes. Nothing grows from the top down. It all surges up from the community.”

Matt Probst, medical director for El Cento Family Health and founder of the 100% San Miguel County initiative
Dr. Tracy Lassiter of McKinley County and Dubra Karnes Padilla of Bernalillo County join the event.
Dr. Katherine Ortega Courtney and Aurora Valdez of 100% Taos County.
100% Mural event organizer Diego López with the co-author of Attack of the Three-Headed Hydras
Co-developers of the statewide 100% New Mexico initiative Dr. Katherine Ortega Courtney and Dom Cappello
Members of Santa Clara Pueblo show off their new “100% New Mexico” t-shirts.
The mural event provides an opportunity to share the goals and strategies of the 100% New Mexico initiative
The mural boasts local heroes fighting the hydra to protect the 100% in “Spaña” (aka Española)

Visualize! Mobilize! Thrive!

Please excuse any typos as I construct an article at 3am on only one cup of joe. These stories are mine and mine alone. I do not represent any organization here. All cartoon characters are pure fiction and any resemblance to real humans or three-headed hydras is total coincidence. Words and images ©Dominic Cappello but share with everyone you know. Questions? Push to front of reading list: 100% Community: Ensuring 10 vital services for surviving and thriving and Attack of the Three-Headed Hydras: Confronting Apathy, Envy and Fear on the road to saving humans and the future. Better yet, let‘s meet at the EYE bookcafe to share a latte and some bold ideas.



Dominic Cappello

A NY Times bestselling author, social justice activist, Oprah guest, co-author of The 100% Community Model and Anna, Age Eight.