November 3, 2019

Nora built her first ofrenda this year. When she woke up the day after día de los muertos, she stood at the alter for almost an hour smelling the flowers and looking carefully at all the people and things on the ofrenda. She kept repeating the word “Hi” over and over again.

November 3, 2019

Avery was 7 years old when her friend Zachary was killed in the cross walk of this Berkeley intersection. She had gone to preschool with Zachary for years and they were neighbors at student family housing. For the past decade, Avery has built an ofrenda here at Zachary’s Corner, even making the sugar skulls and decorations by hand. Today she asked me to join her. I’m thankful Zachary has friends like this, who will never forget him. #diadelosmuertos

February 28, 2018

Zachary Cruz’s Family Launch Campaign for Pedestrian Safety

On Feb. 27, 2018, nine years to the day that 5-year-old Zachary Cruz died after being hit by a motorist on a crosswalk in Berkeley, his father, family and supporters called on people everywhere to “drive like your kid died here.”


Video produced by

February 21, 2018

The Zachary Michael Cruz Foundation is proud to announce a new project called, launching on February 27, 2018, the 9th anniversary of Zachary’s death.’s purpose is simple: to show you the places across the country where someone’s kid, grandkid, brother, sister, friend, or loved one lost their life to road violence while walking or biking. tells the stories of those who died in preventable collisions on American streets.And we show you the faces of those left behind.

Once you have seen these places, heard these stories, and met those of us who struggle every day in the shadow of road violence, we ask you to take action.


Because #OURSDID.

Join us online on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

September 21, 2015

This is Winky. Or perhaps it’s Blinky or Stinky. Hard to say. These identical triplets live underground at Their favorite thing in the world is playing games with humans. Like hide and seek or wack-a-mole. Zach has been studying them for a long time now. Can you help him discover the other games they enjoy? The updated site blasts off at 9 PM PST tonight!

September 17, 2015

Zach’s been making lots of friends up there. And I want to introduce you to a few of them in the coming days as we countdown to launch of! One new friend is this little guy, named FlooZoo. FlooZoo and ZMC became fast friends. Probably because at first glance both seem like sweet, happy-go-lucky kids. But behind the grin, there’s a mischievous side. Both love to hide their precious booger collections all over the Galaxy. And both tell great knock knock jokes about gaseous clouds… Hope you’ll join us in t-minus 3 days at Zachary’s Corner!

August 22, 2015

Zachary Michael Cruz Foundation - News - Frank Cruz Joins Alameda Supervisor to Urge Kids to Walk Safe in Zachary's Memory:

On what would have been his son’s 12th birthday, March 12, 2015, ZMCF director Frank Cruz joined Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson, Safe Routes to Schools, and other local officials at Berkeley Arts Magnet Elementary School to speak with youngsters about safer walking and biking practices…

August 16, 2015

Just a note to let you know that an updated version of Zachary’s personal website is coming soon! [FC]

July 14, 2015

Hello, Pluto! NASA Spacecraft Makes Historic Dwarf Planet Flyby:

Today would have been a very exciting day for 5-year-old Zach! Before he died, Pluto had recently been downgraded to “dwarf planet” status and Zach knew all about that sad news. He was a budding young astronomer, fascinated by NASA, the universe, and outer space. He had several space t-shirts and wore one in his last year of life that had an image of Pluto on it. The ironic caption read: “Pluto: Never Forget.” Zach didn’t. And today, we see the first pictures in human history of the farthest limit of our solar system. And look what we found: A spectacular heart shaped “feature." 


They don’t even know what it is yet. But it makes me think of love, and that reminds me of my first born son, Zachary. Take a moment and look at the sky today. Think of how small we are. Think of all the things we still don’t know anything about. The infinite and unknown. I miss you Zachary. I hope you’re a part of that now. [FC]

April 4, 2015

Miles is still young enough to play with some of your old toys. At six and a half, he is just a little older than you were when you died. The last few days, he has been playing with your Bob The Builder tool belt and tool box. We have tried to help Miles build a connection with you through the physical objects you left behind and so we mention to him when he is enjoying a toy or an experience you enjoyed. I think of these things as the artifacts of your life. In important ways, they prove that you were here… This morning, while Miles was playing handy man around the house in his Spiderman pajamas, he shared some of your toys with the little brother you didn’t get to meet, little Frankie, who is just a baby. I took a picture and felt thankful that your brothers can share these artifacts. If you can know this, I hope you find it pleasing. “The sound that’s been keeps echoing, it never disappears.” [Dad]

March 11, 2015

I went to church last night, to celebrate your 12th birthday, which officially arrives tomorrow, March 12th. Well, I didn’t literally go to church. I went to a small, dark, dingy rock and roll club in San Francisco called Bottom of the Hill.

But it might as well have been a Pentecostal meeting the way I shouted and danced and clapped and cried and sweated and sang along to the music of kevinpdevine from Brooklyn, New York. And I did all this without a single glass of whiskey at the show. Who needs whiskey when you’re filled with the holy spirit of rock and roll?

Kevin’s brother, Michael, passed away in the 90s. Kevin talked to me once after we lost you about how hard Michael’s death was for his mom and dad. Incredible empathy. Kevin’s dad also died a few years back. He writes a lot of songs about them. They all remind me of you and my Dad. Sometimes his songs help me understand my own anger and sadness and emptiness. Sometimes they give me hope and provide evidence of beauty and grace and the possibility of redemption. Leaving my church last night, I felt born again. Here are some of the verses from last night that I’m still thinking about today…

“So as I inch towards resolution
I’m not sure which life feels right
The narrow noose or the waiting water
The hanging hex or open eyes
My brother Michael he went one way
And at the fork I heard him say,
‘Don’t you follow, don’t go making my mistakes’
And I realized what he meant
Don’t kill yourself to raise the dead
It never works, you’ll only end up joining them
It never works, you’ll only end up joining them.”

–You’ll Only End Up Joining Them

“So what if the end just ends?
It’s worthless to worry then
To wrestle yourself to death again and again
Now every single time that you open your mouth
Give yourself a breath while you’re working it out
The answer’s in between all the concrete and clouds
It’s anywhere you want, it’s next to you now.”
–Between the Concrete & Clouds

(I hope you’re next to me now.)



February 27, 2015

Now, after six years without you, I don’t have anything more to say. That I love you? That I miss you? That I wonder who you would be if you were here today? All of that is obvious. Redundant to keep repeating day after day as they turn to weeks and months and years. We don’t have new memories. We never will. All I have left of you is the little I have held on to from our short time together. All I have is the past. I’ll take what I can get and I will try to be grateful for it. Like this picture–it’s the last picture we took together. You read me this book on a rainy day in Berkeley. It was the first book you read me all on your own. I cried that day, listening to you struggle through the simple text. I was proud. But you didn’t see me cry. You were focused and determined. I told you good job and your mom took this picture. I’m grateful she did. I hope you can’t see me cry today. Rest in peace. I’ll see you again one day, if I’m lucky… 



(Zachary Michael Cruz, March 12, 2003 - February 27, 2009)

December 18, 2014

A mother named Debbie reached out to me recently. Earlier this year, while walking in a crosswalk in southern California, her 7 year old son Aidan was hit and killed by a motorist. Debbie was crossing the street with her son at the time of the accident. I am sharing this story with you here in hopes that you can spare a moment this busy holiday season to think of Debbie and remember Aidan. Light a candle. Say a prayer. Make a wish that peace will come to her broken heart. Whatever you feel comfortable doing. Then think about your own driving practices. Will you remember Aidan and Zachary the next time you’re behind the wheel or in a car with your friends and family? Starting a conversation about texting and driving, pedestrian right of way, excessive speed, or drinking and driving can help prevent these kinds of tragedies for other families. Please help me raise awareness by liking or sharing this post. And thank you for remembering Zachary and Aidan. [FC]

October 28, 2014


Today’s photo lyric from OFRENDA is a song written by Bob Dylan called “Ballad for a Friend.” Dylan wrote it in 1963.

When I was a kid, I was obsessed with Bob Dylan. My mom had a few of his greatest hits collections, and I loved them, but she wasn’t deep into it. In high school, when I met Joel Levin of The Briar Rose Ramblers/Far From Kansas, that changed. Joel helped me get deep into Dylan. But before that, Dylan was elusive. Beyond the hits, he remained out of reach to me. You gotta remember, it was a lot harder to get your hands on music back then, unless you had the money to go buy it, which we didn’t.

But I loved the idea of Dylan so much that in junior high I borrowed his “Collected Lyrics” from the public library in Oxnard. I read them the way you read the King James Bible as a kid. You know it’s important but you usually can’t make much sense of it.

I had heard only a handful of the tunes in the giant book, but the words were what really mattered to me. Even just the titles. I remember reading “Ballad for a Friend” in that book, all those years ago. I know I read it because I wrote my own song as a teenager (nothing like Dylan’s) and used his title. My first rock band, 19 Stars (I’ve never been good with band names), played our “Ballad for a Friend” at cafes around Ventura.

Dylan never released “Ballad for a Friend” on any of his studio albums, so for me it only existed as a title in a book in the library in Oxnard that I stole and repurposed for my own ends. But in 2010, a year after Zachary was killed, Dylan’s released “The Witmark Demos: 1962-1964.” It’s a collection of solo acoustic songs he performed as songwriting demos for his publishers to sell to other artists. That was how I first heard “Ballad for a Friend.” Listening to the song for the first time in 2010, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Dylan’s voice, from 1963, telling my story from 2009. Somehow, incredibly, this song, written 20 years before I was born, and 40 years before Zachary was born, had known all along what was to be our fate—my son and me. All that time, our story had just sat there, in a book, in a library in Oxnard, in black and white. Anyone could have read it. Anyone could have known. We just didn’t know what we were supposed to be listening for, I guess. I guess people rarely do.

I went home and learned Dylan’s song right away and taught it to Chris. It was the second song finished for OFRENDA. I made a few minor changes to Dylan’s lyrics, because they felt so personal to me, and they practically wrote themselves while we were recording his song. With apologies, Mr. Dylan. And thanks.

“I had no better friend than he…”


Here’s Dylan’s 1963 version:

Here’s ours:

Ofrenda LP: