I ’m not generally one to issue retractions, and while I stand by my overall point from my last column—that the only way to make our town better is to start talking about what we do want as opposed to what we don’t want—I may have been a little hard on the old white people. In my righteous fury, I allowed myself to forget something that was initially the most integral point I hoped to convey with these columns: We’re all in this together.
Over the last week, I was contacted by some of those who disagreed with what I wrote. Among them was Marilyn Bane, a former president of the Neighborhood Network. What I learned over the course of several long conversations was that the Neighborhood Network is not particularly entrenched in terms of politics or ideology. The positions they get behind are determined by the neighborhood associations that reach out to them for help, which are in turn governed by… the people in said neighborhoods.
While it's true that, recently, they often come out in opposition of certain large developments (El Rio, Morningstar Senior Living Center, etc.), the decision to do so had more to do with the individual natures of those proposed developments than any overriding ideology the group might have.
"The Blue Buffalo/El Rio for-profit rental development you referenced failed for several very good reasons," wrote Bane in her letter. "It was proposed as a 452 unit complex of ten 3-story buildings in a semi-rural area of the city surrounded by modest, 1-story, racially-mixed, low-to-middle income homes… An affordable housing component was included, as it had to be, but was designed to be in a separate and segregated building with occupants excluded from using the facilities (exercise room, pool, etc.) provided for market-rate renters."
Many in the group also have strong feelings regarding the need for any future development in this town to make use of green energy technology—something that would not only be of financial benefit to future residents and a step towards combating our growing global climate crisis, but could also kick-start the local green tech economy, bringing the kind of skilled, high-paying jobs to New Mexico that we desperately need. In short, much of what I heard directly paralleled the concerns I heard weeks earlier at the Santa Fe Next meeting.
This is what reminded me of why I started writing this column in the first place. Santa Fe is a fundamentally non-homogenous mixture of cultures, cliques and demographics, all mixing around together, but never really combining–like a melting pot without a heat source. But as Rick Martinez, also a big Neighborhood Network guy from way back, said in his response to me last week, "The ability to make one's voice heard in public does not necessarily guarantee success, especially when the public discussion is made up of many voices, as it should be."
So my proposal is this: I want to sit down over a beer/coffee/tea/glass of water with anyone else who has an opinion of what's wrong with our town. Over the next several months, this column is to become a platform for an open discussion of practical action that can be taken to make our town more like what we (the people) actually want it to be.
From reclaiming control of our elected and appointed officials from the moneyed interest of the energy and tourism lobbies, to fostering greater representation for primarily Spanish-speaking and immigrant families, to anything else you feel strongly enough about to discuss, we want to hear about your issues, because when all is said and done, I'm betting they'll all sound a lot more like our issues than anyone expected.
The point is often the least interesting part of the conversation. Have one with the author: firstname.lastname@example.org