Music, April 16: “Buskers vs. Vendors”
Busking in the SunThe businesses need to pay more attention to what they are doing to pull in business rather than blaming the buskers. As a resident of Santa Fe, I visit the Plaza for the music but often end up spending money at the shops, or would, if they were actually open during the hours that residents are free to visit them. In hundreds of visits to the Plaza, I’ve only rarely seen buskers blocking access to businesses or causing any disturbance. The problem is more often a lack of entertainment, especially as the days grow longer. Music on the Plaza helps, but needs to start earlier in the year.
ShootoutSounds like the real issue is to solve a problem with the vendors’ strict guidelines/city bylaws or just attitude. If buskers were to disappear, without a doubt the Plaza would become a ghost town. This would not help the vendors. I’ve seen this happen in other cities, and the management brought back the buskers to increase the tourism. The key is for the vendors and buskers to accept one another in the community and learn that both need to be there to succeed.
Yawp, April 16: “Then. and Since Then”
Simple BeautyThis is to express sincere appreciation for the column “Yawp Barbaric.” Some poetry is more accessible than other poetry, and as much admiration as I have for this art, its mystery and mechanics can seem at times elusive. Jon Davis shares his insights with both generosity and clarity. My thanks to Davis for his courage and commitment in writing, and SFR for their good sense in printing.
Cover, April 9: “Education Exodus”
I sympathize with many of the teachers who are frustrated with the conditions in New Mexico’s public schools. Unfortunately, what is lost in this discussion is that teachers are ultimately working for local government monopolies that have long track records of frustrating and failing their supposed “customers” (students and their parents).
The reforms introduced under No Child Left Behind and by both the Obama and Martinez administrations are, in many ways, top-down efforts to increase accountability within those systems. This is definitely second best relative to school choice and free competition in education, but when paired with additional funding, they have mustered enough political support to pass.
Education, as any teacher will tell you, is not a “one-size-fits-all” enterprise. Teaching styles and techniques that work for some students don’t work for others. This freedom and the incentive to fulfill the demands of the marketplace form the basis of a free market.
Unfortunately, when it comes to school choice, the unions that supposedly represent teachers are the leading opponents. Ironically, the most effective teachers would benefit from a more market-based education system. Schools, were they given the freedom (and economic incentive) to pay excellent teachers higher wages would pay those wages. And isn’t excellence what we’re looking for in education?
Cover, April 16: “Time’s Out for the Rio”
Many thanks to Laura Paskus for her sobering article on the likelihood that the Rio Grande will become a ghost river in this century. In the article, UNM biologist Tom Turner makes a crucial point: The continued survival of the Rio likely depends upon whether it is granted a right to a percentage of its own water. Turner also wisely stresses the importance of reshaping the current polarizing debate between farmers and environmentalists into a more constructive dialogue. There’s no reason why this shouldn’t be possible, since re-envisioning New Mexico’s historically wasteful irrigation practices would not only free up water to reallocate to the river and for environmental flows, but it would also ultimately prove more lucrative for farmers.
About 80 percent of the river’s annual flow is designated for agriculture, and much of this to grow low-profit crops inefficiently. The state should heavily incentivize farmers to switch to drip irrigation and other methods with higher conveyance efficiencies. After a transitional period, the state should then outlaw the use of flood irrigation of low-profit, water-intensive crops, such as alfalfa. This would free up a significant percentage of water to give back to the river to help compensate for its ever increasing losses to the diminished snowpack and greater evapotranspiration that result from a hotter, drier climate.
Climate change and drought should also make us reconsider the types of crops we grow and eat. If we were truly visionary and radically committed to the future of the Rio Grande (not to mention local food security), we would encourage the farming of wilder, drought- and heat-tolerant plants that—despite being tastier and more nutritious than their domestic cousins like lettuce and spinach—are still considered invasive weeds; these include London rocket (wild arugula), purslane (verdolagas), and quelites (wild spinach), which would require minimal to no irrigation. In the end, it is only through transforming our farming (and diet) that we can hope to preserve what remains of a once great river.
Waxing PoeticExcellent Rio Grande story.
Everything is temporal,
the wind swirls dust of past offenses rivers split and scarcely flow to
skinny streams across the scrubby chaparral.
Coyotes scream their tight-ribbed
man his longing for connection.
10,000 year black corn stalks lie fallow,
fields of mice droppings scent the air,
a rattler beats the tempo of what was once there.
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