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Room to Grow

Latest school grades for SFPS show many schools still ranked with Ds, Fs

Local NewsWednesday, August 24, 2016 by Elizabeth Miller

The latest round of school grades released from the New Mexico Public Education Department for Santa Fe Public Schools showed mixed results that may take weeks to decipher, but Interim Superintendent Veronica Garcia honed in on one set of scores: Acequia Madre and Pinon Elementary both moved from a B score in 2015, to an A this year. Both were able to make those necessary gains despite the very different composition—one is downtown and the other sits just south of Rodeo Road. And that’s a mark, she said in an informal sit-down with staff and media Wednesday afternoon, of an ability for schools to succeed regardless of their zipcode. 

The state bases grades on scores on a number of standardized tests, improvement from prior years as a school and among individual students, classroom practices that use proven teaching methods, student attendance, and a number of bonus points that can be secured through parent involvement, extracurricular offerings and reducing truancy. This year’s report from the state saw 10 schools receive a higher grade, 11 schools receive a lower grade, and eight receive the same score as last year. With the data fresh in their hands, Garcia says, it’s tough to name what fueled those fluxes. That analysis will likely be coming in a presentation to the school board weeks down the road. But the bottom line, Garcia says, is that to have five schools scoring an F is unacceptable. 

“We’re going to have to double our efforts,” she says. “We have a job to do and we have an ethical and a moral responsibility that we are educating our kids in a manner that they are graduating from high school and ready to go into college or career, to be ready to support their families, to be contributing members of our society.”

Notable gains were also achieved for Salazar Elementary and Gonzales Community School (K-8), with Salazar increasing from an F to a C, and Gonzales climbing for the second straight year, securing a B.

Stephanie Hubley, assistant principal at Gonzales, attributed their success to a strong team, an involved PTA, and basing instruction on student data. 

“While we do focus certainly on data, we also consider the whole student in terms of, we don’t lose the heart,” Hubley says. “So it’s kind of that interesting balance in this day and age of being data-driven and at the same time looking at the human being in front of us.”

They’ve also made use of intervention periods, additional instruction in areas identified as weak, and use that opportunity to give English language learning students additional support from certified teachers and outreach for gifted students. 

An attitude that learning doesn’t stop at 3 pm helped at Salazar, says James Luján, associate superintendent for school improvement and social justice, as did the support and dedication of staff, families and students, and an individualized approach to instruction during intervention periods.

The oft-cited frustration with the school grading system is that schools that get labeled as failing aren’t without hardworking teachers, dedicated staff or capable students, and to be marked as failing stings.

“We could take a day or two to be sad. It can be a morale issue and we need to recognize that,” Garcia says. “I don’t think I can ask teachers to work harder, because they have been working hard. It’s about working smarter.”

She’ll be aiming intensive support at those schools and named short-cycle assessments—standardized tests completed routinely through the year—as a tool to use to guide instruction and improve school performance. Ongoing professional development programs for teachers will be individualized to the school.

In secondary schools in particular, she says, teachers are prepared to teach content, not to teach students how to read, and yet, they have to teach students how to read.

“We need to work hard with our staff and students on taking the grades seriously, there’s always the controversy about standardized testing but that’s the data and we have to work with it,” says Carl Marano, principal at Santa Fe High, who just took that position this summer and says in his first weeks he’s been very impressed with both the students and the staff.

What he tells his teachers, he says, is that doing the best job they can and putting students first is what matters, and that the payoff comes in the long run.

“The biggest reward for any educator is not the school letter grade. It’s 10 years down the road, having a student say, ‘Thank you for all you did for me,’” he says. “These results aren’t immediate, but knowing that you can make an impact and be someone’s reason for coming to school, that’s what we strive to do. But that doesn’t mean we ignore the results, or ignore the data. It’s—fair or not, it’s an assessment, it’s what the state uses, and that’s what we have to live with. … We have a great school, no matter what the letter grade says.”

A complete list of school grades is available on the New Mexico Public Education Department website

Morning Word: Johnson Gains Momentum in New Mexico

New poll also shows Democrat leading in secretary of state race

Morning WordWednesday, August 24, 2016 by Peter St. Cyr
Poll Shows Johnson at 16 Percent in New Mexico
Gary Johnson’s presidential campaign has been gaining lots of momentum this summer, and it looks like he’s on track to do well on New Mexico’s ballot in November. New Mexico Political Report commissioned a public opinion poll that shows Johnson is favored by 16 percent of registered voters. Democrat Hillary Clinton leads Donald Trump 40 to 31 percent in the same poll.
In New Mexico’s biggest statewide race this fall, Democrat Maggie Toulouse Oliver leads Republican Nora Espinoza 42 percent to 35 percent. Still, 23 percent of New Mexico registered voters haven’t made up their minds in the Secretary of State race, more than twice the number of undecideds in the presidential race.
ID Realities
“Military installations in New Mexico, including Kirtland Air Force Base, will stop accepting some driver’s licenses for base access as early as Sept. 15 as implementation of the federal Real ID Act approaches,” military officials told the Albuquerque Journal
While New Mexico-issued licenses and IDs are valid under Real ID criteria in some aspects until October 2020, at this point they won’t be accepted for Kirtland access after Oct. 10 of this year absent another extension – which is considered likely.

Meanwhile, state officials said Tuesday they hope to begin issuing new Real ID compliant licenses later this year. Under the new system, undocumented immigrants would be eligible only for driving authorization cards that are not valid for purposes of federal identification.
Utah Pulls the Plug on Facebook
It looks like the Facebook's data center site is New Mexico’s to lose after officials in Utah pulled the plug on a hefty tax-incentive package worth up to $260 million over 20 years.

Jurors Impacted by Belt Tightening
“New Mexico jurors and court interpreters are the latest group to feel the pinch of a budget crunch that has all of state government tightening its belt,” the Associated Press reports.
A fund that pays jurors and interpreters has been struggling for several years and the shortfall is now approaching $1 million. Legislative analysts say the gap could be lessened if the courts slash juror pay rates to $4.25 an hour. State statute calls for minimum wage. The Legislature has authorized the state Supreme Court to adjust the payments to cope with underfunding.
Garcia Optimistic at Start of School Year
The new interim Santa Fe Public Schools superintendent sat down with SFR’s Elizabeth Miller to talk about her priorities as school gets underway. Veronica Garcia says she’s focused on “ensuring teachers, staff, students and the community feel a sense of stability despite a change in leadership.” 

Dream Center
A nonprofit faith-based group wants to buy the old Lovelace Medical Center in Albuquerque and turn it into a center to house and help people struggling with drug addictions, homelessness and victims of human trafficking.

Space Cadets
The Washington Post has an interesting feature about the billionaires pioneering space tourism.

Zozobra Stuffed
Old man gloom won’t go down in a blaze of fire for another week, but Santa Fe residents are already stuffing the cranky bastard with papers documenting their personal frustrations and gloom. Santa Fe police and the sheriff's department give a lot of shredded paper for the cause, including old reports, search warrants and other gloom and doom.

MetroGlyphs

08.24.16

MetroGlyphsWednesday, August 24, 2016 by SFR
Russ Thornton is a Santa Fe local who has replaced his first passion, cooking, with a new love interest, the weekly SFR comic he's created called MetroGlyphs. Reach him at santafechef@hotmail.com

7 Days

08.24.16

7 DaysWednesday, August 24, 2016 by SFR
1

RYAN LOCHTE’S LIES EMBARRASS THE NATION

That’s why they call him Swim Shady.

2

PARCC TEST RESULTS SHOW LOCAL SCHOOLS IMPROVE IN MATH

May they grasp compounding interest more firmly than we did.

3

ALL PUEBLO COUNCIL OF GOVERNORS ENDORSES CLINTON FOR PRESIDENT

Alice Cooper and Gary Johnson are super-bummed.

4

GAWKER.COM SAYS GOODBYE

Remember, we live in a country where a billionaire can shut down a whole media outlet because of a story he doesn’t like.

5

UBER APP ADDS SPANISH-SPEAKING DRIVER REQUESTS

¡Vamanos!

6

WIPP ACCIDENT RANKED AMONG MOST COSTLY NUKE ACCIDENTS IN NATION

That’s how we get to the top of the list!

7

GOVERNOR DECLARES DEATH PENALTY AS POLICY PRIORITY

Voters will only support this if it’s a sentencing option for a 13th DWI.


Back to School Reading List for Adults

FeaturesWednesday, August 24, 2016 by SFR

The unmistakable nip of fall is settling into Santa Fe mornings, the chamisa are starting to hint at turning their autumn gold and the big yellow school buses are rolling down city streets. The staff at SFR finds this the very best season for settling down with a few good books.

I spent part of 2016 with my nose buried in a tattered copy of Moby Dick. Having avoided this cultural coin in the change purse of early-American literature for this long, I had always wanted to check it off my lifetime reading bucket list. It took months. It was torturous. More than once, I wanted to abandon the endeavor and trade it in for the 2014 Emoji Dick version that was “written” with the help of an automated Amazon translator. Yet, I made it to the end. (Spoiler alert: The whale wins.)

We promise that the books we highlight in the following pages won’t be like that. They’re new works with new ideas that we think you, dear readers, will actually enjoy. Some have local connections, like the latest in the mystery novels that form the foundation for the Longmire TV series, a hiking guide with ideas for off-beat adventures where you might even learn something, and former journalist John Fleck’s analysis of successful water management in New Mexico that’s also an admonition to the future about community cooperation. Others are books we just really liked, such a graphic novel about Marines and a riveting exploration of genetics and ethics.

And we couldn’t fit all the book info we wanted to impart in just this section of the paper, so check out an Arts and Culture feature on a local publishing imprint and the Three Questions section in the calendar with former SFR columnist Rob Wilder. Finally, if you want more about Melville, don’t miss a tidbit about his romance with Nathaniel Hawthorne. Happy fall, y’all. (Julie Ann Grimm)



Speaking to Scars

Not-quite-memoir cuts close to teen anguish that strikes young women

As she labored away in an administrative position at a university creative writing program, Kathleen Glasgow was trying to write her first novel.

It was not the inaugural book that she published this summer, however.

The pivotal moment came on a city bus on her way to work late one Midwestern spring when she saw them: angry scars on a teenage girl’s arm, scars not unlike the ones she made on her own limbs.

“I didn’t want to write this book. I was writing another novel, and I certainly didn’t want to go back into the past and dredge up all these emotional feelings, because I have worked really hard to get beyond that and not harm myself,” Glasgow tells SFR from her home in Tucson.

The girl noticed that she had noticed. She tugged at her long sleeves, pulling them back into position.

“I should have said something to her. I should have said to her, ‘You are not alone, and I did it and I am here and you will be here later,’” she says. “And in essence, I decided that I didn’t have that book growing up and I am going to write that book for girls and boys like her.”

Excerpt

LIKE A BABY HARP SEAL, I’M ALL WHITE. MY FOREARMS are thickly bandaged, heavy as clubs. My thighs are wrapped tightly, too; white gauze peeks out from the shorts Nurse Ava pulled from the lost and found box behind the nurses’ station.

Like an orphan, I came here with no clothes. Like an orphan, I was wrapped in a bedsheet and left on the lawn of Regions Hospital in the freezing sleet and snow, blood seeping through the flowered sheet.

The security guard who found me was bathed in menthol cigarettes and the flat stink of machine coffee. There was a curly forest of white hair inside his nostrils.

He said, “Holy Mother of God, girl, what’s been done to you?”

My mother didn’t come to claim me.

But: I remember the stars that night. They were like salt against the sky, like someone spilled the shaker against very dark cloth.

That mattered to me, their accidental beauty. The last thing I thought I might see before I died on the cold, wet grass.

***

THE GIRLS HERE, THEY TRY TO GET ME TO TALK. They want to know What’s your story, morning glory? Tell me your tale, snail. I hear their stories every day in Group, at lunch, in Crafts, at breakfast, at dinner, on and on. These words that spill from them, black memories, they can’t stop. Their stories are eating them alive, turning them inside out. They cannot stop talking.

I cut all my words out. My heart was too full of them.

***

I ROOM WITH LOUISA. LOUISA IS OLDER AND HER HAIR IS LIKE A red-and-gold noisy ocean down her back. There’s so much of it, she can’t even keep it in with braids or buns or scrunchies. Her hair smells like strawberries; she smells better than any girl I’ve ever known. I could breathe her in forever.

My first night here, when she lifted her blouse to change for bed, in the moment before that crazy hair fell over her body like a protective cape, I saw them, all of them, and I sucked my breath in hard.

She said, “Don’t be scared, little one.”

I wasn’t scared. I’d just never seen a girl with skin like mine.


From Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow; © 2016 by the author. Published by Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, New York.

Books about depression and self-harm didn’t make their way to mainstream shelves until Glasgow, now 47, was in her 20s. When she found 1994’s Prozac Nation by Elizabeth Wurtzel, Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen, which had published a year earlier, and the 1999 Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, she says she felt validated.

Nine years after that bus ride, Girl in Pieces made its debut. Unlike the works from Wurtzel and Kaysen, Glasgow’s is not an outright memoir. Yet there are pieces of her in the plot that revolves around Charlie, a teenage girl who readers first meet mute in a psychiatric hospital.

"I gave Charlie my scars and the emotions behind the scars, but her story belongs to her. "

“I gave Charlie my scars and the emotions behind the scars, but her story belongs to her. Her particular trajectory in life is completely fictional and it’s not mine,” Glasgow says. “But when I was writing the book, I was really specific with myself that if I was going to talk about such an emotional subject—self harm—that I was going to be completely honest about it and I was going to go for broke, because not many people really understand why people do it and what it’s really like.”

Self-harm such as Charlie’s deliberate cutting of her arms and legs with broken glass is rarely suicidal, psychologists say, but people describe it as bringing a sense of relief and control, often followed by regret and shame—a repeating cycle common for people with depression and victims of or witnesses to violence. Most agree it affects girls in disproportionate numbers.

Glasgow says she distracted herself from some of the hard-to-handle “last gasps” of the book with binges on Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead.

“There were times when I had to stop and walk away and not go back to it for three months. It’s very hard. It’s a subject that if you’ve been through it or you suffer depression, it can be pretty triggering. I had to be careful with writing it at the right times,” she says.

Healing come in many forms. Although it’s a trite chronology for anyone who’s heard their share of “the mountain called me” stories about how people land in Santa Fe, Charlie’s time in our city in the novel is important in the plot.

Glasgow has visited often, including during her days as a student at the University of New Mexico, she says, and her next book—already under contract with Random House—is set in what she describes as a fictional Northern New Mexico town. It, too, is about a teenage girl.

Glasgow says she’s drawn to write about young women because she feels “perpetually stuck in adolescence.”

Books about depression and self-harm didn’t make their way to mainstream shelves until Kathleen Glasgow, now 47, was in her 20s.
Courtesy Random House

“I once read something that said the moment your addiction starts is the moment that you stop emotionally developing as a person. … So if I thought about it completely, adolescence for me was a time when I had no idea who I was and I was trying to bury my past in a way and have a future, but yet I was keeping myself in the same spot by harming myself and drinking too much. Adolescence is this passionate time. You want to know about the world, and you have not quite been as pared down by experience as you will be when you are an adult. You have to round off your edges to get a job or go to school. So I think it’s a brilliant time to write about and to think about.” (JAG)




The Hour of Land

A Personal Topography of America’s National Parks

Author: Terry Tempest Williams

That who we are as a people, what we have become as a nation, and where and how we govern ourselves is echoed in our public lands resonates through Terry Tempest Williams’ latest book, The Hour of Land. The stories of ourselves are etched in those miles, in America’s “evolving idea,” as Williams writes. In a book commemorating the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, created Aug. 25, 1916, Williams tours national parks from Big Bend at the Mexico border in Texas to Gates of the Arctic.

Some of them provide familiar territory for Williams, like the towering peaks of Grand Teton National Park she grew up hiking. Some, like Big Bend’s towering sandstone canyons, offer new terrain for her to explore. And some are made new by the company she keeps, as she returns to Gettysburg National Military Park with her adopted son from Rwanda, a survivor of the genocide there, who asks how any war can be “civil.”

True to her form, meditative prose poems consume some chapters and we’re left only with glimpses of the sea birds. But what emerges clearly is that we are not yet done with damaging these places. We’re still desecrating the few burial mounds preserved in Iowa’s Effigy Mounds, threatening to slice up Big Bend in the name of a border wall to block immigration, and encroaching on the solitude Theodore Roosevelt sought in the North Dakota park that now bears his name with drilling rigs and natural gas flares.

Over and over again, she makes clear the need to preserve these places, not just for the sake of the land, but for the sake of ourselves. It’s not just the plants and animals that need these spaces, she insists, invoking Wallace Stegner. We need them, too. (Elizabeth Miller)




The Highwayman

Author: Craig Johnson

Every night, at 12:34 am, Highway Patrol Trooper Rosey Wayman receives the same call for help over her patrol car radio. She’d normally rise to the occasion, but the caller’s voice sounds eerily like that of Trooper Bobby Womack, who died 35 years ago. Has Wayman lost her mind, or is Womack’s ghost trying to tell her something? The Highwayman is the 14th installment in Craig Johnson’s Longmire series, which began in 2006, and serves as the inspiration for the popular television show, now in its fifth season, filmed at Greer Garson Studio at the Santa Fe University of Art and Design and on location throughout New Mexico. Sheriff Walt Longmire and Henry Standing Bear seek to uncover the mystery of Womack’s death and affirm Wayman’s sanity.

Johnson’s greatest strength lies with his dialogue, which comes off as folksy and natural, but don’t expect him to introduce the protagonists. He doesn’t spend much time describing characters or setting, leaving the reader unmoored from one scene to the next.

The conclusion of the story also leaves one asking, “Oh, it was that guy?” It might be best to catch this one when they adapt it for television, but if you’re looking for a carefree read peppered with snappy dialogue, it’s good for a lazy afternoon. (Andrew Koss)




LaRose

Author: Louise Erdrich

When a shot fired at a deer in the field behind his house accidentally kills his neighbor’s 5-year-old son, Landreaux Iron turns to the Ojibwe traditions for a path toward atonement, and gives his youngest son to his neighbors to raise as their own. “Our son will be your son now,” he and his wife declare.

The roughshod justice mercilessly intertwines the two families (already tangled through estranged half-sisters) around a boy named for generations of healers. In Louise Erdrich’s recognizable blending of past and present, the narrative leaps back centuries to weave in the story of the earliest namesake for the boy, LaRose. Her deft hand is again at play creating characters who feel familiar while riding far beyond the bounds of any stereotypical boxes for them. A narrative that, by certain measures, hovers around a recovered alcoholic Native American, depressed housewife, angst-ridden teenagers and a precocious child explodes into terrain that reminds us of the intractable draw of our ancestors, the inescapable reach of our own grief and how the stains of suspicion and guilt can corrupt even the boldest gesture toward redemption.

Those familiar with Erdrich’s previous works, including National Book Award winner The Round House, will recognize some names in this latest entry into her ongoing saga of Native and white families in North Dakota. Above all, Erdrich’s work shows clear mastery in this highly literary exploration of the limits of our generosity and the rippling damage of bones badly set as they heal. (EM)




Hiking to History

A Guide to Off-Road New Mexico Historic Sites

Author: Robert Julyan

With due deference to the Sierra Club’s Day Hikes in the Santa Fe Area as the dominant hiking guide for our readers, this work is a worthy addition to the outdoor reference collection for locals in that it’s really only sort of a hiking guide. If you’ve already taken your in-laws to Bandelier too many times, the book might also up your tourism hospitality game. Robert Julyan presents essays and general directions on 22 interesting day trips that hopscotch through time and place with way more details than you find on trailhead signs or roadside markers.

“I’ve always felt that history is best experienced on foot, if for no other reason than that was usually how it was made,” he writes in the introduction. In the right crowd, you might even read parts of the short pieces aloud to your companions during the road trip. While Julyan hits the obvious highlights of state’s history including the turquoise mine near Cerrillos, the Manhattan project and Billy the Kid’s Wild West in Lincoln County, the spots he suggests for visits are not just off-road, as the title boasts, but also off-beat. Travel along the same road that brought New York City artists to Taos in the 1890s to a boulder that marks where a broken wagon wheel set off a reimagined creativity in the region for many easterners who would follow. Walk through the Pecos Wilderness to the picturesque meadow known as the home of Beattys Cabin and get a primer on how the elk that stalk there now are only present because of help from a herd in Wyoming when the native elk had been hunted to extinction. Not all the places are accessible for all travelers, but most don’t require epic training either. Or, one could simply enjoy the encyclopedic stroll through the imagination without leaving the library. (JAG)



Challenging the West’s Water Myths

Journalist sets out to write the stories of adaptability and adjustment

When longtime water-beat reporter John Fleck found himself spending a spare afternoon in Prague along the Vltava River, near the place where a narrow, fordable section drew people and the City of Bridges followed, the idea that water is at the core of our communities clicked into place. “If you’re a journalist and a storyteller, thinking about a community and trying to understand how a community functions, you can always start with the water,” Fleck says. “Water was always this central organizing principle from which everything else follows.”

We gravitated then, just as travelers gravitate now, to the banks of the Thames in London or the waterfront in Seattle, he says. Cities are where they are because of the water they access—like Santa Fe, situated where the river runs out of the mountains.

“If you want to understand a city, you can always start with its water and think about how it grew and evolved, how people came together collectively to manage the water, to build around it, to think about it,” he says. “Then this thing happens often, and that’s especially true in the West, where we kind of overshoot our water.”

Excerpt: Chapter 1, Rejoining the Sea

The Myths

The catastrophe narrative isn’t just inaccurate—it promotes myths that actually stand in the way of solving our problems. Most obvious is the myth that “water’s for fighting over.” The quote is wrongly attributed to Mark Twain, but it’s also just plain wrong. Fighting rarely solves water problems, and scholars have found that collaborative agreements are far more common than winner-take-all fights, whether in the courts or with guns.

A corollary myth is that “water flows uphill toward money,” as if the rich will inevitably run roughshod over their neighbors in the coming water wars. But a century of water allocation law and policy shows this is simply false for the vast majority of the water in the United States. One need simply look at farming’s share of Colorado River water (some 70 to 80 percent) compared with its share of the economies of the US basin states (2 percent) to see the fallacy in that truism. The far-richer cities have far less water than their farming cousins.

The most pervasive of the myths is that we are “about to run out of water.” I’ve heard it countless times, and it usually follows a predictable pattern. Today, we need this much water to support this many people and this much farming. As either grows, we’ll need more water, the narrative would suggest. ... [T]hat deeply held fear of “running out” of water feeds back into the first myths, triggering a limbic response to protect “our share” against others.

From Water is for Fighting Over by John Fleck; citation from original omitted. © 2016 by the author. Reproduced by permission of Island Press, Washington DC.

In the three decades he spent reporting on water, including a long stretch at the Albuquerque Journal, perhaps the steadiest stream had predictions for drought, and then, in recent years, drought.

“I realized we were confronting that drought that we always feared, and that the kind of chaos and crisis that everyone expected wasn’t happening,” he says. “I got really interested in the question of why that is, how that is, what is it that we’re doing that’s different than what I had expected, and sort of confronting my own assumptions that grew out of that apocalyptic narrative of Cadillac Desert and Chinatown.”

He’s since left newspapers in part to have time to write a book on all he’d learned, but also to teach the next generation of water managers at the University of New Mexico. He wrote Water is for Fighting Over and Other Myths about Water in the West as a way of telling, in depth, case studies of the planes that don’t crash and the cars that don’t wreck: the many success stories for water management. Fleck characterizes the book as a balance to the “narrative of doom” prevailing in nonfiction about the West, pushing back with figures like that Albuquerque’s per-capita water use has reduced by half since the mid-1990s; that while the population of Las Vegas, Nevada, has increased by 600,000, the city’s water consumption has dropped by 33 percent, and in the farm country of Imperial Valley, on the Colorado River Basin, water use has declined 20 percent since the early 2000s. He writes about how Californian communities have collaborated on how to re-water their aquifers to keep the ocean out.

“We know we have the tools to use less water. Everybody can use less water. And once we recognize that, then it’s easier to compromise and collaborate with your neighbors,” he says. “There’s this instinct to want to go to the barricades and fight for a lot of people, but if we can get beyond that expectation of the classic quote that Mark Twain never said, that beer is for drinking and water is for fighting over, then you can create the space for collaborative solutions.”

When John Wesley Powell first explored the American West in the 19th century, he declared no cities could ever rise from so arid a landscape. He’s right and he’s wrong, Fleck says. The 20th century industriously produced a system of dams and canals that do allow for people to live in dry climates, as well as grow crops and raise livestock there. But, he adds, “We’ve also demonstrated that Powell was right, that we can’t support as much as we thought we could. … So can we, through these collaborative human relationships in our communities and our water management communities, figure out to walk ourselves back from the brink? Because if we try to keep expanding acreage and diverting more water out of our rivers, that’s going to fail.”

There’s a limit out there somewhere, and communities will have to decide which end to constrain: growth, or water consumption.

I think that’s the choice that every single community faces,” he says. “There is no more water, because of climate change, there is probably less water, so communities that have a water supply need to recognize that there’s risk that that water supply could be smaller. And they could choose to continue to have lawns and swimming pools and palm trees and not grow, or if they want to grow, they can choose to conserve water, to use less water, to manage their water better to allow the growth that they want.”

John Fleck is pouring out his knowledge on Western water management.
Karl Flessa

The newest piece of that conversation about how to allocate water stems from its oldest uses, and that has meant trying to allocate some water to the rivers themselves.

“This is one of the hardest parts of the problem, because we have all these legal and policy structures that were built before we had this broad set of environmental values. So figuring out how to carve out some water for this—it sounds weird to call it a new use because it’s really the oldest of uses, but in our human management of water it is kind of conceptually new—is really important,” Fleck says.

We’ve seen that in the Santa Fe River, which now has the Living River Ordinance, and in San Luis Río Colorado in Mexico, where a dry riverbed in a town named for the presence of a river saw water for the first time in decades after a historic agreement among the Colorado River’s shareholders led to dam releases just for that purpose.

“You have to think about how to use less water in some other area in order to enable that, and these are hard conversations about values as communities,” he says.

Environmentalists thought it would never happen, and now they’ve seen it once. Doing it again may be the challenge.

“I think we can,” Fleck says. “If that’s what we decide we care about, we can do it.” (EM)




Terminal Lance

The White Donkey

Author: Maximilian Uriarte

While Marine-turned-comics artist Maximilian Uriarte draws all the characters in his new graphic novel, Terminal Lance: The White Donkey, with a high level of detail, he handles the backgrounds of locations like Hawaii, Oregon and Iraq in a sort of washed-out, dreamlike fashion. Minimal colors represented in watercolor set the mood for most scenes and make limited instances of vivid color hit much harder. The tale of a young Marine named Abe who enlists to fill some unknowable void within himself, Uriarte’s creation is semi-autobiographical and acutely terrifying throughout each of its sections.

Uriarte shirks the convention of graphic novel narration to focus on conversational dialog of Marines; rarely have we seen a more intimate or authentic view into the day-to-day of our armed forces. The portrayal of the actual people behind the war and their reasons to fight is stark and honest, and we learn that even mundane routines have the potential to become emotional minefields. Abe’s descent from bright-eyed, optimistic youth to unraveling, explosive drunk grappling with PTSD is difficult yet movingly real. His failed attempts to re-assimilate into civilian life are disarmingly genuine and patiently crafted. Uriarte’s first foray into a format longer than his recurring Terminal Lance strip (which appears in the Marine Corps Times), The White Donkey is nearly impossible to put down. As we root for characters that seem unflinchingly true to life, Abe’s story remains gripping right up to the very last emotionally charged page. (Alex De Vore)



 

The Gene

An Intimate History

AUTHOR: Siddhartha Mukherjee

Physician Siddhartha Mukherjee masterfully traces the progression of “one of the most powerful and dangerous ideas in the history of science.” This story begins in 19th-century Austria, where an Augustinian abbot named Gregor Mendel quietly established the rules of inheritance. From that point, Mukherjee invites readers to discover every major insight of genetics alongside the scientists who brought them to light. The author, who won a Pulitzer prize for The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, writes a scientific procedural as thrilling as any mystery novel, each revelation—from the discovery of DNA to a complete map of the human genome—representing another piece of the puzzle.

Along the way, Mukherjee explores some of the social consequences of genetics. On one side of the coin, we’ve sequenced diseases, found a scientific basis for sexual preference and traced all humans to a common African ancestor. On the other: Carrie Buck and Hitler.

And then there are the ethics of now. Scientists are on the cusp of “broadly manipulating” the genome of a human embryo. It’s technology that could potentially eliminate certain diseases, like Huntington’s and cystic fibrosis, while also paving our way to designer babies.

Coming from a lineage speckled with mental illness, Mukherjee is intimately connected to his subject. Stories of his family’s struggles with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia weave throughout the scientific narrative, adding a personal touch to the story, and perhaps offering readers a point of connection. (Steven Hsieh)




Mongrels

Author: Stephen Graham Jones

The troubles with being a werewolf in modern Americas are multifold—not only are there the standard-issue gauntlets of hunting and being chased for having hunted, but there are the woes of holding down a job, maintaining a credit score, keeping school records and retrieving shed clothing. There is, as well, the ongoing worry of getting caught. Werewolves, Stephen Graham Jones posits in Mongrels, must have to move a lot.

Mongrels, Jones’ latest in a line of more than 20 books and his first successful foray into the subgenre, is the offspring of a class he taught at the University of Colorado focused on werewolves. He told Westword, “I had so much werewolf stuff in my head. I had to unpack it. I finally had enough nerve to tackle what I saw as my big werewolf novel, the one I was meant to write.”

The story is of a transient, mismatched family: the narrator is raised by his aunt and uncle, his mother having died the day he was born, as is expected in werewolf families. They traverse the southern portions of America, avoiding snowfall as they roam from the house in Arkansas where the narrator’s storytelling grandfather dies mid-morph, prematurely aged out of existence at 55 and already too old to continuing “wolfing out.”

All the while, the narrator edges toward age 16 and the answer to the question that should, by then, arrive—whether he’ll transform, like his aunt and uncle do, or whether, as was the case with his mother, the genes have skipped him. And which side does he want to land on anyway?

It’s not all trouble and terror, as Jones layers in a good dose of the humor no doubt required by a contingent that suffers great difficulty keeping tabs on a pair of pants. (EM)


Letters to the Editor

08.24.16

Letters to the EditorWednesday, August 24, 2016 by SFR

News, August 10: “Bikes in the Woods”


We All Ride Together

Mountain bikers didn’t mourn the establishment of the Columbine Hondo Wilderness Area, as was reported. Instead, we celebrated, along with the rest of the community, the permanent protection of a spectacular area and the establishment of a new 20-mile loop trail.

With less than 2 percent wilderness, New Mexico has relatively less wilderness than other Western states. Wilderness advocates and mountain bikers share a lot of common ground and I consider myself both, just like thousands of others who cherish our country’s natural treasures. ... Without the pristine views, clean water, and abundant wildlife, our life in Santa Fe would be very different.

Opponents of federal public lands, like Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), will use any means to attempt to divide and conquer these groups for the purpose of allowing commercial development of our public lands. Instead, let’s continue work together to honor these last wild places and also promote healthy outdoor activities for all citizens.

Doug Booth
Santa Fe


News, August 17: “Short Supply”


Let Them Have Meds

This isn’t the first time that SFR has reported about shortages of medications. The regulators’ conservative philosophies are clearly more important to them than the act legalizing cannabis as medication. They’re creating bigger health care disparities for low-income residents around the state. Kelly O’Donnell’s market report is a real wake-up call for the industry. ... Peter St. Cyr needs to find out if lawmakers have the will to hold the bureaucrats responsible or at least provide critical oversight.

Linda O’Day
SFReporter.com


Cover, August 17: “Cannabusted”


Trust the Men in Blue

Different parts of government aren’t talking to each other. Cops should be able to arrest people for barbaric behavior disruptive to the welfare of the community. If pot is involved it would be a coincidence. Santa Fe cops can’t be expected to perform intelligently under conflicting regulations. I will continue to trust their mostly good judgement.

Ned Carbine
SFReporter.com



SFR will correct factual errors online and in print. Please let us know if we make a mistake, editor@sfreporter.com or 988-7530.

Mail letters to PO Box 2306, Santa Fe, NM 87504, deliver to 132 E Marcy St., or email them to editor@sfreporter.com. Letters (no more than 200 words) should refer to specific articles in the Reporter. Letters will be edited for space and clarity.

Eavesdropper

08.24.16

EavesdropperWednesday, August 24, 2016 by SFR

“He said, ‘Send me a Snapchat.’ I’m like, ‘No. I’m not 12.’”

—Overheard on the Plaza



Send your Overheard in Santa Fe tidbits to: eavesdropper@sfreporter.com


‘The hope of a new school year’

Veronica Garcia says she’ll keep district on course for gains

Local NewsWednesday, August 24, 2016 by Elizabeth Miller

As Veronica Garcia takes the helm of Santa Fe Public Schools as superintendent just as the school year starts, she says her first priority lies in ensuring teachers, staff, students and the community feel a sense of stability despite a change in leadership.

“Our focus has to be on the children,” she tells SFR. “We need to keep our focus on teaching and learning so at the end of the school year, people feel we made progress.”

With the district four years in to the five-year plan former Superintendent Joel Boyd had been charged with implementing, this year starts with major changes: the merger of two middle schools, new principals at the helm of several schools (including Santa Fe High), the new Early College vocational training program and the ongoing rollout of the district’s digital learning plan that aims to put technology in the hands of every student. Schools are working with district staff on keeeping up with the strategic plan—for now, Garcia says, though she plans to have individual meetings with principals “to make sure they have what they need.”

“It’s just bringing intentionality to the work,” she says.

The district is also still working to increase its graduation rate and test scores. The latest round of scores from the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers was released late last week and found that while Santa Fe Public Schools made slight gains over last year, results still hover below the statewide averages in most subjects and see more than two-thirds of students failing to secure proficient scores on these exams.

Garcia was quickly selected as interim superintendent following Boyd’s departure in early August for a job in the private sector and a life in Florida.

“She’s got the tools and skills to take the district to the next level, but her charge is not change. That was my job,” Boyd told SFR during his last day in the office. He leaves behind a school district where one in five students goes to a school that didn’t exist when he was hired. “Now, it’s to continue the push, and continuation of change is very different than initiation of change.”

Garcia spent the first day of school—her third day on the job—riding the bus to and visiting classrooms at Capital High, welcoming first graders at César Chávez Elementary, visiting classrooms and the pumpkin patch at Kearny Elementary, and serving lunch to students at Piñon Elementary. She comes to the district with previous experience at the helm, having served as Santa Fe’s superintendent during a financially troubled era (from 1999 to 2001). She then became the state’s first secretary of education under Gov. Bill Richardson before joining New Mexico Voices for Children, where she worked on child welfare issues, specifically early education.

Goals for her previous position and the new one converge. Predictors of poverty for a generation’s adults begin with that generation’s pre-kindergarten enrollment, fourth-grade reading, eighth-grade math and graduation rates—all gains the district’s strategic plan strives to make. In recent years, the district has seen triple the number of students enrolled in early education programs and a graduation rate that has climbed 10 points.

This time around as superintendent, her sights are set on the big-picture goals of having students who graduate ready for college or career and who grow up to be lifelong learners, and ensuring teachers feel valued and build a sense of renewed enthusiasm. A program that allows principals to visit other schools to trade ideas and insight might be extended to teachers, she says, as part of an effort to provide opportunities for collegiality.

Creating lifelong learners means nurturing an individual student’s curiosities, tapping in to what excites them and letting that grow. While the curriculum may have to stay the same, she says, at least schools can try to teach students how to learn, so they can continue pursue those interests on their own.

Aside from that, Garcia says, “Things will come up. Just because we’re in an interim state doesn’t mean there won’t be problems to solve.”

While much has changed since her last stint with the district—security, technology and even the physical geography of some of the schools—much remains the same.

“Schools just have a fundamental structure, a fundamental rhythm,” she says. “That’s the thing about school. There’s always a fresh start, the hope of a new school year.”


On the Stump at Home

NM’s former governor eyes the presidency again with higher stakes

Local NewsWednesday, August 24, 2016 by Steven Hsieh

Gary Johnson, the former New Mexico governor and current Libertarian nominee for president, stepped onstage at the Albuquerque Convention Center wearing mesh Nikes and mom jeans, the uniform apparent for a candidate whose Super PAC just spent $30,000 on “internet web memes.”

Tears welled in his eyes—a reaction, he says, to hearing his two adult children speak on his behalf moments before.

“Is this the craziest election ever?” asked Johnson to a crowd of hundreds on Aug. 20. “You know how crazy it is, right? I’m going to be the next president of the United States.”

When Johnson ran on the Libertarian ticket in 2012, he received 1 percent of the popular vote. But in this polarizing election, Libertarian hopefuls see a rare opportunity for his third-party candidacy, which has secured ballot access with 39 states. Polls show major-party nominees Hillary Clinton, and even more so, Donald Trump, at historically low favorability levels. Johnson and his running mate, former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld, are attempting to bring their poll numbers up to 15 percent, the threshold for a spot on the debate stage in September.

Johnson cut straight to his stump speech: Get rid of income and corporate taxes to create “millions” of jobs. Strip away zoning regulations and watch affordable housing rise. Enter trade deals and encourage entrepreneurship.

“The model of the future is Uber everything. Uber doctor, Uber lawyer, Uber accountant, electrician, plumber,” Johnson said. “Eliminate the middleman.”

Alfred Walker, an assistant attorney for the City of Santa Fe, stood in the front row, throwing his arms up in agreement with the Johnson philosophy of “keeping government out of our bedrooms and out of our pocketbooks.” Walker has always been a “small-L” libertarian, he tells SFR, but this will be his first time voting for the party proper.

Clinton and Trump? “They are both exactly the same,” he says. “They’ll both increase the size of government.”

Alfred Walker, far right, is planning to vote for a libertarian candidate for the first time.
Steven Hsieh

Before Johnson came on stage, several New Mexico Republicans offered their support for the candidate. (The state provided his best showing in 2012, giving him about 3.55 percent of the popular vote.) Johnson, who first made a career running a construction firm, served two terms as governor from 1995 to 2003.

State Sen. Lisa Torraco, R-Albuquerque, said she would “spit” at the next suggestion that a vote for Johnson is really a vote for Clinton or Trump.

“Trump is a pussy!” interrupted a supporter from the back of the room, echoing a public comment made by Johnson not once, but twice, this election cycle. (Clinton and Green Party candidate Jill Stein are the two remaining large party hopefuls who have yet to make crude reference to the female anatomy. Notice a pattern?)

A Blair Dunn, son of Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn and Republican candidate for state Senate in Bernalillo County, kicked off the event with crowd-rousing calls to action. “New Mexico and Albuquerque, are you ready for some liberty?”

Dunn also came with jokes. “Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that Trump and Hillary are riding a plane across the Atlantic and they crash. Who wins?” said Dunn, before revealing his punchline: “America.”

And even before Dunn joked about the two major presidential candidates dying in a fiery accident, Johnson wandered among a group of lowriders outside the convention center who had recently announced their support for the Libertarian ticket.

At one point, the former governor climbed inside a candy-green whip and glued his hands to the ceiling as the vehicle bounced wildly into the air. Political gods could not have dreamed up a better photo-op.

“I am so honored,” Johnson repeated as supporters approached him for selfies.

This is probably not Johnson's first time in a lowrider.
Steven Hsieh

 

Backdropped by cars with Lambo doors, the governor sat down for a television interview.

“I’ve never thought about asking a candidate for president this, but how does it feel to use marijuana?” the interviewer asked.

“I would say it feels pleasant,” Johnson replied. He last consumed marijuana in the form of edibles about three months ago. (The former governor, a health nut, stopped smoking.) He also served as CEO of a marijuana branding company called Cannabis Sativa Inc., but stepped down to run for president.

Johnson’s opposition to the War on Drugs is perhaps his best-known position. Walker, the city attorney, says he didn’t totally agree with Johnson when he announced his support for legalizing marijuana in 1999, but he admired the governor’s conviction while Bill Clinton’s drug czar called him “Puff Daddy Johnson.”

“What the governor said made me think, We need to talk about it,” said Walker, who previously served as an assistant district attorney.

Another distinction of Johnson: He wants to roll back American interventionism. He’s been a critic of the Obama administration’s backing of rebel groups during the Syrian and Libyan civil wars—a move he says has helped foster extremist groups like the Islamic State.

“In my lifetime, I cannot think of a single instance where when we’ve supported regime change it has resulted in anything better,” Johnson said during the rally.

It’s a message that resonates with John Lovell, a 35-year-old Army veteran who spoke with SFR outside a nearby Starbucks a few hours before.

Lovell sported flowing brown hair and a t-shirt emblazoned with the Libertarian mascot: a red, white and blue porcupine. He turned to the party in spite of contrary influences in his life. Lovell’s father, a Democrat, pushed him leftwards because of his family’s working class background, he says. His platoon sergeant, a Republican, nudged him to the right because of the GOP’s small-government philosophy.

In 2012, Lovell heard then-Republican presidential nominee Ron Paul speak, and he found his people.

“People should not have to witness what I saw over there. It was horrifying,” he tells SFR, referring to the Iraq War.

Johnson, for the record, is currently the leading presidential candidate in polls among active military personnel.


Electro-Punk

Pictureplane comes home to slay the Southside

Music FeaturesWednesday, August 24, 2016 by Alex De Vore

Maybe you’ve heard the name Pictureplane bandied about in Santa Fe in recent years as one of the more exciting and innovative purveyors of electronic music. Well, there’s a good reason for that—by infusing a punk rock mentality into a technically more house or techno style, Pictureplane (aka Travis Egedy, a former Santa Fean) elevates the world of electronic music above tired club bangers or mindless repetition. Yes, the sound is familiar, but a lot more is going on under the hood. Thus, it’s kind of a big deal. Pictureplane appears at Meow Wolf this week alongside Los Angeles noise act Health and, as such, some Qs and As went down all hard.

SFR: Electronic music is so varied and, other than metal, it seems to contain more weird little sub-genres than almost anything else. How would you describe your music?
Pictureplane:
That is very true. The thing with electronic music is that it also morphs and changes as the technology used to make it changes. That is a main reason why it keeps splintering and fractaling off into more and more micro-genres. When someone asks me how to describe my music, I never know what to say, so I could say “dark rave-punk” or just “electronic music" to someone if I can tell they would have no idea what I was talking about. 

Can you give us an example of how your own production differs from a vast majority of other electronic producers out there today?
My influences are a bit different than a lot of other electronic producers. I’m really influenced by obscure noise music and industrial, punk and metal and hip-hop. I come at it from more of an underground DIY mentality. I make everything by myself in my bedroom studio, so it is a lot more lo-fi and dirty than a lot of what people are used to hearing at a big festival or on the radio or something like that. 

You've toured with Los Angeles noise-rock act Health kind of a lot. Is there a reason behind that? Do you think it's important for bands or acts with different kinds of sounds to be hitting the road together?
For as much as our sounds are different, there are a lot of similarities. We come from the same community of artists and weirdos. Throughout the past 10 years in the underground, genres don’t matter that much. There is a lot of overlapping of sounds and styles. All of the lines are blurred now and there are no strict genre walls. People who still say “I only listen to real ‘hip-hop’ or real ‘punk’” are really stuck in the past. So yes, I think it’s really important for artists with different styles and sounds to be playing shows together. Everything is so post-modern now anyway, and a good show will reflect that.

Outside of music, you create visual art, clothing as well as a Magic: The Gathering-esque card game called Street Magic. It almost seems like you just can't turn it off.
It’s true that I can’t turn off my creativity, but I also force myself to stay busy. I have to hustle and grind; I have no other option. I live in New York City and art is my job! I studied painting in art school, and my art education was really helpful with what I do as a musician. I think that getting to travel the world as a musician, and my years of playing shows, meeting other bands and artists and just my love of music and subculture really inspires a lot of what I do with my visual art and clothing. That is what my Magic deck was about—bringing the universe I operate in of underground venues and musicians into a realm of fantasy. 

You've been pretty vocal about being a product of the internet and constant social media connectivity, as well as a proponent of a sort of punk rock/DIY ethos. Do you think there is a way to reconcile the idea of punk/DIY in a more commercially-viable art form, and is social media the next step in the evolution of DIY?
Good punk and DIY culture will always be reactionary to what is going on in the commercial realms. It is a resistance and a way for people to explore ideas that aren’t commercially viable. It has become a big problem with the internet now [with] the mainstream mining for ideas in the underground and then presenting them as their own with no context. With the internet, you put something out there and everyone can see it. So ideas go from the bottom to the top a lot quicker now, whereas historically in pop culture it might have taken 10 years for an underground idea to become mainstream. Now it can take a few weeks! Social media changed everything. However, I wouldn’t be doing this interview right now or have a career, I don’t think, if it weren’t for social media. It really brought a lot of people together and allowed for new art forms to be exposed to the world. 

To expand, in other interviews there seems to be an emphasis on how you have a kind of underlying punk-rock vibe. Can electronic music carry an effective "punk" or political message and, if so, are there any challenges in getting that across in a style of music that doesn't always seem to be ultra-political? For example, your 2014 Alien Body mixtape was created with artists you yourself described as “political” and was more hip-hop, which is more known for its political sub-genres. Can you bring that ethos into the world of Pictureplane?
Of course electronic music can carry a message! I think people get confused by what electronic music is, or [think] that it is somehow a new thing. Early electronic and industrial music was extremely punk and political. Or you look at a band like Suicide, who were making extremely confrontational electronic music in the mid 1970s before "punk" even existed. Or even entire the beginning of genres like house and techno … They are extremely "punk" because they were created by poor and marginalized people using throwaway technology. Creating art out of nothing is a political act [and] people have used machines and synths to express their voices and frustrations rather than guitars for a long time now. 

In a March 2015 interview with website technomancer.com, you briefly discussed how your music can wind up sounding like pop even when you try to avoid it. “Pop” is kind of a nebulous term, and in the interview you note that you like your music to be accessible. Can you give us an idea of what the term “pop” means to you in terms of your process and eventual product?
Well, I am interested in hooks. I like to have repeated choruses in my music, and I do want it to be catchy. “Pop” means popular, of course, and I do want people to like and enjoy my music. I am not trying to alienate people with it—it is for everyone. 

You're from Santa Fe, but you've also lived in Denver and NYC and toured extensively. Do you think Santa Fe has the capacity to become more of a cultural hub than it is currently; do you think there is a real chance the town will evolve? Like, actually evolve?
What I have noticed is that every city is changing now. Every single one. There is somewhat of an urban revolution going on; some of it is really bad—like reckless gentrification—and some of it is good, like how there are way more small businesses and people are eating better in cities. Santa Fe is unique because I do feel that the average-aged person there is a lot older, which is fine, but for Santa Fe to really evolve it needs to embrace and support its youth and young people trying to make things happen there. 

Is there anything on the horizon for Pictureplane that you think we should really know about?
I’m working on a new EP right now and a new fall line for my clothing brand, ALIEN BODY, which can be found at alienbody.net. Thank you! I love Santa Fe always.



Pictureplane with Health
8 pm Saturday Aug. 27. $20-$25.
Meow Wolf,
1352 Rufina Circle,
395-6369


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