When healthy, I take feeling good for granted until I am sick. It is hard to appreciate everything that is working until it breaks and we miss what we used to have. In a world where words like “unprecedented,” “hunker” and “pivot” have become overused, I appreciate words like “consistency.” And in a world where people and situations are unreliable and leadership often fails us, it becomes more and more meaningful to be able to depend on someone or something.
I never take New Mexico for granted, but especially during a pandemic I have been fully appreciating where we live. Multiple times since the closures in March, I have thought and said aloud: We are so lucky to live in a place where we can get outdoors into incredible landscapes. We are lucky to live in a place where the community is strong and where creativity is present. At a time when people are leaving urban spaces, I'm glad to already be here. At a time when travel is less possible, cultural institutions are all looking towards their communities and towards the local.
At SITE Santa Fe, even prior to this trend, I was grateful to have made a career immersed in the local culture—to collaborate with the City of Santa Fe; to work with the Santa Fe school system; to co-create with amazing places like the New Mexico School for the Deaf and the New Mexico School for the Arts; to connect with organizations like the Community Educators Network, the Reporter's nonprofit: The New Mexico Fund for Public Interest Journalism; the Santa Fe Dreamers Project; Adelante; the Mountain Center; and the numerous list of organizations we are blessed with right here in Santa Fe. (Too numerous to list here!) I have been fortunate to have presented public programs and have always appreciated that the Reporter promotes and reviews this work and that the community responds by attending. It is a fond no-too-distant memory to have gathered with over 500 people in Santa Fe at an intimate and powerful evening with Rakim and Chuck D, just days before the world changed. Santa Fe shows up with soul and I'm glad to consider myself part of this beautiful and vibrant place with all of you.
All this to say, in being asked to write a love letter to the Santa Fe Reporter, I realized I've come to take for granted the ease with which I can encounter thoughtful local journalism in local news every day. This is especially true at a time when most people get their news from social media, where it is hard to determine what is actual news and what is not real or slanted journalism. In a publishing environment that rewards sensationalized media and at the same time causes our collective mental health to suffer, it is more and more necessary for us to find journalism that isn't dependent on the marketplace, number of "clicks," on top of a constant barrage of imagery used for propaganda or to undermine our self esteem. I realize that the straightforward journalism in the Reporter and the Morning Word that keeps me informed of what's going on locally is something I should never take for granted. It would be something that I would miss if it weren't here, if it were broken. To that I say "thank you" to the Reporter.
Joanne Lefrak is the Ring Director of Education & Curator of Public Practice at SITE Santa Fe
This letter from Joanne Lefrak is part of a series we are publishing about Friends of the Reporter, a new model for supporting our journalism mission. Visit sfreporter.com/friends, to make a one-time or recurring donation. You'll get perks like discounts on on our merch and a monthly giveaway.
In September, one lucky Friend will win a Kala Dolphin Soprano Ukulele donated by The Candyman Strings and Things.