On these pages, I've celebrated Santa Fe's unsung heroes and looked for answers to questions that haunted me since adolescence. I've investigated the factors that contribute to Santa Fe's teen suicide rate—which is troublingly higher than both state and national averages—and unraveled the historic inequities in the Santa Fe Public School System that lead to repeated proposals to close some schools and overcrowding and understaffing at others. I've shared the joyful success stories of men and women who beat the odds of addiction and prison at the Delancey Street Foundation. I've walked among the blackened trees of forest fires and counted containment figures and resources at risk.

In the era of COVID-19, the Santa Fe Reporter's mission to bring you stories that matter has only grown more urgent. But local news is also a resource at risk. I hope you will agree to help me stay at work.

There's nothing quite like returning to a place after a long time gone to make me realize I've changed. It's not the obvious effects of aging or momentous life events that I notice, but a subtle shift in perspective that draws out previously unseen details in the landscapes I used to know so well.

When I first moved back to Santa Fe in 2018 after a little less than a decade of living elsewhere, these realizations hit me in constant waves alongside the discovery of things that really are new: on the way to a new brewery, a wrong turn into a neighborhood where I never set foot growing up. A little blue door I'd never noticed in an adobe wall I passed countless times as a child. A heart I'd never seen and the words K + L summer '02 scratched into the pavement beneath a bus stop where I used to wait with my headphones jammed into my ears and my gaze caught up in oncoming traffic. Now, there's a homeless camp behind the bus stop that wasn't there before. It begs the question, is Santa Fe's homeless population rising? And if so, why?

I count my lucky stars that within a year of coming home I snagged an unpaid internship at the Santa Fe Reporter that led to my current job as a staff writer, where I get to discover and rediscover the city where I was born with every story that I write.

To me, the sense of discovery is and always has been what makes the Reporter stand out and what makes working at a scrappy alt-weekly so much fun. We dig up the dirt on stories that otherwise might be forgotten in the rush of the news cycle but that still matter to you, the reader. We take our time introducing you to the quirky, creative people who make this city what it is. We bring you the backstory, the why and the how behind the who, what, when, and where. 

The Reporter has given me a rare opportunity for a young writer to develop a voice and a mission through longform narrative journalism. But the advertising dollars that have long propped up our payroll are no longer providing enough to keep our free community reporting in the black. Donations to Friends of the Reporter really matter.

Leah Cantor,
Staff writer

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This letter from Leah Cantor 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.

(Send a check or visit us at 132 E Marcy St., Santa Fe , NM 87501)