25 Things We Love About Santa Fe Right Now

"If it bleeds, it leads" just isn't true at SFR. And this week, it's all the more so. We're more into love notes.

Help us kick off the Best of Santa Fe 2019 annual readers poll nomination period by voting online between Feb. 1 and March 17 for your faves in 150 categories.

And right now, celebrate some of the things we love about Santa Fe.

1. The smell of piñon burning when you step outside

There is nothing in the world like stepping into a cold Santa Fe night and catching a whiff of burning piñon wafting from someone's chimney. It's glorious.
To some, it smells sweet. To others, there's a distinct red chile aroma. Or a sweatiness. Whatever it is that's tickling your olfactory nerve endings, it's a New Mexico scent that's immediately recognizable and likely attached to some fond memory you have of a winter night.

A writer for New York magazine described an incense based off it as "strong enough to linger for a day or two, but not overpowering or occultish." True enough, we suppose, though she also described having to relight the incense as akin to tending a fire and the whole thing as smelling like Vail, which does not have piñons in anywhere near the abundance you'd need to have enough fires and concomitant smoke to say "Hey, this smells like Vail!"

But we digress.

The smell of burning piñon can't help but make you happier and cozier than you were just a moment before. And for that, we love it. (Matt Grubs)

2. Ode to Sake

Sweet and fragrant, sometimes nutty with a hint of umami in the aftertaste, sake is truly one of the world's most delightful alcoholic beverages. And there are few places in this hemisphere that are better for getting to know the world of sake than Izanami
(21 Ten Thousand Waves Way, 982-9304).

"We have arguably the best selections in the country," I overhear Mateo Miller, Izanami's sake sommelier, tell another lunch diner. The restaurant imports much of its selection directly, and features the largest offering of coveted unpasteurized nama sakes in the US.

For Santa Feans interested in an in-depth education in sake types and culture, Izanami continues its 38 Days of Sake passport program through March 3. Each week the restaurant features a different sampler flight that highlights a specific aspect of the brewing process. You get a complimentary booklet that explains everything you need to know to become a sake connoisseur, and if you still have questions you can just ask one of the restaurant's highly educated front of house staff, over half of whom have traveled to Japan to learn directly from the source. (Leah Cantor)

3. You can get a kickass cup of coffee

We're journalists, OK? Which means we have a coffee problem. As in, we drink it too much. All the time. Every day. All day. As such, we've developed quite a taste for the stuff, and we don't think it's out of line to assume our palate has evolved a certain level of sophistication. In other words, we know where the good stuff is, and the good stuff, as it happens, is everywhere.

Say you're on the Plaza, and a hankering washes over you. Easy—head to Holy Spirit Espresso (225 W San Francisco St., 920-3664), a literal hole in the wall with fantastic brews. Hanging around midtown? No problem—those at Java Joe's (1248 Siler Road, 930-5763) know what to do. What about the St. Francis Corridor? Ohori's (1098 1/2 S St. Francis Drive, 982-9692). Boom—next! Oh, you're over on St. Michael's Drive and searching for a cup? Hit up Iconik Coffee Roasters, (1600 Lena St., 428-0996)! You've got the sort of-new places like Caveman Coffee Cave & Lounge (411 W Water St., 988-8042; they'll put beer in your coffee), the brand new places like REMIX Audio Bar (101 W Marcy St.; they also do a continually running silent disco) and other wonderful spots we just don't have room for here.

The moral? You're always within a block or two of one of the best cups o' coffee of your life. Act like it.
(Alex De Vore )

4. We talk to each other

Giant icy flakes were pelting my cheeks and the streets were quickly getting slick and annoying. But I was ambling toward Del Charro with a purpose. So when the guy passing me on the sidewalk asked "Do you think it's going to snow?" with a genuine happiness, I turned over my shoulder.

"I think so." I couldn't help a laugh. "Have a good night, man."

"You, too."

It's not unusual at all to talk to strangers in Santa Fe—in our jubilation, in our distress, when we're just mediocre and getting 'er done.

We celebrate what we've heard people in the big places hide from. We say good morning when we walk past each other, or as we dust off our gloves and hats on the counter at the post office. (We also wait patiently while the other customers have human-being-like conversations. And the same rule goes for when two cars have stopped in the road facing opposite directions so the drivers can check in.) We join the happy birthday song for the other table in the restaurant.

Sure, we don't have a subway, but we totally chat in line at the supermarket about nothing and everything. We also ask each other random questions from time to time, and we get that you don't really have to answer other than with a pointing of the chin. Not everyone wants to engage every time—and our city is plagued by faces stuck in cell phones too—but we are still talking to each other. And that feels like something to love. (Julie Ann Grimm)

5. Good people-to-Mexican supermarket ratio

For a relatively small town, we have a lot of Mexican supermarkets (six, by our count). These places are community anchors for the Southside, cropping up within the last 25 years as the city's foreign-born Mexican and Latino populations have grown. They offer comfort foods and cultural products, as well as critical services for people in the fastest-growing part of the city.

Our favorite place is El Paisano, which has been at 3140 Cerrillos Road for over two decades. In that time, they've set up a mini factory that makes fresh tortillas, tamales, salsas and other staples everyday. There's also a small restaurant that serves menudo, tortas, burritos, and huge chunks of meaty, fatty chicharrones (our mouths are watering).

Beyond food and fare that may be novelties for gringos, these stores also offer a link home to many of Santa Fe's immigrants. Companies like Vigo, Sigue, and Western Union's Orlandi Valuta act as middlemen for people here to make calls and transfer funds to other countries across the world. (Aaron Cantú)

6. Our radio stations are pretty cool

Recently, while on a drive outside the range of KBAC, I tuned my dial to a top-40 station out of Albuquerque. I almost drove off the road when Linkin Park unironically came out the speakers. I couldn't turn it off fast enough. Thankfully, I still picked up KUNM (89.9 FM), and the classical tunes soothed me.

We're lucky enough that local DJs shop at the same grocery stores as us, eat at the same restaurants and go to the same dentists, and therefore they know we can find them easily to berate them if they were to play stupid music. Our local jockeys are all a little off-kilter and fun, and that's just the way we like our public personalities around here.

The aforementioned KBAC (98.1 FM) is a dang gem, from Thursday night jam bands on Toast 'n' Jam, to the Friday Funk with Lisa C the Motherfunker, to Honey Harris' Big Show in the mornings (where you can also hear representatives from SFR every Wednesday morn). KSFR (101.1) is our personal hookup for the local and syndicated public radio goodness that saves our country's sanity again and again (think Democracy Now!, the BBC and classy music programming), and talk station KTRC (1260 AM) is good for progressive news junkies too (and don't you just love that there's a whole genre of radio just called "talk"?).

The area's newest radio offering, KMRD (96.9 FM) out of Madrid, comes in a little spotty the further north you get. But it, like all the other stations mentioned here, is streamable online for your fix of storytelling, history, tunes and musings from volunteer DJs from the hood.

Of course, there are more local stations we love—these are just the highlights. Touch that dial and discover them all. No Linkin Park to be found. And in the end, it does matter. (Charlotte Jusinski)

7. Murals Old and New

A people's history of an urban space is discernible through its street art. One wall of a private home off Agua Fría is adorned with a hyper-realistic image of an agricultural worker kneeling in field, while another wall features hands holding ears of multi-colored corn. On the walls of the Tesuque Village Market, the face of Rose Fragua of Jemez Pueblo gazes defiantly up at the sky adjacent to a repeated image of a young dark-haired woman in a summer dress holding a pistol at her side. Throughout the city, the transient presence of graffiti and wheat-pasted images offer the casual observer a steady feed of social commentary and youthful badassery.

Few muralists have left as striking a legacy on the cultural and historical landscapes of Santa Fe as Los Artes Guadalupanos de Aztlán, a local group of Chicano artists who completed several large-scale community mural projects across the city between 1971 and 1977. Their work is an impressive lesson in New Mexican heritage and includes the mural painted by Gilberto Guzman on the corner of Montezuma Avenue and Guadalupe, on the side of building that's under renovation to reopen as the Vladem Contemporary annex, part of the state museum system. The image is of a woman holding her hands outstretched against a backdrop of activity—people dancing, vendors selling traditional foods, a woman grinding corn at a stone metate, workers boarding a train. (LC)

8. Violet Crown shows historical reels before movies

Recently, while we settled in for a showing of Vice (the mediocre biopic about Dick Cheney) on a late Sunday night, we were intrigued by a reel of historic images from turn-of-the-20th century New Mexico that played before the previews began. Images of early Anglo and Hispanic settlements as well as Native people in the Plaza gave a sense of the place outside the theater's walls.

No doubt, this was an era of intense subjugation, exploitation, and genocidal ambition by the United States government's institutions forcing its way into the territory. The scars from that time, and centuries of earlier conflict, are still with us.

This is normally the kind of history that's too resonant with the present for a movie theater, of all places, to project onto a big screen. We're supposed to forget the bullshit of the world at the movies for a couple of hours, mindlessly shoveling popcorn into our heads while we watch a chubby Christian Bale snarl out the side of his mouth as he re-enacts the most consequential day of the last 20 years. (OK, maybe that's not the best example, and Bale is truly a jerk in real life, but why can't we stop watching all of his movies?)

Yet Violet Crown Cinema (1606 Alcaldesa St., 216-5678) in Santa Fe leans into this history—at another screening we recently attended, we watched post-War Roswell for at least five minutes, perhaps in anticipation of the namesake CW show.

Our inside source there says the reels are supplied by the corporate office, procured from the New Mexico History Museum and Department of Cultural Affairs. We've never seen a theater do anything like this, and we'll never forget it when we go to see movies in other cities. (AC)

9. Homewise is Putting Roofs Over Heads

Earlier this month, Homewise announced an expansion of its midtown office suite (1300 Siler Road, 983-9473) to add another 6,000 square feet of space to work on the prolonged challenge of stable housing. Even the ink-stained wretches of SFR's newsroom have tapped in to the services.

Measuring success by the numbers, here are a few they collect: 15,000 households have attended financial workshops, more than 4,000 people have purchased homes, at least 2,200 have made energy efficient home improvements, more than 600 have refinanced mortgages and the organization itself has built over 700 affordable homes in all corners of the city. In 2012, it started serving people based in Albuquerque, too.

Director Mike Loftin tells SFR he's most excited about a new project under construction at the corner of Harrison and Agua Fria that includes 13 condos .

"Those are all priced below $200,000, which is cool, and there will be some even lower if you are income qualified," he says. "It's cheaper and it's a different kind of project. We are hearing that people want that, couples and single people." (JAG)

10. Women Leaders are Riding the Blue Wave

Santa Fe's blue dot had been floating in what felt like a sea of red. Then, the election of 2018 turned the tide. Lest we get too lost in water metaphors: Voters elected a Democratic governor and Democrats to control both the New Mexico House of Representatives and the Senate, along with reclaiming and holding on to nearly every other statewide office. And those elected Democrats put women in positions of leadership.

The state also sent a loud message with an upset in its Congressional representation. Michelle Lujan Grisham and Steve Pearce both gave up their seats as US Representatives to run for governor. Voters in the Lujan Grisham's District 1 leaned heavily for Deb Haaland, keeping that seat blue and sending one of the first Native women to Congress.

In the south, the district flipped to blue. A narrow race that had Fox News recapping and holding out for weeks ended with Xochitl Torres Small defeating former Republican state Sen. Yvette Herrell.

Pearce is now chairman of the state Republican Party, where he'll try to serve as a counterpoint to what's coming. And it could be a tsunami of change. Gov. Lujan Grisham has appointed a history-making Cabinet comprised of a female majority. The state Court of Appeals also now has a female majority.

Perhaps it's the energy of the 60-day legislative session that increases the population in our city every other year. Maybe people are riding optimism about alignment between the goals of the mayor and the governor. Maybe it's the newness that offers the most relief. We think it was the dance party on Inauguration Day. (JAG)

11. There’s finally snow

At this time last year, parts of the Sahara Desert had 15 inches of fresh pow covering the dunes, and we were all swearing under our breath about the dearth of snow in New Mexico. Now? Yeehaw, people. Pound sand, Sahara!

Ski Santa Fe has reported more than 10 feet of snowfall so far this year, and early season conditions have been great for skiing or boarding, snowshoeing or just getting up and wandering around in the forest.

That's wonderful news if you like winter sports, but it's also great news for our snowpack. The forecast shows we're likely to beat our 35-year average snowfall. Not by much, but geez, a snowy Rome wasn't built in a year. Compared to last year's total, we'll take it. (MG)

12. That snow eventually melts

Maybe you're not a snow person. Or maybe you're a person who likes to get where they're going with a minimum of self-peril. Or maybe you drive a snowplow. The good news for you is that the snow usually melts in a few days.
That impassible hill with 5 inches of snow on it that compresses into a quarter inch of ice will probably have enough bare pavement showing in two days to let you get where you need to go. Let it melt!

That's the city's official strategy when there's less than 2 inches of snow on the ground. And while it irks people who grew up in more snow-ready climates, it does tend to work, eventually. Plus, it keeps the Subaru dealership in business and keeps the cost of city government down because we're not spending a million bucks more for plows that we'd use four times a year.

Save your sanctimonious "I grew up in Upstate New York and we'd never let this happen" speech, because buying those extra plows makes about as much sense as buying a giant dehumidifier for Schenectady in the summer. It's a waste of money.

That's not to say plowing strategy, coordination and skill can't be improved upon. They can. But also, that snow will melt. (MG)

13. The tacos, they are everywhere!

"Where can I get a decent vegetarian taco around here?" a visiting friend asked us last year. "Good question," we said. "Let us help you."

Right off the top of our heads, we gotta give it up to Taco Fundación (235 N Guadalupe St., 982-8286), the side hustle of Shake Foundation's Brian Knox that lives in the old Bert's Burger Bowl spot. Knox and company have a number of veggie options, from the deep fried avocado taco to the verduras with things like fingerling potatoes and Oaxacan cheese. Felipe's Tacos (1711 Llano St., 473-9397), too, has a great no-carne option with a hefty helping of avocado and a delicious red sauce accompaniment, and El Parasol's (1833 Cerrillos Road, 995-8015) crispy veggie tacos are beyond glorious.

Oh, but it's not all for vegetarians, and downtown spots like El Callejon (208 Galisteo St., 983-8378) or Tres Colores (101 W Marcy St., 490-0296) have you covered. Or pop over to long-standing favorite La Choza (905 Alarid St., 982-0909) for taco plates featuring beef, chicken, turkey and its celebrated red and green.

The Southside brings the heat, from the carnitas tacos at PC's Restaurant and Lounge (4220 Airport Road, 473-7164) to the picadillo, bistek or barbacoa tacos at Alicia's Tortilleria (1314 Rufina Circle, 438-9545). Food trucks abound as well, but the most unexpectedly awesome of the bunch might go to The Bonsai Asian Tacos (1599 S St. Francis Drive, 316-9418), a satisfying fusion of disparate cuisines that one wouldn't think could work together—yet they do.

"Damn," our buddy said. "Santa Fe knows how to do it with tacos." (ADV)

14. The Planet Fitness that’s always crowded

To be honest, the gym at 2412 Cerrillos Road isn't that great. It's the only one from the chain in Santa Fe (Albuquerque has nine) and it's always crowded, no matter how early in the morning or late in the evening you go—although if you hang around long enough, there are noticeable lulls. If by a slight miracle you get access to one of the squat machines, you have to protect it like an injured coyote guarding her space. Like all gyms, you can't think too hard about hygiene. Yes, there is that soapy liquid in a spray bottle you're supposed to use to wipe down surfaces, but people in any setting are generally filthy. (Just Google "percentage of people who wash their hands.")

And yet, if you can get past all of that, it's a cheap way ($10 a month) to get regular access to exercise equipment. For an inexplicable reason, workers serve pizza to everyone on the first Monday night of the month and bagels the first Tuesday morning, which we always grab. If you go regularly, you'll see the same faces working long hours into the morning and through the day (it's open 24 hours during the week). They clean everything. Sometimes, they put up with some serious bullshit from hyped-up men—SFR witnessed one such asshole yelling at a couple of teens working the desk on a recent Friday night.

But we also observed what came next: A bunch of other gym goers of all ages checking in to offer apologies to the workers. The latter reflects the general spirit of the crowd. (AMC)

15. Restaurants compete to see who can serve the most local ingredients

The restaurant that claims to be the biggest buyer of Santa Fe Farmers Market goods and produce in town says it spends over $100,000 a year on local ingredients. Organic flour, housemade mozzarella and local grass-finished meats are everywhere on the menu.

"What kind of swanky place must this be?" you may ask.

No, not swank. It's Joe's Dining (2801 Rodeo Road, 471-3800). Sure, the restaurant changed its name from Joe's Diner to Joe's Dining a few years ago, but it's still an eat-at-the-counter, bring-the-kids, hangover-brunch kind of place that is as comfy as the menu is varied.

At virtually every non-chain restaurant in town, you will find local or regional foods and ingredients casually listed next to more conventional fare. At the very least, you can always get local beer and wine, even at the most divey establishments. Eating and drinking local is just part of our culture.

A new ad campaign touting the lunch tacos at upscale spot Eloisa (Drury Plaza Hotel, 228 E Palace Ave., 982-0883) brags heavily about the hand-picked New Mexico farms from which the corn for the tortillas is sourced. Also-fancy Japanese restaurant Izanami (21 Ten Thousand Waves Way, 982-9304) has no offer of sushi on the regular menu, because they sustainably source as many ingredients as they can from local farms. We don't have too many salmon swimming about. For the record, fish specials do make it onto the menu on Tuesdays and Wednesdays as a special treat.

But it doesn't have to be fancy to be locally sourced. The beer at Second Street (secondstreetbrewery.com) is best accompanied by a salad with Chimayo chile pecans, that occasional ruby trout special at Milad Persian Bistro (802 Canyon Road, 303-3581) is from just upstream in Colorado, and at many office bagel offerings, you're just as likely to find Old Windmill Dairy chevre (oldwindmilldairy.com) as you are to find regular cream cheese. And if a place doesn't offer Aroma, Iconik or Ohori's coffee, it's the exception rather than the norm.

Even the green chile on the cheeseburgers from McDonald's is from Hatch. So that counts, too. (CJ)

16. IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts is KILLIN’ It

Nobody's saying that the Institute of

American Indian Arts' Museum of Contemporary Native Arts (108 Cathedral Place, 983-8900) hasn't been a blessing upon our town for years, but the cohesion and vision that have met in the last couple have been particularly inspirational. If you're not paying attention to contemporary Native arts in North America right now, you're missing out on the most rapidly evolving and immeasurably important pieces of the international art puzzle. Full stop.

"I think that it's the vision of the director of the museum, Patsy Phillips," MoCNA's membership and programs manager Andrea Hanley (Navajo) tells SFR. "And then you've got amazing curators who are working there—everyone who works there is really talented in their own right."

Indeed, MoCNA's curatorial staff is beyond compare. From today's most exciting Native artists from near and far to current students of IAIA, visitors, Santa Fe ex-pats, musicians, photographers, and weavers, the museum's broad focus and razor-sharp curatorial eye puts it right up there with institutions such as Arkansas benchmark Crystal Bridges Museum of Contemporary Art.

"I also think it's easy when you've got amazing artists to work with," Hanley continues. "When you look back 70 years from today, this is what you'll see— what Indian artists were doing, what they were thinking about, what that experience means. It's exciting." (ADV)

17. We Have Sooo Many Festivals

We really do have a lot going on for a small-ish town. If you include annual summer events such as the International Folk Art Market, the Traditional Spanish Market and Contemporary Hispanic Market, Indian Market and Fiestas, we have over 14 festivals in Santa Fe throughout the year, including not one but two annual film festivals.

For music lovers, we've got the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival and the Santa Fe Traditional Music Festival, as well as Meow Wolf's new music festival, Taos Vortex (not in Santa Fe, obviously, but still fun and notable), and a summer of free concerts with Santa Fe Bandstand and Music on the Hill. We enjoy dining at the Santa Fe Wine and Chile Fiesta at the end of September if we can spring for tickets, and welcome in the fall with historical reenactments of Spanish Colonial small-town life at El Rancho de las Golondrinas' near-monthly festivals during the warmer months (see page 19 for more on how this place rocks).

Coming up next on this long list is the Santa Fe Film Festival, which runs Feb. 13-17. (LC)

18. The Santa Fe Institute Can Resolve Your Existential Angst

If current events and lack of sleep ever send you into a bad bout of the meta blues, if you find yourself chewing your nails over the fate of AI and asking questions like "What's the deal with consciousness, anyway? Will our new $8 billion Space Force really protect us from aliens? Are we alone in the universe? IS ANYONE OUT THERE?" … You can rest assured that you're in good company.

The Santa Fe Institute is out there in our own backyard asking these questions on the daily. The think tank is dedicated to the science of complex systems, which include things like the internet and the global ecosystem. It offers a free online course called Introduction to Complexity for those of us who need serious brain food, and free public lectures are held at the Lensic throughout the year. Last season's topics "ranged from randomness in everyday experience to the economics of Trump and Brexit," writes SFI commuications manager Jenna Marshall in an email.

Last June, SFI launched the first annual Interplanetary Festival at the Railyard, in cahoots with the Currents New Media Festival and other partners. This made it super easy to check out some awesome digital art at Currents before hopping across the tracks to catch a quick lecture on relativity and the nature of time, then realize you're overwhelmed and in over your head, and hurry back to Currents to reflect on what you'd just learned while relaxing in front of a projection of an ocean that became alternately turbulent or clear in response to how the instillation headset interpreted your brain waves. Yes, Santa Fe, the future is now.

So while some of the things that go on at SFI may be a little too heady for us non-science lay folk to digest on an average afternoon, we love that our town is keeping up with science and technology in its own far-out way, and that this knowledge is made accessible to the public for those days when you just need something to widen your perspective. (LC)

19. Our No-Kill Animal Shelter

It's a sad fact of the world that overcrowding and underfunding finds animal shelters and humane societies across the country in the unfortunate position of putting down otherwise healthy animals. When it comes to the Santa Fe Animal Shelter, however, the live release rate hovers at around 94 percent. The city itself has even been recognized as a no-kill community because of our denizens' commitment to animal survival.

Of course, certain issues do require euthanasia, such as dangerous or deeply sick animals—but we're lucky that the vast majority of the dogs, cats or whatever else enters the shelter's doors on the outskirts of town are returned to their owners, adopted to loving families or provided with top-notch care until such events can transpire.

Throw in the spacious westside facility, the Clare Eddy Thaw Animal Hospital (whose vets saved one of my cats when she was so close to death it's ridiculous), a robust online presence (seriously, follow @sfanimalshelter on Instagram immediately!), and we've got a shelter we can truly be proud of.

Plus, there are kittens there, so … (ADV)

20. We have two whole hospitals now

Getting sick or hurt is a drag. But at least we aren't in the days when your sister had to jump on a horse and ride to town to call for the country doctor, right? Though some in town might argue that we aren't too far from it, given our medical care options.

Much like airlines, you don't often hear anyone talking about a hospital unless they have a gripe, so that aspect of human nature must play into one's interpretation of the word on the street.

Until October 2018, Santa Fe had a single hospital option in Christus St. Vincent. That changed, however, when Presbyterian Health Care opened a second facility on the Southside. Smaller than St. Vincent (30 beds to St. V's 200) and still rolling out some offerings (a birthing unit opened Jan. 26, and offerings in the hospital's Farmers Market Community Room are ramping up), the hospital nonetheless represents a second beacon of hope for those who have previously just had to shrug while holding bloody rags to a cut after Urgent Care hours. We only wish the corporation had seen fit to include a sorely needed additional psychiatric unit.

Then again, much like swearing you'll never fly United ever again and settling for a lesser evil, there's always a chance you'll be vastly disappointed—just by different people in different ways. But the illusion of choice is kinda nice. (CJ)

21. LEAD Program Changes the Terms of the Opioid Crisis

The opioid crisis that has its grip on the nation is old news in Northern New Mexico, but Santa Fe finally has an approach to drug addiction that might actually be helping people get into recovery instead of just locking up users to rot in the county jail. Santa Fe was an early adopter, but now it's among about 30 other cities nationwide that have implemented Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) programs. Santa Fe's LEAD partnership between the SFPD and various social services organizations like homeless shelters, health clinics and housing initiatives allows officers to divert low-level drug offenders into trauma-informed intensive care management programs instead of into jail.

This harm-reduction is controversial—but it appears to be working. Last year, an evaluation of the program found that compared to "the system as usual," LEAD participants were less likely to get arrested within the first six months after completion and were more likely to reduce heroin use and find permanent housing. Plus, LEAD saved the criminal justice system $4,727 per person, per year. Less drug use, less crime, less tax money spent on criminalizing drug users. Bravo.

The program still affects only a small number of people, but it has a lot of potential and is a shining example of police working with communities to build trust and find real solutions. For that, we say: High five, SFPD. May you be as innovative, self-reflective, and open to change when it comes to addressing issues of use of force and accountability as well. (LC)

22. The current City Council is totes legit

Santa Fe's City Council has taken some knocks over the years. No matter who holds office, the august panel of eight councilors has had a penchant for sounding off on national issues while seeming to ignore local ones. Even when there's a local tie—like when the council condemned Wells Fargo for its Dakota Access Pipeline involvement—there's often a less-than-meaningful result. (The city still banks with Wells Fargo.)

But the current City Council has shown a remarkable aptitude for self-reflection. Not that they've stopped making their thoughts known on national issues, but they'll argue about it a little without letting it derail a meeting. At least outwardly, rifts haven't developed between factions of the council.

What's more, it's a truly able group of people who broadly represent the community. There are the requisite attorneys, but there's also a former fire chief, a couple businesswomen, a pair of nonprofit people. They are all engaged with the issues and there doesn't seem to be an obvious knucklehead in the bunch. Trust us, that's not always the case.

Don't stop going to City Council meetings, but be comforted by the fact that you've chosen well, Santa Fe voters. Keep it up. (MG)

23. Santa Fe ended the Entrada

The 2017 Fiesta de Santa Fe was a fierce one. We were there. We recall people saying some really ugly stuff to each other during the hokey Entrada pageant celebrating a whitewashed account of Don Diego de Vargas and a fleet of Spanish settlers being welcomed with open arms by Pueblo people who had just slaughtered their clergymen and kicked out the rest of them.

"Genocide worship," anti-Entrada protesters said. "Slave owners," responded some of the Hispanic pro-Entrada people to white Entrada opponents. The dynamics were intense. Santa Fe Police then fumbled the day by arresting the protest leader on charges that were eventually dropped.

That was then. Last year, the day looked completely different. This past September, city officials, civic representatives, Pueblo tribal governors and archdiocesan leaders met to reflect on the year-long process that went into drafting a new proclamation Mayor Alan Webber anticipates will make Northern New Mexico a "national model" for collectively confronting historical truths.

"We acknowledge the past and its trauma, tragedy, and sorrow; we understand its legacy in the present. We acknowledge wounds older and deeper than any on this continent. On behalf of those from the past who cannot ask forgiveness, we do now," reads the city's official proclamation.

Throughout the negotiation, we heard mixed feelings from people who took part in the previous year's protest against the Entrada. They were happy the Entrada, a live-action, New Mexican version of a Confederate monument, had come to an end. But some resented the erasure of the years-long organizing leading up to that moment. The pageant was replaced by a collection of performances and speeches by some Pueblo leaders and various faith organizations focused on unity and reconciliation. Some pro-Entrada hecklers still showed up, but there were few, and the performances on stage had obviously brought more peace to the city than the previous year's. (AC)

24. People decorate their houses with weird shit

In response to "Where do you live?", Santa Feans get to have a variety of unique answers.

"Oh, you know the fake horse garage door on Berger? Like, two doors down from that."

"A couple blocks from the silver lions, on the arroyo."

"Just down the street from the Angel Chair, near the blue swan house."

"Across from the peace fence—no, not the peace roof, the peace fence."

"My kitchen window overlooks that fake fountain made of blue lights, you know the one."

Santa Feans have always been a creative bunch, and decorating the outside of our dwellings is one of our favorite pastimes. When everything is round 'n' brown, houses can start to blend together, so to distinguish your property from others can be fun—and quite easy, given our city's propensity toward art, creativity and weirdness.

Plus, Santa Fe is small enough that most people know significant landmarks. Those big white concrete sculptures that look like crumpled handkerchiefs, the colorful rooftop flying pig, the Sharpe house—you must know where at least one of these places is if you've been here for more than a week.

Of course, there's always the difficulty that comes up when someone decides to switch up their decor or moves away. The big articulated wooden puppets on the side of that one house on Agua Fría, for example, recently departed the public eye after a decade or more.

But when one door closes, another opens. When one odd front-yard sculpture is dismantled, two more are installed somewhere else to fill the void. If you're not familiar with the unofficial private-property landmarks of our city, drive around sometime and see what your neighbors have to offer. Just don't be creepy about it. (CJ)

25. El Rancho de Las Golondrinas is rad

When you think of entertainment venues and gathering spaces, a "living history" ranch on the outskirts of the city might not easily come to mind. But this one is worth visiting more than once every year. The people who brought El Rancho de Las Golondrinas into existence did it to represent what life along the Camino Real was like in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Open Wednesday through Sundays between June and September, visitors can peek into historic homesteads and get a whiff of livestock, then take a long walk to see the streamside mill, blacksmith shop, school house, fields of traditional crops grown with flood irrigation, even a morada on the hillside—a building that often plays host to costumed interpreters who tell the stories of the people who came before.

But many weekends, the ranch is doing even more to draw us in.

The Spring and Fiber Fest on June 1 and 2 has all the churro sheep-shearing and yarn-nerding you can handle, leading into lavender later in the month, wine on July 6 and 7, then Viva Mexico, featuring volardores ("flying" acrobats), mariachi and more throughout the summer.

As we head toward fall, its most well-attended event is the Renaissance Fair in September. That's followed by the harvest festival in October, which includes a pumpkin sale, hayrides and the works. All of that, buttressed with a combo of food, drink, shopping, culture and the outdoors, makes for fun days. (JAG)

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