Council endorses outdoor housing project
The Santa Fe City Council last night approved a “safe sleeping spaces” resolution in service of creating an outdoor shelter for people experiencing homelessness. The resolution, sponsored by sponsored by Councilors Jamie Cassutt, Renee Villarreal and Mayor Alan Webber, directs staff to begin the process of securing land and service providers to construct up to 25 pallet homes and provide a host of social and health services. Concerns at last night’s meeting ran the gamut, but returned to the prospect of negotiating with neighbors to the as-yet-created outdoor shelter. The resolution directs staff to contract with a provider who can deliver comprehensive outreach and social services and who will develop a “Good Neighbor” agreement specifying term of cooperation, communication protocols, standards for tenancy and dispute resolution.The resolution also cites Denver’s Beloved Community Village as a project model. Community Health and Safety Director Kyra Ochoa noted that last summer the council and surrounding residents balked at the idea of using the Midtown campus for the purpose, despite that being the best suited city property among the nearly 100 parcels surveyed. “The stress on our public safety systems, on our business owners is extreme,” Ochoa said. “So that is the rationale behind looking into this model which other communities have tried and found to be successful.”
Former NM Gov. Apodaca dies
Former New Mexico Gov. Jerry Apodaca died yesterday in Santa Fe at the age of 88. The state’s first Hispanic governor, Apodaca, a Democrat and Las Cruces native, was elected in 1974 and served one term (he couldn’t run again due to term limits at the time). His legacy extended further, his son Jeff Apodaca tells the Albuquerque Journal, noting his father “spent 20 years after that opening doors in corporate America.” Apodaca’s campaign also drew support from Jimmy Carter, then governor of Georgia. “He understood his place in New Mexico history, in being a Hispanic governor—the fact that he had to be a model not only in New Mexico, but across the country as Hispanics were starting to flex their muscle politically around the country,” former Gov. Toney Anaya tells the Journal. In a statement, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham described herself as “saddened” to hear of Apodaca’s death: “As the state’s first Hispanic governor, he paved the way for more New Mexicans to enter public office, making sure that our diversity is better represented in our leadership,” the governor says. “He was also a stalwart advocate for the rights of patients and was instrumental in the creation of the state’s first medical cannabis program nearly half a century ago. I am grateful for his many years of service to the people of New Mexico, and my thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends during this difficult time.”
Virgin Galactic completes glide flight
Yesterday, Virgin Galactic completed its glide flight from Spaceport America, a key step before starting commercial flights. A glide flight, a news release explains, “provides critical performance metrics without the need for rocket-power, described as “a unique benefit of the Virgin Galactic spaceflight system” (watch Chief Pilot Dave Mackay discuss this here). Those metrics include “key elements” of a spaceflight, such as: a mated take-off; high-altitude release from the mothership; and landing. “Releasing Unity for a glide flight today is one of the final steps towards commercial spaceline operations,” President of Spaceline Missions and Safety at Virgin Galactic Mike Moses said in a statement. “The ability to conduct glide flights—allowing us to gain critical performance metrics without the need for rocket-power—is one of the benefits of our distinctive flight system. The data from this validation flight will clear the way for our return to space and, ultimately, lead to the launch of commercial service.” Next steps, the company says, will include analyzing the data collected yesterday over the next few weeks, and then a rocket-powered spaceflight. The latter “will carry two pilots and four Virgin Galactic mission specialists in the cabin to assess the customer experience and ground-based training prior to the launch of commercial service” in the second quarter of the year (before July 1, that is).
Interior, NEH join together on boarding school history project
The US Department of the Interior and National Endowment for the Humanities yesterday announced a plan to expand the Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative by collecting oral histories and digitizing records documenting the experiences of survivors and descendants of the United States’ 408 federal Indian boarding schools; according to a news release, NEH has committed $4 million to support digitizing those records. “Federal Indian boarding school policies have touched every Indigenous person I know,” Interior Secretary Deb Haaland (Pueblo of Laguna) says in a statement. “Deeply ingrained in so many of us is the trauma that these policies and these places have inflicted. This is the first time in history that a US Cabinet Secretary comes to the table with this shared trauma, and I’m determined to use my position to help communities heal. This is one step, among many, that we will take to strengthen and rebuild the bonds within Native communities that federal Indian boarding school policies set out to break.” In addition to the collection and digitization of oral histories and records, the NEH says it will fund other research and programs to further public understanding of the federal boarding schools’ histories and impacts. “The policies of the federal Indian boarding school system have had a profound and lasting impact on Native communities,” NEH Chair Shelly C. Lowe (Navajo) says in a statement. “The first step toward addressing the intergenerational consequences of these schools is to squarely acknowledge and examine the history of a federal system intended to separate families, erase Native languages and cultures, and dispossess Native peoples of their land.”
COVID-19 by the numbers
Reported April 26: New cases: 173; 679,503 total cases. Deaths: 10. Statewide fatalities: 9,192; Santa Fe County has had 408 total deaths; Statewide hospitalizations: unavailable at press time; patients on ventilators: unavailable at press time. The state health department will stop reporting daily COVID-19 cases on May 11.
The Centers for Disease and Prevention most recent April 20 “community levels” map shows all counties remain green, low levels, in New Mexico for the second consecutive week.
Resources: Receive four free at-home COVID-19 tests per household via COVIDTests.gov; Check availability for additional free COVID-19 tests through Project ACT; CDC interactive booster eligibility tool; NM DOH vaccine & booster registration; CDC isolation and exposure interactive tool; COVID-19 treatment info; NMDOH immunocompromised tool kit. People seeking treatment who do not have a medical provider can call NMDOH’s COVID-19 hotline at 1-855-600-3453.
You can read all of SFR’s COVID-19 coverage here.
Poet Tommy Archuleta debuts his first full-length collection of poems, Susto, at 6 pm this evening at Collected Works Bookstore. Susto was selected for the 2023 Mountain/West Poetry Series by the Center for Literary Publishing at Colorado State University, with its publication made possible by a grant from the National Endowment of the Arts. A mental health counselor and substance abuse counselor for the New Mexico Corrections Department, Archuleta’s poems have appeared in the New England Review, Laurel Review, Lily Poetry Review, The Cortland Review, Guesthouse and the Poem-a-Day series sponsored by the Academy of American Poets. Tonight, Archuleta will be in conversation with poet Dana Levin; the event will also be livestreamed on Zoom; register to watch here.
Camp it up
The camping, overlanding and road trip site Adventures on the Rock ranks New Mexico third in its new study on the best states for camping. The site uses 10 criteria—including the number of national parks and landmarks; number of campsites and free campsites; hiking trails and RV parks; deaths caused by dangerous animal or plant exposures; fuel prices; biodiversity and more—for its calculations. New Mexico followed Wyoming and Montana, in first and second place, respectively. Specifically, New Mexico scored 65.94 out of 100 and had the third highest number of free campsites per 100,000 population; the seventh highest number of campsites; and the 15th highest number of hiking trails. New Mexico also apparently has 4,583 different species of plants and animals, making it the fourth most biodiverse out of any state. Also on the road trip tip, The Travel offers praise and tips for traveling the High Road to Taos, a journey that “opens up a world of stunning scenery and fascinating places.” New Mexico also has three mentions in Travel Off Path’s roundup of the “10 stunning” UNESCO World Heritage sites: Carlsbad Caverns National Park, Chaco Culture and Taos Pueblo. And speaking of Carlsbad, be sure to check out this guide to its history, written by Elizabeth Miller for New Mexico Magazine.
Back on the Rust set
The New York Times spends time on set with Alec Baldwin and the Rust crew as they resume filming in Montana, with the film crew working to bridge any gaps between the current set and the previous one in New Mexico. For instance, the crew is building a pigpen to match one used here in order to preserve a scene filmed by cinematographer Halyna Hutchins before she was fatally shot on set Oct. 21, 2021. The costume designer is working to ensure the new costumes match ones worn previously since, in the case of Alec Baldwin, his was confiscated by law enforcement and others were burned in a warehouse fire in New Mexico. Another change: all the weapons and artillery on set now are fake. “There is nothing that fires,” the film’s new First Assistant Director Gerard DiNardi told the crew during a morning safety meeting, the Times reports. “There are a lot of facsimiles of weapons, from rubber to replicas.” DiNardi replaced David Halls, who recently entered a plea agreement with New Mexico First Judicial District Attorney’s Office on charges of negligent use of a firearm; Rust also has a new armorer; the previous person serving in that role, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, currently faces involuntary manslaughter charges. But Rust’s original director, Joel Souza, wounded in that same event, is back on set in that role, and told the crew as they recommenced filming Hutchins would have been “anxious for us to get to work, so why don’t we do that? We get to make a movie today. We might as well make it a good one.” As for Baldwin, he is back in the title role as Harland Rust, and resumed filming last Friday—the same day involuntary manslaughter charges against him were dropped, although prosecutors have reserved the right to refile them pending their ongoing investigation.
Spring to mind
The National Weather Service forecasts a slightly warmer, drier day with sunny skies and a high temperature near 68 degrees; west winds 15 to 25 mph this morning and could gust as high as 30 mph tonight, ushering in cooler, wetter and windier conditions tomorrow (a much different April than last year).
Thanks for reading! The Word is looking forward to seeing Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret and, until then, enjoying all the interviews with author Judy Blume. Speaking of whom, the first person to respond to this email who knows Blume’s connection to a former US senator from New Mexico wins a $50 gift certificate to Sweetwater Harvest Kitchen.