Morning Word

Kit Carson Monument Vandalized

Zozobra burns tonight! We’ve got the deets

Kit Carson monument vandalized

Another downtown monument paying homage to New Mexico’s contested history has been vandalized—and not for the first time. Santa Fe Police report they responded to a 911 call at 8:04 pm Aug. 31 reporting the Kit Carson monument, a sandstone obelisk in front of the south entrance of the US courthouse on Federal Place, had been damaged. Because the monument is on federal property, SFPD is working with federal law enforcement partners to investigate. As described in a Santa Fe Public Library history, the monument’s panel description reads: “He Led The Way,” and “Kit Carson Died May 23, 1868; Age 59 years.” A dedication ceremony for the monument, attended by 5,000 people, was held in 1885. Carson executed a “scorched earth” campaign against Diné people during the 1860s, including burning villages, slaughtering cattle and destroying water sources. In 2020, Santa Fe Mayor Alan Webber called for the removal of the Carson obelisk, along with the Soldier’s Monument on the Plaza and a statue of Don Diego de Vargas. After those monuments remained, protesters that year toppled the Plaza obelisk on Indigenous People’s Day. Protesters defaced the Carson monument that year as well. As to the most recent destruction of the monument, which the Santa Fe New Mexican reports was partially toppled Thursday night, Mayor Alan Webber released a statement condemning the act: “I’m outraged and I want those who did this to be caught and held accountable. Santa Fe Police are working with other law enforcement agencies to investigate this cowardly act. There is no place for this kind of criminal conduct in our community. We should all condemn it.”

City moves forward on Midtown arts plan

Following a private executive session discussion by the Santa Fe City Council during its Aug. 30 meeting, councilors approved an “exclusive negotiated agreement” with the Midtown Arts and Design Alliance LLC. The ENA follows the city’s issuance of a request for proposals on how to utilize the existing 52,000-square-foot Midtown Visual Arts Center. The alliance’s proposal, as of press time, had not been made public as far as SFR could determine. The city, however, disclosed certain details of the proposal in a news release yesterday, which it says “calls for a co-location of 15 of Santa Fe’s local, most respected and trusted creative non-profits to create a synergistic platform which optimizes creative resources, shared space, and educational opportunities for the citizens of Santa Fe.” The alliance, the city says, will produce more than 60 full-time jobs and 40 apprenticeship and internship jobs with $6 million in wages, and $2 million in artist, consultant and vending contracts, and will annually serve more than 30,000 local community members, “including direct support to 15,000 children and youth, low-income households, local artists, and creative practitioners, and bring over 100 international artists to Santa Fe each year.” Alliance members include the Santa Fe Art Institute, already located on the campus, as lead, along with a slew of other partners, including Community Arts and Design, MASS Design Group, Vital Spaces, CENTER, Littleglobe, Black Rock Editions and Currents New Media. “We are thrilled for the opportunity to develop a vibrant arts, culture, and design hub in Midtown that will be larger than what SFAI and any of our partners could do alone,” SFAI Executive Director Jamie Blosser said in a statement provided to SFR. “Our vision for the Midtown Arts and Design Alliance is about shared resources, shared spaces, and shared programming—we are over 15 local non-profits that are committed to doing things differently to create a space where everyone feels welcome to bring their full imagination and creative selves.”

SFCC closed through Labor Day

Santa Fe Community College, which has been closed since Wednesday due to water-pressure problems from nearby Santa Fe County construction, will remain closed through Labor Day and reopen on Sept. 5, the school announced yesterday. Santa Fe County yesterday issued a news release reporting that as part of the Northeast and Southeast Connectors Roads Project, water infrastructure had been affected. “During the construction, Santa Fe County encountered a water line that we had not anticipated to be in conflict with design elements,” the news release said. “The focus of the project is to continue to maintain and provide an adequate water supply to Santa Fe Community College.” The county says it is “adjusting elements of our water infrastructure to correct this issue. Construction on the water line commenced last week and full services are anticipated to be restored this weekend” and no other water disruption has been reported. Inadequate water supply compromised the school’s fire disruption says, officials said, and “a fully functional fire suppression system is a requirement for the college to be open.” Keeping the school closed through the weekend will provide its “facilities and operations team time to evaluate the situation,” SFCC President Becky Rowley said in a statement. “We appreciate everyone’s patience. We understand this closure has impacted students and community members. The safety of our students and the public remains our top priority.”

Gov reports homeless summit

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s office said yesterday the governor met in Santa Fe with more than 100 people from around the state to discuss the state’s homelessness epidemic. “We need to do something dramatically different, because what we’re doing just isn’t working— it’s ‘rinse and repeat’ for too many of these individuals—from shelters to substance misuse treatment facilities to hospitals and back to the street again,” the governor said in a statement. “That doesn’t move us toward our shared goal of a safer and more compassionate New Mexico. We owe these individuals better than that, and we owe our communities better than that.” According to a news release, the governor “urged the groups to work together to gather data, as counting the number of people experiencing homelessness continues to be a challenge nationwide.” At last count in January 2023, the state had nearly 4,000 people without homes. Support Housing Coalition of New Mexico President and CEO Laura Chavez said in a statement “the need for housing solutions is more apparent each day—not just for those in need, but for our community overall. Safer housing for all fosters safer streets and safer neighborhoods.” The governor said she intends to ask the Legislature in its next session for additional funding to address what she described as a public health crisis. “This summit was a significant step toward leaning into these issues and initiating real change through an effective statewide model for housing stability services,” Korina Lopez, executive director of the Interfaith Community Shelter at Pete’s Place in Santa Fe said in a statement.

Listen up

Portland-based band Roselit Bone front-woman Charlotte McCaslin breaks down the band’s new album Ofrenda track-by-track for Flood magazine, including track 6, “Truth or Consequences.” The song, McCaslin says, is “an homage to one of my favorite towns in New Mexico. [The city of] Truth or Consequences was named after a game show, has a failed recreational spaceport, and has several adorable hot spring hotels. We’ve played there a few times over the years, right in the middle of a tour when we were all bruised, cut up, and emotionally drained. The hot springs and hospitality there always seem to restore us.”

Odds and ends

The new online Oprah Daily (which is basically what it sounds like) offers a road-trip story of sorts, in which writer Liz Vaccariello travels to New Mexico where she and her mother visit spots in Albuquerque, Truth or Consequences in Santa Fe, complete with an itinerary should you wish to replicate their visit (and Santa Fe is only spelled incorrectly three times; yes, we emailed them). The Wall Street Journal shares a selection of readers’ favorite “walking trips,” including Kenyon Sayler’s memories of Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimarron, where he had his first backpacking experience when he was a “gangly” 15-year-old and “learned that I could carry everything that I needed to live upon my back.” His best experiences, he writes, “were returning with my sons there when they were teenagers. It is amazing to watch a group of young men gain the skills and confidence in their own abilities to navigate and thrive in the outdoors.” And the Manual tallies up road-trippers’ scariest roads, with New Mexico’s US Route 285, specifically the stretch between Vaughn and Roswell. “On this road, the vastness of the landscape is matched only by the isolation it imposes upon travelers,” the Manual writes. Still, the story notes, while Route 285 “might be the most feared route in America, it’s also an opportunity to experience the raw, unfiltered beauty of the Southwest in a way that few others dare to. Witness the unspoiled natural beauty as the landscape unfolds, with rolling plains and distant mountains as your road trip backdrop.”

Our favorite weekend

By the calendar, summer lasts another three weeks, but by our watches, today kicks off a quintessential fall Santa Fe weekend, starting tonight with the 99th burning of Zozobra. Read some of last year’s glooms (by folks who agreed to have them shared) as you prepare for tonight’s festivities, which kick off at 4 pm when gates open at Fort Marcy Park and the entertainment begins. Find the complete schedule here and find tips to navigate security and have a fun and safe time. Don’t wait until the last minute to buy tickets as a. they may sell out and b. they are more expensive at the gate. Another not-to-be-missed Santa Fe tradition continues this weekend for its 101st iteration: The Santa Fe Fiesta Melodrama at the Santa Fe Playhouse, which takes a good-natured look at the local shenanigans of the last year. Melodrama actor and first-time director Felix Cordova tells SFR: “We’ve had 101 of these, and we’ve had certain traditions that now, with sensitive people, are hard to keep alive. Now if you make an offensive joke, people want you to justify it, but that’s why the show takes place 100 years in the past, to say, ‘this is how we used to be and it’s OK to be a little risqué.’” Grab tickets before they sell out. And since it’s a long weekend, go for broke with the 20th annual Santa Fe Fiesta de los Niños at El Rancho de las Golondrinas (10 am to 4 pm, Sept. 2-3), with hands-on activities, food trucks, entertainments and—yes, goats and burros. Santa Fe Fiesta also kicks off tomorrow with an arts and crafts fair on the Plaza, but the Pet Parade and other festivities happen next weekend.

Hello, September

The National Weather Service forecasts a hot and sunny Labor Day weekend. Today high temperature will reach 91 degrees, while Saturday through Monday should bring sunny skies and temps in the high to mid 80s. As for Monday, aka Labor Day, government offices closed, including city transit, library and recreation services; the city trash collection schedule moves back by one day due to the Monday holiday. Fort Marcy Park, including the dog park and pickleball courts, will be closed through noon tomorrow due to Zozobra.

Thanks for reading! The Word returns Tuesday, Sept. 5. Right now, she’s perusing “The Future Issue,” from 10-year-old comic magazine The Nib, which shuts down today. You can check out, download or contribute to its archive costs here.

Letters to the Editor

Mail letters to PO Box 4910 Santa Fe, NM 87502 or email them to editor[at]sfreporter.com. Letters (no more than 200 words) should refer to specific articles in the Reporter. Letters will be edited for space and clarity.

We also welcome you to follow SFR on social media (on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) and comment there. You can also email specific staff members from our contact page.