This article is a series interview of Crestone/Baca residents by Lori Nagel of the Crestone Eagle
In addition to being the Staff Photographer for the Crestone Eagle since 2012, Lori Nagel is a
freelance Photographer, Graphic Designer & Web Designer. All Photos taken by Lori Nagel,
First, we have to realize our community is one little piece of a huge big picture. In order for our community to be sustainable we have to be concerned about the big picture. Think globally, act locally. The big picture is critical right now for climate emergency, already a climate disaster in India and Europe. There’s a heat wave in the United States coming at us now, and my research says it’s global, and only the United States is not paying attention to it. All other countries are passing laws, reducing the carbon footprint and getting the fossil fuels out. At the community level, we want to be sustainable, but that depends on much bigger forces we must address and deal with. I’ve been thinking about this for a long time, collecting resources, and anybody who wants to have a dialogue about this, I’d be glad to spend some time whenever time allows and we can get together.
I’ve been to several local groups, and fully support local action, which is critical. If we, and this particular community of very talented people and go getters can create a model for other communities on the same path, it could be very important to all of us. With our unique diversity and powerful people, we could do that. The thing is, there’s this group and that group and they’re currently all fragmented. Michael Agape and his friends are into unifying that and so am I. I’m working with them to find a common vision, share resources, research and come up with common plans for what to do next.
Listening to each other creates its own sustainability. Many good ideas are coming from interesting places. We need to be mindful and allow especially younger folks to have a voice and participate. And we have to build on our existing infrastructure because there’s already a lot of good stuff in place. I know that’s not interesting, like, “Boooring!” …water and sanitation district, Ciello, electrical lines – all those underground things that’re really important. We have to participate by getting on the water board, paying attention to the SLVREC co-op and nurturing renewable energy. There’s so much we can start building on. In front of Casita Park there’s this amazing area that was a pond, with duck poop, clay, etc. deposited there… why not make it a community garden?
I also have to emphasize our need to support local businesses. I see people who never spend money in town and that, to me, is bordering on criminal. Amazing businesses here are putting their heart and soul into keeping things going and people aren’t spending money here?! Because they have issues with this or that? Get over it and start really paying attention to and building on what’s here. Sustainability is social fabric. If we’re really supporting each other and listening and trying to make everyone’s quality of life better, that’s sustainability – community over private profit. You have to make a choice: do you want to keep calling all that money, looking at your bank account and doing your buying and selling on the stock market? Is that more important than what’s here in this moment? Unfortunately, there are people coming here now with that mindset. It’s destructive because they think about how they can make money on everything instead of, “I’ve got $100,000. How can I invest it and make this a more beautiful place?” That, to me, is sustainability.
Working together is a big issue, the biggest challenge. In 2011, we founded the Crestone Baca Holistic Living Alliance, a result of presenting the film, Thrive, which stresses the urgency for us to do something quickly. It inspired the whole community into all kinds of activity. It was good and people were working but then somehow burnt out on too many meetings, not enough results, and all of a sudden it fizzled. Attempts have been made with the Hub, the Resiliency, the Creative District, etc. to bring locals together and figure out sustainability. We have all the resources to make a completely self-sufficient, sustainable community. But, nobody’s pulling it together. I tried. I didn’t do too well. Others have tried. They didn’t do too well. I don’t know what it’s going to take – maybe some emergency: the grid actually going down, and if we want power we’ve got to make our own; the trucks stop running and delivering food, we’ve got to grow our own food. I don’t want to sound negative. I believe the potential in this community to do amazing things is there. People just have to get off their tripping stories and attitudes towards each other. Just give it up and work together. Everything we need is there. We just need to get together and do it!
I looked up the word “sustain.” It’s our foundation, our roots. We need strong roots like a tree, both physically and emotionally, to not blow over. Physically, my favorite quote is “All the world’s problems can be solved in a garden,” by Geoff Lawton, head of the Australian Permaculture Institute. He’s full of information on keeping traffic down by not trucking food, trading locally. All kinds of plants grow here – superfood berries like arronia, goji, sea buck thorn, hawthorn – lots we could be planting and also caring for what grows naturally. Supporting local is critical. Archaic Farms, Lillian and Tom McCracken, have been here 30-40 years, and grow food sold in our local stores, as well as make local, wild crafted and homegrown, powerful tinctures. We want to support everything – Nick Chambers’ efforts with Valley Roots Food Hub, Saturday Market, etc.
A series of books from Russia, The Ringing Cedars by Vladimir Megre, starts with “Anastasia,” and is based on people being given hectares of land, tax free, that their children can inherit, to create food forests on. Russia grows far more food now because they are giving land to people, based on this series of books, for people to grow their own food. During WWII, US citizens were encouraged to grow victory gardens in their backyards. Sadly, right now, Homeland Security may consider that a threat. It’s strange. There’s a website, evergrowingfarm.com, where this LA man and his kids grow hundreds of pounds of food on 1/8 acre and freely share their information.
Emotionally, it’s important we’re supported to understand ourselves, our emotional bodies and how to relate. Human relations are the most important thing in life, besides growing our own food. Supporting each other, making mistakes, learning, growing and helping each other with all the tools we can gather are crucial building blocks to sustenance.
I believe our circumstances have been in a state of non-equality for hundreds of years, if not thousands. It’s based on the biggest lie that’s ever been told, which is that there just is not enough for everybody, which creates a mentality around lack and scarcity, which creates competition mentality versus cooperation mentality, an outlook of individualism rather than partnership, which creates a divided system based on greed and acquisition. It creates imbalance in a value system that’s a vicious cycle perpetuating more of the same, or “business as usual” mentality. What we’ve been dealing with when it comes to sustainability is a multiplicity of definitions for what sustainability can be or is. At least 75 percent of a populace would have to come up with resonant or congruent definitions so that forward momentum could be achieved. This brings me to a quote from Gandhi: “We must be the change we want to see in the world.” Ultimately, if we want lasting, sustainable change, we must start to educate people that sustainability begins with our own consciousness shifting first within, so that we may see the results throughout our surface reality. In essence, we must create an internal revolution that resonates with a quantum self-reorganizing of beliefs.
I think we can be more sustainable as individuals. We all have a responsibility to each do our own part. Driving fuel efficient vehicles or driving the least amount possible, riding bikes, walking, making our houses more energy efficient, recycling and reducing our pollution. But I think we also need to work together as a community in the biggest ways possible. When groups are doing more unified projects around renewable energy or sustainable work in the community, they often need a lot of buy-in and it’s hard to get people to show up or to understand concepts or be part of conversations. We all should do our greatest part in showing up for those meetings, adding our voice, our support, and being part of becoming as sustainable a community as possible.