Sunday, February 22, 2009

Trees, Minerals, Water and People

Albuquerque, NM


This morning I had the great privilege of spending time in interview and conversation with Margaret Randall (http://www/. Her thoughts on change rose and fell from the deep well of her 72 years of living the word. As a prolific writer, a passionate activist, an American and a woman of the world (having lived in Cuba for 25 years, and also in Nicaragua), and as a mother, a grandmother and a life companion. Following her time in Cuba, Margaret found herself facing rejection by her home country whose policies were being interpreted as justifying denying her re-entry. Things got straightened out – both at great emotional, physical and monetary cost and with a story of courage and uncompromised honesty in a woman whose life has been devoted to social change

After our time together, I went for a walk through Albuquerque neighborhoods near the UNM campus. I took a photo of a quintessential adobe home. It is on Silver Road. Silver Road parallels roads named for gold, coal, lead. This house was at the corner of Silver and Pine. Pine paralleling Oak, Maple, … until, a bit farther north where the theme shifts – the ores begin crossing with names of esteemed institutions of higher education – Yale, Bryn Mawr, Tulane, Stanford. I walked in this poem: Miles of city streets organized around the intersection of trees, minerals and the institutions that support study for variously understanding, sustaining and exploiting them.

Tomorrow I’ll talk with Luis Vargas, longtime clinical faculty with the Child Clinical Psychology program in the Psychiatry Department of the University of Mexico’s School of Medicine. Luis is a completely gentle and completely incessant activist for the wellbeing of people on the short end of the social justice stick. He was raised in El Paso by parents who, in the mid 1920’s, were activists for freedom of religion in their homeland, Mexico. “The values that raise us matter,” Luis says, “They tell us who we are and how to live.”

Then I’ll talk with Bruce – a Native American activist for water. At 28 he’s already given over half of his life to supporting the well being and conveyance of indigenous traditions. His advocacy for water brings him often into interaction and conflict with the mining companies in the Albuquerque area (

Ores cross with trees cross with water and people – all of it cross with citizenry and with the land that Margaret Randall says is forever a relative.

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