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state of change

Tribes Lead The Way For Faster Internet Access In New Mexico

Apr 9, 2018

 

For decades in these sparsely populated valleys and peaks in northern New Mexico, the internet has been slow, unreliable and expensive. This region is not remote, exactly.

Let's Talk New Mexico 4/5 8a:  Internet access is expensive and often slow in rural communities across New Mexico. How might improving internet speed and access help all New Mexicans  pursue educational and economic opportunities? 

Quality internet service is key to overcoming poverty, according to studies worldwide. But all over the U.S., people of color and folks with low incomes are less likely to have access to an affordable, reliable connection. Plus, big corporations are often unwilling to lay line through tough terrain without a lot of customers.

What if big telecom isn’t the only game in town for internet service? Member-owned cooperatives and community networks are springing up around the country. And what’s more, they’re making net neutrality—unthrottled access to an open net—a core value.

TAOS, NM – Molly Byrnes, 34, and Jesse Hofmann-Smith, 35, can’t reliably make phone calls on their cellular network from their cozy apartment on the outskirts of Taos, but they can host real-time webinars and build websites online f

Rebecca Dow is a on a mission.  She says it’s long past time for New Mexico to move forward.  “Right now, I think we need hope.  I think we need hope for a better future,” she said.  Dow was elected to the New Mexico State Legislature in 2016.  The Republican represents District 38 in the state House, which includes parts of Grant, Hidalgo, and Sierra counties. 

Brewery helps breathe life into downtown Truth or Consequences

Nov 6, 2017
Heath Haussamen-nmpolitics.net

TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES — Marianne Blaue and John Masterson discovered this offbeat town by accident in September 2015.

They intended to pass Truth or Consequences as they traveled from Albuquerque to Silver City on vacation, but they were tired. They pulled off and stayed at the Holiday Inn Express.

Masterson found the community’s artist directory in the hotel lobby the next morning. It piqued their interest in a town they knew nothing about except for its funny name.

Immigrants find their place in Luna County

Nov 6, 2017
James Hemphill

IT’S A TYPICAL MONDAY in this dusty New Mexico town 30 miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border. In a brightly lit classroom at Deming High School, Francisco Manuel Garcia Ruiz, a math teacher recruited from Spain, speaks in rapid Spanish to a group of sophomores. In a room across campus, Annabelle Carbajal, the district’s migrant student coordinator, looks out at the faces of students whose parents work in the nearby fields, telling them she’s there to help.

Farmington works to revitalize Main Street, the city’s ‘heart’

Nov 6, 2017
John Miller-The Taos News

FARMINGTON — Tara Churchill spent hours as a child peering through the window of her family’s lumber store out onto Main Street.

For many years, she watched as the center of her community churned with activity.

Shoppers ambled along the sidewalks each day, and the store’s floorboards would creak as customers stepped through the front door. In the late afternoons, as shadows stretched aslant the town’s low buildings, workers returning from nearby oil fields and coal factories would pass the window on their way to dinner and drinks at eateries as old as Farmington itself.

Raton tries to rise again

Nov 6, 2017
Jane Phillips-The Taos News

RATON – Sparks fly inside the shop at Rocky Mountain Metals, a big warehouse building on the outskirts of this small town near the Colorado border. Men clad in welding masks, jeans and tattoos expertly cut, weld and sand smooth seams on hollow steel frames. It’s a Friday and the workers will knock off work at noon, part of the company’s tradition that gives their employees a little longer weekend. They make between $9 and $18 an hour — and in Raton, where housing and living expenses are comparatively cheap, that money goes a lot further than in other New Mexico towns.

Breweries patch the gaps between oil booms in southeastern NM

Nov 6, 2017
Owner and head brewer Lucas Middleton celebrated the opening of Milton’s Brewery with the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce.

In 2015, T. Boone Pickens predicted the price of crude oil would rocket to $70 per barrel by the end of the year. It was a message of hope, delivered at the annual Energy Summit in Carlsbad, for the Southeastern New Mexico community that was feeling the pinch of a worldwide oil glut and a downslope market.

But more than two years later the price of crude hovers around $50 per barrel, never having reached Pickens’ predicted high.

Grassroots community development group strives for lasting change

Nov 6, 2017
Pine Ridge Reservation-Jerry Matthews

The Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, with a diverse landscape of grassy plains, hills and wooded areas, covers more than 2 million acres in southwestern South Dakota. It is home to the Oglala Lakota Nation. Federal statistics estimate the reservation’s population to be more than 20,000, while the tribe and various organizations on the reservation estimate the number of people living there closer to the 40,000 mark.

Where’s the young West?

Nov 6, 2017
Bent County, Colorado-bentcounty.net

ACROSS THE WEST, more young people are moving out of rural communities than in. In every decade since 1980, most rural counties in the 11 Western states lost 20-somethings, without an influx of other young adults to make up for the loss, according to an analysis of U.S. Census Bureau migration data by the Bozeman-based Headwaters Economics.

Why save the small town?

Nov 6, 2017
Questa-Margaret Wright-Santa Fe New Mexican

QUESTA – The old mine isn’t far from downtown. After nearly a century carving molybdenum from the land around Questa, today the only mining-related jobs in this northern New Mexico hamlet are restoring what miners spent the last 100 years taking apart. Chevron ceased operations for good in 2014, laying off around 300 people in this majority-Hispanic town of 1,700. Though what’s next for Questa is unclear, few question the mine’s future. This time, the jobs aren’t coming back.

When the oil and gas industry takes a dive, or when extractive industries tank, so do economies in rural areas, where a lot of the jobs come from drilling, or mining, or power plants. A business incubator is helping entrepreneurs on the Navajo Nation with the idea that local skills and talents—and cash flowing in and out of local businesses—are key to independence from environmentally damaging corporations. 

The Indian Health Service—the federal agency tasked with providing health services to Native American communities—has long been the go-to health care provider for tribes in New Mexico and across the country.

But in recent years, that has started to change, and a growing number of tribes are deciding that managing their own clinics and behavioral health programs will help build healthier, more resilient communities.

Oil and gas drilling and mining companies come to rural areas offering jobs and cash, but they also dig into the land, pull resources out of it and create pollution. There are some folks in these regions who say the trade off isn’t fair in the long run. One organization is working on the Navajo Nation to stabilize the boom-and-bust economy of extraction by boosting local entrepreneurs and small business.

Anthony Moreno

  

With the recent drought in the West, ranchers may be forced to find more sustainable options.  And some researchers are looking to a breed of cattle from the past to find the answers.

Jon and Susie Eickoff are used to working together and going home together. Jon says over three decades; they have only been apart a couple of times.

“Except for a business trip to Houston, Texas and a stint that I spent in the hospital for ten days, I can say that in thirty years those are the only times we have not been together,” says Jon Eickoff