The Singing River

Where do you find the Singing River?  It lives in the hearts of many in Questa NM, Taos Pueblo, and beyond.  It was a sanctuary of joy and wonder.  From 1999 through 2003, Singing River Field Center was a day camp located on the pristine sun-dappled banks of the Rio Cabresto.  It was a vision of Maggie and Aron Rael and friends for soulful environmental education.  And, in 2014 Singing River Field Center Day Camp is real again!

Local 8-11 year olds can once again mingle happy voices with the Singing River for two week-long day-camp sessions June 23 - 27 and June 30 - July 4.  Camp runs from 9am to 3:45pm Monday through Friday with a campout Thursday night.  Transportation is available.  Learn more and sign up here.  Spread the word and donate to the scholarship fund.

Oh the Places We've Been

Oddly enough, when I went to post the camp pictures, I found my collection consisted mostly of this character hamming it up. Here he can be seen rock climbing in the Crestone area (perhaps the most spectacular of the Rocky Mountains). Other Summer Campers also made it into a few good shots, including the teenagers who hiked here.

Oddly enough, when I went to post the camp pictures, I found my collection consisted mostly of this character hamming it up. Here he can be seen rock climbing in the Crestone area (perhaps the most spectacular of the Rocky Mountains). Other Summer Campers also made it into a few good shots, including the teenagers who hiked here.

Having brought together extremely photogenic summer campers doing interesting things around spectacular scenery, I can now proudly present to you the absolute finest Sangre de Cristo Youth Ranch Summer Camp pictures.  As usual, we took it to the next level with our activities and destinations, and the results will amaze!  Click here to see.

The residents of this nest chose to construct and populate it in the Bud cabin during Session 1. The camper who shared this bunk didn't seem to mind

The residents of this nest chose to construct and populate it in the Bud cabin during Session 1. The camper who shared this bunk didn't seem to mind

Youth Springs Eternal Food

These people look younger than the average farmer (57 years old).  That's good - I plan on eating for some time to come.

These people look younger than the average farmer (57 years old).  That's good - I plan on eating for some time to come.

It has never been a harder time to be a farmer.  Cultural and economic forces have devalued the profession, eroded rural landscapes and communities, and sent a whole generation of would-be farmers fleeing an inheritance of toxic industrialized debt and drudgery in droves.  Most of the holdout farmers ain't spring chickens.  And when they go, our food supply will have really "bought the farm" as well.

Meanwhile, all kinds of observant youngsters are fired up about farming the right way because they know our lives depend on it.  Next to movie star, it's the hippest vocation to aspire to.  But with the cost of land, equipment, labor and other inputs - in the context of a society that does not value food - the serious young producer has a near impossible row to hoe before the first seed hits the soil.

Enter Cerro Vista Young Farmers.  Last year Daniel Carmona gave some young apprentices a 30+ year head start with the benefit of his experience, while they gave the biggest local produce producer the benefit of their focused labor.  At the end of the season, they embarked on their careers growing our food with some savvy in the ol' tool shed and some cash in the pocket.

Lama Mountain Internship

An LMI Pioneer shows a camper how to card wool from a sheep he tackled and sheared

An LMI Pioneer shows a camper how to card wool from a sheep he tackled and sheared

Five college-age students participated in the first-ever Lama Mountain Internship (LMI) in 2013, Residential stays ranged from 1-3 months, and interns spent 30 hours a week engaging in activities related to homesteading in the high desert—from sheep shearing to food preservation, from composting to construction.

Shepherded by charter school founders Todd Wynward and Dr. Stephanie Owens, LMI was of significant benefit to both the interns and the host community. The individual interns gained new knowledge, deep friendships, improved skills, and clarified personal values from a “time apart” characterized by healthy localized living, meaningful work, wilderness experiences, group discussions and opportunities for deep reflection. The Mountain at large benefited significantly from the labor interns brought to projects—cultivating community gardens, caring for sheep and goats, installing a drip system, building a greenhouse and sustainable housing, and practicing youth leadership with SCYR Summer Camp and Roots and Wings Community School.

We are currently accepting applications for the 2014 internship season.  College credit may be available to participants.  Contact Todd for more information.

Camp- The Home of the Free and the Brave

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This year, if we were going to go on down to Arroyo Seco and march in their iconic 4th of July Parade - by golly we were going to take home some prize money!  But what theme should we choose for the float?  The judges were looking for “Most Creative”, “Best Children's Entry," “Most Humorous," and “Best on Wheels." Every category was worth considering for our giant bus and its melting pot of young passengers; but we’re talking about the 4th of July here people!  So of course we set our sights on “Most Patriotic."

We had red, white and blue balloons, stovepipe top hats, stirring patriotic hymns, Uncle Sam, Lady Liberty, an Eagle named Freedom… oh, and one giant tie-dyed American Flag.  The competition was fierce, and the stars and stripes were flying, but in the end, the declaration from the grandstand was SCYR #1!  The prize money will help us keep Summer Camp free for any kid who wants to attend.  And that was just one morning out of our 8-week action-packed summer.

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Many Hands Make Lighthearted Work

Father and son size up the new cabin

Father and son size up the new cabin

Localogy is volunteer powered, and nowhere is that more apparent than at the annual SCYR Work Party Weekend.  Parents, alumni and other volunteers descend on the Sangre de Cristo Youth Ranch on Friday with tools and materials in hand and by the time we pack up from our celebratory river float on Monday the camp facilities are ready for action.

In 2013, parents took it upon themselves to organize some big projects from start to finish.  We built a new cabin, finished out the garage, got the fleet in working order, poured a floor for our camp cookie, and checked-off of many miscellaneous to-dos.  When staff week started, there was nothing left for us to do but concentrate on being excellent camp counselors.  Thank you volunteers- after all, if we don’t do it ourselves, who will?  More pics, info and signup here.

5 Days to Make the Movie!

Localogy’s grassroots media arm is flexing.  Recognizing the power of film to shape the ideas that shape our lives, and the necessity of placing that power directly in the hands of the people, we are excited about the dramatic feature film, “Baby Lu”.  Ascending director Emily Ray Reese is intent on telling rare, genuine stories that put the typical tired, warmed-over Hollywood plotline to shame.  Learn more about the project: click here.

Back in the day, Emily started our summer camp film program, guiding the campers all the way from script writing, through the final edits of the youth-produced epics “Mr. Q” and “Kiss of Death”.  Ms. Reese has come a long way from her camp counselor days- wrapping up a Masters at the prestigious NYU Graduate Program in Film and Television.

Production of the film will be based at the Ranch with a largely local cast and crew.  Local youth will be mentored in a full-fledged top-flight film production.   Baby Lu has 5 days to reach its funding goal, and it's all or nothing.  if you support taking our culture to a new level, donate here and pass this on to all your friends and make it viral.

Flight of Fancy

During April and May, NeoKite artists and volunteers worked with classes from the Questa Alta Vista Elementary and Rio Costilla Elementary Schools, introducing them to the history and art of tethered aircraft. Kite and windsock-making workshops were followed by field trips to the Wild Rivers Recreation Area. The students had a great time flying their new wind-art creations and hiking. 

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The project will culminate in September with a kite exhibition at Ocho, a new art space in Questa, and at NeoRio with the premiere of the NeoKite project video. NeoKite is organized by LEAP, Wild Earth Studio, and local artist volunteers in collaboration with the BLM Taos Field Office and the Questa School District.  Click to read more about NeoKite and NeoRio 2012

Put Your Back Into It

When is the last time you felt really proud of yourself?  When you did something, not because someone was watching, or you had to, but just because it was the right thing to do?  Those of you who helped raise $17,000 dollars for camp last summer surely know the feeling. 

Why are these campers pulling an outhouse up an mountain? Because they can!

Why are these campers pulling an outhouse up an mountain? Because they can!

I’m always amazed when I find a donation check in the mail.  I picture you taking the time to sit down and write in a dollar amount, when you could so easily put it off, forget about it, and keep it for yourself.  That’s what Bud’s camp has always been about- rolling up the sleeves and just quietly doing what needs to be done. 

We have to raise $20,000 right now for the 70 campers this summer.  I hope you will help.  Not because writing a check is glamorous, but because those kids need the ranch, and only together can we give it to them.  

Please visit the donate page.

Community Agriculture

Lama Ladies put the Community in "Community Supported Agriculture"

Lama Ladies put the Community in "Community Supported Agriculture"

Most critters on Earth spend the majority of their waking hours finding food.  If we don’t eat enough calories, we don’t stay alive.  And one timeless rule of nature: you have to put out calories to get calories.  Never in history have people gotten more food for less actual work than in America today.

The average farmer in Iowa feeds 155 other individual people.  Feeding the whole world by yourself on a tight budget is hard work.  No wonder those guys cut some corners- dumping toxic chemicals on our food, rearranging its DNA, washing thousands of years of topsoil into the gulf of Mexico, etc.

Our food comes from a natural system.  Ultimately, the only way the system will be healthy is if we participate in it- every person, every day.

This year, the working members of the Lama Community Farm have taken control of their calories.  For several months, the neighbor farmers have been meeting weekly to plan and plant a true community food project.  There’s a lot of work ahead, it’s a big learning curve for all of us, and you never know how a growing season will go.  But one thing is for sure- there’s no more noble way to spend the day than feeding yourself and your friends.

QTown Records

QTown Records is a production company helping local musicians produce, record, print and distribute music.  Based out of Bear Rock Studio in El Rito NM, QTown’s furthers the work of artist by guiding them through the recording process.

Founded this year by Tim Long, Michael Rael and Wyman Edwards, the company has already produced a music video of a song by David Dawson called What About We.  QTown also produced, recorded and is distributing a cd of songs by Rita Tafoya.

QTown is planning to be an educational resource for students to learn the art of audio/video recording and production.

Water, Right? - Taos Undercurrents

Few issues are more explosive in the desert Southwest than water, yet we all tend to take it for granted.  How does water get to our tap, and will it be there tomorrow?  

“Water, Right?" is a short documentary film researched, filmed and edited by middle school students at Roots and Wings Community School in partnership with Localogy, Taos Shortz and film students from Santa Fe University of Art and Design.  The May premiere drew an enthusiastic response, and later in the year we will release the full hour-long version delving deeper into the issues.

Water through a new lens- RWCS students focus on filmmaking skilz

Water through a new lens- RWCS students focus on filmmaking skilz

The film taps the questions: Who owns the water in Taos? How will climate change impact our water? Should Santa Fe be allowed to take water from Taos County? Is water private property of a human right? What are the limits of growth? Should Taos County pass a Land Use Code? Who should get the water: municipalities or farmers? What is a water right? What is the history of water in our communities? Who should make decisions about our water? How expensive will water be in the future? What can we do to protect our water?

The students also published a companion volume of essays, called “The Last Drop”.  The book features content from the movie, bonus interviews and creative works.  Copies can be purchased for $5.  To get your copy of the book, or arrange a local showing of the movie, contact Daniel

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Roots and Wings Now Enrolling K-8

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Imagine a free public school with all of the benefits of a private school- small class sizes, highly qualified faculty, a diligent anti-bullying culture, world-class wilderness and service experiences, and instructional techniques proven to let every kind of mind thrive.  

Roots and Wings Community School, one of the first charter schools in New Mexico, has long been at the forefront of the school reform movement.  Within the Expeditionary Learning model, students learn with a purpose.  It isn't about the artificial reward of a letter grade; it's about producing something relevant, with real consequences for the larger community.

Roots and Wings students put their math, social studies, science, reading and writing skills to the test by proposing a bag fee ordinance to reduce pollution from single-use plastic bags in TaosRoots and Wings is expanding to serve Kindergarten through eighth grade.  We're excited to see the younger students out on the ranch, exercising their natural curiosity about the world.  If you know of a child in Taos County who deserves a lifelong love of learning, encourage her or him to enroll: (575) 586-2076 or info@rwcs.org.

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2.7168561 Miles Above Average

The adolescent North American Human, seen here in its native habitat (14,345 ft Mount Blanca). Few specimens survive in the wild.

The adolescent North American Human, seen here in its native habitat (14,345 ft Mount Blanca). Few specimens survive in the wild.

Youth between the ages of 8-18 are subjected to nearly eleven hours of electronic media on average every day.  This represents a vast and unprecedented sociological experiment being conducted on an entire generation during their formative years.  You may be please to learn that these virtual teens are still capable of navigating a place called physical reality.  A few were spotted August 3rd 2011 on Mount Blanca, one of Colorado’s more rugged Fourteeners.  That day, the adolescents carried everything necessary for survival on their backs for 13 miles and eight thousand vertical feet.  This is a landscape of solid granite.  There was not so much as a “tweet”, except from some birds.  For realz!

See more images from Session 2 2011

Be Like Bud

For 27 years Dr. Wilson has invested freely in the future of humanity.  This year many others are joining Bud to fund the unique tradition of tuition-free summer camp at the Sangre de Cristo Youth Ranch.  Our first Annual Camp Campaign was touched off with an unforgettable evening in honor of Dr. Wilson hosted by Karen Todd at the Dragonfly Cafe.  Camp star Freedom Hopkins debuted his short film at the event (see below).  THANK YOU to the team of dear volunteers and donors who raised enough to employ our excellent 2011 summer staff.  Money can't buy you love, but it can buy food for children from all walks of life who are practicing unconditional love for a month on a ranch in Lama New Mexico.  If you think that's a good deal, click here:Donate

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