October 16, 2018

The Tower (Fracking at Greater Chaco)

The Tower (Fracking at Greater Chaco)
By Rowan Willow

few of the fracking wells at Greater Chaco are visible from highway 550. Some of the storage facilities and refineries look menacing, but the wells themselves don’t look imposing at all. If you were to drive by without the knowledge of the current struggle of the area with Big Oil, you might not notice anything out of the ordinary. Such large, oblong, sleekly painted shapes are a staple of highway life in the country, probably other countries as well. Chaco is a monument, ruins that can never be touched. Everything else is just business as usual.

These wells are fracturing communities. They affect the mental and physical health of the indigenous communities whose ancestors grew this land and worked with the magic of this place.

When I think of the fracking in the greater Chaco region, I think of the Tarot Card The Tower. The card is unanimously agreed to be a reference to the Tower of Babel, a tower where we tried to reach God through the heavens, and God- knowing we could not reach Him, made language divide so we could no longer communicate. The story does not communicate a disaster, instead it provides hope. The doorway on the card signifies that people were not forced to leave, they left out of their own volition, because the way to communicate with God is not through unattainable ideals, but through connection and cultivation of the earth.
Maybe our world is set up to make money off its exploitation, and maybe that exploitation will be realized until there is nothing left. But no matter how much we try to build our tower to utopia through oil, we will end up with the realization that we will only attain this utopia through working and understanding the earth and its wisdom.

October 15, 2018

Reality Tour

Reality Tour
By Blaise Koller
Four Corners
September 26, 2018

Things today going on the “Fracking is Fracking Reality Tour” with Daniel Tso

-Yellow Poles: Warning gas pipeline
-Loud, unrelenting ubiquitous motors
-Petrified Wood
-Huge circular pools filled with produced water (In traditional oil and gas wells, produced water is brought to the surface along with oil or gas.)
-Dog tracks
-White PVC pipelines
-Flat soft black plastic tubes
-Workers setting up a well
-Many semi trucks carrying water and other supplies with names unkown to me
-Huge blue storage containers professing “rain for rent” on the sides
-Pools from fracking water runoff
-White and pink tiny flowers on unknown plant
-Yellow and black bold sign “METHANE GAS ODORLESS TOXIC IN OUR AIR”
-Elementary school with very high readings
-Colorful sunset
-Fajada Butte in the distance looking from a fracking site

October 14, 2018

sometimes what lies in the open is invisible

nicholas b jacobsen
sometimes what lies in the open is invisible
Four Corners
October 12, 2018

Everyone who reads this entry is connecting with the lives within the sacred lands of Diné (Navajo) and Pueblo Peoples. As we begin our communications, let us fully acknowledge the place from where this writing originates and give thanks to the mountains, valleys, and waters, which sustain our lives, and form Diné and Pueblo ancestral homelands. Let us ground our interactions in awareness of where we are and may the mannerisms of Diné and Pueblo Peoples enter our lives and fill us with gratitude, love, care, and respect for all that is shared between us and all beings.
After experiencing the complex, heartbreaking reality of the Fracking is Fracking Reality Tour, led by Daniel Tso, we spent some time absorbing and reflecting. We heard about the fractured social and physical health of the communities in Northwestern New Mexico. We saw the oppressive density of oil and gas wells. We smelled and tasted their toxic tailings. We listened to the omnipresent vibrations of the pumps. We touched the poisoned ground, where seeds of sustenance and lives of ancestors lie. We felt the heartaches and headaches that daily impact the lives of those whose homes are deeply rooted here in the “national sacrifice zone.”
We were charged by this community to hold this experience within our hearts and to share what is forming there with our communities. In there own words, we pass this charge on to you.

“We’re speaking from the heart, in the hopes that it touches your heart, motivates you to join our work. This is a critical time. The balance of nature is disrupted. We all need clean air, water, a place to live. Talk to your family, friends. Ask them to call and write to their representatives. I hear there is a thing called ‘Instagram.’ You can Instagram it.” - Daniel Tso

“The reality that we’re facing is we need help. People are dying. The land and water are suffering. We shouldn’t need a PhD to say harm is happening. It’s the culture of violence that needs to be disrupted--violence on our land, violence on our communities.
It’s time to take a hard stand, what side we’re on.
Are we for life or death?
Peace or violence?
It’s going to come with a lot of sacrifice, changes in the way we live. We were given everything we need--land, water, seeds. We now have an obligation to grow together. We need everyone to work together, because of the urgency.” - Anonymous

Macintosh HD:Users:nicholasjacobsen:Desktop:invisible.jpg

For more information and to learn how you may help the efforts already underway, please visit the Greater Chaco Coalition @ frackoffchaco.org, and on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram

Thank you

October 13, 2018

Angel Peak

Angel Peak
by Jess Zeglin
This week, I met a great many things for the first time.
I met the drilling pads. A flat concrete pad, large metal cylinders to hold the winnings, stovetop pipes sticking out of the ground fanning nearly invisible waves of methane into the air, one or more compressor fans droning day and night. The well itself is a small tangle of pipes, mostly massed invisibly underground with long horizontal legs driven into the broken rock, reaching out to siphon strange blood out of stone. Once you know how to see them, they are everywhere.
Tucked mostly away from the highway, along the side roads you will start to see drill pads behind every hill, around the bend of every mesa, just behind those junipers, just over that rise, right next to that grandma’s house, near the church, next to the cornfield, and alongside the sheep pasture. Everywhere. If you get out of your car, you’ll hear them before you see them.
Or, more likely, you’ll start to feel them. A headache will creep up on you from seemingly nowhere. You will start to feel nauseous, like you can’t get a breath of fresh air, but not be able to figure exactly what’s wrong. That’s what happened to me in just one day spent around the wells. Imagine the situation for those who live every day right next door.
I met a toxic tangle of historical racism, violence, and injustice still playing out today, the ground for dirty industry made fertile by a continuing legacy of fear.
I met guides, protectors, teachers, and activists. People of this place by ancestry, tradition, and spirit, who love its juniper infused vistas, organize their lives around the patterns of the stars seen from within its wide sky, and want good, healthy lives for their elders and children.
Several days in to learning about and meeting these realities, feeling firsthand the keen and vibrant life of the Greater Chaco region along with a fraction of the pain it must be to experience your home being destroyed around you every day, I also met a tarantula.
I had been running down a dirt road, away from other people. Not running particularly well, especially given my bare feet and the coffee cup from camp breakfast that morning that I was still clutching in my hand. I don’t have much practice with bare-foot-coffee-cup-running on sand – I’m sure I looked like a bizarre white scarecrow being chased by invisible phantoms out into the field. That is to say, like a goofball. But I had to run because I was so dang angry that otherwise I would punch something.
Everyone around me at that moment was much too nice to punch, and anyway we had been talking all that week about the importance of peaceful activism. So, I wound up running like a scarecrow just to get out some of that rage. Being an utter failure at sand running, I eventually slowed down and stopped, sat down on the road, and tried to put things in perspective. Why I was there in that place, the responsibility that I felt to try to contribute something positive to the efforts of the protectors – to amplify but not gentrify their work – and what I could do about it. As I sat in the sand, I could see two drilling platforms to my North and Southwest. I could hear another just beyond the rise. I tried to tune them out and focus on the warm sand in the cool morning air, the resilience and beneficence of the plants still thriving in a trammeled land. I calmed down.
I stood up to walk back toward camp, and that’s when I met her. A big, fuzzy tarantula beauty, marching one leg after the other after the other (march march march; march march march; three on each side, all in rhythm!) down the road. We were heading in the same direction, so I joined in. March march march, march march, march march march. I tried to match my two-legged stride to the spider’s six.
Calm, quiet resolve emanated from this determined creature. I don’t know where the tarantula was headed, or really where I’m headed either, but for a while we just walked along the road together. And I thought: this is exactly what we need – this calm determination, this peaceful but implacable movement forward. One step in front of the other, one zine, one letter to a congress person, one protest, one friendship made, one alliance made, step by step by step, by step, by step. Continued, caring, focused, unflappable motion.
Eventually the tarantula turned away, their direction lying more to the North than the road cared to travel. I waved goodbye and said thank you for the lesson, a lesson I will keep trying to hold in my heart and acting out, step by step. A lesson that the protectors of Greater Chaco have already learned and are generously teaching others who also believe in the importance of a living land and sustainable society – step by step, always focused on creating better lives for all.


October 11, 2018

Stifling and Space

Stifling and Space
Erin Gould
September 23, 2018
Wild Rivers

Yi-Fu Tuan in Space and Place says that "solitude is a condition for acquiring a sense of immensity," as our thoughts around other "are pulled back by an awareness of the other personalities who project their own worlds onto the same space." 

While at Wild Rivers, I spent as much time as I could sitting alone with my feet dangling over edges  of rocky cliffs, listening to and tasting the wind coming up from the river. Though I was sick and so disappointed to never be well enough to make the trek down to the Rio Grande or the Red River, I reveled in the openness, expansiveness, and sense of freedom I felt in those quite moments with 800 feet of vertical breathing room.

"Space, a biological necessity to all animals, is to human beings also a psychological need, a social perquisite, and even a spiritual attribute." 

The space (both physical and temporal) I took was a vital mental breath, a resetting from the pressure constraints of such close social and creative contact with a very small group of people that I did not know well and with whom I did not feel entirely comfortable expressing my full range of emotions. 

Stifling is the word that comes to mind when I think of that week at Wild Rivers. The gorge saved me, the wind refreshed me, the light moving above/ through/ over the immensity of open air created by that ancient rift in the earth's crust, displaying a history of change and movement more enormous than I can comprehend, kept me grounded when my most basic needs, alone time and a non-fever/ mucus/ misery ridden body, were often inaccessible. 

(Did you know that some of the piñon and juniper forests at this site contain trees that are 500 years old or that the Taos Plateau volcanic field has some 22-million-year-old volcanic vents or that some scientists believe that the Rio Grande Rift will become an ocean several million years from now?)

Tuan, Yi-Fu. Space and Place: the Perspective of Experience. University of Minnesota Press, 2014.

October 10, 2018


nicholas b. jacobsen
Wild Rivers
September 21, 2018

*This is a poem inspired by roots, the theme of this year's Neo Rio.
(Included is a mental map of roots.)

what is root?
a noun and a verb
a division and connection
a path and a past
orgin and an end

the root word
the word root
also means branch
roots branching out as tree branches branch
into the air
gathering clouds, seeding rain, feeding roots
of rocks, rivers, flora, fauna,

my family roots are twisted
spread 'cross ocean and
blood lines pulsing in my veins
rooting my to others,
uprooted as we settled
divided as we spread

beet roots uprooted remind me of home
my step-dad always hated them
with him we were uprooted from the place i was born
i'm rooted, now, there
to the red rocks where we moved
and found family elsewhere
as i continue
home with me
in the iron in my blood, red
as the ground where i grew

i now live where route 66
and the rio grande
the road connects
east to west
the river divides
U.S. from them

rooting around in my mind
which is rooted in my nerves
ending in my soles
rooted in the soil
grounding me here
with you

October 8, 2018

Sky Roots

Sky Roots 
by Blaise Koller 
Wild Rivers 
12 September 2018,  

Brionna and I have been sleeping and camping the last couple nights out on this ledge overlooking the gorge at Wild Rivers. The view is insane. When looking out over the gorge, you can see the other side of it, 1,000 feet below, and the sky stretches in front, to the sides, and above you to infinity. The first evening before the sun went down, I laid on the ground and felt my tired body sinking into the rocks below me, while the clouds lifted my perception up and outwards to their heights. We set up our tents near the edge, but beyond that there was this little squarish space that was perfectly sized for two people. It was surrounded by large rocks on all sides. The first night, Brionna and I pulled our mats and sleeping bags out to that little space on the edge and slept under the stars.  

That night- 

The stars and milky way are endless, and it gives one the impression of floating, since you can't see anything below but black. I've never slept in such an expansive, boundless place, and it feels so opening and also a bit scary and vulnerable. The ledge has a slight incline that points down to the ground far below. It's very slight, but you can feel it. But there are rocks to hold you in, and I haven't really been slipping, so it feels oddly safe at the edge. But I can't completely let go of the fear of tumbling off and thinking of the fragility of my body if these huge rocks underneath me were tumbling over me. This morning waking up, there was not a cloud in the sky. Not one. The colors of the sunrise gradated from light pink to light blue, changing every minute.