By Kaitlin Bryson
Albuquerque - Mountain View//Los Jardines Institute
August 30, 2016
I am saddened to see such a strong example of disheartening land-use politics and the mismanagement of waste so vividly displayed in Albuquerque. Today we listened to Richard and Lauro from Los Jardines Institute tell their life stories. These two men have worked hard for many years battling the never-ending environmental racism that pollutes—and consequently diminishes the values of—their land and culture in the South Valley of Albuquerque. Historically, these lands and people have not had a voice, or their voices weren’t valued and therefore not heard. As we toured their neighborhood of Mountain View we observed that much of the city’s toxic waste ends up in this valley and is left for the environment and people to deal with. “Dealing” with this fatal problem has left the people of the valley with an average life expectancy that is twenty-two years shorter than that of people living only twenty miles to the north. Despite the hard work of Richard and Lauro, many of the factories in the area that are still operational, and largely responsible for much of the environmental disturbances that continue to release toxins into the groundwater and atmosphere.
This experience left me thinking about the paradox of living and being in our current state of affairs… Thinking about how the factories and waste-facilities are a part of our modern lifestyle and, in essence, inextricable from the luxuries the modern form of western civilization affords. Abundance and waste; it’s all woven together. Still, I strongly hope for a way to bring these polarities into plane sight, therefore bringing waste-treatment into the dialogue and into the city, rather than continuing to push these “unsightly” aspects of society to the fringes or to the margins/marginalized.