Sunday, January 20, 2013

Albuquerque: Issues to Consider

I was recently asked three questions about Albuquerque...
1) What do you think are some important issues in our community?
2) Why do you think these are important? Which is the most important to you and why?
3) What do you think should be done to address the issue?


1) What do you think are some important issues in our community?

A man moving from Albuquerque to the east coast this month mentioned to me that there are several reasons for the move…the poverty, the lack of medical expertise for baby boomer 'procedures', and that he and his wife had 'done' all there is to do in Albuquerque.

He touches on a major issue that many moving here may overlook for a time, the abject poverty of many in Bernalillo County. Each weekend that I volunteer at New Mexico's Level One Trauma Center, I see the place filled to capacity with impoverished folks. Since moving here in 1985, I have found that the cost of living is low and have been able to get by on very little over the years. With the coming Government 'cuts' that are in the making, the problem of poverty is only going to increase.

Since 1985 I have seen a problem that at first and compared to where I grew up (North Florida) seemed mild to nonexistent but over the years I have learned it is in fact multi-cultural in its existence that is 'racism'. There is a continuing idea in Albuquerque that the negative aspects flow south…That the NE heights are more wealthy or better somehow than the SE heights and both of those areas better than the South Valley. This belief is pervasive in all aspects of life in Albuquerque.

There is also the resentment of those who came from Mexico long ago, not liking the recent arrivals. There seems to be less negative feeling toward Black Americans than in my Native state of Floirda, but having been a homeowner in Albuquerque's historically Black neighborhood, South Broadway, I can attest to the fact that more subtle perhaps though it be, racism between Blacks, 'Anglos', Hispanics, and Mexicans is rampant here.

2) Why do you think these are important? Which is the most important to you and why?

"Can't we all just get along?" Racism and North South attitudes are pervasive to daily life and effect our quality of life. For the most part, there is a feeling in Albuquerque by outsiders that our citizens are 'open and friendly'. It is too bad that long time residents don't always feel this way about one another. Or that one neighborhood or school is better than another. Or the pervasive idea that there is less crime in the Heights than in the Valley.

As both a homeowner in SE Albuquerque and a business owner in the South Valley, I have been affected by the North South divide. As a teacher in both the 'International District' and the South Valley' I was affected by the divide, A business like ours in the South Valley which promotes the arts should not be any less desirable than say the North 4th VSA Theater. In the eighties, the arts community was pretty much UNM and whatever else was out there. Today our community is very diversified in its arts. Yet, the media's coverage of the arts and so on, still has its favorites.

As a creative writer moving here from the Pacific Northwest, I felt very alone in the arts community. Somewhat like Christ in the desert: all alone. The Pacific Northwest offered much more of a community sense when it came to the arts. Albuquerque has no Arts Commission for example. Collaboration is rare in our city…It is an odd correlation, but I feel that the cultural divide of North-South /East-West is part of the problem even in the arts.

3) What do you think should be done to address the issue?

There is a bumper sticker that reads, 'teach tolerance'. I have often thought it to be 'dumb'. How can you do that? Except by example, tolerance is impossible to teach, yet, that bumpersticker  comes to mind as the answer to this question of race and North-South divide…If somehow we could teach tolerance all would be well. Albuquerque is set in its ways. As more people discover the American Girl Doll from Albuquerque with her own Hot Air Balloon; as more folks come to see the Balloons; as Green Chile goes worldwide; new folks may bring a more open mind. Problem is last survey by United Van Lines showed us to be fifth in the nation for those MOVING OUT of Albuquerque.