I thought I had come home from Virginia to save my cat, who was diagnosed with diabetes during my three month absence. I knew I was coming home also to film Francisco, the yoga guru from Brazil whose workshops I attend faithfully twice a year and document for the Hotchkiss Yoga Tree. But now I find out that I came home not only for those two reasons, but also to save my home. To save my home land, the fruitful, gorgeous valley carved with springs, streams, irrigation ditches, and branches of the Gunnison River. Surrounded by mesas and mountains, escarpments, arroyos, and gorges, this valley is home to the largest concentration of organic farms in the state, the largest concentration of drug- and hormone-free ranches in the state, and the greatest community I’ve ever encountered.
We are under the grim eyeglass of the Oil and Gas Industry. 30,000 acres surrounding and between the towns of Paonia, Hotchkiss, and Crawford are on the BLM’s slate to be leased for mining in August 2012. The three-dimensional map tour showing red outlines around the parcels turned the muttering meeting tonight into a hushed and interested crowd. Audible sighs signaled the settling in of potential dissenters to hear out the panel, which presented without bias sufficient information that nobody grumbled.
Our community rallied tonight, as the other two communities did earlier this month. Around two hundred people, from dreadlocks to cowboy hats, met together, heard one another. Made me proud to be part of them. There is so much to be done to create a three-dimensional portrait of this landscape and community, the people, the farms, ranches, trails, hunting grounds, springs, ditches, watersheds, maps upon maps overlaid to reveal the depth of our connections to this land. We are going to put together a portrait of our valley, in photographs, films, words, showing the vitality and productivity of this place, and the faces of the people who call it home.