For the last two years, TiLT (Taos Initiative for Life Together) was being rebuilt and renewed to recover from arson. Although the building is not yet 100 percent complete, TiLT’s rich vision of integrating all into “people of place” has been a strong foundation in the first ever fall workshop focused on Taos County
Todd Wynward, TiLT founder and executive director, together with friends and 24 local leaders offered a broad selection of information and experiences at the four-day conference, Oct. 27-30. These included visits to Kevin Whitefeather’s place in El Salto for a Land Welcome and music blessing from Taos Pueblo, Angie Fernandez’ off-grid earth-bag tiny homes to inspire minimum waste and maximum connectivity, and Questa’s Repurposing Plastic (RPP) and (QUiLT) (Questa Initiative for Life Together) projects to show what can be done to utilize waste, provide employment, create community, and offer consumer cost savings in building.
Music from multi-cultural traditions, bluesy rock and roll, a fire circle, movement and singing was intermingled throughout. At the TiLT hacienda, presentations and introductions to earth-based projects included Ryan Timmerman’s Veterans Off Grid, master plasterer and author Carol Crews, Daniel Hutchison of Localogy, and Steven Fry showing what has been done to clean up waterways by the Rio Fernando Watershed Collaborative.
Daniel “RYNO” Herrera shared the history and vision of Repurposing Plastic/Repurposing Lives. Doug Eichelberger, architect and eco-designer, shared his experience designing and building with RediWalls built by RPP in Questa. The group was introduced by Susie Swartz to Kate Raworth’s Donut Economics and a vision of Taos County living “in the donut” of balance between human need and planetary balance, knowing that we have enough or can create enough in our region to care for and distribute it to all.
There is a growing movement that local will be what sustains us in the changing times ahead. In many ways, it is a return to sanity, of caring for our family, our neighbor, neighborhood, and region. It’s what we all can do. TiLT advocates working with local governments for positive change, for creating health and well-being in practical ways that encourage local rules and regulations to change with the needs of the times.
Wynward writes, “There is a word here in Northern New Mexico that we love: querencia, the place from which one draws strength. Translated literally from Spanish, it means ‘cherished place.”
We can choose home. We can acknowledge and respect the cultures and peoples that came before us, and we can also join in the meaning and experience of place, whether we’ve been here three years or 300 years. Settler or indigenous, English or Spanish speaker, and yes, even Republican or Democrat, we are united by our choice of place, and we can work very hard with our minds, our hands and our hearts to be local, create local, and share the local bounty given to us by the nature of the mountains, clean rivers, and productive farmland soils of Northern New Mexico.