The days are getting longer. Ravens are courting now. Nature is perfectly timed. She never gets ahead of herself. The trouble with our eagerness to make a world is that, because the world is already made, what is there must first be destroyed.
Some say we should change to become a more prosperous place, more citylike. City life is like the frog in hot water, only you gradually drip in drops of pollution and stress ‘til he dies of cancer, never even noticing he’s in danger. We want city prosperity. We want the purity of the country. How do we purify prosperity?
The danger Wal-Mart represents is a nationwide addiction to poverty. A poverty of hypercapitalistic consumerism that’s left the vast majority of Americans dependent on debt-based boom-bust economic growth cycles which support a corporate-led systematic process of concentrating wealth in fewer hands.
Wal-Mart spells poverty. For their exploited workers, for the communities they plunder, for the environments raped to mass produce the products they sell, and for pimping a consumer culture addiction to an entire world. Yet We the People are the believers in buying and selling. We have bought in to a materialistic dream that is at once ephemeral and inhumane. At some level, both the poor and the rich are recognizing how the consumerist culture is starting to unravel.
We’re all longing for something to sustain us. A happiness beyond prosperity. We also seek to confirm belongingness. That’s what community is for. We can’t build community from confused adversaries disguised as ourselves. But we can affirm that our true community extends beyond town boundaries into the county, and the world. A wise uniting town governance would recognize and respect this reality by adapting our home rule charter to include protocols aimed at including countywide community participation and inter-governmental cooperation in controversial issues with impacts beyond the exclusivity of our unnatural city boundaries. Our willingness to gather as a group, to speak out and to listen to each other is a truthful demonstration of our countywide interest and efforts to understand what is really going on.
During the recent public forum I heard voices claim local ancestry. I heard voices claiming older local ancestry. I heard the voice of business. I heard voices of the curious. I heard voices cite statistics. I heard a voice in need. I heard a voice offering to help. I heard voices wanting things easier. I heard thankful voices. I heard voices claiming poverty. I heard an arrogant voice. I heard voices praising a place. I heard voices resentful of wealth. I heard voices demanding answers. I heard voices heckle. I heard angry voices. I heard voices cheering. I heard defensive voices. I heard voices tell stories. I heard voices recite history. I heard voices laughing. I heard voices mocking. I heard the voice of suffering. I heard a voice threatening. I heard a welcoming voice. I heard a raven. I heard the voice of community, and for that I am grateful.
Good and bad
I think Wal-Mart is a good and bad store, just as a lot of stores are. I know many people want Wal-Mart to come and many people don’t. This is just my opinion. I think Pagosa really doesn’t need a Wal-Mart.
I have lived in Pagosa all my life, and we have got along fine without it. The employees at Wal-Mart don’t get paid very much. I mean just think. Really think about it. Do we really need it? As I said before, it’s just my opinion.
Ella Blechman, age 8
I have to weigh in on the Wal-Mart controversy, because I lived it as a teenager. I grew up in a tourist town in Oklahoma in the 1970s. It was a beautiful, idyllic summertime place. People flocked to our town in the summer because it was surrounded by the largest and most beautiful lake in Oklahoma. Many of my friends’ parents owned businesses on our main street. A pharmacy with one of the last old soda fountains in the state, a Western Auto store that supplied bikes to all the kids in town and cute little stores selling goodies to the summer tourists. It was just a little bigger than Pagosa is right now. Wal-Mart moved to town when I was in high school. Did they add jobs to our community? No, they brought their own building labor force. Every job that was “added” was taken from a business that closed its doors on Main Street. Our Main Street was shuttered, but on the outskirt of town, we had this huge monstrosity of a building. I was only a teenager at the time, but I understood the impact that company had on my hometown.
I recently returned to my hometown. That ugly first Wal-Mart building is now empty and they built another much larger building a mile away. Main Street is still not what it is was before Wal-Mart. My little hometown is no longer unique. It is just another town in Oklahoma. I understand what it is like to try to earn a living in a small town. I believe that we need competition in order to bring down our grocery prices in this town. I just do not believe that a Wal-Mart is the answer.
My husband and I are here because this place is stunningly beautiful. I actually used to cry when I had to leave this place. It is a truly unique town in one of the most beautiful settings in Colorado. Must we give that up to Wal-Mart? Can’t we be a little more creative?
Most folks understand that unlimited and undisclosed money in our election campaigns, plus the same money from lobbyists, is very detrimental to the functioning of a democracy of the people, by the people and for the people. Recent Supreme Court decisions have caused this problem to intensify, making it necessary for action by “we the people” to reclaim our rights as citizens and voters.
Last Saturday, a group of local people met for the second time to discuss what we might do to counter the impact of big money in politics. We worked on the development of a mission statement, including our purpose, tasks and values. We decided to call our organization “Money Out of Politics” — MOP.
Our purpose is obvious in our name. MOP has local, state and national tasks. Candidates and elected representatives need to hear the issues from the people, make changes in their campaigns and legislation, and sign on to resolutions. The FEC and SEC need to actually do their jobs; perhaps a Constitutional Amendment will be needed. MOP values include being non-partisan, transparent and open to discussion of all sides of the issues.
We are not alone, as hundreds of groups and actions are taking place all over the USA. If you would like to join with us in our efforts, please email to MoveToAmend.Pagosa@yahoo.com, and we will put you on our email list. Please include your name and phone number so that you may be contacted by phone, if needed.
There are several work groups you might choose to join, which are already busy on various tasks. Regular meetings of MOP will take place every third Saturday at 4:30 to 6. A website and Facebook page are in process, and meetings with candidates are being arranged.
Thomas Jefferson, about 200 years ago, reminded us that uncontrolled big money interests can destroy our democracy. As citizens we need to continually protect our freedoms and rights from those who would take them from us. Please join MOP, to become better informed and work to make your vote more effective.
All right, enough seriousness!
Pagosa Mountain Morning Rotary would like to announce that it is Follies time again ... this time in the spring. We are going to be auditioning acts for the follies soon and would like to encourage all you local, talented folks to get together and get silly.
For those who have never been to the follies (shame on you!), we have a great show with a variety of acts that spoof local, regional and national issues. With all that is going on this year, we have a plethora of topics to work with.
So, put on your creative caps, hone up your funny bone and get inspired! If you have musical talents, we can use you! If you like to dress up and put on a comedy act, we can use you. If you are too shy to speak up, but could do a lip sync act, we can use you.
For more information on how to get an act into the Follies, call Sam Conti at 731-9019, Robert Soniat at 731-3777 or Natalie Carpenter at 335-8218.
The Pagosa Follies will be presented Saturday, April 28, at 6:30 and 8:30 p.m. We will again be presenting in the Liberty Theatre. Adult beverages will be available for purchase, along with your traditional theater favorites — popcorn, candy and sodas.
Kudos to the town for at last agreeing to host a public forum so that we all had a chance to express our various community views about and to Wal-Mart. Although the timing and the location could have been more appropriate, it was still a great opportunity for a true community dialog. We each heard other perspectives from a broad cross-section of the community. I think we are all a little better for the experience.
Most who oppose it cite negative impacts to tourist appeal, light pollution, neighborhood traffic, roads, property values, security concerns, Wal-Mart’s exploitative labor practices, negative impacts to community human services programs, the exporting of profits/wealth from the community and, most of all, negative impacts to local businesses and livelihoods.
Most who were for it wanted cheap goods and groceries, extended shopping hours, greater product selection, more sales tax in community coffers, etc.
All would like to see Wal-Mart honor our town’s unique character in store design, pay its own way and offset some of the negative impacts to our community.
All would like for town and county officials to promise that none of our local tax dollars will be used to support Wal-Mart.
The real revelation for me, were the needs that remain unmet by Wal-Mart in the community — what Wal-Mart will not solve for us.
As I listened, I heard that there is a community need for an affordable grocery store in town — especially one that caters to our local Hispanic population. For many town residents, uptown might as well be a distant town — especially those that cannot drive like Dora, who spoke so passionately.
Nor does Wal-Mart address the decaying downtown core. The old City Market location stands vacant and deteriorating. Storefronts are vacant. Tourists have few places to spend money as they wander through town on crumbling sidewalks and past empty storefronts.
So much time and effort has been spent over recent years to lure Wal-Mart here, but what is being done to revitalize downtown?
I do hope that this was the first of many public forums to set the vision and direction for a future that bears all our “fingerprints” and meets our collective needs.
Local officials should not try to solve this on their own without community input, but rather find a way to engage the creativity and the passion of the community to define our needs and identify workable solutions so that we can move forward together.
Bring it on
Great town meeting!
I am not a public speaker, but I would like to share a few thoughts.
Several people at the community meeting commented on how Wal-Mart would take their profits out of this community. Where do you think City Market, Alco, Family Dollar, Ponderosa Lumber (Sterling Lumber) and many more go with their profits? They take them out of town. That is what corporations do.
The other thing that I heard was that people are concerened about the location, because they don’t want to look at a huge building or it will block their view. I am sorry, when you purchased your home or land, you knew that it was situated right next to (or close to) commercial property. You should have thought about this before you purchased your place that is so close to the only highway that runs through Pagosa. Properties of these types are normally considered commercial, and one would assume that, eventually, some sort of commercial building (be it Wal-Mart or other) would be built there.
I am a local buisiness owner, and I welcome free enterprise, whether it be small or large, so ... bring on Wal-Mart!
Kevin E. Edwards
Be proud of your roots.
To those people who think they are beneath working at Wal-Mart, you need to take another look in the mirror because what you truly see may betray your comments. When you are a single parent with children and you have to put food on the table, you will do everything in your power to work at any job that pays money — and at three different jobs if you have to. The “me” generation of today is still living at home with their parents who are paying their way and enabling their behavior. Grandparents are still raising their children and their grandchildren. These kiddos should be so blessed. People do not want to work for less than $15 per hour. Unemployment rates are up because they refuse to work, not because there are not any jobs out there. Humbling jobs like working at Wal-Mart, working at City Market, cleaning homes, working as a janitor, working as a waitress or a cook, and working in hotels allow us to better our lives. There are a lot of educated people who do not have jobs in their field, but they are out working these humbling jobs that put food on the table. It is when people have a little money in their pockets that they forget where they come from. Be proud of your family roots!
Wal-Mart not creating jobs is an exaggeration. Jobs shifted from other stores create other job openings. I am appalled at the way some of our local business owners treat their employees. As a customer, I have stood witness when employers berate their employees for making mistakes. It is no wonder that many business owners are working in their own establishments. I do not blame employees for quitting because of how they have been treated. For employers to devalue their employees is inhumane!
The Alco store will not close its doors unless the owner of the building shuts them down. Even then, they will look to relocate their store. The dollar store will not close its doors just because there is a Dollar General owned by Wal-Mart. Our specialty shops are not in danger of closing their doors. Wal-Mart cannot duplicate the wonderful goodies these specialty shops have to offer. The local businesses that have already closed and those currently closing have done so by choice.
By the way, many of our specialty shops carry items made in China, and many of you buy them. People opposing Wal-Mart are people I see and visit with at the out-of-town Wal-Marts, Targets and Sam’s Club — the very corporations they proclaim to hate. I guarantee they will be shopping at the Wal-Mart here in Pagosa. Wal-Mart gives back to its communities, and these same shameless people will also solicit donations when it serves their purpose.
It was appropriate that the Wal-Mart public meeting would take place in the community center dining room — with the sacrificial lamb led to its slaughter. I was disheartened that the only things resonating in the room were pure hate and prejudice—— certainly not aimed at Wal-Mart for coming to town or to wealthy, dauntless corporations, but intentionally directed at every human being who chose to be an advocate of Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart has not divided the citizens of Pagosa — the citizens of Pagosa have done so with their choice to be ignorant out of fear. Citizens opposing Wal-Mart took advantage of the opportunity given by the town council to pit the rich against the poor, the natives against the locals and Pagosa against Fairfield.
When I was in college, I read the fable, “The Maiden and the Snake,” shared by Mary Kurt-Mason. Our class assignment was to defend a character in the story. Keep in mind that fables are short stories with lessons taught by animals endowed with human reason. The group defending the little girl and her trust in the snake believed that the little girl should never trust anyone who is not like her. Our group defending the snake concluded that the little girl did not die, and that she should find it in her heart to forgive the snake for biting her. We rationalized the obvious: the little girl needed to be humbled because she was not what she appeared to be. She had prejudged the snake: “I know your kind.” We also agreed how nice it would have been if the little girl and the snake had worked together to make a better world.
In the end, it was quite clear that the only snakes biting and spewing venom were opposing Wal-Mart and the poor, native citizens of Pagosa. All of those snake biters should be sentenced to working at the Wal-Mart as a greeter! They could learn some manners from these special people.
Let’s face it, the only reason Americans are irate with China is because America is portrayed as a golden land of opportunity and a land of room enough. It would behoove you to choose a better piece of literature to read more carefully before you play the blame game — “The Land of Room Enough,” by E.P. Maxwell. Despite people who take advantage of others, I am still proud to be an American because I believe in people. It is called “hope” — faith that my fellow man will work together to move towards a united world. It begins with each of us learning to be tolerant of each other and to do so with the respect we each deserve. This is what we owe our future children.
I find it perplexing, even astounding, that Mayor Aragon scheduled the Wal-Mart work session between Town Council, Wal-Mart reps and concerned citizens in the Senior Dining Room at the community center — on the very same night and same time as Soup for the Soul’s annual fund-raiser, held in the gymnasium. Soup for the Soul reserved their space months ago!
Organizers for both events were met with severe parking challenges and chaos. Was it just a case of bad planning? Why did Mayor Aragon and Town Manager David Mitchem fail to consider the conflict when scheduling the Work Session? Why did they not provide a room with adequate space? The Senior Dining Room was packed beyond overflowing. If Mayor Aragon had his finger on the pulse of his community, he would have known that he needed to provide an adequate, much larger venue, such as the gymnasium. The work session was productive, but it also felt as if the mayor and town manager deliberately intended to limit participation by keeping people out of the room and packing us in like sardines — to the point that people were uncomfortable and had a hard time reaching the microphone.
Citizens of this area, do not let slave labor and greed spoil the soil and soul of Pagosa Springs and Archuleta County. Fast, cheap or convenient must not dictate where we shop or dine. Fast, cheap or convenient must not dictate what we build. More noble instincts than fast, cheap or convenient must be at the helm of our souls and govern the decisions made by city and county officials. Please consider these words and take them to heart.
After listening to the pros and cons regarding Wal-Mart at the public meeting held Feb. 16, several issues seem apparent. First is the fact that the proposed Wal-Mart is dividing our citizens versus bringing us together to plan Pagosa’s future. Many other issues have done the same … are we ever going to work together regardless of our diversity? Back to the issue of Wal-Mart. Several people spoke about choice; 386 citizens, that is, 251 for and 135 against, have gotten to choose for the thousands of us who have Pagosa addresses but who are not allowed to vote...thus, having no choice in the matter of repealing legislation that had prohibited big boxes. I’d like to suggest that since the 251 people who are for a big box coming to town work toward having the proposed Wal-Mart built downtown where they live … not out where those of us who could not vote and have a choice in the matter, will possibly have to contend with living with a Wal-Mart in our part of town. Let the size of the Wal-Mart be in proportion to the number of people who have voted for it; let the size of the Wal-Mart be a mini Wal-Mart downtown, perhaps replacing the now vacant City Market. Let Wal-Mart tear down that building or invest in what is there making it a viable mini Wal-Mart, thus giving the people who have voted for a big box the convenience of having a proportionally sized “big box” in their part of town. Let Wal-Mart, Kroeger, and the town hash this out. Perhaps, Wal-Mart could even occupy all the vacant downtown stores and place their different departments proportionately in each vacant store. Is the proposed location of Wal-Mart in Aspen Village, with all the ramnifications it would bring to that area, truly serving the type of growth, look and feel that would best serve our town? Those of you responsible for guiding our town’s growth, for maintaining its resort, small town integrity, is this really in the best interest of Pagosa’s future? Just posing a few questions and ideas outside the box (yes, pun intended).
I understand that our post office has it’s own reputation. I have heard about it from ladies talking in the grocery store, when I am at garage sales, even when I have been getting my hair cut. I have witnessed, myself, the rudeness, lack of customer service and laziness of the Pagosa Springs postal workers. But, until recently, I couldn’t even fathom how bad our situation is here in this town. I know it is hard to find hard workers, but this is ridiculous.
As I try to find out why my mail comes up missing, I am hearing things that are so upsetting. I have called and called and called. I am tired of talking and want something done. I understand our postmaster is new, so how can we fault her or blame her for the things that go on here? But, with as often as people are calling her and telling her about the mess ups and lost articles of mail, it is time to step up, take some action and get this post office under control.
I have lost paychecks, countless boxes, holiday gift items and all of my City Market coupon packets. Companies have had to write off merchandise that this post office has given to the wrong person. I have lost hundreds in this merchandise that was never recovered. My paycheck and gift checks before Christmas showed up a month after Christmas, because they were given to the wrong person. Some of these items had been opened.
As I speak with other people about this, I hear many similar stories. I have spoken with someone that used to work for the post office. How could there be such dishonesty and mischief among postal workers? Why don’t they appreciate having a stable job that pays really well for our area? How could you take advantage of such good benefits that accompany this job? I was told to never mark a box “fragile,” because this person saw other workers drop-kick these types of boxes. I was told never mail a gift card in the mail inside of any type of envelope, because chances are it will disappear. I was starting to feel picked on. It has begun to feel like a vendetta. So many things have disappeared or been stolen. Interesting also that things disappear with tracking numbers, before the package delivery notice has even been sent.
I want answers. And I know so many other people in Pagosa Springs want answers, too. And we also want to be treated courteously when we have to go into that building that so many dread going to, all because we know we will be regarded with such distaste and with such rudeness.
My fellow Pagosa residents, we need to demand results. This is our right. This is our personal mail. They have no right to it. They have no right to abuse it, and they should be ashamed for treating their neighbors so poorly.
I’ve read with great interest The SUN editorials and letters to the editor about Wal-Mart. I have been looking for reasons to make my own personal decision about whether I like the idea for Pagosa’s future. First, Mayor Ross “lower your prices” Aragon came out in favor of Wal-Mart coming to town. Whether we liked it or not, for a long-standing politician in this town to support a major change to Pagosa’s small town way of doing business, that comment and the resulting firestorm he knew it would create took great courage and conviction. That was the first time in my nine years here that I saw that kind of conviction from a local politician and I had to respect that!
Second, having been in New Mexico as finance director of Ghost Ranch for most of the last year, I have made several trips to the nearest major town, Espanola, on ranch business. And, if I needed personal food, supplies, or even office furniture, I was always directed to Wal-Mart, since except for food and building materials, there often were no other alternatives. However, that’s not the case in Pagosa. We have many older established businesses that can compete with many things that Wal-Mart would sell. And since Pagosa thrives on tourism, tourists will spend more money here at our businesses because they won’t have to go to Durango for more competitive shopping.
And finally, my lovely wife, Annette, could have died last summer after falling asleep in a terrible car accident on her return trip from Durango. Yes, one of her stops was Wal-Mart. Surely all of us, especially the older, “sometimes sleepy,” retirees, are all aware of the perils of constant drives to Durango; deer, hills and curves, snow-packed and icy winter roads, erratic drivers, etc.
Will the Pagosa landscape change because of Wal-Mart? Sure it will, but the proposed store will be smaller than the Durango Wal-Mart and it might even be an improvement over all of the vacant and boarded-up buildings we currently have. It would create more jobs, increase lodging, keep many of our restaurants and businesses going, keep tourists in town longer, and maybe even attract new businesses. So, yes, I’m in favor of Wal-Mart. Keep those letters coming folks!
Why is the thought of Wal-Mart in Pagosa so repulsive to me? Cashing in a chunk of rural mountain magic for a questionable chunk of rural mountain change shows all the signs of a catastrophic marketing blunder. Let’s not sacrifice our precious jewels on the alter of a rummage sale.
With overwhelming emotion and little fact, I tried to contribute my two minutes worth at the public Wal-Mart meeting in hopes of alleviating some of the tension, but to my dismay, the disrespectful tone and mantra set at the beginning of the meeting became more forceful and drowned out all common sense. The words “my town” were chanted by many. Last I checked, it was “our town.” As a native, I was appalled by the insolence shown Josh Phair and the names he was called, by the way the town board members were treated, and by the boos and the talking out of turn every time a supporter of Wal-Mart took to the podium. That is not the native hospitality I was raised with and certainly not what I practice.
Yes, Pagosa is a beautiful place to live, and I do not blame anyone for wanting to live here. People say they come to live here because of the warm and friendly people. (These warm and friendly people are the natives who may be poor, but they are rich in spirit!) Although the mountains and lakes will be here forever, Pagosa has never been the same small town since the rich have moved in flaunting their money and idealistic mentality — a distorted vision, thinking they are the only ones deserving of living in this beautiful area. They have repeatedly tried to exploit and oppress the natives here with their beliefs. Some natives have sold their souls to these affluents because they were promised a share of the “in-crowd” benefits. I have seen many natives crippled and destroyed by this cruel deception. When the elitists realize that they cannot control Pagosa and its people, and things get tough, they move on to infect the next little town while we natives are left behind to pick up the pieces. These people have never felt the hunger pangs because there was no food to put on the table. I hope they never do. Their hate breeds hate as they travel around devastating the world. People are not born hating; they are taught to hate in their very homes.
We all need to learn how to get along and make Pagosa Springs a better place to live.
Giant is open 24/7. They have milk and diapers, even fuel and a carwash available at midnight. On the corner of Piedra and Hwy. 160, it’s open 24/7 for last minute needs.
There is a grocery store downtown. It’s a sweet addition to our community; they opened serving basic needs when City Market shut downtown.
People move all the time for work around the world. It’s very common, from labor related industries (oil and gas) to CEOs; so many travel in life for work, advancement, and/or better pay. Some move for periods of time for needed work or desired education, and then return to the place they love.
There are always tradeoffs in life, as one rarely has everything provided for them that they feel they need; it’s so easy to get needs and wants confused. We make choices and take personal responsibility for how we want our lives to be. For example, those who deplore big box and the associated hassles move to places that don’t have them. Those wanting access to certain jobs or merchandise that big box might offer move to places that do have them. Many who have moved to Pagosa will often tell you that they looked at Durango, but moved here because there was no shopping Mecca.
Perhaps many of us who don’t want Wal-Mart in Pagosa were not born locally, but moved here because we wanted a simpler life; many have done much to contribute to this community. We left the conveniences happily behind and really looked around before settling. We are not all rich; many of us have to work. Some have to work second jobs to support our small local businesses. We are happy to do so to live here … until Wal-Mart comes.
Some would probably be OK with moving if/when that does happen. Not always do we have control over the outcome, but we do have choice in how we respond; it’s good to personally be reminded of that!
Wal-Mart’s recent two-year steady decline in quarterly profits partially reflect changing tides; along with the 390 empty Wal-Mart Meccas nationwide, and the frequent community battles and legal entanglements surrounding Wal-Mart’s encroachment. “Mr. Josh” is an experienced, traveling (for work) Wal-Mart arbitrator whose job is to convince. The well managed and prospering small communities, who recognize the value of rural living, solid visioning and careful planning in a unified manner, exemplify the alternatives.
Let’s consider clarifying our needs from our wants, and make smart long-term choices! For numerous reasons, one smart choice, which can be done in our interdependent community, is consolidation of town and county government operations.
Kudos to the editor for printing the pro-commerce letters. When the newspaper has to place its own advertisement in the paper offering ad space for sale, you know the economy is bad (no matter what the headlines say) ... and will only get worse unless you open Pagosa to new and viable commercial development and jobs.
The squeaky wheel gets the oil. The elites have made a lot of noise about how “Wal-Mart is the enemy.” These people are either 1. business owners threatened by competition, 2. retired outsiders who have the time to drive to Durango or Farmington for what they need, or 3. they are second homeowners with the financial means and time to organize groups and start a letter writing campaign to promote their agenda.
We live in a small community of approximately 30,000 people, with a quaint little village like Pagosa. We also have a Wal-Mart, Home Depot, King Soopers, Safeway, three tire stores, and a lot of other small businesses. Why is it that all these diverse businesses can coexist in our little community and could not in Pagosa? If a business fails, it has less to do with competition and more to do with operator error (poor management).
It is great that the working people in Pagosa who desperately need the growth, jobs and conveniences that a big box has to offer are finally speaking out via all the letters to the editor. Your voice needs to be heard now more than ever, both in the paper and in political office. This is your town. Don’t let people with more money than common sense determine your future.
Bob and Diane Wendell