Creative capital, cultural destination


Going to the “morgue” at The SUN is an informative experience. A morgue book is the bound volume of a year’s newspapers. It is one of the only enduring records of the community’s history.

A scan of books from the 1890s to present provides a valuable perspective, showing things about this place that do not change.

One that jumped out last week was the appearance over the decades of articles about folks out to improve the community. With a morgue book, one can track whether or not these folks and the big ideas succeeded. One can verify whether the purveyors of grand schemes were in it for ego, money or the welfare of the community.

Ideas, slogans and personalities come and go, and all the while, government makes nearly every important move: streets are paved, utilities provided, parks and bridges built. But, not all. Businesses come and go; some leave a mark (a building, a name) others remain only in the morgue book. Businesses and industries change the community in substantial ways. A ranching community is one thing, a lumber community another. A community that feeds on tourism and harbors retirees is another yet.

Other things can have an effect. A slow growth of a facet of Pagosa Country over the past 25 years or so, one with the potential to change Pagosa, can be seen in morgue books. The morgue holds evidence of arts activities, individuals who do more than dabble at a hobby, and the arrival of organizations and businesses providing professional entertainment opportunities and venues.

This is a seed that can grow, and efforts are being made to tend it. There are communities nearby that developed an arts image and reputation that became a major economic driver. Think Taos and Santa Fe. That potential exists here.

But, the arts are not all there is to our creative community. There are also those individuals and businesses that create products and processes, and a visit to the morgue shows the arrival of a significant number of them, replacing the timber industry that waned a quarter century ago. There are producers of clothing, model rocket parts, food products, bits, bridles and reins, beers and ales, furniture. There are projects in the works to transform debris from the forests into electrical energy. These, too, are creative efforts.

The question is how to take this growing amount of creative activity and use it to start the process of identifying Pagosa Country as a destination — a place for creative businesspersons to relocate, for tourists to visit in order to see and purchase art, meet artists and craftspeople, and enjoy first-rate theater and music events. An attempt to start that process has been initiated by the Pagosa Arts and Culture Project (go to and now the group is planning the first-ever Pagosa MAKERS Expo & Tour, for Oct. 12-13.

It is time for creative Pagosans to get on the bandwagon. Creative capital must be seen as being as valuable as geothermal water. It must be seen as equal to the area’s recreational resources. It can spur long-term, steady growth and significant economic rewards for the community. The first, small steps in that long journey are being taken now.

Artists, craftspersons, business owners creating a product — all are urged to participate in the PACP long-term project. Enroll at no charge with the non-profit on the website in order to be placed in the PACP database and listed as a community creative asset. They are also strongly urged to submit an entry for a spot at the October MAKERS expo and tour at that same web address.

Karl Isberg