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Cordwood masonry: A green building opportunity

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Cordwood masonry:  A green building opportunity

by Kelly Hart I have often admired the natural beauty of cordwood masonry construction, with its display of log ends stacked in random patterns visible on either side of the wall. It also appeals to my sense of appropriate technology for building in our region. So when I thought about how I might make some […]

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A solar temple in Crestone!

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A solar temple in Crestone!

by Paul Shippee A sacred temple is being built at a retreat center high in the mountains above our Crestone/Baca community. Since the location is far from any electric utilities, this 3-story temple is enjoying a generous contribution of both solar-generated heat and electricity. The temple is located on the Tibetan meditation center land named […]

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Western women heroines

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Western women heroines

by Mary Lowers The role of women in the American west was vital to our development. Records and traces of this contribution are vague and often difficult to unearth primarily due to laws and social norms that made women second-class citizens within the dominate white male culture until the twentieth century. I have researched the […]

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Characters came here

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Characters came here

by Mary Lowers Historically, the San Luis Valley has awed and attracted adventurous and independent souls since the first Neolithic humans came to hunt as the ice sheets retreated. High peaks at the end-of-the-road, brilliant blue skies, and crisp clean air that tastes like honey or the elusive taste of freedom are qualities that have […]

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El Paraje: Adventures in public archaeology on the high potential Old Spanish National Historic Trail Bunker Site

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El Paraje: Adventures in public archaeology on the high potential Old Spanish National Historic Trail Bunker Site

by Angie Krall,  Forest Archaeologist,  Rio Grande National Forest  In September of 2012, a group of over 25 archaeologists and volunteers conducted investigations at the high potential Old Spanish National Historic Trail

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History of the Baca Ranch/ Baca National Wildlife Refuge, Part II: 1900 to present

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History of the Baca Ranch/ Baca National Wildlife Refuge,  Part II:  1900 to present

by Gussie Fauntleroy It was a blustery early spring day in the late 1940s, and the cavernous wooden auction barn at the Baca Ranch was humming with excitement. Automobiles rolled in and cattle buyers from fifteen states and Canada took seats in the bleachers, ready to bid on some of the most highly prized Hereford […]

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The San Luis Valley, a turbulent Mexican territory, & the Republic of Texas

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The San Luis Valley,  a turbulent Mexican territory,  & the Republic of Texas

    by Mary Lowers The period between Mexican independence in 1821, and acquisition of Mexican territory in the present day United States following the Mexican American War in 1846-47, was turbulent and messy in much of southwestern North America.  In this period, the Taos and San Luis valleys made up a portion of the […]

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Chief Ouray & the Utes in southern Colorado & northern New Mexico

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Chief Ouray & the Utes in southern Colorado & northern New Mexico

 by Mary Lowers It was one of those clear early winter nights in northern New Mexico, when the stars seem so close you could reach up and touch them, when Ouray, the famous diplomat and chief of the Ute Nation, was born. On or around November 13, 1833, as Ouray arrived in the world, the […]

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Land, water, grass & animals: History of the Baca Grant, part I

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Land, water, grass &  animals: History of the Baca Grant, part I

  by Gussie Fauntleroy On an 1861 government map of the Colorado Territory, a large swath of the northeastern San Luis Valley is marked with symbols of grass and water and labeled Bay of San Luis. An 1866 map marks the same area with what appears to be a long north/south lake with creeks and […]

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Fragments: Hiking & bird watching as spiritual practice

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Fragments:  Hiking & bird watching as spiritual practice

  by Emmy Savage There is probably no more bitter or pessimistic piece of writing in all of literature than T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land.  In the final section he describes a landscape where there is no water.  Then he asks us to imagine what it would be like if there were water, and […]

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One month of mystery in the Maha Kumbha Mela

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One month of mystery in the Maha Kumbha Mela

story & photos by William Howell Eons before archeology, deep in the mythos of Mother India, the goddess that is the River Ganges requested the saints of Bharata to restore her waters to purity.  Since then, such melas every third year have drawn saints, sadhus and sannyasins to bathe at four time-honoured sites in northern […]

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Camino de Crestone: The start of an inter-faith pilgrimage

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Camino de Crestone: The start of an inter-faith pilgrimage

Howell-labyrinth While several of the many spiritual centers at the foot of the sacred Sangres de Cristo Mountains in the Crestone/Baca area have been in place for more than 25 years, 2013 is the inaugural year for the Camino de Crestone.  The great pilgrimages of the earth—in India, Japan, Spain and England—are now joined by […]

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Building raised garden beds—Heyokah Homestead style

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Building  raised garden beds—Heyokah  Homestead style

by Leigh Mills I learned the value of raised beds when I first started high-desert gardening in the Arkansas Valley over 20 years ago.  My next garden in the Baca Grande subdivision near Crestone had beautiful, sandy ground that was easily worked and I made short raised beds there to keep the amended soil in […]

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A passive solar cold frame

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A passive solar cold frame

by Kelly Hart  Last spring I built a simple cold frame to get an early start on plants to set out into the main garden later, and also as a place to keep some plants that particularly love warmer weather.  It worked very well for these purposes, providing tomatoes, cucumbers, cauliflower, squashes, peppers, eggplants and […]

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Rio Grande County hydrology study reveals risk to waters in western valley

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Rio Grande County hydrology study reveals risk to waters in western valley

by Bea Ferrigno Results of a recent hydrologic study in Rio Grande county raise concerns that oil and gas exploration or development there could lead to contamination of subsurface waters.  The Conejos Formation, which is an aquifer and includes oil-bearing shales, is complex and quite permeable to its considerable depth. It also lacks any barrier, […]

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A visit with the Inuit

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A visit with the Inuit

A visit with the Inuit by Larry Joseph Calloway The last people to blame for unnatural global warming are the Inuit of the far north. They were always close to nature—living in ice houses, burning oil lamps, driving dog sleds, paddling kayaks. But they are the first people to deal with the full tragedy of the […]

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Walking Spain’s famous Camino de Santiago

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by William Howell History, in many lands, gets focused in pilgrimage—to a shrine, temple, place made immortal by heroic vigilance, saint’s burial place.  For is not each of our lives a journey . . . even if the destination is as yet unclear?  And is this not why pilgrimages have for eons drawn souls to […]

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A filmmaker finds home; Mark Elliott’s Yangsi set for Crestone screening

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by Gussie Fauntleroy In 1997 as Mark Elliott was filming the elaborate enthronement ceremony of a 4-year-old Bhutanese boy seen as the reincarnation of a beloved Tibetan Buddhist teacher, the Crestone-based filmmaker had no idea he would periodically return to document the boy’s experience for the next 15 years. But from both a Buddhist and […]

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Baca National Wildlife Refuge plans visitors’ center

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Baca National Wildlife Refuge plans visitors’ center

by Larry Calloway The Crestone community’s wild front yard—the Baca National Wildlife Refuge—is becoming more public-friendly after 12 years of protective isolation. A visitor center should be open to the public by this time next year, and members of Friends of the San Luis Valley National Wildlife Refuges are organizing a local support group. Refuge […]

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Mali, and the Clearys, in transition

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Mali, and the Clearys, in transition

Part one: A review of recent events in West Africa Mali is a mess. After years as a stable democracy and a model for the rest of the West Africa, Captain Amadou Sanogo of the Malian Army ousted the democratically elected president Amadou Toumani Toure (ATT) in a coup d’état. Ironically, ATT was the leader […]

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Mali, and the Clearys, in transition

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Mali, and the Clearys, in transition

story by Thomas Cleary     photos by Thomas & Cindy Cleary Part one: A review of recent events in West Africa Mali is a mess. After years as a stable democracy and a model for the rest of the West Africa, Captain Amadou Sanogo of the Malian Army ousted the democratically elected president Amadou Toumani […]

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