Changing Direction

(Part 3 of 7)

The life, death, and rebirth of communities.

Communities are created and eventually dissolve, just like all human endeavors. In the 1980s, Jo and I knew that our lives had to go in another direction; we chose parenthood. It was time for the education and archaeological research center to have new leadership. We searched, but could not find anyone or any organization that grasped the intricacy of our model. We ended up with a con man who didn’t believe in education. The community we had built over 20 years died. It would be almost 10 years before it was reborn. The significant thing is that it continues today as an education and archaeological learning center.

Knowing that we needed a place to live when we left Crow Canyon in 1986, Jo and I designed and built a dream home. I was 47 when Alex, our first son, was born just after we moved to our new home.

When we left Crow Canyon, we created the Earthscape Group and did economic development projects for the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, environmental assessment work for a large corporation, and some economic development work in Cortez and Dolores. Envisioning projects that would be good for the Utes and for the Cortez community, we were able to develop a plan that solved road trespass problems on Chapin Mesa across Ute Mountain Ute land within Mesa Verde National Park.

The most exciting thing we were involved in was working with many players (communities) to determine the feasibility and potential location for a tramway system (otherwise known as an aerial ropeway) that could provide access to both Mesa Verde National Park and the Ute Mountain Ute’s Tribal Park. One end could be anchored in Cortez at the base of the mesa and the other up on Ute land. It could be a win-win for both communities. That dream is still a dream.

In 1987, our second son, David Nathaniel was born. As our children grew, we knew that in a few years many of the young children of family members in our extended community would need a preschool. We collaborated with other parents and solved the problem by creating The Children’s Kiva preschool. Building it, and being responsible for running it has created ongoing communities and valuable social connections. It continues to serve young families today.

We decided to sell our dream home and build another home on the adjoining 5 acres. As we were completing construction of what we named the Blueberry Bear Cabin, we got news that we were needed by family in Arizona.

Leaving Colorado was difficult. Moving to Arizona, and specifically to Sedona, introduced us to the politics of a raw, libertarian-dominated state. We had to adjust to a governmental system run by rape, rip, and run mentalities like those of the Koch brothers whose father got rich working for Hitler and Stalin. Too many of those serving in the state legislature thought of schools as an opportunity to increase their own personal wealth.

In the early 90s, those of us who focused on children devised ways to make public schools more effective. A system was evolving to support teachers in their efforts to demonstrate how more effective schools could operate. They adopted the charter school system that allowed educators to introduce changes, evaluate them over a five-year period, and if successful, incorporate them into Arizona schools.

Communities around the state formed study groups to design charter schools that would increase the effectiveness of public education. The State earmarked funds to support this project.

However, in Arizona greed-driven members of the state legislature saw charter schools as an opportunity to use state monies to enrich themselves. The community groups who had put their energy into improving public education were bypassed so that dollars could flow into the pockets of legislators, realtors, opportunists, and those who believed it was okay to cheat children.

The libertarian rape-rip-and run mentality defeated the public good and destroyed many community groups. The work others were doing to support parents and teachers was lost. To this day, Arizona schools have not recovered from the damage done by those mining public education dollars for-personal profit.

This was heartbreaking to people who came together to solve problems affecting their families. Over time their work will be recognized. Elected members who serve with only their own interests in mind, will be replaced by true public servants. Communities of citizens working together to bring about good government will win.

(Continued in Part 4: