Jeweler Leads Opposition To Santa Fe Gold Mine

Reflections on Leading Opposition to A Gold Mine

Author: Marc Choyt | Monday, September 1, 2014

When I learned in last July of 2013 of a proposed gold mine just south of my home in Santa Fe, I brought a group together and started a campaign, gathering public support.  The photo above is from  the campign  facebook page

The selling of the opposition to a gold mine had to be rational, focused mainly on human impact, and tied to the bottom line. In a drought stricken region, the mine may consume the annual water supply of up to 7,000 homes, drain acid into the groundwater for generations and create a massive tailing heap.

 Yet this argument was not what drove me to initiate meetings, organize squeezing countless hours into my life which was already maxed out. What motivated me to work so hard happened in the span of a few minutes several years ago.

 I was in the desert one May, west of the mountains at dusk, facing the Ortiz, where the mine is to take place. The full moon rose up, a yellow skirt of light nestling in the luminous peaks. It was one of the most beautiful moments in nature I’ve ever experienced. Moon, mountain, night sky, clouds etched a blessing in my heart that even now ripples inside.

The poisoning of water tables and surface ugliness were also motivating factors, but I was equally concerned for the 285 vertebrate species documented in the adjacent bio-reserve.

 As I have written in a prominent CSR blog, the problem with bottom line economic thinking is that relationships evolved synergistically over hundreds of millions of years is minimized in favor of a very narrow scope of values.

One plus one, in context to the infinitely complex relationships in the soul of the world, does not equal two.

Raping gold from this mountain, scattered with petroglyphs and ancient sites from the neighboring people may ripple out in unexpected ways.

 Yet beauty, great mystery, numinous stories carefully passed down over generations is not an effective way to sell the opposition of a gold mine to Santa Fe or the world. Better to fuse the Cartesian-based argument with the neo-cortex lizard-survival brain in an anthropocentric economic-jobs-water-future development with a palatable sprinkle of environmentalist (enough to reach the people who are green so long as it doesn’t hurt) framework—and turn self-reflective.

 This writing, the campaign, my life, is merely part of what the great Leonard Cohen described as, "an anthem of forgiveness/ a manual for living with defeat." I can rationalize that this campaign is a tiny breakthrough in the environmental movement, far less important than a sound of the desert pocket mouse’s (Chaetodipus penicillatus) breath being squished under tons of rubber. It is probably the first time an jeweler has ever initiated, organized and led a community’s opposition to a gold mine.


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