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Statewide Listening Tour - Taos & Española

I was told of the beauty of Taos by a number of people before I left on this portion of my statewide tour. As we drove north, I would say that words don’t do justice to the landscape—the mountains and the beautiful river—guiding us to the south part of town where I stopped at the UNM-Taos Klauer Campus.

Branch CEO Dr. Patrick Valdez greeted us and led us on tour of the grounds and buildings. The views were breathtaking, as was the art that surrounds the campus. I was able to see our students’ classrooms, art and metal working spaces, and the daycare. It was such a pleasure to meet staff and faculty at a reception—to hear what they had to say about their experiences at the branch and with the Taos community.

The next stop was the town center, near the Civic Plaza, where our UNM-Taos HSC Health Careers Training Center is located. The facility includes high-tech simulators, where nurses, EMTs, CNAs and holistic healers are trained in health careers.  

With the Plaza so close, I was able to walk to Lambert’s for a delicious blue corn enchilada lunch on the patio with Dr. Valdez and UNM staff to discuss ways to better connect our UNM with the community.

We next drove to a well know location in the Taos area—the DH Lawrence Ranch, which was the New Mexico residence of the English novelist D. H. Lawrence for about two years during the 1920s and is now maintained by UNM. It was a special treat to see the buildings on the property and one of the spots where Georgia O’Keeffe painted her famous “The Lawrence Tree” painting. Thank you to Robert Caffazzo and Bill Haller for the spectacular tour. 

Back in the car and back to town, I arrived at the historic Taos Pueblo for a meeting with the Pueblo’s administration. I am grateful for their time and insight on the needs and strengths of their community and its youngest members.

My husband Jeff was with me as I toured the picturesque Pueblo—the ancestral homes of the Taos Pueblo people. I hope to come back soon to experience more of this special place.

Many thanks for a reception held at UNM’s Harwood Museum. The people I met at the reception were wonderful and so was the food! It was a real treat (literally) to have the Taos High School Culinary Arts program prepare the delicious appetizers served at the reception. Special thanks to Stephanie Bennett-Smith and Richard Tobin for the gracious hospitality and warm welcome.

The next morning began with breakfast at the legendary Michael’s Kitchen, where I had a green chile cheese omelet with homemade bread and good conversation with one of New Mexico’s legislators. I then headed south to Española where I met with local elected officials and Santa Clara, Pojoaque, San Ildefonso, Ohkay Owingeh, Nambe, Tesuque & Picuris leadership. This was an invaluable stop as I listened and learned about this part of the state and the insights of those who joined us. There I also had the pleasure of enjoying some tasty beef tacos. Yes, it does appear that doing my listening tour involves eating my way across New Mexico!

Heading home, I ended this leg of the tour on a high note with a back-stage tour of the Santa Fe Opera. Thank you to Kathleen Clawson with the UNM Department of Theater and Dance for this special opportunity. I am looking forward to experiencing an open-air opera and will definitely be picnicking in the parking lot.

The tour continues next week at the Valencia branch. Please continue to follow me on Twitter @PresidentStokes #StokesNM