Imagine a small Montessori charter school with about 80 children on tribal lands in the upper Rio Grande valley of Northern New Mexico. The picture contains snow packed peaks rising up behind cathedral-like sandstone formations, a vibrant river bosque winding through a desert landscape like no other on earth.
The picture also contains images of poverty and hardship, cheap gas and fancy Casinos. Underneath it all there is a cultural depth and richness that defies classification. Isolation and resistance have kept Northern NM off the grid of mainstream America.
But this is not a romanticized portrayal. The symptoms of isolation poverty include heroin, alcohol, gangs, domestic violence, gun culture – also part of the cultural landscape.
Beneath this however, like an ancient desert aquifer, lives a deep reservoir of beloved community, powerfully resilient and compassionate. It wells up from a 400-year-old ‘Hispanic’ heritage and ‘Pueblo’ culture rooted here for unknown thousands of years.
Over the last three years we have come to know the children of this land. We have come to know the circumstances surrounding their schools. We have come to appreciate the strength of heart and character in their teachers and mentors, our heroes.
Educational songs and theater accompaniment are the way we reach children as Talking Hands Talking Feet. But the way it works is different than one may expect. We are triggered by the children. The songs and dances carry vitamins of learning and humanity triggered by need expressed through their lives. The songs are sparked by an absence.
For example, the song Earth Heroes was created as a beacon of hope. Why? Well, the way so many grown-ups carry on in the 21st century, can make a child can feel hopeless at an unconscious level. This is a deep contradiction for a young human spirit. Children are meant to feel and be the hope and heartbeat of the future.
The song Earth Heroes
goes like this:
Hope in the way we carry ourselves; In our hearts and in our stride
Hope in the way we carry the world. Hope in the way we feel inside.
We are the Heroes of the Earth. We carry hope inside us.
With open hearts and safe hands; nothing can divide us.
So, with deep encouragement to all those creating hope in their teaching circumstances, inspiring young hearts and minds, defying the influences that diminish us all, engendering the ways of hope from inside out, with open hearts and safe hands…