Opinion: Resilient economy, affordable housing, cultural legacy

Councilor runs on three-pronged platform

By Nathaniel Evans
Posted 2/21/20

I consider myself blessed to live here in Taos with my wife, in a home that we are paying off because we are fortunate to have good jobs. Being born and raised in Taos, I wanted to come home after college, and looked for a job where I could use my BS in biology.

You have exceeded your story limit for this 30-day period.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Opinion: Resilient economy, affordable housing, cultural legacy

Councilor runs on three-pronged platform

Posted

I consider myself blessed to live here in Taos with my wife, in a home that we are paying off because we are fortunate to have good jobs. Being born and raised in Taos, I wanted to come home after college, and looked for a job where I could use my BS in biology.

I was unable to find a job in my area of study and so I got a job working at Video Casa. During that time, an opportunity came up to start substitute teaching. I had been a tutor in college and in high school, and I thought it might be interesting to work with kids. As I subbed more often there was an open position that came up at Taos Charter School and I applied for the seventh- and eighth-grade math and science position. After an interview, I was offered a sub position through the end of the 2004 school year.

At the end of the year the school's director, Nancy O'Brian, offered me the full-time position but told me I needed an Internship Teaching License after being accepted to an Alternative Licensure Program. Through the next four semesters I went to weekend and night classes in Española at Northern New Mexico Community College and received my license.

After taking the Highly Qualified Teacher Exams, I got a 7-12 endorsement in math and science. This process was rigorous, but gave me the opportunity that I still have today--a good-paying job here in Taos.

The ability to live in the town I grew up in gave me many opportunities that a lot of Taoseños do not have. I was my father's caretaker in his last years. I went to all his medical appointments and was there for him daily, shopping, helping with starting his fires and making sure he had food to eat. This ability to be with him was so fulfilling.

When I look back over the last 15 years, I realize just how lucky I have been. But this experience - a good job that allowed me to stay here in Taos and take care of my family - should not be about luck, but should be a right for all our people.

I have a three-pronged, focused vision for giving people in Taos their right to thrive here: 1. build a resilient economy; 2. address affordable housing; and 3. preserve our cultural legacy.

Building long-term resilience requires a diversified local economy. Taos must work to diversify beyond seasonal tourism as its primary economic determinant. By supporting local manufacturing, cutting-edge technology, higher education and contemporary jobs in our traditional agricultural sector, we build robustness and resilience. We must also complete upgrades and improvements to our local infrastructure, protecting Taoseños on fixed incomes.

The town must help to connect nonprofits, businesses and community organizations with the government programs and resources required for our current and future workforce. A real-life example of this kind of collaboration is HIVE, an inclusive co-working office and small business incubator that supports students and other clients through access to business resources. I was proud to be on hand when our own Taos HIVE won the $100,000 prize in a national competition last summer.

In order for Taoseños to live and thrive here, we need our housing costs to be at or less than 30 percent of our income. Affordable housing is complicated and requires a multipronged solution: 1. build affordable rental units; 2. work with developers to support opportunities for affordable home ownership; and 3. change zoning downtown to allow for live/work spaces.

In addition to access to affordable housing and economic opportunities, we must reinforce the value of our roots -- the diverse culture, languages, recipes and traditions that define this community. I will ensure that our town goes to the people to listen to their stories and understand their vision. By reaching out to all Taoseños - Taos Pueblo, veterans groups, legacy Hispanics, elders, people with functional and access needs, the LGBTQIA community, youth and others with deep roots in this community - we will preserve the traditional culture of Taos.

We must all work together to ensure that our young people see coming back to Taos as a viable life choice, and that our current workforce can see staying in Taos not as a sacrifice to quality of life, but an opportunity to thrive.

Nathaniel Evans is a teacher and a town of Taos councilor. He is running to retain his seat in the March 3 election.

Comments


Private mode detected!

In order to read our site, please exit private/incognito mode or log in to continue.