There are moments that stick with me and seem to gain significance as time goes by, as my life and work evolve. My conversation with Miguel over 25 years ago is one of those moments.
As a Chicano organizer, Miguel represented Albuquerque’s South Valley in negotiations with Kirtland Air Force Base, the New Mexico Environment Department and the EPA. The base had been contaminating groundwater — the community’s drinking water — for decades. There had been serious health impacts; outraged, residents commanded enough attention to bring the responsible parties and the enforcers to the table. The process was slow and painful for everyone. A friend at the Environment Department told me how angry and difficult the community was. Community people told me how insensitive the state was, and how evil the Air Force base was. I even heard from someone at the base how difficult the process was. (more…)