Delusion… what would humans do without it?
We had our first Civilian Climate Corps community conversation yesterday, which is not really what I want to talk about, at least not directly. My aim for initiating a local CCC project is to center it on an area known as Fort Bayard, a collection of old buildings and associated well-used grounds, surrounded by a watershed of about 10,000 acres that served as a primary resource for animal grazing and firewood for the 1866 military installation. The reason for putting a fort there was to "protect" the invading forces of miners and cattlemen from the marauding Apache savages. If you do an internet search for Fort Bayard you will find that the history of the area begins in 1866 and there is no information on what it was like before that. It is notable that the soldiers deployed to the fort to fight (eradicate) the Indians were Negro "Buffalo Soldiers" left over from the Civil War. After some time the pesky Apaches were neutralized and Fort Bayard proper changed use from a military installation to a national cemetery and an army tuberculosis sanatarium. In the early 1900's the State of New Mexico mostly took over operations as a hospital and long term nursing care facility.
In the 1930's the Civilian Conservation Corps did a lot of work to mitigate erosion in the watershed (the result of overuse and abuse by the army), primarily by installing stone checkdams in the ever deepening arroyos. While the CCC work was reasonably effective in the short term catching sediment and slowing rainfall runoff, it did little to restore the heavily damaged ecosystem. Sometime later, the greater Fort Bayard military reservation was designated as a wildlife refuge (damed little wildlife there anymore) managed by the US Forest Service. Around 2009, the lingering, but run down hospital was closed and a new hospital built a half mile away. Recently, part of the old fort/medical center campus was leased to the nearby Village of Santa Clara, who intends to renovate some of it as a historical tourist attraction.
Ironically (delusionally?), the history presented to the tourons will be a glorification of the invasion of the white culture into the homeland of the Chiricahua Apache, taking over one of the prime campsites for the nomadic tribe, murdering the residents, and ruining the healthy local ecosystem, all for the purpose of supporting mindless greed attended by exploitation and abuse.
Mindless greed attended by exploitation and abuse is the root cause of the climate crisis.
The idea to use Fort Bayard as a base for launching a new CCC, building on the history of the old Civilian Conservation Corps and the current 51 year old Youth Conservation Corps, and restoring the land while telling the true history as part of educating people about what we have done to the Earth, and positive actions we can take to change our culture from one of destruction to restoration, is something to have hope and inspiration around.
Am I optimistic? Yes. Am I pessimistic? Yes. Am I delusional? Probably. But in the mortal words of Tony Soprano,