Why Silver City?
I am rooted in the liberal dirt of my parents' work in organized labor and public health, as well as their avocations of road trips, history, and the Unitarian Church. I am an unrepentant liberal. Colorado turned blue in the 2008 election, but I bet they'll go red if the Obama administration goes after gun ownership. Arizona is red and also has a bone in its head over daylight savings time. In addition to being red, Utah also has conservative politics. I prefer to stay away from the environmental blight created by gambling and nuclear waste disposal, so Nevada is out. West Texas lacks humility. If you live in southern California, there's no point in visiting there for a change of pace. There's no place left except New Mexico.
In 2011, New Mexico has blue politics, the rough and dusty roads a westerner craves, wind, dark skies, art, cowboys, Native Americans, Spanish heritage, history, horses, cattle, rodeos, roadrunners, empty highways, vulcanism, wilderness, music, sunshine, a spaceport, and all flavors of the weird and paranormal.
In spite of my reservations about Utah, I enjoyed living in Logan, a town whose essential Utahness is tempered by its Utah State Universityness. I want to be part of the imagination, creativity, and exuberance that a university imparts to a town, but not close to a crowded city like Albuquerque or high-priced, toney places like Santa Fe and Taos.
In Logan, I worked with a woman named Lyla, who came up to USU from Farmington, New Mexico to work on her dissertation. I remember three things she said about Farmington. First, it's near the Four Corners, a part of the world where I once saw God and enjoyed the view. Second, Lyla said that New Mexico doesn't have many lawns. Having experienced the futility of fescue in tidewater Virginia's humidity and depleted soil, I wanted a place where nobody would expect me to maintain a lawn. Third, I thought I remembered that the University of New Mexico has a campus in Farmington.
An Internet search on Farmington revealed that San Juan College is there, but not UNM. Moreover, I found out that Farmington is home to lots of people. I was disappointed, but a subsequent search on liberal arts colleges in New Mexico led me to Western New Mexico University.
WNMU (sounds like call letters for a radio station back east) is located in Grant County, in the town of Silver City, way down in the bootheel. Silver City has only about 12,000 people in the city itself and fewer than 30,000 people in Grant County's entire 3,965.88 square miles. Silver City is nestled at the southern edge of over 3 million acres of wilderness area.
Why Silver City? Why any place else?