Letter from New Mexico: “We were born for this. We just weren’t born yesterday!”
We received this letter from Linda with WE’RE IN: Indivisible Las Cruces, NM, a tribute to her teammates and how they’ve risen to the challenges of the last few months. We appreciated this little glimpse into the growth of a team that wasn’t “born yesterday!”
The founding organizers of Las Cruces Indivisible have taken teamwork too far. After months of meeting and marching, and helping beat the health care repeal three times in one week, they have collectively collapsed. Following the bill’s pre-dawn defeat on Friday, Pat slept the afternoon away. Since that day in early January when she Googled “how to resist,” she worked non-stop recruiting, organizing, planning and worrying. She’s an old lady and she deserves a nap. In fact nearly the whole team needs a nap.
Although most are over the edge as Seniors—a vague term for old people, this new breed of activist Seniors is a storehouse of talent and brains. Numbering less than ten, the original group came from as many backgrounds. Two had been tech company managers, another managed purchasing for university projects. Others had careers as a teacher, a writer, a computer programmer, a social worker and a soldier.
Pat easily could pass as a church lady of fashion. She is, in fact, a Methodist of the “greater good” variety as are many in the group. Her hair is blinding white, enviously thick and sharply cut, making her easy to spot in any crowd. She had long career managing people—mostly men—as a construction purchasing manager. It’s good to know that.
Pat and her sister Sandy moved to Las Cruces a few years ago when Sandy retired from teaching in Texas. Where Pat is all persuasion and nervous energy, Sandy, tall and commanding, likes to size things up before she speaks. But when she interjects “Have you thought about this…” others stop talking as they know that what follows always makes perfect sense. It must have been Sandy’s closing comment on that sent Pat on her Google search that January day. What she found was the online Indivisible Guide, the organizing how-to manual responsible for the formation of today’s 6,000 Indivisible groups nationwide. Within the week, the two held their first organizing meeting and the group chose the name WE’RE IN to show their commitment. Just across the Rio Grande on the other side of town, Tony Martinez, a newly retired executive and U.S. Army officer, was organizing another group. Neither group knew of the other until they registered with Indivisible on the same day—January 11.
Tony Martinez, whose family goes back generations in the Mesilla Valley, is like many a small-town son who leaves for the opportunity, and with his work complete, is drawn back home.
Tony was raised in San Miguel, a village south of Las Cruces along the old Spanish trading route. He went to high school down the road then to college up the same road. Tony’s path after in college took him to the U.S. Army for ten years, then to a second career working in the pharmaceutical industry in the Caribbean and Canada.
Tony, the former Army Ranger, proved a natural choice to lead WE’RE IN, soon becoming its strongest voice. His skill, however, lay in his unending patience and the ability to listen to many other voices. As part of the group, he also experienced the way Steve Pearce, the district’s long-time Republican Congressman, listened only to a select few. On a scorching Saturday in July, Tony Martinez stood before a gathering of family and friends at the San Miguel community center and announced his run for Steve Pearce’s job in 2018.
Russ and Barb are husband and wife, fellow IBM project managers, and perfectly paired for their roles in the group. Russ, the funny guy in search of the perfect margarita, also could be called a philosopher. He’s technical, certainly, but that ability pales in comparison to his ability to explain his way through of the health care labyrinth. Turns out he’s also a photographer’s favorite subject. Barb, on the other hand, is always a bit out of the way. She doesn’t waste anyone’s time and she doesn’t truck with anyone wasting hers. Efficient, accurate and fun when it’s done—sums her up.
Three others at that first meeting have continued to be key players. Vi, of keen mind and expertise in computer programming, is the group’s political encyclopedia and fact-checker. She’s also the only veteran political activist in the group. Wiry and fiesty, Vi takes the front row at meetings, better to fire off questions on the topic at hand. She loves dogs and golf and manages the group’s mean Chimpmail list.
Mary is no stranger to controversial issues, having worked in education for Planned Parenthood and before that as a counselor and teacher. She’s from the stalwart school of getting things done and is a sure bet to show up at rallies and at her Congressmen’s local offices. She stepped in at the last minute to play the role of the “undertaker” in the wildly funny “Wake for Steve Pearce’s Political Career.”
Linda, let’s be honest, is fine with writing her own interview. She is crazy about words—but only the best words. She claims to have written happily about any subject, giving each its fair share of enthusiasm. To illustrate, she recites a list of New Mexico focused subjects ranging from articles about shipping stress in cattle, a guide to New Mexico’s water law, and books about houses and libraries and ghost towns. She creating the group’s website, including its design and content, but confessed to failing to master the technical side. For that she had help from photographer Debbie Hands, another master of many skills.
Linda shoe-horned her Indivisible duties into a summer of graduations, weddings, bus rides and a vacation on the Oregon coast. She thudded to a stop only recently and is one of the Seniors in need of a nap. Still, her enthusiasm is undimmed. “We were born for this,” she says, adding to her own quote, “We just weren’t born yesterday.”