In his 2021 State of the City address, Mayor Miyagishima made specific mention of the importance of the Sustainability Office in the future plans for Las Cruces. Intrigued by the reference, Café con Leche host Nan Rubin went looking for the Sustainability Office in the directory of city services. She found Sustainability Officer Lisa LaRocque, who was very eager to explain her position and its critical role moving the city to being a more sustainable and equitable civic institution.
The Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium was started in 2005 to compile data on the cancers and other diseases that plague the communities surrounding the Trinity Test on July 16, 1945, and advocate for fair compensation for their conditions. On April 1 of this year, instead of holding their annual demonstration at the Trinity site, generally open for the day but closed this year because of COVID, Tina Cordova, Paul Pino and Bernice Gutierrez joined Nan Rubin in a conversation about the Downwinders and the recent Congressional hearing focusing on compensation for those exposed to radiation caused by above-ground nuclear testing.
The Atlanta massacre of eight spa workers, including six Asian American women, touched Café con Leche Host Nan Rubin personally because Chinese American Wilma Chan was her best friend growing up. To keep this tragic event from being overshadowed by the next tragic massacre in Boulder that followed, Nan spoke with several Asian American leaders about their responses, including Las Cruces Mayor Ken Miyagishima.
On March 25, 1911, 146 workers, mostly young Jewish and Italian immigrant women, lost their lives in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, the most notorious industrial accident in the country. The experience mobilized tens of thousands to demand safer working conditions, and the legacy of the fire on vastly improved worker safety is still with us today. In remembrance of this date, Café con Leche presents The Long Memory of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, a radio documentary produced by Nan Rubin on the 100th anniversary of this tragic event.
There are hundreds of blind and low vision residents in Dona Ana County, many of them looking for work and all of them needing basic support services like transportation. With so many seniors moving here, this population is certain to grow. Raquel Ortega, president of The Mesilla Valley Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind, and Board Member Ross Winetsky recorded a conversation with Nan Rubin to speak about employment issues, new tools, and advocacy for the blind.
One year after Las Cruces approved the Public Art Master Plan and several months dormancy because of COVID, public art is back on the City agenda! The City has hired as a new staff member and the Public Art Board has been reconstituted! Art Board Chair Tina Ballew and Public Art Coordinator Ceci Vasconcellos joined Nan Rubin to bring us up to date. In addition to getting ready to install the new artwork designed for City Hall, the Art Board is preparing to solicit artists for several commissions at city buildings and is launching an initiative to inventory the public art all around Las Cruces.
The lack of affordable and accessible broadband in New Mexico is an issue that Nan Rubin has covered extensively on Cafe con Leche. As this legislative session contemplates some new legislation to support expanded broadband service throughout the state, Nan invited Lori Martinez from Ngage New Mexico and Erica Sarova from the Center for Community Analysis, to talk about the importance of their campaign #ConnectNM in advocating to support this legislation.
The first and only test in New Mexico of the atomic bomb was conducted at 5:29 a.m. on July 16, 1945, at the Trinity site on the northern end of the White Sands Proving Grounds. Farmers and ranchers and their families throughout the region knew something was up, and although they did not know what they were seeing, many got up early that morning and witnessed the blast. Elva K. Österreich, writer at the The Las Cruces Bulletin and Editor of the Desert Exposure supplement, spoke with Nan Rubin about her new book The Manhattan Project Trinity Test: Witnessing the Bomb in New Mexico and shared some of their powerful firsthand accounts.
Although COVID has forced the Downtown Las Cruces Partnership to cancel its most popular events, including the New Year’s Chile Drop and the Zombie Walk in October, the DLCP has been busy continuing to support downtown business. Community Coordinator Susan Greenwald visits with Nan Rubin to bring us up to date on their activities supporting the creative economy with new programs, including Downtown Artists-In-Residence and establishing the Arts and Culture District.
There is a lot of activity out at the Las Cruces International Airport lately, including upgrading the runways, adding signage and landscaping, and a brand new BBQ restaurant about to open. Airport Administrator Andy Hume visited with Nan Rubin to talk about the improvements and effort to combine the airport with the West Mesa Industrial Park as a growing economic engine for the city.
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