Friday, April 12

The Crestone Eagle is a nonprofit monthly newspaper serving Crestone and the San Luis Valley

SLV Anthology: an oral history of the Valley

During the summer of 2019, about nine months before the whole world turned upside down, I set out to capture the stories of the Crestone “old timers”. I was determined to tell a different story than the one we always hear, about land donations and spiritual centers and vortexes and all that. I wanted to hear about the folks who were born here almost a century ago, whose parents came here in covered wagons, about kids who went to school here in the early 20th century and had to ride their horses to the old school house every morning to light the wood stove for the rest of the class. I wanted to hear about Old Man Collins and the generosity of his wife at Christmas time, and how hard and special it was to cowboy on his ranch. Mostly, I wanted to hear about how it felt for these true born locals to watch their small town transform into a destination spot that attracts a wide variety of… let’s say, unique and wild people from all over the world.

I wanted to document these stories before it’s too late, which in many cases, it already is. And then I wanted to share these interviews with the community at large, so that we may better understand the innate value system that has been in place here for so long, rich with history and family and constant change.

So, with the extreme generosity and quality minded help of Doug Beechwood, who filmed the entire series, and a little financial support form Elaine Johnson and the Crestone Museum, we spent several hours tracking down as many old timers as we could find, and proceeded to capture almost 20 hours of interviews. Inevitably, we were also led to speak with a number of people, not quite old timers, who were here at the beginning of the “spiritual influx”. These interviews provide an equal measure of context and sense of place.

What follows is the first of many, which we hope to release about once a month for the next year. I sincerely hope you can take the time to really listen and enjoy the story that will unfold a little deeper with each interview. They end up all fitting together in ways I never anticipated, and, together, paint a beautiful, sincere picture of the place we call home.

Finally, these interviews are essentially unedited and raw. However, I am asking for donations to put together a fund to hire a local film editor, in hopes we can create a series of shorter films that highlight certain topics, and hopefully even continue the project for years to come, and reach out to the rest of the valley. To donate, click here.

Volume I: Mary Lowers and Whitney Strong


Volume II: Elaine T Johnson and Matthew Johnson

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