Three years ago, in 2015, I moved from Santa Fe to Atlanta to launch my bioremediation company, HiveMind. My heart broke leaving behind the singular charisma of Santa Fe and New Mexico — sunsets that inspire sublime artists, hot springs on the Rio Grande, and green chile tacos from food trucks that were superb.
HiveMind couldn’t have been birthed anywhere else — working with dedicated Navajo activists seeking to clean up abandoned uranium mines on the reservation, aided by brilliant mycologists and geologists from The University of New Mexico, and using Santa Fe as a base of operations, often unwinding over beer and chile rellenos at the Cowgirl BBQ. Still, I felt I needed the opportunities afforded by a larger city.
Santa Fe and New Mexico have so many brilliant people, but they sometimes seemed walled off in their own silos — the physicists at Los Alamos, the mathematicians at the Santa Fe Institute, artists at Meow Wolf. My business did grow after a year in Atlanta and a couple of trips out to Silicon Valley, but not as fast as I hoped. Honestly, it wasn’t as much fun as it had been in Santa Fe. Then I received an invitation, via N Square Collaborative, an organization on the cutting edge of the fight against nuclear proliferation, to attend the “Disruptive Futures: Nuclear Weapons Summit” put on by Creative Santa Fe.
Creative Santa Fe brilliantly managed to corral many of the best minds to address the future of nuclear weapons. Gathered together were futurists from Washington, D.C., to Perth to Islamabad, a former U.S. secretary of defense, several bestselling authors, designers, scientists, filmmakers, actors and artists, all united for three days to try to find a way out of the nuclear bind the world had found itself in on the eve of the American election in 2016. And it worked beyond anyone’s expectations. With talks, presentations, Qigong and brainstorming sessions from early in the morning to late at night at meeting spots from the Lensic Performing Arts Center to Los Alamos National Laboratory, Meow Wolf to the Sunrise Springs Spa Resort, the summit launched collaborations that have since spanned the globe.
It brought me back to Santa Fe, and the contacts I made during the summit resulted in my company being included in the Buckminster Fuller Institute Catalyst Program and being nominated for a Katerva Award (an environmental prize). It also convinced me to bring my partners from London and Berlin to Santa Fe for a brainstorming session on climate change in the summer of 2018. Thanks again to the hospitable people of Santa Fe, Creative Santa Fe, Mayor Javier Gonzales and everyone else who made the summit possible. Bravo!
Joseph Kelly is a former resident of Santa Fe, social innovator and entrepreneur.