It was a pleasure to see and read the column by State Historian Rob Martinez (“All monuments have their time,” Saturday, Jan. 2), and I hope the broader context he provided for politically inspired markers and monuments was enjoyed by many other readers. It occurs to me that a similar view should be taken of the built environment around us as a whole, and how the weight of any current opinion should be gauged against the longer view.

To some extent, constructing anything is an expression of power: an act of ownership, displacement of others, a violation or defiance of nature. Seldom is our built environment only an effort to meet basic needs. And over time, much or all of the masterly intent fades, is obscured or lost in the minds of the majority of people. Doubtless, many thousands have gathered around the Santa Fe Plaza obelisk — or the bandstand, for that matter — giving little thought as to why or how these things got there. The location was simply a place to bask in the sun, set down luggage, or eat a pancake. If what we build is not oppressively ugly, or too enormous, with time it becomes more fundamental: a bit of shade or shelter, or perhaps a waypoint, a benchmark, somewhere to start or end a journey.

If our current episode in history can teach us anything, it is that confusion, obsessive dissension and sectarianism can send us to oblivion. We are best served when the things we create are more humble and life-giving, a point in space from where we can view our past and acknowledge that, in time, all humans fail in some ways. If this is not learned, then instead of thriving we risk drowning in a quagmire of our own discontent.

James Bryant

Santa Fe


I was disgusted by the article about John Block’s recounting of the violent, unlawful siege of the U.S. Capitol grounds by an angry mob of domestic terrorists (“Santa Fean recounts peaceful, ‘jovial’ scene,” Jan. 8). He states that “he didn’t get close to the building but was near a platform that was being built for President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.” That platform is on Capitol grounds. He has nothing for which he should be proud.

Barbara Brink

Santa Fe

No to public bank

With tortured logic and speculation, Doug Lynam makes a case for a New Mexico state public bank (“New Mexico needs a public bank,” Jan. 5). He pinpoints New Mexico’s many problems and low rankings. Economic development is his answer; a state public bank is his mechanism. He cites North Dakota, with its 102-year-old public bank, as doing so much better. Unsaid is that bank’s creation was under vastly different times and needs, and no state has done it since. Unstated, too, is that 49 states without a public bank may rank better than New Mexico, and better than North Dakota, too, in some cases.

A public bank could open the door to favoritism, fraud and funding of pet (and risky) projects. Today’s federal bank capitalization requirements are huge. The state’s taxpayers would be on the hook. If it’s a good idea, let some more solvent state give it a try first.

Berl Brechner Santa Fe

Vaccine info, please

I would love to see, in addition to the graphs and tallies of COVID-19 cases, up-to-date information on how to register for the vaccine, who should be doing so and when and where they should go. Also, publish a running total of all vaccinated New Mexicans.

Jessica Brown


Yes, public bank

Doug Lynam’s column, (“New Mexico needs a public bank,” Jan. 5) was the most concise statement yet regarding why our state urgently needs what has been so incredibly successful in my native state of North Dakota for over 100 years.

Fed up and desperately poor, in 1915, the farmers in North Dakota launched the Nonpartisan league, calling for a return of power to the people. National railroads, out-of-state grain mills and Minneapolis banks had been gouging farmers. The League won both houses of the Legislature in 1918, resulting in the creation of a state mill and the Bank of North Dakota, which has been a profitable lifeline to both the people and local banking communities ever since.

Mary Thomas

Santa Fe

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