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City of the Sun

Posted 7/22/2013

Pesty Sides

6:30 a.m. Sunday morning, I wondered what idiot was practicing takeoffs and landings, over and over, circling very low over the Columbus area. As I went for my walk, I saw to my absolute horror that it was a crop duster not too far east of here. I reflected how easy it is for wealth and power to do just exactly as they please for the sake of the dollar.

Although crop dusters cut off the spray at the edge of the field, the drift trails behind them for quite a ways - I know, because one flew directly over me trailing pesticides in 1995, causing permanent lung damage. That's when I found out just how powerful the giant pharmaceutical industry is - they make the medicines that kill over100,000 people a year due to misuse, or misdiagnosis; they make the pesticides that poison the land, the air, and the water, then sell you inhalants and antidotes to the poison.

You can look up the website for the FDA on Malathion, Tribufose, and Cyfluthrin - not to mention Roundup and other chemicals that poison our atmosphere. Although the "main ingredient" biodegrades quickly, companies are not required to list the inert ingredients, including silicates, that remain in the soil.

When I went to the hospital in 1995 with ruptured bronchia, they called it the "worst case of bronchial asthma they'd ever seen. I informed them I'd been sprayed by a crop duster and they said, "Oh, no - we don't have a pesticide problem in Las Cruces." If you note every "allergy" season that is blamed on pollen, it coincides with the times that crops are being sprayed. The politics and power behind all these pretty much leave the average citizen helpless. My worst memory is a tree full of tiny birds crying as they tried to take shelter from the poisons. Children were going to the hospital in droves with
respiratory problems, and across the south and southwest, over one hundred people died, but hey, it's for the good of all of us, so they say.

- Maya

"Your country is really a criminal is the ultimate triumph of corporate creativity, which means it is a country controlled by the group-thinking corporations. These corporations are without humanity because there is no one personally responsible for their use of power; a corporation is like a computer with profit as its source of energy - and profit as its necessary fuel. The United States is.....quite the worst country in the world for a humanist to live in, I think."

From "The Hotel New Hampshire" by John Irvin

Posted 6/15/2013


Imagine if library systems worldwide said the heck with their categorizing and filing of books - it would be hard to find a book, wouldn't it? The same goes for standardized filing systems in offices probably worldwide (usually an alpha or numeric system). Then imagine being a foundation (or Village) incorporated under the laws of the State of New Mexico. The State has a standardized systems for reports (Environment Department-Lagoons and permits, Corporate Reports, Tax Reports) - even bookkeeping and other forms of record keeping. Then imagine a bunch of 70-somethings with "oppositional defiant disorder" (another way of saying: "you can't tell ME what to do or how to do it - I'm alternative, so I'll do it my way". To me, that "way" is chaos and has nothing to do with living in a community. I call it the "tyranny of one" - because it only takes one person who won't be told or even asked nicely what to do.

Now, imagine an innovative system of lagoon maintenance - using microorganisms. One person initiates the system after taking a workshop and interpreting the ratio of EM and molasses to water that is needed to "activate" the microorganisms. A bottle of pure EM from (only authorized distributor in the US), costs $60. When one mixes 3/4 Cup of EM, 3/4 Cup molasses, and 16 cups water (well water or distilled water, not chlorinated Village water), - you get a little over a gallon of activated EM for a little over $3 and that mix makes about 20 gallons. Straight from the "horse's mouth" i.e., the dreaded AUTHORITY figure, the ratios for EM are "simple" one part EM, one part molasses, 20 parts EM. Mix in a container that can be sealed and release gas as pressure builds up. Wait 5-7 days for the pH level to drop to 3.5 and wait an additional 5-7 days before application to a lagoon system so that all the molasses is digested. That waist isn't essential when EM is used on soil, plants, or compost. In fact, it doesn't seem terribly essential to the lagoon, except that a certain type of algae can grow on the lagoon bottom. Activated EM can be kept up to 30 days. When I told Eric Lancaster (CEO AUTHORITY) of Teraganix that I needed a statistic for 16 cups water (a gallon) rather than 20 cups (a gallon plus 4 cups) - he replied "I always use 3/4 cup to 16" which is what I had already determined. However, anyone who comes up with a set standard of application becomes an AUTHORITY figure, and thus, should be ignored by those "alternative" thinkers. The second lagoon person played havoc with the first person's formula, which was 1/2 cup to a gallon, it worked at first, years ago, before Village chlorinated the water. The third lagoon person made his own EM (it can be imitated, but not duplicated) plus it is re-inventing the wheel, and that person quit within a month. The fourth person used chlorinated hot tap water (EM does NOT like chlorine), then cut back on applications of EM (thinking that algae was a good thing, never mind that the lagoon maintenance information says otherwise), and we got a huge blue-green algae bloom. The fifth person thought EM fed on algae and we're not sure what happened. Then it was my turn and I am a very systematic person. Five years have gone by with no set standards - I'm working on that.

How to determine a standard of lagoon operation with EM? Determine what works best - i.e. optimum efficiency, then do that. The lagoon is flexible, it has a very high rate of evaporation, so well water from the COS irrigation well is periodically added because the STATE, (an AUTHORITY FIGURE) wants up to 3' of water over the sludge in the lagoon. We have operated with about 2' of water very successfully, but a little more water had to be added to help kill the algae. (About 2 1/2' over sludge). To kill the algae, I applied four gallons a week of activated EM to the lagoon for almost 3 months. I didn't age the EM. It worked, however, I did note algae growing on the bottom of the pond, so I am now aging the EM 5-7 days. Every four months, lagoon water is collected by a certified lagoon person, who takes the water to a lab to analyze chlorides, nitrogen and chloride. We have more chloride now due to the chlorinated Village water being flushed into the lagoon (and from the laundry and other home use), so EM has to fight a little harder. Add constant bickering over "who is right" as opposed to "what is best for the lagoon and our state recertification?" and few people who even grasp how to file a report and you can see that we have just as much fun with our Corporate rules and regulations as the Village, and so on up to the top. Makes one shudder.

- Maya

Posted 5/20/2013

People from afar are always asking me what it's like to live at City of the Sun, not to mention the nearby Village of Columbus, but when I tell them they don't believe me!! AND, that I am making it all up. Since navigating around the Columbuzz site is not easy to say the least, it has taken me some time to find your blog, but I'm so GLAD I did because now there is PROOF of the veracity of my observations. For those who have been around here too long, let me explain that veracity means truthfulness, or something like that. I myself have learned over the years to speak in words of one syllable so to be better understood. When I visited my home state a few years back, people looked at me strangely and said, "why are you speaking that way?" I won't mention WHAT state that is, as it is filled to overflowing with people who take politics sort of seriously and wear socks with their Birkenstocks, and drive their SUVs to Save the Earth protests. You, of course, will understand, filled with wisdom and enlightenment and all.  
Speaking of enlightenment, I too lived in Sedona for 6 months. I didn't find any eggs around the vortexes but there were lots of tourists sitting on rocks in OM positions, who I have no doubt went home IMMEASURABLY enlightened and stuff, but only after spending a wad at Tlaquepaque. Personally, I loved Sedona. Where else on earth can you be when at Basha's supermarket some normal looking person will come up to you and start talking about black helicopters and aliens in their back yards? I did go out one time at midnight with some people to see some mysterious lights at some field somewhere, and am still wondering what the h*ll they were. But I digress.
My main purpose in writing to you is to ask for advice. Seeing as how all of us at City of the Sun are marooned here by poverty, peculiarity, or both, how does one make an escape? I should add that I have 5 dogs, 2 cats, 3 visiting feral cats, a flock of hens and a duck, plus a (relatively) gorgeous DESERT ESTATE at City of the Sun that I actually paid real money for back when I HAD money. Of course a job is out of the question, as would be commerce with normal, functioning human beings. After ten years here I have become just a wee bit peculiar myself. 
Looking forward to your imminent response,


Dear Crystal Starchild,

I think Crystal has only ever visited COS on the astral plane, but that is quite logical, since more than a few of our residents also live there. However, I could offer the positive alternative of a tour of our environmentally friendly wastewater lagoon (as in wasting water due to the lack of a viable alternative). Perhaps Crystal can offer some viable alternatives like ones I read about in "The Big Necessity" - The unmentionable world of human waste and why it matters" by investigative reporter Rose George. The Sun-Mar composting toilet is state-approved and a real viable alternative, but nobody wants to deal with their own waste, and it isn't a popular topic with politicians. Perhaps Crystal, in her infinite wisdom, could offer some insights?



Lagoon Logic - Bob Cook

You know how sometimes you get a tune in your head and it just won't go away? You can do all kinds of silly stuff to get rid of it and the next thing you know, your tapping your foot or drumming your finger tips to the beat. That's kind of what I'm facing tonight. I keep thinking of one of my favorite books, "Let Us Now Praise Famous Men", by one of my all time favorite authors, James Agee. One of those brilliant Southern minds that seemed to be prolific in the genteel South in the early to mid 1900's. One of his contemporaries is getting ready to have a revival with "The Great Gatsby" this summer.

So I'd like to praise - not a famous man but a non-famous woman. I think maybe she had thoughts of fame, as many of us periodically hold from time to time, and as we near the end of our lives, this mania pressures us to make one last effort. Tonight I want to praise Maya for creating what is quite possibly the grandest lagoon in the state.... who knows, maybe in the whole country, and for that matter it might be the whole world. Quite an accomplishment. Right here in our little border community. Who would of thought?

I'm often intrigued by what are the dynamics that drive humans to accomplish various feats. We have all kind of become jaded to the masterful feats of athletes. The common use of steroids has kind of tarnished the glow in that arena. So I found myself pondering just what was it that drives Maya to create the worlds greatest lagoon? As far as I can tell, no one has issued any particular demands. Our survival as a community doesn't seem to depend on creating an outstanding lagoon. The state has from time to time been pretty open about wanting to get rid of what is considered by many an antiquated disposal device but they have suggested we could tap into the more modern Village system. In any case they are bureaucrats and as such tend to be pretty lax and slow about implementing any change. We spent a great deal reinforcing our fence, not because the state told us to do so, but because Maya saw some unidentified paw prints in the dirt of the bank of the lagoon. The general description of lagoon maintenance says to keep the weed population in check but we have never really had much in the way of complaints about the amount of weeds we have had. It probably does look a lot nicer groomed to look more like my bald head. So I would imagine the diligence, yea, some could say fanaticism Maya holds for that lagoon must be of a more personal nature. Whatever it is, I was struct by the statement she made about needing to add 20,000 gallons of water a month to the lagoon. (Read below)
  I apologize for any inconvenience today regarding well water - I try
to turn it on at night for the lagoon, but someone came by and turned
it off, therefore, no water goes in. During the warm season, I have
to run in at least 20,000 gallons a month because the rate of
evaporation is so high. I run the water about every other week and am
still studying the depth and hoping for rain. I will continue to turn
on water at night, but if some troll turns it off, I will run it during the day. Thanks.

It's well water so the reality is it doesn't cost us that much in real dollars to pump that kind of water. Of course we are in a very real drought, farmers are having a real tough time because of the scarcity of water in our area. The whole country has been on a decade long quest to educated the public on the need to conserve our most precious resource. Science has weighed in and come up with a great new improvement on old Thomas Crapper's beloved toilet. It has gone from almost 5 gals to 3 gals and now we are down to 1.8 gallons per flush. So, let's see how that 20,000 gallons translates into servicing our sewage system. That translates into 11,111 flushes per month, or 370 flushes per day. Say we have 45 members in the community at any given time (I think we are down to quite a few less now) but for arguments sake, that would be over 8 flushes a day for each and every member and that would not count the 1.8 gallons that would also be added to the lagoon by the flush itself. Given that only about half of the residents actually have flush toilets to begin with, it seems a tad overkill to me.

I don't know about you but I'm all for Maya winning an Academy Award or whatever it is that they give the creator of the world's greatest lagoon, but I'm not sure I really feel good about wasting a precious resource for her to accomplish it. I'm just saying.

Posted 4/19/2013


Having resided at, (been marooned at), the City of Dysfunction, (City of the Sun), for this past interminable decade, I have recently had to admit to acquiring some elements of sloth and indolence. One example was the deplorable state of my formerly blue, '84 van, "Elmer." No doubt some of you have seen us wheezing, and lurching through the streets of Columbus, belching rust in all directions, and were kind enough not to laugh. Through the years, Elmer has carried just about everything one could think of: chickens, dry wall, innumerable rescued cats and dogs, swamp coolers, trash for the dump, injured birds, furniture, people, fencing - and just about anything else one might find laying around waiting for someone to do something with it. Elmer gets 9 mpg with a good tail-wind, but unlike many of our human companions, he always shows up when help is needed. So contemplating my faithful friend last week, I was shamed to realize that it had been at least 5 years since he'd been cleaned up. Nothing like preventive care I always say.

To begin, I took everything out of Elmer, which was quite a job. I found a whole set of tools I didn't know I had, multiple boxes of junk, books, trash, a 9 year old unused bottle of Armor-All, and a brand new walkie-talkie thing that I must have picked up at a yard sale and forgotten about. Then I got the hose and some cleaning solution and rags and brushes and proceeded to scrub him down. After which I had to clean up, sort out, throw away, and re-organize everything that was inside. Finally, Elmer looked a little more like a real van than a disreputable trash truck.

Then, night before last, the winds hit, and today everything I had so carefully cleaned up is covered with a layer of dirt and grime. I tried, Elmer, I really did, but once again a desert providence has dealt with both of us. The bottom line is that you and I are growing old together, not what we once were, but still going strong in the face of outrageous fortune.

Lynn Faulkner, MSW

Quote: “Never, never be afraid to do what's right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society's punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.” Martin Luther King Jr.


City of the Sun Foundation, Inc
(Click to read charter here)

Columbus, New Mexico, United States (NM Hwy 11 & Altura Av)

Founded in 1972, City of the Sun is located on 156 acres in Luna County, New Mexico, adjacent to the village of Columbus. Columbus is located on Highway 11, thirty miles south of Deming (off I-10), and three miles north of Palomas, Mexico. Our goal is to live and work in mutual cooperation; to explore methods of gardening and horticulture in the desert. Our spiritual beliefs vary, all paths welcome. We have Sufi, Pagan, Christian, Native American, to name a few. We often offer workshops in the fall about bokashi and effective microorganisms. We have a designated off-grid area for alternative housing, solar energy, and composting. We have one irrigation well. Some residents use solar water distillers. Due to lack of jobs in the area, residents must be self-sufficient or very creative.

City of the Sun Foundation, Inc
PO Box 370
Columbus, NM 88029 United States
Phone: 505-531-2637





























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