There is magic in these mountains! While those who don't live in Taos typically react with skepticism when I declare our town to be such a gifted place, recent events seem to confirm the credibility …
There is magic in these mountains! While those who don't live in Taos typically react with skepticism when I declare our town to be such a gifted place, recent events seem to confirm the credibility of this contention.
A few weeks ago, only part of the capital campaign success story of our regional literary organization, the Society of the Muse of the Southwest (SOMOS), was known (R.J. Silver, "SOMOS almost home; GoFundMe launched to finish the journey," The Taos News, December 13, 2018). The entire tale may now be told. The full story reads like something out of a feel-good Hollywood Christmas movie. Though fundamental facts were recently reported ("SOMOS pays off mortgage thanks to capital campaign," The Taos News TEMPO, Jan. 10, 2019), a more subjective slant may similarly be shared.
The narrative begins with our hero muddling through a precarious, chronic, hand-to-mouth, cash-starved existence, a struggle with which many households can easily identify. Over its life, SOMOS had known persistent financial hardship. At times, it could barely pay its bills. Poverty seemed its preordained plight. Nevertheless, SOMOS would not quit. It clung to the belief that a more secure future could and would be found … some way … someday.
Then, in a single legacy-creating instant, the ground shifted. A financial "angel" appeared on the scene. A surprise letter announced a substantial bequest to SOMOS from the estate of Sue Carol Francis of Fort Collins, Colorado, an individual virtually unknown to SOMOS. The unanticipated generosity of this virtual stranger was to be of considerable consequence.
Freed from the dream-destroying constraints of chronic poverty, a grand, inchoate vision began to take shape. SOMOS acted with wisdom, courage and sophistication that may be the envy of other volunteer-based arts organizations. SOMOS would use Francis's gift as a down payment on a plan to secure its permanence within Northern New Mexico cultural life. It would pursue outright ownership of its leased Civic Plaza Drive space. More magic was just over the horizon.
With fingers crossed and a capital fundraising goal set for the funds needed to bring the initiative to closure, SOMOS launched a polished professional fundraising program. The response was gratifying. Tens of thousands of dollars were raised. Nevertheless, the effort fell still $25,000 short of its goal. But little need for worry, for SOMOS had gained momentum.
Its organizational creativity and determination once again challenged, SOMOS created a crowdsourcing scheme and looked to the Taos community for help.
SOMOS's faith in the community turned out to be well-founded. Over the coming weeks, additional donations, announced and anonymous, small and large, were received. Against the odds, this little literary locomotive that could had again prevailed. SOMOS had succeeded to the full extent of its hopes and dreams. Mission accomplished!
Could this phenomenon have implications beyond merely that of a local underdog's unlikely triumph? In this troubled time of political self-absorption and cold indifference, could SOMOS's story of surprising generosity presage a return to kinder traditions of an earlier American era? Could this magical Taos moment become a beacon of hope for a brighter national tomorrow? Let's hold this SOMOS fairy tale forever in our hearts as continuing confirmation that the better angels of our natures can and do make dreams come true, and that our best selves are still alive and well.
Robert J. Silver lives in Taos and is the author of Tributes & Tirades: Taos Life and American Politics (Nighthawk Press, 2013) and Keepin' On: Living Well with Parkinson's Disease (Nighthawk Press, 2018).
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