Written by Alicia Lueras Maldonado
Over the next few weeks, the Building Movement Project will highlight the work of our allies in New Mexico and how they are contributing to the common good. This is the first blog in our series focused on the common good in action.
So often we hear about the struggles and challenges we face in New Mexico. We are told a story of being 50th when it comes to poverty, hunger, inequality in our educational systems, and on and on. But there is a different story to be told about New Mexico, argues Javier Benavidez, Executive Director of the SouthWest Organizing Project . “There is a depth and richness in the culture and relationships that make New Mexico unique, and an abundance of natural resources. It’s a love for the state that we grew up in and a desire to see all our communities do better, ” said Javier.
The work of SWOP is taking a deep look at how people build community and support each other, particularly among those who have been disenfranchised. They are taking a look at the systems and institutions and questioning if these are working for all people and lifting up the common good. There has been an increasing disinvestment in the social systems, institutions and environment. And working-class New Mexicans are fighting against corporations, supported by politicians who profit from privatizing what should be shared as part of the common good.
We are often told by politicians who support cuts in healthcare and education, among other issues, that there are not enough resources to fully fund programs that benefit our community.
BMP and our allies have been engaged in a community conversation about the common good for the past year, and through this dialogue we have heard from individuals and nonprofits that there are indeed enough resources. The problem is the distribution of those resources. As Javier put it, “When we are in Santa Fe looking at the different legislative policies we ask, “Who is making the money? Who is going to benefit from this policy? Is it the people of New Mexico or corporations? Is it contributing to the common good?”
SWOP continues to support the work of its allies in Santa Fe who are fighting to get funding for early childhood education and support legislation to increase the minimum wage. They believe these are policies that support the common good and lift up the community at large.