Archive for Border Explorer

War on Drugs: Failing Humanity

Posted in hope, Life in Juarez, Violence in Juarez with tags , , , , , on 09/23/2009 by mattlindsey

Our border community is now painfully divided. It is a microcosm of our hemisphere, our world embroiled in a war on drugs. The violence is a wake-up call, not only for Mexico, but also for the U.S.

Billie Greenwood –Border Explorer

Back in April we posted a short video from The Newspaper Tree about the “War on Drugs”, the failed approach to a seemingly endless war. Our friend Billie posted an incredible article about how this war has deeply wounded our border community. She highlighted a conference that took place on Sept 20-22 (this week) at UTEP (University of Texas at El Paso) addressing alternative approaches to the drug-war that President Nixon started forty years ago. It is sad to say that for 40 years we have been tripping all over ourselves in failed attempts to counter the drug problem. The U.S. has over 2 million citizens in prison, the largest prison-industrial complex in the history of civilization; most of those people are in for crimes directly related to economics and drugs. We have to change the way we have been fighting against these issues.

Watch the video and check out Billie’s thoughtful article at The Border Explorer.


Greening the Ghetto: The Desert in Color

Posted in Life in Juarez with tags , , , , , , on 02/07/2009 by mattlindsey

The concrete-gray washes over me like a tidal wave of rubble, with 100 million plastic bags and a few hundred thousand worn out tires embedded in its curling face. Even with the dusty trashy mess, our neighborhood has me enamored. Everyone keeps warning us about the sinister dust storms that roll across the desert in March and April, and we are already seeing vast clouds of dust hovering over the city like smog over L.A. I hear about these impending sand blizzards, and when I am out sweeping the street, fighting the used nacho cheese chip bags and smashed plastic coke bottles plastered to the asphalt, I find myself muttering, “God, we need some trees in this Colonia.”  

Bruce Berman, editor and photographer of the Border-Blog, an absorbing look at life through photography and essays which concern our border with Mexico, posted this photo of Juarez. The photo is a reflection of the pain in my heart for this city, like the erie aftermath of falling bombs, or a used-up and discarded city in sorrowful ruins.juarez-lores

For the last several months we have been considering a home-garden/greenhouse project with the hopes of bringing life and color to our neighborhood. As I wrote in What Color is Hope, Juarez is devoid of color. Dust, concrete, and trash are the overbearing color-sapping sponges that have infected so much of this world. We want to help reverse that effect. Some simple ideas we have are: small raised-bed flower/veg gardens; building/buying planters, pots, etc for our neighbors; thinking of ways to use the trash to our advantage, i.e. using buckets, tires, & other items to turn into planters; painting homes; painting mural-like “street art” on graffiti-burdened walls. We are in the beginning stages of organizing some sort of Greening the Ghetto project for Ciudad Juarez, starting here in Colonia Palo Chino. This past fall I started this in our own yard by planting a small bunch of  Zenias; this winter I have extruded thousands of rocks from a 10’x 10′ patch of dirt in our patio, I have begun to amend the soil, and I started a compost bin. 

To us and our friends Juan and Carmen, Greening the Ghetto is much more about spreading love to this community through color and life, and we believe that these are reflections of the true heart of God. Simple acts like these can create inroads for sharing life, like getting to know our neighbors better and helping transform this community. To El Paso, Juarez is the elephant in the room that few people are acknowledging; these worlds that are separated by an imaginary line are painfully detached from each other. We have been thankful for people like the Border Explorer and Border-Blog, who are speaking out for our Mexican brothers and sisters, but with so many people from El Paso afraid of crossing the border, we are asking how we can connect the two very different worlds of El Paso and Ciudad Juarez, the 3rd safest city in America and the murder-capital of Mexico, with bonds of solidarity, love, and the outrageous beauty of shared life. We want to flip fear upside down. 

Our friend Betsy gave us a copy of a talk from, a super intriguing site where, “the world’s most fascinating thinkers and doers… are challenged to give the talk of their lives (in 18 minutes).” The talk she gave us is called, Greening the Ghetto. This talk speaks directly to the changes that we would like to see within this community, with hopes that it will swell across the city. We encourage all that would be interested in this project to take 18 minutes and check out the talk and consider joining us in bring life and color to the desert. We look forward to hearing from you.


Thanks to Bruce for the use of this stellar photo. Please visit his site to see other excellent photos of our border.