Growing up, I had a great group of friends. In elementary school, my neighborhood cronies and I participated in the standard kid activities like building treehouses (I was in charge of the interior decorating), participating in water balloon fights, and riding our bikes to the neighborhood park. In high school and with the freedom of a driver’s license, we stuffed ourselves silly at Dion’s, made magazine collages, and hung out at the pool.

Shocked About How Many Friends Have Moved

Today, as I go through my social media feeds and see posts from these old friends, I am shocked by how many have moved away from New Mexico. In fact, it is most of them. They live in places like Denver, Phoenix, Austin, and Dallas. However, when we catch up they all express a yearning to be back in New Mexico. They miss the green chile, the weather, their family, outdoor activities, and the low cost of living. When I ask what prevents them from moving back, they give some version of the same reply: “there is not a lot of opportunity there”, “the schools are bad”, and “it is dangerous.” Every time I hear those answers, it is like a sucker punch to the gut. What I want to scream is “No! You have it all wrong! It really isn’t that bad!”

Yet, I know there is truth to their statements. On one hand, I work for a healthy, growing New Mexico-based company, live in a school district with good scores, and live in a safe neighborhood where my neighbors invite me over for dinner. On the other hand, I realize there are the following realities: New Mexico has the lowest graduation rate in the country, the second highest property crime rate in the United States, and the second worst recidivism rate. (Insert deep sigh).

No Better Day Than Today to Start Doing Something

While the statistics are grim, it seems there is no better day than today to start doing something about them. It is like training for a marathon. If one has never run a mile, then 26.2 seems daunting. And yet, the only way to do it is by lacing up one’s sneakers and hitting the road for the first mile of training.

By arming Viante New Mexico members with information on how legislators are voting on issues related to improving crime, education, and quality of life, citizens can vote for those who are constructively working to make New Mexico bountiful – a place where my friends would not have to leave for what seems like greener pastures elsewhere.

With time, and through our collective effort, my hope is that those childhood friends opt to return home and raise their children in our beautiful state.