An update from Monica, a sophomore Hunt Leadership Scholar planning to major in business and communication studies. She is interning at Taos Community Foundation

The thing that makes Taos so different is the energy. Professor Flournoy calls it a “mañana attitude.”  It’s relaxed and unhurried out here. At my internship at the Taos Community Foundation, while working with local volunteers and Foundation board members, we sometimes end up discussing astrology, how stars and planets cause problems and blessings right now, various massages to rid forms of “bad energy,” and herbal remedies for ailments.

One afternoon Prof. Flournoy drove the class out to the EarthShips near the Gorge outside of Taos. This community is composed of a group of mound-like solar homes made purely of trash and recycled goods. Colored bottles compose fences, tires provide foundations, and soda cans line exterior walls. These are the homes of people who seek to live “off the grid.” They want to walk this Earth without leaving footprints behind, carbon or otherwise.

My cousin, who lives in Taos, says the energy here is related to the unique geography: a deep scar across the Earth (the Gorge), mountains rimming the town, and the expansive valleys, all contribute to the unique Taos energy level. And of course, the Native American tradition (Taos Pueblo is the oldest continuously operating pueblo) has a significant impact on the overall attitude.

Turquoise jewelry abounds. Chili peppers are the décor of choice around homes and businesses alike. I walked into a store in the Plaza the other day and noticed footlong, bundled tree branches for sale by the door. A bearded man behind the counter explained that these were used to cleanse a house from all that is bad. He said folks perform this ritual every day.

This awareness of energy and the spirits of the land are part of this deeply rooted culture. People here are allowed to recognize and develop a strong relationship with the land and deeper values. Taos is a place where the free thinker thrives. That is why artists, the LGBT community, and hippies have all found peace to express themselves.