Kyle in Taos and Honolulu

Kyle is a junior President’s Scholar majoring in biology, individual studies in applied scientific computing and human rights in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences. Kyle is participating in Engaged Learning and also was awarded a Maguire and Irby Family Foundation Public Service Internship from the Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility at SMU. During summer 2013, he interned at two nonprofit organizations: Taos County Economic Development Center, where he examined how economic development corporations can help nonprofits empower communities, and Ke Ola Mamo Native Hawaiian Health Services, where he examined how one local nonprofit is able to work directly with the community.

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I have never seen a dead cow before

I have never seen a dead cow before. Or rather, I have never seen a cow carcass before. But in the last few days, I have seen more carcasses than I can count, throughout the process from slaughter to butchering to packaging for sale. The macabre process is far more than just an intriguing spectacle … or a vegan’s nightmare. In reality, this process makes up the livelihood of dozens of ranchers in the region, who form a major chunk of the local economy and in turn a major part of Taos’ culture. Taken in a broader context, these animals form a way of life; one could call them the heartbeat of the town.

My encounter with this issue came about because of the Taos County Economic Development Center’s essential role in the process. TCEDC offers a mobile slaughter unit called the Mobile Matanza (named after a popular New Mexico tradition), which offers FDA-approved and -inspected slaughter, butcher, and packaging services to farmers at subsidized rates. That FDA approval, required for any meat processing or sales, cannot be found anywhere else in Northern New Mexico. As one farmer explained, without the Mobile Matanza, he and all the other ranchers in Taos would be unable to legally sell their meat unless they took their animals all the way up to the nearest slaughterhouse – in Colorado!

It quickly became clear to me that the Mobile Matanza was TCEDC’s innovative solution to a major need in their community. By enabling ranchers, the Mobile Matanza supports a ranching economy while advancing TCEDC’s goals of maintaining Taos’ land-based culture even in the face of modern requirements. Even in its very name, the Mobile Matanza endorses the traditional culture of this area. It’s a neat idea that breeds many new ideas in my mind for my own community!

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