Nancy Dickenson – Executive Producer & Producer
Renea Roberts – Producer, Director, Writer, Editor, Camera
The story of Rooted Lands – Tierras Arraigadas actually started in another New Mexico place about 2 hours from Mora – the Galisteo Basin. An energy company aimed to begin exploratory drilling for natural gas in the Galisteo Basin just south of Santa Fe. The company re-fracked an abandoned wellhead without any public notification (it wasn’t required) in an area rich in archeological treasures, ecological diversity, rural residences, on top of a precious watershed and in close proximity to the villages of Los Cerrillos and Madrid. Residents, of which Producer Roberts is one, began to organize.
Over the course of a year and a half, engaged public participation and grassroots organizing resulted in Santa Fe County enacting one of the toughest regulatory ordinances on oil and gas development in the country. Throughout this time, Roberts filmed locally as well as in the San Juan Basin where she got to know Don & Jane Schreiber. Not only was Santa Fe County facing drilling threats, but the eastern side of Rio Arriba – where the pristine Chama River flowed and eventually emptied into the mighty Rio Grande – was also facing threats. Renea worked on several projects with Don Schreiber, among them Rio Arrriba’s protest of suspect drilling permits and a road workshop featuring Bill Zeedyk on how to better maintain oil and gas field roads regarding water retention and discouraging water runoff in a dry and arid region.
In June 2008, Johnny Micou (founder of Drilling Santa Fe) invited Renea and her camera to join him at the first public meeting in Mora County on the oil and gas issue. KHL Incorporated out of Albuquerque had been courting residents in the Ocate, Wagon Mound, Ojo Feliz and Guadalupita areas of Mora County regarding the leasing of their mineral rights. It was unclear what the public opinion might be at that first meeting– as unlike Santa Fe County, many more residents in Mora County actually owned their mineral rights. At the meeting it was clear. The energy was powerful. People were engaged. People were concerned. And the community began to mobilize.
When the second public meeting was held in July 2009, Renea headed back with her camera to capture each and every concerned citizen who stood up and spoke. At this time in-depth interviews began to be conducted and time was spent with locals in their daily lives. Over the next two years, more footage was shot in Mora County, San Miguel County, and the San Juan Basin including footage shot by local citizens and local community groups who contributed material to the film.
In 2010, Nancy Dickenson and Renea Roberts met and joined forces and began in earnest reviewing and editing the hours and hours of footage and delving deeper into the stories of the people – following their voices rising. Local photographers, musicians, and additional videographers lent their talents. The result is the textured piece Rooted Lands/Tierras Arraigadas – providing a glimpse into what is so special about this place and what could be lost if industrialization comes to this high desert mountain region.