Sitting in a spacious home in the Las Alturas neighborhood of Las Cruces, Julia Palomino pours herself a cup of tea.
Las Alturas, which means “the heights” in Spanish, has a commanding view of the Organ Mountains of southern New Mexico. Nearby are desert trails and seeing quail roam near pools in backyards isn’t that uncommon.
As bucolic as her life can seem, Julia is moving into an apartment in town this month with a high school friend. “I’m 26 and living with my parents, so it’s kind of sad,” Julia said.
Seated on the floor of First Christian Church on a recent Sunday morning, Pastor Dave Rogers pierces the heart of a debate in Carlsbad as it adapts to a historic oil and natural gas boom. Rogers recounts to three children the parable of the Good Samaritan. A man from a despised group helps a traveler beaten, robbed and left for dead after religious passers-by ignore him.“I wonder what it’s like to be a neighbor to somebody we don’t know and that needs our help,” Rogers asks his young listeners as a dozen or so adults, mostly senior citizens, look on. This story was produced by New Mexico in Depth in collaboration with the Carlsbad Current-Argus, Las Cruces Sun-News and Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity.
Welcoming strangers and helping neighbors are values many in the small congregation – and broader community – identify with Carlsbad. The hub of Eddy County in southeastern New Mexico, Carlsbad is home to a 21st century version of a gold rush in the Permian Basin that straddles New Mexico and Texas, where hydraulic fracturing is enabling companies to access an ocean of oil reserves.