Book Reading by Kay Matthews: ¡No Se Vende! Water as a Right of the Commons



¡No Se Vende! Water as a Right
of the Commons
Kay Matthews

Book Reading and Signing
Saturday, December 1, 4:00 pm
Cultural Energy, 112 Civic Plaza Drive
Taos, New Mexico



Advocates for the right of the commons are the inspiration for this book. The one-armed John Wesley Powell, who ran the Colorado River in a Geologic Expedition in 1869, promoted watershed basin management, recognizing that local resources—metals, water, timber, land, and grass—should determine settlement practices. Elinor Ostrom, the esteemed professor of economics at Indiana University, defined the language of the commons: shared resources can be managed by the people whose lives are directly affected at the local level by the management of our land and water with sustainable economic development, not the unrestricted growth dictated by the state or the market.

!No Se Vende! Water as a Right of the Commons tells the stories of the people who are doing that work here, in northern New Mexico, on a daily basis. They are the acequia parciantes who organized to form associations to change state laws to better protect against water transfers downstream to cities and other interests. They are the folks who participated in the state regional water plans to help define the concept of “public welfare” to better protect their regional water supplies and keep water in its area of origin. They are the water rights users who objected to the bureaucratic terms of the adjudication settlements that by their very nature privatize water and divide communities against one another.

If market forces continue to control who’s going to get the water there won’t be much hope for mutually beneficial ways of life, justice, or beauty. These advocates for the rights of the commons are doing their best to make sure that doesn’t happen.

“It is said that all wars of the Twenty-First Century will be fought over water. Matthews gives us a brilliant overview of a complicated microcosm—in New Mexico—that stands for how those wars are developing worldwide. It’s a crie de coeur that we must listen to and emulate.” —John Nichols


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