The Interviews - Santiago Guerra

Santiago is the Assistant Professor of Southwest Studies at Colorado College, but he's originally from the Texas - Mexico border.

"My family has lived on the banks of the Rio Grande for as long as we can remember. There is no memory of being from somewhere else."

Richard - What do you hope to see for the future of the border?

"My hope for the future of the border really lies in the fact that the majority of my family still resides there. What I hope for them is a future without the imposition of officials and policing agents in their lives.  Their desires and their interests are placed on the back burner for the sake of security, and I hope for a future where their interests are put in front of our security concerns."

"If border residents are valued at the same level as other American citizens then security will come from that."


Quick Update from Richard - Pt. 6

I want to be clear - this documentary is in large part about the border wall, and how it would affect the Lower Canyons we floated - though the proposed wall is far more than just an environmental issue and the border wall is not even the biggest threat the Lower Canyons faces (that's climate change and lack of water).

But at the same time, it is as difficult to know what's going on with the wall as it is with everything else in the country.  If you're having trouble keeping up, here's a few of the best articles out of the hundreds I've been reading:

The Executive Order that started it all

The Atlantic on the many unanswered questions about border wall specifics

The LA Times addresses the fact that the Rio Grande is more than half the border

The Smithsonian Magazine weighs in on the geological issues involved

And the New York Times offers vignettes and photos from border residents


While I have no idea what's going on with the border wall, I'm going to keep working on this documentary.  If the wall is built, I want this film to show what parts of the border used to be like.  If the wall isn't built, I want to show how much we saved.

So keep on watching this blog, and remember that when we talk about the border wall, we're talking about an area that looks like this.




The Interviews - Jen Pelz - Pt. 5

Jen is the Wild Rivers Program Director for Wild Earth Guardians (an environmental nonprofit). She grew up playing and falling in the rivers of New Mexico, and now she spends her time advocating for the Rio Grande.  She told me about water rights, policy changes, and the public trust.

I asked her, "Are rivers worth conserving?"

"Absolutely. For me it's not even a question."

"If you ask anyone who's floated a section of a river or spent that connective time in nature; they'll fight hard to make sure that doesn't go away.  The challenge is to get people away from their everyday routines to see these beautiful places.

We have all these things we take for granted and they only exist because of conservation."

The Interviews - Marcos Paredes - Pt. 4

Marcos worked 25 years as a River Ranger for the Big Bend National Park Service.  Now he's retired and runs a small aviation business.  He lives in a beautiful home only a few miles from the border, where he never locks his car and doesn't even know where his house keys are.

"The Rio Grande is my whole life - it provided me a career, it put my kids through school, helped me build this house. It's my whole life.  Without the river there would be far fewer folks around here."

"For some along it, the river provides water for agriculture, for others it provides water for recreation, but either way what it provides is life."

The Interviews - Keith Bowden - Pt. 3

This is Keith Bowden, an author and professor who has spent years floated over 5000 miles on the Rio Grande, almost entirely in Texas.  After 9 days of complete solitude, he was the first new person we saw.

As I work through the hours of transcription, I'll be sharing quotes and stories from our five interview subjects.

Here's Keith on why the Lower Canyons of the Rio Grande matter:

"For my taste, La Linda down to Langtry is the most interesting section of real estate on our planet."

"In this day and age, to have that section of land, untouched, unspoiled, undeveloped, unvisited, it's a real treasure. You would have to go to the Yukon to get a similar wilderness experience."

The Team - Pt. 2


We've all spent time in Latin America (all together over 3 years), and are passionate about border dynamics, social justice, and environmental conservation.  

Pete - "the Smooth Talker"

Pete studied the American Southwest at CC and wrote his thesis on the complex relationship between humans and rivers - specifically addressing the American Santa Fe River and Australian Wimmera River.   He's lived in Costa Rica and Latin America for six months, and spent two months in Spain.  He and I've wanted to work on a conservation project for years, and finally we're doing it.

Gus - "the Miscreant"

Gus studied ecology at CC and, after graduating, worked in New Mexico with the National Park Service and at the Four Season Farm in Maine.  He's lived in Bolivia and is currently somewhere south of the border, having set out immediately after our trip.

Robby -"the Instigator"

Robby studied ecology at CC, and headed south to Tuxtla Gutiérrez immediately after graduating, where he taught biology.  He's now spent 23 months living in Latin America, with most of his time in Mexico and Ecuador. Robby came up with the idea to float the Lower Canyons.


and Richard "the one always carrying a camera"

I studied ecology and journalism at CC, and spent 7 months in Latin America working with ecologists.  I'm passionate about conservation and filmmaking, and am currently spending all my time producing this film!