Voices Topics Info

The Project: What We Did


An advanced anthropology course on the topic of religion and ritual spent the week of February 25-28, 2008 conducting an intensive, team-based investigation focused on place, religious practice and the potential effects of natural gas drilling. The group, comprised of 25 students, paraprofessional Mallory Sevey and under the guidance of Professor Sarah Hautzinger, accomplished the following:

  1. Visited five religious communities and participated in their ceremonial observances.
  2. Convened three roundtables with environmental activists and Crestone Spiritual Alliance representatives respectively; and
  3. Conducted individual interviews with over forty long-term and recent-arrival residents, as well as several frequent attendees at retreats.

Activities, Participants and Communities

The five religious communities we visited and participated with in worship, ceremonial or meditative practices were:

Convened Roundtable Discussions:

Monday 2/25 With Aurielle Andhara (San Luis Valley Citizens Alliance) viewed film “Rural Impact!”

Tuesday 2/26: With environmental activists Ceal Smith ( Citizens for San Luis Valley- Water Protection Coalition slvwater@theriver.com) Lonnie Nichols, Kathryn Van Note (San Luis Valley Citizens Alliance);

Wednesday 2/27 With Crestone Spiritual Alliance (csa) representatives:

Christian Dillo (CSA Chairman, Crestone Mtn. Zen Center http://dharmasangha.org/)

Naomi Mattis ( Longchen Jigme Samten Ling, http://www.mangalashribhuti.org)

Sister Suzie Ryan (Nada Hermitage, http://www.spirituallifeinstitute.org/index.html)

Matthew Crowley (Shumei; link above)

Peter May and Cindy Pearson (Bön; link above)

Hanne Strong (Manitou Foundation. http://www.manitou.org/MI/mi_index.php)

Darlene Yarbrough and Dagini Amba (Humanity in Unity, link above)

Monday – Wednesday Open House for Interviews:

We conducted individual interviews with over thirty long-term and recent-arrival residents, as well as several frequent attendees at retreats. For interview summaries, please see Voices.


Our most sincere and humble thanks go to all of the residents who shared of their time, thoughts, and experience with us, and to whom we dedicate this work. This website is our effort to share what we learned in our short stay with you and subsequent research; we emphasize that we were not attempting a "pro" vs. "con" approach, but to do an ethnography of views in Crestone. Our work was limited by time constraints and our newness to the issue, but we hope to have performed some small service in reflecting this community’s knowledge back upon itself, and sharing it with a broader audience, including communities faced with similar challenges.

About the Course: AN326 Religion and Ritual Syllabus; Baca Project Description; the CC Institutional Review Board Application and Interview Questions

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