The Nada Carmelites, The Shumei Center, and The Haidakhandi Ashram
Interview Conducted by: Rachel Yokum
Bon Dellegar has been visiting Crestone, Colorado for the last twelve years. She would visit her son in Crestone for two to three weeks at a time throughout the year. She has lived in Crestone for the last two years. She is originally from Cape Cod. Bon was raised a Catholic, but is now a member of three spiritual communities; The Nada Carmelites, The Shumei Center, and The Haidakhandi Ashram. Bon described Crestone as “a beautiful kind of exchange and acceptance of beliefs” which allows her to be a part of many spiritual communities. Bon described Crestone as a place where people can feel connected to Nature and the place around them. “It’s beautiful to be able to share so closely with undisturbed wildlife…the elk are everywhere and just this morning, there was a bear in my backyard. And yesterday, I saw a bobcat passing through. I go on a walk everyday to take it all in…” she said as she described the area of Crestone where she lives.
Bon then described living in Cape Cod before she moved to Colorado. She described how as Cape Cod became a more popular place to live full-time (as opposed to the summer tourist season) she had to find back ways to get places and avoid the overcrowded main streets. She spoke of how it got to be frustrating to go anywhere because there were always people and light noise and traffic and pollution. “I started finding back routes to get everywhere. And then everybody figured out the back routes and they became crowded too. I wanted to escape all that…I was very connected to the sea [in Cape Cod], but when so many people came I didn’t feel it anymore. When my son built me a house in Crestone, it was like an instant connection to the mountains.” She also said, “I wanted to build a community with like minded people.” She described how people in Crestone understand they are “an hour from the nearest hospital or grocery store” and how “[people] sacrifice a lot of things to live here.” She described how Crestone was a place that people can come to escape from the lifestyles they have living in big cities. “ We can see all the stars at night. We ask people to turn their lights down at night just so we can see them. I feel like I have a connection with the stars too.”
“I know Lexam owns the subsurface mineral rights but this is a wildlife refuge. I’m amazed it hasn’t been protected. I think if they don’t drill here, they will go elsewhere. To other places like this, and we need to stop that.”
I asked Bon about how the natural gas drilling would affect her connection to Crestone. She said, “ It would no longer be the place I came to, it would become more like the place I left.” She described how it would be hard for her to leave Crestone if the gas drilling became too much to handle. Her son who has lived in Crestone for twelve years is now married and has children, so she has a family to worry about along with her own reasons for living in Crestone. “Even if the light pollution and the noise weren’t so bad, on a subliminal level, it would work on us…we are very much a part of this place.”
In the last part of the interview, Bon talked about how the community is working towards getting the word out on Crestone and also how they are working towards sustainability. She said, “this could be an example not only for our community, not only for the greater community, but for the world”, as she talked about the need to preserve the natural beauty of places like Crestone and the need to move towards being less reliant on fossil fuels for energy. “We pollute just by being human beings, and we need to find alternatives [to fossil fuels].” She talked about how the natural gas drilling has made the community very aware of their need to set an example of sustainability.
Bon mentioned the difficulties in getting the word out about Crestone. She discussed how the community has been watching films and attending panels to broaden their own knowledge of the situation with hopes to inform other communities about the problems of gas drilling in a wildlife refuge. “Making people aware of how it will affect them is hard to do… but awareness is the key and we definitely have that here.” Bon ended our interview by saying, “We have hope that we can do something about this, we are hopeful that we can keep them out of here.”