Voices Topics Info

Joy Kells

Volunteer Firefighter, Member of Cottonhood Sustainable Co-op

Interview Conducted by: Anna Jackson


Joy Kells is a 3 year Crestone resident. She is currently working with the Cottonhood Co-op to build a sustainable living and working space in the Grants portion of the Baca. Joy is also a volunteer firefighter. This interview was mostly a discussion about the importance of a sustainable life and the difficulties reaching that. Joy feels torn about the drilling because she still uses propane in her daily life, but doesn’t want the drilling in her backyard.

3 yrs in Crestone

Building off grid sustainable workshop

One of our goals is to be teachers and leaders to the rest of the community to help people move away from conventional middle class dependent on fossil fuels to have a more sustainable life

Why Crestone?

Came to visit a friend

Within 24 hours of arriving here I felt like I belonged here. It is a sacred valley. Spiritually powerful place. The members of the community here are not your average run of the mill.

A lot of us have not your average use of life and the universe and politics and the economy

I felt personally right away when I came here that I belonged here that my spirit needed to reside here.

Spiritual beliefs


Not brought up in a particular religion

All of the religions are the same. Just everybody has a different name for their god and a different package of myths that they wrap it in and a different way of acting on it. Most religions are a way for people to interface with the great unexplainable and there is a lot of variety and freedom of that here.

I am pretty much a worshiper of Mother Earth and the sacredness of the unity of all life. I pray to Mother Earth. All life is linked to all other life. Even to the very soil that our food grows in we are all linked in some way. We are all connected. All energy is connected

Natural Gas Drilling

I live off grid right now…and I use propane to heat my trailer. If I am going to use propane but I don’t want them to drill here then that makes me somewhat of a hypocrite and I don’t approve of hypocrisy. I think it’s wrong. I guess I say I am against the gas drilling because I don’t want it in my backyard. That’s all well and good but the fact of the matter is I am still using gasoline in my car and propane to heat my house. Now I am trying to move away from that. I have a family member who is building an electric car. Our home is going to be all packed of an active solar so that we will not be needing propane for that. But we haven’t freed ourselves from that nipple. We are still sucking on it.

On the other hand I think they are really foolish and cruel and insane to be going and doing that. We have a valuable aquifer underneath us which is being so carelessly managed. It’s wrong to endanger the aquifer.

They are going to drill somewhere. If we chase them away from here they are going to go somewhere else. We are not going to stop them from drilling. They are going to drill no matter what we do. It’s just a question of where they drill and even though I am not in favor of them endangering the aquifer, the fact of the matter is that actually it will create jobs for us. We are a very very poor county.

It takes some of the owners off of hypocracy. We are going to use propane, then we have to acknowledge its okay to drill propane because I want it, I buy it, I keep warm with it. How can I say get my propane from someone else’s backyard?

They are in it for the profit. There is no guaranteed profit on speculative drilling. Make a deal to give up the mineral rights underground in exchange for the surface use rights and build a solar farm out there. Which is a guaranteed return on investments and doesn’t require the use of any fossil fuels, doesn’t endanger the aquifer, and continues to meet the energy needs of a growing population.


I don’t really want to sit in my garden mound in front of my off-grid solar workshop and have to look at somebody’s oil derrick. But that is a sort of self-serving sort of objection. That’s not why the decision should or should not be made. It shouldn’t be made on the basis of whether or not someone wants to look at an oil derrick. No one wants to look at an oil derrick anyway. I think we outta just get off oil, but that’s not being done.

There is no excuse for going on the way we have been going with this massive dependence on petroleum products and fossil fuels.


The energy comes from the earth and the mountains and the sky. And they can’t change it. They can pollute it, they can make it dirty, they can put up buildings and oil derricks that make it ugly but they can’t touch the energy of mother earth.

I sit out and I look out at that mountain every day and there is a place in the mountain that is a silhouette of a woman’s face crying to the sky. And it looks like Mother Earth crying to me.

Different Religious Groups

Almost everybody from every religion views this as a sacred and holy spiritual place. It’s a center of spiritual power on the earth. These spiritual groups or religious individuals that are here, I am not part of a group, but all of us are in harmony on believing that this is just a totally holy place.

The different religious groups all have their own pathways to the great unexplainable, but it’s all the same. We are all on the same wavelength on that and there is a great deal of harmony. There are more kinds of religions here than I can count. Everyone is trying their best to be a holy being so that’s cool. We should all work at it in whichever way we can.

Cultural Impact

I think we have a very divided community, we have a deep chasm between two groups of people. One group of people is the people who work here, live here, try to make a living here and they are trying to build something new and different for the next generation. We are trying to save whatever we can save of the earth for generations to come. Our children and their children and grandchildren. And there is another group here which from what I can tell are rich yuppies from boulder. They buy land here for investment. They build what we call spec houses, a house built on speculation, they buy a lot, they build a house, they put it up for sale. They slap them up, they are what we call stick-frame houses. There is a whole different set of guiding philosophies and goals behind these two different groups. And I don’t know how this cultural chasm is going to resolve itself.

I think that when the financial collapse occurs. Sometime in the next year its just going to all fall to pieces. I think its going to be a big eye-opener for a lot of people.

The word ‘sustainability’ in our community. It’s all about sustainability. But we’ve got a lot of yuppies from elsewhere, middle class relatively rich people that think that if they grow two trays of spinach in their kitchen windowsill then they are sustainable. No. Its a lot of work and a lot of land and a lot of effort and a lot of know-how to grow your own food.

The people that have decorative greenhouses in front of their houses and they think that is sustainable living when they have air conditioners and washers and dryers and propane stoves and they are on-grid. They don’t even have a clue what sustainability is all about.

Though we are not going to affect the world, we are hoping to become leaders and teachers in our community and help other people. We are trying to set an example.

You put your heart out there and it comes back to you

We are a land co-op and we look for people of the same mindset to come join us to work and live with us. The drilling might make people more willing and determined to make a stand. No matter what we are going to do this. We are not even going to let the drilling rig next door to us stop us, but if it affects the aquifer we are all screwed.


What we are looking at here in the United States is a total disastrous economic collapse very soon. I have known for a long time…that I would see food riots in my life time. There are going to be people killing for food. Take action on it. Do something about finding yourself a place where you can live and where you can grow food and start trying to prepare yourself for that. When we reach critical mass on the fossil fuels and the trucks stop running because gas is 15 or 20 dollars a gallon. Its going to all break down and there aren’t going to be any food trucks running. The food that comes to Crestone is going to be the food we can grow.

I’m thinking that when we have the massive change in the world that is starting now with economic collapse and global climate change the systems and the governments and the economies that we have depended on in the past are going to bail us and we are going to be in a position of having to find new ways to deal with it.