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$2,146 pledged of $5,000 goal
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By Jeff Haislip
$2,146 pledged of $5,000 goal
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About this project

Way down in Far West Texas, there is a ruggedly beautiful land in the Chihuahuan Desert called "Big Bend", named after the huge turn that the wild and scenic Rio Grande River makes in the region. I first started visiting the mountains and canyons of Big Bend over twenty years ago; my father had settled there after my mother passed away. He and Maxine, his new wife, became teachers of Amnesty & English classes for people from the other side of the border. When I was visiting, I would accompany them on their trips, bringing aid to the Mexican villages just across the river. We took blankets, clothing, and toys for the kids.

Over the years, I had used many different crossings to get into Mexico, but nowhere else had I seen quaint little villages with sweet people like we encountered in the Big Bend. The crossings were open for any Americans who wanted to visit the towns of Boquillas, Santa Elena, Paso Lajitas, and San Carlos. It was like stepping back in time to see these folks living in much the same way they had lived for a century, so close to our community on the US side. It was and is a truly unique area...I don't think there's anything else like it on our entire border with Mexico. When the border was closed in May of 2002, much was lost by the people of both sides of the river. Friends and families were separated and communication was cut off, as was our cultural connection. The little Mexican towns could barely survive without the regular income that visitors would bring, and no one was allowed to bring blankets, clothing, and food to them.

Recently, after moving to the Big Bend area permanently myself, I started to notice that much had changed since the border was closed. People weren't able to communicate with friends across the border and folks from the Mexico side were not free to go where they would like to go to do important things like visit a doctor or see family, which was upsetting. I was tending bar at a local establishment when a couple of education administrators visiting from Vermont began asking me questions about the area and the conversation naturally drifted to  Mexico. One of them said "We know you Texans hate Mexicans" and I thought "My God, these people are the ones who are teaching the teachers." They had no idea that most of us folks out here in the borderlands consider the people of Mexico to be friends. The encounter left me wanting to do something about the flawed view of our relationship between the people along this border.

Everyday people are not given enough of a voice in mass media, so we have to make our voices heard through projects such as the one I'm working on. The regular people of southern United States and northern Mexico were not given a voice before they closed the border. After more than ten years of neglect and misunderstanding, our governments have started to come to their senses and finally opened one of the crossings here in this remote and peaceful region. More crossings should be opened; this is but one of the many subjects my project will address.

The goal of this project, called "Voices From Both Sides"  is to let the artists who live here speak through their songs, poetry, and stories, explaining what has gone on since the closing of these remote border crossings.We will produce a music CD & short documentary DVD featuring artists from both sides of the Rio Grande.

My friend Collie Ryan has been an ambassador to the people of Paso Lajitas and San Carlos for over 25 years. Paso Lajitas is near a flat spot in the river where people have crossed back and forth for hundreds of years...San Carlos is sixteen miles further into Mexico on a rough and rocky road. With the guidance of Collie and other friends, I have been traveling to Mexico to record some of the local musicians and storytellers. Conjunto Furia Nortenia & Victor Valdez who sang for us in Boquillas Canyon, an amazing place on the Rio Grande, for the project. While I was recording the beautiful voices echoing across that great chasm, all of a sudden it hit me that the people I was meeting in Mexico are unquestionably connected to the people on the US side, through families, friends, history, and culture...spanning even the most senseless divides forced onto our communities.

I met with the Presidente (Mayor) in San Carlos, Chihuahua to discuss stories of his life since the closing & we decided to throw an International Music/BBQ Fiesta in Paso Lajitas & Lajitas on May 11, 2013. We will be making a chain of people holding hands all the way across the river, to symbolize the connection we still cherish with our wonderful neighbors. This relationship has been challenged by the insensitivity of people who have no idea what it's really like here, but we know better, and wish to show the rest of the world that neighboring countries can live and work together in harmony. A video will be made as part of the project, and this International Event will be included in the film.

I expect the CD to be produced in October. Donations to the project will help to pay for production costs, which will include everything from travel expenses getting to & from recording sessions in Mexico, time in a local recording studio, film-making costs, and other expenses.

Thank You for your support,

Jeff Haislip

Risks and challenges

The project will include gathering all the required crew/audio/video equipment and meeting with musicians/producers internationally. Other than trying to avoid rattlesnake bites while traveling through the desert between borders, I can't imagine running into any major hurdles with the production of the cd and video.

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    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    An 11x17 copy of the "Voices From Both Sides - A Reunion at Lajitas Crossing" event poster

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    "Voices From Both Sides" CD

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    "Voices From Both Sides" T-Shirt

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    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    An 11x17 copy of the "Voices From Both Sides - A Reunion at Lajitas Crossing" event poster & A "Voices From Both Sides" CD & Tshirt!

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    We have (4) Collie Ryan original hubcap mandalas that she made especially for the project. The first 4 people to give $150 will receive one.

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Funding period

- (30 days)