“After nourishment, shelter, and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.” Philip Pullman

I am an artist and writer living near the AZ/MX border and I am inspired by the sheer beauty of the Sonoran desert as wild as its’ broken bits. Living in a border region, sharing land and family, culture and community, a delicate but strong connective tissue weaves us together like a hummingbird’s nest. Spanglish, our “lingua franca” border tongue, like birdsong, lends rhythm and cadence to our common stories.

My upcoming memoir The Wayfarer’s Staff: Inspirational Memoir from the Border is one such offering among neighbors who, despite political differences, open their doors to strangers in our midst. Humanitarian Aid is Never a Crime, yet border residents have been led to believe that our homes and cars and even our land can be seized if we share food, first aid or shelter.

Like village women in Mexico, who knowingly break the law to throw food up to migrants riding the top of trains, being neighborly is what you do. We just don’t talk about it. Until now. Now more than ever, our stories matter. Without witness and voice, memory disappears, and history and the human race are the poorer for it.

It is my hope that encouraging people to share their stories may restore some grace and provide a counterpoint to much of what you hear today in the news. I believe that people, as flawed as we may be, are fundamentally kind and good, yet we never get to hear enough about that.

Sharing our stories, a disarmingly simple idea, reclaims today’s militarized borders and takes back what it means to be human. Our stories help us remember and reenvision the border of before: Holy Land, all earth & sky, element and instinct, vibrant arts & culture, friendship & beauty. 

Around the world, border dwellers have a rare window on a world going forward. Every day, we witness miracles and mayhem in equal measure. Tell your Welcoming Story. Take us there. Where do you live and what happened? How do you feel about it, then and now?

I began this blog a decade ago as www.AZartsandletters.blogspot.com, stopped to make lots of Art but never stopped writing (off-line) to document life in the Arizona borderlands. This blog is dedicated to Freddy, a wayfarer from Oaxaca to Arizona who discovered along the way that he was an artist.

©2017 Valarie Lee James

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