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Poco Windy # 28: “Up with People” and Wind Turbine Technicians

You may have heard of Up with People, an American non-profit organization that since 1968 has provided countless young people with a year-long, worldwide travel, community volunteerism, and stage performance experience after high school. While on tour, being in on-stage musical productions, staying in each community with local multicultural families (today, would be kind of like staying in overnight rentals without the rent!), volunteering to help in each community. Did you know that part of its storied history involves Lincoln County, New Mexico? Now we too are thinking about up with people - this time, it’s about the ‘people’ technicians who are starting to climb up/service the 377 wind turbines beginning to generate electricity in upper Lincoln County and surrounding counties. But the original Up with People here comes again to mind.

The story starts here in the early 1980s. Then, the Up with People (UWP) performance group staging area was annually in Tucson, where each new cast of several hundred young people started early in the spring for the staging of a new roadshow and orientation to a tour that would take them throughout North America including in Lincoln County, then across the world. A year or two earlier, a UWP group scheduled a stop in Ruidoso for several days, staying with volunteer families in that community, and presented the show to a local audience at what’s now known as the Horton complex gym. Something happened to Ruidoso in early 1983 and the show location had to move elsewhere on short notice. Carrizozo Schools offered to host, and the show site moved down to Carrizozo. The Carrizozo community quickly stepped up for the 1983 show, and new UWP shows returned there again in 1984 and 1985.

The 1984 show was the ultimate experience! That year - after weeks of advance team preparation, a big local school/community parade, and an all-community dinner, Up with People held its world premiere of The Beat of the Future show in Carrizozo supported by an extra-large performance and tech crew brought in from Tucson. Town residents turned out big time for the world premiere in Carrizozo! Eventually, a half dozen Carrizozo, Corona, and outlying ranch kids would apply to Up with People, were selected, and traveled with UWP groups across the world. Later, in August 1986, Up with People President J. Blanton Belk would state of Carrizozo “we cannot think of a more suitable town for our young people to begin their tour…”

What’s the connection today! These days Up with People stages out of Denver rather than Tucson; it no longer comes through Lincoln County. The term “Up with People” as we know it now more likely refers here to people climbing up wind energy towers. Just last week, more young men in Region 9 CTE wind training, led by Mescalero Apache School, experienced their first wind tower climb at Mesalands College in Tucumcari.

But there is still another connection. The same UWP experiential lessons parallel what the REC 9 CTE wind energy program encourages today - the social skills, the people skills, as we call it the ‘right stuff.’ Same things the original Up with People experience taught. Stuff like good work habits, maturity, and teamwork. How to work successfully on-site and remotely alongside peers from all kinds of backgrounds and cultures. Good communication skills. Today’s Carrizozo and Corona kids are enrolling in the Region 9 CTE wind program, no longer in Up with People. It’s Up the Wind Energy Towers at Red Cloud and Duran Mesa. The new Up with People!

This is the home of Region 9 CTE. Thanks for dropping by.

By Jim Miller