The Taos News to host community forum Nov. 16 on education, jobs

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The Taos News will host  “Small Towns, Big Change,” Nov. 16 — a community conversation about education and economics in Taos. 

Since April, The Taos News has partnered with the Solutions Journalism Network — an independent nonprofit group that supports rigorous reporting on responses to social problems and explores meaningful solutions to some of the most complex and challenging problems in the Upper Rio Grande region. We've written about land and water issues, health and substance abuse and now we're digging into economics — how to create a sustainable economy, without changing what makes Taos so special.

Time and again, we’ve been told about the vital — but complicated — interplay between what our schools are teaching kids and what jobs are out there for them. Students who don't see a career path in Taos leave, and too often, don't return. Meanwhile, employers struggle to find high quality workers and to hold on to workers they've recruited from outside.

But what solutions exist beyond the problem? That's where you come in.

What skills and knowledge should local schools teach students so they have the chance to live and work close to home? And what can the business community and local institutions do to create better paying jobs and make sure opportunities exist for young people? 

There’s plenty going on in Taos County already, so let's start there. The Taos News will host a panel of local leaders to talk about some of those initiatives — both the successes and what’s left to tackle. 

Carla Chavez, a health science teacher at Taos High School, has been intimately involved in the creation of a health care pipeline with the University of New Mexico-Taos and Holy Cross Hospital.

She’ll be joined by Oban Lambie, owner of Brown Rice Internet; Louis Moya, a longtime player in the entrepreneurial scene in Taos who is now heading the newly created UNM-Taos Business Center; as well as a representative from the Center for the Education and Study of Diverse Populations, based at New Mexico Highlands University.

Following the panel discussion, reporters will moderate an open conversation to hear directly from attendees about what’s working and what the community needs to do to make it work better. 

The event is being held with the help of the Taos Community Foundation, Rocky Mountain Youth Corps, New Mexico Business Excellence, UNM-Taos Digital Media Arts and the Harwood Museum of Art.

The event begins at 6 p.m. at the Harwood Museum's Arthur Bell Auditorium, located at 238 Ledoux Street. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public, but seating is limited.

The Small Towns, Big Change news media project is a collaboration between The Taos News, the Solutions Journalism Network and six other New Mexico and Colorado news outlets, supported by a grant from the LOR Foundation.

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