I first met Skip Whitson, in 2010, in a cafe on Cerrillos Drive, Santa Fe, New Mexico. 

In walked this tall man with a western hat, jeans, a vest and a western style cotton shirt, carrying a bundle of Green Fire Times newspapers. He had a pony-tail.  He looked to me either like a cowboy turned hippie or a hippie turned cowboy. His body language was confident, even somewhat delicate. He had a casual, easy smile, and looked right into your eyes as he spoke. His eyes said volumes.  Depth, integrity, steadfast qualities spoke volumes, they were kind, confident, intelligent eyes. 

I instantly liked this man, the owner publisher of the Green Fire Times. I suggested that he looked like a hippie and that he should cut his hair. He laughed and with a smile said: “You need to move to Santa Fe, get out of that 3-piece suit and grow a beard.”   In all of the years I have known Skip since, he has never stopped asking me for three things.

  1. Buy an advertisement in his Green Fire Times.  
  2. Move to his beloved Santa Fe (the best place in the world to live)
  3. Write interesting articles and send to him

As we sat for a meal, I asked “When did you first get into the newspaper business?”  His complex answer brought more questions and curiosity about this unique man.

Skip was in México City, when his first newspaper, El Oráculo de México came out, in 1968. Since that time he has owned 11 newspapers including a couple of magazines.  He started the Green Fire Times, in Santa Fe, New Mexico in May of 2009. The name came from a retired advertising executive from New York City. (This was the same man who coined the phrase ‘Capitalist Tool’ for Malcom Forbes’ private jet airplane.) “Green Fire” comes from an Ayurvedic Healing term, as well as an expression attributed to Aldo Leopold, the man who started the nation’s first Wilderness Area, the Gila Wilderness.  It alludes to the “Green Fire of the eyes of the wolf, who has deep spiritual power to survive and thus impacts, even enlivens nature, and man’s respect for nature.”

The Green Fire Times has done the job of the wolf well, since it’s first issue in 2009.  There is no paper, that is exactly like it, and none that does it as well, as the Green Fire Times. In an era when many papers are shrinking and cutting back, the Green Fire Times has grown and become a mainstay for readers in northern New Mexico and beyond. It has grown from hard copy circulation of 12,000 to over 30,000 making Green Fire Times the largest distribution newspaper in all of northern New Mexico.   It’s on line circulation is read not only in the USA, but by readers in many foreign nations. If you want a real treat, go online, hit www.GreenFireTimes.com, and just flip through the papers, the art, the articles.  The scope of this publication is amazing, beautiful and very professionally done.  It is a tribute to Skip and his Associate Publisher, and co-founder, Barbara E. Brown, and speaks to the demand for excellence they have fostered with this paper. The best tribute that I can give, is that I find that I keep these papers for months, sometimes years. I have a hard time throwing them away, because the articles are unique and timeless.

I asked about his initial goal and purpose for the paper, and its focus. He said:

 “Well, of course we always like to make money, and we have lived off of these papers, and paid others for many years. More importantly, our purpose was to bring people information on the Environment, Ecology, Renewable Energy, Green Construction, Health, Healing, Organic Foods, Nutrition, Permaculture, Sustainability, Ecotourism, Green Collar Jobs, Regional History, etc.!. But the compensation well exceeded what we expected. Readers in Santa Fe and Northern New Mexico are a unique breed of insightful people. We have been overwhelmed with the joy and satisfaction, and by the appreciation shown by people all over northern New Mexico and beyond, for this publication! “ 

Then as Skip tried to sell me an ad, I asked him what the most painful part of being a newspaper publisher is. His answer was one word. “Invoicing”.

Skip, in a dozen kind ways over the next years, asked me to advertise in the newspaper. People find that they cannot resist this charming, unique man, because advertising in the Green Fire is akin to joining our fellow humans in some kind of unique experience. The Green Fire Times is more like “our” paper, a “people’s paper”, representing human values, not Wall Street perspectives.  That is rather unique in the modern newspaper world, akin to a cultural treasure.  Like the EverReady Bunny, Skip is energetic, not obnoxious. He is kind and persistent. Yes, I eventually put an ad in for a year, but more importantly Skip and I developed an enduring friendship. I trust him, the friendship brings insights and joy, it is, like his paper, rewarding. Skip seems to know everyone in Santa Fe, from the movers and shakers, the educators, businessmen. He seems to know more about the movements of people in the movie industry from Hollywood than most people in town. He can tell you the “untold” back stories about the people of Santa Fe, that can never be published.  Skip, perhaps because he is one of a kind, became my most trusted source for background and information on both the people and the environment of Northern New Mexico.  He has become not only a trusted confidant for many, but he and Barbara are supporters of hundreds of good causes, in New Mexico. The Green Fire Times has become a voice for good, progressive ideas.  

It was with some sadness on my part, when he told me that he was considering selling the Green Fire Times.

“Skip, no. Why?”

“I want to get my hands into the other side of what I believe in. I want to work with my son, and his efforts to make sustainable survival units. I want to help my life’s partner, Barbara Brown (the Associate Publisher and co-founder of Green Fire Times) in her efforts to do art work and writing.”

So, Skip Whitson, a tall man, in many ways is working to move on in his life, to do the things he has written about for decades.  It seems like a natural evolution and fulfillment of his life’s ethic. The question is, who will step forward to take over the reins of this marvelous publication?  I’d say, like Skip, move to Santa Fe, grow a beard, and buy a newspaper.

In the meantime, the GREEN FIRE TIMES, is an influential voice for an extended audience of thousands of people, and has become one of those rare newspaper publications with influence far beyond its circulation numbers, located in one of the most beautiful, intellectual and multi layered cities in the USA. I like the covers. Sometimes people oriented, sometimes scenery, sometimes just pure art. They make me curious, make me want to learn more. Like this one, what does it mean?

Did I use the word, Multi-Layered?  That is a description of Skip Whitson. I am proud to call him something more important....“my friend”.

Skip Whitson can be reached by writing to:  info@sunbooks.com  or calling: 505-660-0704.