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What's Left in Small-Town Arizona When the Mine Shuts Down

The struggle of Superior, AZ is like so many US towns where the primary industry and the promise of a stable life-long job have left town, likely never to return.

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Symbols of the current struggling economy surround Macias’s home. The once-grand but now boarded-up Magma Hotel is just downhill; a vacant lot and several empty, sagging buildings are across the street. The La Mina bar directly across from his porch is still in business, filled with relics of mining days of yore. But it is often closed and doesn’t bustle like it used to.

Nevertheless, Macias sees promise and hope in these streets rather than nostalgia or despair. It’s not clear exactly what his vision for the town’s future holds, but to realize it he thinks people need to let go of the past.

"It’s not good to look back to things that don’t exist anymore," he said. "We shouldn’t just wait around hoping it will come back. We’re on a different path now. Let’s relish the journey."

Kari Lydersen, an In These Times contributing editor, is a Chicago-based journalist whose works has appeared in The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Chicago Reader and The Progressive, among other publications. Her most recent book is Revolt on Goose Island. In 2011, she was awarded a Studs Terkel Community Media Award for her work. She can be reached at

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