Portrait of Santa Rosa is a photo series collected over five years that shows the subtle nuance between the vibrance of small town life and the lethargy in the home of 2,800 people. Rural American towns fight to stay alive everyday. Santa Rosa is one of those where the community fights to resurrect the economy as the youth flea to discover the bigger cities in hopes for something more.
Pressed against I-40, one of America’s largest freeways, it welcomes travelers from the west and east coasts as they cut through the New Mexican community in route to their destinations. The constant flow of travelers keeps a string of motels and truck stops in business while they stop for rest or gas to continue on the highway.
One by one, the businesses are disappearing. The necessary community services are leaving – there is no longer a day care for families to leave their children at while they go to work. The private prison sustains the majority of the workforce, and a string of motels hires international students to staff the housekeeping areas in the peak summer times because they can’t find laborers willing to work.
Through the changing economy and shifting labor markets, the people who call Santa Rosa home maintain hope for a self-sustaining town hinged upon the simplicity of small town life and a need to survive.
Adria Malcolm is a visual journalist based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Committed to long form storytelling, she explores themes of substance use disorders, solitude and disease through her work. In 2017, Adria was selected to participate in a mentorship program with Ed Kashi and James Estrin during which she will produce a long form story on the criminalization of addiction. Adria’s is a contributor for The New York Times, Getty, BuzzFeed News and NBC Universal.