I love New Mexico. I have deep family roots here.

Technically, Steve Westman ’80 isn’t a New Mexico native. He was born in Long Beach, California. But, his mom always said that since she moved him back to New Mexico before he was six-months old, he is still a native as far as she is concerned.

Her passion for New Mexico was handed down to her son. “I love New Mexico,” says Steve. “I have deep family roots here.”  Steve’s grandfather, “Chisel” Smith, built many of the roads around the state. The stories he shared about the places he had worked inspired Steve to explore every corner of the Land of Enchantment. “The back roads of New Mexico are his legacy,” he says.

After graduating from Albuquerque Academy, Steve studied journalism at UNM. He became a travel writer, focusing on New Mexico and the Southwest. Over the years, Steve has written for several New Mexico publications, including the Weekly Alibi. Currently, Steve is writing for the Local IQ, where he pens a regular column called “The Curious Townie.”

Steve’s love for New Mexico and his work at the Local IQ recently intersected to create an exciting opportunity. His colleague and well-known photographer, Wes Naman, asked Steve to help with a project he’d been planning – 505 Faces. The third cog in this wheel is Naman’s photography assistant, Joy Godfrey.

The project aims to capture portraits and stories of 505 New Mexicans, representing places across the state. Steve is head writer of the team of five of New Mexico’s best writers who will travel the state, along with Naman and Godfrey, to tell the stories of the people photographed and why they love New Mexico. The ultimate goal is a coffee table book, with a video component as well.

Steve, Joy and Wes quietly developed the project late last year, deciding which towns to visit. “Once we determined where we were going, we marked up a map with red dots. When we connected the dots, they formed a heart shape,” says Steve. That, he says, confirmed that they had chosen the right route.

While the project details and destinations have been determined, funding is still a little uncertain. According to Steve, the three core team members are donating their time, but they still need funding to pay the other writers, the documentarian, the cost of the RV and other expenses. “The money is coming in, but it’s coming in slowly,” says Steve.

In an effort to jumpstart funding for the project, they decided to try crowdsourcing. “We launched a campaign on,” says Steve, adding that the project offers some special benefits for those who support it. Find out more about the project here.

Early in May, the team hopes to hit the road. If you see a 40-foot RV loaded with writers and photographers who are following a heart-shaped map, stop by and say hi to Steve and the crew.