Archive for March, 2012

In Praise of Restoration Ecology


Jack Loeffler

In 2009, I produced a documentary radio program entitled, Aldo Leopold in the Southwest. In my travels, I met Estella Leopold, youngest of the five children spawned by Aldo Leopold and Estella Luna Bergere Leopold, herself a native of Santa Fe, and member of the revered Luna family that have lived in New Mexico for many generations. Estella the younger is one of America’s most distinguished paleobotanists, now professor emeritus at the University of Washington in Seattle. She is also a wonderful folk musician whose repertoire includes dozens of Hispano folksongs recalled and sung by her family when she was a More >

Letter to the Editor: Water, Acequias, Population and Development


Kudos for focus (January 2012) on acequias, a topic I covered for years for a major New Mexico daily. Based on that and a lifetime centered around water—from watching a family well dry up, to fighting two Colorado water projects—I share former NM Acequia Commissioner Wilfred Guttierez’ apprehensions about the threat to acequias in the early 21st century.


As warned by the Scripps Institute, the Pacific Institute, the National Academy of Sciences, the University of Colorado, author William deBuys and others, the Southwest is in the crosshairs of mushrooming population, drought and global warming. DeBuys writes: “If you live in the Southwest More >

Water, Air and Land: A Sacred Trust

 Map Documents Water Concerns in New Mexico


A comprehensive map documenting concerns about water resources on the part of New Mexico community and religious organizations was dedicated last month in the Rotunda of the State Capitol. The map shows how current and historical industrial activities have impacted water, air and land, as well as urban and rural populations and the health of wildlife, plants, birds and fish.


The major waters of the state and areas that have been, and in many cases, continue to be compromised by the oil and gas industry, the nuclear fuel chain, and coal-fired power plants are More >

Excerpts from the Map’s Brochure: Threats to Water, Air and Land



As the Southwest becomes more arid due to growth and climate change, water resources become ever more stretched. As water quantity decreases, water quality is more easily compromised. Approximately 90% of New Mexicans rely on groundwater for drinking.


Oil and Gas Industrial Contamination

New Mexico ranks second in natural gas production and fifth in oil production within the U.S. During 2001, 69.9 million barrels of oil and 1.6 trillion cubic feet of natural gas were produced.

Safeguards such as the 2008 Pit Rule theoretically reduce contamination of shallow groundwater aquifers. Before 2008, the oil industry self-reported more than 700 More >

Faren Dancer’s… Unicopia Green

The Real Cost of Santa Fe’s “Cheap” Energy and Clean Air


Though Santa Fe, New Mexico, and its constant stream of international visitors, can take pride in some of the finest air quality of any US city, it comes at a notable cost to the inhabitants of the Navajo Nation, which is home to five coal power plants in and around the reservation. The San Juan Generating Station, primary source for Santa Fe’s electricity, is rated as one of the most polluting coal plants in the US. Countless Navajo children are being born with asthma, and coal is also viewed as More >



Gary Vaughn


I’m sure you’ve already read PNM’S 218 page “2011-2030 Electric Integrated Resource Plan” hasn’t everyone? It was filed with the New Mexico Public Regulatory Commission last July. Formal protests to the plan were filed soon afterwards, and the PRC has already issued a formal “decision” on part of the plan.

All of this is fascinating, but the real reason you might be interested is that the IRP clearly lays out PNM’s vision for your energy future. Inquiring minds want to know what’s in store.

Those GFT readers with an executive mind-set need only digest the IRP’s two-page “Executive Summary.”Here are the More >

The Art of Change: Climate Justice and Indigenous Solutions

Institute of American Indian Arts to Host Spring Conference


Monica Gutierrez, Sasha Lapointe, Annie McDonnell, Bonita Rickers


In some ways, climate change is the great equalizer. But in the unraveling of this balance in our climate systems that has already begun, there are some who are affected sooner and more deeply. Indigenous peoples around the world have contributed least to the outpouring of carbon in capitalist-industrial culture, yet they are most vulnerable to the changes in climate as many still depend directly on the local land and sea for their food, medicine and ways of life. Native peoples around the More >

SUSTAINABLE ENTERPRISES: Where Profits and Values Meet


Erin Sanborn


In most people’s minds, for-profit companies are about making money and non-profit organizations are about “doing good,” and the two shall never meet. Truth be told, there are thousands of organizations, websites and available information that will inspire you, take you on journeys you never imagined and give you hope again. The level of creativity to make changes in our world is everywhere! We don’t have a problem with creativity, examples, opportunity and financing. We have a problem with allocation, access to knowledge and focus.

The hybrids of the traditional non-profit and for-profit companies are emerging everywhere: corporations are writing More >

How Green Is Your Landscape?


Dick Meyer

Is your landscape “green” if it conserves water? Is it “green” if you don’t use pesticides and herbicides to maintain it? Is it “green” if you harvest rainwater to irrigate? Is it “green” if you use mostly native plants? Is it “green” if you do all of the above?

When it comes to “green” landscaping, green, it seems, is an evolving color. Conserving water and reducing or eliminating the use of chemicals to maintain your landscape are certainly aspects of “green” landscaping. But new thinking about the capacity of our home, business and public community landscapes suggest that there More >

¡Sostenga! Culturally Appropriate Food for a Resilient Community


Camilla Bustamante


What if I proposed that social and cultural aspects of human behavior are not only an influence, but also an integral part of a natural system? It is often believed that environmental sustainability relies on the overall influence of our human behavior and impact on the ecological systems in which we live. Integral to the study of sustainability is the concept of resilience—according to Merriam Webster, resilience is an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change. It is widely recognized that resilience is at the core of what can be understood to be sustainable.

Introduced More >

Transition Albuquerque and Transition UNM

Growing a Future in the Community and on Campus


Courtni Hale


Consider these four declarations:


1) Life with dramatically lower energy consumption is inevitable. It’s better to plan for it rather than be taken by surprise.

2) Our settlements and communities presently lack the resilience to enable them to weather the severe energy shocks that will accompany peak oil.

3) We have to act collectively, and we have to act now.

4) By unleashing the collective genius of those around us to creatively and proactively design our energy descent, we can build ways of living that are more connected, more enriching, and that recognize the More >



Habitat for Humanity Celebrates 600th House in NM

Last month a commemoration ceremony took place in the NM State Capitol Building Rotunda as Habitat for Humanity announced the completion of the 600th Habitat House in NM. The house in the Tierra Contenta Community represents a statewide effort involving thousands of volunteers, donors and business sponsors to help eliminate substandard housing. Habitat built 6,032 houses in the US in 2010, making the organization the sixth largest builder of new homes in the country. Last year Habitat served 6,707 families in the US and Canada with better housing, including 2,324 house rehabs and repairs. Habitat is also More >

Responsibility, Sustainability and the Imagination


Amanda Bramble


I’ll never forget my friend admonishing me on my lack of imagination. “You don’t have dreams? You have to have a dream! This is important!” He wasn’t talking about sleeping dreams. He was talking about visions for the future, about the things we imagine, but that may seem unrealistic.


My friend’s dream was “to become a pirate.” He wasn’t talking about the modern-day Somali-type pirate. His vision was more the sort with an eye patch and a parrot on the shoulder. We were in our mid- 20s, and I thought that I was grown up enough to not be expected More >

Affordable Energy Efficient Homes Have Arrived

Why Aren’t Corporate Builders Building Them?


Alan Hoffman


On a recent call to Centex Homes in south Santa Fe I asked, “How energy-efficient are your homes?” and I was told “very energy-efficient, all our homes are HERS 70.” I love it when salesmen throw around numbers and a bunch of letters; it sounds like they know what they are talking about, but do they? Interestingly enough, in this case they did. A HERS rating is a calculation that considers insulation, building tightness, and the efficiency of the appliances and lighting, among other energy-efficient considerations. There has been much made about the city More >

Electric Vehicles Can Revolutionize America’s Energy Use

International Green Ideas Show March 17-18, Expo New Mexico


Business can become more competitive, profitable and resilient by leading the transformation from fossil fuel to efficiency and renewables. This transition will build a stronger economy, a more secure nation and a healthier environment.


Reinventing Fire: Blueprint to the New Energy Era by Amory Lovins



A detailed plan that could revolutionize America’s energy use is outlined in Amory Lovins’ new book. He shows how the largest gain could be made in the transportation sector. Americans burn 13 million barrels of oil a day, the majority imported, costing drivers $2 billion directly and $4 billion More >

What is Compost?

Compost Contest in April


Iginia Boccalandro



Compost, that magical soil enhancer, is simply decomposed organic plant material or animal matter. While the creation of compost may seem mysterious or complicated, it’s really a very simple, natural process that continuously occurs in nature, often without any human assistance. If you’ve ever walked in the woods, you’ve experienced compost in its most natural setting. Animals of all sizes—from larger mammals, birds and rodents, to worms, insects and microorganisms—consume both living plants and annual plants that die at the end of the season. The result of this cycle is compost; a combination of digested More >

THE LOCAL VOICE: Local Economies: Happy, Healthy, and Wise


Vicki Pozzebon


Except for a couple of brief stints in the for-profit world (more on this later) I have lived nearly my entire adult life in the non-profit world. The work I was doing within the non-profit world always made me happy—from directing social-justice-themed theatre productions to organizing communities around local economy issues. What wasn’t making me happy was how I was working. I was becoming an unproductive, burned-out-from-exhaustion, surly, snarky, stressed-out mess of a human being. Sure, I was making a decent living and doing work I was deeply passionate about, but so what? If I could barely make time to More >

RETIRE YOUR WAY: Planning for Your Retirement


Bruce Poster


In last month’s column I described what I mean by the “New Retirement.” This is a transition into a new stage of life in which one can find self-renewal. Many people are not seeking the old form of retirement, in which they are put out to pasture and on a kind of permanent vacation. Rather, the New Retiree has an opportunity to design his own retirement in a manner that fosters life-enrichment, self-ownership, physical wellness, self-esteem and positive involvement.

Your Life Purpose

I have met many recent retirees who lack a sense of purpose. Some stay busy for six months More >

What’s Going On? – Albuquerque



March 7, 10 am-noon

USDA Rural Development Loan Guarantees and Grants Workshop

USDA RD State Office, 6200 Jefferson NE, Rm. 145

Free Training for rural small business and agriculture producers on obtaining support for renewable energy and energy efficiency systems. RSVP to 505.761.4953 or Info:


March 7, 11:30-1 pm

USGBC Monthly Luncheon

Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, 2401 12th St. NW

Demystifying the On-site/Off-site Renewable Energy Credit for LEED” presented by Sarah Zisa, Manager with 3 Degrees, Inc. $25 members, $30 non-members, $18 emerging green builders. Register:


March 7, 4-6 pm

Digging In: How to Find Land to Grow On

Bernalillo County Extension Offices, 1510 Menaul NW

Learn about strategies More >

What’s Going On? – Santa Fe



Through March 27

Business Assistance Classes for Artists

SF Community Gallery, SF Community Convention Center, 201 W. Marcy

A series of evening classes and one-on-one consultations by appointment for artists, artisans and craftsmen interested in working with the Creative Tourism program. Offered by the city of SF Arts Commission and SF Creative Tourism. 608.792.5746, RSVP:


March 1-4

Family Connections – Animals and Art Workshop

Dream Catcher Retreat Center, 68 Calle Enrique

For fathers and daughters ages 7-10 with artist/presenter Eric Zerkel and his daughter Kira. First in a series. 505.474.4007,


March 2 Entry Deadline

Landscape Design Competition

Open to all builders, architects, landscape architects, nurseries, installers or More >