The Carbon Economy Series


Iginia Boccalandro


These articles by Maria Boccalandro and Daniel Mirabal were derived from a two-day Sustainable Tourism workshop held in January, 2013. Presented by the nonprofit Carbon Economy Series in partnership with Santa Fe Community College (SFCC), the workshop was opened by an introduction from Santa Fe Mayor David Coss, who spoke of the need to attract more visitors during the slower months, and of rebranding Santa Fe to highlight the natural beauty and health benefits of the area to attract a younger crowd.

Carbon Economy Series workshops (eight this year) are based on “triple-bottom-line” principles and practices designed to help the average homeowner, food gardener, farmer, rancher, landowner and landscape professional get more value from their practice—while impacting people, the environment and the revenue stream in a responsible way. The Sustainable Tourism workshop was also held in the interest of working with a model that can be a driver of economic and social development of rural/urban communities and businesses.

Particular to the Santa Fe area and northern New Mexico is the tremendous amount of revenue that comes from tourism. But, tourism here fluctuates between high season and low season, making it hard to keep employees and to generate a stable income year-round. So what can be done to aggregate value over the long run?

Santa Fe is a showcase for many things, including art, culture and progressive ideas, such as sustainable living and local, organic food production. The Santa Fe Farmers’ Market is a perfect example of collaboration between farmers, businesses, the city and nonprofits, teaming up to produce a weekly cornucopia of fresh food, not to mention a great social experience. When people visit NM they have a chance to learn, experience and participate in a unique, rich milieu.

Ecotourism touches on the idea that we must reduce the negative impacts of the visitor on the place visited. This perspective is attractive to many people all over the world, particularly youth. When an industry like tourism commits to zero waste, the impact is enormous. Ecotourism is only the beginning however; we must go beyond ecotourism to sustainable tourism. About 1.6 million tourists come to Santa Fe each year, cross-pollinating ideas, customs and initiatives. A dynamic synthesis of innovation and creativity is one of the potential benefits of developing the area as a model of sustainable tourism.

Some of the Sustainable Tourism workshop’s participants included:

Glen, director of the Santa Fe chapter of the NM Green Chamber of Commerce (NMGCC), emphasized how important the triple-bottom-line approach is in the development of green businesses. In association with the Santa Fe Watershed Association and other groups, his organization has been working with hotel managers to train employees to do their jobs in a more eco-friendly way—to rethink what is done with water, energy and waste materials.

Maria, an educator from the farmers’ market with a degree in Environmental Science, wants to offer a tour to organic farms so that children can experience the importance of balance between development and nature.

Sage and Stephanie, students from SFCC, expressed their interest in learning how they can contribute to the development of sustainable tourism so as to address the problems that tourism often brings into a city, such as traffic, pollution, abuse of alcohol/drugs, etc.

Lisa, a local landscape-business owner who has created edible gardens in million-dollar estates, wants to learn how her talent and experience can be used in conjunction with local organic farms to offer innovative products and services to visitors who, in many cases, may never have been on a farm.

Alejandro, a language teacher and chef, wants to learn how his projects with troubled teens could be part of sustainable tourism, and how his young people can participate, thereby increasing their connection with the community.

Poki, an urban organic farmer, shared his idea of putting together a bike trail linking his farm to other organic farm and garden projects so bike-riding tourists can experience a tour that is not only educational but also healthy and non-polluting.

Jeanne, a filmmaker, spoke of how she put together an educational program in Africa that helps communities offer products and services for safari tourists. The income from these visitors not only enriches the lives of local families, it also goes a long way in building self-esteem and pride in a community’s tribal art and traditions.

Michaela, a farmer with permaculture design training, wants to offer a quality bed-and-breakfast on her farm so that she can teach visitors how food can be grown organically, and how it is possible to create a balance between nature and farm activities, between the health of the land and the health of people.

Xubi, a SFCC faculty member, shared his ideas of how alternative energy can be brought more fully into the economic sector by providing transportation with alternative fuels for ecologically minded tourists.

Amanda, also a SFCC faculty member, touted the Energy Star collaboration the college is working on with the NMGCC and hotel operators. She pointed out the important role that educational institutions play, not only in training, but in research and development of indicators to measure the impact of tourism on local communities.


Iginia Boccalandro is the director of the Carbon Economy Series. For more information, call 505.819.3828 or visit




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