April 2013

Building a Sustainable Regional Economy (Part II )


Welcome to the April Green Fire Times! Due to the overwhelming number of submissions for last month’s “Building a Sustainable Regional Economy” edition, we extended the theme into this month. With the arrival of spring, and Earth Day this month, we look into elements of a regional economy that help the planet, such as renewable energy, clean technology and sustainable industry.


Leading scientists have identified that 350 parts per million of carbon is the safe upper carrying capacity in our atmosphere. Recent estimates count more than 392 parts per million. We’re beginning to physically see effects with greater frequency: “frankenstorms” such More >

A Systems Approach to Sustainable Economic Development


David Breecker


As most Green Fire Times readers know, the world is reinventing electricity. This reinvention will affect every aspect of the electric power system and its economic opportunities, including:

  • How we make it (from distributed, local, renewable sources)
  • How we use it (far more efficiently)
  • What we use it for (including electric transportation)
  • How we deliver it (via a smart, interactive, self-healing grid)

Estimates of the potential economic benefit from this transition are as high as $2 trillion, meaning the opportunities for business- and job creation are huge. But so far, progress has been slower than anticipated.

Microgrid Systems

One important component of this revolution is a shift More >

The Taos Entrepreneurial Network


Erin Sanborn

People have always come together to reach a goal and solve problems that are larger than themselves. Most of us find ourselves collaborating with others throughout our lives. At its essence, collaboration essentially means the ability to work with others to solve complex problems, reach a desired result or make a dream come true. Through collaboration we increase our ability to see the connections between elements in a system, build our willingness and methods to work together, find new partnerships and relationships.

The entrepreneurial spirit is required to build these thriving local economies. In Taos County, the Taos Entrepreneurial More >

Community Solar Development in New Mexico


Seth Roffman


In a state with obvious wind and solar resources, more and more people are looking to renewable energy. Right now, if you’re interested in solar-powering your home, it has become increasingly affordable, and many people can manage it without much of a problem. But if your building has too much shade or poor solar orientation, or if you happen to be a renter in an apartment or a have a business that’s leasing space, or you live in a historic district—then installing solar panels may be more challenging, or may not even be an option.

Community Solar may be the More >

Touch the Future at the 2013 Solar Fiesta


April 27-28, Santa Fe Community College


Kids of all ages will have the opportunity to see and touch the future as the New Mexico Solar Energy Association (NMSEA) and the Solar Club at Santa Fe Community College (SFCC) join forces with Affordable Solar to present the 2013 Solar Fiesta on April 27 and 28.


Founded in 1972, the NMSEA is one of the oldest organizations in the country devoted to renewable energy (RE) education. NMSEA’s Solar Fiesta is now the only RE fair in the Southwest. “The consumer trade shows that have helped the industry develop to this point are now fewer More >

Zero-Waste Economic Development: Where Economy and Ecology Harmonize


Margo Covington



In the medical industry, it has been proven time and again that preventive medicine is the least expensive and most cost-effective form of care. Helping people with proper diet and exercise is cheaper than treating diabetes.


For New Mexico, how to best leverage our natural resources to preserve our lands, trees and water, while also providing economic opportunities for our people, requires similar forethought. With the terrible fires of the last few years, each worse than the last, and predictions for more dire conditions, there are some innovative options worth considering:


Option A: Use the cost of fighting one More >

Connecting Education for Sustainability to a Sustainable Economy


By Elizabeth Sanchez and Yanna Wilhelmsen, Students from Santa Fe High School


Economy. It must be adjusted. It must be improved. New Mexico is one of the poorest states in the nation, yet little has been done. How can we work collaboratively to make change and dollars? The answer is in the term itself: economy. “Oikos” in Greek, means “family or caring for the household.” By addressing, early in their education, the sustainability aspects of the economy, which includes the social and environmental effects as well as the monetary aspects, young people have a better chance of growing into positive, caring adults. More >

Investing for Social Impact


Socially responsible, or “green” investing is a growing trend


Mariah Sacoman


For some, the days of protest marches and songs may be over. Today, a new method of voicing beliefs or dissension with the status quo is available via socially responsible investments (SRI). Whether the focus is on advancing environmental causes, building healthy communities or promoting corporate ethics, investors interested in making a difference in the world are spurring interest in SRIs.


Socially Responsible Investments: The Back Story

Socially responsible investing traces its roots to religious concerns, and expanded in scope in the 1970s and 1980s as investors joined other protestors against apartheid by More >

Complementary Currencies: Creating a Monetary Ecosystem


An Interview with Bernard Lietaer and Jacqui Dunne


Communities, businesses and governments around the globe are rethinking money. Transformation is taking place, not through conventional taxation, enlightened self-interest or government programs, but by people simply reconsidering the concept of money. In their visionary new book, Rethinking Money: How New Currencies Turn Scarcity into Prosperity, Bernard Lietaer and Jacqui Dunne explore the origins of our current monetary system, which was built on bank debt and scarcity, and reveal the surprising ways its unconscious limitations give rise to so many serious problems. They propose establishing “complementary” private currency systems, something that is already More >

The Santa Fe Time Bank: Re-weaving Community One Hour at a Time


The Santa Fe Time Bank is an hour-exchange network where members match unmet needs with untapped resources using “time dollars” as currency. As the cash economy has become increasingly strained, this kind of complementary currency has become increasingly important for many people.


Each member’s time is valued equally with respect for each person’s offerings. Exchanges are “banked” and recorded in a software program. Offers and requests are displayed in each member’s profile in searchable listings.


The Santa Fe Time Bank holds a monthly introductory gathering at Natural Grocers, 3328 Cerrillos Road, where they give an overview of time banking nationally, an orientation More >

Can You Trust a Tomato in January?


Thanks to Preferred Produce, Now You Can


Mary Schmidt


Can You Trust A Tomato in January? is a book by Vince Staten in which he takes us on a tour of the US supermarket—the good, the bad, the ugly. Those blemish-free tomatoes piled high at your local market? All kinds of dastardly things may have been done to them so they look good… though they taste like cardboard. So, no, until recently we couldn’t trust a tomato in January (or many other months of the year).


However, Preferred Produce in Deming, New Mexico, founded by Matthew Stong, Ph.D., grows flavorful organic tomatoes and More >

Managing Manure & Creating Value for New Mexico


Tania Soussan, Carrie Christopher and Jennifer Pontzer – Concept Green

Concept Green LLC is a local sustainability firm and Certified B Corp, specializing in sustainability reporting. Concept Green’s interest in anaerobic digesters and their potential impact in New Mexico was sparked though through our work with the Innovation Center for US Dairy® on its sustainability initiatives.

Keith Hughes has a vision. A vision for cow manure. He wants to take the waste—a serious source of greenhouse gas emissions, odor and groundwater pollution from 13 dairies along Doña Ana County’s “dairy row” and turn it into green, sustainable energy. As founder of More >

The Wisdom of the Mayordomo


Quita Ortiz

New Mexico’s acequias, the centuries-old irrigation ditches that traverse our agricultural valleys, have long proved to be a sustainable water management system. Even during periods of drought they have remained resilient throughout their history because acequias operate in such a way that fulfills the common good. It’s based on a practice referred to as repartimiento, which signifies the water-sharing customs of the acequia tradition, ensuring a fair distribution of irrigation water for all parciantes, or acequia members, during times of abundance and sacrifice alike.


Water allocation during drought differs from acequia to acequia, with each community tailoring its methods to meet its needs based on community dynamics More >

Is Adaptation Possible? Climate Change and Food Security in the Evermore Arid Southwest


Miguel Santistevan


I look forward to every growing season as another chance to learn from Mother Nature about refining my agricultural techniques. Unfortunately, learning about agriculture today is becoming increasingly more challenging. It is not enough to have access to all kinds of information and even infrastructure when the more typical agricultural techniques may not adequately serve us in terms of food security, energy reduction and the conservation and regeneration of agricultural lands and soils. In many ways we are venturing into uncharted territory. The practice of agriculture today is complicated by a multitude of “natural” and human factors.


The human factors More >

HomeGrown New Mexico: Urban Homesteaders


Douglas Conwell


As four-year-old Amy Hetager watched her Minnesota great-grandmother Sarah compost scraps from the kitchen, she thought, “She’s crazy—throwing trash in the yard!” Forty years later, Amy heads up the Santa Fe-based HomeGrown New Mexico organization, which teaches people how to do just that, and much more.


HGNM represents an alliance of backyard “urban homesteaders,” community gardeners, container gardeners and larger farms, with over 1,000 friends on Facebook and other social media contacts. The heart of the organization, however, is the monthly potlucks held at the community room donated by Whole Foods on St. Francis Drive.


The more I watched More >

Bringing Magic into the Garden and Farm by Inviting Pollinators


Loretta McGrath


In the winter the honeybee hives outside my window were draped with six inches of snow. Icicles dangled from the metal roof as the first rays of morning sun sparkled rainbows of light. As warmth entered the small beehive door, the bees were clustered in a tight ball, keeping the colony warm by vibrating their wing muscles. The honey stored in the wax cells, once nectar that was collected from flowers during the summer months, ensured a continual energy source for the cold months. The honeybees slowly moved as a cluster, eating their way from honeycomb to honeycomb until More >

The Wealth of Health: Oriental Medicine as a New Mexico Resource


Elene Gusch, DOM

Although New Mexico is considered a poor state, we have a wealth of options for healthcare that many other parts of the country can hardly imagine. How can we turn this wealth into not only better health outcomes but also a brighter economic future?

There is broad agreement at every level of society that maintaining wellness is better and cheaper than trying to fix things that have already gone wrong. However, the market forces that we allow to rule, more often than not, work against this ideal. For example, if people use at-home methods of preventing influenza, huge More >

Health and Wellness Tips

Warming up for Spring Cleansing


Dr. Japa K. Khalsa


With the subtle warmth starting to embrace our landscape and consciousness, spring is the perfect time for easy cleansing. For springtime allergies or an easy cleanse, try a morning breakfast drink for two weeks: the liver cleanse with lots of citrus. Citrus has so much vitamin C and bioflavonoids (found in the white part of the peel) that it can act as a natural antihistamine for those who suffer from seasonal allergies. The properties that Eastern medicine uses to help counteract allergies with vitamin C and citrus are that it warms, energizes and More >

NEWSBITES – April 2013


Global Acequia Symposium

by Nejem Raheem, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Economics, Emerson College

Last month in Las Cruces, NM, scholars from around the world gathered to discuss issues pertinent to small-scale traditional irrigation systems and to present at a conference entitled “Acequias and the Future of Resilience in Global Perspective.” Organized chiefly by NMSU faculty member Dr. Sam Fernald, in association with the NM Acequia Association (NMAA) and UNM, the conference drew attendees from Spain, France, Mexico, Morocco and NM, as well as US-based scholars working around the world.

Parciantes and acequia activists attending included Paula Garcia, director of the NMAA, and Estévan Arellano, a researcher/historian More >





April 20, 10 am-2 pm

Earth Day Celebration

ABQ BioPark, 2601 Central NW

Learn how our actions matter when it comes to helping animals and plants. Dozens of discovery stations, speakers and hands-on activities. Visit the zoo, aquarium, Botanic Garden (Children’s Seed Festival) and Tingley Beach. Half-price weekend. Recycle old cell phone and phone accessories. 505.848.7180, biopark@cabq.gov


April 21, 8-11 am (hourly)

Wild Walk

2-mile walk to the bosque. Family fun with animals, education and wellness. $20. Benefitting Wild Earth Guardians. Presented by Aveda Institute, NM in partnership with ABQ BioPark. Info: AvedaNM.com




Earth Day at Aztec Ruins

Aztec Ruins National Monument

Demonstrations and activities based related to More >