November 2015

Editor’s Response

From the Editor regarding Green Fire Times’ November 2015 cover image:


I am sorry that certain Pueblo people feel offended by the cover image, which is a detail from a new, large historical mural by a group of artists in the South Valley of Albuquerque. The people who have said that have a right to their feelings and perspective, although I think that they are over-reacting. Other Pueblo people have told me that they realize that it is essentially a cartoon and that they do not feel offended by it.

I understand that, to a Pueblo person, the image of a Spaniard More >

Collaboration Among Organizations Flourishes in the South Valley


Sam Sokolove


In the world of nonprofit organizations, building meaningful partnerships among organizations with similar community vision is becoming a movement. In Albuquerque’s South Valley, home to many service organizations that address health, economic and educational realities, sharing knowledge and limited resources is critical.

According to a recent study conducted by the Bureau of Business and Economic Research, 80 percent of the South Valley’s 41,000 residents are Hispanic and 52 percent are Mexican nationals. Sixty percent of the population over the age of 25 has no formal post-secondary education, and more than half have limited English proficiency.

From this need emerged EleValle, a More >

South Valley Community Partnership for Health Equity Applying Lessons Learned in Cuba

Bill Wagner


The recent thaw in relations between the United States and Cuba has generated new hope for bi-lateral exchanges, although for now, the potential remains largely in the realm of collective imagination. The tourism industry imagines white sand beaches and resorts visited by American cruise ships, the telecom industry imagines an explosion of cell towers and Internet providers on the island, and a number of Americans imagine smoking Cohiba cigars and sipping Havana Club rum. But, thanks to the Oakland, California-based Medical Education Cooperation with Cuba (MEDICC), a trans-national exchange that prioritizes people over profits does not need to be More >

Nurturing a Wellness Ecosystem in the South Valley

Michelle Melendez


There is a certain amount of humility and audacity required to admit that the care you provide only accounts for about 10 percent of what ultimately determines a patient’s health. Such a thought runs completely counter to the “doctor knows best” belief upon which our current health system is based. It’s quite unusual for your health system’s CEO to acknowledge the truth of this statement and to choose to address some of the other 90 percent of factors that determine people’s health. But that is just what the leadership of First Choice Community Healthcare has done by expanding the More >

New Mexico Center for School Leadership: Local Wisdom for Local Schools

Tony Monfiletto


Three years ago The Center for School Leadership (CSL) established a vision to provide the best education for students who need it most. Troubling graduation rates, disengagement and stark workforce-development challenges indicated a great need in our community for highly impactful, relevant schools that prepare our youth for their future. In recent years the New Mexico CSL has partnered with school, community and business leaders to identify solutions to some of our state’s most pressing challenges.

The Center’s work is grounded in two core philosophies: local wisdom for local schools (the understanding that local communities are assets in designing schools More >

Precursors of Albuquerque Along El Camino Real – Folsom/Cochise Cultures, Isleta Pueblo, Atrisco and Pajarito Land Grants, 1650-1900


Hilario Romero


Folsom and Desert Cultures Ancestors of Native Americans of the Southwest were traveling through and creating communities in and around the valley of the Sandia and Manzano mountains for centuries prior to the arrival of the Spanish. Early Folsom peoples camped below the Pajarito and West Mesas and left evidence of hearths and tools. The bosque along the Río Grande in this area was more lush than today and was home to game such as mastodons, mammoths, long-horned buffalo, camel, giant ground sloth and miniature horses. Folsom people also gathered wild plants and seeds to supplement their diet. Their time More >

The Genesis of Acequias in Atrisco (the South Valley)

  Jorge García   Even though it is easier for folks to categorize the South Valley as the South Valley, it has not always has been known by that name. What we today call the South Valley is actually a region that, prior to 1848, was subdivided into land grants, or, as they used to be called under Mexican rule, las Mercedes.

A quick snapshot of the region shows how it was subdivided by the Alameda land grant around the area we now call Corrales. Moving downriver, there was the Albuquerque land grant in what we now call Old Town, and north More >

La Corriente del Valle – A Mural Project in the South Valley

  Tarynn Weeks


When I started college two months ago, meeting a lot of new friends and catching up with a lot of old ones, we talked about our summers. From yachting to camping to visiting family, most people seemed to enjoy their vacations. When they asked me what my favorite part of the summer was, my answer came easily: “working, of course!”


This summer I had the opportunity of a lifetime–being paid to paint a landmark mural.


Since joining the Working Classroom in November 2014, I have participated in a variety of art workshops and formed meaningful relationships with mentors and peers, More >

The Agri-Cultura Network


Traditional and innovative agricultural practices reconnect people with community and environmental stewardship that is part of our region’s agrarian and cultural heritage.


The South Valley of Albuquerque is among many communities in need of greater access to local fruits and vegetables, which can improve nutrition and support preventive healthcare. More people are realizing that chronic and fatal diseases can be caused or exacerbated by a poor diet. There is also increasing recognition of the importance of local farms that do not rely on synthetic chemicals or long-range transportation.


The Agri-Cultura Network was created to address these needs. Each week, the network has More >

Agricultural Newsbites – November 2015


Resilience in New Mexico Agriculture Regional Meetings

It takes a diverse network of farmers, ranchers, processors, distributors and market organizers to make a difference in the future of agriculture. New Mexico 1st, a non-profit, non-partisan organization whose mission is to build consensus among groups and inspire legislative action, is organizing a series of meetings around New Mexico to discuss ideas for ensuring a robust food and agriculture system in the state.


Eleven meetings are scheduled from December through March to bring together agriculture stakeholders to identify industry trends, challenges and solutions. The stakeholders New Mexico 1st is seeking include farmers and ranchers, More >

Gardens de Atrisco

Joseph C. García


The Gardens de Atrisco, a project of the town of Atrisco Grant, is part of the community momentum that is reclaiming urban and semi-rural lands in Atrisco for healing, education, growing food and saving seed.


Jesse Anzures, who serves on the town of Atrisco Board of Trustees, and Victor Versace, of the Desert Forge Foundation, share the garden space with veterans for healing and creating community wealth through the growing of chile, corn, tomatoes, mint, garlic and basil. Working the land in the traditional way, communities were able to create their own wealth and livelihood. It is good news More >

The Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge – A Hidden Gem


Julia Bernal


Tucked in between industrial factories and residential homes, the Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge, restored seasonal wetlands, is a hidden gem of the South Valley. I had never known much about the South Valley because I grew up on the opposite side of Albuquerque. Sandia Pueblo was my front- and back yard for climbing cottonwood trees and going on long walks to the Río Grande. So when I became an AmeriCorps intern at the refuge, Valle de Oro extended my backyard and outdoor classroom.


The refuge sits on about 570 acres of managed alfalfa and hay fields. Residents of More >

Op-Ed: A Community’s Battle Against the Santolina Master Plan


Dr. Virginia Necochea


Santolina chamaecyparissus1 is an herbaceous perennial, originally from the Mediterranean, known as the “workhorse of the drought-tolerant garden2.”

But for many of us who live and work in the South Valley, the plant with the pretty yellow flowers is furthest from our minds when we hear the name. Instead, we now picture a massive housing development looming in our backyards. Santolina… How I have come to dread even hearing the word.

Over the past year, thanks to the dedicated work of many organizations, neighborhood associations and concerned community members, Santolina has become known across New Mexico. It has become symbolic More >

South Valley Reflections


Noah Allaire I am of sacred land and earth; the same mixture of silt, straw, water and clay in which the roots of the plants we grew were used to build the walls of the house in which I was born.

I was born on land over which the river used to flood, carrying renewal with nutrients from the north. Before it was called by a colonial name, the river was known to each community differently; mets’ichi chena, said the Keres, posoge, said the Tewa, paslápaane, said the Tiwa, hañapakwa, said the Towa, Tó Baʼáadi, said the Navajo. As a child, I More >

Op-Ed: How Zoning Codes Can Drastically Impact Environmental Justice Communities


Juan Reynosa


Imagine living in an area of your city that the government has long deemed suitable for heavy industrial production. Superfund sites that have polluted your water sources are being cleaned up to this day. Your friends and family are breathing in high concentrations of pollutants, leading to higher instances of cancer, asthma and heart disease, compared to the rest of the city. Yet you are also a member of a proud community, and you continue the fight for your right to the clean air and water that is enjoyed by many other residents.


Before industry was allowed to come in More >

Newsbites – November 2015


Quivira Conference: The Next Wave / Cultivating Abundance, Nov. 11-13

This year’s conference speakers include ranchers, farmers, scientists, activists and others who are leading the next wave of agrarians. The kick-off event on Nov. 11 is a workshop, Fundamentals of Soil, centered on the work of scientist Christine Jones, whose specialty is soil restoration. Keyline 101 is a workshop is in the afternoon. Leading designers will discuss techniques to address drought, and restoration guru Bill Zeedyk will talk about managing water on western rangelands and degraded wetlands. The New Agrarian Connection, a networking event for prospective employers and aspiring farmers and More >

What’s Going On? – Albuquerque – November 2015

Nov. 4, 5:30-7 pm Green Drinks Hotel Andaluz, 125 Second St. NW Network with people interested in doing business locally, clean energy alternatives and creating sustainable opportunities in our communities. Presented the first Wednesday of each month by the ABQ and Rio Rancho Green Chamber.,


Nov. 6 Submission Deadline; Nov. 13 event InnovateHer Challenge Matanza Craft Beer Kitchen, 3225 Central NE NM entrepreneurs with an idea or product to improve the lives of women and families can compete. Hosted by NM Community Capital and the Central NM Community College STEMulus Center. The top three finalists will show off their winning products More >

What’s Going On? – Santa Fe – November 2015

Nov. 3, 3-5 pm Recycle Fun Eldorado Library Composting and art demonstrations, new recycling opportunities. Challenge your recycling I.Q. Sponsored by Eldorado 285 Recycles. 805.341.3278


Nov. 4, 11:30 am-1 pm Green Lunch SFAHBA, 1409 Luisa St. What is going on upstream where we get 40% of our water? Presentation by Eileen Everett, education dir., SF Watershed Assn. $20/$15. Reservations: 505.982.1774. Presented by the SF Green Chamber of Commerce.


Nov. 5, 8:30 am Admissions Open House Río Grande School Preschool-6th Grade.


Nov. 5, 10 am-2 pm Veterans Resource & Career Fair SFCC Jémez Rooms, 6401 Richards Ave. 505.428.1000,


Nov. 6, 10 am-1 pm Free Civil Legal Clinic 1st More >

What’s Going On? – Here & There – November 2015

Nov. 7, 8:15 am Mesa Prieta Petroglyph Tour North of Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo Visit the largest petroglyph site in NM. Advance registration required. $30/$38. 505.662.0460,


Nov. 7-8, 9 am-5 pm Dixon Studio Tour Dixon, NM Nov. 6, 5-7 pm at the Community Center: meet the artists and see their work. Show continues through the weekend at 29 locations. A fall tradition presented by the Embudo Valley Arts Association.


Nov. 12, 5:30-7 pm NM Solar Energy Assn. Chapter Meeting Little Toad Pub backroom, 200 N. Bullard St., Silver City, NM 575.538.1337,


Nov. 13, 7 pm Planetarium Film Premiere/Presentation Los Alamos Nature Center, Los Alamos, More >