September 2011

Transitioning Santa Fe

Elizabeth Christine

We are currently facing the end of what might be called The Age of Cheap Oil. This relatively brief age has been the most exciting and innovative period in our history as humans discovered thousands of ways to use fossil fuels to better our lives. The stored power within oil allows us to accomplish a hundred times more work than we can accomplish without it. Because of this increased power, life on Planet Earth experienced radical change over the last 160 years. Most of us take our life based on fossil fuels for granted. We move through daily More >

The Ecology of Community Networking

Richard Lowenberg

As a best practice, the way we think about and pursue our network-connected lives should be considered, along with all other aspects of community-building, within a complex, dynamic, whole-ecosystems approach, so that it may serve as one of the means by which the concepts of sustainable “community of practice and community of learning” are realized and exemplified.

Unless an “intentional community” determines that it wants to be un-connected, it will currently want to plan and deploy a ubiquitous fiber-optic and wireless-networking infrastructure, with symmetric, high-bandwidth fiber connection to all premises (institutions, businesses, residences), along with high quality mobile devices service More >

Tales Of A Time Traveler: How This Future Came to Be

John Goekler

It all started several years ago when a few of us got together and decided we had to create a new way to live. It was tough at first, because most people couldn’t imagine it or thought it couldn’t be done. “You guys are on drugs,” they said. “The City won’t let you. Americans will never give up their cars. Developers will crush you. Get over it!”

We were kind of discouraged until someone reminded us of what Gandhi said: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” We decided that meant More >

A Vision for St. Michael’s Drive

Steve Price

For the last 50 years the dominant street form for commercial environments in America has been the auto-oriented strip arterial. These are places where the car is king, where formal planning is almost exclusively about managing car movements and car storage, and where formal consideration for the needs of pedestrians is largely absent. Almost every town now has these strips—streets dominated by parking lots, driveways, wide roadways, tall cobra-headed streetlights, big intersections, and an almost total lack of visible people outside of cars. Parking requirements for commercial uses almost always mandate more parking spaces than ever will be used, More >

Imagining a Better St. Mike’s

Stephanie Hiller

Our world is changing radically, yet we struggle to stay the same. We face multiple threats to our continuance: dwindling supplies of oil, gas, and coal; diminishing access to pure drinking water; strange weather and rising temperatures; spreading pollution and the ever-present threat of a nuclear incident.

How can we respond to these overwhelming challenges and survive? Avoidance will not produce the answers we seek; neither, apparently, will our government. We need to begin to have the conversation, an Open Space dialogue where we can explore the possibilities and begin to create alternatives that will enable us to weather the More >

A Social Catalyst for St. Michael’s Drive

Roy Wroth

Just few years ago, a conventional approach to redeveloping St. Michael’s Drive was still feasible. The collapse of the real estate bubble, and with it, the collapse of many other elements of the growth economy, gives us the opportunity to engage in a different kind of redevelopment. Communities around the world are using another model of economic development, based on the capacities of local residents – “development from within” – that is suited to St. Michael’s Drive and to the current state of our economy.

But first, let’s review the conventional model for contrast. A typical redevelopment project of the More >

A New Creative and Cultural Corridor in the Center of Santa Fe

“What? The center of the city is St. Mikes?”

Kris Swedin

Imagine a vibrant and innovative community stretching along St. Michael’s Drive in the center of Santa Fe. You can help choose the design. The city’s Long Range Development Division has come up with ideas to develop the neighborhood of the future in the corridor from Cerrillos Road east to St. Francis Drive.

The population center of Santa Fe is somewhere on the campus of Santa Fe University of Art and Design. An equal number of people live north and south, east and west of that location, according to recent census data.

Anyone who More >

Beverly Spears’ Sustainable Ideas for St. Michael’s Drive

Beverly Spears


  1. Reasonably narrow lanes to naturally slow traffic to posted speed limit.
  2. Stoplights to be in median, pole mounted without arms.
  3. Curbs to have tight radius corners for slower speeds and greater pedestrian safety.
  4. Permanent white markings for crosswalks and lanes.


  1. All utilities underground.
  2. Utilities under access street to avoid conflict with tree roots.
  3. Streetlights to be scaled to pedestrians and placed in the medians at close intervals.


  1. Native plants in medians for hardiness, low water use, and regional identity.
  2. Plants to be deciduous trees and low (30” maximum) shrubs to provide spatial definition, summer shade, winter sun, and clear visibility at eye level for security.
  3. Rainwater from streets More >

Sustainable St. Michael’s Boulevard

Albert Moore


The most serious constraint inhibiting Santa Fe from achieving a sustainable urban system is its insistence that our future will always be based on our history. In addition to our architectural design choices being informed by our traditions, it is openness to change, flexibility, adaptability, diversity and creativity that are the essential tools of sustainable consciousness, that when applied in the present, lead to an abundant future.

The St. Michael’s corridor between Pacheco and Cerrillos affords us an excellent opportunity to demonstrate our skill in using these tools. The increasing number of commercial vacancies, redefinition of the former More >

Preserving New Mexico’s Land Heritage through Conservation Easements

Conservation easements are a valuable tool for protecting open lands such as farms and ranches, wildlife habitats, historic and cultural sites, scenic open space and recreational lands from development while keeping them in private ownership. A conservation easement is a voluntary, legal agreement between a private landowner and a qualified conservation organization – such as the New Mexico Land Conservancy (NMLC) – to limit subdivision, development and specific uses on the subject property for the purpose of conserving certain conservation values or providing some kind of public benefit. Each conservation easement is tailored to the subject property and the conservation More >

Water in a Sustainable Urban Village

by Richard Jennings

It is great to dream and make plans. But then what? To make things happen, the plan has to be clear enough to create an understanding and consensus of what needs to be done. This also requires buy-in from the community. When the path is clear, people can move in collaboration and harmony. A good start is to define the most important elements. Good definitions are intuitively clear to enough people to create consensus and action.

What is Water?

Pretty much everyone knows H2O; two hydrogen atoms that hang on to an oxygen molecule. The molecular picture looks like More >

Del are llano / From the Arid Land – Developers and Landowners Should Take a Page from the Past When Dealing with Future Development

Juan Estevan Arellano

If Río Arriba County can have its agricultural lands and water rights remain intact before any new developments are approved, it will not only help prevent sprawl in rural areas; ultimately, it will positively impact the more urban areas as well, such as the city of Española, making Río Arriba a more sustainable county.

But while at least one county commissioner may be on board, real estate agents and some landowners don’t endorse such a plan. One of the problems seems to be that the county has not been able to sell the idea to the public. By being More >

Northern Rio Grande National Heritage Area Hires New Executive Director

The Board of Directors of the Northern Rio Grande National Heritage Area (NRGNHA) has hired Thomas “Tomás” Romero as its new Executive Director. Romero has served as Associate Vice President for the Santa Fe Community College, in several Deputy Secretary positions in NM State government, and as managing director of El Museo Cultural de Santa Fe.

Board President Katherine Mortimer said, “The NRGNHA Board of Directors looks forward to Tomás’ leadership in finalizing their Management Plan and in embarking on the implementation of the plan through expansion of the ongoing grant program that the Heritage Area manages, through development of outreach More >

Newsbites – September

New Mexico’s Clean Economy is Growing

In just five years, New Mexico has gone from having few clean energy economy jobs, services or products to having almost 18,000 clean economy jobs that pay an average wage of $39,000 a year. According to a new report from the Brookings Institution, New Mexico ranks 36th in the country for the size of its clean economy. A report fact sheet is available at

New Mexico Public Regulation Commissioner Jason Marks says the state is prime real estate for taking advantage of the switch to a clean economy. “We are blessed with some of More >

A-1 Self-Storage Installs Solar PV Power at 15 NM Facilities

New Mexico’s A-1 Self-Storage recently completed installation of solar power at most of its facilities across the state.

A-1 expects the conversion to pay for itself in about seven years, and estimates it will save 487,658 kilowatt-hours of energy and prevent approximately 975,316 pounds of carbon from being emitted into the atmosphere each year. The installations created four full-time jobs with Daybreak Solar, which installed the photovoltaic systems.

A-1 took advantage of federal and state tax credits to reduce the cost of installation as well as renewable energy incentives from PNM.

To celebrate the solar conversion, A1 held a green ribbon-cutting ceremony at More >

Los Alamos Co-op Launched

Only a small number of people believed it would ever happen, but in March of this year the Los Alamos Cooperative Market opened in a brand new 7,000 square-foot store.

It all started when Nancy Savoia contacted La Montanita Co-op in Santa Fe in early 2006 about opening a store in Los Alamos, according to LACM Board President Karen Kendall. After La Montanita declined but offered to help start a new co-op, Nancy recruited volunteers and began the five-year journey to bring a healthy shopping alternative to town.

First recruits included Kendall herself, Kathy Campbell, Beata Vixie, Tevis Baier and Venita Durrer. More >

Santa Fe Higher Education Center Launches

Students Can Work Toward Bachelor’s Degrees

In August, the Santa Fe Higher Education Center (SFHEC) officially launched on the campus of Santa Fe Community College. The SFHEC is a partnership among SFCC, New Mexico Highlands University, the Institute of American Indian Arts and the University of New Mexico to increase access to higher education. The center will provide a single location where students can pursue a bachelor’s degree directly upon earning an associate degree at SFCC.

“The Santa Fe Higher Learning Center will be a boost to our community and our local economy. By increasing access to higher education we improve the More >

What Does Healthcare in a Sustainable Urban Village Look Like?

Kathleen Beneke

Recently, a group of Santa Fe residents with careers in a variety of health fields gathered to discuss and brainstorm what a sustainable community would look like, specifically in the area of healthcare. We recognized that for any community to become viable, it has to provide opportunities for citizens, while honoring and recognizing their intrinsic value throughout their Cycle of Life – from pregnant women and their infants to our senior citizens. Each neighbor has much to give. Our idea of health creates an environment where those gifts are respected, honored and nurtured. When we looked at what we More >

Eco-Park Comes to Santa Fe

Innovators Find Site for Alternative Energy Production Facility

Seth Roffman

As we seek security and resiliency in times of impending climate change crises, peak oil production, rising prices, dependency on foreign oil, and long distance supply chains, some innovative individuals think we can transform our energy and food systems into decentralized, green, regional food-, water- and energy-sheds.

For 20 years Alfonz Viszolay has been studying bioremediation using algae, and he has built algae production facilities that generate a wide array of products for the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries. For the last two years, Viszolay and Leonard Koval have been looking for a site More >

Earthships Village Design

by Michael Reynolds

This is “biotecture” designed for a city in Turkey. There is a mile-long bike lane through the Commons. Not only is the guy riding through the Commons’ greenhouse, this buffer zone contains the facility’s sewage treatment, water catchment and food production. The outside climate gets tempered twice on the way into the private homes – once in the Commons and then in the personal greenhouses. With this much locally produced food, the scale of the corner store is redefined. Provisions for vegetables, bananas, fish and chickens are part of the design.

There is often a barrier between the peoples More >