News & Updates
The BNSF Railway Foundation has just awarded a grant to the Center of Southwest Culture for its Story Riders Project. This grant will enable Story Riders to provide an after school program for low income students at Dolores Gonzales Elementary School beginning in early February. Story Riders will target 5th grade students from elementary schools in predominantly Mexicano and Chicano neighborhoods.
The BNSF Railway Foundation has supported and helped improve quality of life for thousands of communities across the 28 states through which BNSF operates, and where BNSF employees live, work and volunteer. Indeed, as the corporation's assets have grown, the Foundation's giving has expanded to help more and more communities.
Isleta Pueblo. The fourth quarter of 2016 was highly productive for the Center. Based upon the success of our organic farming cooperative at Isleta Pueblo, four other Isleta Pueblo extended families approached us to help them each form their own farming cooperatives. This phenomenon—neighbors wanting to emulate the success of pilot coops in their community—is the basis of the Center’s work to create and extend successful small business cooperatives among members of New Mexico’s underserved communities. These new coops will launch in time for the 2017 growing season.
Gallinas, NM. The Center is busy completing feasibility studies to launch a new cultural tourism cooperative in the San Miguel County village of Gallinas. The tourism cooperative will initially have eight founding members and plans to launch operations in June, 2017. Among the partners in this new coop development are USDA, San Miguel County, Candelaria Fund and McCune Charitable Foundation.
Ramah, NM. The Center met with Navajo community members in Ramah to begin the process of forming a cultural tourism cooperative in that area. The Center is working with members of the Ramah Weavers Association, staff at the Pine Hills School and others.
Chama, NM. The Center is working with local residents in the Chama area to launch at least one organic farming cooperative in the Chama Valley area for the 2017 growing season.
New and Ongoing Incubation Projects
The Center has been actively incubating new NGOs (non-profit organizations) for more than 15 years and in the fourth quarter, the Center was actively supporting at least 14 new and emerging projects and NGOs. This has been a long-time commitment at the Center to help the NGO sector in New Mexico—currently at about $6.5 billion annually—to continue to grow in service to New Mexico residents.
Story Riders Project Ready to Launch
The Center’s new multi-impact project—Story Riders—will launch in early 2017. Project coordinator Marco Sandoval has been finalizing the details of the project, which now includes Dolores Gonzales Elementary School, the National Hispanic Cultural Center, and the City of Albuquerque’s Esperanza Bike Shop as active partners. This innovative NEW CSC program organizes elementary school kids to enjoy after school bicycle rides to the homes of Mexicano/Chicano elders to learn about cultural values and traditions. The outdoor exercise program includes reading and writing about the lessons learned from the elders.
Cultural Tourism Development Launches
CSC has begun efforts to form small cultural tourism businesses in underserved New Mexico rural communities. The Center is currently conducting feasibility studies and field work to lay the groundwork for several new cultural tourism businesses in both Indigenous and Nuevo Mexicano communities. Stay tuned for more updates! Our partners currently include San Miguel County, the McCune Charitable Foundation and USDA.
CSC Partners with Southwest Creations in College Readiness Initiative Work
The Center is collaborating with Southwest Creations in Albuquerque to provide tutoring for mostly Mexicano/Chicano students to prepare for the ACT college entrance exam. The Center is providing the tutors and Southwest Creations recruited more than 50 students interested in taking the ACT exam. Both organizations plan to continue collaborating on this important effort.
CSC Participates in National BFRG Conference
CSC Executive Director Arturo Sandoval presented results of the Center’s work at the national Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Conference in St. Paul, MN, on August 23-25. Directors of BFRG-funded programs shared experiences in developing emerging and new farmers.
Humans of New Mexico Project Joins CSC
The Center has added a new project to its Informal Education Division. Humans of New Mexico records and photographs the voices and people of New Mexicans to create an archive of daily life across the state.
Humans of New Mexico will highlight individuals in the state and show the diversity of the population. This project is a community-wide effort to capture the complex issues that affect our communities and offer a platform to voice everyday practices of resistance to societal pressures. We recognize that New Mexico has diverse cultural traditions; therefore, we are interested in capturing snippets of communities that have been here for generations as well as new populations contributing to our state.
Cooperative Farms Shorts
The Jirón Family Farm Cooperative at Isleta Pueblo hosted about 18 University of New Mexico students who helped coop members raise a 96’ x 30’ hoop house. The Center is working closely with UNM’s Chicano & Chicana Studies Department to provide experiential learning opportunities to students, who, in turn, provide valuable help to the Center’s cooperatives.
Black Mesa Farming Cooperative at San Felipe Pueblo grew and sold organic produce at the Albuquerque Downtown Farmers Market this season, among several markets they attended throughout the summer season. The coop plans to expand its operations in 2017.
Valle Encantado Farms in Albuquerque’s South Valley has become a project of the Center. Project Director Joseph Alfaro has been organic farming for nearly a decade
Sembrando Salud Project Takes Root!
Neighbors and friends in Albuquerque’s South Valley area of Foothill Road, SW, have formed a Sembrando Salud neighborhood garden to feed themselves over the summer. This is one of several neighborhood gardens launched this year in the South Valley. Sembrando Salud is a NEW Center of Southwest Culture project that helps working people grow organic vegetables and raise egg-laying chickens to help augment a healthy daily diet. Sembrando Salud provides technical assistance by identifying and organizing families and neighbors; providing garden plans and drip systems; providing organic seeds; and, providing a 12-roost chicken coop and an initial brood of 10 hens. Sembrando Salud also provides a nutritionist to teach families and neighbors how to prepare healthy food.
Story Riders Rolling Towards Cultural Competence!
This innovative NEW CSC program organizes elementary school kids to enjoy after school bicycle rides to the homes of Mexicano/Chicano elders to learn about cultural values and traditions. The outdoor exercise program includes reading and writing about the lessons learned from the elders. Story Riders will combine culturally-based education and writing tied to specific bicycle rides that provide the educational and cultural experiences that will give these elementary students a deep dive into their culture while building their physical skills via bicycle rides throughout the mid-Rio Grande region. Story Riders will target 5th grade students from elementary schools in predominantly Mexicano and Chicano neighborhoods.
New CSC Staff Members Now Aboard
CSC has added three new staff members to support the Center’s growing success. Omar Torres is the project coordinator for Sembrando Salud. He has been a community organizer for several years and is currently attending the University of New Mexico. He will organize neighborhood gardens across New Mexico to help solve the state’s severe food desert problem. Marco Sandoval is the project coordinator for Story Riders. He has been an active community organizer for several years and is also currently attending the University of New Mexico. Story Riders organizes elementary school kids to enjoy after school bicycle rides to the homes of Mexicano/Chicano elders to learn about cultural values and traditions. The outdoor exercise program includes reading and writing about the lessons learned from the elders. Marco Antonio Nieto is an administrative assistant in CSC’s finance department. He is assisting CSC Finance Director Noemí Dávila.
Marco Antonio Nieto
El Mogote Cooperative Continues to Grow!
Under the leadership of Higinia and Watts Gallegos, El Mogote Cooperative in Cañones, NM, continues to expand its organic farming operations. This year, El Mogote has added two new greenhouses and two new acres of growing area to its production. The cooperative sells the majority of its produce to Ghost Ranch Conference and Retreat Center, located about 30 minutes away across Abiquiu Lake from the coop.
Bueno Para Todos Cooperative in Full Bloom!
Bueno Para Todos Farmers’ Cooperative has planted more than 6 acres of organic vegetables in its initial season in the Villanueva Valley of northern New Mexico. They have also erected two 100’x30’ greenhouses to extend the growing season and installed irrigation piping to convert acequia water into a drip irrigation system. The coop has an initial membership of 11 farmers.
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