Starting Conversations with Three Sisters Kitchen: Culture Springs from Food

Part 4: Food Futurisms

Food Futurisms is the final installment of our Starting Conversations on food and culture in New Mexico (and around the world). This conversation, moderated by Isha Aran, is between Jovita Belgarde, Youth Program Specialist for the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center; Michelle Carreon, Food Justice Storyteller at La Semilla Food Center; and Rebecca Grashuis, Garden Manager at Southwest Organizing Project. Each panelist brings different perspectives on how we protect the future by deepening our relationship to foodways of the past.

This Starting Conversations series is in partnership with Three Sisters Kitchen in Albuquerque, NM, a nonprofit organization focused on nourishing each other from the ground up. The discussion series is based on the idea that “culture springs from food” and each session will explore the unique relationship between food and culture in New Mexico, bringing together voices including farmers, chefs, local experts, artists, historians, and academics, among others. To learn more about Three Sisters Kitchen: https://threesisterskitchen.org/

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Starting Conversations with Three Sisters Kitchen: Culture Springs from Food  

Director and Co-founder of Together for Brothers Christopher Ramirez, and farmer with Lutheran Family Services refugee program Louise Kavugho to discuss how our food cultures can remake the borders that often divide us.

To find out more about Together for Brothers: https://www.togetherforbrothers.org/

To find out more about Lutheran Family Services: https://www.lfsrm.org/programs-and-services/refugees/albuquerque/

This Starting Conversations series is in partnership with Three Sisters Kitchen in Albuquerque, NM, a nonprofit organization focused on nourishing each other from the ground up. The discussion series is based on the idea that “culture springs from food” and each session will explore the unique relationship between food and culture in New Mexico, bringing together voices including farmers, chefs, local experts, artists, historians, and academics, among others. To learn more about Three Sisters Kitchen: https://threesisterskitchen.org/

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Starting Conversations with Three Sisters Kitchen: Culture Springs from Food

Part 2: Food and Power

Our second session in our latest Starting Conversations series explores the intersections between workers from all parts of the food chain. We talk with Anita Adalja, founder of Not Our Farm, Trish Gallegos, Catering Coordinator at Three Sisters Kitchen, and Andrea Serrano, Executive Director of OLÉ to discuss the issues food workers face, how they are rooted in the exploitative history of our food system, and the inequalities that result. This conversation centers the organizers’ and workers’ agency in forming creative solutions to these problems.

To find out more about OLÉ visit: http://olenm.org/

To find out more about Not Our Farm visit: https://notourfarm.org/

To find out more about Three Sisters Kitchen visit: https://threesisterskitchen.org/

This Starting Conversations series is in partnership with Three Sisters Kitchen in Albuquerque, NM, a nonprofit organization focused on nourishing each other from the ground up. The discussion series is based on the idea that “culture springs from food” and each session will explore the unique relationship between food and culture in New Mexico, bringing together voices including farmers, chefs, local experts, artists, historians, and academics, among others.

To learn more about Three Sisters Kitchen: https://threesisterskitchen.org

Anita Adalja has been farming for over a decade. She has worked on both non-profit and production farms in Pennsylvania, Virginia, California, Washington, D.C., and New Mexico. Before farming, she trained and worked as a social worker in New York City. She is deeply committed to increasing food access for all people, as well as community building, financial security and safety for farmworkers, and empowerment through food production and food sovereignty. She is the founder of the Not Our Farm Project and is a co-farmer at Ashokra Farm, a queer poc farming collective in Albuquerque.

 

Patricia Gallegos,Catering Coordinator at Three Sisters Kitchen.

For most people, a Catering Coordinator doesn’t sound very interesting. Food service is a passion she’s been chasing for most of her life. Most recently, her work landed =her a position with Three Sisters Kitchen where she focuses on culinary creation,menu development, and catering. You could say she is living the dream.

 

In her professional career she has had the opportunity to work in several fields such as, accounting,  community organizer, proprietor of a cafe and catering company.  Food service and community organizing turned out to be her favorite jobs. She now has the luxury of doing both in one job. 

 

At this juncture in her life she is happy to share her skills with the community. Her passion for cooking and love of community have created the right set of circumstances for her to continue her work on Social, Economic and Food justice.


Andrea J. Serrano, who was born and raised in Albuquerque’s neighborhood of Duranes, has been working in non-profit and social justice organizations since 1999. Andrea’s experience spans decades, beginning with her work at the Rape Crisis Center of Central New Mexico, where she was a community educator focused not only on violence prevention but also interrupting and addressing rape culture, particularly with young people and college students. Andrea was also a program coordinator at South Valley Academy, working with high school freshmen in the service learning program, and has extensive involvement in community organizing and activism with various organizations. Andrea began working at OLÉ in 2012 as a community organizer focused on BIPOC communities and urban conservation, and helped stop the development of Albuquerque’s Bosque, one of the only urban riparian forests in the US.  Andrea is now Executive Director of the organization, leading the organization's political and electoral organizing work.

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Starting Conversations with Three Sisters Kitchen: Culture Springs from Food 

Part 1: Cooking as Archiving

For our first episode in the Starting Conversations series "Culture Springs from Food," we invited Josie Lopez, Curator at Albuquerque Museum, Andi Murphy, food journalist and host of the Toasted Sister Podcast, and Eric Romero, Professor at NM Highlands University to discuss how culture is preserved and passed down through food and cooking. In this discussion, our guests pondered the current definition of "archive" and ways that definition is limiting and could be expanded to incorporate foodways from history and the present.

To learn more about the Manitos Community Memory Project: https://manitos.net/

To learn more about the Toasted Sister Podcast: https://toastedsisterpodcast.com/

Our newest Starting Conversations series is in partnership with Three Sisters Kitchen in Albuquerque, NM, a nonprofit organization focused on nourishing each other from the ground up. The discussion series is based on the idea that “culture springs from food” and each session will explore the unique relationship between food and culture in New Mexico, bringing together voices including farmers, chefs, local experts, artists, historians, and academics, among others.

To learn more about Three Sisters Kitchen: https://threesisterskitchen.org/

Dr. Josie Lopez has been the curator of art at the Albuquerque Museum since 2018. She was previously a guest curator at the museum where she curated The Carved Line: Block Printmaking in New Mexico. Currently, she is working on organizing upcoming traveling exhibitions for the museum and curating current and upcoming exhibitions featuring a broad range of art historical and contemporary themes. Josie oversees the museum’s collections and the permanent exhibition Common Ground: Art in New Mexico. Prior to her curatorial position at the Albuquerque Museum, Josie curated: Puerto Rico: Defying Darkness, Currency: What do you Value?, and Species in Peril Along the Rio Grande.  

 

Andi Murphy (Diné) is the creator, host and producer of the “Toasted Sister Podcast,” a show about Indigenous food. She’s the senior producer of the “Native America Calling” radio program, a one-hour national radio show about Indigenous issues and topics where she hosts a food focused show every month called “The Menu.” She is the 2021-2022 Civil Eats Indigenous Foodways fellow. 


Dr. Eric Romero: Interim Chair: Department of Languages and Culture at NM Highlands University; the Vice-Chair Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Advisory Council; Senior Associate: Center for the Study and Education of Diverse Populations (CESDP); and the Interim Director: Center for the Study of Northern New Mexico and the Greater Southwest. His research interests include Chicano ethnic identity formation, southwestern sociolinguistics, heritage language revitalization, Hispanic land grant and acequia communities, immigration, U.S./Mexico Relations and Border, Becas Para Aztlán program history, place-making and rural land use behaviors, Native American and Mestizaje traditions. Organizer of the Digital Matanza with Manitos Community Memory Project: https://manitos.net/2021/02/17/the-digital-matanza-an-introduction/

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Starting Conversations: Community Archiving

"Designing the Archive" is the second installment in our Starting Conversations series on Community Archiving. Facilitator Shane Flores discusses the design process with two New Mexico Highlands University students who helped to design the Manitos Community Memory Project digital archives. Lilly Padilla and Natasha Vasquez also share their experiences with investigating their personal family and community histories and identities through this project.

Conceptual artist and interdisciplinary culture worker, Shane Flores is Community Facilitator for the Manitos Community Memory Project and is the principal at studio wetFuture, developing history and culture based content for cultural institutions, including The Bradbury Science Museum, The City of Las Vegas Museum, New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs and UNM Maxwell Museum of Anthropology. He holds a BFA in Media Arts from New Mexico Highlands University in Las Vegas, New Mexico.

Lily Padilla is a New Mexico Highlands University graduate with a BFA in media arts with an emphasis in visual communications. She is currently working with an internship through the Media Arts and Technology department for the Manitos Community Memory Project. She works with graphic design, illustration and project management for Manitos. Lily is excited to contribute to the archive as part of connecting to her community.

Natasha Vasquez graduated from New Mexico Highlands University with a degree in media arts with an emphasis in multimedia and interactivity. She is currently doing an internship through Highlands working with the Manitos Community Memory Project. She feels incredibly grateful to be working on projects that are committed to archiving her community and culture. She mostly works on illustrations, animations, and some design.

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Starting Conversations: Community Archiving

"The Living Archive" is the third installment of our Starting Conversations series on Community Archiving. In this session, facilitator Shane Flores is diving into questions about community archiving and community engagement. His guests Katy Gross and Isabel Trujillo draw conclusions around what it means to incorporate personal histories and identities into an archive.

Conceptual artist and interdisciplinary culture worker, Shane Flores is Community Facilitator for the Manitos Community Memory Project and is the principal at studio wetFuture, developing history and culture based content for cultural institutions, including The Bradbury Science Museum, The City of Las Vegas Museum, New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs and UNM Maxwell Museum of Anthropology. He holds a BFA in Media Arts from New Mexico Highlands University in Las Vegas, New Mexico.

Katy Gross is Deputy Director and Education Director at Littleglobe. She is a photographer, educator, multimedia producer, and mother. Born and raised in Santa Fe, NM, she fell in love with photography as a teenager when she took a black and white darkroom class at the local teen arts center, Warehouse 21. She holds an MA in arts education from NYU and a BA from Brown University in International Development Studies. She studied documentary photography at the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies in Portland, ME and at the former College of Santa Fe. She has traveled to Ghana volunteering for an non-governmental organization that promotes women entrepreneurs and traveled to the South Pacific to accompany a film crew following six Navajo Code Talkers revisiting WWII battlefields. She has been leading multimedia storytelling and production workshops with youth and community members since 2011. She developed the Culture Connects Toolkit, which is a set of practices and tools for implementing storytelling and engagement workshops in various community settings, and feels passionately about utilizing art and story work to respond to community needs in a variety of ways.

Isabel War Trujillo has been the grantwriter and Director for El Pueblo de Abiquiu Library & Cultural Center for around 20 years.  Her inter-generational projects have resulted in special collections that serve to give audio and visual presentations for others around the world to understand about the Genizaro people of Abiquiu.  She has brought many people together for discussions and included youth to participate in order for them to gain pride in awareness for new creative career paths that allow them to remain in the area and continue these stories of historical facts that can help to guide their future with experience and awareness.

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Starting Conversations: Community Archiving

Our newest Starting Conversations series takes up the subject of Community Archiving. This series explores the methods and effects of public and communal archiving practices, especially in the context of the Manitos Community Memory Project, which is a community-built digital archive. Shane Flores facilitates this series with archivists, scholars, and students who have participated in the Manitos Project. "Archiving the Diaspora" is the first installment in this series and we're talking to Dr. Eric Romero and Dr. Trisha Martinez who are two academic scholars working toward building a more representative archive.

 

Conceptual artist and interdisciplinary culture worker, Shane Flores is Community Facilitator for the Manitos Community Memory Project and is the principal at studio wetFuture, developing history and culture based content for cultural institutions, including The Bradbury Science Museum, The City of Las Vegas Museum, New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs and UNM Maxwell Museum of Anthropology. He holds a BFA in Media Arts from New Mexico Highlands University in Las Vegas, New Mexico.

Dr. Trisha Martinez, heir to the Arroyo Hondo Arriba Land Grant, is a  PhD graduate in American Studies from the University of New Mexico. Her dissertation, entitled Living the Manito Trail: Maintaining Self, Culture, and Community, is an interdisciplinary ethnographic study that relied heavily on oral histories she collected from Manito communities who migrated from northern New Mexico to Wyoming. Currently, Trisha is a post-doctoral fellow at UNM-Taos, teaching Chicana and Chicano Studies, serving as the program coordinator and working with northern New Mexico high school students and the dual credit program. She is also serving as a Visiting Assistant Professor for the University of Wyoming’s- School of Culture, Gender, and Social Justice-Latina/o Studies Program. Through teaching and community outreach, she is excited to help inspire the youth and create opportunities that serve in the best interest of our community.

Dr. Eric Romero Interim Chair: Department of Languages and Culture at NM Highlands University; the Vice-Chair Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Advisory Council; Senior Associate: Center for the Study and Education of Diverse Populations (CESDP); and the Interim Director: Center for the Study of Northern New Mexico and the Greater Southwest. His research interests include Chicano ethnic identity formation, southwestern sociolinguistics, heritage language revitalization, Hispanic land grant and acequia communities, immigration, U.S./Mexico Relations and Border, Becas Para Aztlán program history, place-making and rural land use behaviors, Native American and Mestizaje traditions. 

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In Case You Missed It. . . Live! Starting Conversations: The Manhattan Project

This session was the final part in our Starting Conversations series "History, Memory and Public Space," which investigated how historical narratives are shaped within communities of diverse perspectives. Facilitator Raffi Andonian specifically examined how public sites and community memory play a key role in history as a subject. The series culminated in this live panel discussion and Q&A using Los Alamos as a case study. The creation of the atomic bomb changed the course of world events, and there are many differing views on what we can learn from the consequences---good and bad---of it. Each scholar on this panel discussion came with their own unique personal ties to the Manhattan Project, and examined the historical legacy of such a globally impactful endeavor from their lived experiences.

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Starting Conversations with Megan Kamerick: Citizen Journalism

This is the fourth installment of our series on Media and Democracy led by Megan Kamerick on the topic of small newsrooms and startup news publications. The focus of this discussion is hyperlocal news outlets that are actively responding to the needs of their communities. By providing coverage of the stories that matter most to the local communities, these outlets are cutting through the glut of information presented by mass media. Kamerick is joined by Heather Bryant, Lou McCall, Peter Rice, and Larry Ryckman.

The Tiny News Collective

Questa del Rio News

Downtown Albuquerque News

The Colorado Sun

Nieman Lab: Build for a Crisis: Ideas for the future of local news

Hussman School of Journalism and Media: The loss of local news and what it means for communities

Local Journalism Sustainability Act seeking Congressional support to keep newspapers viable

National Trust For Local News

NPR: In Denver, Civic-Minded 'Colorado Sun' Acquires Suburban Newspaper Chain

Politico: Why Has Local News Collapsed? Blame Readers.

Megan Kamerick is an award-winning journalist and radio producer based in Albuquerque, NM. She is the newly named News Director of KUNM. She is the former host of "All Things Considered" on KUNM-FM in Albuquerque. She is a former TED Speaker and current TED Speaker Coach.

Heather Bryant is the interim Executive Director of the Tiny News Collective, an initiative supporting founders launching local news organizations across the country. 

Lou McCall is founding Editor of the Questa del Rio News in Questa, NM, serving the communities of northern Taos County. She is from Farmington, NM and studied Art, Architecture, and Education. She has produced, edited, and written for several publications throughout New Mexico and writes poetry and non-fiction. She lives in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains with her partner and pets, where she enjoys hiking and gardening, teaches yoga and meditation, and is committed to helping create a better world. 

Peter Rice is the Founder and Editor of Downtown Albuquerque News, a subscription e-newsletter covering Downtown and surrounding neighborhoods. He has previously worked at KUNM, the Albuquerque Tribune, as well as papers and public radio stations in Washington, Oregon, and Colorado. 

Larry Ryckman is Editor and Co-founder of The Colorado Sun. Previously he was Senior Editor at The Denver Post, Managing Editor at The Gazette in Colorado Springs, and City Editor at the Greeley Tribune. Ryckman spent 22 years at The Associated Press, where he was Assistant Managing Editor, a National Editor, and Supervisor of the AP's national desk in New York. He spent nearly four years as a Moscow correspondent for AP and helped cover the fall of the Soviet Union and the rise of a new Russia. He also supervised AP's coverage of the Columbine High School massacre and directed AP's coverage of the presidential election recount in Florida in 2000. 

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Starting Conversations: History, Memory, and Public Space: Historic Sites

For the third session in our series on History, Memory and Public Space, we invite our viewers to consider how place figures in methods of historical inquiry. Raffi and his guests discuss public and historic sites where major historical events occurred and why their preservation is valuable for the understanding of history. With a Civil War scholar and a renowned Los Alamos physicist, this session explores the ways in which a physical place provides context and community perspectives that help us deepen our relationship to history, all so that we might learn even more from it. 

 History, Memory and Public Space is a series that addresses how differing historical perspectives shape our present and future.

This series is facilitated by Raffi E. Andonian who is a best-selling author of 3 books. He has previously worked guiding visitors at the Gettysburg battlefield, the Civil War sites around Richmond, the Martin Luther King birth home in Atlanta, and the history museum in Los Alamos NM. He has a master’s degree in history and another master’s degree in historic preservation.

Dr. Dennis J. (Denny) Erickson is a physicist retired from the Los Alamos National Laboratory in Northern New Mexico. His Lab roles included those of scientific leader, senior-level manager, and institutional executive with accomplishments spanning basic and applied science, large mission-based R&D programs, hazardous operations, and protective programs for safety, health, and environment. Denny, born and raised in Minnesota, holds an undergraduate degree in Physics and Mathematics from Augsburg University in Minneapolis and a Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. In his years of retirement, he has pursued public service initiatives with concentrations on Los Alamos history, community-based economic revitalization, and higher education. He is a past president and board member of the Los Alamos Historical Society, served as a citizen advisor to Los Alamos County, and, acting on a lifetime commitment to liberal arts as an academic foundation, recently completed service as a proactive member of the California Lutheran University Board of Regents. Among his recognitions, Denny Erickson was named a 2019 Living Treasure of Los Alamos for his long-running leadership and collaboration in strategy-driven projects that promote the wellbeing of people and community.

Dr. Jennifer Murray is a military historian, with a specialization in the American Civil War, in the Department of History at Oklahoma State University. Murray is the author of On A Great Battlefield: The Making, Management, and Memory of Gettysburg National Military Park, 1933-2013, published by the University of Tennessee Press in 2014. She is currently working on a full-length biography of George Gordon Meade, tentatively titled Meade at War. Murray is a veteran faculty member at Gettysburg College’s Civil War Institute and a coveted speaker at Civil War symposiums and roundtables. In addition, Murray worked as a seasonal interpretive park ranger at Gettysburg National Military Park for nine summers (2002-2010).

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Starting Conversations: Acequia Aqui Technology and Craft 

Technology and Craft is the third part of our Starting Conversations: Acequia Aqui series. As part of our partnership with The Paseo Project (Taos, NM), this program is celebrating Paseo Project’s recent publication: "Acequia Aqui: Water, Community and Creativity." This booklet highlights selections from the Acequia Aqui project that took place between 2018 and 2020. It’s an artistic and community driven project that aims to give voice to the historic acequias of Taos to illuminate the importance of this vital resource and cultural wellspring. You can view a digital version of this booklet on ISSU.

Our guests, Morgan Barnard and Juanita Lavadie have come together to talk about how their work addresses acequia culture and engagement through new media technology and craft traditions.

Morgan Barnard is a digital artist and designer working in the areas of public art, interactive media, immersive installations and live cinema. His studio, located in the high desert of New Mexico is focused on creating work that combines interactivity, data-visualisation, real-time systems and experimental digital techniques to create unique experiences for audiences.

Juanita Lavadie is an educator, artist, acequiera and historian. A retired public school teacher, oral historian, and graphic and fiber artist, Lavadie’s creative and cultural interests are basically all keyed to the acequia system that supports the land, water and inhabitants of Northern New Mexico in general, and the traditional Hispano and indigenous cultures in particular.

 

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Starting Conversations: History, Memory and Public Space Memory

History, Memory and Public Space is a series that addresses how differing historical perspectives shape our present and future. In this second installment of the series we introduce the subject of memory.

How does memory influence history? It is undeniable that individual and collective memories bring to bear layered, nuanced understandings of historical events that continue to shape our lives in the present in complex ways. In this conversation with Scott Hartwig and Heather McClenahan, we explore this broad question by thinking through historical monuments, their construction and reinforcement of history through memory.

Further reading: Creating Space for Conflicted Histories: https://raffiandonian.com/publications/

This series is facilitated by Raffi E. Andonian. Raffi is a best-selling author of 3 books. He has previously worked guiding visitors at the Gettysburg battlefield, the Civil War sites around Richmond, the Martin Luther King birth home in Atlanta, and the history museum in Los Alamos NM. He has a master’s degree in history and another master’s degree in historic preservation. 

D. Scott Hartwig retired in 2014 as the supervisory park historian at Gettysburg National Military Park after a 34-year career in the National Park Service, nearly all of it spent at Gettysburg. He won the regional Freeman Tilden Award for excellence in interpretation in 1993, and was a key player in the design of all aspects of the new Gettysburg museum/visitor center. He is the author of To Antietam Creek: The Maryland Campaign from September 3 to September 16, published in September 2012 by Johns Hopkins University Press, and is currently working on the second volume, tentatively titled, I Dread the Thought of Place: The Battle of Antietam, which covers the battle and end of the Maryland Campaign.

Heather McClenahan is a native New Mexican, born in Las Cruces, graduated from high school in Gallup, and spent the bulk of her career in Los Alamos. She has bachelor’s degrees in Journalism and Political Science from Drake University and a master’s in History from the University of South Florida. After retiring from the Executive Director position at the Los Alamos Historical Society in 2019, she and her husband were traveling the world, looking for warm places to live, and got stuck in Panama when the pandemic hit. They have since settled in Las Cruces, where Heather is working on a book about Los Alamos history in between hiking, bird watching, and eating green chile.

Live! Starting Conversations  Acequia Aqui: Water, Community and Creativity

15 Apr 2021

In partnership with The Paseo Project, the New Mexico Humanities Council is pleased to host a live Starting Conversations discussion in celebration of the publication of Acequia Aqui: Water, Community, and Creativity. For this conversation we will be joined by two contributing writers, Miguel Santistevan and Sylvia Rodriguez, who will address the urgent topics of acequias in New Mexico, their histories, and their futures.

The event will begin at 6pm MDT on April 15th. Register for the live Zoom event by clicking here. 

The history of acequias in New Mexico weaves a rich tapestry of multicultural practices that illustrate human migration, resilience, and connection to the land and water. The wisdom inherent in the historic acequias continue to tell these stories in the communities of New Mexico, but they have been at risk of disappearance in recent years as a result of climate change, increased real estate development, natural resource extraction and more. Acequia Aqui is an artistic and community driven project that aims to give voice to the historic acequias of Taos to illuminate the importance of this vital resource and cultural wellspring. 

Through this Starting Conversations series and special event, we hope to illuminate the artistic interventions that concentrate on themes of placemaking and keeping; storytelling and poetry; and technology and craft. These themes and the work of the individual artists give a framework to help us think through our cultural relationship to these life-giving waterways. 

Sylvia Rodriguez is professor emerita of anthropology and former director of the Ortiz Center for Intercultural Studies at UNM. Her research and publications have focused on interethnic relations in the Upper Rio Grande Valley of New Mexico, where over the past three decades she has studied the cultural impact on ethnic relation of tourism, ritual, ethnic identity, and conflict over land and water. She works collaboratively with acequia organizations and researchers on acequia matters and the politics and anthropology of water. She is a commissioner on the Acequia de San Antonio in Valdez and a member of the Taos Valley Acequia Association board of directors. Her publications include journal articles and two prize-winning books: The Matachines Dance: Ritual Symbolism and Interethnic Relations in the Upper Rio Grande Valley, and Acequia: Water Sharing, Sanctity, and Place.

Miguel Santistevan has Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Biology and Agriculture Ecology and certification in Permaculture and ZERI Design. He is an educator, seed saver, researcher of acequias and resilience, and radio producer of “¡Que Vivan las Acequias!” He writes semi-regularly for the Green Fire Times and has given dozens of professional presentations on acequia agriculture and the search for sustainability in a Climate Change context. Miguel founded the nonprofit organization Agriculture Implementation, Research, and Education (www.growfarmers.org), is a founding member of the NM Food and Seed Sovereignty Alliance, and has coordinated several youth-in-agriculture programs. He works as a Middle School Math teacher and lives in Taos on his acequia-irrigated farm with his wife and two daughters.

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Starting Conversations  Acequia Aqui: Storytelling and Poetry

Storytelling and Poetry is the second installment of our Starting Conversations: Acequia Aqui series. As part of our partnership with The Paseo Project (Taos, NM), this discussion series is celebrating Paseo Project’s recent publication: "Acequia Aqui: Water, Community and Creativity." This booklet highlights selections from the Acequia Aqui project that took place between 2018 and 2020. It’s an artistic and community driven project that aims to give voice to the historic acequias of Taos to illuminate the importance of this vital resource and cultural wellspring. You can view a digital version of this booklet on ISSU.

Our three guests, Elizabeth Hellstern, Rica Maestas, and Andrea Watson, have come together to talk about their individual work in Acequia Aqui and how their interventions made use of language, oral history traditions, and folklore to celebrate the acequias of Taos and ensure their preservation.

Elizabeth Hellstern is a writer and an artist working to make word interactive. Her artwork includes national placements of the public art installation the Telepoem Booth?, where members of the public can dial-a-poem on a phone in a vintage phone booth. She is the author of the experimental poetry flow-chart series, How to Live: A Suggestive Guide from Tolsun Books and the editor of and contributor to Telepoem Booth? Santa Fe: Collected Calls and Telepoem Booth?: Missed Calls and Other Poetry both from SkyHeart Editions. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Northern Arizona University. Her multi-genre writing work has appeared in journals such as Hotel Amerika, American Journal of Poetry, Slag Glass City, The Tusculum Review, New World Writing and Cutthroat: A Journal of the Arts. Her creative projects have received funding from the Knight Foundation, New Mexico Humanities Council, Witter Bynner Foundation for Poetry, Iowa Humanities, and National Endowment for the Humanities. She lives in Cerrillos, NM and is currently working on a memoir.

Rica Maestas is a burqueña artist, arts worker, dog parent, and social practitioner. Inspired by the desert, loneliness, hybridity, and misunderstanding, her artistic practice invites participants into surreal and emotionally demanding spaces, be they real or imaginary. She graduated with a MA in public humanities from Brown University in 2018, attending with the generous support of the University of Southern California Renaissance Scholarship, awarded for interdisciplinary study. She has curated independent, experimental exhibitions as well as institutional projects, received numerous grants for her creative work, published written ruminations in diverse forums, and exhibited visual art and performance pieces nationwide.

Andrea L. Watson is founding publisher and editor of 3: A Taos Press, a multicultural and ethically voiced publishing house. Andrea’s poetry has appeared in Nimrod, Rhino, Subtropics, Cream City Review, Ekphrasis, International Poetry Review, and The Dublin Quarterly, among others. She has designed and curated eighteen ekphrasis events of poetry and art across the United States, commencing with Braided Lives: A Collaboration Between Artists and Poets, sponsored by the Taos Institute of Arts, which traveled to Denver, San Francisco, and Berkeley. She is co--editor of the poetry anthology, Collecting Life: Poets on Objects Known and Imagined and Malala: Poems for Malala Yousafzai, the proceeds of which were donated to The Malala Fund for Girls’ Education from FutureCycle Press.

Starting Conversations: Acequia Aqui Placemaking and Placekeeping

The history of acequias in New Mexico weaves a rich tapestry of multicultural practices that illustrate human migration, resilience, and connection to the land and water. The wisdom inherent in the historic acequias continue to tell these stories in the communities of New Mexico, but they have been at risk of disappearance in recent years as a result of climate change, increased real estate development, natural resource extraction and more. Acequia Aqui is an artistic and community driven project that aims to give voice to the historic acequias of Taos to illuminate the importance of this vital resource and cultural wellspring.

For the first discussion on Placemaking and Keeping, we’re joined by four of the project’s contributors: Ayrton Chapman, Fritz Hahn, Mark Henderson, and Ruben Olguin. Individually, each of their work intersects either directly with the acequias in Taos, or they have designed interventions and projects that call attention to lost waterways, land care and cultivation. This program series is co-presented with The Paseo Project in Taos. The Paseo Project’s mission is to transform art through community and community through art. In addition to collaborative community projects and a socially-engaged artist in residence program, The Paseo Project hosts the annual PASEO outdoor art festival in Historic Downtown Taos. Since 2014, artists from all over the world have brought projection, installation, and performance art to the streets of Taos for this free two-night event. Learn more at: https://www.paseoproject.org

George "Fritz" Hahn has been a Town Councilor since 2014 with an emphasis on acequia revitalization, noxious weed mitigation, recycling, landfill operations and sits on the hospital health study committee and nominating committee. Currently he serves as a board member of the Taos Valley Acequia Association.

Mark Henderson has volunteered doing archeology since 1965. From 1977 until 2007 he was an archeologist with the US Government in Taos, Socorro and Gallup NM, Window Rock, AZ and Ely, NV. Mark and his spouse, Yolanda Vigil returned to Taos in 2008 where Mark has used his handsome civil service pension to work as a volunteer in archeology, historic preservation, environmental research, acequia irrigation, and as a "docent" at SMU-in-Taos or under contract through Mark's enterprise, Chupadero Archeological Resources, LLC.

Ruben Olguin is a New Mexico based artist working in ceramics, adobe, sound, video, and electronic media. His work draws from his mixed Pueblo and Spanish heritage. He uses traditional/hand processes for sculpture and incorporates electronic elements. His practice “focuses spending as much time in the desert as in the computer lab”. His work has exhibited internationally, showing in Germany, Miami, Santa Fe and Taos. Olguin completed an MFA in studio arts from The University of New Mexico in 2015, and a BA in Cinematic Arts from The University of New Mexico in 2012. His goals are to make and teach new media art along with socially engaged art practices.

R. Ayrton Chapman was born and raised in Kilgore, TX. She completed her undergraduate degree in Photography at the University of North Texas and received her Masters in Experimental Art and Technology from UNM in 2017. During her time in grad school she joined Edible Carnival and has been touring & producing work individually & with the Carnival since. You can see more of her work here: AyrtonChapman.com EdibleCarnival.org ThinkyFlesh.com

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Starting Conversations: History, Memory, and Public Space

Image courtesy of the Los Alamos Historical Society Photo Archives

Image courtesy of the Los Alamos Historical Society Photo Archives

History, Memory, and Public Space explores the perspectives around how we utilize public space to engage with fraught histories.

In the first discussion, we integrate local and professional voices to help define the study of history - its purpose, significance, circulation, and regionalism. The creation of the atomic bomb in Los Alamos that continues to affect the entire world provides us a rich case study for helping understand the timeliness, relevance, and perspectives that shape the study of history. 

Links to some references made in the conversation:

The Emperor in August

The Emperor in August synopsis

Peace Garden at the Nimitz Museum of the Pacific War

This series is facilitated by Raffi Andonian who is a best-selling author of 3 books. He has previously worked guiding visitors at the Gettysburg battlefield, the Civil War sites around Richmond, the Martin Luther King birth home in Atlanta, and the history museum in Los Alamos NM. He has a master’s degree in history and another master’s degree in historic preservation.

Raffi will be joined by guests Christian E. Fearer and John Bartlit. 

Christian E. Fearer is a senior historian for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Prior to his current appointment, he served as a senior historian at U.S. Special Operations Command, deploying to Afghanistan on three occasions to serve on the headquarters staffs of elite special operations forces. He previously worked for the National Park Service at historic sites in Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Alaska. He is a distinguished graduate of the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, and studied history at West Virginia University. He lives in Northern Virginia. The thoughts, views, and opinions expressed by Mr. Fearer are entirely his own and do not represent those of the Department of Defense.

John Bartlit, PhD, had a distinguished 31-year career at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) as a research chemical engineer. His professional work applied methods in his field: from process design and unit operations; to the control of integrated systems; and extending to safety concerns and economics. Dr. Bartlit has had a concurrent career as a volunteer since the formative years of the environmental movement, from which he writes a monthly newspaper column on broad aspects of the environment and the role of the public forum. 

At LANL, Bartlit was a co-leader of a facility for developing and testing integrated systems for reprocessing tritium, a radioactive isotope of hydrogen. The project was jointly funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and by the Japan Atomic Energy Research Institute and staffed by scientists and engineers from LANL and from Japan. 

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Starting Conversations: Blackdom, NM

Dr. Timothy E. Nelson

Dr. Timothy E. Nelson

Geni Flores

Geni Flores

Janice Dunnahoo

Janice Dunnahoo

Maya L. Allen

Maya L. Allen

Blackdom, New Mexico, founded in 1903 by Francis Boyer and twelve other enterprising African Americans, is one of the state’s most important, yet often most overlooked town. Despite its importance and relevance, the history of this township has been obscured from mainstream history for several decades. We will hear from an interdisciplinary panel of speakers who each have unique insights on the cultural and historical significance of the Blackdom township with a live Q&A from the audience to follow. 

Our panelists for this program are: 

Dr. Timothy E. Nelson is a Historian, Professor, Philosopher whose multi-faceted work concerns racism, ambition, and the search for opportunity. These themes were revealed in his 2015 Ph.D. dissertation The Significance of the Afro-Frontier. Dr. Nelson was born in South Central LA, raised in Compton, during the early 1990s in the wake of race and class-based conflict with the LAPD. He earned his Ph.D. from (UTEP) the University of Texas at El Paso. Visit: blackdomthesis.com

Geni Flores is the coordinator of bilingual and TESOL education at Eastern New Mexico University.  She is a former instructor of Multicultural Education including “the Multicultural Heritage of the Southwest.”  She has studied Blackdom at length and has presented over this topic at the university and public school levels.

Janice Dunnahoo is an Archivist for the Historical Society of Southeastern New Mexico; Public Historical Speaker for local Government and Civic Organizations; Contributing author for publications such as West Texas Historical Association Newsletter, Wild West Journal, True West magazine, Texas-New Mexico Border Archives Journal, Roswell Daily Record newspaper; Weekly Historical Columnist for Roswell Daily Record newspaper, (Roswell, New Mexico) under the heading of “Historically Speaking”; Contributing author for a book titled “Notable Black Women in Texas History,” which is in progress; and a panelist for the Western History Association Conference 2020.

Maya L. Allen is a PhD student in Biology at the University of New Mexico who focuses on how plants cope with environmental heterogeneity and a particular underlying mechanism, phenotypic plasticity - the ability for a single genotype to differentially express alternative phenotypes based on the environment. In returning to her home state of New Mexico, Ms. Allen has also researched the history of Blackdom, the first all-Black settlement in the state, in an effort to rectify the erasure of the Black botanical contributions and highlight the Black botanical experience.

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