NMPowered Reconvening

Recently, New Mexico Youth Organized held a very rewarding retreat.  It was organized to bring back together all the original participants of the NMPowered retreat and was held at a log cabin style home located in the Sandia Mountains.

A synopsis of the first retreat: “In the summer of 2008, NMYO and Be cause Strategies (becausestrategies.com) brought together young leaders, between the ages of 18 and 35, who were all connectors and “do-ers” in New Mexico: leaders with talents, experiences, and extensive social networks outside of those already active in social change in New Mexico. Participants included event promoters, poets, video game designers, DJ’s, alternative fuels experts, professional artists, bloggers, professional dancers, comedians, sound engineers, native issues experts, custom clothing makers, entrepreneurs, sustainable agriculture experts and a range of other community leaders.”

Here’s also a documentary that the participants from the first retreat made:

For the reconvening, NMYO started off by introducing the participants to some staff they had not met and that was followed by a quick overview of the NMYO intern’s consumer responsibility initiative at UNM.

From here, everyone hiked to an open area where we had an open conversation towards what everyone was involved in currently, feedback on the NMPowered project, and how the network has benefited their work.
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Green Pathways to Prosperity: EnergyWorks and the Santa Fe Housing Trust (Part 2)

This is the second in a three part series on the Green Pathways for Prosperity Tour.  Check back to see more of the awesome green job opportunities that are going on right here in New Mexico.

As much fun as I was having with the Youthworks River Restoration crew, we still had to move on to see some other green jobs involving young people.  Yet, we were going to see something much different from the river restoration project.  We were on our way to see the EnergyWorks crew performing energy efficiency retrofits on a Santa Fe home.

Within the emerging green economy, home efficiency retrofits are looked upon as a great entry level green job that can provide many people with an occupation.  Retrofits performed on homes also greatly contribute to decreasing overall emissions from buildings and saves residents money on their utility bills.

The program in Santa Fe is a collaboration between the Santa Fe Housing Community Trust and Youthworks.  Here’s a quick synopsis of the program from the Housing Trust’s Resource Development Manager, Daniel Werwath:

“EnergyWorks is an integrated residential home energy efficiency pilot program that combines green job training, workforce development, low-cost energy savings installation and youth educational components to address multiple pressing community needs. The primary structure of the program is based around an energy audit and a regime of energy saving items under $100 that is installed in under two hours by a three-person crew of green jobs interns, at no cost to the homeowner.”

Werwath continued, “As part of the program, YouthWorks crewmembers also receive free G.E.D. classes and participate in two entry-level classes at the Santa Fe Community College. Since the launch of the program one crew member has received their G.E.D. and two have enrolled in the Community College full time.”

This program originally was being funded by the Sierra Club and the City of Santa Fe, but now they are using the Community Development Block Grant Recovery program funds from the Federal Recovery Package.  The EnergyWorks program is a great example of how our Recovery funds have been put to good use.

So after receiving the informative briefing from Daniel, the group on the tour was led to a home where some trained retrofitters were hard at work.  Here’s Miguel Olivas explaining some of the work he is doing with doorways and windows to make them more efficient:

Youthworks Retrofits1 from Juan on Vimeo.

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Green Pathways to Prosperity: Santa Fe Youthworks, River and Life Restoration (Part 1)

This is the first post of a three part series regarding The Green Pathways for Prosperity Tour in Santa Fe that was hosted by the CVNM Education fund.  Check back to see more on the variety of green job opportunities that the tour presented.

I’ve had many a conversation with my peers about growing up in New Mexico.  Most of the time one of us will end up mentioning how some of their friends dropped out of school and are now just trying to survive in their hometown, while other friends have moved out of state in search of new opportunities.

This may not be the case for everyone, but it has been and still is the case for a large number of youth in New Mexico.  Yet it’s not the problem that I intend to write about today, but rather one of the smart and local solutions to it.

Santa Fe Youthworks is a non-profit organization with a goal of “Helping young people create opportunities to succeed.”  I know that I’ve written about them before, yet I’ve never had the opportunity to see them in action.  Thus I was happy to see that the first stop of the tour was at a Youthworks river restoration site.

As I got there I was greeted by a crew of about ten youths.  I hit it off with a few of them and began to listen to them proudly talk about the work they’ve done and the team they’ve built together.  Their great energy and confidence was something to see.

At the project site, the crew explained how they are restoring pieces of the river system around Santa Fe by helping to prevent land subsidence, are removing non-native plant species, and cleaning up the area.  Here’s a quick clip of Youthworks member Bernadette Mayez explaining more of the work they do:

Youthworks River Restoration 2 from Juan on Vimeo

As my conversation with the members of Youthworks continued, Amery Romero walked up to me.

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Cheese Sandwich Regurgitation

Government_Surplus_CheeseI can’t lie –  I was pretty pissed off when I first heard of the Albuquerque Public Schools cheese sandwich debacle a few months ago.

Growing up in Southeastern New Mexico as a child in a low-income family, I know how it feels to have to eat a free lunch and be scorned by other students for not being able to pay for it.  Yet, APS took it to a whole other level when it began punishing students because their parents didn’t pay their lunch tab.

Yet, now we just learned from APS Superintendent Winston Brooks that the district had money to cover the lunch debt all along.  In fact, the $140,000 lunch debt reported by the district seems rather insignificant when compared to the $16 million that APS just “discovered.”

But this is not to say that that the lunch debt is the biggest issue here.  It just automatically came to mind because this “discovery” of money could have led to many APS children eating healthier and not being degraded as a result of eating the “poor kids” lunch.

Let’s face it…

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Putting the Brown Back in Green

What does this statement even mean?  Mainly it’s talking of how Hispanics, Native-Americans, and African-Americans across the country are getting reacquainted with their roots in the soil.

I’m sure that most people of color are aware of these roots, but they have other issues (getting a good education, finding a good job, surviving in this crazy world) to worry about, than to think about organic farming and working on sustainability and conservation.  Yet what I’m going to be saying by the end of this is that this green thing that many of us have been ignoring is one of the simple answers to help improve our lives and our communities.

My first major act of environmentalism was also an act of survival.

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