As Guadalupe street is about to go under reconstruction, our Americorps VISTA Summer Associates and Community Learning Network Youth Ambassadors were out shooting photographs of the street prior to its "Road Diet," capturing shots of Guadalupe and providing a record of the street prior to its Road Diet. These photographs are important evidence for why this Road Diet is badly needed. The photographs show program pavements, narrow sidewalks and poor driveways. All reason why Santa Fe needs this Road Diet. Walking from Santuario de Guadalupe north along Guadalupe street to the intersection with Paseo de Peralta north, our Summer Associates documented and videoed every aspect of Guadalupe street. From historic landmarks, such as the church of Santuario de Guadalupe, to some of Santa Fe's favourite businesses, including Lotaburger and Bumble Bee's, the photographs capture the heart and vibrancy of Guadalupe street.
Thirteen teenagers braved the wilds of New Mexico to explore different faiths and worldviews, taking lessons and teaching peace in changing world. These teenagers will be the leaders of the future and their time in the many religious worlds found in the Land of Enchantment will inspire them to shape future generations.
For five days, students from across the United States; Boston, Seattle and California, came together to share their own faith traditions and learn more about others. Sikhs, Buddhists, Muslims, Jews and Christians congregated on Santa Fe for intense experiential learning and immersion in a host of faith traditions. Santa Fe is home to mosques, synagogues, a series of Christian denominations alongside Hindu temples and indigenous spirituality. Many people are drawn to the rich spiritual tapestry of Santa Fe and New Mexico, not only for its many holy sites such as Chimayo and indigenous prayer sites, but also for the sense of entering a new world. A new world that is in fact ancient but new to modern people.
It was into this world of spirituality and religious diversity these students plunged. From evening prayers at the local mosque to sharing meals at the Hindu ashram in Taos and Sikh gurdwara in Espanola, Chimayo, Barrios Unidos and Temple Beth Shalom in Santa Fe itself, these students were exposed to the many world traditions coexisting in Santa Fe and learning about the similarities and shared beliefs of these religions. Native spirituality and communication with the spirits played a influential role in these students' time in New Mexico, opening their eyes to a new but ancient way of understanding life and the world. Each person has a place in that world but joy must be one's compass to finding purpose in life. These students have returned to their homes, back to the comfort of normality but changed and shaped by what they have learned from their adventures into the discomfort of new places.
For the locals, summer is a great time for a drive down Guadalupe Street and for a stop at some of the fabulous Guadalupe Street eating establishments, including Taco Fundacion! Check the growing list of restaurants and eateries on north Guadalupe Street in Santa Fe on the OurGuadalupe.com Local Business Directory Page.
An article you won't want to miss by the Santa Fe New Mexican:
By Amy Linn Searchlight New Mexico, July 4, 2018
Filmmaker Jesse Wood, a New Mexico native and University of New Mexico graduate, in 2016 landed a dream job as creative director at Los Angeles-based Donut Media. Courtesy photo
Leaving New Mexico wasn’t a maybe — it was a have-to for Jesse Wood, a Farmington kid who graduated from the University of New Mexico in 2014. Like thousands of other grads, he was smart, talented and committed to his career path.
It led him straight out of the state.
By his junior year in UNM’s film and digital media department, he was making eye-popping videos about his passion in life: cars. By senior year, he was traveling the country making Hollywood-quality promo videos on the Formula Drift circuit, capturing gonzo drivers and fast cars skidding sideways.
He kept his eye out for the right job in New Mexico, but there wasn’t one. “I freelanced for a while,” Wood, now 26, says by phone from Ventura, north of Los Angeles. “But the film world was in L.A., and so were the automotive companies. L.A. was the epicenter.”
In 2016, the epicenter became home. He landed a dream job as creative director at Los Angeles-based Donut Media, creator of comedy-injected digital content for car lovers, including a new video daily. Its YouTube channel has nearly a million subscribers.
Heading for the hills
Between 2011 and 2016, in the years leading up to Wood’s departure, an unprecedented exodus of New Mexicans left the Land of Enchantment in search of new jobs and homes. Economists estimate that 42,000 more people exited the state than entered it.
The majority were college-educated, including 17,000 people with a bachelor’s degree. It was an alarming brain drain, and one of the highest rates of “out-migration” anywhere in the country, according to labor and census statistics.
“The data clearly indicate that out-migration is occurring at a disproportionate rate in better-educated younger adults and people with bachelor’s degrees,” says Jeff Mitchell, director of UNM’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research.
No state can afford to lose high-quality, educated workers, the key ingredient for a thriving economy. Impoverished New Mexico especially cannot afford to lose them. But state officials say there is no telling when the outflow will end.
“We’ve already seen five or six years of this story,” says Mitchell, who identifies it as one of the clearest signs that New Mexico has entered perilous and uncharted territory.
“The single biggest problem is that people think they’re going to find a quick solution,” he continues. “But successes won’t play out in the two to four years of an election cycle. In fact, the economy might get worse before it gets better.
“To take action anyway? That’s leadership. But who is the politician who says, ‘I’m going to take a stand and do what’s necessary even if it doesn’t benefit me politically?’ ”
The new postrecession world demands a STEM-skilled workforce for jobs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. At minimum, workers need one or two years of education after high school, preferably from a technical or trade school that teaches mechanical, electrical or computer engineering skills (in high demand today). Other jobs require an associate, bachelor’s or advanced degree.
“You can’t be successful without a high-quality workforce — you just can’t,” says Scott Barnette, senior manager of development and operations at Continental Tire, who scours the globe to choose the right site for the company’s new projects. He recently chose Clinton, Miss., for a $1.4 billion tire plant slated to create 2,500 jobs.
In New Mexico, meanwhile, the dial is moving backward. For the first time in state history, the older generation is better educated than the younger generation, the New Mexico Higher Education Department reported in 2013.
When a state starts losing its qualified workforce, economies contract, unemployment rises and more people join the out-migration. It is a vicious circle.
Wood recalls getting a sense of the downward spiral when he was a teenager in Farmington. He and his classmates at Piedra Vista High School were well aware of New Mexico’s low ranking for child well-being: For decades, New Mexico has had one of the nation’s highest rates of childhood poverty, high school dropouts, substance abuse and teen suicide.
In June, the state dropped to 50th — dead last — in the Annie E. Casey Foundation child well-being rankings, where it had clutched a 49th-place rung since 2014. “Younger people feel that futility,” Wood offers as a reason that people leave.
Mitchell offers another. “In prior years, there was more of a sense that you could stay here and make something of yourself.” Today more than ever, New Mexico needs to nurture homegrown entrepreneurs, he says.
“They have a sense of the place,” Mitchell says. “Let them be a big fish in a small pond.”
Where the jobs are — and aren’t
Doug Rasmussen, a site-selection specialist at the St. Louis office of international corporate advising firm Duff & Phelps, has seen a lot of economic boom and bust during his 17-year career.
He’s seen jobs vanish and return. He’s directed clients in moves all around America. He’s also an optimist.
“No place is blue skies and roses always blooming. And no place is all negative,” Rasmussen says.
Site selection is a no-stone-unturned process that begins with a demographic study and expands to modeling, analytics and examining hundreds of data points.
“First you have to see if things are trending in a positive or negative direction,” he explains. “How young is the metro area and the state?”
Rasmussen travels to cities, looks at schools, and examines local and state government. He analyzes taxes, legal codes, environmental regulations, utility costs, bond ratings, infrastructure, mass transit, airport schedules, real estate and labor costs, cell towers and broadband, building sites and economic incentives.
“In the end, the executives are going to be living in these places,” Rasmussen says. “‘Can I see myself living here? My employees living here? Can I see my kids going to these schools?’ That’s what they’ll be asking themselves.”
New Mexico’s education system might well prompt them to answer “no.”
Only 71 percent of high school students graduated on time, the nation’s second worst rate. The rate of bachelor’s degrees for 25- to 34-year-olds — 22 percent — is also the second-lowest, according to the U.S. census. In No. 1 Massachusetts, the rate is 51 percent.
Youth unemployment is another serious problem. As of April, more than 20 percent of teens age 16 to 19 were jobless, labor statistics show.
“Every year we watch the young talent pack up and move away to places with jobs and better-paying jobs,” says Katherine Freeman, president and CEO of United Way of Santa Fe County.
She routinely observes professionals hesitating before moving here. “They look long and hard at education and state policies,” she says. They see troubled middle schools and high schools, but can’t afford private school tuition. “Coming here is a sacrifice.”
Today, according to the Bureau of Business and Economic Research, job hunters increasingly opt for states such as Texas (fastest population growth in the Southwest); or Nevada (home of the newly opened Tesla battery Gigafactory in Sparks, a project for which New Mexico was in the running but lost in 2014). The Gigafactory is expected to create 6,500 jobs.
New Mexico has the fourth-highest unemployment rate in the country, while its neighbors and the rest of the nation are in a boom. In May, the state had 5.1 percent unemployment, a large improvement over the 6.5 percent unemployment it has struggled with since 2014.
But it was no match for the 3 percent unemployment in Utah or the 4 percent in Texas, where the business climate is so alluring that two cities — Dallas and Austin — are in the running to become Amazon’s second headquarters. Amazon HQ2 is expected to create 50,000 high-paying jobs and $5 billion in capital investment; the average annual salary will be $100,000, the company says.
How did Amazon narrow down its list of 238 applicant cities to a final 20? “Educational attainment” was a key driver.
The company said in its request for proposal that it “preferred” a location with a highly educated labor pool and enough people with STEM training to fill the thousands of jobs. Other requirements included top-tier universities and community colleges; high enrollment, grades and retention rates in higher education; top-quality K-12 schools; and plentiful K-12 STEM programs, the RFP says.
Supporting our people
Amazon’s HQ2 is such a fantastical project that only the rarest of regions could hope to win it. But New Mexico can be a hard sell for more modest projects as well.
Among the red flags: The state’s population growth from 2010-16 was the weakest in the Southwest, according to government data.
And site-selection consultants worldwide scour every metric about education, from early childhood programs to the availability of adult education. States that support adult education are likely to have more available workers and healthier families, research shows.
A quick Google search will show consultants that the New Mexico Adult Education Division served 12,755 students in 2017, the lowest number in decades. The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish served more people than that — 12,780 — in its fishing skills classes around the state.
Consultants can quickly download a 2016 economic report for the Legislature titled, pointedly, “New Mexico Job Horizon: No Country for Young Men (or Women).”
Waiting for jobs that do not yet exist may have a poetic ring to it, but Wood has plans for his life. He spends his days shooting viral videos like “Two Grannies, One Lamborghini” (6.6 million views and counting).
“I love it here,” Wood says, adding, “I love New Mexico, too. But for the better or the worse, the big pond is L.A.”
Searchlight New Mexico is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization dedicated to investigative journalism."
By Mary Catherine O'Connor Photo Credits: Alexis Rodriguez
Amidst the chaos of Santa Fe’s Pancakes on the Plaza on the Fourth of July, we decided to add our own crazy flare to the hustle and bustle. We decided that when it came to art-making, we needed to up our game and tell all of Santa Fe all about us! So, we made some crazy calls, did some crazy planning and Hey-Presto!The world-famous Original RadHatter from San Diego flew in for a fun-filled, family-orientated morning of spectacular hat-making!
With the help of community volunteers, New Mexico Youth Ambassadors, and our wonderful Summer Vista Associates, we helped over 500 community members get festive in this hands-on art activity. Using recycled paper bags and every decoration the mind can come up with, from glitter to flags and bows to pipe-cleaners, people from four to eighty-four created their own Rad Hats to celebrate Independence Day! Red, white and blue blazed underneath our tent but soon streamers, veils, paper dollars and tiny flags began to crop up in a sea of little kids and excited adults. Perched on the Plaza’s lawns beneath blue skies, six tables over laden with glue, hole-punchers, crepe-paper, paper plates and stickers became home to a host of busy little hands moulding the next Mona Lisa. Laughter and giggles permeated the air as parents and old friends started gathering around, a little touch of competitiveness creeping in to see who could make the best hat. The Rad Hatter has been in business for over thirty years, a dab hand now at igniting the creative fires found in every child and lying dormant in every adult. Working with many huge organisations and events around the globe, we were lucky enough to bring the magic of the Rad Hatter to Santa Fe and light up faces on the Fourth of July Even Mayor Webber got involved!
Santa Feans flocked to the historic district for the annual Pancakes on the Plaza 4th of July celebration this year and community members of all ages were able to share their creative spirit thanks to a unique hands-on RadHat-making art station hosted by the local educational nonprofit, Community Learning Network (CLN) and New Mexico TechWorks. CLN brought the original RadHatter from California to facilitate the process and more than 500 community members were able to make RadHats that day. Kairav Sharma, one of our New Mexico Youth Ambassadors in training, got super innovative, engineering spectacles dangling from his hat. Even Mayor Alan Webber enjoyed the family fun, as did Liz Camacho from the City of Santa Fe Office of Economic Development, and community members of all ages!
Next on our list of interviews was meeting David Quintana, City of Santa Fe's project manager for the Guadalupe Street Reconstruction. David Quintana is the City of Santa Fe's project manager and leader of this road reconstruction work. He is the engineering supervisor for public works and engineering and oversees roadway and street improvements, bridge construction and replacement, roadway drainage improvements, sidewalk, curb and gutter improvements, and recycled asphalt paving projects. Under Quintana's guidance and collaboration with various agencies, Guadalupe street will undergo a road diet to become a 'complete street' one which is considerate of bikers and walkers and allows complete access for all individuals.
Getting a Grip on Reality
This project will involve the cooperation and collaboration from a vast number of agencies and stakeholders affected by the reconstruction of Guadalupe street. From engineering consultants to environmental agencies to to archaeological groups to local businesses and residents, this reconstruction work will change the way people live and work for a period of time in Santa Fe. Quintana will be overseeing these groups' interactions and working with each to incorporate their concerns and interests in the project. Quintana organised public meetings to inform Santa Feans about this project and to address any queries and concerns.
We interviewed Quintana at the City of Santa Fe offices in the Railyard district to really get a grip on what his job entails managing this entire project and what this project will achieve overall.
Getting an insider's views on this project helps bring perspective to the scale of undertaking a project like the reconstruction of Guadalupe street. Quintana explained how the city works with engineering consultants, architecture groups, environmental agencies, historical preservation departments and New Mexico's Department of Transport to ensure that the new road will meet all regulations. Pedestrian cyclist safety is the city's priority and Quintana pointed out the need to widen the sidewalks on the street due to the current high risk of injury from passing motorists.
Remodelling junctions to increase safety and slowing traffic down are just a few measures that this new project will introduce to Santa Fe. Quintana hopes that pedestrians can enjoy a safer experience walking along Guadalupe street while businesses will be unaffected in the long-term by this reconstruction project.
CommUNITY Learning Network is a grassroots New Mexico-born and locally based 501(c)3 organization dedicated to building stronger communities through real-life learning.