Welcome to the Northern Rio Grande National Heritage Area's Newsletter for September 2016
  From Tomás
A special treat in life is the experience of la naturaleza a fines de agosto (nature at the end of August), and the gentle presence of September as we ease into the fall.

August is heavy summer with its heat and storms. It is the peak of the growing season for farmers and backyard gardeners, and it is often Mother Nature’s canvas, with flowers, plants, and weeds in full bloom.  This bounty brings the surprise of gifts from the earth. My favorite is the carpet of succulent cover that springs up in many places, the verdolaga, or wild purslane. My own back yard is a veritable salad bar. I can pick the verdolaga and eat it raw, or, as some recommend, stir-fried with minced onions and other spices!

September brings transition, new beginnings at the start of the month, return to school, and a last fling before the end of summer. This month at the Northern Río Grande National Heritage Area, we have participated in flings and we are embracing new beginnings as we undertake a new chapter in the story of the Heritage Area. 

On August 25th, we were honored to participate in the celebration of the 100th Anniversary of the founding of the National Park Service. Karl Córdova, Superintendent of the Pecos National Historical Park, presided over a birthday celebration at the Park, providing music, special tours and lectures, an evening feast, and two birthday cakes! I was asked to speak on the National Heritage Area program, which is part of the National Park Service portfolio. Moved by the beautiful environment, I led the crowd in singing “Happy Birthday”!

On August 29th, our Board President, Camilla Bustamante, and I signed a Memorandum of Agreement and lease with Rio Arriba County, enabling us to assume operation of the facility and grounds of the new Northern Rio Grande NHA Heritage Center. The following evening we hosted our first event, a Petroglyph  Plática by the Mesa Prieta Petroglyph Project organization. We will soon move our headquarters into the facility, and will begin holding activities and events at the Heritage Center, including our next Annual Meeting on Saturday, September 17th. We hope to see you there!

Tomás Romero, Executive Director

The National Heritage Area  Heritage Center
The Northern Río Grande National Heritage Area Heritage Center is located on Highway 68 near Alcalde, just eight miles north of Española, and north of Ohkay Owingeh. The facility is spacious, bright, and central to our tri-county area. It faces the long landscape of Mesa Prieta to the west, and a panorama of foothills and the Sangre de Cristo range to the east.

The Heritage Center will build on the work started in April 1994 when this facility was originally opened to promote the rich Spanish heritage and cultural heritage of the area at the terminus of the Camino Real de Tierra Adentro. The facility was envisioned primarily as a visitor’s center that would play an active role in displaying cultural exhibits, oral history projects, and furthering heritage awareness. 

As the Northern Rio Grande National Heritage Area Heritage Center, we will expand on this legacy. Programming will showcase the expressive and material culture of the region, including pottery making, santero carving and sculpture, music, literature and weaving. Exhibits will be designed to display interpretive information regarding the complex histories of this area of multi-cultural settlement.

The Heritage Center will host community programs and exhibitions, performances and events, and will be a place to learn more about the Northern Río Grande National Heritage Area.  We will promote it to become a destination point for learning about the region’s cultural history and heritage, and a place from which to launch travels around the region.

The opening of the Heritage Center is indeed a new beginning and an added activity for the Heritage Area.  We continue our work of outreach to local communities, providing information and support for community organizations and individuals.  We have expanded our website to promote individual artists and are looking to add functionality that will promote businesses along different travel corridors within the Heritage Area.  We have also published our second issue of Land Water People Time, which has been hailed for its quality and content.  Within the Heritage Center we will be hosting a new Northern Heritage Leadership Institute, providing leadership training to a cohort of 30 engaged individuals from communities of the Heritage Area.
Spotlight on Partnerships
One of the best tools we have used to help our community partners realize their projects is in the form of grants. This year we granted over $64,000 in funding for 22 projects, twice what we have granted in prior years, thanks to an increase in the Federal funding we have received. We provide funding to individual organizations and offer promotional support highlighting their accomplishments and contribution to cultural preservation and community and economic development. In Dixon, the Embudo Valley Library and Community Center is one such entity that is making a dedicated effort to improve the library grounds by employing local youth. We have supported their efforts this year and last.

The mission of the Embudo Valley Library and Community Center is to build community by providing educational, cultural, and recreational resources for area residents. One of their goals is to deliver services to all the demographics of their community. Last year we supported the production of a beautiful ceramic tile mural map, made by area teens, and this year we are helping them realize their plan to continue to develop the property for positive outdoor public space, community recreation and cultural activities.  The two projects they have undertaken are new steps taken toward executing their mission. The projects have resulted in physical improvements, and have introduced families who have never used the library before.

The current project was funded through funding secured from the New Mexico Youth Conservation Corps (NMYCC), NRGNHA, Sheila Fortune Foundation, and McCune Charitable Foundation. The Library was able to hire six young people, aged 15-25, for 10 weeks of full time work building a rock wall on the front of the property and installing irrigation infrastructure and landscaping. $24,000 from NMYCC went directly to youth in the form of wages, training, and benefits.

The youth learned how to use tape measures, levels, grinders, chisels, three-pound sledge hammers, and trowels to dry stack a stone wall, while learning the principles of masonry design They learned how to “team lift” and move heavy rocks. They installed a permanent irrigation infrastructure and plant landscaping on library grounds, learned about plants, trees and bushes, including native species and plants that support pollinators, and visited local farms and NMSU Alcalde Experimental Station to learn about local market gardening. In the classroom, they learned financial literacy, CPR and First Aid, conflict resolution, and practiced a job search. They also learned teamwork, and how to get along on a job site, working together and maintaining a safe and productive work place.  For five of the six crew members, this was their first job.

Here are some comments from the young people about the work:  This job was a good experience because I got to learn many skills that might help me in the future.”  “ I learned about different people’s personalities and how to cooperate with others.”  Rather than doing nothing with my summer, I felt good working and making money….I wanted to make a difference in my community.   “ I liked that we all worked as a team.

Last year’s project to create a topographical-style tile map was the brain-child of local artist Shel Neymark – president of the Embudo Library board. Shel and area teens created plaques of important buildings and historic sites including a Pueblo Revolt site, an ancient Pueblo site, and a Mexican/American war battle site. The map emphasizes historic place names and acequia names, which were identified by late historian Estévan Arellano. The images on the tile plaques correspond with numbers on the map. The result of their work can be seen, the next time you are in Dixon, on the east wall of the cooperative market.

It’s not often you can go to your local co-op to shop and end up learning a lot about history, but for those who live in, or visit Dixon, the east wall of the co-op features a wonderful tile mural that depicts the history of Dixon and a lot of the Embudo Valley.

Land Water People Time
Have you picked up the new copy of  Land Water People Time  yet? In July we saw it inserted in the Santa Fe New Mexican and in August we have seen it in more and more places – coffee shops, visitor’s centers and tourist bureaus. If you haven’t had a chance to pick one up, it’s available as a  download .

Please visit our Facebook page for the latest news!
Sharman Russell
Sharman Russell
Petroglyph Pláticas
The Mesa Prieta Petroglyph Project has joined the roster of community groups and partners who will be using the Heritage Center to highlight their work. On the last Tuesday of the each month, Petroglyph Pláticas presents lecturers who deliver talks on subjects that bring context to the petroglyphs on Mesa Prieta and the surrounding lands. 

On Tuesday, August 30th, the author of Citizen Science—Revolution and Renaissance, Sharman Russell, explored the role of citizen science and emphasized projects here in New Mexico. In the new world of citizen science, hundreds of thousands of volunteers are following their bliss tracking bird migrations, collecting water samples, monitoring archaeological sites, and cataloging galaxies.  

The series continues through October with presentations from MPPP Project Director, Janet MacKenzie, and Instructional Coordinator at the Jemez Historic Site, Marlon Magdelena, then resumes in the spring.  

  Of Celebrations and Poetry!
As part of its centennial celebrations, the National Park Service recently designated Dr. Sonia Sanchez as the Poet Laureate of the NPS Centennial. Sonia will bring her powerful blend of art and activism to share the message that, in addition to breathtaking landscapes, the national park system includes places of cultural heritage and the struggle for social justice and civil rights -- places of inspiration, dialogue, and healing.

Our Heritage Area joins in the quest poetic by introducing a poem for Contento by Jill Battson, our Communications Director. She has a Poet Laureate-ship under her belt. In 2011 she was the Laureate for Coburg, Ontario, Canada, where she was commissioned to write poems as well as to initiate and produce community poetry events. Jill is an interdisciplinary poet, working with composers, choreographers, musicians and visual artists to create new audiences for poetry and intersections where poems meet other mediums to bring new forms to life.

  Chaco Spiral
The slow reveal of things that are hidden

The answer to the mystery is here
spiral, sun dagger, Andromeda
this vast plain of brutal red land, hallucinogenic and arid
sun’s halo eclipse, the devil wears a headdress
passage of light through ruins, the summer solstice slash
a giant encircles a spiral in the crook of his arm
portal to the spirit world
and above us the night sky rushes with gas and dust
flat, rotating disc, a galaxy of a trillion stars
we are but materials in a hurricane of change
cochlea, umbilical cord, the coiled power of gluteus
in all things, an indicator of evolution
the journey is a force of nature, a beauty of pain
we return to the same point in our lives
with new and better points of understanding.

The Mission of the Northern Rio Grande National Heritage Area is to sustain the communities, heritages, languages, cultures, traditions, and environment of Northern New Mexico through partnerships, education and interpretation.

Our Vision is Community and economic viability rooted in the heritage and the environment of Northern New Mexico.