About Dreaming New Mexico
The award-winning Dreaming New Mexico is an innovative Bioneers program to bring about restorative ecological and social transformation both at the local and regional level of our Southwestern home base and as a template and tool kit for other place-based initiatives. Using collaborative and systemic approaches, the project seeks pragmatic and visionary solutions that heal the harms done to our state's air, waters and lands, as well as to the spirit, livelihood and health of our diverse peoples.
The shift away from a society built on cheap oil entails a radical reorganization of everyday life into a more local economy and infrastructures. The political borders on maps must transform to reflect the ecological and intensely local realities of watersheds, “foodsheds” and “energysheds.” A core goal is to build a prosperous restoration economy that embraces the rights of people and nature, grounded in social and economic justice.
Premise: Dreaming the Future Can Create the Future
Dreaming New Mexico arises from the love of our place. The program began as a place of refuge from the trials and tribulations of everyday attempts to make the world a better place. We asked: What do we really desire? We sought insight and data from diverse state residents—government workers, farmers, energy consultants, non-government activists, educators, philanthropists, entrepreneurs—to dream how their work fits into the Big Picture of the longer-term understanding of what they want for themselves, the next generation and the Earth.
Most of the time, people engaged in fostering progressive social change feel compelled into a mode of resistance, of trying to stop the relentless onslaught of harms. Seldom do we step back to ask, “What would real success look like?” Rather than settling for what we think we can get, what do we really want? What are our dreams? If the year is 2025 and we’ve done everything right, what does New Mexico look like?
After posing the question “what do we want,” we must then address the question “what do we know?” The transformative power of these questions has propelled a powerful process of envisioning “do-able” dreams and mapping how to realize them in New Mexico, and as a template for place-bases initiatives elsewhere.
The Project in Action
- Dreaming New Mexico has created breakthrough ideas, tools, processes and strategies in a widely collaborative framework including the centerpiece of “future maps” and accompanying booklets and other information for “The Age of Renewables” and the “Age of Local Foodsheds and A Fair Trade State.” The program has put these “do-able dreams” into play through strategic convenings, targeted briefings, education, collaborations and alliances. The maps are designed to serve as points of departure for convenings of cross-sectoral networks around a shared vision of restoration.
- Dreaming New Mexico has directly affected state and municipal policies, including working with the Governor, the Governor’s Green Jobs Cabinet, and mayors.
- Dreaming New Mexico has helped coalesce previously disparate NGOs and fostered multi-stakeholder collaborations around a shared vision. It has supported the work and dreams of indigenous and Hispano communities, who comprise a majority of New Mexico’s population. Dreaming New Mexico materials are being used locally in formal educational institutions.
- We’ve presented the project across the United States and in Sweden, Scotland, Britain, Holland and China.
- Dreaming New Mexico has elicited requests for materials, consultations and possible partnerships with several other states and counties in the U.S. as well as internationally. We’re working toward one or more such place-based restoration partnerships.
- We completed a methodology or field guide in 2012 that can be universalized and customized by other communities. Among other projects, we’re also exploring an action-oriented college curriculum and other formal educational programs.
The project garnered a 2010 New Mexico Governor’s Proclamation and was named runner-up for the 2009 Buckminster Fuller Challenge and was selected as a semi-finalist in the 2011 Buckminster Fuller Challenge.
Feedback on the Project
“I attended the Multicultural Alliance for a Safe Environment retreat and I took the Dreaming New Mexico maps and booklets. They were a hit. Everyone there loved them.”
- Anna Rondon, Navajo organizer, 1Sky
“We gave out lots of your Dreaming New Mexico maps to people from Ruidoso to Clayton. They will be hanging in Chambers of Commerce, solar businesses, schoolrooms and a therapist’s office. We went to the legislature’s bash at the Convention Center where there were people from all over the state: legislators, businesses, top Santa Fe restaurants. People were eager to talk about something of substance. We spoke highly of your vision and work, and they took your maps and promised to display them prominently.”
- Mariel Nanasi, New Energy Economy
“Our Education Fund is currently working on a project to promote a clean energy movement here in Nebraska. I was inspired by the amazing materials you have on the Dreaming New Mexico website and I would like to hear more about your experiences developing this project.”
Eva Sohl, Program Coordinator, Nebraska League of Conservation Voters
"The Santa Fe chapter of the Sierra Club distributed maps to local schools including Santa Fe Community College and five elementary schools. “Just to say many thanks to you for the beautiful Dreaming New Mexico posters and booklets on renewables for the teachers. The materials were a big hit. I made a display board of the various color maps and information on potential solar/wind/biofuel/geothermal sites that some teachers wanted to replicate with their classes.”
- Teresa Seamster, Sierra Club School CFL Program
“I have the poster on my office wall. It’s inspirational and timely. I’d like to add a biodiversity component to it. At Natural Heritage New Mexico (NHNM), we have the state’s rare and endangered species database and other biological conservation databases. We’re in the middle of strategic planning and I brought Dreaming New Mexico to our planning sessions. At NHNM we’ve been discussing how to include biodiversity information and concerns into the alternative energy development process for several years. I’m wondering if there’s a way for us to partner with you in this effort.”
- Rayo McCollough, Data Services Manager, Natural Heritage New Mexico, UNM Biology Dept.
“I was thrilled to see your Dreaming New Mexico report and find tangibles for our state’s renewable resources future. You’ve done a beautiful job of compiling information, shifting dismal probabilities into hopeful possibilities, and addressing head-on the realities that face our state (all the while doing so in such an aesthetically pleasing and clear way). Bravo! I have been referencing your report non-stop. So many people need to see this. I work with a small fund in Northern New Mexico, serve on the New Mexico Community Foundation’s Santa Fe Advisory Committee, and collaborate with an array of practitioners across fields committed to climate balancing. I want to share Dreaming New Mexico with everyone.”
- Adelma Hnasko