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Projects & Partnerships

The Northern Río Grande National Heritage Area is built upon the collaboration of energies and efforts of the many organizations and communities that are contained within its boundaries. Its essence reflects the culture of creativity that is endemic to the area, a culture that blends creativity with the day-to-day living experience.

In the last five years the Heritage Area Board and staff have promoted collaborative projects often funded through our grants program. The distinguishing factor defining a project is its size and scope, and its level of generated community involvement. The Heritage Area provides different levels of funding, but our involvement is generally greater, including providing technical support and coordination of partnerships. The community organization will lead in actual work on the project, and in stimulation of community support.

A recent and ongoing project with the City of Española pairs several non-profit organizations, the City government, and funding partners to create and develop a regional food hub within an abandoned commercial building on the City's main street. A building is rehabilitated, a new agricultural enterprise is created, a community neighborhood is rejuvenated, and a community becomes engaged in a development effort.

The food hub will provide a new focus on stimulating the agricultural communities in the Rio Grande valley and surrounding farming communities, and provide a new market for local farm products. The Heritage Area involvement along with the New Mexico Community Foundation is to provide funding for creation of several murals on the building to initiate the building renovation and to trigger community interest and response to the project. Involvement in the creation of the murals includes area artists, youth and children from area schools, and members of the general public.

Each project contributes to the long-term development of the community in which the project is created, and serves to support the Heritage Area goals. Other projects we have funded include:

Collaborative fiber arts exhibition with Mesa Prieta Petroglyph Project.

Fiber Rocks! encouraged fiber artists to explore local New Mexican cultures and values, and proactively challenged them to learn about the long and complex history of the Northern Rio Grande Valley. Twenty-three fiber artists responded from six states, demonstrating broad interest in artistically honoring the wealth of local heritage from traditional through contemporary creative expression. Inspired by images etched in rock, known as petroglyphs, the artists created distinctive works of art spanning a wide range of fiber arts disciplines, including tapestry weaving, fabric batiking and painting, knitting, quilting, sewing, willow interlacing, paper vessel making, and garment design with various felting and embellishment techniques. The Fiber Rocks! project was developed in collaboration with the Mesa Prieta Petroglyph Project, an organization that documents and protects endangered archaeological treasures in the northern Rio Grande Valley.


The Acequia Sancochada, located east of Dixon in Canoncito, has been used since 1912 by 24 families or parcientes to produce locally grown food, vineyards, and fruit orchards. In the last few years, structural damage in the acequia has increased and prevented farmers from using the water for their food crops and orchards as needed. The Acequia Sancochada Revitalization Project purpose is repair the acequia, initiate programs to conserve locally adapted crops, and teach historical use and operation of the acequia to the community and local parcientes.

Embudo Valley Library and Community Center

It’s not often you can go to your local co-op to do some shopping and end up learning a lot about history, but for those who live in Dixon, or for that matter those who are just visiting, the east wall of the co-op features is a completed tile mural that depicts the history of Dixon and a lot of the Embudo Valley. Created by artist Shel Neymark and four teens: Mark Gonzales, Deija Fernandez, John Salazar and Brooklyn SeebeckSullivan, the multi-faceted tile mural is an eloquent and unique testament to the vast history of the area.


“Luz es Vida” is a themed series of events, projects and youth education programs in Questa and the surrounding areas, collaboratively organized by Land, Experience and Art of Place (LEAP) to highlight and celebrate the local, natural and cultural heritage of the area. The events and youth education programs are designed to have local value to community members as well as appeal to visitors. This year’s theme, “Luz es Vida” is inspired by UNESCO’s 2015 "International Year of Light".


The De La Tierra Land Issues Conference brought together regional farmers, conservationists, and landowners for a two-day conference to discuss land and water issues in the Taos region. The conference focused on agriculture and water, and ways to adapt to challenges in these areas. The Conference was supported by key stakeholders in the community, including the Taos Soil and Water Conservation District, Amigos Bravos, the Taos Community Foundation and the Taos County Agricultural Resolution Team - an ad hoc group of over 40 community members including County tax assessors, farmers, and students.


Churro Week 2015, was the third annual event organized by the Española Valley Fiber Arts Center. The aim of the event is to raise awareness and educate about the importance of the Navajo-Churro sheep and Fiber Art products made from their wool.

The week was filled with exciting lectures, fieldtrips, workshops for youth and adults, as well as a churro product marketplace in Taos, Española, Abiquiu, Santa Fe and Tierra Amarilla. Highlights were three field trips to working farms in Abiquiu and Terra Amarilla to learn about living with the Navajo-Churro Sheep, and to the Museum of Spanish Colonial Art to view archival pieces made with Churro wool. Lectures explored sustainable and holistic husbandry of the Navajo-Churro, What makes the Churro Navajo, and Spider Woman’s Gift – Early Navajo Classic Textiles and all lectures offered the possibility to learn and exchange practices and knowledge.

Amigos Bravos

The Taos River and Land clean-up is a community effort to clean Taos area watershed and hiking trails. Together, the people of Taos have made tremendous progress cleaning up trash along rivers, arroyos, trails, and illegal dump sites for the past nine years.

In 2015 they focused on Miranda Canyon, a large illegal dumping site in Taos. Volunteers pulled over 28 tons of waste from the Canyon and 1.14 tons from 6 other sites around Taos and Questa. In addition, a total of 280 pounds of materials were recycled, and thousands of miniature liquor bottles were cleaned up from roadsides.


The Comida de Campos became a project for the Campos family to document special projects associated with the traditional farming, harvesting and cooking on their small farm in Embudo. The farm has been growing food traditionally for many generations, but the worry has always been that there might not be a way to pass the knowledge along to future generations. By documenting the farm's activities through an on line blog the family created a digital repository of information and traditions that can be accessible to future generations and the public at large.


The Heritage Area has embarked on several strategic partnerships to expand the recognition of our programs and our effectiveness in providing service to the community. These partnerships affect different strategic priorities including education, cultural preservation, and economic development.

In alliance with the Northern New Mexico College we have addressed preservation and protection of heritage weaving practices and traditions, preserving the Rio Grande style of weaving that has been practiced in Chimayó and other northern communities. We have been successful in obtaining a memorial from the State Legislature and in generating a study effort with the State to define protective practices. We are considering other strategic alliances with other educational institutions to promote educational efforts in historic preservation, cultural documentation, and industry practices.

We have developed an alliance with the State Historic Records Advisory Board to target historic records archival practices among the pueblos, county governments, and individual community organizations. In addition to providing small grants to support records archiving practices, we have also assigned an individual Board member to provide consultation, training, and guidance on records management and archiving practices. We are considering creating an area symposium/training workshop on records management with area educational institutions.

We are creating partnerships with Santa Fe County, Rio Arriba County, and Taos County to create and implement joint cultural and economic development efforts in each county. In Santa Fe County we are creating a virtual artists' marketing initiative that will promote individual artists on the Heritage Area website. With Rio Arriba County we are working to create a regional multi-cultural interpretive center, that will support presentation and promotion of the cultural heritage of Northern New Mexico. In Taos County we are evaluating participation in restoration of a significant cultural property within the Town of Taos in partnership with the County.