November 2020 Sustainability Newsletter

View as a webpage / Share


November 2020 Newsletter

Growing Gratitude



November is Native American Heritage Month

Much of what is known as Santa Fe County today, sits on Tewa land. The City of Santa Fe was named O’ghe P’oghe or White Shell Water Place by the Tewa living in this area for more than a millennia. Evidence of some of the earliest known settlements of the Pindi are in Agua Fria Village area dating back to 3,000 BC. Explore this map to learn more about indigenous lands in North America and across the world.

Land management for these communities modeled the interdependent dynamics of nature and continue in the long tradition of sustaining vitally important practices: stewarding these lands and improving soil health, enhancing habitats for wildlife, boosting biodiversity, and sustainably managing resources

The term “ecosystem services” or the benefits provided to humans by healthy ecosystems, such as food, water, clean air, pollination, flood control, temperature regulation, nutrient cycling, and physical and mental well-being are foundational, without which all life is deprived from thriving. Though ecosystem services maintain the conditions for a livable planet, taking these valuable services for granted has severe consequences, as we are now experiencing the difficult effects of climate change. In 2020 so far 8.5 million acres have burned in the United States. We have much to learn from communities who have been actively and wisely involved in services to ecosystems.

Many indigenous communities are on the front lines of climate change and taking action. In 2010, the Swinomish in Washington released a climate action plan, the first such document to be published in the nation by any community. In New Mexico, Pueblo communities are working in tandem with other stakeholders to create legislation for community solar to advance energy independence from fossil fuels, a key strategy for climate action. And in Santa Fe County, Tewa Women United works to advance environmental health and justice.

Many organizations are now collaborating with local tribes to develop climate adaptation strategies, such as the U.S. Geological Survey’s regional Climate Adaptation Science Centers and the University of Oregon’s Tribal Climate Change Project. In California, firefighters are teaming up with regional tribes to help manage California’s wildfires using traditional burning methods that have been banned for a century.

This month we honor the rich legacy of land stewardship of Native American communities and give thanks to the continued efforts as defenders of environmental health and climate justice.

Social Determinants and Sustainability

Nexus Impact:

Social Determinants of Health

and Sustainability

There are many not so surprising links between the social determinants of health and sustainable community development. Now, more than ever, as a global pandemic rages on, the world is witness to the dramatic effect these determinants have on health and well-being.

The Santa Fe County SSDH 2015 statistics reveal 32.5% of county residents experience housing cost burdens. Poverty was reported at 15.6% and food insecurity at 12.6%. Access to alternative and low-cost transportation, healthy nutrient-dense food, decreased utilities expenses, clean water and air, are just a few of the nexus points within these statistics as they relate to sustainability in community planning and development best practices. The proposed 30 by 30 conservation plan aims to ensure more land is preserved for nature, from which humans directly benefit. Access to protected nature and the common measurements of "livability" are increasingly important to understand as decisions by governing bodies directly affect community health and well-being. Mental health is at the forefront of these challenges currently faced due to Covid-19 and the complicating matrix of obstacles found in the social determinant list for so many.

Whether you or someone you care for has one or more of these challenges, be sure to tap into the resource link on the Santa Fe County Community Health page for assistance and resources. Remember that many of the best sources for dealing with stress are often found in community connection and nature. Though social connection is more difficult lately with the heightened risk of Covid infection, nature remains one of the safest means of exercise and stress relief. The county's beautiful back yard and the many trails available through Open Space and Trails as well as the numerous State Parks and local neighborhood parks, await to provide a great affordable source of health and comfort for anyone who seeks a dose of vital and impactful medicine! 

avo holding planet

The Work Continues: "Fare-thee-well" & "Nos Vemos" from Claudia Borchert 

Year 2020 brings yet another change—this one for the County’s sustainability team. As of the end of October, I am resigning from my position as the County’s Sustainability Manager. I leave this position with utmost respect and appreciation for the opportunity to have worked on diverse sustainability issues with my team, County leadership, and colleagues within and outside of our local government. May we stay strong and resolute as we continue on the journey responding to the growing challenges of climate change. I believe, like the new corona virus, climate change is an invitation to inquire more deeply, build stronger connections, and remain flexible.  

Santa Fe County has made a great commitment to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement, including zero emissions by 2050; I have full confidence that with the sustainability team's guidance, the County will be successful in meeting that goal, starting with using 100% renewable energy by 2025! My hope is that together we steward our land, reduce how much we drive, rethink our consumption, and, most importantly, care for each other and our planet in order to create a world that is welcoming for all humans and non-humans alike.

Thank you for what you have done and will do.  -Claudia


What Can I Do? Grow and Harvest Gratitude! 

No matter how you typically celebrate this month, it is apparent that this holiday season will be quite different from years past. With gatherings limited yet again this month for health reasons, the CDC has issued guidelines on the safety concerns and offers suggestions for celebrating safely. Fortunately, ways to make it a greener and more sustainable expression of gratitude remain fairly consistent and attainable despite a stubborn global virus: support local farmers, try a meatless feast, get your orders in early, and if you can offer a hand or donation to a local food bank, this is especially needed by so many who are suffering more than ever before in 2020. Thankfully, showing gratitude increases mental health for both the giver and receiver and can make all the difference in someone's life and our planet's health! Thank you for all you do to care for each other and our planet!  

Our November Picks

(Click on orange title and text below for associated links and information.)

Food Depot

Food Depot

Needs your help: Hunger is a growing crisis in Northern New Mexico. With the long-lasting ripple effects of COVID-19, it is projected that one of every five people and one of every three children in our state in 2020 suffer from hunger.


Profitability through Healthy Soil

Profitability through Soil Health

Tuesday, November 10

Greg Simmons presents on the benefits of advancing healthy soil principles on working lands.



Tuesday, November 3

If you haven't already voted, now is the time! Find your closest voting location and get your voice counted!



BLM: Oil and Gas Leasing 

November 9-November 19

How would you like to see this process unfold? Public protest period ends soon!    

Climate Crisis Policy

Climate Crisis Policy

 Policy ideas to eliminate greenhouse gas pollution and build a sustainably-sourced, community-centered and nature-protecting economy

Santa Fe County Water Resources Plan Survey 

The County Utilities in partnership with City Water is creating a plan for increased water conservation and resiliency. Your input is needed!


Sustainability Comments or Questions?

We are your local advisors on all things sustainability in Santa Fe County. Call us about anything from water conservation, cleaner transportation, solar and renewable energy, composting, recycling, etc. Or let us know what you would like to learn more about in our newsletter. 


Jacqueline Beam, 505.992.9832

Adeline Murthy, 505.992.9862