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Auntie Nannie’s Seed Exchange at Questa Library

May 28, 2021

There are two beautiful Seed Exchange Stations in Questa, “Auntie Nannie’s Seed Exchange” created by Alianza Agricultura and sponsored by the LOR Foundation. One has been placed at the beautiful Questa Library addition (a lovely upgrade to our temporary DIY system, and one is also available at Rael’s Store). We are so happy to be a part of this larger community project in Questa! Thank you Gillian Joyce and all those at Alianza Agricultura that made this possible and to LOR Foundation for sponsoring the project! Find out more about it HERE.

Fundraiser to Plant Memorial Trees at Questa Municipal Park

May 24, 2021

Planting a tree in memorial for a family member, April 23 2021, Photo by Lita Mead

All are invited to sponsor a tree and beautify Questa Park in honor of a loved one. Vida del Norte, LEAP (Localogy), SUCCESS Program (Taos Behavioral Health), Questa Public Library, Trout Unlimited, Village of Questa and other volunteers are teaming up to raise funds to plant a memorial grove at the Questa Municipal Park. Funds raised will purchase trees and the necessary supplies to care for them, as well as permanent plaques inscribed with dedications for loved ones to accompany each memorial tree. Trees will be planted this summer at the July Community Connection Day at the Questa Park on Friday, July 16.

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, but the second best time is now!”
– Chinese Proverb

This fundraiser was first launched to raise money for a community park cleanup day on April 23 in celebration of Earth Day and builds on past year’s Earth Day tree plantings and beautification efforts. The park cleanup day was organized by LEAP (Land, Experience and Art of Place) in collaboration with the Vida del Norte Coalition, Questa Public Library, Village of Questa, Taos Behavioral Health and other community volunteers and organizations. During the park cleanup day trees were planted in the Municipal Park and people who made a donation of $100 will have a memorial plaque placed by one of the new trees with a dedication of their choosing. Enough money was raised by this fundraiser to plant 7 trees with plaques on April 23. 

Well established flowering crabapple tree, planted at Questa Park on Earth Day 2018, photo by Claire Coté

There is still lots of open space at the Municipal Park and additional trees are needed! More trees mean more shade and wind protection for our kids and all of us that enjoy the park as well as improved habitat for our helpful, nonhuman neighbors like birds and pollinators. It also means that we, as a community can commemorate our loved ones together, when we honor them with memorial trees.

Donate $100 to sponsor a tree in honor of a loved one to be planted in the park. A permanent plaque will be installed by your tree with a short dedication of your choosing. Contributions of any amount are much appreciated; donations of less then $100 will provide much-needed, overall support for the tree planting project.

You can donate any amount today, by credit card at our secure online donation site (Betterworld.com); if you donate $100 to sponsor a tree you can also create your dedication plaque by filling out the form provided HERE.

Or you can sponsor a tree by check; please make checks payable to Vida Del Norte and write a memo for the tree project. Checks can be dropped off at the Questa Credit Union for Vida del Norte or mailed to: Vida del Norte, ℅ Maria Gonzalez, P.O. Box 1015, Questa NM, 87556.

This fundraiser will remain open and continue to accept donations and tree sponsorships through mid July, 2021. On July 16th there will be a summer tree planting and celebration for July Community Connection Day at the Questa Municipal Park. On this day, the dedication plaques will be placed under the trees for sponsorships of $100 or more.

This is a project of Vida del Norte, LEAP (Localogy), SUCCESS Youth Program (Taos Behavioral Health), Questa Library, Trout Unlimited and the Village of Questa, with support from the LOR Foundation, Questa Economic Development Fund and many volunteers. We thank you!

More info about the tree fundraiser call Laura Vallejos: 575-635-2934
Or online at: https://vidadelnorte.com/parktrees/

First Community Connection Day was May 21: Questa Farmers Marker and more Park Improvements

May 22, 2021

On May 21st local youth and community members joined together to build on the momentum and progress made at the Questa Park in April. This was the first Community Connection Day, part of a series of intergenerational days of community service and celebration, taking place in and around Questa, May through October, 2021 on the third Friday every month. This consistent coming together, showing up for each other and our community is part of our collaborative creative placemaking efforts.

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”

-Winston Churchill

Our focus areas for the day were continued care and improvements at the park and preparing the Questa Farmers Market site for its opening day on Sunday, May 30.

At the Questa Park, the new trees planted on April 23 were connected to the drip irrigation system and staked for wind protection, prairie dog holes were filled, mulch was spread, weeds pulled and a picnic table repaired and painted. At the Questa Farmers Market site, the many weeds encouraged by our wet spring were pulled from moist soil by lots of eager hands, readying the garden beds for planting and the site for it’s first patrons of 2021.

“Caring has the gift of making the ordinary special.”

-George R. Bach

Join Vida’s Active8, SUCCESS program (Taos Behavioral Health), Questa Economic Development Fund, Village of Questa, LEAP (Localogy), and community volunteers through out the Summer and Fall on the third Friday of the month; 9 am – 12:30 morning work time, followed by community lunch, with optional after lunch work or play.

Mark your calendars, here’s our Community Connection Day schedule:

June 18 – Questa Park / Downtown Questa
July 16 –  Family Fun Day at Questa Park: Summer Tree Planting and Celebration
August 20 – Eagle Rock Lake
September 17 – Downtown / Questa Farmers Market
October 15 – Questa Park to finish the season

For more information about how to get involved with Community Connection days:
emailforleap@gmail.com or 575-224-9066.

April 23 Reflections + Upcoming Season of “Community Connection Days”

May 19, 2021

On April 23, a group of thirty-seven youth and twenty-nine adults gathered at the Questa Municipal Park and C.A. Cisneros Youth and Family Center to spend the day spring cleaning, planting trees and envisioning the future for the park. It was a wonderful day of beautification work, youth-centered planning for the new skatepark and brainstorming park improvements. 

 

Spirits were high, new friendships formed and lots of good work was accomplished, despite changeable weather and snow. Many bags of trash were collected, invasive weeds removed, prairie dog holes filled, mulch spread and seven new trees planted in honor of loved ones (see related article). Questa Mayor Mark Gallegos and youth present at the event toured the park grounds to decide on a location for the new skatepark. Youth then brainstormed site improvements together, capturing their ideas on post-it notes to be added to an “existing conditions site map” created for the occasion by Landscape Architect, Scott Sutton.

Another wonderful aspect of the day was the SUCCESS (Students Using Courage Confidence & Emotional Support for Success) pop-up art gallery of works created by youth within the program from both Questa and Taos locations. In Questa, the program’s hub is at the Youth and Family Center, adjacent to the Municipal Park. Artworks explored a variety of introspective themes such as “transparency,” “every piece has a place in the puzzle,” “what success means” and more. 

Organized by LEAP (Localogy), Vida del Norte, Taos Behavioral Health’s SUCCESS program, and the Village of Questa, the event was such a roaring success, that collaborators decided on the spot to convene similar community-focused work days every month throughout the summer and fall. “Community Connection Days” is what the collaborators are calling this new series of intergenerational days of community service and celebration. They will take place in and around Questa, through October, 2021 on the third Friday of every month. The first in the series was held on May 21 at the Questa Municipal Park, with more park planning, improvements and irrigation system upgrades, as well as at the Questa Farmers Market, cleaning up the site for its opening day. The June 18 Community Connection Day will also focus efforts in downtown Questa, 9 AM – 12 noon with work time in the morning and a fun community lunch to follow. We hope you will join us!

Upcoming Community Connection Days
Monthly Intergenerational Day of Service and Celebration

May 21 – Questa Park / Questa Farmers Market
June 18 – Questa Park / Downtown Questa
July 16 –  Family Fun Day at Questa Park: Summer Tree Planting and Celebration
August 20 – Eagle Rock Lake
September 17 – Downtown / Questa Farmers Market
October 15 – Questa Park to finish the season

These Community Connection Days are the direct result of the collaborative synergy that brought about the successful event at the Questa Municipal Park on April 23. That synergy grew out of an informal youth mentorship group initiated by the Vida del Norte coalition at William Borges’ prompting, in the fall of 2020, focused on skill-based mentorship opportunities, youth-centered community building and supporting intergenerational connections.

There is a legacy of youth leadership and vision within Questa and our surrounding communities. The play and exercise equipment and layout at the Questa Park as it exists today, is in large part due to the vision and diligence of the Playground Superheroes Project, a group of eight Questa High School student interns hired through a work-study program in 2013-2014 with Chevron Questa Mine, Community Build and the Questa Economic Development Fund. Youth were involved with the creation and dedication of the Cisneros Questa Youth Center and the design and painting of the mural at the Questa Public Library as well. Youth interns have been part of many village beautification efforts and are helping to shape the physical space and operations of the Questa Farmers market. Youth from Taos Behavioral Health’s SUCCESS program at the Questa Youth Center and Vida del Norte Drug Free Coalition’s Active8 members and are continuing this legacy of youth leadership as core participants in the new Community Connection Days.

At our upcoming Community Days, May 21 and June 18, all youth are invited and adults too! Please come prepared to form new and deepen friendships, and be a visionary creator and steward of our community spaces. Bring a water bottle, hat and sun protection, and if you have them, work gloves and yard cleaning tools; we’ll have extra gloves (donated previously by Questa Lumber and Hardware) and additional tools on hand as well.

Project collaborators include LEAP (Localogy), VIDA del Norte Coalition, Taos Behavioral Health’s SUCCESS youth program, Village of Questa, Trout Unlimited and Questa Economic Development Fund. Funding for the Youth-Led Park Beautification and Planning Event on April 23 was generously provided by the LOR Foundation, Questa Economic Development Fund and individual tree sponsors; additional in-kind support and donation of refreshments and supplies provided by Taos Bakes, Questa Farmers Market and North Central Food Pantry and many volunteers. We thank you and look forward to more, through this summer and fall!

Information about Community Days: emailforleap(at)gmail.com or by calling 575-224-9066.

Day After Earth Day: Tree Planting, Spring Cleaning & Youth-led visioning for Skatepark

April 23, 2021

Sponsor a tree in honor of a loved one and beautify the Questa Park: vidadelnorte.com/parktrees or by calling 575-635-2934.

 

Let’s come together in solidarity with local youth to mark Earth Day alongside thousands of other communities around the world. Today, Friday, April 23rd, the day after Earth Day, 10 am – 3 pm, join Vida del Norte’s Active8 youth, Mayor Mark Gallegos and community volunteers at the Questa park, to plant trees, celebrate natural beauty, work to maintain assets at the park and brainstorm ideas to create a cohesive plan for future improvements. 

Also, the Taos Behavioral Health SUCCESS** program will be hosting a SUCCESS ART Gallery on April 23 from 10 till 2 at Questa Youth Center. SUCCESS students use art to express Struggles, Life and SUCCESS. Come experience their work.

All local youth are invited! Please come to create the vision for a skatepark and other projects at the park. All are welcome. If you have them, please bring work gloves and yard cleaning tools, water bottle a hat and layers for variable weather; we’ll have extra gloves donated previously by Questa Lumber and Hardware and additional tools on hand as well, plus lunch for all volunteers.

This project is coordinated by LEAP (Localogy), VIDA del Norte Coalition and Village of Questa. Funding is provided by LOR Foundation, Questa Economic Development Fund, and individual donors. Partners are Taos Behavioral Health SUCCESS program, North Central Food Pantry, and Questa Farmers Market and Taos Bakes.

Continuing a Legacy of Youth Leadership

“The more our youth and we all put back towards our Earth in recycling, repurposing, and planting, we will hopefully find a balance within our whole ecosystem,” says Questa Mayor, Mark Gallegos.

The Questa Park we enjoy today, exists in large part due to the vision and diligence of the Playground Superheroes Project, a group of eight Questa High School student interns hired through a work-study program in 2013-2014 with Chevron Questa Mine, Community Build and the Questa Economic Development Fund.* These motivated students helped transform the Questa park. 

Now, the Vida del Norte Drug Free Coalition’s Active8 members are continuing this legacy of youth leadership as they envision innovations at the Questa park. Plans for a skatepark and other ideas for improvements will be explored and presented on April 23rd. The Active8 youth leaders are Angelica Lovato, Araceli Gonzalez, McKayla Martinez, Kalena Trujillo, Kaylee Piper, Amalia Gonzalez , Alianna Gonzalez, Ashlynn Rael. New recruits are Dominic Vallejos, Patrick Vallejos, Marlayna Vallejos and Esperanza Vallejos.

The first Earth Day was celebrated 51 years ago on April 22, 1970. This holiday was created by U.S. Senator, Gaylord Nelson, to mark the importance of keeping our planet healthy and clean, and for people to renew their commitment to make positive changes in their community. LEAP’s Earth Day celebrations in Questa, started with a suggestion from Starr, artist, seamstress and friend to many, who passed away in January, 2021. LEAP’s first Earth Day event was the 2014 opening reception for “Seeds: Time Capsules of Wilderness,” an exhibition of artwork by Alta Vista elementary students at OCHO Art + Event Space. Starr’s remarkable Earth Day turtle Banner hung in the window.

This year for Earth Day, gathering outdoors to work safely together is especially meaningful. The day will include planting drought tolerant trees, irrigation system repair, removal of invasive plant species, trash pick-up and brainstorming park improvements. Of course, a hearty lunch for volunteers will be provided midday. Progress on site is our goal, but what’s more important is having fun, strengthening friendships by working together in service and amplifying youth and community voices to shape the future of our park and beyond.
To join the VIDA youth leadership team, contact Maria Gonzalez, maria.gonzalez@vidadelnorte.com or (575)779-2260.

Where: Questa Municipal Park (by the Library and Youth Center)
When: Friday, April 23rd 10 am – 3 pm (the day after Earth Day)
Who: Everyone is welcome!
Cost: Free, lunch provided for volunteers

Event Contact: Claire Coté (LEAP) – emailforleap@gmail.com (575) 224-9066
Youth & Future Skatepark Contact: Maria Gonzalez (VIDA del Norte) – maria.gonzalez@vidadelnorte.com (575)779-2260

*Sourced from: https://www.taosnews.com/news/playground-superheroes-team-keeps-optimism-alive-in-questa/article_cf208386-72e6-57b7-865d-bbdb0f13b95c.html

**SUCCESS (Students Using Courage Confidence & Emotional Support for Success) is a high paced program that offers clinical mental health, CCSS, academic and community support to Student’s age 8 thru 19 in Northern New Mexico. SUCCESS seeks to support adolescents and teens transition into adulthood with skills to navigate emotional stability, healthy decision making and self-advocacy. The unique programming SUCCESS program offers allows for students to engage in Milieu Based therapy groups to, virtual or face to face group therapy and activities along with wrap around services to support life, financial, social, emotional, behavioral, and recreational life domains.  Our Culturally competent programming allows for our students to experience activities outside of their socioeconomic or cultural situation. The program demographic includes students with IEP, Developmental delays, cognitive deficit. Severe Emotional Disturbance, Severe Mental illness, JPO involvement, CYFD protective services involvement, gang involved and substance abusing clients. Approximately 90% of our students come from local Latino, Native American or Anglo families that suffer the effects of generational trauma and colonization. Currently SUCCESS program offers Individual, family, group, and Milieu therapy with a theoretic foundation in family systems and client centered therapy. Active group therapy includes Girls group, Boys Group and LGBTQIA group with a desire to expand to meet additional group needs.  SUCCESS also uses a trauma-based approach to support emotional stability and treatment.  

Sarah Parker ~ NeoRio HOME Featured Artist

December 13, 2020

Sarah Parker lives North of Questa, NM and is a Special Education teacher, artist, printmaker and collector and creator of audio stories for radio. Her piece represents a creative introspective journey into home, family, community, COVID and us as individuals – how we “see” one another and the world around us. Sarah asks the intriguing question: “What if you could see me from the inside? What if my larynx….and my guts were outside of my body?….” Her cube visually explores a response.

Find images, artist statement and audio reflection HERE.

Robbie Steinbach ~ NeoRio HOME Featured Artist

December 12, 2020

Robbie Steinbach is a printmaker, photographer, and book artist living in Taos, NM. Her piece explores freedom in the context of our time: “freedom from illness, divisive politics, irrefutable evidence of climate change, even…at least temporarily, from our homes.” Her audio reflection adds storied personal experiences of liberation, freedom and metaphor in local exploration of Nature.

Find images, artist statement and audio reflection HERE.

Ricky Pass ~ NeoRio HOME Featured Artist

December 10, 2020

Ricky Pass is an abstract and experimental artist living in Taos, NM. Her piece took her on a personal journey through her own experiences of home, family, houses and memories. “This was a piece that knew where it wanted to go” she says. The outcome is a collaged assemblage with a focus on “safety and warmth.” Her audio reflection shares parts of this journey, explores two poignant words and provides a descriptive tour of her work.

Find images, artist statement and audio reflection HERE.

Ruby Sofrae ~ NeoRio HOME Featured Artist

December 4, 2020

Ruby Sofrae is “a woman who works with her hands and seeks to never see a separation between Art and Life; she lives in Questa. Her unique piece, “I am: Home” is accompanied by a poem: 

We’re never truly lost if we are always home.
We’re never truly cold to others if we carry our own flame.
We’re never truly afraid if we feel that we are safe.
We’re never truly sick if we remember ourselves well.

Find images, a short annimation and audio reflection HERE.

Mary Hanrahan ~ NeoRio HOME Featured Artist

December 3, 2020

Mary Hanrahan is a designer and artist living in Taos; her heart homeland is Ireland, where she holds dual citizenship. Her piece reflects her life-long interest in the subject of home and cancellation of a much anticipated trip to Ireland, due to pandemic restrictions. She reflects “My world both shrank and expanded…the box encapsulated my process of….getting ‘tiny’ again and relying on my imagination….” Her cube is a carefully crafted diorama that artfully weaves these strands together.

Find images, artist statement and audio reflection HERE.