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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.

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