2011 Semi-Finalist: Dreaming New Mexico
Dreaming New Mexico
PROJECT PRESS RELEASE: PDF
WEBSITE: Dreaming New Mexico
Critical Need Being Addressed
Today’s agrifood systems are dysfunctional and failing. No matter how large or small, local or global, climate change and growing population make it increasingly difficult to prevent hunger, save small and family farms, foster eco-friendly agriculture, and provide quality food. A more decentralized and equitable food system must emerge rapidly.
Description of Initiative
DNM seeks whole systems transformation in energy and food systems at the state level through anticipatory design, broad cross-sectoral collaboration, bottom-up and top-down political action, and public education.
Through the “dreaming” process (“preferred state”), we stimulate citizens to ask: What would success look like? Questions include: What do we know? What do we want? What will we accept as do-able? DNM provides a refuge from everyday struggles to lift self-imposed limits on our sense of possibility.
Dreaming precipitates a collaborative effort to discover what we know and don’t know. The primary tool is innovative “future maps” and in-depth booklets envisioning the State’s future and reviving a strong sense of and respect for place. Mapping provides a community an opportunity for collaborative design grounded in rigorous technical and strategic research, and multi-sectoral social mapping of networks and players. Combining what we know with our desires, DNM creates “do-able dreams” calibrated to pragmatic action.
The booklet depicts the "whole system”: components, connections, configurations, commons and players. A third tool arises: a "shadow think tank" of top local visionaries and actors who join a collaborative process as a core network that can implement the dreams. Radiating social networks penetrate trimtab constituencies to leverage change. The map/pamphlet serve as educational and organizing tools from grassroots to the canopy.
A final strategic element is the generative and distributive role of Bioneers, its internationally acclaimed conference, 18 satellite conferences, and network of networks with wide outreach including media. Bioneers promotes and networks the project nationally and globally as ecologically-oriented bioregional design, including DNM tools and an emerging methodology.
Both phase one and two (“Age of Renewables” and “Age of Local Foodsheds and a Fair Trade State”) have tangibly influenced State and municipal policy, cohered the NGO community, influenced philanthropists, and catalyzed specific projects and initiatives.
BFI Assessment Summary
Dreaming New Mexico (DNM) has entered the Challenge before, and was Runner Up in 2009. Over the years, the project has moved from action-research based around asset mapping of renewable energy sources, community and political capacity building and a visioning process, to the development of a rich and viable framework around Agro-EcoRegions. From this framework a series of localized strategies are evolving in the education sector both formally and informally, in economic development by catalyzing job creation, and with policy influence and creation to jump start the components needed to cultivate the business of these Agro-EcoRegions.
The DNM team is leveraging a far-reaching network and incredible amount of resources that stem from the deep wellspring of sustainability know-how of the Bioneers community, to develop this model. They are also using state of the art technologies, having partnered with Google for their community and mapping work, which is still continuing with the Navajo Nation. The educational pamphlets they produced are being widely distributed and applied by educators at all levels. They are also in partnership with the Santa Fe Community College to develop a curriculum around ecoservice management. The vision is being disseminated and this effort continues to grow.
Their ability to bring people together, provide solid research and mapping, and have that supported by a strong community engagement process are core to the accomplishments they’ve been able to achieve. Their research and development on renewable energy mapping has informed statewide energy policy through executive orders from the Governor. That’s just one example where they are influencing policy to steer efforts to support the creation of these Agro-EcoRegions. More examples can be seen in their list of accomplishments since entering the Challenge here: PDF.
The key to this initiative will be to adequately deploy the methodology they’ve developed so that people can adapt the underlying principles to their place and social context to implement their own unique blend of the initiative. They intend to serve as a consulting group to other communities, states or institutions. This is part of the strategy to migrate the model far and wide. The biggest challenge will be how politically astute others will have to be in order to chart this path.
There are clear trajectories to move this model across scale and geographies. On a national level they have been invited to be a founding member of the National Security Sustainability Network. Here they plan to identify and combine a national network of placed-based initiatives, along the same lines of DNM. They are also sharing the model in Europe and Asia with high-level officials and eco-activists. This is based on the reasonable assumption that Agro-EcoRegions are universal. If the meme spreads, every region can address and apply this framework globally.
The Agro EcoRegion is the lynchpin to this complex and multi layered effort. It provides a simple yet revolutionary vision to address our current and future concerns around food security, climate change and post-oil conditions. The method that is emerging offers up a set of practical strategies that support a vision of abundance.
PEOPLE: Dreaming New Mexico
Kenny Ausubel, Co-Director of DNM and the Co-CEO and Founder of Bioneers, is an award-winning social entrepreneur, author, journalist and filmmaker. Bioneers an internationally recognized nonprofit dedicated to disseminating practical and visionary solutions for restoring Earth’s imperiled ecosystems and healing our human communities.
Arty Mangan, Bioneers Food and Farming Director, joined Bioneers in 1998 as the Manager for the Restorative Development Initiative, which produced “Wisdom at the End of Hoe” ecological agriculture trainings. He has worked with farmers and agriculture since 1978 and collaborated with John Mohawk and the award-winning Iroquois White Corn Project to reintroduce this critically important traditional food.
Nikki Spangenburg, DNM Program Manager, has over 15 years of experience in project management. She represents the project publicly while implementing specific projects directly. She spoke at the New Mexico State Legislature in 2011 in favor of critical legislation that DNM helped design to create a major state procurement program for local foods.
Founder Kenny Ausubel coined the term Bioneers in 1990 to describe an emerging culture. Bioneers are social and scientific innovators from all walks of life and disciplines who have peered deep into the heart of living systems to understand how nature operates, and to mimic "nature's operating instructions" to serve human ends without harming the web of life. Nature's principles—kinship, cooperation, diversity, symbiosis and cycles of continuous creation absent of waste—can also serve as metaphoric guideposts for organizing an equitable, compassionate and democratic society.
As a 501c3 nonprofit organization, we provide a forum and social hub for education about solutions presented through the Bioneers Conference and our programs. Our media productions leverage this content to reach millions of people around the nation and the world with our award-winning radio series, Bioneers: Revolution From the Heart of Nature; anthology book series; television programs; and our interactive website. We act as a key source for the media, including third-party films and the press. Our DVDs, CDs and other educational materials are also used by colleges and schools and by community-based and other organizations to inform and inspire positive change at the local level.