A Traveling Account of Community Assets in Action
November 4, 2014

Guest blog by OC Intern Beto Rincón

OC Intern Beto Rincón recently had a chance to travel with Executive Director Darryl Birkenfeld on a journey through some of the communities we have the opportunity to work with in OC.  Beto will share about his experience in a two part-series on our blog.  Below is Part One.

I originally dedicated my “Mapping your Community Assets” blog to reporting the community assets I observed in Taos, New Mexico. After spending a week there, I made my way through Nebraska, Kansas and South Dakota. This blog will include the original post where I discuss my time in Taos but I really felt as though this trip was well worth a write-up of my thoughts and an account of some of the highlights of what was seen.

community assets 1 OC Apprentice Beto Rincon harvesting vegetables at La Casa Entereza, Nazareth, Texas.

As I write this blog, I am currently at the tail end of a major road trip that, over the course of 18 days, has taken me to the American Southwest, the Midwest and the plains of South Dakota. Thus, I decided that this blog will focus not on mapping the assets of my community but on assets found in the various communities I visited. I first want to thank Pati Martinson and Terri Badhand from Taos County Economic Development Corporation, OC intern Tiana Suazo and family,  Steve Hernandez and staff at Oyate Teca, Sandy Hicks at Arnold Economic Development Corp., Tom and Sheryl Giessel of Larned, Kansas and especially Darryl Birkenfeld for making this trip a memorable one.

Taos Taos, New Mexico

In Taos, a city of roughtly 6000 people, I saw amazing work being done to ensure that a vibrant food shed is being maintained in this city.  I was truly inspired by the farm stand program that the Taos Economic Development Corporation has created in which items are purchased from mostly native producers on consignment and then sold at reduced rates to the general public. Though I did not get a chance to see it in action, the USDA certified mobile “matanza”, a Spanish word meaning slaughterhouse, allows for small scale producers to have their livestock slaughtered more conveniently. Both of these examples show a strong support system for maintaining adequate food access in the Taos community.

Upon looking around Taos, I also observed that other assets of the commonwealth were also present;  the mountains of Taos create a sense of place not only for the native community but also in those who take part in the ski tourism industry of Taos.  Interestingly, despite the city of Taos’ commitment to providing visitors with ample opportunities  for leisure and recreation through the ski resorts and art galleries, it was interesting to see how local food systems and community development work dealing with food can also take place in the same city.

community assets 2 One of many galleries near the plaza in Taos, New Mexico

Next week, Beto will share the rest of his time spent with some of the other communities represented by Ogallala Commons.