Environmental Justice News & Updates

Donate to Create a Guild in Espanola’s “Edible Forest” Terrace Garden!

To donate $300 for a whole guild or your choice for a portion of a guild, click the following link and in the ‘Designation’ box, specify “Espanola’s Edible Food Forest”. Donate Here.

Vision for the Terrace Garden – Click to See Larger
It is with great excitement that we are letting you know about an ambitious gardening project TWU is coordinating in partnership with the City of Espanola. Located next to Valdez Park is a barren slope on the eastern side of City Hall that has erosion problems. We are in the beginning phases of transforming this slope into an Edible Food Forest utilizing traditional dry-land farming techniques and permaculture (permanant + agriculture) principles. This fruit tree terrace garden will be accessible to the local community to enjoy and interact with. It will provide seasonal food, medicinal herbs, accessible pathways, aesthetic beauty, shade and solve erosion problems on the hillside, while capturing and harvesting precious rainwater.

Our community environmental group developed a tentative design and budget, and the end result is going to be truly beautiful! At this time, we are requesting that organizations, clubs, businesses, and individuals can help to make this project a reality through a tax-deductible sponsorship of $300. A “This Guild is Donated By” or “This Guild is in Memorial Of” wooden plaque or stepping stone with the name of your choice will be created on the approximately 6×3 feet fruit tree guild will be included in this sponsorship. A “guild” consists of the tree, surrounding plants and bushes, rock, earthworks, mulch, and a drip-line system that all work together to make a sustainable design for this new, lush environment to fluorish. We have 35 sponsorships available. Any other monetary, supply, or work donations would also be greatly appreciated, specifically the needs listed below:

Budget for Espanola’s “Edible Forest” Terrace Garden : Phase One

Resources Needed : Small tractors, materials storage, trucks, tools (provided by City), and refreshments for volunteer work days (TBA), 50+ volunteers for work days (TBA)

  1. Mulch: 150 yards of mulch ($5/truckload, plus gas for vehicles) = $200
  2. River Rock plus some smaller cobblestone – We need a lot!
  3. Urbanite (ideally from local demolition sites, if any are available)
  4. Cut Stone : $2.30/linear foot 200’x4′ = $1800 x 2 = $3600
  5. Laser Level : $50
  6. Native Grass/Flower Seed : $50 or through donation
  7. Landscape Fabric : $100
  8. Straw Bales for Two Top Swales : $5 x 50 = $250
  9. 35 Fruit Trees : $35 x 35 = $1500
  10. Guild Plants and Dry-Land Edible Bushes : $3000
  11. Chicken Wire and Posts for Tree Protection : $250
  12. Unforseen Costs : (5% of budget) $500

Total Projected Cost : $9500

If you would like more information on the Edible Forest Terrace Garden Project, please contact Envioronmental Justice Program Coordinator Beata Tsosie-Pena at beata@tewawomenunited.org.

To donate $300 for a whole guild or your choice for a portion of a guild, click the following link and in the ‘Designation’ box, specify “Espanola’s Edible Food Forest”. Donate Here.


Tewa Women United Provides Summaries of DOE and LANL Publications

Tewa Women United’s Environmental Justice Program has put together summaries of current and important documents from the Department of Energy (DOE) and Los Alamos National Labs (LANL) that affect the Rio Arriba Valley and beyond. These governmental departments use complex language to confuse and mislead citizens from understanding their information, and these summaries aim to provide a more neutral and understandable message. Each summary is in two parts – the main document and a corresponding abbreviations and definitions key to help readers along the way.

The documents are available at the following links on line or in print in the Tewa Women United office:

Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) for the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement Project (CMRR) at Los Alamos National Laboratories

Abbreviations and Definitions – CMRR

Final Long Term Management and Storage of Elemental Mercury Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)

Abbreviations and Definitions – Mercury

Plans and Practices for Groundwater Protection at the Los Alamos National Laboratory

Abbreviations and Definitions – Groundwater

Corrective Measures Evaluation for Material Disposal Area G at Los Alamos National Laboratory

Abbreviations and Definitions – Corrective Measures Evaluation

Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Disposal of Greater-Than-Class-C (GTCC) Low Level Radioactive Waste and GTCC-like Waste

Abbreviations and Definitions – GTCC EIS


Communities for Clean Water (CCW) Forum: The Buckman Projects and Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), July 26-27, 2012

This event has sadly passed, but a recorded video of the entire conference is available to view here

Thursday, July 26 from 8:30 am–1 pm  Santa Fe Community Convention Center 201 Marcy Street, Santa Fe

The Forum will address public concerns about the Buckman wells and Direct Diversion Project and LANL.Speakers include:

• Dr. Michael Barcelona on Area G pollutants in groundwater

• Dr. Arjun Makhijani on drinking water standards

• Elaine Cimino on Española Basin Sole Source Aquifer

• Mark Sardella, P.E. on the pulses of LANL pollutants in stormwater runoff

• NGO & government panelists.

Runoff, Risk and Community Empowerment: Your Role in Clean-up at LANL Thursday, July 26, 6 – 8 pm & Friday, July 27, 8 am – 4:30 pm Northern New Mexico College Salazar Center for Fine Arts, Española

• Dr. Michael Barcelona on groundwater

Speakers on July 27:

•Dr. Maureen Merritt on worker and community health.

•Representatives from: Communities for Clean Water, Las Mujeres Hablan, UNM, Youth, NM Environment Dept. and LANL.

• Presentations will include: (1) new federal stormwater permit for 405 LANL sites with the potential to release pollutants into the canyons that flow to the Río Grande, (2) ten-year New Mexico hazardous waste permit, which includes “cleanup” of the 63-acre dump for low-level radioactive, hazardous and toxic waste at Area G; and (3) resulting impacts to our health.

Co-sponsors: New Mexico Community Foundation, Las Mujeres Hablan, Tewa Women United, Don Gabino Andrade Community Acequia, Western Environmental Law Center, Partnership for Earth Spirituality, Journey SantaFe,Embudo Valley Environmental Monitoring Group, Citizens for Alternatives to Radioactive Dumping, Nuclear Watch New Mexico, SouthWest Organizing Project, Interfaith Worker Justice and Cold War Patriots


Check out Beata Tsosie-Pena’s plenary poem here, about environmental violence, along with other amazing, strong, inspirational voices!


Beata Tsosie-Peña was selected to be a Green For All Fellow Candidate. Candidates participate from around the nation in the Green For All Leadership Academy, which includes a four-day training ranging from media and messaging to the economics of green. They then commit to a nine-month term of service as ambassadors of the movement in their communities. After nine months of organizing educational events and workshops, speaking at conferences, running policy and organizing campaigns, leading community sustainability initiatives, and otherwise serving their communities, Candidates graduate to become Green For All Fellows. Here is a link to a blog she has written as part of her term of service while working for Environmental Health and Justice with Tewa Women United.

Reflections on Environmental Justice from Northern New Mexico Blog by Beata Tsosie

Seeds of Beauty

Girl Scouts, Tewa Women United pursue beautification projects near City Hall, Española Plaza
By Bill Rettew Jr., SUN Staff Writer
Published::Thursday, March 15, 2012 10:07 AM MDT

With a little help from friends, city land at the Española Plaza and behind City Hall is set to get some sprucing up.

An Española Girl Scout troop aims to plant flowers at an approximately 200-square-foot site near the old post office on the Plaza. A couple hundred yards away near the horno just outside the Misión y Convento, the troop is also planning a new vegetable garden with the hopes that it will feed the needy at the San Martin de Porres Soup Kitchen.

Nearby, on the steep, sandy slope behind City Hall, the nonprofit Tewa Women United plans to plant about 25 fruit trees in newly built terraces.

The City Council unanimously approved both projects Feb. 28.

Beata Tsosie-Peña, program coordinator for Tewa Women United, said the hill will likely contain plants and 4-foot tree seedlings. The new landscaping should prove beneficial in other ways for an area with little rainfall, she said. She said terraces made of wooden railroad ties, rock or masonry could shore up the hillside and prevent erosion.

There are a lot of knowledgeable folks in the agriculture community using such thousand-year-old methods, Tsosie-Peña said.

Community members will also learn while volunteering during the transformation of the now dusty area between City Hall and Valdez Park.

“What’s really exciting is this opportunity for community engagement around traditional dry-land farming methods,” Tsosie-Peña said.

If the soil behind City Hall checks out free of contaminants, following possible testing by students and staff at Northern New Mexico College, the fruit trees could bear apples and other produce available to anyone willing to pick them, Tsosie-Peña said.

“There’s nothing more enjoyable than hanging out under the blossoming trees and eating the unripened and then ripened fruit,” Tsosie-Peña said. “Usually when people plant trees in parks­ it’s just for shade, but landscaping can have many purposes such as providing natural medicine, conserving water, educating the community, and adding to the stainability of the community.”

Local, non-genetically modified trees surrounded by plants on the hillside will benefit the city by controlling erosion while preventing possible structural damage to City Hall, she said.

Tsosie-Peña said the project will also save valuable water, suppress weeds, adjust nitrogen levels and attract beneficial insects.

Ground-breaking is expected in April, with a possible completion date in June or July depending on the strength of financial and volunteer support, according to Tsosie-Peña.

Girl Scout Troop 10454 has ambitious plans for the Plaza.

Troop leader Alisha Duran, along with her 4-year-old daughter and Daisy Girl Scout Melayah Duran, inspected a pair of sites at the Plaza Monday.

Eight members of the troop have set aside time during weekly “Girl Scout Saturdays” to plant flowers in a bid for the girls to earn badges. Marigolds, morning glories and sunflowers will all combine to create a “Daisy Garden,” Duran said.

Alisha Duran’s husband, Lloyd Duran, a manager at the Española Lowe’s Home Improvement store, said the store agreed to supply flowers at no charge for the site near the old post office and Convento on Calle de las Españolas.

Vegetables, including possibly pumpkins, corn, zucchini, jalapeños, carrots and tomatoes will sprout from scout-planted seeds at another similar-sized patch of ground near the Convento, Alisha Duran said.

“This makes me feel really good,” Alisha Duran said. “Española sometimes gets a bad rap. We want people to know that there’s positives for youth.”

Lloyd Duran agreed.

“It’s something good for the youth to do,” he said. “It’s something better for our kids to do than getting in trouble and to help the community look better.”

Organizers from both projects encouraged volunteers or anyone else interested in getting involved to contact them.

To help with the Plaza project, call Vanessa at 983-6339. To pitch in on the City Hall project or learn more about low-rain farming, call 927-1847.