A Bioneers Collaborative Program (www.bioneers.org)
The award-winning Dreaming New Mexico program (DNM) is an innovative Bioneers program to bring about restorative ecological and social transformation both at the local and regional level of our Southwestern home base and as a template and tool kit for other place-based initiatives. Using collaborative and systemic approaches, the program seeks pragmatic and visionary solutions that heal the harms done to our state’s air, waters and lands, as well as to the spirit, livelihood and health of our diverse peoples.
The shift away from a society built on cheap oil entails a radical reorganization of everyday life into a more local economy and infrastructures. The political borders on maps must transform to reflect the ecological and intensely local realities of watersheds, “foodsheds” and “energysheds.” A core goal is to build a prosperous restoration economy that embraces the rights of people and nature, grounded in social and economic justice.
Premise: Dreaming the Future Can Create the Future
Dreaming New Mexico arises from the love of our place. The program began as a place of refuge from the trials and tribulations of everyday attempts to make the world a better place. We asked: What do we really desire? We sought insight and data from diverse state residents—government workers, farmers, energy consultants, non-government activists, educators, philanthropists, entrepreneurs—to dream how their work fits into the Big Picture of the longer-term understanding of what they want for themselves, the next generation and the Earth.
Most of the time, people engaged in fostering progressive social change feel compelled into a mode of resistance, of trying to stop the relentless onslaught of harms. Seldom do we step back to ask, “What would real success look like?” Rather than settling for what we think we can get, what do we really want? What are our dreams? If the year is 2025 and we’ve done everything right, what does New Mexico look like?
After posing the question “what do we want,” we must then address the question “what do we know?” The transformative power of these questions has propelled a powerful process of envisioning “do-able” dreams and mapping how to realize them in New Mexico, and as a template for place-bases initiatives elsewhere.
The Project in Action
DNM has created breakthrough ideas, tools, processes and strategies in a widely collaborative framework including the centerpiece of “future maps” and accompanying booklets and other information for “The Age of Renewables” and the “Age of Local Foodsheds and A Fair Trade State.” The program has put these “do-able dreams” into play through strategic convenings, targeted briefings, education, collaborations and alliances. The maps are designed to serve as points of departure for convenings of cross-sectoral networks around a shared vision of restoration.
DNM has directly affected state and municipal policies, including working with the Governor, the Governor’s Green Jobs Cabinet, and mayors. DNM has helped coalesce previously disparate NGOs and fostered multi-stakeholder collaborations around a shared vision. It has supported the work and dreams of indigenous and Hispano communities, who comprise a majority of New Mexico’s population. DNM materials are being used locally in formal educational institutions. Read more about DNM Accomplishments.
We’ve presented the project across the United States and in Sweden, Scotland, Britain, Holland and China.
DNM has elicited requests for materials, consultations and possible partnerships with several other states and counties in the U.S. as well as internationally. We’re working toward one or more such place-based restoration partnerships.
We completed a methodology or field guide in 2012 that can be universalized and customized by other communities. Among other projects, we’re also exploring an action-oriented college curriculum and other formal educational programs.
The project garnered a 2010 New Mexico Governor’s Proclamation and was named runner-up for the 2009 Buckminster Fuller Challenge and was selected as a semi-finalist in the 2011 Buckminster Fuller Challenge.
Collective Heritage Institute/Bioneers is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose mission is to inspire a shift to live on Earth in ways that honor the web of life, each other and future generations. To learn more, please visit: www.bioneers.org.