Nourishing a Growing Community Consciousness

Scene from the June 4 Valley Entrepreneurial Network meeting at Anthony’s at the Delta. Courtesy photo

Nourishing a Growing Community Consciousness

Alejandro López, northern New Mexican writer and photographer

 Had you been present at the Thursday, June 4 monthly Valley Entrepreneur Network meeting held at Anthony’s at the Delta, you would have been privy to an intensity of discussion and a visioning process that happens only infrequently in most communities. Nevertheless, such encounters and penetrating discussions are essential for the forging of a common consciousness if people are to adopt a common understanding toward positive action. Indeed, one of the things that coalesced that evening were the visions and efforts of two distinct, but rather like-minded entities coming together toward a common cause – our community.

The long-lived community outreach organization, It Takes a Valley (ITAV) and the Valley Entrepreneur Network (VEN), succeeded in increasing their effectiveness in community strengthening and development through the evening’s collaborative efforts. The discussion centered around positive community communications with Tania Sanchez, one of ITAV’s initial founders, leading the presentation.

VEN’s leadership, who are dedicated to the enhancement of local businesses and other community enterprises, recently recognized that ITAV had an almost identical mission and vision to its own. Upon dialoguing, both organizations determined that in a community such as Española which is beset by a multitude of tough challenges (divided into two counties, situated between two sovereign nations and proximate two wealthy cities, while remaining generally poor, underserved and even disparaged), it would be more advantageous to look for ongoing partnership opportunities that join their energy, strength and resources on behalf of the community both look to serve.

At the heart of the discussion that ensued, was the question of whether the Española Valley could transcend its reputation for being a dilapidated, economic and cultural backwater in an area known for its commerce, beauty and sophistication. Even though, after a prolonged and compelling period of dialogue with few conclusions reached, the discussion that was had succeeded in getting the mental muscle of the participants thoroughly engaged and involved in an intense work out. The group unanimously concurred, however that our community enjoys many facets worthy of pride and we should start by celebrating our successes while we continue the process of confronting our challenges.

It was apparent that many if not most of the 40 participants in attendance, who comprise a loosely organized group of people seeking to benefit the valley, are now poised to continue exercising this muscle in successive discussions that are designed to lead to the adoption of several courses of common positive action on behalf of the community.

The VEN meeting takes place every first Thursday of the month beginning at 5:30 p.m. at Anthony’s at the Delta across the Convento in Española. This is a standing community meeting that includes ITAV, the Heart Mind Trust and members of any other organization(s) looking for collaborative solutions. Everyone is welcome!


The Valley Entrepreneur Network meets once a month on the first Thursday of each month at 5:30 at the Inn at the Delta.  About thirty or forty people strong, VEN as it is known, is a valuable opportunity to get out and see what other people in the Española Valley are doing.  And, they are doing a lot, especially when it comes to launching new enterprises, be they businesses, non-profits or service projects.  New internet services are starting up, parks are being planted with edible plants and fruit-bearing trees, while other people are promoting solar energy, organic farming and food processing centers.

During the hour and a half gathering, people share a simple meal of posole or lasagna, welcome and listen to the evening’s speaker address a key point of interest to all.  More importantly, however, everyone has an opportunity to state who they are, what they do and what their initiave yet needs.  Chances are that if you state these three things, some other participant in the room will be needing your product or service or, just as importantly, point you in the right direction or introduce you to the right person who can help you obtain what you are needing, be it a business licence, a particular kind of expertise, personnel, equipment or, if you are lucky, perhaps even capital.

Research has borne out that nothing is quite as effective in the deveopment of a business, enterprise, or service project than networking.  Through networking, one greatly increases once chances at finding the resources or contacts that one needs when one needs them.  Recently, I attended a meeting where someone made known their urgent need for finding work in the health field.  After the meeting, the person was given the names of two individuals who ran health programs in nearby communities.  The person followed up by calling the indicated individuals.  Much to her surprise, she landed, what to her was a perfect situation with the second of two interviews and within just four days of receiving the recommendation.

Do you have a vision or dream for making something positive happen in your community or perhaps for starting a business of your own?  Then come to a VEN meeting soon.