The Center for Community Geography at The University of New Mexico is hosting a workshop later this month, a great opportunity for people outside the University to learn about new initiatives in community geography, and for students and faculty to hear from community partners about project ideas and needs, said Maria Lane, professor of Geography & Environmental Studies and director of the R.H. Mallory Center for Community Geography. The program will be presented live, as well as virtually and everyone is welcome.

Maria Lane

How to Get Started in Community Geography is set for Wednesday, March 23, 4:30-5:30 p.m. The in-person event will be held at Mitchell Hall, Room 202. Register here to attend the Zoom presentation.

This one-hour workshop is for community members, students, and faculty who want to learn about or get involved with community geography initiatives at UNM and will provide an overview of current projects, explain how to apply for funding, review what is and isn’t “community geography,” and discuss ideas for new projects in and around Albuquerque.

The workshop will include lightning presentations on funded projects, information about 2022-2023 funding competitions for students and faculty, and funding/opportunities for community partners. Grad funding fellowship winners from the past year will present for 5 minutes each on their projects:

Lia Griesser will discuss her project “Valley of the Mills.” In this project, Lia works with Visiones Collaborativas/The Mora Empowerment Project, to consider the viability of traditional land management practices along the upper Rio Mora, New Mexico, to equitably restore the soil through an agro-ecological framework that can regenerate bio-cultural and financial viability.

Stefany Olivas will discuss her project “Soil microbial health at urban agroecology community farm in ABQ, NM.” In this project, Olivas works with Project Feed the Hood (PFTH) to gather data on effectiveness of their soil health practices over time to help improve the community farm use of soil tillage systems as they plant over 150 edible perennial trees, shrubs, and herbs to establish a food forest.

Joseph Scala will discuss his project “Developing a GIS (Geographic Information Systems) model for prioritization of urban community forestry initiatives for the State of New Mexico.” In this project, Joe works with the New Mexico State Forestry Division to develop a GIS model for urban community forestry to increase tree canopy in populated areas to provide cooling shade, clean and protect water, increase people’s access to nature’s health benefits, and support local economies.

The faculty winners of seed funding for community engaged classrooms will present for 5 minutes each on their projects:

Dr. Yolanda C. Lin received a $1,000 award for community engagement in “Information Design for Science and Society” (GEOG 2115), a new course at UNM in the university’s general education curriculum (communications area). Lin is using the award to collaborate with the City Nature Challenge Albuquerque team and help promote their annual spring citizen science event on the iNaturalist platform.

Dr. Marygold Walsh-Dilley received $1,000 to support community engagement in her class on “Food, Environment, and Society” (GEOG 464). During the spring 2021 semester, students engaged with the Lobo Food Pantry, the Lobo Garden, the Santa Fe Food Depot, and the UNM Basic Needs project to examine food security of UNM students. Students developed proposals for how to improve food security of students, and Walsh-Dilley used the $1,000 award to implement a student proposal to create a public map that identifies food security resources in the university area.

Lane worked with the Center for Community Geography in her class on Critical Cartography (GEOG413/513), a new course at UNM focused on the intersection of mapping, ethics, and power. During spring 2021, students worked with partners in Bernalillo County to create two StoryMaps to improve awareness of and access to the El Camino Real National Historical Trail. Their cartographic contributions illustrate the important cultural and spatial connections made along El Camino Real that continue to make echoes today.

How to Get Started in Community Geography
March 23, 4:30-5:30 p.m.
In person event, Mitchell 202

(Also streaming via Zoom: click here to register.)

Abstract: This one-hour workshop is for community members, students, and faculty who want to learn about or get involved with community geography initiatives at UNM. We will provide an overview of current projects, explain how to apply for funding, review what is and isn’t “community geography,” and discuss ideas for new projects in and around Albuquerque. No experience necessary to attend! 

Workshop Agenda

4:30 Welcome & Introductions

4:35 What is community geography?

4:40 Community geography initiatives at UNM 4:45 Lightning presentations: projects funded in 2021-22

Students: Lia Gresser – “Valley of the Mills” Joe Scala – “Prioritization of Urban Community Forestry Initiatives” Stefany Olivas – “Soil Microbial Health at an Urban Agroecology Community Farm” Faculty/classes: “Food, Environment & Society” – Dr. Marygold Walsh-Dilley and Ramona Malczynski “Information Design in Science & Society” – Dr. Yolanda Lin “Critical Cartography” – Desiree Loggins

5:15 2022-23 Funding competitions for students and faculty 5:20 2022-23 Funding & project opportunities for community partners 5:25 Questions and feedback 

No experience needed

No experience is necessary to attend the workshop and you don’t have to major in or have a degree to be interested and participate in Geography, Lane emphasized.

Albuquerque business owner Robert Mallory, for whom the Community Geography Center is named, calls himself an “accidental geographer.” Beyond his professional work, he also sees geography awareness as part of being an informed citizen and thinks that a person who is skilled at finding connections and orienting the world is a powerful community member.

“The great thing about geography is that it’s focused on spatial relationships, and interactions between humans and the environment means it is wide-reaching. We consider many people geographers even when they don’t have the formal title,” Lane explained.

The Center for Community Geography supports community-engaged research and learning in human-environment dynamics. It engages directly with community groups and partners in work ranging from environmental change, natural resource conservation, and water management, to cultural preservation, human health, and community planning. The Center bolsters UNM’s commitment to community engagement by providing direct support for learners, researchers, and community partners who work specifically on human-environment issues.

The Center for Community Geography does not offer classes, but collaborates with professors to provide opportunities for students to apply for grants, join projects, or conduct research. While the Center is a part of the Geography Department anyone can get involved, contact the Center through its website, or propose new ideas.

The Center recently announced funding opportunities for students and faculty, focusing on projects that help bring community concerns and knowledge into the classroom. Faculty can apply for $1,000 seed funding to connect with community needs in next year’s classes. And students can apply for $1,000 fellowships for research that engages with community priorities. Application guidelines are available on the Center website.

Anyone interested in partnering with the Center is encouraged to email Lane.

Follow the Center for Community Geography on Twitter.

Related articles