PHOTO CREDIT: Larry Lamsa
A couple of weeks ago, as I drove up through the Española Valley and across the Rio Grande I reflected on my good fortune to be living in New Mexico. In the distance the Jemez Mountains sparkled with new snow, in the foreground low-lying adobe buildings puffed out sweet smelling piñon smoke. I was on my way to Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo to take a cooking class with Norma Naranjo, owner of The Feasting Place (www.thefeastingplace.com). Norma and her husband, Hutch, live and farm on the Pueblo and offer classes on traditional Pueblo cooking. They have two enormous dome-shaped ovens, hornos, in their backyard, hand-built with river rocks and mud plaster by Hutch and his family. Inside, around an enormous dining table, Norma teaches guests how to knead bread by hand, molding it into perfect rounded balls that expand and become golden brown in the hornos. If you take a cooking class with Norma you are guaranteed an experience unlike any other you’ll find in the Southwest.
I moved to New Mexico over a decade ago for three reasons: the rich cultural heritage, the awe-inspiring landscapes, and the green chile. A day with Norma brings all three of those beloved experiences together. New Mexico is distinct from any other place–we’d like to keep it that way. Fortunately, our uniqueness may prove a key economic advantage in the next economy: the creative economy.
ARTWORK: AVA PEETS. Ms. Peets lives and works in Grants, New Mexico.
The creative and cultural economy is emerging at the intersection of human creativity, knowledge and technological innovation. People working in the creative/cultural economy include artists, designers, chefs, filmmakers, publishers, artisan farmers, architects, craftspeople, and performers. The creative economy places a premium on sustaining natural environs and enhancing diversity; it thrives where unique communities embrace their culture and traditions and apply these to markets, when appropriate.
Here in New Mexico the creative economy is emerging as a force for building thriving communities. Our goal at the Global Center for Cultural Entrepreneurship (GCCE) is to strengthen New Mexico’s ability to successfully participate in the creative economy. Using Census and NAICS data, we have learned that 12% of New Mexicans already work in the creative/cultural economy (see the report on our website www.culturalentrepreneur.org). It is a cornerstone of our economic foundation. New Mexico is uniquely positioned to leapfrog into the burgeoning creative/cultural economy, building economic opportunities for families and fostering local culture and traditions.