Bernalillo County PLACE MATTERS: Public Health Heroes

The Bernalillo County PLACE MATTERS (BCPM) team is part of a nationwide campaign focused on how our neighborhoods and location affect our well being, or in other words, how our zip code can largely determine how healthy we are. The committed staff and volunteers at BC PLACE MATTERS have worked for nine years pushing for an ethical and equitable approach to land use. The projects they confront move at a slow and hulking pace, as is the nature of planning/policy work; of course once policies are instated or communities built, reversing the process is an even more daunting task. PLACE MATTERS focuses on the future through the lens of environmental justice and health, and they push policy makers to make the right choices now, so that we do not suffer the consequences of a lack of foresight down the road. They want to see Albuquerque grow in a way that encourages healthy lifestyles. They want us to grow with a sustainable future in mind, and they want us to grow so that all demographics are equally benefitted by development. The team points to the fact that people cannot make healthy choices if they do not have ACCESS to healthy choices. People cannot buy healthy food until it becomes affordable and available; they cannot walk or bike to work until it is safe and easy to do so. The PLACE MATTERS team sees it as their job as public health and environmental justice advocates to support future generations to have access to these aspects of a quality, healthy life.

 Currently the team is involved in collecting a large and diverse set of data in the form of a C.H.E.R. (Community Health Equity Report) to deliver to policymakers and the public about what it takes to be a healthy community, and where we stand now on our path to get there. Stay posted on their efforts as this will offer a profound insight to the nature and well being of our Albuquerque community (We can expect the full report to come out sometime around the new year.) The organization is also involved in far more pressing issues in Albuquerque’s planning sphere, the latest being the controversial Santolina Master Plan Development project that has been undergoing public hearings throughout the summer.

So what is Santolina?

The Proposed Development in Relations to the Greater ABQ Region

The Santolina Master Plan development is a proposed master-planned community. Poised to be built on the southwest boundary of Albuquerque, the development would house 90,000 people, and span nearly 14,000 acres. Developers point to job creation and future demands for housing as the driving forces of the development, but the proposal is not proceeding without opposition. Albuquerque residents and other grassroots organizations are raising critical questions about the allocation of tax-dollars, the lack of quality infrastructure WITHIN the city limits, and most importantly, where the community will get its water rights. BC PLACE MATTERS is also getting involved, at the root they are aiming to inform and encourage the public to make their own decision. Like any major city undertaking this development will come with pros and cons that need to be weighed before any decisions are final. PLACE MATTERS would like the discretion and action from an informed public to be the deciding factor. As mentioned, the proposal is well underway; the next public hearing being this Wednesday, the 29th, at the Civic Plaza. The future of our city is being molded, right now, through these public forums and discussions, so the time to have your voice heard is upon us. BC PLACE MATTERS urges the citizens of ABQ to envision the future of their city, and to consider the direction we need to take here in 2014, to prepare for 2020, 2050, and beyond. 

For more information, or if you’d like to get involved,

Jacque M. Garcia, MPH

Bernalillo County Place Matters (BCPM) Coordinator

New Mexico Voices For Children