Our Land, Our Health Toolkit Available!

Our Land Our Health Flyer

Our Land, Our Health is a multi-media training and resource manual that will help community members better understand how land use policies shape our neighborhoods and effect community health. The Toolkit also provides tools, resources, and information to effectively engage in the public decision-making process, and advocate for policies that will create healthier communities. Trainings can be done in one 4-hour timeblock or split up into multiple shorter sessions.

Click the following links to view the Toolkit and Trainer’s Manual:

Our Land, Our Health Toolkit Version 1

Our Land, Our Health Manual

Throughout 2016, Health Matters NM will be conducting trainings throughout New Mexico. To schedule a training contact either Matt (mattcg@bcplacematters.com) or James (jaranda@bcplacematters.com)

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




Albuquerque Farmers Markets



Farmers Markets Benefits:


  • You can ask your farmer/producer how your food was grown or processed directly.
  • You improve your and your families diet and nutrition by having access to fresh food.
  • Better options of chemical and antibiotic free, free range, organic, and fresh products.
  • You can find information and inspiration on how to cook and prepare fresh ingredients.


  • Cuts out the middleman allowing increased financial returns through direct selling, price control, and a regular cash flow.
  • Provides the producer with direct customer feedback on produce and prices.
  • Transport and packaging requirements are less thus reducing the producers’ costs and waste.
  • They provide a secure and regular market outlet. This is especially valuable for; new producers, producers in organic conversion, and small scale producers who are unable to produce the quantity required by supermarkets.

The Environment

  • They help reduce food miles, thus vehicle pollution, noise, and fossil fuel use.
  • They help to reduce packaging reducing waste going to our land fields.
  • They encourage more environmental production practices, such as organic or pesticide free.
  • They encourage farm diversification and hence bio-diversity and example is the different varieties of carrots or tomatoes you can find the you never see in a grocery store.

The Community & Local Economy

  • Farmers markets help bring life into communities aiding regeneration.
  • They encourage social interaction particularly between rural and urban communities.
  • They stimulate local economic development by increasing employment, encouraging consumers to support local business, and thus keeping the money within the local community.
  • They attract business to retailers in the vicinity.

They provide partnership opportunities with schools and community programs to teach the next generation about sustainability of growing our food locally.


Here’s an Infographic of the locations in Albuquerque:  (To enlarge click on the image and a new window will open then click again to zoom-in) 

My Infographic

Cherry Blossoms and Policy: Bernalillo County Team Members go to DC Lab 3

Cherry Blossom Peak
Cherry Blossom Peak


Place Matters Action Lab 3
Washington DC, April 10, 2013

Day 1: AL3 TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE LAB -TA Accountability Plan

Attendees from Bernalillo County: Esther Abeyta, Lauro Silva, Gerald Montoya, and Julio Dominguez on the phone: Kristine Suozzi, Julie Stephens, Jessi Jensen.

2013-04-10 10.31.39

The BC Team participated in a Technical Assistance Lab, discussion the need to present to the Albuquerque-Bernalillo Air Quality Control Board, City Council and other elected officials about the mission of Place Matters, the CHER report, and to provide expert testimony on land use issues that affect health, especially in disadvantaged low income communities of color. The BC team also talked about finding assistance to bring in technical experts that can present data at public hearings.

Esther and Gerald posted a question about integrating the HIA process into a bill at the State Legislature, so that for every permit requested there would be an HIA conducted. According to some team members there has been movement in the community about the integration of HIAs state-wide with the help of State Senator Tim Keller from the International District.  The team and Common Health Action also came up with 7/30/90 day goals.


Day 2:

Tour of the Martin Luther King Memorial and participation in the Immigration March on the National Mall.

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MLK Memorial in the National Mall.

As the day went on there were several breakout sessions on the following topics:

  • How to keep the Place Matters Movement moving in a climate of limited resources.
  • How to insert a Place Matters agenda into state/federal policy.
  • Opportunities and challenges of doing Place Matters work in rural communities.

Then the night ended with the movie “Pray the Devil Back to Hell”.

The immigration reform rally was put together by several organizations including the SEIU and the message was that we need comprehensive immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship.

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Immigration reform rally at the west lawn of the Capital










The team also got to use the DC Metro system which was clean, easy to use and very effective mode of transportation.

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DC Metro System waiting platform.

The King County Place Matters Team shared with other teams about how they coordinated their CHER report at the right time with conferences in town and took advantage of the media coverage and as a result funders came to them for proposals.

Another presenter was Jim Bloyd from Cook County.   Bloyd’s presentation was about how organizations without a strategic plan and capacity lose a lot of ground, especially with the continuity of funding sources.  Non-profits should also look to raise funds from the private sector, like banks or large businesses, which could provide autonomy from a single large funder and allow the organization to be positioned to have a strong impact in the community for a long time.  Some suggested that in order to make this practical is to give every member in the team responsibility for a key issue like fundraising, grant writing, outreach, research etc.

Also there was a Presentation titled “The Opportunity Agenda” that can be found in this link: (Missing, to be added soon)

Day 4: Visiting the Capital and informing our elected officials what the team is doing with the Place Matters Initiatives and some of the issues in Bernalillo County’s communities.

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Esther informing staffer about her community at Michelle Lujan Grisham’s Office.
Lauro and Julio having a conversation about Place Matters with staffers at Tom Udall’s office.
Maria, Gerry and Esther talking about community issues and Place Matters to staffer in Martin Heinrich’s office.



For Immediate Release

  • For Immediate Release

Contact: Brian Byrnes, President & CEO, Santa Fe Community Foundation, bbyrnes@santafecf.org, 505-988-9715 x7001.

Racial and economic health disparities to be addressed through $3.11 million W.K. Kellogg Foundation grant


Santa Fe, NM (August 7, 2012) – W. K. Kellogg Foundation has announced a three-year, $3.11 million grant to fund a community-based health planning and policy development partnership across New Mexico. Housed at the Santa Fe Community Foundation, the project will give local leaders in Bernalillo, Dona Ana, McKinley, and San Juan Counties the data, tools and skills to address social, economic and environmental conditions in their communities that shape health outcomes.

The grant will be used to combine the strengths of three statewide activities: the New Mexico Alliance of Health Councils, the Place Matters initiative, and training local leaders to do Health Impact Assessments. Health impact assessments examine the effects of public policy on health. Place Matters teams, made up of local leaders, use those findings to advocate for policy change and inform public opinion.

Santa Fe Community Foundation will function as a backbone institution coordinating these three efforts out of their headquarters in downtown Santa Fe.

The Health Equity Partnership will ultimately result in the creation of the New Mexico Health Equity Institute. This effort will have a particular focus on racial, environmental and economic-based health inequities related to higher infant mortality, higher rates of disease and disability, and shortened life expectancy.

Nationally, inequities like these have added more than $50 billion a year in direct U.S. health care costs over a four-year period, according to a study released by the Health Policy Institute at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. The study also estimated that the indirect costs of racial inequalities associated with illness and premature death amounted to more than a trillion dollars over 2006-2009.

New Mexico is one of a small minority of states with a centralized, statewide health department, rather than county or municipal-based health departments, making the need for community-based health planning, assessment and action at the local level even more critical. This is especially true in those communities with significant health disparities due to inequitable resource allocation and policies.

“Poverty creates social, economic and environmental conditions that disproportionately affect the health of Hispanic, Native American and immigrant people in our communities. This is a matter of justice. These unnecessary health problems have a tragic impact on quality of life and negatively affect the stability of families and communities across the state,” said Brian T. Byrnes, Santa Fe Community Foundation President and CEO. “This inequity has a ripple effect beyond the individual. It hampers our workforce readiness and competitiveness as a state, and frustrates our ability to contain health care costs and improve overall health care quality. This grant will enable the partners in this collaborative effort to help community leaders drive solutions to this immense problem.”



Santa Fe Community Foundation is 31 years old with total assets of approximately $53 million. In 2011, the Foundation and its donors made almost $3 million in grants to nonprofit organizations and in 2012 has received gifts of $13 million. The Foundation is made up of 320 separate philanthropic funds established by donors and nonprofit organizations either for the general benefit of the community or for special purposes. The Santa Fe Community Foundation and its Hub for Social Innovation serves as a major provider of information, convener, nonprofit capacity builder, and sponsor of special initiatives designed to address the community’s and region’s most pressing challenges.




PLACE MATTERS 2012 National Health Equity Conference


The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies Health Policy Institute will hold its 2012 PLACE MATTERS National Health Equity Conference, entitled Models of Action, Innovation, and Collaboration, on September 4 and 5, 2012 at the Renaissance Hotel in Washington, DC.

Featured speakers include:

  • Angela Glover Blackwell, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of PolicyLink
  • Dr. Howard Frumkin, Dean and Professor of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, University of Washington School of Public Health
  • Geoffrey Canada, President and CEO of the Harlem Children’s Zone
  • Kathy Lim Ko, President and CEO, Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum

Open Space Matters

On Tuesday, July 17, a panel of environmental educators, a few medical doctors and other health professionals, met to celebrate the newly opened Bernalillo County Open Space Bachechi property on the corner of Rio Grande and Alameda. The conversation focused on the connection with being healthy and the availability of open spaces.

While it was great to get a diversity of people taking about how open space and health are connected, much of the conversation was still about how to get patients to follow the advice of their doctors and make good decisions- like get outdoors more.  Recognizing the connection between open space and being healthy is a great first step in addressing chronic diseases in our communities, but who actually has access to open space is the deeper conversation that needs to happen.

Knowledge about individual behaviors will only get us so far. The end goal seemed to be: how do we get all New Mexicans covered with a medical plan and to make better choices? While having all people covered in case of sickness is important, what if communities were healthy enough not to need constant medical care?  What if the conversation was around health equity and the causes of the causes of chronic diseases?   What if ALL neighborhoods had the resources they needed to be healthy? Healthcare is only one small part of being healthy (even though that’s where most of the health dollars are spent). Individual behaviors are important too, but the real question is: What if the healthy choice was the easy choice (cost and accessibility) for ALL people?