American Roundtable: Diverse Peoples, Arid Landscapes, and the Built Environment, Lower Rio Grande, New Mexico

Editor Ane González Lara and contributors Saray Argumedo, Lucia Carmona, Tina Cordova, Theodore Jojola, Kathleen Kambic, and Patricia Riggs present the report, Diverse Peoples, Arid Landscapes, and the Built Environment and discuss key themes and findings.

January 29, 2021
12:00 p.m.

Arid landscapes of the Lower Rio Grande Valley. Credit: John Acosta

American Roundtable is a new Architectural League initiative, bringing together on-the-ground perspectives on the condition of American communities and what they need to thrive going forward.

Arid landscapes and rich overlays of cultures define the Lower Rio Grande Valley of south-central New Mexico. These two conditions and the challenges and opportunities they present will confront ever more American communities in the years to come. As the region charts its future course through the issues of environmental racism, water scarcity, border security, and agricultural distress, and builds on the strengths of its multiculturalism and movement for indigenous rights, what can be learned from this land and its peoples?

Join report editor Ane González Lara and contributors Saray Argumedo, Lucia Carmona, Tina Cordova, Theodore Jojola, Kathleen Kambic, and Patricia Riggs, as they share findings and highlights from their American Roundtable report, Diverse Peoples, Arid Landscapes, and the Built Environment. Their informal presentation will be followed by discussion on some of the report’s key ideas and provocations with American Roundtable Project Director Nicholas Anderson and League Executive Director Rosalie Genevro. Read the full report on Lower Rio Grande, New Mexico.

Learn more about the American Roundtable initiative.

Ane González Lara is an assistant professor at Pratt Institute’s School of Architecture and the co-founder of Idyll Projects. González Lara’s research interests include pedagogy as well as social and climate justice as they relate to the built environment. She is the co-editor of The Routledge Companion to Architectural Pedagogies of the Global South, forthcoming in summer 2021. González Lara taught at the University of New Mexico for three years and continues to split her time between Santa Fe and Brooklyn. 

Saray Argumedo is a fronteriza born in South Los Angeles and raised in the borderland of El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexico. Her family originates from the mountains and cornfields of Saín Alto Zacatecas and Hidalgo del Parral Chihuahua. She received her master’s degree in community and regional planning from the University of New Mexico and now works as the program analyst for the department of tribal empowerment at Ysleta del Sur Pueblo. She is a doctoral student at The University of Texas at El Paso, where she is exploring and implementing decolonizing-participatory methodologies to help support Indigenous community development.

Lucía Verónica Carmona is a native of Juarez, Chihuahua, from Rarámuri (Tarahumara) ancestry, and has lived in Las Cruces, New Mexico, for the last 15 years. After immigrating to the United States, she led and participated in different local campaigns and grassroots movements along the border region. Through her social justice work, she became a lead organizer for the Colonias Development Council, board president of the farmworkers Sin Fronteras Organizing Project, and the regional project coordinator in Southern New Mexico for the National Immigrant Farming Initiative

Tina Cordova is the cofounder of the Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium (TBDC). She is a sixth-generation native New Mexican, born and raised in the small town of Tularosa in south-central New Mexico. In 2005, Cordova cofounded TBDC with the late Fred Tyler. Its mission is to bring attention to the negative health effects suffered by the unknowing, unwilling, uncompensated, innocent victims of the first nuclear blast on earth that took place at the Trinity Site in south-central New Mexico. Cordova is a cancer survivor, having been diagnosed with thyroid cancer when she was 39 years old.

Theodore (Ted) Jojola, Ph.D. is a distinguished professor and regents professor in the regional planning program at the University of New Mexico. He is the founder and director of the Indigenous Design + Planning Institute, iD+Pi, which works with tribal communities primarily in the Southwest but has projects in other parts of the nation as well as internationally. iD+Pi grounds its work in the Generations model and uses culture and identity to inform its approaches to community engagement and development. Jojola is actively involved in major research projects on Indigenous planning and design and has co-authored books and written numerous articles on these subjects. He is an enrolled member of the Pueblo of Isleta.

Kathleen Kambic is an assistant professor in the department of landscape architecture at the University of New Mexico and an affiliate with the school’s water resources program and the department of geography and environmental studies. Her research interests include water infrastructure, marginalized urban space, political ecology, and landscape theory. Her current research explores feminist critiques of landscape architecture as well as water infrastructure and governance in arid landscapes. Recently, Kambic has taught graduate seminars and studios on decentralized water infrastructure, site planning, drawing, and typology. She has also won multiple international design competitions as part of interdisciplinary faculty teams.

Patricia Riggs is an Indigenous consultant and citizen of Ysleta del Sur Pueblo.


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