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SPRING 2017


SNCC staff convening at the Santa Fe Art Institute this week (L: Nathaniel Corum, C: Mayrah Udvardi, R: Joseph Kunkel).

SNCC staff convening at the Santa Fe Art Institute this week (L: Nathaniel Corum, C: Mayrah Udvardi, R: Joseph Kunkel).

SANTA FE, New Mexico | It’s been a busy Spring for us here at Sustainable Native Communities Collaborative. With projects underway at Crow Creek, South Dakota; Isle de Jean Charles, Louisiana; and Spokane, Washington; and having returned from a series of exciting conferences, it feels like the ideal time to sit and reflect. We participated in the annual ArtPlace Summit in Seattle, keynoted at the Construction in Indian Country Conference in Phoenix, circled up with our fellow SEED Grantees at the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation Summit in Florida, and are now back in Santa Fe, facilitating the Tribal Resiliency Academy for an AmeriCorps Vista cohort working with a range of tribal community organizations. The conversations that have emerged through these gatherings remind us of the importance of our national network and the power of storytelling in advancing our mission to promote exemplary design processes and built environments with indigenous communities nationwide.


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ART PLACE SUMMIT, Seattle, WA | In mid-May, SNCC had the opportunity to attend the national ArtPlace Summit, a three-day conference designed to refresh our perspectives on place-based work. We joined with 300 other change-makers from around the country in Seattle, Washington for a series of eye-opening panel discussions, tool-building sessions, and moving cultural experiences. This year’s plenary was titled “One Country, Indivisible” and called for participants to celebrate our influences, commonalities, and unity, rather than emphasizing our differences. The conversation touched on the global flux of refugees and immigrants and indigenous communities impacted by potential defunding and environmental exploitation. The Summit recognized common cause among citizens who appear foreign or ‘non-American’ and those who are native to this country. The work ArtPlace is fostering around placemaking aligns closely with our emphasis on community building in American Indian communities. As we move forward in this political era, we must hold true to the spirit of Indigenous Placemaking and ensure that native rights are voiced and honored.


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CONSTRUCTION IN INDIAN COUNTRY CONFERENCE, Phoenix, AZ | For the last six months, SNCC has been engaged in a relationship with the Del E. Webb School of Construction at Arizona State University. Through this partnership, we hope to bring a critical awareness about the importance of design to an institution that operates extensively within Indian Country in the Southwest and is educating the next generation of native and non-native leaders in tribal construction, engineering and project management. On April 17-19, we convened with several hundred students, academics, practitioners, and tribal representatives to define methods of achieving sovereignty through planning, design, and construction. Sovereignty — or the right to make internal decisions related to the development of tribal communities — must encompass hiring policies, taxes and the protection of natural resources, as well as broader measures ensuring that design and construction projects align with their respective Tribe’s economic and community development strategies.

Executive Director Joseph Kunkel, a Visiting Eminent Scholar at the School, gave a keynote address on best practices in sustainable and culturally-relevant design and planning. SNCC also led a workshop discussing ways to introduce a collaborative, culturally appropriate process into tribal communities. The workshop touched on the financial leveraging of the various resources available to Tribes from federal, private and philanthropic sources. Our growing relationship with the ASU academic community promises to bring strength to indigenous communities in the Southwest and beyond. Moreover, the ASU relationship has already connected us with several new tribal communities interested in collaborative, culturally relevant, placemaking work.


Participants of the Tribal Resiliency Academy gather in the courtyard of Santa Fe Art Institute.

Participants of the Tribal Resiliency Academy gather in the courtyard of Santa Fe Art Institute.

TRIBAL RESILIENCY ACADEMY, Santa Fe, NM | As you read this, a group of AmeriCorps Vista members who are working with tribal communities are gathered for a Tribal Resiliency Academy led by Enterprise Community Partners (ECP) with SNCC at the Santa Fe Art Institute. The two-day Academy features a keynote by Nancy Beers, Director of the Midwest Early Recovery Fund, at the Center for Disaster Philanthropy and a range of presentations and team activities facilitated by the ECP and SNCC team. With Ohkay Owingeh Housing Authority (OOHA) staff and Executive Director, and SNCC Board Member, Tomasita Duran, the Academy participants are visiting exemplary housing and Pueblo restoration projects produced by (OOHA) and enjoying a traditional Tewa dinner and conversation circle at the Pueblo. The Academy forms a key part of Resilience AmeriCorps in Tribal Communities, a partnership between the Corporation for National & Community Service (CNCS), ECP, and Conservation Legacy to support 160 AmeriCorps VISTAs members serving in 55 Tribal communities by adding capacity and preparedness in the face of severe weather events. We’re proud to be connecting with this AmeriCorps Vista cohort to provide networking opportunities and to inform their impactful nine-month service periods in Tribal communities across the country.

Note: there are currently AmeriCorps Vista host positions/opportunities open. Please contact Vince Gallagher at Enterprise Community Partners at vgallagher@enterprisecommunity.org.


SEED Grant recipients gather to set intentions at the Rauschenberg Foundation Summit.

SEED Grant recipients gather to set intentions at the Rauschenberg Foundation Summit.

ROBERT RAUSCHENBERG FOUNDATION SUMMIT 2017, Captiva Island, FL | For a week this Spring, SNCC Executive Director, Joseph Kunkel, and Design Director, Nathaniel Corum, participated in the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation Summit 2017. The Summit convened over 70 artists, activists and creative practitioners on the island campus where Robert Rauschenberg lived and worked for most of his long career. The Foundation convened facilitators and presenters to dive deep into topics such as nonprofit governance and fundraising strategies alongside facilitated events to strengthen the SEED Grantee and Artist as Activist networks. We emerged from the Summit invigorated, with new knowledge and allies to amplify our work serving communities in Northern New Mexico and across Indian Country. The SEED Grant program provides value-added support to early stage, groundbreaking projects. The award of a SEED Grant to the Sustainable Native Communities Collaborative represents the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation’s goal to reach more rural and indigenous communities. The SNCC team is looking forward to the three-year period of Foundation support and networking that has just begun. We’re already reaching out to our new #rrfsummit17 network to follow up on documentary production, funding sources and to connect with SEED Grantees traveling in the Southwest and beyond.


Thank you for reading our quarterly newsletter and for your interest in SNCC and culturally and environmentally responsive design!

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