We took a trip up to the lovely high desert town of Santa Fe last weekend. Mai performed Ikebana at The Molecule, a modern design studio, on Friday evening. We stayed overnight and strolled from our hotel to the Farmers Market on Saturday morning, followed by an afternoon spent at the Japanese Matsuri (Spring Festival) in the downtown Convention Center. Walking helped us slow down and have time to appreciate the often times contrasting sights, inscribing and better integrating an understanding of the diverse character of Santa Fe through our web of experience.
The Molecule is constructed of recycled shipping containers. Quite a contrast to the Spanish-Pueblo architecture and designs from other eras. Santa Fe is a fusion of intersecting cultures and times, making it a natural hub for innovation. The Molecule is just south of Railyard Park which is home to the trendy yet ancient Farmers Market.
Walking is the way to discover what this global city has to offer. Creative Santa Fe made a cool walking map of a route from the Railyard Plaza to Downtown, which are intertwined with the Acequia and Rail Trails plus many streets. Sometimes inviting people to walk again is important in a culture where driving can be reflexive. The walking journey creates remembered miles. Santa Fe is so rich and dense with cultural attractions walking is an elegantly simple way to appreciate the living here. Walking is an integral part of threading together a sense of this place, and often opens up opportunities to meet people, get pleasantly sidetracked and enjoy improvisational moments. You have great freedom in making your own discoveries once you see this as a place where you can walk to destinations everywhere, or combine with transit.
People come from all over for the Japanese Festival. Ringtaro Tateishi’s drumming captivated the audience. Of course the food served at Matsuri from local restaurants was so good that ambling around the show floor and plaza was beneficial to work up appetites for more delicious sampling. The textures of this world, from the building décor to the ambiance of celebratory Springtime, charmed us beyond measure. Everywhere we are reminded of the wide range of global histories intersecting in the Southwest, through people, architecture, food, art.
Headed back to Albuqueurque we stopped at La Cienguilla petroglyphs, a place we’ve always wanted to explore. The walk along the edge of the basalt escarpment takes effort but it is worth the awesome surprise of the rock art panels opening up to you, and the opportunity to contemplate the rock artists’ ability to communicate through time. Overlooking the Santa Fe river and with far away vistas of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range above Santa Fe, it was a neat spot to visit. The ancient artists chose wisely. It was good for us to get out in the country for a gentle stroll and let those close up city times echo around and spiral their way into our memories. The urban life contrasted with the rural setting puts you at ease and opens your imagination. Spending a weekend walking in Santa Fe turns restlessness into a creative event, and is a good way to live fully in the present while arriving to a healthier future here.
Good planning creates opportunities for people to envision and make healthier and more productive choices. It is encouraging to see an entrepreneurial spirit come out in individuals and families who are taking advantage of the walking and biking around Santa Fe to make their own pathways of discovery. These direct experiences build up knowledge in our population, making for better connections to this land we are still arriving at. Santa Fe is walking heaven.
The Santa Fe metro planning org. is generating a Pedestrian Master Plan. They are my organization of the month because of the way they’ve included human powered mobility in Santa Fe’s portfolio of exceptional natural assets:
Creative Santa Fe Org. explains why walking rules and is a good thing for people & the city.
The Santa Fe Conservation Trust has a great toolkit for active transportation planning.