Back in April of 2020, as we all struggled to adjust to the unprecedented changes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, the APA-NM Board began to discuss ways we could help as a Chapter. As the long-term implications of COVID-19 were still unclear and seemed overwhelming, we began to discuss the possibility of creating a special project to help planners better understand the effects of the pandemic on their communities. At the time, we were already hearing stories from people on how they (and their communities) were staying resilience in the face of the multiple challenges posed by COVID-19. It seemed that these stories of resilience were at the heart of everyone’s experience, and that sharing them would help more people grapple with a difficult time.
From this initial idea to collect and share stories of resilience, our Chapter applied for and received funding from APA National (via a Chapter President’s Council Grant) and the New Mexico Resiliency Alliance to hire five UNM students to carry out this project. After forming the student team in the fall of 2020, we began meeting regularly starting in November of 2020. Since then, the students have taken the lead on refining the initial project plan, conducting research, and designing and implementing an engagement strategy to hear from people around the state.
Where We Are Now
We are currently in the story collecting phase of the project and are seeking to hear from people around the state via a short survey where people can submit stories and artwork (via resiliencenm.org), individual interviews, and group storytelling sessions (focus groups). The survey is currently open until the beginning of March and we will be holding interviews and group story telling sessions in February and early March. Although we’d love to hear from people around New Mexico, we have also focused on eight communities due to time limitations: Albuquerque, Las Cruces, Santa Fe, Roswell, Gallup, Las Vegas, Truth or Consequences, and Pueblo Communities. Together, these communities represent eight different counties and a wide-range of income-levels, peoples, and a diversity of perspectives. We hope these communities will provide a broad spectrum of stories to help each New Mexican feel represented and included.
Once we have heard from and collected stories of resilience, we plan to compile the stories, photos, artwork, and lessons into a booklet and online resource to share. We hope that the stories and other resources will help to reveal the resilience of our communities during the pandemic and highlight some of the positive things that have happened in an otherwise difficult year.