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October 28, 2021
Midtown Block Party Engaged New Voices

The Midtown Block Party on Saturday, October 23, brought over 800 members of the community together to activate the Midtown site and provide opportunities for individuals and groups to give their input on the future of the Midtown property.

The event included food trucks, live music by four groups, a community mural workshop, a tenant rights clinic, film screenings, a community filmmaking workshop, a pumpkin patch, artist booths, raffles, bike giveaways, and other activities that engaged the community in sharing ideas about the future of Midtown.

“This event demonstrated how people from Santa Fe communities can come together to share their ideas and thoughts about the future of our city,” said Mayor Alan Webber. “Next, we make this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity a reality as we move from public input and planning to zoning and execution, and together we’ll create the new center of Santa Fe.”

The City has partnered with local organizations committed to equitable and inclusive processes. The Midtown Engagement Partners hosted the Block Party and include Santa Fe Art Institute, Chainbreaker Collective, Earth Care, Littleglobe, and YouthWorks. Additionally, there were four Midtown Activation Partners that participated in the event -- Fathers of New Mexico, Friends of the Santa Fe Public Library, La Familia Medical Center, and the Santa Fe Indigenous Center.

The Block Party focused on engaging the voices of families with children, people of color, low-income households, and other members of our community that are often left out of the planning process. Future engagement efforts will continue to focus on opportunities for these communities to participate in Midtown planning, along with all members of Santa Fe communities. By all accounts, the Block Party was considered a breakthrough success in this respect:

Miguel Acosta, Co-Director of Earth Care, says: "We were very happy with the results of this collaboration, and with the growing partnerships with city staff and their consultants. This demonstrates increased understanding of the power and possibilities of community-led development. The majority of those in attendance were from populations underrepresented in previous outreach efforts, and several thousands more were engaged in other ways just in the last few weeks."

Melynn Schuyler, Executive Director of YouthWorks, says: “YouthWorks brought 23 youth and young adults from all sectors of the city to assist with the day’s events and activities. They all brought incredible energy and excitement to make the event that much more inclusive and well-rounded! YouthWorks is thrilled about the Midtown Block party's outcomes and feedback from the public! When so much in the world seems off-kilter, the outpouring of interest and energy as a community resounded!”

Jamie Blosser, Executive Director of the Santa Fe Art Institute, says: “The Midtown Block Party demonstrated what is possible when partner organizations utilize their individual skills and talents to work together with the mutual commitment of building a more connected, equitable, and resilient city. How exciting that last weekend we saw the Midtown property come to life as a vibrant, soulful, and community-oriented neighborhood hub!"

Midtown Moving Forward Project Manager Daniel Hernandez reports on preliminary takeaways:

A majority of those who attended participated in a planning survey conducted by the Midtown Engagement Partners and the City. Survey results are expected to be compiled within three weeks. While we heard from many new people from Santa Fe communities, particularly families with children low-income households, and people of color – ‘historically marginalized people’ -- there was exciting consistency of priorities voiced that people want to see in the Midtown District:

  • Housing affordability as a key policy directive;
  • Job creation, at all skill levels, including career jobs in film and multimedia production, arts, and design;
  • Affordable community services incorporated into development, with a focus on child-care and early childhood education, as well as senior services;
  • Public space for civic gatherings, and programming for cultural events, including celebrations important to indigenous populations;
  • Green open space and parks, and a green connection to Franklin Miles Park;
  • Pedestrian and bike-friendly streets that connect to surrounding neighborhoods;
  • Implementation of street-safety measures identified in the Re-Mike and LINC planning processes;
  • Reuse of the Fogelson Library complex as a public library that includes educational programs, and a place for ongoing community planning;
  • An arts hub to sustain community arts and cultural organizations;
  • Consistent desire for a mixed-use district that looks and feels like Santa Fe;
  • Organic development that is incremental, with a focus on using local developers (not a major master developer approach).

Hernandez says: “The Midtown Block Party brought together a huge, widely diverse group of people from various Santa Fe communities. Cities always try to bring together this amount of people and level of diversity when doing city planning and policymaking. Thanks to the administration for supporting local organizations to facilitate and organize a meaningful engagement process, and thanks to the community organizations for partnering among themselves and the city to accomplish so much of what great community and urban planning can be. Midtown will continue to be an opportunity to move forward many of the aspirations of what makes a great, equitable city. This last weekend was just the beginning.”

Learn more about the Midtown Moving Forward agenda and process here: midtownmovingforward.com

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