The conference room at Farmington Municipal Schools was filled with representatives from service agencies and concerned citizens on Friday, April 21, for the 100% San Juan Summit.
Dominic Cappello, who created the organization 100% New Mexico about four years ago along with Katherine Ortega Courtney, said the idea was to help counties in New Mexico build their vital services unit.
As a co-director with Courtney, Cappello said they began with three counties and now have 17 involved in the initiative. “We’re getting emails everyday from all counties asking us how do it, how do we build it – how do we make it happen,” he said.
They work on the county model.
“We think of San Juan County as its own country … that will provide its own services, develop its own economy, become robust and take care of its people,” Cappello said.
The summits held around the state are a key element to get people out meeting others who want to organize and make a difference. This is the third 100% San Juan Summit. “This is a big deal for us,” Cappello said.
“I will tell you this, when you gather a hundred people together for a summit, you start making change,” Cappello said. He said when you bring people into the same room from different sectors they begin talking, which often doesn’t happen in the real world out there.
Cappello was in Roswell last week for a summit that drew a crowd of 150 people. “They are inspiring. To me, these are magic,” he said. “They are for people who want to do the right thing but need a framework.”
The co-authored book by Courtney and Cappello, “100% Community,” is free to download on the website and two books: “David, Age 14” and “Anna, Age Eight,” co-authored by both, tell the stories of vulnerable youths and parents who have fallen through the cracks in rural and urban America.
Cappello, who worked in child welfare with Courtney in Santa Fe, said they saw so many problems.
“Families without services, kids who were traumatized … and what we also saw were no solutions,” he said.
Everyone wanted someone else to “fix it,” according to Cappello. He said they worked at this for a decade “brainstorming” and finally persuaded lawmakers to create the Anna, Age Eight Institute, who is part of New Mexico State University, Cappello’s employer.
“We just decided that enough is enough. Let’s start doing things and stop complaining and start fixing,” Cappello said.
Cappello addressed the room, stating that “our schools can be hubs, a PMS hub, a rural hub, that can be great. And remember, if you can't have every single service in your hub, you have what's called navigators.“
He said when you get every city and town involved, you’ll have a “seamless county system.”
Cappello said they plan to use technology and the internet to help get the word out.
“We can put so much online we can make sure we get rid of the digital divide. But at the end of the day, we're just neighbors helping neighbors helping neighbors,” he said.
One of the attendees, Perla Wahoske, manager of WaFd Bank in Farmington, expressed her concern that maybe everybody (agency) would want to be the one-stop shop or hub for services. Cappello assured her that they would “cope with that.”
Kathy Price, a member of the 100% San Juan Core Team, told the crowd, “We have pockets of great stuff, but we don't have it systemic.”
She said that when connections are made they must lead to more than temporary fixes. She said their mission is to “ensure trauma-free childhoods resilient families, and well resources communities.”
Price acknowledged the efforts of Flo Trujillo, president of Northwest New Mexico Arts Council, who said to her, “Hey, I got some money. Let's do a mural.”
“So we did a mural project in downtown on in the alley between The Ark and Connect Space. A video showing the process of creating the mural was shown.
The goal of 100% San Juan is to make services that are available for everyone within the borders of the county – easy to find.
For more information, go to 100%nm.org.