Written by Alicia Lueras Maldonado
As we sat in the community room behind the St. Martin’s Coffee Shop on the corner of Lomas and 2nd Street listening to Mark Allison, former Executive Director of the Supportive Housing Coalition of New Mexico, give a bit of history on the building I was filled with hope and possibilities. It was the perfect place to host our third Peña for the Common Good. I remember when the building was going up, I thought to myself, “Great, another set of expensive lofts in the core of our city catering to the wealthy.” Boy, was i wrong.
The Coalition built and owns the housing and St. Martin’s runs the Coffee Shop and provides some of the services out the building. The tenants are diverse, ranging from formerly homeless individuals to low-wage workers and market-rate residents. The opportunity to live in a beautiful built environment, with the values of sustainablity, and proximity to public transportation, is something that should be available to all community members.
As Jenny Metzler from Albuquerque Healthcare for the Homeless put it, “700 @ 2nd Street is a major statement about what we can do with sustainable, livable, affordable housing in our city’s core. It’s a great example of the common good and its narrative reflects that.”
For our third Peña we were excited to push the dialogue forward on the common good and really challenge ourselves to think about what is possible and what we can do together in our work. How is this frame of the common good strategic to our work and how can it help to knit together disparate issues and organizations?
We were very excited to also bring Kim Klein back to New Mexico to be part of this peña. Kim had presented at our convening in April and was a catalyst for launching the Peñas for the Common Good. We presented a fishbowl conversation that was facilitated by Kim and featured community members, Adriann Barboa of Strong Families, Adrian Pedroza of Partnership for Community Action and Ona Porter of Prosperity Works. They shared with us their thoughts on the potential for how the common good could bring people together in ways that are not currently being used; the barriers they faced in their work and how they continue to push forward.
One question that stood out for me during our discussions was from a woman who does healthcare work. She asked, “How do i reach a larger audience in my work and engage people who don’t share my same values. Can I engage people without compromising my values?” Kim Klein responded emphatically, “Yes!”
The conversation was rich and I felt as though we had reached a new level in how we contribute to the common good and how each of us bring something unique to the conversation. As Adrian Pedroza said, “We don’t all have to agree all the time. And we may not always be able to join in each other’s campaigns, but if we can at least refrain from throwing each other under the bus and undermining each other’s work that is a good thing.” That is part of the common good as well. Knowing and respecting each other’s differences, but not giving up and continuing to engage one another and the broader community.
As we look ahead to our next peña, we will continue to look for strategic ways to move the conversation forward and look for the connections that tie our work together.