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Grant Update: Seeding Regenerative Agriculture Project
Last November 15, this newsletter announced Cruces Creatives’s first grant award: a project, funded by the Thornburg Foundation and McCune Charitable Foundation, for work with farmers, ranchers, and agricultural scientists to identify and address obstacles to regenerative agriculture (an approach to farming and ranching that can offer both environmental and economic benefits by cultivating ecosystem health from the soils up). Within the project, Cruces Creatives has been responsible for technology development and coordinating the efforts of the different groups and skill sets involved. The project finishes this week, and it has been a tremendous success!
Over 85% of the farmers and ranchers participating in the project reported that they were able to implement new regenerative agriculture practices and expand their existing regenerative practices thanks to their participation, and the technology team at Cruces Creatives has been able to develop both a cloud-connected soil temperature sensor and a grain cleaner for amaranth seeds, which are native and extremely drought tolerant. Thanks to the Thornburg Foundation and the McCune Charitable Foundation for making this work possible!
Local artists Raquel Madrigal and Henry Hartig have finished the mural “By the Dam” on the north side of Cruces Creatives, and it looks great! The mural is part of a bi-national art exhibit, “Species in Peril Along the Rio Grande.”
Figure 1. Participants at a grant workshop on land contouring for passive rainwater harvest
Figure 2. An amaranth grain cleaner
Figure 3. "By the Dam"
Scouts at the Makerspace!
Multiple partnership programs with the Scouts are launching this fall, starting with workshops on Cubmobiles! Every Thursday evening through October 24, teams of Scouts and adults will be using the makerspace wood shop to build or repair Cubmobiles in preparation for races on Nov. 2. Several further partnerships are in development--including pinewood derby, naturally.
STEAM Program Update
A quick and happy update on the STEAM Team programs for 4th and 5th graders: through work on conductive, interactive alebrijes, student participants are learning circuity and programming in conjunction with arts and life science. In preparation for the project, the students studied multiple animal species, then used their imaginations and paper mache to make whimsical chimeras: alebrijes. The students also designed the alebrijes to include circuitry and conductive touchpoints connected to computer programs via Makey Makey kits, so when the conductive areas are touched, the alebrijes might make noises, or their LED eyes might light up. It's amazing what kids can do!
Paint-by-Numbers Mural at Branigan Library this Weekend!
The free mural-painting events at Branigan Library are this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday! Thanks to the paint-by-numbers design, anybody can help paint, regardless of artistic ability. Bring the family and come on out!
Pecha Kucha at Cruces Creatives?
Twenty slides, twenty seconds per slide: that’s Pecha Kucha. It’s like an accelerated TED Talk, with topics ranging across art, science, business—any form of creativity, really. You can learn more about this engaging and informative presentation style at www.pechakucha.com.
Pecha Kucha events are currently hosted in over 1,000 cities worldwide, including El Paso, but there isn’t yet a Pecha Kucha group in Las Cruces. How about we start one, hosted at Cruces Creatives? We have the creativity, we have the space, we have the stage and sound system and projector. All we need is a program organizer. If you think that might be you, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.”
– Edgar Degas
On the first Friday of every month, a new art exhibit opens at Cruces Creatives as part of the Downtown Art Ramble. Over the past year, most of the exhibits have been for beauty and enjoyment— on September 6, the art show also aimed to help protect the environment.
This special exhibit was part of a partnership with the Meetings for Environmentally Sustainable Agriculture (MESA) Project, which draws on grant funding from ArtPlace America to host free gourmet meals where stakeholders in the agricultural sector can share knowledge and make business and research partnerships (especially for projects that reduce water use, protect soils, or bring other environmental and economic benefits). So far, the MESA Project has used culinary arts to bring together over 250 farmers, ranchers, agricultural scientists, policy makers, chefs, food distributors, and other stakeholders in the local agricultural system; the MESA Art Show, open to everyone, used culinary, visual, and performing arts to spur reflection and discussions about the connections among agriculture, the environment, and our community in Doña Ana County.
Like every MESA event, food was a big part of the MESA Art Show. Chala’s Wood Fired Grill brought a smorgasbord of tapas—goat cheese and tomato tarts, roasted vegetables, roasted sausage; cream cheese, pecan, and green chile; and more—many of which were made with locally sourced ingredients.
Of course, the main event of the night was the revealing of two art exhibits: “This Land” by Deborah Burian and the “MESA Art Show” itself, by multiple local artists. Both exhibits shared the purpose to bring attention to the intersections between environment and agriculture; to remind us of where our food comes from as well as the need to protect our lands and our natural beauties. Whether the art pieces were paintings, panoramas, or sculptures with punny titles, the two exhibits brought a combined beauty that brought a wondrous question: why do we take our world, what it offers, and those who work its ground for granted?
One of the exhibits also incorporated an interactive element. On a wall, multiple pictures of the same empty garden were lined up in rows. Sharpies of various colors were lined up to the right of them, and above them, “Draw what you would like to see grow!” was painted on the wall. The empty plots soon became filled throughout the night, some people drawing real plants and others drawing plants from fiction or just their imagination. Others didn’t draw plants at all, rather drawing things like rockets, UFOs with aliens, or drew the Organ Mountains in the photo’s background. Using a purple sharpie, I drew a grape vine, adding a more simple but fun picture to the collection. Although at first just a assembly of the same photo, the wall would soon showcase a flourishing garden of creativity.
The participatory mural was a popular section of the event for adults and kids alike as we all worked together to finish it. The mural was paint-by-numbers, allowing everyone to help paint no matter their artistic experience, and depicted various fruits and vegetables sprawled across the break-room wall. I helped fill in the black outline of one of such fruits to find that I should have been less focused on the concept of paint-by-numbers and more on the concept of paint-within-the-lines. No matter my own unsteady hand, the mural turned out to be a fun and colorful piece of art that is both enjoyable to look at and enjoyable to reminisce about. It certainly adds some vibrancy to the Cruces Creative break-room!
The music was particularly compelling and would be my personal favorite part of the event. Before and after the open-mic, the musical duo, The Old-Time Pharmaceuticals, kept the audience’s ears filled with nature-themed traditional ballads and original songs that were often catchy to the point that it was hard to not sing along, although later there would be a few melodies with the invitation to the audience to do so. The open-mic itself led to a variety of singers and performers with various instruments, providing songs of various topics, such as love, mourning and remembrance, nostalgia, and hope. Whether by The Old-Time Pharmaceuticals or the volunteer performers, the night was filled with songs of nature, farm life, lullabies, and sea shanties in the quiet desert.
No matter shown through the voice of a song or through the paint on a canvas, art and the celebration of it remained the focus of the night. Each exhibit showed pieces that reflected the values and stories of the artists, but more importantly brought out the values and stories of we who saw them as we found our own meanings in them and merged them with the artists’ to create something new. Each piece brought something new to the collection, and it was a privilege to be able to be one of the first to see them revealed.
Overall, the MESA Art Show was a fantastic time of exportation and wonder, starting September off not with a bang but with song. I was able to meet so many new people in our community in a short amount of time, being able to bond over a common interest in the appreciation of art, as we shared in the great food and great company that the event offered.
Powerful New Software Available for 3D Printing, Laser Cutting, and CNC
The makerspace 3D printers, CNC machines, and laser cutter just got even more useful! Cruces Creatives now has an educational license for LuBan, a software program that post-processes 3D files. In an especially useful feature, it can break apart large designs and allow them to be printed in multiple pieces. LuBan is available on the 3D printing computer in the electronics lab, and training will be available shortly!
Paint-by-Numbers Community Mural--Next Weekend!
You can help paint a mural at Branigan Library! As part of Mural Month,Cruces Creatives is hosting three free workshops to create a mural using a paint-by-numbers approach on Friday, September 27; Saturday, September 28; and Sunday, September 29. Special thanks to the Rumphius Foundation, which funded the project, and local artist Eugenia “AO” Carmona, who developed the design. For more information about this series of events and Mural Month in general, visit http://www.crucescreatives.org/news/7888299.
Paint-by-Numbers Mural (Break Room), FREE, through Sep. 29
STEAM Team Programming for 4th and 5th Graders, FREE, Sep. 21
Crochet Snowflakes, FREE, Sep. 21
Community Bike Shop, Sep. 21
Writers Workshop, FREE, Sep. 21
Homeschool Science Grades 3-6, Sep. 24
Las Cruces Sew Fun Club, Sep. 24
Beginning Drawing and Painting, FREE first class, Sep. 24
Charitable Woodworking: Doghouses, BY SUPPLY DONATION, Sep. 24
STEAM Team Programming for 4th and 5th Graders (Half-Year Program), FREE, Sep. 24
Mayfield Young Adult Learners, Sep. 25
Youth Art Classes Ages 8-12, FREE first class, Sep. 25
Youth Art Classes Ages 13-18, FREE first class, Sep. 25
Community Bike Shop, Sep. 26
Homeschool History (Hands-on Learning) Grades 3-6, Sep. 26
Intermediate Drawing and Painting, FREE first class, Sep. 26
(Field Trip) 2D to 3D: Origami World, Sep. 27
FiberArts Friday, FREE to members, Sep. 27
Paint-by-Numbers Community Mural, FREE, Sep. 27
Community Bike Shop, Sep. 28
Charitable Crafting Project, FREE, Sep. 28
STEAM Team Programming for 4th and 5th Graders, FREE, Sep. 28
Paint-by-Numbers Community Mural, FREE, Sep. 28
Paint-by-Numbers Community Mural, FREE, Sep. 29
Intro to Bikes and Bike Tools, Sep. 21
Basic Wood Shop Safety Training, FREE to members, Sep. 25
Intro to Bikes and Bike Tools, Sep. 28
Call for Artists: Miniature Paintings and Fiber Arts Ornaments, through October 19
Members get 10% off all paid events, entry to member-only events, plus access to tools, space, community and more.
Phone: (575) 448-1072, Address: 205 E Lohman Ave | NM 88001
Welcome to Mural Month at the makerspace! Over the coming several weeks, four different mural projects are underway through Cruces Creatives, and you can help paint two of them! Check out more details below:
Murals to Participate In
With generous funding from the Rumphius Foundation and a community-chosen design created by artist Eugenia “AO” Carmona, people of all ages and artistic abilities can come together and make a mural on the amphitheater wall of the Thomas Branigan Memorial Library (200 E Picacho Avenue)! The mural is in a paint-by-numbers style, and all needed materials and supplies are provided, so you can help create a mural!
Here's the schedule for painting:
You’re welcome to join for all or part of any painting day. Bring water, sun protection, and clothes you wouldn’t mind painting.
Break Room Mural
Any time Cruces Creatives is open this month, you can sign in as a volunteer (no membership needed!) and use the supplies in the break room to help create another paint-by-numbers mural that is brightening the break room wall. Just wear clothes you wouldn't mind getting paint on. All ages and artistic abilities are welcome!
This mural was designed by local artist Victor Beckman, with funding provided by the MESA Project and ArtPlace America.
Murals to Watch For
In addition to the participatory, paint-by-numbers murals, two more murals are going up at the makerspace!
Cruces Creatives West Wall
Thanks to a generous donation from Donna Tate via the Community Foundation of Southern New Mexico, and thanks to the time and talents of SABA and a team of volunteer artists, the mural work on the west well of Cruces Creatives will be resuming soon!
Species in Peril Along the Rio Grande
As part of a series of bi-national art events along the Rio Grande in the U.S. and Mexico, “Species in Peril Along the Rio Grande,” artists Raquel Madrigal and Henry Hartig will be painting a mural on the north side of Cruces Creatives. Funding is provided through the generous support of the MESA Project and ArtPlace America, in direct partnership with the New Mexico State University Art Museum.
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For more information or to register for the participatory events, visit the links below. (Note: Registration isn’t required, just helpful.)
As I started the drive to Cruces Creatives, my thoughts could have only been summarized as this: a long string of panicked words that all just so happened to consist of the same, single letter – A.
It had started with an email from my work-study supervisor asking me to come and finish some paperwork. It was a bit short notice; they wanted me to come in that morning, and I had already signed up for the Basic Wood Shop Safety Training at Cruces Creatives as well. However, since the training started at 10:30, I thought I could make it.
I could not make it—especially since, when I double-checked the email confirming my registration for the safety training, I realized that the class started at 10:00.
It was 10:40 when I finally walked into the building. By the time it had taken to go from the front desk to the woodworking room, I had gifted a string of frantic apologies and rushed excuses to two separate people, and I certainly gave the same string to the instructor.
The three men at the woodworking station were Gary, Dave, and Richard. Gary was the course’s main instructor, and Dave and Richard added to the course with the occasional comment as well as through their examples.
The woodworking shop had a comfortable atmosphere, brightened by the soft smell of sawdust floating gently through the air, that helped to still the frantic balls of string unraveling in my mind until they rolled back up into functional thought in the few moments before the class began. The class went by quickly, the panic that had previously settled my lungs quickly being replaced with a strong curiosity for the shop’s equipment and a genuine enjoyment of knowledge that would be old and common to anyone with experience in woodworking but new to me.
My only previous experience in wood working was a one-time encounter with a compound miter saw, so my knowledge of woodworking was limited to vague notions and descriptions of fictional characters whittling in books. Although this training would not make me anything more than a beginner, it certainly corrected misconceptions and taught the more important principles to safe woodworking.
I learned many different rules for maintaining safety regulations, most of which connected back to these four main points:
If you used a tool without making sure that the fence (a part of certain saws; a slab of metal that moves up or down that can both help keep the wood where it needs to be and keep the blade safely covered) was down to where it needed to be or whether the guard was positioned correctly (etc.), there was a risk that the wood might jump up or slide along with other dangerous errors that might result in something worse than just damaging your project. In example, when working with the table saw, Gary emphasized that if you weren’t careful to use it properly, a piece of wood could shoot back, potentially hitting you or someone else behind you, resulting in likely injury. Gary, understandably, emphasized using the table saw properly.
I was taught about various tools, starting with routers. Gary showed me the hand routers, but we mainly worked with the table router. Explaining that these tools were used to work on the edges of wood, likely for ornamental purposes, Gary demonstrated how to use the table router before letting me have a turn. I also was told about different bits that could be used to create a different effect on the wood and was shown how to raise and lower the bit in order to make a deeper or shallower groove.
The next tools shown to me were the band saw and the scroll saw, which could both be used to make an angled or curved cut to different extents, with the band saw making wider curves and the scroll saw being able to make much sharper angles and turns.
The scroll saw was particularly fun. With Gary’s help, I learned how to use it to make sharper angles and more detailed cuts that could make turns and circles, as well as how to lower the guard to ensure that the wood didn’t jump. This was a tool that Gary had in his home as well, and he said that in his own time to make things like puzzles. Once I’d used the saw for the first time, he congratulated me, saying, “You’ve made your first jigsaw!”
Once we moved on to the table saw, it was particularly impressive simply for its size as the danger around it kept me a bit wary. I was told that it was not necessary to fear it so much as have a good amount of respect for it, and to make sure to use a pushstick, a tool that could be used to push the wood into the saw so that one’s fingers could be kept far away from the blade. Gary gave the tip to use a long brick of scrap-wood as a second pushstick to keep the wood pressed up against the guard when necessary. After we had used it a couple of times, Gary emphasized the importance of making sure to lower the saw completely when you were done with it, and to push the guard over the blade once lowered.
The drill press was a piece of interest to me if only due to the importance of having what the three of them called “sacrificial wood,” or a slab of wood kept on top of the metal plate to ensure that once the drill went through the piece of wood one’s using, the metal plate isn’t hit and damaged.
Some tools were shown but not practiced with, possibly due to time constraints, such as the planer, the sanders, and the lathe. I was also given a tour of where they kept some of the smaller tools that did not have a stationary position in the shop, all items having a place to call home once they were done being used.
Another important lesson was taught in the training, though perhaps not on purpose: wood-shop etiquette. When about to use a tool as an example, Gary sometimes picked a piece of wood from the table as opposed to the scrap-pile. Whenever he did so, however, he would always make sure to ask whether Dave or Richard were using the wood for a project. When they were, Gary would immediately put it down and find an unclaimed piece. Similarly, Gary also made sure that neither Dave nor Richard were using a tool before he showed it to me. Their unanimous movement to make sure to respect each other’s spaces and projects whenever possible definitely seemed to contribute to the shop’s pleasant, convivial atmosphere.
Although Gary was the main instructor, I have a good deal of gratitude for Dave and Richard, who both made sure that all of the tools were running smoothly before we got to them. The compound miter saw and the table saw were both experiencing slight problems which Gary said were likely attributable to too much sawdust or a small wood chunk getting stuck somewhere in the saws’ interiors. Richard and Dave made sure to fix the two saws quickly and cheerfully.
The wood-shop meets many visitors who use it, both in classes and out. With so much use, the tools can more quickly need maintenance to keep them working properly and safely. Every tool in the shop was donated to Cruces Creatives, and we are all so lucky to be able to have them available to the community so that beautiful and fantastic projects an continue to be made. As such, there is incredible, deserved appreciation for everyone who ensures that the wood-shop continues to run the way it should by keeping the tools running well.
I had the privilege of seeing some of the objects that had been made at the woodworking shop, including a bowl Gary had made and another bowl he was in progress of finishing with the lathe. Other projects made by the three men were picture frames that had been cut with the compound miter saw, a wooden figure of a hand that had been cut with the band saw, and a beautiful Christmas ornament in the making.
I still regret having been unable to take the full two-hour course as I can only imagine how much better it would have been to have had that extra forty minutes to get acquainted with the various saws and drills. However, the time I did have was a fantastic introduction of concepts and tools to a complete beginner, setting up a solid foundation for any further learning in the future. If you, like myself, have an interest in woodworking but have never learned about it and perhaps don’t know where to begin, I would recommend this course and similar trainings.
I would also give the advice to arrive on time so that you don’t miss out on learning something. Not only is punctuality kinder on the instructors who take time out of their day to provide you with information, it will also make sure you learn the most possible information you can along with ensuring you avoid the stress of being late.
Everyone involved in the course at Cruces Creatives was very kind and patient with me despite my tardiness, however, so if you find yourself in a similar circumstance, you can find comfort in knowing that Cruces Creatives will do what they can to make sure you make the most of the time remaining.
VHS-to-Digital Converter Set Up in Computer Lab
Want to preserve your VHS before the tape falls off the reals? Come in and use the VHS digitizer that’s now set up in the main room computer lab! It’s free for members, and instructions are provided.
Another Way to Support the Makerspace
The “Donations” page of the Cruces Creatives website now supports recurring donations, Patreon-style! If you like what Cruces Creatives is doing, you can help with $1 a month, $5 a quarter, whatever feels right for you.
Everything helps. Especially while Cruces Creatives is growing the programs and memberships that will provide a stable financial base, your contributions can really make a difference for your community makerspace! To set up a recurring donation, visit https://crucescreatives.org/donate-money/.
Art Ramble/MESA Art Show this Friday!
This month’s first Friday Art Ramble is a big one! Thanks to partnerships with the MESA Project, the University Art Museum at New Mexico State University, and Friends of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks, as well as generous funding from ArtPlace America, Cruces Creatives is hosting a multifaceted, interactive, themed art show on the intersections between agriculture and the environment. The evening features:
Wood Shop Power Automation Coming September 6
To help keep people safe in the wood shop, Cruces Creatives uses a lock-out system on tools that should only be operated by people with appropriate training. Until this Friday, you would have noticed padlocks on the power cords to tools like the table saw, which the back monitors unlock only for people with appropriate safety training. On many tools, the padlocks are going away—but the safety isn’t.
As part of a transition to a more efficient card-swipe system—in which people with safety training on a tool can swipe their Cruces Creatives RFID card to unlock that tool—IT Officer Jeff Moore has created an electronic system that back monitors can use to control power to several wood shop tools. Instead of going to a computer, checking the safety training status of people wanting to use a tool, finding the appropriate key, and then unlocking a tool padlock, back monitors can now use a tablet or a specially configured phone to confirm the safety trainings of everyone in the wood shop and electronically lock or unlock tools. After this new system for electronically controlling tool access is successfully piloted, we can move toward a card-swipe system, in which safety training is confirmed electronically and the safety locking/unlocking system for tools is automated.
Cruces Creatives Job Shop Officially Launching!
A makerspace offers the tools, training, and community to make practically anything—including projects for hire! That’s where the Cruces Creatives Job Shop comes in.
The Job Shop--as part of Cruces Creatives’ missions to promote economic development, advance science and technology, and promote practical education in Doña Ana County--connects individuals or organizations who want a project made with members of the Cruces Creatives team who can make the project happen.
From a soft opening with pilot projects that started in November 2018, the Job Shop has already grown to a major program, with multiple projects worth over $55,000 completed so far. This work helps local organizations and individuals make their visions reality, all while enhancing the local economy, providing internship and education opportunities for a 21st century workforce, and serving as a major source of support for Cruces Creatives and all its charitable missions.
With the success of the soft-opening projects, the Job Shop is leaving the pilot phase and officially launching!
To learn more or start a project, visit http://www.crucescreatives.org/Job-Shop. Also, if you know someone who has a project that could use some additional skills, help spread the word!
Enclosure unit for Electronic Caregiver's virtual nursing assistant, Addison Care (TM)
Interactive children's museum exhibits for Ngage New Mexico