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Archuleta for Agriculture

Longtime county supervisor begins job on Biden’s team.

Archuleta, the distinguished Coconino County District 2 Supervisor for 24 years, resigned her position on Tuesday, Feb. 2.

By Thursday, Feb. 4, she was fully engaged in her new post in the Biden-Harris administration as director of Intergovernmental Affairs in the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

“I am very excited to serve at a national level and bring my perspective and experience as county supervisor and a lifetime rural resident with deep roots in Arizona and centuries of family history in New Mexico,” said Archuleta, who is working virtually from home and was reached by phone between meetings in the midst of her demanding new schedule. “It’s an honor getting a presidential appointment. I was, of course, thrilled to be chosen and to be able to make a difference at the national level.”

Archuleta, 56, a native of Flagstaff, lives on the east side of town with her husband, Franklin Willis, a professor in the Fine Arts Department at Northern Arizona University, and their 12-year-old son, Demitrius (Demi).

She comes from one of the Hispanic pioneer families of Flagstaff who have lived here for five generations. “My grandfather was one of the first Hispanic business owners in Flagstaff. He owned a store named Everybody’s Market in the southside of downtown,” she said.

Archuleta’s parents started a family business when she was 9, which created the opportunity for her and her siblings to attend Northern Arizona University (NAU). “From this foundation comes a dedication over the course of my career to equity, community building, increasing educational and economic opportunities for residents, and creating a quality of life where children and families are safe, supported and can prosper.”

At age 31, she became the first Hispanic female elected to the Board of Supervisors and has long been a leading light in the Coconino County Democratic Party. One of the first initiatives she started was the Sunnyside Weed and Seed program in the neighborhood where she grew up. It was aimed at reducing crime rates and increasing opportunities for youth and families. Another major accomplishment was creating and funding the transit system, Northern Arizona Intergovernmental Public Transportation Authority (NAIPTA).

She also led criminal justice reform, advocating for a Ban the Box ordinance at the county and state level, which created more opportunities for formerly incarcerated individuals to get jobs and integrate back into the community.

And, she was a champion for public lands, water, forest restoration and natural resources. She founded the Coconino Plateau Water Advisory Council.

“One of the most challenging and fulfilling achievements was navigating the Schultz fire and flood that devastated my district,” she said. “I immediately did everything in my power to ensure the residents were safe and for years after, worked to bring the resources of the county, state and federal government to build flood-mitigation projects to keep communities safe from post-fire flooding for years to come.”

Throughout her career, Archuleta has held numerous leadership positions with the County Supervisors Association of Arizona, the National Association of Latino Elected Officials and the National Association of Counties.

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She says her departure from the Board of Supervisors is bittersweet. “Building community and working hard to ensure everyone has a voice and is represented has been my passion and a life’s calling. It was a difficult decision because in the past 24 years, I have been able to see the difference I can make in communities and peoples’ lives.”

At her final meeting as supervisor, she made a particular point to thank her executive assistant, Theresa Munoz, who worked with her for 22 of her 24 years in office.

Her fellow supervisors praised her devoted service and big heart, including Board Chair Matt Ryan, who came into office the same year as she did.

The Coconino County Board of Supervisors will appoint a replacement for the District 2 Supervisor seat, who will serve until 2022 when voters will elect a new District 2 Supervisor.

“My heart is full of gratitude for the people who embraced me over the years,” Archuleta said. “Each person who let me into their homes and hearts, who shared their struggles and aspirations with me have enriched my life. Thank you. Thank you for entrusting me as your representative. I will carry that trust, the stories, and the dreams with me to Washington, D.C., as I continue my public service. I am so proud to be from Northern Arizona and be part of this administration, and to be a part of history, with the first woman vice president and first woman of color.”

Reflecting on the path that has brought her to this point, Archuleta offers this advice to any young woman who may be considering a career in politics today: “I would tell her to be unafraid and to pursue her dreams despite the fear she may have. I am a firm believer that the hardest moments we experience in life are lessons that make us stronger and more resilient. No matter what, I would tell her to never forget where she comes from and to always be an advocate for her community, because when we break down these walls and barriers before us, we do that not just for ourselves, but for our entire community, too. We always have to ensure that we are lifting up others on this journey.”

As the USDA director of Intergovernmental Affairs, Archuleta will serve as the liaison to elected and appointed officials of local, county, state and tribal governments. “I am looking forward to this very external facing role and to interfacing with government officials throughout the nation to assist them and their communities,” she said.

Archuleta has said her heart will always remain with the community of Flagstaff, a home that has always been so good to her. FBN

Market of Dreams Awakening to Promising Reality

Some dreams make no sense. Under dark of night and beneath closed eyes, apparently random events cascade in unintelligible, albeit entertaining, succession. On the other hand, there are wide-eyed dreams that, while brazenly imaginative, are coolly calculated and strategically executed – those of Martin Luther King, Jr., for example. That sort of dream benefits from mental and physical endurance, though often succeeds on a good dose of dumb luck.

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The Mercado de los Sueños (or Market of Dreams) – the Sunnyside Neighborhood Association’s (SNA) recently opened micro-business incubator and cultural crossroads – suggests both kinds of dreaming. Spend a few minutes in the Market of Dreams and you are as likely to encounter an unprecedented miracle as you are the outcome of intentional action. For that matter, just one foot inside the Market’s front door will land you on a dream come true. The ceramic tile gracing 1,300 square feet of flooring is the accidental but fortuitous convergence of wishful thinking and determined effort, and preserves a high point of building preparations just prior to the Market’s February opening.

Tile setters Gerardo Vidal and Eugenio Urbina, in the course of a chance interaction with Coral Evans, offered to donate their time and talent if she would secure the tile. Evans, SNA’s executive director and a driving force behind the Market of Dreams, but nonetheless tile-less, took immediately to Facebook. Almost as quickly, the local community answered. From two or three spare pieces left by overnight tile fairies, to the goodwill contribution of entire pallets from DalTile and Carpets of Dalton, ceramic tiles fell upon the Market like loaves from heaven. Well before Urbina and Vidal grouted their last lines, the Market’s floor surpassed Evans’s wildest dreams. The two had troubled over time-consuming cut-outs and intricate inlays in forming patterns of a Las Vegas-styled Roulette table and a radiating sun. “I couldn’t believe it,” Evans said. “They could have just laid the tiles. But they really took ownership.”

This synergistic combination of eager artisans and local resources captured an important aspect of the Market’s mission even prior to its official opening – that of fostering community collaboration. Contractor Jeff Knorr amplified this symphonic note by volunteering considerable time and expertise in overseeing the building renovations. With the additional generosity of nearby businesses and help from prospective market members, youth groups and supportive neighbors, the Market has at last fulfilled a five-year dream of its own: A facility for housing its grass-roots, micro-business center.

The Market of Dreams is in many ways an ambitious elaboration of the momentum harnessed by the SNA’s tremendously successful Weed & Seed Program, a community-based initiative that made impressive strides in its 12-year run at uprooting social deviance while beautifying the Sunnyside landscape. When Weed & Seed funding wilted in 2011, SNA began to address the seemingly intractable poverty endemic to its neighborhood. Looking for a bright spot on a bleak economic canvass, attention turned toward the numerable cottage industries already conducting some type of informal business in Sunnyside.

SNA partnered with the Northern Arizona Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology (NACET) to conduct an analysis of the neighborhood’s economic privations, as well as its promise. The study determined Sunnyside stood to benefit from a small-business birthing center, of sorts. An economic conference sponsored by NAU’s Program for Community, Culture and the Environment (PCCE) provided an opportunity to consider various means of diversifying the local economy. That is when Evans was introduced to Patrick Pfeifer, and the visionary dreaming grew a sturdy set of legs. In the fall of 2013, Pfeifer began work in a PCCE-funded position dedicated to awakening the Market of Dreams to its reality.

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Standing at the northeast corner of the East 7 th Avenue and Fourth Street intersection, the entrance to the Market of Dreams is hidden around the backside of the building. But that has not deterred people from finding it. The Market is well on its way to serving as a springboard for entrepreneurial enterprise, providing essential classes in business basics; mentorship from proven entrepreneurs; access to complementary agencies; and physical infrastructure, including shared office space and equipment. Besides offering these building blocks of micro-business, the Market’s mission encompasses developing community leadership while promoting civic engagement; steering area youth toward entrepreneurial entrance ramps; contributing to the revitalization of the Fourth Street corridor; and maintaining a storefront for the sale of locally-originating products and food.

Barbara O’Keefe has named her business Tattered Chic Designs, and branded herself a “hipster chic-ster.” She offers one-of-a-kind, handmade creations that smartly meld a variety of repurposed fabrics and jewelry, among other items, into a unified whole, meant to “evoke nostalgia, romance and beauty.” Petra Rivera expertly crochets fine, colorful yarns into delicate overlay garments, sweaters and scarves certain to add warmth and elegance to a woman’s wardrobe. Rivera also teaches an hour crochet class on some Saturdays at the Market. For $5, participants can learn the basics of the crochet craft.

Weekend visitors to the Market will also discover opportunity for instruction in Mayan basket weaving from Marina Xoc Vasquez. Vasquez’s knowledge of traditional Guatemalan culture, in this instance, of medicinal plants, has also found its way into a variety of plant-based salves and ointments she has for sale. Brandon Billings has taken plants in a different direction as one of the Market’s first purveyors of edible products. Though Billings has marketed his Dirty Birds Spices over the Internet, participation in the cooperative offers him a distinct advantage. “I have much better interaction with customers here than I ever could online. I get true feedback.”

Early indications suggest a promising growth curve. In a month’s time, the Market’s retail shop has increased operating hours from two to four days, Thursday through Sunday. Projections include adding a fifth and sixth day. Nearly two dozen vendors have paid a monthly membership in exchange for shelf space. As stakeholders in a cooperative business, members also volunteer at least three hours each week at the Market. They might be caught periodically pinching themselves, wondering if it is really real. FBN