Marc Gringnon, Gayla Bechtol, and Gretel Follingstad

Gayla Bechtol is an architect in Santa Fe New Mexico and principal of Gayla Bechtol Architects. She has been involved with the Railyard since 1996 when she spearheaded the R/UDAT (Regional/Urban Design Assistance Team) of the American Institute of Architects for the Santa Fe Railyard. The R/UDAT was a partner in the community planning process with the Santa Fe Land Use Resource Center and the City of Santa Fe that resulted in the Community Plan that represents the Community Vision. She was one of the first members of the TPL Adivisory Council that later became the Railyard Advisory Committee during the design efforts and building of the Park Plaza and Alameda, and a founding member of the Railyard Stewards.

Gretel Follingstad
– Partner & Principal Planner – Terra Planning, LLC.
Gretel specializes in strategic and long term planning for natural resources and community development, with an emphasis on linking land use with water resources. Gretel holds a BA degree in International Management and Latin American Studies and a MS degree in Community and Regional Planning from the University of New Mexico, where she graduated Magna Cum Laude.
Gretel has broad experience in water resource planning, water conservation, watershed planning, restoration and management, as well as land use and open space planning. She has worked for both government agencies and private organizations. She is proficient in various technical elements including GIS mapping and ground and surface water modeling. Gretel is highly skilled in project management, public outreach, public speaking and she is a trained facilitator.

Gretel was State water planner at the New Mexico Office of the State Engineer for four years, where she managed both state and regional water planning programs. Gretel managed large public outreach efforts including a statewide canvas for the 2009 State Water Plan Update. Gretel also managed various technical projects for the City of Santa Fe Water Division, including water rights permit compliance, the City’s Water Bank and water level monitoring projects. Gretel is currently on the Santa Fe Railyard Stewards Board, and Sonoran Institute’s Resilient Communities Starter Kit Advisory Panel. Gretel is an avid outdoor enthusiast, yoga instructor and Native New Mexican.

Marc Grignon, Program Coordinator for the Railyard Stewards, is an enrolled member of the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin. He holds a double associates degree in Tribal Law and Sustainable Development from the College of Menominee Nation as well as certificates in Political Management, Lobbying, and the Federal Budget from George Washington and American Universities. In 2010, Marc was awarded the prestigious Brower Youth Award from Earth Island Institute for his vision to create his reservation a green economic model for the world to learn from.

Railyard Stewards provides community stewardship and advocacy for the care and programming of the Railyard Park + Plaza. Our vision is a vibrant, beautiful, popular, and safe gathering place representing the history, values, and aspirations of the people of Santa Fe. We are a local non-profit organization working in partnership with the City of Santa Fe in a unique care, conservation and education effort. To accomplish these goals, Railyard Stewards partners with over 35 local organizations and 30 schools and youth groups. In 2012 we had more than 1000 youth and adult volunteer visits which provided 3200 hours of care to the Railyard Park. In addition, Railyard Stewards hosted over 50 educational workshops and tours.

The Railyard Park, a 12.5 acre open space area in the heart of Santa Fe, provides environmental, economic, health, and community benefits to all citizens of Santa Fe, and also serves as a vibrant outdoor classroom for youth and adult workshops. Railyard Stewards coordinates the two community gardens that grow in the Railyard Park, provides hands-on volunteer park care, experiential education and job training for local youth, and with the Railyard Stewards Art Committee hosts temporary site-specific art installations and performances in the Railyard Park + Plaza.

Cohort Information

Marc Gringnon, Gayla Bechtol, and Gretel Follingstad
Representing Railyard Stewards

Year(s) Awarded: 2013

A Landscape-Based Approach to Climate Resilience

Our idea is to empower an initial diverse group of informal leaders to take grass-roots action to transform the current community forest into an ecologically resilient one.

Within decades the plants, animals, and temperatures typical of the Chihuahuan Desert will become a Santa Fe reality. A “community/urban forest” describes all the plants, trees, bushes, lawns, fields, creeks, water, drainages, and hardscapes in a city. To prepare for climate change, Santa Fe must transform its current community forest into an ecologically-resilient one. But top-down directives are rarely met with open arms. For systemic change to take place, a bottom-up community-wide ecological consciousness shift must occur. Thus, funding is best spent on education. Government, business, home owners, landowners, and renters spend millions annually on plants, garden supplies, and landscape services. By influencing the entire community to adopt ecological planting practices; alternatives to heat-absorbing and runoff-prone hard surfaces such as glass, stone, metal, asphalt, and concrete; and alternative approaches to water-catchment—the creation of an ecologically resilient community forest will largely fund itself. A successful project would be organically led by informal community leaders profoundly committed to the mission.

Our idea is to empower an initial diverse group of informal leaders to take grass-roots action to transform the current community forest into an ecologically resilient one. We’d identify concerned individuals from all walks of life; provide hands-on collaborative education re. climate change and community forestry; collaboratively develop a communitywide plan; and motivate this group to move ahead with the project—organically recruiting and educating new leaders along the way, and flexibly modifying the approach as new information and new problems arise. Finally, much of the Santa Fe populace would be educated for climate resilience. In this way, Santa Fe would be equipped for an ecologically resilient response to climate change.

Railyard Steward’s vision as to how our community would be different if our idea was to succeed:
Santa Fe’s community forest—the plantscape, waterscape, hardscape—would be climate-change resilient. Rather than experiencing the ecological die-off associated with rising temperatures, Santa Fe would have a plant-water-surface landscape ready for a challenging ecological future. And Santa Feans themselves would be an ecologically educated cadre of activist informal leaders well-equipped to live in a world of rising temperatures and to flexibly adapt as conditions continue to evolve.