SWOP History

The following are selected past activities of the SouthWest Organizing Project.

1980’s

    • SWOP is founded by community activists to build a strong grassroots organization in the Southwest to fight for environmental and social justice

    • Holds its first of many voter registration drives, registering more than 30,000 since then
    • Organizes with Sawmill neighborhood residents to shut down a sawmill that contaminated the water and air. This effort also led to the establishment of a new after school child care program in the area.
    • Organizes a visit to New Mexico by representatives of the Association of Nicaraguan Women.

  • Works with residents in the South Broadway area to address local housing needs
  • Oversees Kirtland Air Force Base’s investigation of groundwater contamination in the Mountainview community. Eventually these parties will sign the first ever agreement by grassroots organizations and the military on environmental oversight.
  • organizes with community residents to develop its Community Environmental Bill of Rights, which lays out basic principles for environmental justice. The Bill of Rights was endorsed by Congressman Steve Schiff, present NM Attorney General Tom Udall and the Bernalillo County Commission.

1990’s

    • Publishes 500 Years of Chicano History in Pictures, which has sold over 32,000 copies over the years
    • Supports strikers at the Medite of New Mexico plant in Las Vegas, New Mexico. The company was responsible for worker health and safety regulations and environmental regulations.

    • Publishes Intel Inside New Mexico, which forced Intel into a massive re-haul of their facility to reduce water usage and make it more green
    • Organizes with residents of the Sunland Park community in southern New Mexico to force the closure of a poisonous medical waste incinerator.
    • Organizes in Albuquerque’s South Valley around water testing for Pajarito area residents, the provision of emergency water supplies, and increased awareness of water issues. Also begins campaign to bring basic utilities such as water and electricity to the Mesa.

  • Coordinates the Recuerda a César Chávez Campaign, which pressures Albuquerque’s City Council to rename one of the City’s major streets Avenida César Chávez.
  • Begins youth program “Jóvenes Unidos” which includes activities such as writing songs, music and performing plays. In 1997 they produce their first audiocassette of their original and other popular music. Jovenes also begins campaigns fighting against discrimination of young people of color.
  • Joins a lawsuit to defend Bilingual Education in Albuquerque. With a goal to not only keep bilingual education in our schools, but also to improve it.
  • SWOP representatives go to Seattle to join 60,000 people to stop the World Trade Organization.

2000’s.

    • A theater critic for the Albuquerque Journal ranked our youths’ presentation of ‘La Víctima’ as one of the 12 best local plays in 2000.
    • Residents of Pajarito Mesa formed their own semi-governmental Pajarito Mesa Mutual Domestic Water Users Association, which will establish a community water system.

    • A delegation visits SWOP from Costa Rica to discuss their concerns on the Costa Rican Intel plant and how they can organize around their concerns.
    • Begins an education campaign on the Free Trade Area of the Americas, forming a coalition of 20 local labor and community organizations that organized several educational public activities and actions.
    • SWOP Youth successfully lobbied the Albuquerque School Board to limit the arming school guards during school hours.

  • Begins work with Grassroots Global Justice (GGJ), an alliance of U.S. grassroots organizations, to connect global issues to our local communities. Through this work we send a delegation to the World Social Forum for the next four years.
  • Members get arrested in effort to block the construction of a road through the Petroglyph National Monument, a sacred site to indigenous communities.
  • SWOP founder Jeanne Gauna passes away.
  • Organizes the first Graffiti Battle at the State Capitol with over 100 youth. This event was part of a month’s long successful campaign to defeat a Statewide Youth Curfew.
  • works with a broad coalition to pass a Clean Election Reform bill
  • Opens office in Carlsbad, New Mexico to begin voter education work in Southern New Mexico
  • Holds its 16th Annual Chile Harvest Fiesta, roasting and distributing organic chile in partnership with Socorro farmers and the SWOP community

2010’s

    • SWOP celebrates 30 Years of fighting for justice in the southwest in January 2010

    • Project Feed the Hood starts gardens in the International District and on the West Side of Albuquerque, educating thousands of young people and community members about sustainable living and just food policy initiatives
    • Sends 4 youth interns to 4 year colleges on full-ride scholarships through the Civic Initiative Opportunity Network (COIN)
    • Begins Air Quality campaign in the South Valley of Albuquerque, Southern New Mexico and the Four Corners area

  • Launches two community-based blogs: www.elgritonm.org and www.chorizoreport.com
  • Completes youth-led mural project at the Albuquerque Center for Peace and Justice entitled “Re-writing Our Story”
  • Publishes 500 Years of Chicano History-The Coloring Book, a project of local artists based off of SWOP’s 500 Years of Chicano History in Pictures