What is the Desire Project?

An Introduction

The primary objective of the Desire Project is to examine economic opportunity, economic development, patterns of commerce, and selfhood. Concerned with identifying factors that can promote alternative inroads to economic stimulation and diversification that isn’t predicated on displacement, loss of heritage, or drastic changes in community culture. Instead, the Desire Project seeks to acknowledge traditional and historic community relationships, strengthen interpersonal relationships, foster understanding of broader perspectives on life, and work from those spaces of consciousness to preserve and continue culture in a generative economic balance that can facilitate alternative ways to thrive economically.

Why Desire?

Currently based in the small but bustling town of Santa Fe, New Mexico, the City’s Office of Economic Development wants to reach the demographic of Santa Feans who are in the prime of their earning capacity. That is, citizens and other economic participants in the age range of 18-45. However, there is a lack of data from this demographic.

As an off-shoot of the Story Maps Fellowship, I conceived a community engagement event that hosts gatherings, around food, to explore feelings and ideas around development and what it is we as young residents of the City Different are asking to develop, to make known our lived experiences and concerns.

After working with the City’s Economic Development team, I realized there simply wasn’t enough information about the lived experiences of young people in the City. Whether that’s because younger populations are disinterested or distrustful of governmental action or simply don’t know where to get the information, the information isn’t there. And, how can a need or a desire be filled if it’s unspoken, unheard, or unknown? This is where the Desire Project gets its wings.

The Brunches

Since my work — for Story Maps and at-large — is necessarily concerned with stories and phenomenology, I started with a pilot event which was called ‘Millennials Brunch.’ I organized this intimate gathering to explore the lived experiences and motivators for maintaining a life in Santa Fe with only a smattering of modern amenities such as WiFi and very few businesses that operate past 9PM. As one may expect, these conversations didn’t focus exclusively on “development,” but attempted to dig deeper into the Desire component.

My first priority is making an environment that feels open to honest dialogue for participants to share candidly about the obstacles and successes they experience in their lives as Santa Feans. Thus, the guided conversations focus on a holistic perspective of life in Santa Fe as young people starting careers, as people who want social interactions that aren’t hinged on having an intoxicant-based experience, and having options that are affordable, sustainable, and culturally relevant.

Be an Activated Citizen

So…what happens when we make and hold space for people to go beneath the surface and figure out together, as a community, exactly what experiences we desire to have, where and why we desire to support an entity or experience with our dollars…

Join us for the next Desire Brunch if you want to explore with us what happens when we create intentional spaces to commune, commiserate, brainstorm, eat...


What I’ve learned from the first brunch is that people leave with a deeper understanding of each other’s personal and cultural histories. There is a deeper level of knowingness and respect generated. This is a major factor in creating economically viable and socially robust communities.

Other Resources on the Desire Project
Click to view a comprehensive prezi on the Desire Project as presented to a quarterly convening of mentors, hosts, and fellows who are participating in the 2018 pilot of the Story Maps Fellowship, offered through the Santa Fe Art Institute and partially funded by the Ford Foundation and the National Endowment of the Arts.

Story MapsMya G.