Crowson retires from village of LL

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Diana Crowson recently retired after nearly 12 years of service as the planning and zoning technician with the village of Los Lunas.

Crowson has worked with residents, developers, business owners and state organizations handling land division surveys, land splits, plats, zone changes and legal descriptions for subdivisions.

The hardest part of her job was having to tell residents they couldn't do something they wanted to do with their property, Crowson said.

"My job basically involved constantly interpreting the municipal codes, and working with people to try to do what they would like to do with their property within the code," Crowson said.

There weren't nearly as many employees when Crowson started as the village has now, so she has worn many hats through the years.

"I'd go back to the cashiers to do business licenses, dog tags, preliminary plats, zone changes, because they all involve fees," she said. "So, I was constantly taking money back to them, and they would laugh and say, 'Who are you this time, Diana?' I even chased dogs out of the parking lot one time."

One of her last projects before retiring was finishing a history of Los Lunas for the village's master plan.

"It's valuable because a lot of people are new here and don't understand that we have a very long and illustrious history," Crowson said. "That's been fun, and then the geological part of it has been fun for me."

She earned her degree in 1996 from the University of New Mexico studying environmental geology with a minor in archeology. She almost had a double minor in history, she said.

"There are so many different facets of geology," Crowson said. "There is mineralogy, studying what minerals make up rocks, there's soil morphology, which is trying to understand where the different soils came from, and what the different soil layers represent. Then there's volcanology, the study of volcanos, and there's also tectonics."

Her favorite was geo-archeology, for which she spent a few years at Sandia National Laboratories researching how rapid various chemicals and mixed-waste substances percolate down through layers of soil that could potentially pollute ground water.

"For a geologist, this area is paradise because there are so many things happening within this valley," she said.

Crowson is also a jewelry artist and designs necklaces, earrings and bracelets with rocks of semi-precious stones. The pieces are wrapped with beveled or smooth wire to accentuate each stone's best qualities. She will have a booth at Mama's Minerlas arts and crafts fair on Saturday, June 15.

Now that she's retired, she can put more energy into building her business, but her secret passion is to build an eco-village for newly released prisoners and returning military veterans who are having trouble finding work.

They could re-vamp their work skills or train in new ones by building and running the small, renewable energy based village.

An eco-village is a self-reliant community using renewable energy, well water and its own farm to exist sustainably.

"After the first year or so, the hope is it would be totally self-sustaining, that everything would be grown there on site," Crowson said. "One of the first things I would want to do is build one of those big hoop greenhouses."

By using recycled water, drip irrigation, hydroponics and permaculture, the farm would conserve water.

"If you have a lagoon system, you can actually have a sewer treatment plant right there on the property as well," she said.

The houses would be clustered together and positioned for optimal passive solar. She estimates the land needed for the village would be about 20 to 100 acres.

The entire community would be run on solar and wind energy with a battery system for energy storage.

"With a lot of these eco-villages, one of the inconveniences is you can't have everybody using a lot of power at one time," she said.

Her larger vision includes a farmers market to sell surplus produce, an art cooperative for hand-made goods, a hostel for visitors, and an eco-tourism venture.

Currently, she is looking into nonprofit status and available land. If you have land for sale or are interested in the eco-village, email Diana Crowson at dicrow12@gmail.com


-- Email the author at dfox@news-bulletin.com.