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Santa Fe County Declares 21 February “Serene Mountain Day at the Upaya Zen Center”

Roshi Joan Halifax, center, with others from Upaya Zen Center. From

The Board of Commissioners of Santa Fe County in New Mexico has unanimously voted to declare 21 February 2024 as “Serene Mountain Day at the Upaya Center” in recognition of Upaya Zen Center’s contributions to racial, economic, and environmental justice, compassionate care for vulnerable populations, and land preservation efforts on Cerro Gordo Mountain and the Santa Fe River wildlife corridor. The proclamation acknowledges the center’s achievements since its establishment by renowned Zen Buddhist teacher, pioneer in end-of-life care, and social activist Roshi Joan Halifax.

Present at the county chambers during the vote on 14 February were Upaya Zen Center abbot, Roshi Joan Halifax, director Sensei Noah Kodo Roen, priests Dr. Wendy Lau and lawyer James Bristol, and board members Christopher Howson and David Cantor, among others.

The celebration of “Serene Mountain Day,” will be held on Wednesday from 5–6:30 p.m. Mountain Standard Time. At that time,  a dedication ceremony for Upaya Zen Center’s new building will feature Halifax and Roen, along with Upaya Zen Center president Sensei Matthew Kozan Palevsky, county commissioner Anna Hansen, Santa Fe mayor Alan Webber, Santa Clara artist and farmer Roxanne Swentzell, writer Natalie Goldberg, Canyon Neighborhood president Jim Gollin, renowned landscape designer Donna Bone, Upaya Zen Center board member Hoshi Troy Fernandez, and other local and national luminaries, including writer Terry Tempest Williams, Zenju Osho, Dharmacarya Valerie Brown, Dharmacarya Cynthia Jurs, Senseis Cynthia Kear from the San Francisco Zen Center, artist and activist Sensei Kazuaki Tanahashi, Sensei Ulricke Greenway, Sensei Monshin Overley, Sensei Seigan Overley.


During the event, there will be a special acknowledgement of the late Nancy Driscoll, wife to Tom Driscoll of Driscoll Berries, whose care for Upaya Zen Center drove the current construction project forward. The building underway was designed by architect Mark Little, who has a lengthy and close relationship with Upaya Zen Center. The beauty of the center has garnered accolades from many who have visited and stayed there, and several of its buildings have won prizes for their unique architecture, which combines the area’s southwestern style with Japanese aesthetics.


Also planned is an unveiling of a large painting for the Serene Mountain Hall by the renowned Japanese calligrapher and social activist 90-year-old Kazuaki Tanahashi Sensei.

Halifax continues the lineage of Thich Nhat Hanh and Roshi Bernie Glassman. She started Upaya Zen Center and monastery create a home for dedicated Zen practitioners to cultivate their abilities in social and ecological activism. According to the Upaya Zen Center website:

We are a global community for those working to create racial, economic, and environmental justice, compassionate care for the most vulnerable, and a place of committed, daily contemplative practice and learning through its retreats, trainings, and programs, free Dharma podcasts and community services.

(Upaya Zen Center)
Roshi Joan Halifax. From

Since its creation, Upaya Zen Center has grown to cover a large area at the base of Cerro Gordo Mountain, to the east of Santa Fe, New Mexico. It has acquired much of the mountain face in an effort to preserve wildlife and prevent further development as the city expands through the area. Below the center, more land has been set aside to provide a wildlife corridor along the Santa Fe River. Adjacent to the center’s property is the 2.3 hectare Adam Gabriel Armijo Park, formerly known as the Cerro Gordo Park, offering added buffer from the growth in the surrounding area.

Several homes around the main center buildings have been renovated to act as residences for practitioners and developed a zendo. Five years ago, the center began work on an ambitious building project including more residences, a Serene Mountain Hall, a library, kitchen, and more.

The ceremony will be streamed live on Upaya Zen Center’s YouTube channel.

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Upaya Zen Center
Upaya Zen Center (Facebook)

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