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

The Board of Commissioners of Santa Fe County have declared February 21 “Serene Mountain Day at the Upaya Zen Center” in recognition of Upaya’s dedication to racial, environmental, and economic justice.

Martine Panzica
15 February 2024
Members of Upaya Zen Center with the Santa Fe County’s Board of County Commissioners. Photo courtesy of Upaya Zen Center.

On February 14, Santa Fe County’s Board of County Commissioners voted unanimously to declare February 21 “Serene Mountain Day at the Upaya Zen Center.” As a press release notes, Serene Mountain Day at the Upaya Zen Zenter recognizes the center’s three decades of dedication to promoting racial, economic, and environmental justice, as well as their protecting of land on Cerro Gordo Mountain and along the Santa Fe river wildlife corridor.

The Upaya Zen Center was founded in 1990 by renowned Zen Buddhist teacher and social activist Roshi Joan Halifax in an effort to “bring together the threads of social and environmental engagement with dedicated Buddhist practice.” Since its founding, Upaya has expanded its properties to prevent development and preserve wildlife habitats, acquiring significant portions of the Cerro Gordo mountain and land along the Santa Fe river below its main center. Over the years, Upaya has expanded significantly. Its properties include much of the face of Cerro Gordo Mountain, and they have slowly renovated several homes around the center as residences for practitioners and built a beautiful zendo. Five years ago, they began a significant building project of residences, commons (Serene Mountain Hall), a library, kitchen, and more. Several of their buildings have won awards for their architecture, combining Southwestern and Japanese styles.

The proclamation of Serene Mountain Day at the Upaya Zen Center was made during a session witnessed by key figures from Upaya, including Abbot Roshi Joan Halifax, Director Sensei Noah Kodo Roen, priests Dr. Wendy Lau and and lawyer James Bristol, and Upaya Board members Christopher Howson and David Cantor. Introduced by Commissioner Anna Hansen, the proclamation also highlights the center’s involvement in socially engaged activism, its role as a place for practice and education, service to vulnerable populations, the Prison Project aiding inmates in positive change, and other achievements.

A dedication ceremony for a new building at the center will take place on February 21, the first Serene Mountain Day at the Upaya Zen Center. The ceremony will take place from 5:00-6:30pm MST and will be livestreamed on the Upaya Zen Center Youtube channel.

Martine Panzica

Martine Panzica

Martine Panzica is a Digital Editorial Assistant at Lion’s Roar. She is passionate about the power of storytelling in media, and sustainable development. To learn more about her, visit