Blackwell School hires consultant to conduct interviews, coordinate community charrette

MARFA — The Blackwell School Alliance and its partners will host a multi-day community engagement event in April. In preparation of the event, the alliance has engaged Frontera Public Relations to conduct community conversations in the coming weeks to better understand the values, opinions and ideas related to the future of the Blackwell School.

With the completion of a Historic Structures Report and the addition of the school to the National Register of Historic Places in 2019, the alliance is looking to engage deeper with the multiple perspectives of former students, and wider with stakeholders interested in heritage tourism, archiving of historic materials and the creation of a fully functional museum and visitor center.

The Community Charrette will be held April 23-24, 2020, with multiple sessions being held at different venues around Marfa. Topics of discussion will include architecture, museum opportunities, neighborhood impacts, tourism, and the historical context and significance of the Blackwell School. Unlike a conference or a workshop, a charrette is a type of public meeting that provides methods and opportunities for input from the participants and the goal of collaboration to arrive at decisions.

Alliance president Gretel Enck explained the use of the word charrette, “when I first heard charrette, I said, ‘What does that mean? Let’s find another word like workshop.’ But the more I learned, the more I realized that a charrette is different because of the emphasis on the involvement of participants. We want to create a space where people can really share ideas and collaborate,” said Enck.

Marfa native Daniel Hernandez, owner of Frontera Public Relations, will be tasked with conducting pre-charrette interviews, carrying out community outreach, and coordinating the charrette in conjunction with the alliance. Hernandez is a 2010 graduate of Marfa High School and currently lives in El Paso where he works full time for State Senator José Rodríguez.

“I’m honored to have the opportunity to collaborate with the alliance to elevate the Blackwell School’s story and place in history while working closely with former students, community members, and stakeholders to make sure the story is told right,” said Hernandez.

The Blackwell Community Charrette will take place Thursday, April 23, and Friday, April 24, followed by the annual Blackwell Block Party on Saturday, April 25. All the events are free and open to the public. You can sign up for charrette updates at For information on the charrette process or to learn how to get involved, contact Daniel Hernandez at 432-295-0045 or email