Trees Water & People

Trees, Water & People is committed to improving people's lives by helping communities to protect, conserve and manage the natural resources upon which their long-term well-being depends. We believe that natural resources are best protected when local people play an active role in their care and management.
Dec 9, 2014

Project Update:

The holiday season is a time for gratitude and giving thanks. The Green Business Development Program is really blossoming, and many hands have made this momentum possible, especially GlobalGivers like you!

We are excited to have plans in the works for next year’s training at the Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center. The last few months have seen this year’s Green Business in Indian Country Start-Up Award winner – Tyler Tawahongva – well on his way to making his vision of bringing recycling to his community a reality. Tyler’s application was chosen from several great green business ideas. The award was announced in October.

“This principle of being a Native and a steward of the earth is a driving force to my endeavor of creating this recycling business.” Explains Tyler, “With the award from Trees, Water and People, I will now be able to continue my mission to intercept waste from landfills and provide jobs for the local community as well as bring awareness to the need for recycling in my community.”

Tyler’s business, Cloud Nine Recycling, TWP and the Native American Business Incubator Network (NABIN) were recently featured on the front page of the Arizona Daily Sun.

We are also in the process of putting together the first newsletter aimed at our network of Green Business Development trainees and aspiring Native entrepreneurs. We hope to connect with larger networks and work in collaboration with other Native programs that want to see Tribal economies grow and flourish. Thank you for your continued support and here’s to another successful New Year for us all!

Cloud Nine Recycling
Cloud Nine Recycling
Partnering for strong tribal economies!
Partnering for strong tribal economies!
Nov 18, 2014

Project Update: Change of Seasons

Solar Warrior Farm
Solar Warrior Farm

After the last rush of fall harvest and saving seeds it is time to start turning inward and sharing stories around the circle once again. And, it is definitely time to start planning for next season! This fall, Solar Warrior Farm (SWF) hosted two workshops on food preparation, nutrition and preserving the harvest in the local community. In 2015, our goal is to host a more involved mid-season, 4-day workshop on food sovereignty and indigenous foodways. We have changed our wishlist to reflect this new opportunity. If you want to sponsor a student, tuition includes instruction, materials, lodging at the Sacred Earth Lodge, and food for the duration of the workshop.

Why did we change our focus for the training? In many Native communities, including Pine Ridge, almost all food produced on the reservation is sent elsewhere, while nearly all food consumed locally is brought in from outside the community. This sets up a cycle of poor diet and a lack of access to fresh produce - commonly known as a "food desert". By reclaiming both indigenous knowledge of foods and control over how, when, and what food is available for families, Native people can break that historical cycle and have more choices. It is an exciting move forward as we will be calling upon the expertise of some great Native leaders in the food sovereignty movement to inform our work in this area. More on that in the next update!

Meanwhile, we are making plans to diversify the activities at the Farm by laying the groundwork for covered, raised beds, and networking with other Native programs that collect and share seeds. We will be looking at our successes and failures to improve selection and harvest.

Having a full-time intern at the Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center will help us keep continuity across the seasons. Dan Hartman-Strawn has already proven that he is both a great planner and doer! Thanks to him, the greenhouse will soon have a new roof, which will be an important asset to extend growing season and protect equipment. He will also be working with us to create more opportunities to volunteer on local projects and visit the Black Hills area at the Sacred Earth Lodge. Let us know if you are interested. We will have at least two SWF related projects in 2015.

As we set a new course for the next year, we are very grateful for your continued support! With your contributions, we can go even further. Yakoke - many thanks!!

Farm fresh veggies!
Farm fresh veggies!
Celebrating a productive season at SWF!
Celebrating a productive season at SWF!
Oct 21, 2014

Sacred Earth Lodge: 2014 Highlights

SEL
SEL's new Solar PV system + CEB office

There have been a lot of firsts for the Sacred Earth Lodge (SEL) this year, and many great opportunities to develop its potential as a training center and guest lodge in the heart of Indian Country. In many ways, it was a good thing to have the winter and spring to get the lodge ready for the busy training season of May-September.  We truly appreciated your support in helping us open the Lodge to students, volunteers, and visitors. What a great first year!

Welcomed over 250 guests and volunteers

We were honored to welcome over 250 guests and volunteers to the Sacred Earth Lodge this year. These friends came from all over the country to support the Tribal Renewable Energy Program. Guests volunteered at the Solar Warrior Farm, came from the Pine Ridge community to share their knowledge and to learn new skills, relaxed and learned about the Lakota culture, and some came to work on the various earth-based demonstration buildings at the Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center (RCREC) campus.

We’ve had a lot of feedback about what people enjoyed and what they thought we could improve at the Lodge. SEL is hosting the last groups of the season this week, so now it is time to gather in the last of the harvest at Solar Warrior Farm and begin planning for next year.

Hosted four major workshops at SEL

As is often the case, when something is being installed at the Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center (RCREC), we use that opportunity to share the experience and knowledge in a workshop format. January’s solar hot water heater was an essential feature of the Sacred Earth Lodge and our first training on this technology.

Another first was the Compressed Earth Block (CEB) Workshop that took advantage of brand new technology in the field of earth-based building materials. Once the walls were up, the summer was spent putting on a roof, front door and windows, blowing in cellulose insulation (another natural material), and putting a beautiful, rustic red lime plaster. In another first, TWP and LSE partnered with GRID Alternatives to install a solar electric (PV) system that provides power for the office and supplements power for the Lodge. A great way to reduce the carbon footprint for both buildings at one time!

Our Green Business Development in Indian Country training was also well attended and came at just the right time with the installation of WiFi at the Lodge. We are so thankful for the hard work and the continuing support needed to expand infrastructure for the Lodge and our partner, Lakota Solar Enterprises' office. Throughout the summer's workshops, the Lodge proved to be an excellent base for the programs and activities we want to continue within tribal communities.

Next Steps: Parking and Handicap Access 

One of the last major projects at the Sacred Earth Lodge is to build in parking facilities and to create handicap access thoughout the building, including a handicap access ramp for the SEL as well as an extra bathroom on the first floor. We also want to create better access for elders and those who may have trouble navigating the natural landscape around RCREC. These projects will require a lot of work, but we know with your support we can make the lodge an even better place for everyone to enjoy. Thank you!

A beautiful day at SEL
A beautiful day at SEL
Students learn Solar PV inside the SEL classroom
Students learn Solar PV inside the SEL classroom
Learning to install Solar PV at SEL
Learning to install Solar PV at SEL

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