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.
Aug 20, 2014

Project Update: It takes a village to raise a garden!

Thank you Re-Member volunteers!
Thank you Re-Member volunteers!

As much as we like to believe, even automated watering systems and a good amount of sunshine will not make a garden grow. Solar Warrior Farm is lucky to have wonderful people who come to weed, harvest, cook and share the vegetables with local families. Volunteers make the difference between a good year and a great year. This has been a great year so far.

This summer we had the privilege of having Anna Dunlap on board as garden coordinator-in-residence. Anna is an education major from Berea College in Kentucky and an experienced farmer. As many of you know, visiting the RCREC often means getting your hands dirty with mudding walls, gathering firewood, feeding the compost bins, washing dishes, pulling weeds and bringing in armfuls of produce. Anna never hesitated to jump in and give the RCREC some TLC along with the SWF. She made friends in the community and was always ready to serve others. She has now returned to her studies for the year, and many people in the Pine Ridge community miss her kind and generous presence.

Many weeks over the summer, SWF has also been the delighted host for volunteer groups who stayed at the Sacred Earth Lodge – our first year having guests – as well as volunteers who came once a week from RE-MEMBER, another local non-profit doing good things in Pine Ridge. In the past, Lakota Solar Enterprises and Trees, Water & People have helped bring supplemental solar heating to RE-MEMBER’s office building, and in turn, have been the guest at their cultural sharing nights for dinner on several occasions. The volunteers from RE-MEMBER not only worked hard to keep the garden going, but also enjoyed the pleasures of a swim in the creek to celebrate.

As harvest time continues, we welcome a new intern – Dan Hartman-Strawn – who has been a regular volunteer with RE-MEMBER. He will be staying at the RCREC for the fall, watching over the garden and helping where he can.

We are incredibly lucky to have such good people making good things possible both on location and through their continued generosity of time, talents and money. Coupled with technology and good weather means a good year turned into a great year. Yakoke, many thanks, friends and supporters from GlobalGiving!

Jul 21, 2014

New septic, WiFi, and a busy training season!

Compressed Earth Block Training
Compressed Earth Block Training

It has been a very busy summer up at the Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center, headquarters of TWP's Tribal Renewable Energy Program and home to the Sacred Earth Lodge! We have hosted many groups of volunteers as well as Native American trainees, and having the Lodge available to our guests has made a huge difference in the quality of the Program. We thank you, our generous friends and donors, for your support of this important project! 

New Septic System Installed

This is not the most glamorous part of today's update, but I am happy to report that we have installed the new septic system at Sacred Earth Lodge. This is obviously an important part of any building's infrastructure and your donations have helped us to complete this part of the Lodge.

Connected to the World: WiFi Installed at the Lodge

For most of us, access to WiFi is a normal part of life, not a luxury to be desired. However, for many people living on the Pine Ridge Reservation, WiFi is not accessible due to cost and poor infrastructure. Well, we are happy to report that we now have WiFi at the Sacred Earth Lodge. The internet access has improved the learning environment and has cut down on transportation costs to locations on the reservation that do have internet. The WiFi was installed just in time for the Green Business Development training in June, allowing students to do research for their business plans right inside the Lodge. In addition, it has created even more of a coffee house environment for students and guests alike.

Summer Workshops and Volunteers at the Sacred Earth Lodge

The summer months are the busiest time for the Tribal Program and the Sacred Earth Lodge. Over the past few months, we have hosted multiple training events and have many more on the schedule through the Fall. The Sacred Earth Lodge provides a quality learning space for our students as well as comfortable accommodations for multi-day workshops. Since our last report, we have hosted the Building with Compressed Earth Block, Green Business Development, and Solar Air Heating workshops. Each training has had a diverse group of students from tribes around the country. Students have been very happy with the new Sacred Earth Lodge and the comfortable space it provides for learning and socializing. Next on the schedule is a Solar Air Heater/Solar Electric training that we will host in partnership with GRID Alternatives, Solar Energy International, University of Colorado, and Thunder Valley.

In addition, we have hosted many guests at the Lodge to volunteer on a variety of projects, including compressed earth block construction, strawbale construction, and organic farming at Solar Warrior Farm. In total, we have had more than 200 people visit the Sacred Earth Lodge this summer!

Clinton Global Initiative

At the Clinton Global Initiative event in Denver, we announced our commitment to green business development in Indian Country. In partnership with Henry Red Cloud, owner of Lakota Solar Enterprises, and many other partners, we look forward to fulfilling this commitment and creating a better future for Native entrepreneurs. Your investment in the Sacred Earth Lodge and the Tribal Program is a major part of this effort. Thank you again for your generosity!

Studying at Sacred Earth Lodge - with WiFi!
Studying at Sacred Earth Lodge - with WiFi!
Sacred Earth Lodge - powered by solar energy!
Sacred Earth Lodge - powered by solar energy!
Henry Red Cloud with President Clinton at CGI
Henry Red Cloud with President Clinton at CGI
May 22, 2014

Solar Warrior Farm Update: Watch us grow!

Cheers to a new growing season!
Cheers to a new growing season!

Not even a Mother’s Day snow storm could hold back the early plantings at the Solar Warrior Farm (SWF) and Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center. Hardy cabbages survived and are ready to greet the next sets as they arrive. May is a funny month in Zone 4, but many of the gardeners on the Pine Ridge Reservation are happy to see the last frost behind them and they are ready to start more of those early crops of spinach, cabbage, carrots, radishes and raspberries.

We were lucky enough to have a visit from Lakota elder and seasoned garden expert Caroline Cuny. She helped us welcome our new Solar Warrior Farm Coordinator for the season – Anna Dunlap, a student from Berea College in Kentucky. A lifetime organic gardener, Anna still had many questions about what works best in the particular microclimates on Pine Ridge. It really takes knowledge and experience to sense what the season might be like this year, and we are very thankful that Ms. Cuny could spend a day, have some lunch and share her time and talents with our crew.

And about those other tasks… The SWF needed some TLC. The beds are tilled, the plantings mapped out and visions of big, juicy tomatoes danced in our heads, as we mucked out the solar powered water tank, weeded the cabbages and cleaned out a space for work tables and starters in the greenhouse. Thanks to Uma Black Hawk-Wilkinson from the Cheyenne River community for helping with those efforts.

It just seems when help is needed, people show up. Trees, Water & People likes to be able to show up for others as well. We are very grateful for you showing up with your ongoing support, and look forward to another bumper crop season to share with the community in this year. In 2014, we plan on sharing more veggies and sharing knowledge through more workshops on gardening - focusing on traditional Lakota recipes and healthy eating. Gardening is a perfect time to bring young people and elders together, and helps keep Native communities strong. You make that possible through GlobalGiving.

We hope you will continue donating to this important project and consider visiting RCREC and Solar Warrior Farm in 2014. Keep in touch and watch us grow!

Caroline Cuny shares her knowledge with Anna
Caroline Cuny shares her knowledge with Anna
Uma and Jamie cleaning out the water tank
Uma and Jamie cleaning out the water tank
Solar Warrior Farm - May 2014
Solar Warrior Farm - May 2014
Get your hands dirty at Solar Warrior Farm!
Get your hands dirty at Solar Warrior Farm!
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