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.
Jun 25, 2015

A Blessing Ceremony for the Shields Family

Blessing Ceremony for Shields Family
Blessing Ceremony for Shields Family
"Grandfather, Great Spirit, once more behold me on earth and lean to hear my feeble voice. You lived first, and you are older than all need, older than all prayer. All things belong to you - the two-legged, the four-legged, the wings of the air, and all green things that live.
You have set the powers of the four quarters of the earth to cross each other. You have made me cross the good road and road of difficulties, and where they cross, the place is holy. Day in, day out, forevermore, you are the life of things."
- Black Elk: Holy Man of the Oglala Sioux

Last weekend volunteers from St. John's United Church of Christ in Denver, Colorado joined Henry Red Cloud, owner of Lakota Solar Enterprises, and Trees, Water & People staff for a blessing ceremony at the site of Paul Shields' future home. Henry led the ceremony with a traditional Lakota prayer, blessing the land where the compressed earth block (CEB) home will be built later this summer. The volunteer group from Denver also offered a prayer to the family as they prepare to build this new home.

Spirituality is critical to the traditional Lakota way of living. Wakan Takna - the Great Spirit - receives thanks for everything on Earth. The Lakota people are full of pride, honor, and dignity. These cultural elements are kept humble and true through prayer and deeply-rooted faith.

This recent ceremony marks the beginning of a new life for the Shields family, who are currently living in a dilapidated trailer that lacks proper heating and plumbing, among other basic amenities. The new CEB home is designed to be energy efficient and affordable, providing the family with a dignified place to call home.

Building this new home for the Shields Family is truly a community effort, bringing together people from around the country who are providing time and donations to complete the home. Thank you for your continued support! We hope you will share this project with a friend and ask them to contribute too.

Mitakuye Oyasin ( We are all related)

Paul and his children meet new friends
Paul and his children meet new friends
Henry Red Cloud prays for the Shields Family
Henry Red Cloud prays for the Shields Family
Jun 11, 2015

A Master Plan for the Nicaraguan Center for Forests, Energy and Climate Takes Shape!

The Master Plan
The Master Plan

The Nicaraguan Center for Forests, Energy and Climate is well on its way to becoming a reality.  Over the past month Trees, Water & People (TWP) and partner Proleña have made considerable progress, with a Nicaraguan architect, creating the master plan for the center.  The plan will be finished and transferred to blueprints by the end of June 2015, at which point we will be ready to break ground. Once we begin building, we'd like to maintain the momentum to have the site operational and receiving guests by mid-2016.

Your donations will help make this a reality!
Once the dorms, classrooms, and workshops are constructed, we will begin the process of sizing and designing solar energy systems to power the site. We have a number of colleagues in the solar industry around the world who are committed to helping us with this challenge, and we are even considering designing a course around the installation. Also, as construction advances, planting of our various agroforestry plots will begin, demonstrating different combinations of crops and productive trees that can increase resilience on a rural farm.
 
As climate change rears its ugly head in the tropics, families already living in extreme vulnerability will have to adapt their approaches to be able to survive in rural areas. This means changing the rate at which they consume natural resources, and diversifying their crops and planting schedules to withstand volatile weather patterns. TWP's NCFEC will be a resource for these farmers and their communities, providing them with a suite of technologies, proven methods, tree seedlings, and curriculum that will support them in this transition.  

Thank you for supporting this effort - we look forward to keeping you informed as the Center takes shape and gets closer to opening its doors!
Jun 11, 2015

Start with the Basics for Native-owned Businesses

Ginger pitching her proposal
Ginger pitching her proposal

Many people say and wish they could start their own business and make a difference in their communities. But it takes guts and funding to take the first steps to do so. This past week we had our Green Business Development Training at the Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center (RCREC). Although there were only two participants, they brought their passion and talents for their communities to the experience.

Ginger of King Cove, Alaska, has the idea to tackle waste management by diverting food waste from the landfill and creating compost for organic gardening to fill the need for fresh, affordable food.  She traveled for two days to be in Pine Ridge and learn much about Lakota history and culture.

“This was the trip of a lifetime, and I will never forget it,” Ginger said of her first trip outside King Cove in 10 years. She was inspired by her experience to take the first steps of her goal of starting a compost program with her Tribe – she is planning on entering a college program in Environmental Sciences in the fall.

Trent of the Tule River Reservation also brought another great idea to the training. During the week he honed in on the specifics of building the renewable energy capacity for a Tribe in California through family and facility scale solar electric solutions, starting with Tribal elders. He hopes to return to RCREC for a solar applications training later this year, and connect with others in his community who want to be a part of this endeavor.

Meanwhile our Green Business Award winner from last year – Tyler – has achieved much since October. Cloud Nine Recycling is now an LLC, and he is currently in the process of buying a box truck so that he can decide on when and where he will take his recycling inventory to market, rather than paying high rental prices for a truck. He is an inspiration to others who want to wade into entrepreneurship and make a difference in his community to be clean and green!

Thanks to our GlobalGiving family for supporting these up and coming “Indianpreneurs” in their first steps toward making a positive impact in their communities! 

Working on business plans!
Working on business plans!
A visit to Wounded Knee
A visit to Wounded Knee

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