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.
Sep 11, 2014

Green Business in Indian Country is really on a roll!

Native Business Development Graduates!
Native Business Development Graduates!

Trees, Water & People's Green Business Development in Indian Country training graduated five students in July, and we are now in the process of accepting business start-up applications for the Green Business in Indian Country Start-Up Award.

Aspiring Native entrepreneurs came to the 7-day training from four different tribal communities. Led by former Trees, Water & People (TWP) National Director Lacey Gaechter, students went through the process of researching their potential business resources, creating a vision statement and discovering what it takes to start your own business. Lacey used the Indianprenuership curriculum developed by ONABEN. 

The week also included some inspiring and expert advice from those who have created their own green businesses. We called upon local Lakota business owners Bernard Cuny of Cuny Tree Farm and Henry Red Cloud of Lakota Solar Enterprises to share their stories and answer questions about the work they do. TWP Executive Director Richard Fox, a highly experienced entrepreneur in his own right, also lent his expertise to the mix.

Jeff King, a student from the Northern Cheyenne Tribe, said “I have been interested in renewable energy for a long time, but my interest has been magnified in recent years due to more awareness of global climate change and also from working in an industry (coal) that frowns upon the mere mention of renewables. That attitude has made me even more eager to learn and push on behalf of the world.” Your donations are helping students like Jeff take the next big step towards becoming a buiness owner!

This training was just the beginning, and we have already received several applications for the Green Business in Indian Country Start-Up Award. It is exciting to see not only young Native people, but also those who have been in the workforce for years, making that leap to start their own enterprises. The winner will be announced later this fall, so stay tuned!

We want to take the opportunity to thank you all for your continuing support of this exciting venture. New entrepreneurs mean new jobs and renewed inspiration in tribal communities. You are helping create opportunities and empower Native people for years to come. We still have a ways to go until we reach our fundraising goal, so please consider making a donation today. Yakoke! 

Jeff King presents his business plan
Jeff King presents his business plan
Congrats to Chas!
Congrats to Chas!
Students tour the RCREC campus
Students tour the RCREC campus
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

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