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.
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!
Apr 22, 2014

Sacred Earth Lodge Now Hosting Groups and Workshops!

Elmer Melton, First Alaskan Trainee
Elmer Melton, First Alaskan Trainee

We are excited to report that the Sacred Earth Lodge is now hosting groups and workshops! Thanks to generous donors like you, we have been able to open the doors to this one-of-a-kind training facility and provide Native American students with a beautiful and comfortable learning space. The new Lodge is a great addition to the Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center (RCREC) and offers our Tribal Renewable Energy Program room to grow into a more impactful program for Native American communities. Here are some exciting updates since our last report was published:

Solar Heating System Installed at the Sacred Earth Lodge

As we mentioned in the last report, we planned to use your generous donations to help install a solar hot water heater at the new Lodge. Well, we are excited to report that the new system was installed in early February and it is running great! We heard from our friend Specter, who donated his time and renewable energy background to install the system, a few weeks after the installation was completed: "I performed checks and maintenance on the new system. Not only was the building quite a bit warmer than the outside air temperature, it also felt good. So good, that I ran around checking the electric baseboards installed in the bedrooms and bathrooms, thinking that they might by cranked up. But they were all turned down. The solar thermal was carrying the heat load of the building all on its own."

First Native Student from Alaska

We used the installation of the new solar hot water heater as an opportunity for learning and training. This was the first time we had taught a course on solar hot water systems and also the first time we had a student from Alaska visit RCREC! Elmer Melton is from the Noorvik Native Community in Noorvik, Alaska. Elmer describes himself as “a miser in energy use” and has had experience with energy conservation programs in his community. In his application, he said he “would like to learn how to make hot water with renewable energy sources” so he can share this knowledge with his native community. With fuel costs being so high in his community, Elmer is eager to learn about clean, renewable energy alternatives. It was great to have the Lodge open for Elmer!

Henry Red Cloud Honored by White House

On Thursday, April 17, our Tribal Program Partner and co-manager of the Sacred Earth Lodge was honored by the White House as a Champion of Change for his efforts to promote and expand solar deployment in the residential, commercial and industrial sectors. Congrats to Henry!

Training Season Starting

Our training season is just getting started, and the Lodge will be more important than ever this spring, summer and fall. We kick off the season next week with a straw bale volunteer trip, which gives people from all walks of life the opportunity to learn how to build their own sustianable and affordable buildings. Next, we will continue our green building theme with a Compressed Earth Block Training in May, working in collaboration with EARTHinBLOCKS. In July, we will host our second Native American Green Business Development Training, followed by our first dual Solar Air Heater/ Solar Electric training in partnership with GRID Alternatives. More information on most of these events can be found at www.solarwarriors.org.

Thank you for helping to build this incredible facility for our students. We greatly appreciate your support as we continue to improve the Sacred Earth Lodge. Our next big project is expanding our leech fields - not the most glamorous of projects but very necessary. Stay tuned for more updates and please consider supporting this project in the future!

New Solar Hot Water Heater
New Solar Hot Water Heater
Henry Red Cloud at the White House
Henry Red Cloud at the White House

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