When we last spoke with you HSP, in partnership with Apache leaders, secured a partnership with the Theodore Roosevelt School (TRS) on the White Mountain Apache reservation. This school, previously a military fort and then a boarding school run by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), holds great significance to The White Mountain Apache Tribe. In reclaiming the school, the White Mountain Apache community nurtures empowerment within the region and among the youth.
The partnership between HSP, TRS, and Apache educators will focus on cultivating indigenous community gardens and a culturally responsive STEM curriculum around building and maintaining the gardens. The curriculum will focus on students at the Theodore Roosevelt School in an extracurricular setting after classes but also support professionals, artists, social workers, and educators in their creativity. The hope is that this curriculum can have the freedom to think outside of the box and eventually be expanded to more gardens and organizations.
The program is looking secure more funding and partnership opportunities, while also providing regular hourly compensation and support to its staff. HSP is currently assisting in curriculum development and sourcing the supplies needed for the greenhouse gardens and classes.
Efforts are still in progress to further develop a written horticulture and mindfulness curriculum. This will include instructions on how to properly care for the garden, what plants are suitable for the environment, and how to ensure the garden remains a safe and peaceful area. It will also focus on teaching mindfulness and encouraging students to appreciate the beauty of nature while taking responsibility for the natural environment.
Additionally, this program will hold weekly sessions with TRS students. This could include planting and harvesting, weeding, pruning, and other activities that involve caring for the garden. During these sessions, students would also be able to learn about the various native flora and fauna that live in the garden, and how to appreciate and protect them through traditional practices.
Finally, we aim to provide staff and volunteers training opportunities through online workshops with indigenous and culturally responsive educators to ensure they are properly equipped with everything they need to possess and nurture empowerment.
The road so far has been seeded with high hopes and expectations. We have already completed one semester with TRS students working using the curriculum created by an indigenous ethnobotanist. We continue building and strengthening relationships and working with students as we work to expand the curriculum and programming.
HSP is a network of social workers, scholars, faith-based community members, and Indigenous change-makers partnering to solve critical social and ecological problems. We utilize the methodologies of Participatory Action Research (PAR) " to bring together action and reflection, theory and practice, in participation with others, in the pursuit of practical solutions to issues of pressing concern to people" (Reason & Bradbury, 2001). PAR utilizes a spiral of steps, each composed of a circle of planning, action, and reflection about the results of an action.
One aspect of PAR is to reflect on the positionality of partners in a relationship and develop an understanding concerning the objectives, limitations, and perspectives. PAR is not about studying or helping the "other." It is about relationships and dialogue concerning feelings, fears, aspirations, and constraints.
One aspect of intercultural partnerships in the context of Indigenous communities situated on lands controlled by the United States of America is the social structure referred to by Indigenous scholars Sherry Pictou and Glen Coulthard as the liberal framework of recognition. Indigenous societies' governance systems differ significantly from those imposed by the settler state and tend to be inclusive of all human and non-human living relations. A result is a decentralized form of national leadership prioritizing harmony in social and ecological relations.
The liberal framework of recognition is a term used to describe the dilemma confronting Indigenous organizers. One way to explain the framework is to analyze the work of sociologist John Collier, considered an early innovator of PAR. Collier was the Commissioner of Indian Affairs during the presidency of FDR. Before his administration, Federal policy was aimed at the termination and complete assimilation of tribal communities into the American mainstream. Collier worked with Indigenous communities to develop policies that permitted them to remain with as much sovereignty and integrity as possible.
It is referred to as the liberal framework of recognition because tribes were allowed to continue to exist as long as they organized around liberal principles of state dominance, hierarchical political representation, and the corporate organizational structure for tribal enterprises. The structures required for survival as an identity threaten the underlying cultural system upon which this identity is formed.
In the liberal recognition framework, tribal governments have monopoly control over all decision-making, resource use, and business activities. The dilemma for Indigenous organizers is that challenging or operating outside this framework underminds the structure on which continued survival as a nation is based. Indigenous nations have been struggling for survival in the context of settler colonialism that seeks the elimination of native populations. Tribal sovereignty and the survival of cultural identity are the priority issues, and all organizing efforts must operate within that framework.
Indigenous change-makers operate in an incredibly complex environment of Federal, State, and Tribal laws and must also navigate the cultural differences between the dominant and traditional values. Sherry Pictou documents the forms that patriarchy is replicated through the liberal framework of recognition in tribal communities. Young female tribal members seeking to implement change-oriented initiatives face significant challenges.
One challenge is the disempowering dynamics associated with the hierarchical political structures for starting social enterprises. In addition to obtaining approval, there is always the danger that politically powerful individuals can co-opt a genuinely innovative and potential idea.
A solution we have been working on is developing an initiative for female tribal members interested in culturally sustaining horticultural and deep ecology education. The innovation is to situate these social entrepreneurs as independent contractors for tribal institutions. The space of opportunity is a problem associated with community gardens.
It has been almost a decade now that there has been a fad to build community gardens and support small-scale horticultural production as a means of poverty reduction, education efforts, and nutrition improvement. The problem our community partners encounter is not the intervention itself but the means of implementation.
A common issue in empowerment programming is that donors and government agencies like to fund material projects. Finding the funds to purchase cement or other materials for construction projects is relatively easy. Finding funding for these projects' staffing, maintenance, and utilization is a much more challenging endeavor. The schools and social service agencies do not have the budget to sustain staff dedicated to maintaining and utilizing the gardens.
The innovation that we are assisting female tribal members to develop is the formation of a community garden maintenance service modeled on lawn service providers. While each institution does not have the resources to dedicate to a full-time position, splitting costs between several agencies provides an economy of scale to assist these social entrepreneurs in developing an income-producing and socially beneficial activity.
This last quarter, we supported the endeavor by purchasing equipment and facilitating a partnership with the Theodore Rosevelt School on the reservation. The team uses an abandoned greenhouse and garden infrastructure to develop native plants and Apache foodways demonstrations. We are developing partnerships for the creation of STEM-associated lesson plans and curriculum activities to be offered to local behavioral health agencies.
We have contracted with a community organizer, Muna Hijazi, of Tucson, Arizona, to assist in coordinating collaborations with community organizers and scholars working on issues of sustainable agriculture, ethnobotany, pollinator promotion, and place-based education to assist in program development.
Coulthard, G (2007) Subjects of Empire: Indigenous Peoples and the 'Politics of Recognition' in Canada, Contemporary Political Theory
Pictour, S (2020) Decolonizing Decolonization: An Indigenous Feminist Perspective on the Recognition and Rights Framework, The South Altanict Quartlery DOI 10.1215/00382876-8177809
The Highland Support Project is primarily about empowerment. There are different types of power, such as political, economic, and military. Then there are the types of power that can change the world—ideas, dreams, moral power, and the power of togetherness. There are also disempowering structures such as hopelessness, overly bureaucratic structures, and uncertainty.
Empowerment as a process starts with an individual's locus of control, the degree to which people sense they have control over their destiny, self-confidence, and capacity. The next consideration is social capital, the networks of connections that enable an individual or organization to obtain the resources required to achieve an objective. Community empowerment concerns the infrastructure to produce and disseminate knowledge, a community radio station, locations for the formation of social capital, parks, and community centers.
The structure of a project can contribute to an empowering process by increasing an individual's social capital, providing opportunities to exercise agency, and amplifying transformational ideas of sustainability and responsibility. Unfortunately, projects may also have the opposite impact by conditioning us to imagine that only large-scale endeavors have the potential to generate impact. The kind of scale transfers all agency and responsibility to a professional class disconnected from the community.
The impacts of climate change on family horticulture, changing rain patterns, and the pollinator crisis are examples of issues requiring immediate action. The scope and scale of the required response need a significant amount of power to muster the resources to achieve the necessary impact. Rather than repeating the strategy of transferring agency to politized processes of state intervention, we seek to catalyze the transformational dynamic of compounding small actions to create a systemic impact.
We are currently engaged in the study of passive water harvesting to address issues of scarcity and loss of pollinator habitat. Passive water harvesting is the utilization of earthworks, vegetation, and other soil life to create a living sponge that captures, cleans, stores, and uses rainwater to grow more life, health, and resources. Brad Lancaster refers to the process as "planting the rain" with the aim to grow and enhance a regenerative water-harvesting system with soil and its vegetation as the living tank. The goal is to create environments of abundance that replenish local aquifers and wells by keeping rainwater in place as well as multiplying pollinator habitats.
On the White Mountain Apache Reservation, we are networking with tribal agencies and community organizations to install demonstration plots. This next quarter we hope to install rainwater gardens in the McNary community garden, the Theodore Rosevelt Boarding School, and Ndee Bikiyaa, the people's farm. We are hosting nontribal members from across the United States to participate in installations to promote the spread of bio-intensive rain gardens. We are working to achieve community cross-pollination to ignite the direct engagement of individuals in realizing simple small acts that when combined with many other independent efforts foster the transformation of human habitation.
In addition to our passive rainwater harvesting initiatives, we will be installing active rainwater and drip irrigation system in the community garden of McNary as well as a demonstration system in Ndee Bikiyaa. The idea of the system is to provide participants in training programs with an incentive as well as assist in the structuring of ongoing follow-ups with new gardeners. The small-scale system includes a rain harvesting shade structure and storage tank utilizing gravity to irrigate four "lasagna beds." This pilot project is also being developed to solve an issue with institutional partners concerning the cost of staffing to irrigate educational gardens during school breaks.
The From the Roots team prepares for another year of increasing community and resilience with White Mountain Apache Growers. We are happy to announce that GlobalGiving funding has enabled the program to obtain four times the amount generated on the platform through foundation support. GlobalGiving represents an important catalyzing instrument for germinating ideas into projects which produce programs. The direct donor support enabled the team to test ideas and develop innovations that won institutional support.
In today's commercial world, many people are contrasting a form of management called agile with the more traditional waterfall model. The conventional waterfall model is top-down planning that seeks to plan an entire program from beginning to end. In contrast, the agile model unfolds through repeated iterations of implementation and review. The model was developed in the tech industry to account for rapid changes and increase product development quality.
The agile process begins with the objective of producing a simple product and then adding features and complexities over each iteration. The test and review process facilitates continued innovation and adaptation, which is valuable in developing programming for minority communities in a context that deviates from the norm. The old saying that what works in one community does not necessarily work in another is true. The value of agile management is the ongoing methodology of testing and improving.
Your donations through GlobalGiving enabled the From the Roots team to engage in an agile process to develop programming that fosters community engagement and empowerment. The result of this in the short term is the ability to attract sufficient funding to continue replicating the programming during the next year.
In terms of adding complexity to the programming, we are excited about the ongoing collaboration between the Highland Support Project and the From the Roots team. During the next year, we seek to introduce Deep Ecology education to existing horticultural extension programming. A focus over the next year will concern the crisis of pollinator extinction and how tribal members can join with other communities in promoting the inclusion of pollinator plants and infrastructure to sustain pollinators.
An example of this endeavor is the development of rain harvesting structures that include birdhouses for Warblers and Humming Birds. We are researching native species for pollinator gardens. We plan to implement rain gardens around the farm sites to improve water retention and contribute to a healthy ecosystem.
We will be hosting donors and volunteers on engagement tours beginning in March of 2022. If interested in participating directly with From the Roots in building community and promoting a healthy ecosystem email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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