Food & Water Access for White Mountain Apaches

by Highland Support Project
Food & Water Access for White Mountain Apaches
Food & Water Access for White Mountain Apaches
Food & Water Access for White Mountain Apaches
Food & Water Access for White Mountain Apaches
Food & Water Access for White Mountain Apaches
Food & Water Access for White Mountain Apaches
Food & Water Access for White Mountain Apaches
Food & Water Access for White Mountain Apaches
Food & Water Access for White Mountain Apaches
Food & Water Access for White Mountain Apaches
Food & Water Access for White Mountain Apaches
Food & Water Access for White Mountain Apaches
Food & Water Access for White Mountain Apaches
Food & Water Access for White Mountain Apaches
Oscar Madinez presenting on sustainable education
Oscar Madinez presenting on sustainable education

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.

Visit Change Maker HS to see swale landscaping
Visit Change Maker HS to see swale landscaping
Students learning about building soil
Students learning about building soil
Visiting example of teaching garden in small space
Visiting example of teaching garden in small space
Learning about landscaping for passive collection
Learning about landscaping for passive collection
Transplanting starts for McNary Community Garden
Transplanting starts for McNary Community Garden
California Lutheran Helping out for the day
California Lutheran Helping out for the day
Seeding for May planting
Seeding for May planting
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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 hello@highlandpartners.org.

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At the end of every summer it always feels like it just "flew by," but this summer, especially so! The ability to return to travel and return to some of our group work has been encouraging and reenergizing, and we are excited to share a few updates from our June 2021 trip to Arizona.
Partnership with York College Engineering 
 
Engineering students at York College spent the semester working on mapping and designing solutions to water access for both a community garden in McNary and for farmland in White River. YC professor Paul Ackerman was able to attend the trip with one of his students to gain firsthand insight on their projects and collect data to bring back to the group. 
Collaboration with Cheryl Pailzote and Ndée Bikíyaa 
Our projects are always rooted in community initiatives, and we've continued to strengthen our partnerships with the White Mountain Apache Tribe. Cheryl Pailzote is a water specialist on the reservation and has created the initiative By The Roots alongside her daughter, Robyn. This program is a multi-prong approach to food sovereignty that provides hands-on workshops to bridge generations in the tribe. Ndée Bikíyaa, The People's Farm, is a youth-run working farm that strives to restore personal and cultural health among the White Mountain Apache through agriculture.
Join us!
 
We are planning travel for 2022 and would love to have you join us in Arizona. This is our full informational packet, and you can reach out to madison@highlandpartners.org to learn more!
While you're here...
 
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Community bbq to celebrate program advancements
Community bbq to celebrate program advancements

Covid 19 has had a dramatic impact on tribal communities in terms of health and stress. The fear that an unseen virus can immediately disrupt your family has generated anxiety for us all. Medical research has documented a clear link between stress and well-being. We know that one way to improve well-being is to assist people in dealing with stress by increasing social connections to address the causes of stress directly. Gaining a sense of control over an aspect of life and having positive social interactions has a significant impact on the lives of individuals and communities.

The importance of people having a sense of control over their lives is well documented in studies of the impact of stress on communities' health and well-being. That is why we believe it is critical to design programs that allow individuals and communities to have opportunities for direct participation in the decisions that impact their lives. Marc A. Zimmerman, in the handbook of community psychology, documents the many beneficial attributes of community empowerment programs. His research demonstrates that even hobby clubs can significantly increase an individual's sense of empowerment and civic engagement. Zimmerman describes empowerment in terms of individual capacity to solve problems and an organization's resources and connections.

This last quarter we have connected the members of By the Roots, the community-based family farming organization on the White Mountain Apache reservation, with the engineering programs of York College and North Carolina State University. This collaboration has led community surveys to develop a hierarchy of outcomes for desired programming and projects. Under the supervision of professors, students from York University designed water capitation and irrigation solutions for individual families.

This Spring, the project supported By the Roots purchased tools for a community sharing shed that is uniting 13 family farmers in a mutual support network modeled on agricultural cooperatives. This network enables families to collaborate on equipment without having to focus on producing for the market. Frequently, small farmers have to choose between feeding their extended families or selling crops to afford to farm. This resource-sharing network enables farmers in a community facing significant food insecurity to share the harvest with neighbors rather than focus on purchasing equipment.

During weekends in March and April, the project supported community reclamation efforts to restore ancient irrigation canals. The weekends are not just about growing crops. They are also about growing community and sustaining the connections between generations to preserve tribal traditions and values.

We will be hosting visitors interested in engaging with the program from June 27th to July 3rd. There will be canning and preserving classes, a workshop for visitors on Apache wild harvesting traditions, service work on a community garden, and lectures on tribal sovereignty and food security. Please contact us at info@highlandpartners.org if you would like to see your donations at work.

Irrigation canal reclamation
Irrigation canal reclamation
New tool for community sharing shed
New tool for community sharing shed
BBQ pit for Community cookout after work day
BBQ pit for Community cookout after work day

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What is social capital?   For the Highland Support Project, it is our mission.

Social capital is the networks and connections that enable individuals to join together to achieve greater results than they could alone.   The service organizations, church groups, and networks like GlobalGiving connect people to solve problems and access opportunities.   It is also the business structures like agricultural cooperatives, water committees, and weaving federations that enable people to pool their resources and talents to improve their quality of life. 

Social capital can also represent the norms, values, and habits that foster a healthy society.   We developed our vision from the central role that relationships play in the culture of our partner communities.  Our model is based on a lesson we can learn from the tradition of the Three Sisters.  This is the practice of growing corn, beans, and squash together.   There are valuable instructions about synergy and cooperation in this planting tradition.   Corn removes nitrogen from the soil.  Beans absorb oxygen from the air and then fix it into the soil.  The Corn provides a vertical platform for the Beans to reach the sky.   The squash plants function as a natural herbicide keeping competition down.  The squash also keeps the soil moist through osmosis, and her big leaves protect those soils from erosion during monsoon season.   

The Three Sisters system represents a network of specializations that create a sustainable ecosystem of opportunity.  There is a saying that corn cannot grow alone.   As a plant, it requires nurture and human intervention to grow.  Corn also requires neighbors to pollinate.  The heart of the Highland Support Project's work is to replicate the Three Sisters' teachings by developing organizational "gardens" that result in life-sustaining collaborations. 

Over the last three months, we have been busy networking partners to support the White Mountain Apache family farms.   We have engaged with graduate students at Virginia Tech University (VT) to train tribe members in GIS mapping programs.  The VT graduate students are also assisting in setting up mapping studies to assess irrigation requirements, land use, and food access.  We have developed a partnership with the Department of Engineering at York college to provide individualized technical support down to the single field level.  The objective is to help family farmers improve their individual fields' productivity and environmental sustainability through irrigation, erosion mitigation, and water conservation measures.  We have recruited Ph.D. candidates in electrical engineering to tackle the technical questions and design solar pumping solutions in coordination with our civil engineering resources.  

We have assembled a team of social workers from Virginia Commonwealth University to develop a community organizing training program for community facilitators.  This endeavor aims to help community members develop a farmers cooperative or association to increase access to opportunities and coordinate irrigation systems' maintenance.   This team is augmented with a program of management consulting from River Side consulting.  Tribal members participated in a series of workshops concerning conducting a SWOTT analysis, the RACI matrix, and SMART planning. 

We have contracted a professional grant writer's services to assist in developing proposals for specific infrastructure development projects beyond the scope of the current organizing outreach.  We have also initiated outreach with Rotary Clubs to develop alliances to provide micro-targeted support directly to family farmers.

We give thanks to the many individuals that join our network to grow opportunities across the Americas. Transformational development occurs through people and not things.  We thrive as communities working together for the common good.   We appreciate your important role as pollinators in our organizational cornfield.   We invite your direct participation beyond financial support because good things are brought to life through relationships.   Have an idea, a resource, or wish to hang out and dream of a better world.  CONTACT US. 

If you want to find out more about food culture and spirituality, join us for a virtual Indigenous cooking class led by our CEO Guadalupe Ramirez.   The 2020 winner of the Rowan Institute Environmental Leadership Award.   https://highlandsupportproject.org/highland-support-project/cook-with-us

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Organization Information

Highland Support Project

Location: Richmond, VA - USA
Website:
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Twitter: @HighlandPartnrs
Project Leader:
BENJAMIN EDWARD BLEVINS
Richmond, VA United States
$12,553 raised of $15,000 goal
 
171 donations
$2,447 to go
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