Donate your used Android smart phones!

Photo by Dimagi

Photo by Dimagi

Trees, Water & People (TWP) is collecting functional Android phones in good condition for our programs in Central America. We are training field staff working in rural areas to collect important data on our Solar Energy Program using customized, multiple choice surveys. Data is collected on a specially designed app for Android phones.

Last October, TWP created Luciérnaga – a social enterprise that creates markets for small-scale solar energy products in off-grid areas of Central America.  Since we launched operations, we have sold more than 4,000 solar lighting products that both illuminate homes and charge cell-phones in communities that do not have access to electricity. We are now distributing product in three countries, and are working to improve our training and customer service via mobile data collection.

Android_robot.svgWe have recently earned the opportunity to pilot a new service called CommSell, designed by social impact technology company Dimagi. By using an Android specific mobile app, our field staff will be able to collect important data into an online database that keeps track of warranty information, tracks inventory and payments, and supports customer relationship management. This is critical for us to be able to provide appropriate and timely support, and also gives us a powerful way to communicate the impact of our work to the outside world.

If you have a surplus of working Android phones, or know people and businesses that do, please consider donating them to Trees, Water & People before Friday August 8, 2014.  We are happy to pick them up, or they can be dropped off or sent to 633 Remington Street, Fort Collins, CO 80524.  Trees, Water & People is a 501(c)(3) and all phone donations are 100% tax-deductible. Thank you for your support!

Reflections on Helping to Start Native-Owned Green Businesses

Richard Fox with students

Richard Fox (right) works with some of TWP’s Native American Green Business Development students and trainers at the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.

by Richard Fox, Executive Director

As I sit here listening to our students at our Green Business Development Training, I am sure we have made the right decision.

For years, through our Tribal Renewable Energy Program, we have been providing Native Americans with a wide spectrum of small-scale/big-impact renewable energy and sustainable home building training.  We realized though that while technical skills training is important, it is not enough to get new Native owned businesses started.  That is why we created this Green Business Development Training, using the Indianpreneurship curriculum developed by ONABEN, as part of our new multi-tiered approach of providing Native American students with the practical knowledge, resources, and confidence needed to create their own businesses.

business trainee grads

Graduates from our most recent Green Business development Training

Beyond this training, we have also instituted a national Business Plan Competition that will provide the winner with up to $40,000 in start-up capital, as well as hands-on business training and assistance in things like using Quick Books, developing and implementing marketing materials and campaigns, and overall business fiscal management.  As part of this effort, we have initiated our Business Start-up Mentor Program, where business professionals provide assistance to Native Americans who are in the competition.  The winner of the business plan competition will have a mentor assigned to them who will work with them over the next year to get their business started and rolling along.

This way we know that at least one new Native American green business will start up every year and hopefully others will form as we continue to have more students go through our training program.

tribal programYes, this path is definitely the right decision.  It has not always been an easy one to implement, and we will surely be improving each component as we move forward and learn from our experiences.  But we are committed to bringing renewable energy and alternative building options to Native communities and helping them move towards energy independence as well as economic stability.

We think long-term at TWP and know our efforts will take time.  But we have been working with tribal communities for more than 12 years and have established a network of Native Green Teams across the Great Plains.  They will surely be our strength and core as we expand these efforts to the hundreds of other tribes looking for green jobs and a new approach to using energy and building sustainability on tribal lands.

To learn more please visit our website: www.treeswaterpeople.org

Bonus Day – Donations matched 50% today!

Today is a Bonus Day at GlobalGiving.org! When you donate to one of our projects on GlobalGiving today, your donation will be matched 50%. Plus, the organization with the most individual donors will receive a $1,000 bonus!

DONATE to one of the following projects that support renewable energy and economic development on tribal lands:
entrepreneurs fund_enews
help build SEL
support organic farming2
There is only $130,000 in matching funds available, so please don’t delay in making your gift!

Upcoming Event: Earth Day in July!

EarthDayPoster2014_2.0

Partner Spotlight: Ut’z Che’

Ut’z Che ‘(good tree in Mayan language K’iche’) is a Guatemalan NGO that represents 36 community organizations dedicated to sustainable management of their forests, forest plantations, water sources, biodiversity and other natural resources.

utzche logoThe Association Ut’z Che’ was formed with the main objective to legitimately represent the demands and interest of their grassroots organizations in different sectors, effect change in public policy areas related to the management of forests, and assist with rural development in general. Another key part is to strengthen the capacities of its member organizations, to achieve conservation and sustainable productive use of natural resources.

In Guatemala – where the state does not respond to the needs and demands for comprehensive development - Utz Che has organized to defend and claim their rights.

“Communities have been protecting natural reserves for centuries but living in poverty. We want people to improve their livelihoods while protecting forests.”

We are honored to work with Ut’Z Che’ and the communities they represent. Together, we build clean cookstoves, plant trees, and distribute solar lighting to their members in Guatemala, all in an effort to empower local people and conserve the natural environment that is so important to their livelihoods.

To learn more please visit www.utzchecomunitaria.org

Community Voices: Guadalupe Padilla

Sra Guadalupe Padilla Auxiliar de Viverista

In every country where we plant trees, we employ local citizens to manage our tree nurseries and planting efforts. These dedicated individuals plant each seed by hand, care for the seedlings for months while they are maturing in our nurseries, and then help to oversee the planting of those trees.

Recently, our long-time partner Armando Hernandez, Director of Arboles y Agua para el Pueblo (AAP) in El Salvador, shared a story with us about his newest employee, a single mother raising two sons and a daughter.

Guadalupe Padilla was hired to help relocate the AAP nursery and care for the tens of thousands of trees grown at this site. She finds much pride in her work and the new job allows her to support her children while contributing to environmental conservation efforts in El Salvador.

Guadalupe believes that “We must conserve the environment for our children!” And why shouldn’t environmental protection also create jobs for people like Guadalupe, who live in rural areas where is employment is needed most?

Support one of our community-based conservation projects today!

Volunteer Opportunity: Trip to Pine Ridge July 11-13

pine ridge volunteers

Please join us for a weekend of volunteering at the Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center, headquarters of TWP’s Tribal Renewable Energy Program! On this trip, we will be finishing the construction of one of our straw bale homes, which will be used as a demonstration site for sustainable building, and getting our hands dirty at Solar Warrior Farm. This will be a great opportunity for learning and making new friends. We hope you can join us!

Where: Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center, Pine Ridge Reservation, South Dakota
When: Friday, July 11 – Sunday, July 13
Who: Flexible volunteers who like adventure, hard work, lots of fun, and all kinds of weather. Volunteers 14-18 are welcome with adult companions.
Why: To finish the straw bale demonstration home and work at Solar Warrior Farm

Volunteers are invited to arrive any time on Friday, July 11. We will host full work days on Friday and Saturday and a half day on Sunday. Projects will end by 1:00 pm on Sunday, and volunteers are welcome to head home any time on Sunday, July 13.

Food:

  • TWP will provide volunteers with meals and snacks during the trip.
  • Food purchased by TWP will be simple and tasty, but feel free to bring any other food/snacks you desire. We will send out a meal plan as the date comes near. 
  • TWP cooking equipment and utensils will be available for use.
  • Volunteers will help in preparing all meals and with cleaning up afterwards.

Transportation:

  • All volunteers are responsible for their own transportation and related costs getting to Pine Ridge.
  • We will be happy to coordinate carpools where possible.
  • Our facility is located down a short dirt road. Many sedans have traveled it without any problems.

Camping:

  • Volunteers who would like to camp on the Red Cloud Renewable Energy property must bring their own camping equipment (tent, sleeping bag and pad, etc.).

To volunteer, please email the following information to John Motley at john@treeswaterpeople.org:

  1. Name of all people in your volunteer party
  2. Email addresses for all people in your volunteer party
  3. Your cell phone number
  4. Which days you have available to travel to and work in Pine Ridge
  5. Where you will be coming from and returning to (e.g. many people will be coming from Fort Collins, CO)
  6. Whether you will be camping or require a bunk in our loft (first come, first served!)
  7. Do you need a ride?
  8. Can you offer a ride – if so, to how many people?
  9. Any other questions you may have.

Once we have confirmed your spot, we will email you directions to the Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center and provide you with additional details.