Update: 24 Cookstoves Built in 3 Days

A stove beneficiary in San Jose de Bocay stands next to her new fuel-efficient cookstove, built by Virginia Tech students, residents of Blacksburg, and TWP partner Proleña in early January 2011.

At the beginning of this month we did a post on the sister city relationship between Blacksburg, VA and San Jose de Bocay, Nicaragua (see post here).  Well, the trip was a great success!  Here is little update from trip leader and Blacksburg resident Jim Bier:

“We had a great week in San jose de Bocay.  The whole group was great, the arrangements worked well and we manged to build 24 stoves in 3 long days, and greatly strengthen our sister-city relationships in San Jose de Bocay.”

Thank you to the Virgina Tech students, residents of Blacksburg, and Proleña for all of your hard work!

Join TWP for the 2011 Lakota Adventure

This September, TWP will take a group to the Pine Ridge Reservation to experience the culture of the Oglala Lakota.  Participants will camp or stay in a dorm at the Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center, visit historical sites, learn about Lakota history and culture from tribal elders, and help plant trees and build solar heating systems for local families.

Don’t miss your chance to experience the strength, pride, humor, and enduring culture of the Oglala Lakota.

For more information or to reserve a space on the September Lakota Adventure, please call Lacey Gaechter at 970-484-3678 or email lacey@treeswaterpeople.org.

TWP Helps Connect Sister Cities in Virginia and Nicaragua

In Bocay, 25 fuel-efficient cookstoves will be built between Jan. 2-14 as part of a service learning project.

From January 2-14, 2011, TWP board member Patrick Flynn will be leading a group of 17, including 11 Virginia Tech students and Blacksburg, Virginia residents, to San Jose de Bocay, Nicaragua on a service learning project.  The mission of the visit is to build fuel-efficient cookstoves for 25 low-income families.

Doña Enriqueta stands next to her open-fire stove in her home in Bocay. She will soon receive a fuel-efficient cookstove with the help of project participants.

In late October of 2010, Claudia Menendez, TWP’s International Program Coordinator, and Juan Jose, a Proleña stove technician, traveled to the mountain town of Bocay to assess the current cooking practices and fuelwood consumption trends of residents.  With the help of community leaders, Claudia and Juan were able to identify potential cookstove beneficiaries.  Based on their observations, Proleña, TWP’s partner organization in Nicaragua, has designed a stove suited to the cooking needs of the women in Bocay.  With the help of VT students and other tour participants, 25 women will have fuel-efficient cookstoves built in their homes, greatly reducing the indoor air pollution, fuel wood costs, and deforestation in Bocay.

During the 1980’s, the town of Bocay was in the middle of the Contra War zone, and was a refugee center for families fleeing the surrounding violence. Since 1989, the Sister City group has worked with town residents to build a school, buy computers, athletic uniforms and equipment.

San Jose de Bocay, Nicaragua

In total, the group has provided over $150,000 in funding to Bocay.

TWP is happy to help bring residents of Virginia together with residents of Bocay to complete sustainable development projects.  Safe travels!

Spots Still Available on the 2011 EcoTour!

Join us for the 2011 EcoTour to Guatemala; the adventure of a lifetime!  Experience our international community development programs through an exciting hands-on adventure in beautiful Central America.

“It was not until my hands-on experience that I truly came to appreciate the far-reaching effect my contributions had in assisting this wonderful organization to pursue their mission … I was able to observe the needs of the Nicaraguan and Honduran people first hand and to experience the sense of hope a new stove brought to the women and children.”
-Tim Holzheimer, EcoTour Participant

The 2011 EcoTour will visit both cultural sites as well as Trees, Water & People’s project sites, where you will have the opportunity to plant trees and build fuel-efficient cookstoves with members of the communities we serve.

Don’t miss this opportunity to experience Guatemala and all the rich culture it has to offer!  For more information on how you can sign-up please call Claudia at (970) 484-3678 or email claudia@treeswaterpeople.org.

EcoTour 2009 participants help build a fuel-efficient Justa stove for a family in Guatemala. (Photo by Don Usner)

Visit Beautiful Guatemala on the 2011 TWP EcoTour

EcoTour 2009 participants help build a Justa stove in Guatemala.                       © 2009 Don Usner

Each year, TWP takes a group of supporters to Central America to see first-hand our stove building and reforestation programs at work. Tour participants have the opportunity to actually help build a fuel-efficient stove and plant tree seedlings – meeting and working with the people in the communities we serve.

It’s not all work, though! Each tour also includes great sight-seeing destinations, cultural activities, and bird watching opportunities. Led by TWP International Director Stuart Conway, these trips are a chance to get an “insider’s view” of Central America and its many wonders. Tours are conducted through the Mesoamerican Tourism Alliance, an alliance of local organizations committed to the development and promotion of sustainable tourism as a means for supporting conservation efforts in Central America.

This year we will be visiting Guatemala! If you have never been to this amazing country, you are missing out on amazing people and culture.

Enjoy TWP’s Spring 2010 Newsletter!

“Lakota Past and Present” Adventure

Over the last five years, TWP has been bringing family-sized renewable energy applications to tribal communities. During most of that time, we have worked with Henry Red Cloud on the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota. Henry is the owner of Lakota Solar Enterprises and has led most of our renewable energy workshops and installations. Recently, we have expanded our partnership with Henry to develop the Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center, a facility that will train Native Americans about renewable energy applications for many years to come.

While our primary focus has been on providing Lakota families with more than 200 solar air heating systems, we have also been involved in solar electric and wind turbine installations as well as planting trees as windbreaks for more than 130 additional Lakota families.

Most of our work has been on the Pine Ridge reservation, but we have also installed demonstration solar heaters for families on nine other reservations ranging from Skull Valley in Utah to White Earth in Minnesota.  Four of these installations were done in partnership with Winona LaDuke and the Honor the Earth organization.

Over the years, we have had many people ask to come with us and learn about the Lakota people, conditions at Pine Ridge, and our efforts to build renewable energy capacity in tribes across the Great Plains. We have brought some of these folks to Pine Ridge in the spring to help us during our last 6 years of tree planting there.

This fall, we will begin to gently expand our efforts to engage more people in working with Lakota people to build a more sustainable energy program and reduce outrageously high utility bills. We believe that with energy prices continuing to rise, and potentially doubling over last winter’s costs, that we need to do everything we can to get more solar heating systems in place and protect more tribal families, especially the elderly and children.

These supplemental solar heaters will reduce heating costs by 20-30% for 20 to up to 30 years for pennies a day and should be a part of every tribes new energy policy. Check out our website for more information.

Please take a moment to read the flyer about the Lakota Past and Present Adventure. I hope you will consider attending and that you will pass it on to your friends and associates for their consideration.