Celebrating 20 Years in 2018!

by Sebastian Africano, Executive Director

Happy 2018 from all of us at Trees, Water & People!

2018 is a significant year for many reasons, but the main one is that it’s Trees, Water & People’s (TWP’s) 20th Anniversary! As the staff and I reflected on the significance of this achievement, we tried to think back to the challenges that our founders, Richard Fox and Stuart Conway, likely faced when they started this organization in 1998, in Fort Collins, Colorado…

Email and the internet were barely commonplace in 1998. They photographed their work in the field with film cameras and recorded activities with camcorders. Field reports were received by fax and cell phones were just beginning to show up on the scene. Building a following back then depended on the depth of your Rolodex, your versatility with direct mail, and your candor on a landline.

Richard Fox and Stuart Conway 1998
Trees, Water & People was founded in 1998 by Richard Fox (left) and Stuart Conway (right), two foresters who saw a huge need to address the pervasive deforestation in Latin America.

Our founders worked hard to build successful relationships in the field, as well as systems and processes at home that would lay the foundation for a lasting organization. When I began working for the organization in 2005, little did I know the impact that TWP would have on the world.

Apart from the tens of thousands of beneficiaries we’ve been fortunate to serve through our projects, we’ve also created a home for dozens of staff, hundreds of volunteers and interns, and thousands of donors that have made our work possible. A significant number of those donors have supported us since the very beginning, and have literally given us the means to reach this significant milestone.

Rafael Ramirez
Rafael Ramirez is transplanting tree seedlings in a small nursery in Guatemala. Photo by Jeff Caesar, 1998.

We have planted close to 7 million trees, installed over 75,000 cookstoves, and trained hundreds of rural people in everything from fruit tree-grafting, to soil conservation, to solar power and clean cookstove design. Any way you look at this story, it’s an understatement to say that it’s been an inspirational journey.

However, the world has changed drastically in very visible ways over the past 20 years, and there are forces at work today that threaten the work of nonprofits like ours.

Nine of every ten deportees from the U.S. today are going back to Central America and Mexico. Climate change is threatening small-holder agriculture in the region, and the cities are busting at the seams with migrants from rural areas, and now from abroad. U.S. investment in International Development and diplomacy has slowed to a trickle, while changes to the tax law are threatening donations from our individual supporters.

Doña Justa with her stove
Doña Justa making breakfast with her new fuel-efficient stove in Honduras. Photo by Jeff Caesar, 1998.

The challenges we face today are going to be very different from those faced by our founders in 1998, and are going to require that we be flexible and adaptable in how we approach our work. Your support is instrumental in our success and will be the cornerstone of what we build over the next 20 years.

For this reason, this year we’d like to celebrate YOU – our donors – who have been the lifeblood of this organization since we were founded. Over the next several months we’re going to feature 20 of our most ardent supporters, in hopes that they inspire you to share TWP’s work with your friends, family, and peers, and show them why you donate to this work.

The gains we’ve made for people and planet will only remain as such if we are vigilant and persistent in defending them – and we can’t do this alone. So THANK YOU – here’s to 20 more years of TWP, and to all the worth-while things we’re going to accomplish together!

If you would like to celebrate our 20th anniversary with us and be in the loop about Trees, Water & People’s work, please sign up for our email list.

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Upcoming Event: Sustainable Living Fair, Sept. 20-21

Sustainable Living Fair 2014

Don’t miss out on one of the best sustainability fairs in the country! The 15th Annual Sustainability Fair will be September 20-21 at Legacy Park in Fort Collins, CO.

The Fair features 11,000 attendees, acclaimed Keynote Speakers, 200 exhibitors, 75 workshops, hands-on experiences, Family Planet with a Natural Parenting Nook, Natural Health and Yoga Tent, live music and entertainment, our Real Food Market and Local Libations – featuring world class beer, wine, cider and mead.  VOLUNTEERS get FREE Admission, sign up TODAY!

On Saturday, Sept. 20 from 3-4pm in the Renewable Energy Tent, TWP’s International Director Sebastian Africano will present “Addressing Energy Poverty with Innovative Efficiency and Renewable Energy Solutions.” For more information click here.

Trees, Water & People is a proud sponsor of this annual event and we look forward to seeing you there!

Upcoming Event: Earth Day Celebration – April 27

Earth Day Fort Collins 2014

Take a walk on the wild side at our 5th Annual Food Co-op Earth Day Celebration on Sunday, April 27th from 11am-5pm. This year, we’ve partnered with The Fort Collins Food Co-Op, The Downtown Business Association, Bohemian Foundation, School of Global Environmental Sustainability- Colorado State University and The Gearage. Party begins in Old Town Square and crawls onto Mountain Avenue. It’s free and open to all walks of life!

Enjoy live music, Kid Zone crafts and flower planting provided by Gulley Greenhouse Inc., face painting, food trucks, vendors, a silent auction, Septacycle rides and more. Going with our Wildlife theme, the W.O.L.F Sanctuary will be the beneficiaries of the silent auction. Stop by the Food Co-op booth for information on our Party Animal Partners promotion and see how you can save at local business throughout the day! Check out the crafty critters at the Freedom Market.

Dance your fur off in Old Town Square with Fale African Drum and Dance Collective of Fort Collins, Saja Butler, Cool Hand Juke, Lineage Music Project and Ambassador Wolf.

For more information please visit the Fort Collins Food Co-Op website.

New Photo Exhibit Opening to the Public Nov. 1st

photo exhibit

We are pleased to announce the November 1 opening of our new photography exhibition, Illuminating Opportunity: A photo exhibit for social good, an exploration of our solar energy program through the eyes of Fort Collins-based photographer Darren Mahuron. The photo exhibit will be open to the public November 1 from 6-9pm at the Community Creative Center located at 200 Mathews Street in Old Town Fort Collins.

The exhibit will take you to the heart of rural Honduras, where we work with local communities to distribute small-scale, clean energy technologies such as solar lighting and solar phone chargers. Darren Mahuron’s unique photos highlight the rich Honduran culture while showcasing TWP’s important efforts to light the homes of families living without electricity.

In Honduras alone, 2.3 million people still have no access to electricity. Families rely on kerosene lamps and candles that are expensive and produce high levels of indoor air pollution. Our solar products deliver immediate, triple-bottom line returns to the poorest communities in the Western Hemisphere. Reducing dependency on kerosene and switching over to solar lighting systems brings staggering social, environmental, and economic returns.

“We envision a world where every person, down to the last mile or ‘base of the pyramid,’ has access to clean energy in an affordable manner.” said Sebastian Africano, International Director.

Read more about the exhibit in today’s Coloradoan!

Rhythms for the Planet a Success!

by Megan Maiolo-Heath, Marketing and Communications Manager

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Thank you to everyone who joined us for Rhythms for the Planet this past Friday, March 1st, at the Sunset Event Center! We had so much fun seeing you all and dancing to the great music of The 3 Twins Broadband. Your generosity helped us to raise funds for all of our community-based development projects. It is humbling to have your continued support over the past 15 years. We hope to see you next year!

Rhythms for the Planet Sponsor Banner 2012

Office Energy Challenge Update: Very hot summer, higher electricity use

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With record high temperatures in Fort Collins, we had a difficult time meeting our 10% energy reduction goal in June. With the air conditioning going 40 hours per week, we just barely missed our reduction goal. We hope to make up for this over the long-term, and are positive that we will meet our goal over the one-year average. The silver-lining: we are saving energy in a lot of other areas by changing our habits in the office and being conscious about how we use energy!

Learn more about TWP’s Office Energy Challenge here.

Thank you to Rick England, owner of Best Energy Monitor, for his dedication to helping us reduce our energy consumption!