Tis’ the Season for Giving: Facebook Causes “Holiday Wish” is Here!

Start a holiday wish to benefit Trees, Water & People’s Facebook Causes!

Are you passionate about tribal lands renewable energy, reforestation in Latin America, or clean cookstoves in Haiti?

You can donate your holiday wish to any one of TWP’s Facebook Causes, and help us bring light to people’s lives this holiday season.  Visit one of our causes below or click here to help us fundraise!

Trees, Water & People’s Causes:

Notes from the Field: On the Ground in Haiti

© Subuddhyananda 2010

Sebastian Africano, TWP’s Deputy International Director, writes about his most recent trip to Haiti:

I’d call on everybody to keep their eyes and thoughts on Haiti in the coming weeks, and to think of ways forward as the country prepares itself for the era that will see them either emerge as a functional democracy, or remain buried mentally and physically in the rubble of the past several decades.

This quote from a recent NY Times Editorial (Nov. 30, 2010) titled “Haiti After the Vote,” describes the recent presidential elections and speaks to many of the challenges facing the incoming government (whomever that may be):

“Eleven months after the devastating earthquake, more than a million people are still displaced. The country is also struggling to contain a cholera epidemic. The new government will have to clear the many roadblocks that have slowed the rebuilding effort. And it will have to tackle a host of other reforms: modernizing the electoral system and constitution; unclogging bureaucracies and legal requirements that stifle business and investment; overhauling cruel and ineffective courts and prisons.”

I would add one point to the above list of challenges that face the incoming Haitian government – and would, after 6 years of working in Central America and the Caribbean, extend this critique to all the countries in the region.  My thoughts stem from a trip I took a week before the elections, from the rural, arid northwest of Haiti back to the capital, during which we crossed paths with a convoy of at least 10 UN amphibious tanks & trucks, armed to the teeth, presumably heading to Cap Haitien.

UN troops make their way towards Cap Haitien.

We were in Cap Haitien until four days prior, and got out just before people started rioting against the UN based on the allegation that the current cholera strain was brought in by their troops, from abroad.

I knew that whatever was going on that week would pale to the chaos brought on by a general election between 18 candidates, and the after effects of this contest, that are sure to continue over several weeks.

So amidst the accusations of electoral fraud, stalling on durable solutions in the reconstruction, UN irresponsibility and an intensely dangerous cholera epidemic with dubious origins, lies an issue which receives relatively little attention, but which will be instrumental in creating a prosperous Haitian society, if there were ever to be one.  The origins of the cholera that has currently has Haiti over a barrel are secondary when you ignore the factors that have allowed it to proliferate – an abysmal disregard for sanitation and hygiene throughout the country, and no waste management systems that would provide an alternative to current practice.  In truth, nobody should be pointing fingers when there are crises like this afoot, but I look at the situation more objectively.

A river of trash on its way through Port-au-Prince and out to sea.

If the earthquake had never happened, Haitians would still be living among open sewers, defecating in waterways and throwing Styrofoam and plastic into clogged drainage channels, with no concern for the consequences… and the world would be perfectly content to ignore it.  The cholera may have been brought from abroad, but I’m sure the conditions for its proliferation have been ripe for decades, as they are in many developing-world cities.

I see epidemics like these as eventually inevitable, given the conditions, and this outbreak in Haiti should catalyze a serious global conversation on waste, the burden of responsibility that exists upon both the producers and consumers of things that become waste, and most importantly human waste.

A beach full of trash takes away from the stunning beauty of the Caribbean.

We “first-worlders” are subject to this scrutiny as well, as we find it more than acceptable to ignore the destination of our disposables, and are more than comfortable sullying perfectly potable water (an increasingly scarce commodity) on a daily basis.  But until we feel just as comfortable discussing the matter as we do flushing and throwing things “away”, we’ll keep running into epidemics such as this one, and perhaps even worse ones that come from the burning, burying and floating of non-biodegradable and chemical waste into the world’s sinks.

As cholera in Haiti, the recent petroleum disaster in the Gulf, the recent toxic spills in Hungary and so many other environmental disasters have shown us, we reap what we sow, folks.  It’s time we face the fact that we have to learn to manage what we consume, where it comes from, and most importantly recognize what that consumption leaves behind.  Let’s make the effort to reduce our share of non-biodegradable products in the waste-stream, and to make this a topic of conversation among families and friends as Haiti turns the page and begins this hopeful new era.

Quick Overview of TWP’s International Program

Looking for more info about what we do?  Visit www.treeswaterpeople.org to learn more about our international work and how you can help!

Don’t Miss TWP on CNBC’s Responsible Business Television

Trees, Water & People will be featured on CNBC’s Responsible Business Television on October 2nd at 4pm EST (2pm Mtn. time).  The broadcast will highlight TWP’s work in Central America, where we run reforestation and fuel-efficient stove projects.  Please tune-in and share with your friends!

Responsible Business Television: Episode One Broadcast Times

CNBC Asia

1st Broadcast 02 OCT 2010 17:30 SIN/HK Time

2nd Broadcast 03 OCT 2010

09:30 SIN/HK Time

CNBC Europe

1st Broadcast 02 OCT 2010 08:30 CET

2nd Broadcast 02 OCT 2010 13:30 CET

CNBC USA

02 OCT 2010 16:00 EST

Haitian Awareness Panel at EventGallery 910Arts

MeMeMe- Photo by Ray Tollison and Lespwa Haiti

A surprising number of organizations with Colorado roots are working in Haiti to offer earthquake relief and improve the lives of the Haitian people. Six of those organizations will participate in a panel discussion at the EventGallery 910Arts, at 910 Santa Fe Drive in Denver, on Saturday, September 25, from 3 to 5 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

Colorado Haiti Project; Lespwa Haiti; Renewal 4 Haiti; The Lambi Fund of Haiti; Trees, Water & People; and Wish 4 Haiti are represented on a panel designed to introduce Colorado organizations working in Haiti, bring awareness to their efforts and invite the public to get involved. This will be the kick-off event for an exhibition of Haitian art and culture scheduled in the EventGallery 910Arts for summer 2011.

A discussion of how earthquake relief work transitions into rebuilding in Haiti and creation of the model for long term sustainability is led by Paul Casey, Executive Director of Colorado Haiti Project; photographers Colby Brown and Ray Tollison from Lespwa Haiti; Jodel Charles, Haitian immigrant and founder of Renewal 4 Haiti; Godson Beaugelin, Community Outreach Coordinator of The Lambi Fund of Haiti; Sebastian Africano, Deputy International Director, and Claudia Menendez, International Program Consultant, from Trees, Water & People; and Leslie Christensen from Wish 4 Haiti. The panel will be moderated by Melissa Basta, a Peace Corp volunteer who has worked in Haiti. And, the Colorado Committee on Africa and the Caribbean is a co-sponsor of the event.

Committed to demonstrating how art can inspire change, the EventGallery 910Arts is a gallery space that often offers exhibitions with a social or environmental message. Located in the heart of Denver’s Art District on Santa Fe, the EventGallery 910Arts and Gallery Gifts are housed within the creative community known as 910Arts. It is a complex of 17 artists’ studios and galleries, 8 live-work lofts and the Studio 6 Coffee House, anchored by a colorful open-air courtyard. The EventGallery 910Arts is a venue for meetings, parties, workshops and retreats and it hosts music, literary and film events. For more information, please visit www.910Arts.com.

Join TWP at the 11th Annual Sustainable Living Fair

Join us at the 11th Annual Sustainable Living Fair on September 18th & 19th at Legacy Park in Fort Collins, Colorado!

The  Sustainable Living Fair offers a weekend of solution-based, interactive, family oriented events designed to educate people of all ages and backgrounds about: renewable energy, green building, natural health, social responsibility, and local economies.

Keynote Speakers include:
Saturday, September 18th at 12:00pm
Jeff Mapes, Author of Pedaling Revolution
Saturday, September 18th at 2:00pm
Heather C. Flores, Author of Food Not Lawns
Sunday, September 19th 12:00pm
Andrew Harvey, Founder of Institute for Sacred Activism
Sunday, September 19th 2:00pm
Doug Fine, Author of Farewell My Subaru

Please visit www.SustainableLivingFair.org for more information on this wonderful event.


Partnership for Clean Indoor Air Interviews TWP

The Partnership for Clean Indoor Air (PCIA) just published their monthly newsletter, with a full-length interview on page 7 from TWP’s Deputy International Director, Sebastian Africano, about our fuel-efficient stove program.  Enjoy!