Archives for October 2011

Sign petition urging congress to address housing crisis throughout Indian Country.

Join the National American Indian Housing Council in their efforts to get Congress to address the housing crisis across Indian Country. On November 1st, the House and Senate will resume negotiations to approve a final FY 2012 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) funding bill. According to the NAIHC, “Substantial differences remain between both the House and Senate versions and the National American Indian Housing Council (NAIHC) strongly urges its membership to contact their Congressional leaders and voice support for the Senate THUD funding bill. The Senate version allocates higher funding amounts and does not include a provision that would require IHBG recipients to expend their FY2012 dollars within three years, or face losing the unspent funding.”

Sign the NAIHC petition below and we will add your name to the letter being sent to Congress.  The deadline to be added to the list is October 31st. Please help us get the word out! After you sign the petition, you will be given the opportunity to share it on Facebook and Twitter. 

[emailpetition id=”1″]

Working for Change in Sierra Leone, Africa

The article below is introduction to one of our newest affiliates, Village Care Initiatives in Sierra Leone. We are very excited about their success so far and happy to welcome them to Village Earth’s affiliate program.

In 2007, the first phase of an action-research partnership with local grassroots groups and community-based organizations was initiated in Eastern Sierra Leone. The partnership initiated what they called the “Village Care” approach based on the principle that recognition of strengths, gifts and assets of individuals and the community stimulates positive action for change. When communities focus on what they have (rather than what they lack) to achieve goals, they are better able to advance their livelihoods in a sustainable and self-sufficient way. The project brings the community members together to identify and map the capacities of individuals, associations and institutions. This helps them to take stock of their strengths and design programs accordingly.

Once the community participates in a series of exercises, they generate action plans that utilize their assets in order to achieve a desired change. In general, the principle is based on the recognition that successful community driven activities are achieved through self-guided leadership with citizens at the center of the activity, rather than institutions. Village Care rests on and is perpetuated through feelings of confidence and capacity rather than a sense of dependence on external support.
Village Care has successfully started a number of projects by focusing on communities’ assets. They have worked in the area of education, women’s rights, infrastructure, leadership training, small-scale loans and agricultural projects. Agricultural groups have come together focused on postponing harvest until the need for food becomes critical. Stocks are then divided among members. Another group has set up a revolving loan fund. Members borrow money to purchase agricultural or fishing inputs or to do petty trading. Another group has set up an emergency loan fund to cover the expenses of members and their families needing medical services or to help cover school expenses for their children.

While many groups mobilized their assets and successfully cultivated community support, some have run into barriers that may require additional resources from outside to fulfill their goals. Village Care project groups have started looking for ways to connect with others that allow them to stay true to community goals. Village Care Initiatives and its local partners have established a revolving fund that groups could apply for on a competitive basis to utilize for community projects. This locally managed Community Leverage Fund’s main purpose is to offset financial shortages experienced by communities as they pursue their goals.

If you wish to support the important work that Village Care Initiatives is doing in addressing issues of hunger, women’s rights and access to loans, please read more or donate to Village Care Initiatives.

Earth Tipi Supports Sustainability on Pine Ridge Reservation

Shannon Freed was first invited to the Pine Ridge Reservation in the spring of 2006. That summer she witnessed abject poverty, but also saw opportunity and hope for change.

When Freed looked around, she was inspired by the many natural and potentially recyclable resources around her. She wanted to show people that a solid home could be made from these materials. She hoped that this might inspire others to see things around them in a new light. Freed “…wanted for people to look at  things around them that had been waste and start to see them as assets” she said.

Many projects for natural buildings had been tried and failed, but in 2008 she got her chance. She called Coenraad Rogmans of House Alive. He agreed to come build a house in the summer of 2010 if she first organized the building of the home’s foundation in 2009. At the time, it was just a family project. Gerald Weasel, Freed’s father in law, her husband Adam and brother in law Luke did most of the labor while she did the organizing. Freed found materials and had them brought to the site.

Their first success was in finding a pile of concrete from an old building that had long since been demolished. It was sourced just 2.5 miles from the build site and was delivered by a local construction crew free of charge. Freed used funds that had been donated to purchase three sledge hammers. The majority of the summer was spent crushing 25-year-old concrete by hand. By the end of the summer the foundation was complete. That fall she was invited by Bryan Deans of Oglala Lakota Cultural and Economic Revitalization Initiative to join their permaculture certification course. With her new found skill she was inspired to turn a family project into a grassroots organization. The group is now known as Earth Tipi, and is a Village Earth affiliate project.

The original home site is now being developed as a sustainable homestead model. Two large gardens, which highlight permaculture techniques, and will soon incorporate Lakota spiritual gardening practices, fed this summers volunteers as well as at least six local families. They have incorporated a beehive and hope to harvest honey next year. They were also able to build a home for another family this summer using shipping pallets through a collaboration with Texas Natural Builders. The home is still under construction due to some unanticipated set backs, however, it is well on its way to completion. Currently, just finish work remains, and it is scheduled to be completed by the end of October.

Earth Tipi is excited to announce their upcoming projects which include a hosting a Children’s Room in November at the Lakota Nakota Dakota Language Summit hosted by Tusweca Tiyospaye and a garden to table program for children made possible by a fellowship which was recently awarded through Together Green. The program will entail taking youth into the field to collect garden and wild foods then into the kitchen to learn how to prepare them into tasty meals. The project will also include a documentation aspect where the children will be given cameras to document the process and make cook books that can be shared digitally or printed to take home. There are currently discussions with GLOBIO to collaborate on the documentation aspect so that the children of Pine Ridge might provide and add content to their already extensive database of information for kids around the world. It is the goal of Earth Tipi to create profitable businesses that will support their projects so that they will be self-sustaining in every sense of the term, both growing their own food and using local resources to build houses, as well as generating a revenue stream to support all not-for-profit projects. Earth Tipi is seeking interns to help with project planning and implementation, if interested please contact Shannon Freed at [email protected] You can also read more about this project and make donations here.


Village Earth’s board, staff and friends would like to congratulate our Executive Director, David Bartecchi, on his marriage to Antonette Guerra this past weekend. We wish you the best in your future together and welcome Antonette to the Village Earth family!

Best Wishes!Dave, Antonette and Chloe