Archives for November 2013

Village Earth Consulting Catalyzes Success for Sustainable Schools International

Originally posted at:
Re-posted by permission of SSI

Written By Kari Grady Grossman, Director of Sustainable Schools International


We started in a school with 50 kids sitting on logs in a dilapidated dirt hut, in a village called Chrauk Tiek where no one had ever finished sixth grade. Five years since Sustainable Schools International was conceived to tackle the problem of sustainable rural education in Cambodia, we are now operating in five rural schools with over 2,000 primary and secondary students, and 28 Leadership Academy students from these very same villages in high school and college. The first college graduate is back in his village working and the second will be joining him this year. Most importantly, that first school at Chrauk Tiek is generating enough income to pay 25% of the school budget we provide, within the next five years we expect it to operate without us – in other words, our first Sustainable School.



We could never have gotten this far without the help of an amazing organization called Village Earth and it’s director, Dave Bartecchi. We’d struggled for several years with our vision of a sustainable school, often banging our heads against the wall as we confronted problem after problem with social conflict among the villagers, teachers, principals and students we were trying to help. We tried a community owned, low tech cooking fuel business to support the school and it failed. We found out that you can’t have a community business or any community owned institution without a coherent community. Since community ownership is a basic tenet of sustainability, this was a big obstacle to our mission.

In Cambodia, where 30 years of civil war have wreaked havoc on people’s honesty, trust and solidarity, we knew we had to start there in order to pull the community together, but we didn’t know how. After taking a community development course with Village Earth, we knew the theory of social change we had to apply, but the Cambodian staff struggled with how to dot it. Their work in the village faced complex challenges daily that felt overwhelming. We needed help that was specific to our situation.

So we went back to Village Earth and asked for a private workshop for our staff. With our Cambodian program director and our first college graduate from the village holed up in a room with Dave Bartecchi for a week, we peeled back the layers of the problems and examined them. We didn’t mess with academic theory because our Cambodian staff didn’t have the education to process it. Dave held that in his head and used it to guide us through questions for five straight days. At the beginning our problem tree looked like a vast web of roots and tentacles and by the end we had a neat and simple set of School Success Logic Models that everyone could understand.

Those Logic Models are great communication devices. They hang in every rural school where we work, in our Leadership Academy in Phnom Penh and have been shared numerous times with government education officials. We refer to them on a daily basis. They have made the way so much clearer for our staff it enables their decision making process to focus and spend money on things that really matter, in the order they are most effective. As a result they have now built a coherent team of parents, teachers, principals and students across multiple schools around the sustainable school vision. With this critical mass of, dare I say it – empowerment – our impact has begun to accelerate.

I highly recommend the Village Earth sustainable development workshop program to any organization that faces the social conflict we face, but be forewarned, it may make you more successful that you are ready for. Our new challenge is growing our organization to keep up with the demand for our school success program!


Logic Model developed during Village Earth workshop.


SSI, getting to the root of the problem during Village Earth workshop.

Program Update from Village Earth Global Affiliate: “Earth Tipi” on the Pine Ridge Reservation, SD.


It was a great year and we would like to thank all of our supporters for contributing to our success!


Just as the cold was subsiding and the warmth came we started the installation of a rocket mass heater. We were joined by community members and others to learn about the process! The bench is now complete and keeping the home office warm while being a great inspiration to others who would like to build an efficient wood heater for their homes.


Thanks to your support and through collaboration with the Fruit Tree Planting Foundation we were able to plant five new fruit tree orchards throughout Pine Ridge Reservation and gave away 100 fruit trees to community members for a total of 300 apple, pear, plum, cherry, apricot and peach trees planted.  Thank you also to Audubon, Fargo, North Dakota for collaborating to apply for and win the TogetherGreen  Volunteers Day grant which supported associated costs.


The first orchard was planted at Red Cloud School. Red Cloud serves approximately 400 Kindergarten through High School students.  There were 32 trees planted with the help of the 9th and 10th grade sciences classes. Next up was Lakota Hope in White Clay, NE located on the southern most border of the reservation. We are very excited about this location as there is a nursing home currently under construction right across the street. Lakota Hope has committed to serving the 82 elderly residents that will occupy the new space as well as serve the Pine Ridge community. At Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation located at Sharps Corner in the Porcupine District we planted 15 trees to add to the permaculture food forest they started there last year. There were also 20 trees planted at the Oglala Lakota College at Piya Wiconi . These trees will be part of a study to determine best planting practices for our area. Lastly,  at Little Wound School in Kyle 82 trees were planted. Little Wound serves approximately 1000 pre-school – high school students as well as young parents working towards their G.E.D’s.


We welcomed the Ave Maria Church from Parker, CO. They were here to help welcome a new member to our family the same day she arrived. ChetanWin Sylvie was born in the light straw clay office on June 26! Here she is at four months to with a great view of the home office that we started last year!


It was great to partner with Re-Member this year on our garden! They sent wonderful volunteers each week on Mondays and Tuesdays through September and made sure the garden was a great success! Earth Tipi and Re-Member shared the produce. Re-Member gave their produce to the comment and we used our share to feed ourselves, volunteers and to put on canning workshops!


We welcomed two church groups. They brought supplies, materials and professional labor to assist the Zaitz family in Wounded Knee towards finishing a home project they started in 2011.  Over $2500 in materials was donated and approximately 870 hours were donated to the family. Projects completed were wiring, plumbing, drywall, flooring and more!

Thanks to two Americorps NCCC teams who came in July and August we completed a number of projects around the homestead that really add to the site. The bench for the rocket mass heater we started in April was completed and a marked trail complete with detailed brochure describing local herbs and foods along the trail. Other projects we could not have completed without the help of Americorps was the organizing of our storage trailer, new fencing along the border (materials donated by Ave Maria Church), a chicken coup, plastering on the outside of the home office, grey water system improvements and garden gate replacement to name a few!


It was also great to see the folks from the William Penn House again! They came for a week with their youth group and helped alongside the first Americorps NCCC team.

We were happy to welcome the Wolf Creek School 8th grade class for a jam making and canning workshop. The class of 5 enjoyed making chokecherry jam and each took home a jar for their families.

Exciting things are being planned for next year including a collaboration with Will Allen of GrowingPower ( We are always looking for support both financial and volunteer. If you would like to support us with a donation please visit us on our website or use the donation page through Village Earth .

If you or your group would like to join us next summer please email us!

Thanks again for your interest and support!

With Kind Regards,


Founder/Executive Director
Earth Tipi
[email protected]

Choose Village Earth on Colorado Gives Day – Donate on December 10th, 2013

24 Hours to Give Where You Live

CGD 2013_Master (1)

Support Village Earth on Colorado Gives Day!

During this time:On Tuesday, December 10, 2013, Coloradans will come together again to raise millions of dollars for nonprofits like ours. Last year, a remarkable $15.7 million was distributed to Colorado nonprofits. Help us reach our goal to raise $5000 during this 24-hour period.

  •  100 percent of your donation will come to us.
  • When you give online any time on December 10, the value of your donation will be increased by the FirstBank Incentive Fund.
  • Donate online at any time during the 24 hour period of December 10 to “give where you live!”
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Pre-schedule Your Donation Today!
(Your credit card won’t be charged until Dec. 10th)

Greenhouse Gas Levels Break Another Record: Community Adaptive Capacity Critical

According to the UN’s World Meteorological Organization, greenhouse gases are at an all time high for the ninth year in a row.  From effects on food security, human health, and local economies; climate change is causing wide spread implications for many sectors of community development.  One of the most severe needs is to strengthen grassroots adaptation capacity.  As community development practitioners, it essential that we learn the techniques and strategies to mitigate the effects of climate change on communities.

A community’s adaptive capacity is their means of coping with these changes and uncertainties.  The poorest communities tend to be the most vulnerable to these changes.  Communities need to have the knowledge about and understand carbon offsetting and global mitigation schemes such as REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) in order to decide whether these are useful mechanisms for their community.

To learn about climate change and community development, check out Village Earth’s newest course Local Communities and Climate Change Mitigation Strategies.  Register online by November 10 by clicking the link.

Village Earth Global Affiliate Delivers Medical Services to Cambodian Youth


Empowering Youth in Cambodia (EYC) provides medical care at each of EYC’s 4 schools in poor communities, otherwise known as slums (i.e. residents do not hold land titles).  Students in the schools are provided a basic but holistic set of health services including regular health and hygiene training, weekly medical clinics at each school, referrals for serious cases that can’t be treated in the clinics, and dental care.  Additionally, the people in the community receive health services including family planning training and long term birth control, medical treatment, and de-worming treatment every 6 months.


EYC started in 2006 providing education and leadership development for young people.  The services made a difference and are still much appreciated by the community, but the founder Drew McDowell was constantly confronted with illnesses in the students and their families. For EYC’s first 3 years they were unable to do much beyond taking kids with serious problems to a clinic or hospital, as well as some to a private dentist.  “Kids were constantly getting sick, and we weren’t doing much to address it.  Our team was good at inspiring and training young people, but when people got sick, and sometimes it was serious, we felt pretty helpless” said Drew.


As the medical NGO One-2-One started to form and partner with EYC, they were able to provide a whole new level of support for students and their families.  Not surprisingly, the costs to provide health services started to rise, and EYC had to reign in expenses. Once a monthly budget was established, the team in EYC was able to work to support the health programs, establish partnerships, train volunteers from the communities, and the results were impressive. So impressive, it is hard to summarize or understand without seeing it firsthand; sick people being treated, cavities being filled (smiles returned), behaviors changed and hygiene improved, a new generation that understands reproductive health, woman in control of their bodies, and real care being shown to people who are in a tough situation. Each week there is a line of people waiting to see the medical team, there are tuk tuks full of kids going to the dentist, and there are trained young people on the ground to educate and help in all kinds of situations.

In 2012 EYC (with help from our partners) accomplished ;

2,515 Patient-visits with a doctor.

1,152 Patient-visits to a dentist.

73 Women received long term birth control (IUD or implant).

While the road to improving the health of a community is not an easy one, these results along with a continued health education message will affect long term changes in the communities EYC works.

Indigenous Women’s March a Success and New Developments for Maloca


In October, Maloca organized a successful fundraising campaign that supported more than 100 indigenous women from the Ecuadorian Amazon to walk to Quito and protest against the destruction of the rainforest by oil exploitation and against the constant violation of indigenous peoples’ human and territorial rights.

Maloca will start supporting a cultural preservation project in Brazil. This project is initiated by and will benefit the Kamayura people from Xingu Indigenous Park. The project’s aim is to provide the community with the equipment necessary to record their culture and traditions and create a digital archive of their culture, thus preserving it with the help of modern technology for future generations. By involving the youth in this project, they will learn more about their own culture and their past, they will grow to appreciate it more, and they will learn how to research and record their traditions using modern technology. The Kamayura decided this is a good way to keep, value and share their culture. This project will be a model to follow by other ethnicities living in the Xingu Indigenous Park.

This project has been accepted by Global Giving:

Meadowlark Jivin Concert to Benefit Village Earth – Friday, Nov. 8th


Meadowlark Jivin will be bringing the soul, funk and that certain je ne sais quoi that they’re known for on Friday November 8 at the Bas Bleu in Fort Collins! The concert will be sponsored by Village Earth and a portion of the proceeds from the event will go towards their efforts to support indigenous organizations worldwide. Also Freedonia Brewery one of N. Colorado’s up and coming breweries will be serving up their award winning German style lagers for the event. With impeccable acoustics, and an intimate setting that puts the music first, the evening will be an auspicious chance to see Meadowlark Jivin in their element.

Reserve Your Ticket Now Online


Price: $12.50