Archives for March 2014

VE Affiliate, “Mni” on the Cheyenne River Reservation Launches New Website!

Mni Website

Village Earth Global Affiliate “Mni” launches new website at Mni is a grassroots, non-profit, indigenous-led collaboration to restore the water cycle worldwide using eco-friendly rainwater harvesting techniques. Springtime on the Cheyenne River Lakota homelands, finds Mni coursing steadily towards their goal of healing the world water cycle by bringing water restoration to indigenous homelands. Mni is pursuing partnerships with other tribal peoples who recognize that a healthy water cycle is critical to planetary balance and human survival and to help them initiate water management techniques in their own territories.

Mni Cheyenne River Reservation

One of Mni’s proposed projects was recently funded to bring intertribal volunteers together for a water sustainability camp on the Cheyenne River reservation. Participants will learn basic skills in rain water harvest and ecosystem recovery in a culturally respectful manner.

Prior to the two-week camp (scheduled for June 22nd to July 5th), Mni, in collaboration with the Cheyenne River Youth Project, will mobilize a reservation-wide clean water campaign. They will bring tribal elders and youth together to demand tribal government protect drinking water by eliminating toxins, beginning with ending fluoridation. To join the Mni effort for clean, accessible water and to create a sustainable water future for all mankind please go to

Interested in learning more about Mni and how you can get involved 1. Check out their shiny new website, 2. “Like” their page on Facebook and follow them on Twitter, 3. Sign-up for their mailing list in right-hand column of this page, 4. Make a tax-deductible donation.

Sustainable Community Development Certificate Summer Courses Open

colorado_state_university_logo-1135358447Colorado State University has just opened registration for its online summer courses for the Sustainable Community Development Certificate Program.  Sessions are now open for June and July 2014.

Courses now open for registration:

What Sustainable Community Development Looks Like a Decade Later

Over ten years ago, Village Earth supported the creation of a microfinance initiative in the Marathi village of Belgaon Dhaga just outside of Nashik, India.  Village Earth’s support wound down as the community paid back the microfinance loans and created their own long-enduring institutions for the continued development of their community.  From the outset, five businesses were created using microfinance loans and now ten years later these businesses are flourishing and the microfinance initiative has continued of the community’s own accord by way of various intra-community savings and lending groups.

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Community leaders with a Village Earth representative.

Back in February, Village Earth was invited back to Belgaon Dhaga to see the community’s progress in the decade since and the results were remarkable.  The community hosted an award ceremony to honor local community talent, which included young artists, teachers, exceptional students, entrepreneurs, and women’s savings groups.  Children spoke about how after learning to read how they went home and taught their own mothers to read, young entrepreneurs gave encouragement to others to go out and start their own ventures, and all this was interspersed with local songs and dances by the school children.  Belgaon Dhaga is even more impressive in its focus on gender equity electing women to the top village leadership positions.The community leaders work with local government and business leaders to create long-enduring support for community initiatives.

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Young entrepreneur Dattu Dhage receiving the Role Model Innovative Farmer award from the Chief Minister of the state of Maharashtra.

And the list goes on and on…Belgaon Dhaga has been nominated for the national award for the most comprehensive, sustainable development including the most successful microfinance project model. Recently when a high level government delegation from Delhi came to ‘inspect’ the village, they were stunned to hear the young village leaders present their community development and training model and were shown different achievements in Belgaon Dhaga. One of the organic farmers from the community was recently chosen as the most innovative young farmer by the state of Maharashtra in February.

This is what sustainable community development should look like, and we at Village Earth are very proud of the achievements of Belgaon Dhaga.  This community has become a role model for other villages around the world.  Village Earth hopes to offer training and study tour opportunities in this area in the future so other development practitioners can learn from the community themselves and their decade of experience with truly bottom-up, participatory community development.  If you are interested in potential study tour opportunities, e-mail [email protected].  Kamala Parekh, a Village Earth online instructor, lives in the community and has been seminal in the success of the microfinance program and she teaches our microfinance course online through both Colorado State University and Duke University.

Free Download: “Take Back the Land! The Social Function of Land and Housing, Resistances & Alternatives”.

Take Back the Land! The Social Function  of Land and Housing,  Resistances & Alternatives.Village Earth recently published a chapter in the new book, Take Back the Land!: The Social Function of Land and Housing, Resistances & Alternatives published by Ritmo which opens public information centers on global issues, organizes civil society campaigns and develops awareness-raising and training sessions. Ritimo is actively involved in disseminating documents and information online, by means of its website: and co-edited by AITEC (Association Internationale des Techniciens, Experts et Chercheurs – International Organisation of Engineers, Experts and Researchers). This publication is part of the The Passerelle Collection which presents experiences, analyses and proposals by actors of social change. Each issue is an attempt to weave together various contributions on a specific issue by civil society organisations, media, trade unions, social movements, citizens, academics, etc.

Village Earth’s article appears on page 90 and is titled: “The Role of Low-Income Housing in Devaluing the Social Capital of the Oglala Lakota.” You can download this publication in English for free.

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The Article from Village Earth Director, David Bartecchi

“If land, whether rural or urban, were viewed as playing an essential role in all human beings’ life, just like air or water, and its value in use outweighed its exchange value, wouldn’t our cities and countryside look completely different ? Many social movements, researchers, social organisations, local and national authorities as well as international organisations are concerned by the issue of the social function of land and of housing, worldwide.A reflection on different ways to relate to land – other than ownership – must therefore be carried out, i.e. ways that do not entail abusing, speculating or excluding others. Thanks to contributions by different actors, this issue sheds a light on the progress of the social function of land and housing in the different areas of the world. This issue’s singularity is linked to its insight into a potential alliance between inhabitants and peasants, between rural and urban issues. Much food for thought is set forth here on points of mutual interest, alternatives and resistance practices around the world.

You can download this publication in English for free.

Charlotte Mathivet is a political scientist and a right to housing and right to the city activist. She edited number 7 of the Passerelle Collection,Housing in Europe : Time to Evict the Crisis. She is the coordinator-editor of this issue This publication is also available in French. It also will be available in Spanish in March and launched at the World Urban Forum in Medellín in Aprill 2014.”