Archives for 2015

Summer 2015 Wrap-up Report from Village Earth Affiliate Knife Chief Buffalo Nation

Our relatives standing with a little one. 8/01/15

This report is for the period of July, August and September, 2015. Mila Yatan Pika Pte Oyate Okolakiciye (Knife Chief Buffalo Nation Organization) continues to provide a home/pasture for members of the Pte Oyate (buffalo nation) and the community continues to reap the benefits in ts of spiritual and physical nourishment from them.

July 2015

The Wakanyeja Woapiye Wicoti (Children’s Healing Camp) was held in Porcupine, SD on July 1 – 5. Enrollment was set for twenty-five (25) children between the ages of 0 – 11 years but this number was quickly surpassed after an overwhelming response by parents, grandparents and guardians. A total of fifty-one (51) children participated in the camp activities with thirty-eight (38) camping in the tipis during the camp period. Children received a Wopakinte (spiritual purification) with some receiving a Lakota spiritual name. Other activities included horseback riding, trips to Evans Plunge, a large, in-door swimming pool in Hot Springs, SD and to Mato Paha (Bear Butte), Sturgis, SD to walk to the top of the sacred butte to offer prayers.

We offer our deep appreciation and gratitude to all those who volunteered and offered their services, including the Students Shoulder to Shoulder participants whose organization is based in Denver, CO, and the Wisconsin based group Gunderson-Lutheran Medical Center. We also acknowledge the tunkasila (grandfather) and unci (grandmother) spirits and the two wakan iyeska (interpreters of the sacred) for their teachings and for the healings received by the participants and the volunteers.

August 2015

The Lakota Wikoskalaka Yuwitapi (Lakota Gathering of Young Women) was held in Porcupine, SD on August 10 – 15. The camp offered traditional teachings related to becoming a young woman. A number of them received their Lakota spiritual name and participated in the womanhood ceremony with the help of the Wakan Iyeska (Interpreter of the Sacred) Hmuya Mani and other women volunteers. Other activities included horseback riding, talking circles, setting up tipis, and a walk to the top of Mato Paha (Bear Butte), Sturgis, SD to take spiritual offerings.

Awards at National Indian Health Board Conference, September, 2015, Washington, DC in various categories for their work in making the Young Women’s Gathering a success.


Journey to Mato Paha (Bear Butte) Sturgis,


Young women  resting on way to top of Bear Butte

Young women resting on way to top of Bear Butte


Communicating with relative, the horse, and preparing to ride

Communicating with relative, the horse, and preparing to ride


Volunteers and some of young women

Volunteers and some of young women


Awards at National Indian Health Board Conference, September, 2015, Washington, DC in various categories for their work in making the Young Women’s Gathering a success.

Awards at National Indian Health Board Conference, September, 2015, Washington, DC in various categories for their work in making the Young Women’s Gathering a success.


September 2015

Future Events and Plans

Our relatives, the pte oyate (buffalo) were moved to another pasture in June. An agreement was made with the Oglala Sioux Tribe’s Parks & Recreation Authority to lease land until November 01, 2015. We continue our effort to find a more permanent home for our relatives.

Details on the fencing of the land will be finalized by November as this is dependent upon the land lease/pasture for this coming year.

We will again co-sponsor the Koskalaka Wica Yuwitapi (Gathering of Young Men) in Porcupine, SD on November 6 – 9. This healing and cultural camp will be the second camp to be held in 2015.



Buffalo caretaker Ed Iron Cloud III visiting downtown Boulder, CO

The suicides on the Pine Ridge Reservation have increased since January. We continue to make our spiritual offerings and will work to assist the young people and their families by continuing to offer the healing camps for the children, the young women and the young boys and young men.

Again, we extend a heartfelt appreciation to the people who support our efforts whether it be financially, physically or spiritually. Your support is truly appreciated and we especially appreciate the Tunkasila (spiritual entities) for their continued support and guidance. We also acknowledge the Pte Oyate (Buffalo Nation) for what they inspire in us and for their teachings, i.e., protection of the young, conservation of the land and the strength and fortitude to endure whatever is placed in our path. Lila wopila tanka! (We thank you all very much).


Email: [email protected]

Telephone: 605-441-2914, 605-407-0091


or look for Knife Chief Buffalo Nation Organization under Global Affiliate.

Village Earth Sponsors Partnership Between Ngozi University and Colorado State University.

Submitted by Dr. Apollinaire Bangayimbaga, Rector Ngozi Univeristy & William Timpson, Professor CSU.

“Amahoro” is the Kirundi word for peace. After forty years of genocide and civil war during which a large percentage of its educated citizens were targeted, exiled or killed, impoverished Burundi is now ripe to model a transformative development approach while nurturing a new generation of leaders. Founded in 1999 with a commitment to reconciliation, its University of Ngozi (UNG) is uniquely situated to be a laboratory for peace-building and sustainable development.

As a major research university, Colorado State University (CSU) has historical strengths in science, engineering, technology and mathematics (STEM education), emerging depth in the social sciences and cross cultural communication, peace education and reconciliation studies. As a land grant university, CSU also has a successful track record in extending expertise to the field, through Extension, and overseas through a wide range of public/private/NGO partnerships. Colorado State University is well positioned to serve as a partner with the University of Ngozi to mobilize resources, trial new ideas, and disseminate success stories.

Those committed to the Amahoro Project believe that development must wed with educational innovation to ready new leaders and professionals to heal and foster civil society as basic infrastructure needs are addressed. In early 2012, UNG, a co-ed, multi-faith institution with Hutu, Tutsi, and Twa students, signed an International Memorandum of Understanding (IMOU) with CSU’s School of Global Environmental Sustainability (SoGES) to pursue sustainable peace and development. CSU’s School of Education can draw on its doctoral specialization in Teaching and Learning to help build bridges between schools and universities in different regions of the world.

We need funding to support all this.

  • Build new curricula that emphasizes appropriate technology and participatory case- and project-based learning, which link communities with innovations that address basic needs of local communities.
  • Infuse UNG’s existing undergraduate disciplines—health, agriculture, communications, law, business, computer sciences—with new curricula that emphasizes content mastery and peace-building, i.e., the civic skills of effective intercultural and cross-cultural communication, consensus-building, negotiation, cooperation, conflict mitigation, critical and creative thinking.
  • With some sports equipment build on what we know about cooperative learning to create multi-tribal teams and showcase the benefits of friendly competition for unlearning hatred and prejudice.
  • With the involvement of the military in the U.S. and Burundi we could explore ways of utilizing security forces (active duty and demobilized personnel) to lead toward reconciliation.
  • With the involvement of Rotary International and their commitment to Peace and Conflict Resolution, the business community can be engaged as well.
  • Promoting community health through innovative education and social work.
  • When possible, utilize Fulbright Senior Specialist awards to support this project.

In all of these endeavors, we propose to use locally generated and regionally applicable case- and project-based learning to transform surface or memorized learning. Liberatory education is needed to aid the shift toward long-term stability and prosperity. What proves viable in Burundi, East Africa and the developing world could also have benefits for communities in the industrialized world that struggle with conflict, violence, polarization, and the costs of security. Over the course of this project, UNG will be established as a viable on-going site and dissemination center for research and development in sustainable peace and development. Leaders from around the world—in higher education, NGOs, government, business—with content expertise and peace and reconciliation experience would be invited to partner with UNG. (See Timpson, W., E. Ndura, and A. Bangayimbaga (2015) Conflict, reconciliation, and peace education: Moving Burundi toward a sustainable future. New York, NY: Routledge).

Through the fire of violence, Burundians are forging a

  • RECOVERY and REBIRTH of spirit;
  • RECONCILIATION of wounds, differences, rivalries, prejudices, and hatreds;
  • RESOLVE to understand the truth of the past, fix the present, and prepare for a better future; and
  • RESILIENCE to rebuild an impoverished, post-colonial nation and its diverse communities.

Please consider supporting the Amahoro Project. In Burundi, contact Dr. Apollinaire Bangayimbaga. In the U.S., contact Dr. William Timpson. Whatever the level of your support, together we can help build sustainable peace and development. Contributions for scholarships at the University of Ngozi should be made out to Amahoro: Village Earth. Other contributions should be made out to Amohoro: CSU Foundation.

New Village Earth/CSU Course – Humanitarian Assistance Toolbox: Resources for Best Practices

Due to the positive response from our inaugural Introduction to Humanitarian Assistance online course, Village Earth is pleased to announce our second course in the Humanitarian Assistance specialization Humanitarian Assistance Toolbox.*  This course is being offered in collaboration with EmBOLDEN Alliances and is a part of Village Earth’s and Colorado State University Online’s Sustainable Community Development Certificate Program. Now enrolling through November 1, 2015.

Given the basic knowledge and understanding of Humanitarian Assistance, this course provides participants the opportunity to explore various toolkits and standards used throughout Humanitarian Assistance with both breadth and depth.

Participants will gain an understanding for standard resources and guidelines that have been created to ensure and maintain human dignity, quality of life, impactful and sustainable service delivery, and sustainability of response through recovery and resiliency.

This course will provide participants an introduction to tools necessary to engage in humanitarian assistance more effectively. By providing participants the opportunity to examine and understand international standards and guidelines, participants will gain an improved ability to deliver impactful and coordinated action that benefits individuals and communities.

Upon completion of this course participants will be able to:

  • Identify critical international guidelines used in Humanitarian Assistance.
  • Explain the creation of SPHERE, its significance and utility.
  • Discuss inter-sectoral collaboration in relation to recent emergency contexts.
  • Recognize key tools for needs assessments.
  • Relate international standards to monitoring and evaluation of programming.
  • Describe mainstreaming for vulnerable populations in emergency contexts.

This course will be taught by Neena Jain MD MSTPH DTM&H, who for over twenty years has thrived in international Humanitarian Assistance and Global Health as Program Manager, Country Medical Director, Health Sector Lead, and Technical Advisor with many international nongovernmental organizations throughout Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean. These agencies have included Medecins Sans Frontieres/Doctors Without Borders, International Medical Corps, Australian Aid International, and Save The Children, among others. She is the current Executive Director of emBOLDen Alliances. Dr. Jain was Board-certified in Emergency Medicine in 2001 and practiced as an Attending Physician at Swedish Medical Center and Denver Health Medical Center Emergency Departments. She developed programmatic structure and taught core content using innovative techniques as Director and Deputy Director for the Program in Humanitarian Assistance and Adjunct Faculty for the Global Health Affairs Program at the University of Denver Korbel School of International Studies.

*While it may be helpful to have some prior knowledge in the field of humanitarian assistance, it is not required to have taken any other course in this series before taking Humanitarian Assistance Toolbox.

30% Match on Donations to VE Affiliates in Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Pine Ridge, Burundi, and The Gambia

On Wednesday September 16th, starting at 9am EDT (7:00am MST), will be matching online donations at 30% until the $70,000 in matching funds runs out. Don’t miss this opportunity to supersize your donations to eligible Village Earth Global Affiliates.

Eligible projects are listed below with links to their donation pages on


VE Affiliate Titukuke Rural Community Dev. Assoc. Empowers Youth Peanut Farmers


Youth sorting peanuts for oil production.

Submitted by: Richard Mbachundu, Titukuke RCDA

We at Titukuke RCDA were recently visited by The President of The United States African Development Foundation (USADF) who was on a site visit to verify and motivate the peanut  and vegetable Oil production project that they funded at a cost of $100,000. The youths supported during the Village Earth/Global Giving campaign contributed to the project by increasing the tonnage of stock and the number of vulnerable people living improved lives through cash sales of peanuts as well as improved healthy due to the rich peanut vegetable oil they are consuming. The oil product has undergone preliminary inspection with the Zambia Bureau of Standards so that we get a permit to supply. The organization further wants to inform  our supporters and those reading the Village Earth newsletter that our profile competed favorably in the area of HIV and AIDS  awareness for road construction work sites in our district. A campaign team was formed from among the membership and the youths have formed  music and theatre groups that are supporting the awareness works.

Below are some pictures from these projects:


Titukuke peanut project visited by The USADF President front row second from left. Photo taken At the oil plant together with board, management and entourage


Titukuke facilitator teaching behavioral change positive life styles to construction workers at one of their sites. Awareness will take 18 months with effect from July,2015


The factory Manager displaying the oil products for sales promotion at the plant


Part of the packed vegetable oil stocked in readiness for sales


Titukuke theatre group performing during a youth gathering at Petauke Boarding School


The regional inspector from ZABS after formal compliance check- ups in the oil plant and brought the test results of the product


The label for the oil product-‘Nshawa’ means peanuts


Titukuke music group performing HIV awareness and prevention songs

Tell the President of Peru that his government needs to honor the rights of indigenous people.


Right now indigenous communities are being denied their right to free prior and informed consent. The Peruvian government recently announced that it is opening up Block 192 for oil and gas exploration without proper safeguards that would stop the regular spills that occur in the region. It was only three years ago that the Peruvian government declared an environmental state of emergency in the region after the Ministry of Health “found high levels of barium, lead, chrome and petroleum-related compounds at different points in the Pastaza valley.” Today, indigenous communities and their leaders in the region are being denied their legal right to free, prior and informed consent on all infrastructure, energy and mining projects that affect their lives, territories and rights. We need you to join Village Earth and our partner in Colombia “Jenzera” now to demand that Peruvian President Ollanta Humala Tasso comply with the law that he signed into legislation in 2011, guaranteeing that indigenous people will have a say in further development.

View and sign petition below.

[emailpetition id=”2″]

VE Affiliate “Maloca” Brings Kamayurá Chief to UN to Tell of Crisis in Amazon


Kamayurá chief tells UN of crisis in the Amazon

Chief Kotok of the Kamayurá indigenous people recently addressed the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) and described the crisis faced by his people and other indigenous groups in the Amazonian Basin in Brazil.

“For those of you who do not know [what is happening] in the Amazon, we are in crisis,” Kotok told the forum in late April. “There is a lot of deforestation and we drink poisoned water. They’re putting poison in the water and we eat poisoned fish,” he explained.

As UNPFII Vice Chairperson Dalee Sambo Dorough explained, the cattle industry has contaminated the rivers and streams in the Upper Xingu region and dirtied the fishing grounds of the Kamayurá and other tribes. “Obviously, this has a direct impact on their economies,” she said.

“It was a very disturbing plea,” Sambo Dorough said of Kotok’s address to the UNPFII. “They need help; they are suffering,” she added.


Kotok also said the Kamayurá and the 15 other indigenous ethnicities in the Xingu opposed any changes to the current indigenous laws in Brazil. Congress has long discussed transferring the power to demarcate indigenous lands from the executive branch to the legislature, where the agribusiness, mining and energy industries have significant lobbying power. “I don’t know how it’s going to be,” Kotok said.

Protecting the Xingu Indigenous Park

While in New York, Kotok delivered a proposal from the Associação Terra Indígena Xingu (ATIX) and approved by the Xingu chiefs to protect the Xingu Indigenous Park to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Brazil Permanent Mission to the UN. He also met with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Senior Policy Advisor to discuss ways to preserve the Xingu Indigenous Park.

The ATIX proposal includes the creation of a protective buffer zone around the Xingu Indigenous Park. Intensive soybean cultivation and cattle ranching in the region not only leads to increased deforestation but also pollutes the headwaters of the Xingu River through the use of fertilizers and pesticides. The Xingu River is the primary source of food and water for the Kamayurá and other tribes in the region.

Kotok also wants to clearly mark the borders of the Xingu Indigenous Park. The original markers have either collapsed or been destroyed by intruders, leaving no physical signs to denote the park’s borders. Clear signs act to keep cattle ranchers and soybean farmers out of the indigenous zone.

The Xingu Indigenous Park is the largest indigenous reserve in the world with 2.64m hectares but it is in the middle of the deforestation belt in the state of Mato Grosso.

Cultural exchange

Kotok traveled to New York as part of a joint effort between the support organization Maloca and the International Native Tradition Interchange (INTI). The environmental organization Conservation International provided a grant to fund the chief’s visit.

Kotok’s son Aira came to New York with the support of Maloca and delivered a message alongside his father at the National Museum of the American Indian on 22 April. Aira described life among the Kamayurá, including details on his training regimen for the traditional huka-huka wrestling matches that take place during the Kuarup funeral ritual every year. Kotok organized this year’s Kuarup because his father passed away last year.

Kotok and Aira enjoyed their short stay in New York. They were impressed with the tall buildings but wondered if the fish from the Hudson and East rivers were clean enough to eat. They sampled iced coffee and Buffalo wings while they were in the city but they particularly liked drinking cold water, something they do not have in the village. They did not like taking the subway because they felt stuck in a hole in the ground. They preferred taking the bus because they could take in the sights of the city. But if they felt homesick, they would spend a few minutes on the shore of the lake in Prospect Park in Brooklyn.

The Shifting Landscape of Development Assistance & Funding – Some Recommended Writings on the Subject

USAID Billboard

One of the central tensions in international development assistance is the affect that outside organizations have on co-opting priorities and the direction of action at the local level. In their 2002 article titled Operationalising bottom-up learning in international NGOs: barriers and alternatives (Volume 12, Numbers 3 & 4) Power, Maury, and Maury give one of the best description of this tensions and while now over a decade old, is still very much true. The authors summarize the problem in this way:

“[M]ost INGO interactions with community groups can be defined by a single input: money. While there are often attempts to build a more holistic partnership, once funds are introduced the relationship becomes one of power held by the INGO with the community often forced to respond ‘appropriately’ to INGO’s real or perceived wishes in order to secure the elusive funds. Some INGOs have sought to mitigate this effect by working through local community organisations or local NGOs. However, the unequal power relationship generally is transferred to this relationship as well. Ashman (2000) observes that formal agreements as written by INGOs (a) almost always ensure upward (rather than mutual) accountability; (b) are bounded by timelines too short for effective development (usually three years); and (c) suffer from a lack of mutual agreement on the terms for ending funding (tending to be INGO driven).”

Powers, Maury & Maury go so far as to recommend that because of this problem INGO’s should “cease being operational in the field” arguing that:

“Because such intensive, hands-on activities often demand a deep sensitivity and familiarity with local needs and conditions, we believe it may be most effective if INGOs go beyond decentralising their operations and cease being operational in the field. This can be done by forging ties with autonomous local NGOs which have a proven commitment and track record in handing over controls in the development process to the communities where they are working. To the degree that terms for partnership can be negotiated equitably, the imperative for standardised and impersonal mass reproduction of one strategy, which ironically is often only magnified (rather than adapted) in the process of decentralisation, can be significantly curtailed.”

These concerns are echoed in a more recent 2015 article by Nicola Banks, David Hulm and Michael Edwards, all of who are leaders in the study of organizational development and civil society.

NGOs, States, and Donors Revisited: Still Too Close for Comfort? by NICOLA BANKS, DAVID HULME and MICHAEL EDWARDS. World Development Vol. 66, pp. 707–718, 2015

Summary — Serious questions remain about the ability of NGOs to meet long-term transformative goals in their work for development and social justice. We investigate how, given their weak roots in civil society and the rising tide of technocracy that has swept through the world of foreign aid, most NGOs remain poorly placed to influence the real drivers of social change. However we also argue that NGOs can take advantage of their traditional strengths to build bridges between grassroots organizations and local and national-level structures and processes, applying their knowledge of local contexts to strengthen their roles in empowerment and social transformation.

At its core, Banks, Hulme and Edwards argue that the shift called for by critics such as themselves (in a 1996 article) as well as others, such as Powers, Maury & Maury, hasn’t happened quick enough and as a result, is seriously compromising effectiveness of aid.

Despite the inability of INGO’s to transform their practice, to let go of the reigns and truly empower grassroots organizations, a quite revolution has taken place in development financing brought about by the proliferation of the internet, cell phones, and digital media. This revolution is direct-giving – the ability of individuals to make financial contributions directly to local grassroots and civil society organizations and bypassing the usual INGO intermediaries. The following 2014 article by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) describes the transformation taking place and similar to the previous articles, calls for “new business models” to ensure that these trends financing benefit the peoples with the most need.

“The Changing Role of NGOs and Civil Society in Financing Sustainable Development” by Sarah Hénon, Judith Randel and Chloe Stirk, Development Initiatives DEVELOPMENT CO-OPERATION REPORT 2014 © OECD

Summary — The role of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and civil society in financing sustainable development is important, but it is changing. While domestic resource mobilisation and international commercial flows are growing very rapidly, they are not equally available to all. NGO finance, capacity and expertise are critical for populations at risk of being left behind. This chapter outlines the scale and trends in resources raised and mobilised by NGOs and civil society, and identifies a rise in direct giving by the public. It finds that the classifications of countries into “developed” and “developing”, and models based on raising money in the “North” and spending it in the “South” do not fit well with the distribution of poverty across and within countries. New business models are needed. To achieve the post-2015 global goals, civil society finance and expertise are needed, along with new cross-border partnerships between organisations working on similar issues, supported by increased transparency and civil society space.

The central actor in the Village Earth approach is a particular type of intermediate organization that focuses on supporting grassroots initiatives from the bottom-up called a Grassroots Support Organization (GSO). Rather than being dictated by the priorities, time-lines and methods of donors, GSO’s form a long-term alliances with a particular region and are committed to its long-term empowerment. In a 2008 article in the Journal of Community Practice, GSO’s were described this way:

“A subset of NGOs has decided to move beyond social service provision and invest in initiatives that build the human and financial resources of impoverished communities. Focusing on diverse issues—from health and the environment to political mobilization and microenterprises—these NGOs share a common approach to the communities with which they work: They foster the long-term empowerment of impoverished populations by assisting them in decision making and the mobilization of resources and political power. This core approach is what defines these development NGOs as grassroots support organizations.”

In the Village Earth Approach one GSO can support several grassroots community-driven initiatives and organizations across an entire region.  In this way, we support the development of two levels of social organization, regional AND at the grassroots community level. GSO’s provide temporary organizational support, fiscal sponsorship, funding, networking, advocacy, and training to these grassroots organizations so they can access the resources they need to develop and refine their strategies, giving them the time to develop organically rather than being rushed simply to meet the demands of donors. Where one GSO can serve as a support hub for numerous formal and informal grassroots organizations, Village Earth serves as an international hub for a multiple GSO’s around the world, providing access to international donors through our fiscal sponsorship based in the United States and Europe, organizational support, training, networking, and advocacy support services. 

In the traditional aid system funding flows from top-to-bottom. Often mirroring that flow is decision-making and power. According to Powers (2002) “While there are often attempts to build a more holistic partnership, once funds are introduced the relationship becomes one of power held by the INGO with the community often forced to respond ‘appropriately’ to INGO’s real or perceived wishes in order to secure the elusive funds”. A common dilemma that occurs with the traditional funding model is the competition that is created between the NGO and communities over funds. For example with a well project, since the Community oftentimes doesn’t know how much is budgeted for the project, they will seek to get the best well they can get. The NGO, on the other hand seeks to economize and get just the quality of well that will do the job since any funds remaining can either be used to purchase more wells or be used to cover other aspects of the project, like salaries for its personnel. The Village Earth decentralized funding model eliminates the built-in competition between outside organizations! Here’s how it works. Rather than funding and decision-making flowing from the top-down, In the Village Earth decentralized model, each level of organization is ultimately responsible for it’s own survival and for generating its own funding, but with support and training from the level above it. In exchange for these services, the level above retains a small percentage of any funding generated through the partnership. All levels are also provided support and training to develop income generating programs, eventually eliminating the need for outside funding. For example, the GSO can work with grassroots to create income generating services to meet locally determined needs, such as micro-finance services, training, organizing farmers’ or artisans’ markets, supporting a marketing cooperative, computer and telecommunications, etc.

This is a radical departure from the traditional system. Instead of grassroots organizations being dependent on the NGO, the NGO is now dependent on the grassroots and Village Earth is dependent on the GSO’s, creating a monetary incentive for providing relevant and timely support services that benefit the grassroots. It also creates an incentive for grassroots organizations to increase their capacity and become formalized so they can retain the overhead paid to the GSO and for the GSO to longer need the support from Village Earth.

Topics discussed in this article are also discussed in the following courses in our online certificate program: Approaches to Community Development & Development and the Politics of Empowerment.

VE Affiliate Eco-V Boosts Biodiversity & Environmental Consciousness with Urban Eco-Gardens


Village Earth Global Affiliate Eco-V is building awareness and appreciation for the natural environment among urban youth through the development of an gardens in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka is one of the most bio-diverse countries in Asia, considered by Conservation International as one of world’s 25 biodiversity “hot-spots”. Protecting this rich environment for the long-term means training the next generation of environmental stewards. Eco-Friendly Volunteers based in Sri Lanka runs a number of programs for youth and kids to expand their thinking & positive behavior change is encouraged by having “Eco Gardens”, places for urban Bio-diversity conservation and learning.


“There were 6 species of butterflies in the area when we started the Eco Garden in 2013 but now we have 59 species recorded so far. “

Youth and kids get training within this Eco Garden & get inspired what they see at urban setup. We started this in September 2013 and already obtained the organic Participatory Guarantee system certificate for Eco garden. There were 6 species of butterflies in the area when we started the Eco Garden in 2013 but now we have 59 species recorded so far. Fortunately we were able to buy the adjacent piece of land which we are expecting to expand Eco garden activities into 455 square meters.


Eco-V Director, Kanchana Weerekoon teaching youth about the importance of protecting Sri Lanka’s rich biodiversity.

50% Off The 1,050 Volume Appropriate Technology eBook Library, While Supplies Last!


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New Course & Specialization on Humanitarian Assistance in our Online Certificate Program at CSU


In response to demand from participants around the world, Village Earth is pleased to announce our new Introduction to Humanitarian Assistance online course, which counts toward our new certificate specialization in Humanitarian Assistance.  This course is being offered in collaboration with EmBOLDEN AlliancesNow enrolling through July 26.

According to Good Humanitarian Donorship, Humanitarian Assistance is broadly defined to mean the action designed to save lives, alleviate suffering and protect human dignity during and in the aftermath of man-made crises and natural disasters, as well as to prevent and strengthen preparedness for the occurrence of such situations. Humanitarian assistance in the international arena vastly differs from domestic emergency response within the United States. As a field unto itself, humanitarian assistance also differs greatly from shorter-term disaster response in scope, objectives, and duration. In addition, the field encompasses codifying norms, international standards, and critical concepts that exist to maintain humanitarian principles, ensure quality intervention, and create sustainable improvement.

After the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, over 400 medical teams arrived to assist communities in need. Only a tiny fraction of teams were able to identify or plan intervention strategies and programs utilizing international humanitarian architecture or standards. This lack of knowledge translated into failures in communication, coordination, and usage of resources with direct implications for populations affected.

This problem is neither new nor has it been adequately addressed over time. Several studies, ranging from 2001-2014, have reported that a dearth of nongovernmental organizations responding to disasters offers any teaching or orientation prior to departure. Authors and practitioners have put forward a critical call to action for improved accountability, well-defined core competencies, and greater quality control. With appropriate and tailored training, practitioners will have exponentially improved efficiency, impact, and sustainability. In turn, these professionals better share expertise with local and national staff who remain, as always, the first-responders in their communities as they build themselves toward resilience and self-reliance.

In addition, the underlying circumstances necessitating pre-departure education of humanitarian workers have been intensifying. For example, the complexities of urban disasters require multi-sector coordination, community stakeholder engagement, and division of scarce resources more than ever. There are increasing risks and threats to humanitarian aid workers and less room for inexperience, waste, and error. Compassion in and of itself is not enough, however, compassion coupled with knowledge, guided by experience, and directed into effective action leads to substantive effective change. This course will provide participants an introduction to the knowledge necessary to engage in humanitarian assistance more effectively and sustainably. By providing participants the opportunity to examine and identify key components, participants will have a better understanding of humanitarian architecture as well as the ability to improve coordination and implementation of programmatic interventions.

This course will be taught by Neena Jain MD MSTPH DTM&H, who for over twenty years has thrived in international Humanitarian Assistance and Global Health as Program Manager, Country Medical Director, Health Sector Lead, and Technical Advisor with many international nongovernmental organizations throughout Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean. These agencies have included Medecins Sans Frontieres/Doctors Without Borders, International Medical Corps, Australian Aid International, and Save The Children, among others. She is the current Executive Director of emBOLDen Alliances. Dr. Jain was Board-certified in Emergency Medicine in 2001 and practiced as an Attending Physician at Swedish Medical Center and Denver Health Medical Center Emergency Departments. She developed programmatic structure and taught core content using innovative techniques as Director and Deputy Director for the Program in Humanitarian Assistance and Adjunct Faculty for the Global Health Affairs Program at the University of Denver Korbel School of International Studies.

Village Earth Welcomes Jalamba Nursury School Project As Our Newest Global Affiliate


Village Earth is proud to announce our newest Global Affiliate “The Jalamba Nursery School Project” based in the Village of Jalamba, West Coast Region, Kombo District, The Gambia, West Africa. The goal of the Jalamba Nursery School Project Association is to empower youths, children and vulnerable families through education. The organization has proven its ability to bring sustainable education to children and among the community of Jalamba Village, reducing poverty and illiteracy among vulnerable families who mostly depend on subsistence farming.

The project has government support as a new Nursery School which will serve ages of one through six. While grade school opportunities are available six kilometers away, the Nursery school will provide primary school education affecting numerous families in the community.

The Jalamba Nursury school project is one of the Village Earth global affiliates eligible for a 40% match on Wednesday, July 15th starting at 11am. Link to their donation page below.


Their Village Earth Global Affiliate Page can be accessed here: //

Supersize Your Donation on July 15th to Qualified Village Earth Global Affiliates


Don’t miss out! Starting at 11:00am MST on July 15th, and will be matching all donations 40% to qualified Village Earth Global Affiliates. Make your donation early because there are limited matching funds available and matching will stop as soon as they run out.

Below are Village Earth Global Affiliates eligible for the donation match from Globalgiving. Click to learn more and donate. 


human LLRP


Here are the criteria for a donation to get matched:

  • Only donations made online are eligible for matching. This includes donations made by credit/debit card, PayPal, and GlobalGiving gift card. For donations through, CAF online donations will also be eligible.
  • Donations up to $1,000 will be matched while funds last on Donations up to £600 on will be matched while funds last.
  • If matching funds run out, donations will no longer be matched.
  • Donations on corporate platforms and on JustGiving or donations by check will not be matched on either platform.

A Brief History of International Development Theories and Practices

History of Development Theories

What is “Development”? Where did this concept come from? Why do community workers need to understand this history?

As Americans, development is always something going on somewhere else.  We don’t usually hear much about it. What little we do know about it often comes from movies or books where we are placed as the protagonists – the actors- in development: the “Visionary Peace Corps Volunteer,” or the “Aid Worker Who Struggles Against Impossible Odds.” Even though these images may not be as pervasive in American culture as, say, the cowboy, the athlete, or the rock star, nonetheless, they have become part of the pantheon of heroes in our national mythology.

Despite the fact that a large number of Americans can identify with this mythology in some way or another, we often lack a understanding of the deeper-level political, social and cultural dynamics behind this mythology and where it comes from.  

So, to answer my own question, “Why do we need to understand the history of development?” I would argue that it is to better understand how we are perceived  by others as the so-called actors in development and, while at the same time, so we can begin to unpack these perceptions and become more self-aware.

Where do we start? While the notion of “Development” per-se, isn’t necessarily something new, our modern conception of development was really shaped after the end of World War II … in particular by the Truman Doctrine, which became the defining doctrine of US Foreign Policy until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989. The Truman Doctrine was a response to the concentration of global power into two heavily armed superpowers, the United States and its allies, and the Soviet Union and its allies.

The roots of the Truman doctrine was fear, fear that if Soviets invaded Europe, which was in shambles after the war, that their power would spread and pose an existential threat to the United States. This was a lesson learned from the first World War and the rise of Nazism. This idea was later referred to as the Domino Theory, and it was the idea that if the Soviets took over one country, they would soon take over others. In response, the Truman doctrine sought to contain this spread through a policy referred to as Containment.

As part of the strategy to contain the spread of the Soviets, the Truman Doctrine included another policy to help Europe regain its strength through an active program of development referred to as the Marshall Plan. The plan cost nearly $13 Billion dollars from 1948 to 1951; the majority of which went to purchase goods from the United States. $3.4 billion had been spent on imports of raw materials and semi-manufactured products; $3.2 billion on food, feed, and fertilizer; $1.9 billion on machines, vehicles, and equipment; and $1.6 billion on fuel. Only 1.2 billion was in the form of loans.

The invasion of South Korea by the Communist North signaled the end of Marshall plan and ushered in a new era for containment doctrine. On the one hand, the United States became more focused on rebuilding the military strength of its European allies and the internationalization of its foreign development assistance. The connection between foreign assistance and imperial strength was not just a strategy of the United States. In 1947 the Soviet Union launched its own version of the Marshall Plan referred to as the Molotov plan (named after the Soviet foreign minister). Later, in 1949, the Soviet’s founded COMECOM or The Council for Mutual Economic Assistance which became the Soviet’s foreign assistance agency.

The Marshall Plan formally ended in 1951 with the Mutual Security Act. It was replaced by the Mutual Security Agency and later the Foreign Operations Administration which consolidated US Foreign Assistance. Its purpose was to quote “centralize all governmental operations, as distinguished from policy formulation, that had as their purpose the cooperative development of economic and military strength among the nations of the free world.”

Traditionally, when we think of the Cold War, we think of the nuclear arms race and proxy wars in places like Korea, Vietnam, and Nicaragua but “development” was also a widely used tool in the arsenals of the U.S. and its allies as well as the Soviet Union and its allies. Of course, they just had different visions of what development meant but ultimately, both had their own strategic and economics interests at the forefront. In 1961, our Department of Defense sought to promote this strategy to the American public with the film “The Challenge of Ideas.”


So the modern conception of Development really had its origins in the post-war period as part of a larger strategy to thwart the expansion of communism but also to promote the interests of the U.S. and it’s allies. Prior to WWII, poverty in the global south was not a concern of the north. During the colonial era, poverty was understood more on racial terms – According the Anthropologist Arturo Escobar:

“In colonial times, the concern with poverty was conditioned by the belief that even if the “natives” could be somewhat enlightened by the presence of the colonizer, not much could be done about their poverty because their economic development was pointless. The natives’ capacity for science and technology, the basis for economic progress, was seen as nil.”

This all changed after World War II.  For the first time, the destinies of the rich countries now seemed inextricably intertwined with that of the poor ones. This, combined with expanded faith in the ability of technology and social engineering to solve humanity’s long-enduring problems like disease and malnutrition, became the foundation of the modern era of development. Simultaneously there was a breakdown in the old colonial system and shift towards a more “Developmentalist” approach to managing tensions arising in the colonies.



For the U.S. and its allies, the problem in the south seemed pretty simple, especially after its success with a rather rapid reconstruction of Europe, where less than 5-years later many of the European economies were back up-and-running at their pre-war levels. From this experience, it seemed clear that poor countries must be poor because they hadn’t yet developed the technological and social infrastructure for industrial development like the United States and Europe. Thus, the solution, would be to give these countries a little push to help “leapfrog” them from primitive to industrialized capitalist economies.

This strategy, referred to as Modernization Theory, was later crystallized by Walt Rostow, an advisor to both Kennedy and Johnson. His seminal 1962 book, “The Stages of Economic Growth: A non-Communist Manifesto” clearly, was positioned as an alternative development strategy to the Soviet model. In his book,  Rostow laid-out the blueprint for a country’s “Modernization.”  They needed to pass through five stages in order to become developed. The role of Development was to help usher this along.

The first stage was Traditional Society, which had three characteristics.  1. Subsistence agriculture or hunting & gathering (this is almost wholly seen as a “primary” sector economy);  2 Limited technology; and 3. a static or ‘rigid’ society with a  lack of class or individual economic mobility, and wherein stability is prioritized and change is seen negatively.

The second stage was Pre-conditions to “Take-off.” This was characterized by 1. external demand for raw materials initiates economic change; 2. development of more productive, commercial agriculture & cash crops that were not consumed by producers and/or largely exported; 3. widespread and enhanced investment in changes to the physical environment to expand production (i.e. irrigation, canals, ports); 4. increasing spread of technology & advances in existing technologies; 5. changing social structure, with previous social equilibrium now in flux; 6. individual social mobility begins; and 7. the development of national identity and shared economic interests.

“Take off” was stage three when 1. manufacturing begins to rationalize and scale increases in a few leading industries as goods are made both for export and domestic consumption; 2 the “secondary” (goods-producing) sector expands and ratio of secondary vs. primary sectors in the economy shifts quickly towards secondary; and 3. textiles & apparel are usually the first “take-off” industry, as happened in Great Britain’s classic “Industrial Revolution.”

Stage four was the “Drive to Maturity” characterized by 1. the diversification of the industrial base; multiple industries expanding & new ones taking root quickly; 2. manufacturing shifts from investment-driven (capital goods) towards consumer durables & domestic consumption; 3. rapid development of transportation infrastructure; and 4. large-scale investment in social infrastructure (schools, universities, hospitals, etc.),

The fifth and final stage was named the “Age of Mass Consumption” when 1. the industrial base dominates the economy and the primary sector is of greatly diminished weight in economy & society; 2. we see the widespread and normative consumption of high-value consumer goods (e.g. automobiles); and 3. consumers typically (if not universally), have disposable income, beyond all basic needs, for additional goods.

The focus of Modernization is on particular countries and assessing which stage they’re in. Modernization is where the terminology of First World, Second World, and Third World comes from. First World being the free-market industrialized countries, the Third World being the so-called non-industrialized or developing countries, and the Second World are the lesser Industrialized Communist Countries. The strategy for modernization is to help countries progress to the stages of growth. The primary measure of this growth was GDP (Gross Domestic Product – the value of all goods and services generated within a particular country).

Rostow’s “Stages of Growth” was pretty-much the principle behind much of US foreign assistance until the 1980s, when Ronald Reagan took a more hard-line approach towards Soviet expansion.  He expanded the support of anti-communist opposition with cash and arms, and depressed Soviet commodities on the global market by flooding it with highly subsidized U.S. commodities.  During this period, aid was primarily used to influence countries to open their markets to artificially cheap US commodities.



By the 1960’s another theory of Development started to gain traction, not necessarily among U.S. and European Policy makers but rather, among an emerging group  of Third World scholars. It was called Dependency Theory and had its roots in nationalist thinking in India from the turn of the century. It gained traction as the promise of Modernization seemed less and less achievable, and as many in the Third World began to realize that this so-called “aid” from the rich countries came with a price. In many cases, the price was the loss of control over their economies and political systems.

Dependency Theory challenged the very premise of Modernization Theory arguing that the poverty in the south was NOT because their cultures were primitive and inherently non-scientific, or that their economic systems were backward but rather, these scholars argued that if you want to understand poverty in the south, you have to analyze their colonial and neo-colonial relationships with core countries. They argued that yhese relationships not only explain the great poverty in the south, but also the great wealth in the north. They argued that the rich countries got rich in the first place by exploiting the wealth and labor of poor countries … and that the new “development policies” and foreign investment were just a new form of colonization or “neo-colonialism.”

Rather than maintaining a colony, the United States or Britain were now using their economic influence and often-clandestine programs to manipulate elections and  install puppet governments.   Rather than controlling the economies of the South directly from London, Paris, or Washington, these governments of the North were now using the IMF and World Bank to entrap the South in debt and impose structural adjustments.  Rather than taking people as slaves, First World practices were pushing them off their lands and giving them no alternative but to move to the overcrowded urban areas and working in sweatshops.

Another example can be found in Haiti.  Decades of manipulation of their economic and political system, including a U.S. backed coup of a democratically elected president, destroyed their ability to feed themselves and forced millions of people to move into overcrowded and poorly built slums in search of work. This created a catastrophe in 2010 when a 7.0 magnitude earthquake leveled the slums and left millions of people without access to food and shelter.


Where the focus on Modernization is looking at individual countries and “internal” constraints to “modernization,” the focus of Dependency Theory is on long-term colonial and neo-colonial relationships between poor countries (now referred to as the periphery) and rich countries (now referred to as the core). The terminology refers to the flows of resources, labor and wealth from periphery to core.

“Underdevelopment” is now used by dependency theorists in the place of “Developing” or “Third-World” to describe the outcome of these relationships, and to explain that poor countries were internationally “underdeveloped” to facilitate the extraction of resources and labor. In terms of strategy in this line of thinking, if the problem is the extractive relationship between core and periphery, than the solution would be to cut those relationships through revolution or “de-linking.”   De-linking might include nationalizing foreign owned companies, refusing loans or other trade agreements, and building local self-reliance. As part of this strategy, underdeveloped countries have historically created policies to protect their industries, for example, subsidizing their industries and/or imposing tariffs on imported goods. They might also choose a path of import substitution where countries analyze what products or commodities are being imported and start supporting industries that can produce them locally. These have all been strategies employed by countries such as Brazil, South Korea, and at a more extreme level, Venezuela and Bolivia.



In 1962, Rachel Carson wrote the book “Silent Spring,” which focused on pollution and pesticides in the United States and eventually lead to the banning of DDT.  Then, two pivotal events happened in 1973: the first pictures were sent back from the Apollo missions depicting the earth as a tiny blue dot floating in space, a single planet lacking geo-political boundaries, and the Oil Crisis, which planted the seeds for the modern environmental movement.

For the first time, many people started to think about the finite nature and abuses of the earth’s resources. Neither Modernization nor Dependency theorists really took the environmental issue seriously. In fact, in 1972, the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment held in Stockholm was the first real international conference that addressed these issues.  It did not, however, address the gross inequalities in consumption and pollution between industrialized and non-industrialized countries.  In April 1987, the Brundtland Commission, as it came to be known, published its groundbreaking report, “Our Common Future,” which introduced the concept of sustainable development into the public discourse. It defined sustainable development in terms of both protecting resources and ensuring equality in distribution.

“Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

“A world in which poverty and inequity are endemic will always be prone to ecological and other crises. … Sustainable development requires that societies meet human needs both by increasing productive potential and by ensuring equitable opportunities for all.”

According to the United Nations: “The wide-ranging recommendations made by the Commission led directly to the holding of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, which placed the issue squarely on the public agenda in a way it had never been before.  Meeting in Rio de Janeiro, in 1992, the “Earth Summit”, as it came to be known, adopted its “Agenda 21”, a blueprint for the protection of our planet and its sustainable development.

Agenda 21 represented te culmination of two decades of focused attention, which began with that 1972 United Nations Conference on the Human Environment.  Based on its conclusions, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) was created to become the world’s leading environmental agency.  By 1992, the link between environment and development, and the imperative need for sustainable development was seen and recognized worldwide.

In Agenda 21, governments outlined a detailed blueprint for action that could move the world away from its present unsustainable model of economic growth towards activities that would protect and renew the environmental resources on which development depends. Areas for action included: protecting the atmosphere; combating deforestation, soil loss and desertification; preventing air and water pollution; halting the depletion of fish stocks; and promoting the safe management of toxic wastes.

But Agenda 21 went beyond these purely environmental issues and addressed patterns of development causing stress to the environment. These included: poverty and external debt in developing countries; unsustainable patterns of production and consumption; demographic stress; and the structure of the international economy. The action program also recommended ways to strengthen the part played by major groups — women, trade unions, farmers, children and young people, indigenous peoples, the scientific community, local authorities, business, industry and NGOs — in achieving sustainable development.”

According to a 2010 report from the UN Environmental Program, under a business-as-usual scenario, 2 planets would be required by 2030 to support the world’s population. This assumes a continued unequal world with 15% of the population using 50% of the resources. World Wildlife Fund (WWF) estimates that three planets would be needed now if every citizen adopted the UK lifestyle, and five planets if they adopted the average North American lifestyle. This poses a serious challenge to convention thinking about development.

These statistics raise the question: Is it even possible, without major advances in technology, to raise the standard of living of everyone on the planet to the that of the so-called developed countries? Do we need to redefine what it means to be “developed”?



At this time, I would like to shift gears slightly and consider another, often marginalized perspective in the development discourse. That is, the roles and perspectives of indigenous peoples.

Today, there are nearly 370 million people classified as Indigenous Peoples. While there’s no universally accepted definition, indigenous people are generally defined as ethnic groups that have historical ties to groups that existed in a territory prior to colonization or formation of a nation state. They also have generally preserved a degree of cultural and political separation from the mainstream culture and political system of the nation state within the border of which the indigenous group is located.

They exist today, and historically, as the poorest and most vulnerable sector of the global society. Traditionally they have been ignored by both the Modernization and Dependency discourses. While Modernization and Dependency theory are largely contrary theories, they are both based on the modern conception of the Nation State.

In the historical creation of State boundaries outside of Europe, during the colonial period, State boundaries rarely took into account the social and political organization of the indigenous inhabitants. Thus, State boundaries and associated laws were, by all means, super-imposed upon indigenous peoples. These groups, more or less, resisted this imposition, but were often-times forced to flee to environments where the colonizers weren’t willing to occupy. As resources become harder and harder to find, indigenous people’s get pushed further to the margins environmentally, politically and socially.  

In terms of development, indigenous peoples have traditionally been viewed as obstacles, or “in-the-way” of progress. They didn’t fit into Socialist or Capitalist notions of development, do not traditionally pay taxes because of their reliance on production for consumption vs. consumption for cash. Because of this, the primary project for Capitalist and Socialist States has been the destruction and/or assimilation of indigenous peoples.  

While they have historically resisted colonization, the modern Indigenous Rights Movement has its origins in the 1970s, growing in parallel with the democracy movements around the globe. But also, later in the 1970s and 1980s, indigenous peoples became co-opted by the environmental movement, used as a symbol for the Noble Savage who doesn’t litter or who protects the Amazon rainforest. This partnership between environmentalists and indigenous people was often at odds, since Western environmentalists originally saw protection of the environment as separating humans from it, which is a practice that often further marginalizes indigenous peoples from the resources upon which they have historically relied.

Today the Indigenous Rights Movement has served as a model for a decentralized movement which has influenced the anti-globalization movement and more recently, the Arab Spring. It has been theorized as injecting new ideas into a global system that can’t be saved by Capitalism or Communism. Indigenous people have lived close to the earth and have developed unique social and economic systems that have endured since time-immemorial  Quite possibly they hold the answer, or at least part of it, for how human can live more sustainably and equitably.

Lastly, I would like to explore some of the most recent trends in the Development Discourse. The first is Globalization and later we will look at Development in a post 9/11 world.

Globalization is theorized by some to have had its origins in 1492, when Columbus finally connected the eastern and western hemispheres into one interlocking, capitalist global system. A process begun centuries before. Others see it as more of a phenomena arising after the collapse of the Soviet Union, which allowed for a rapid expansion of the Western model.  Still others would argue that its origins are technological, with the advent of the airplane, telephone, and later the Internet and more flexible production systems.

Regardless, it’s generally agreed that globalization has meant a lessening of the importance of the State in the global political economy and the rise of corporations as the dominant actors. Lower-cost communication and travel combined with more flexible production systems including, global outsourcing and lower-cost containerized shipping has meant that corporations and capital are no longer bound by place or loyal to a particular country.

The theory advanced by David Harvey in 1979 argues that capital will flow into areas of greatest flexibility, areas where the labor force can quickly adapt to the demands of production, where environmental, health, and safety regulations are the most lenient, where assembly lines can be quickly retooled for new products, etc. The ability of firms to quickly outsource production to Manila, Bangkok or Haiti means that firms are no-longer bound by the regulations of the State. To the contrary, their flexibility has made it so corporations can pit country against country in a bidding war for the lowest regulations, best tax incentives, lowest work standards, etc. If workers organize or the Stage decides to impose more regulations, these firms can quickly pack-up shop and relocate. This was the mantra in the 1990s and “Development “became the mantra of “free-trade,” “trade-liberalization” and the creation of free trade zones and it was this thinking that led to trade agreements like NAFTA and FTAA, agreements largely drafted by corporate lobbying groups.

Capitalist-driven globalization has encountered resistance on many fronts including organized labor fighting to protect their work standards, pensions, and safety standards, environmentalists who are fighting to maintain or establish global environmental standards, indigenous people fighting to protect their resources and way of life, and women and children who are disproportionately affected by globalization, as they are largely the ones working on the assembly lines or who are affected most from the loss of resources.
Finally, I would like to look at the post 9/11 world. For the most part, this period has been defined by the US-led War on Terror, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and more recently, the Arab Spring. In many ways, the attacks on 9/11 reinvigorated U.S. foreign policy. With the loss of the Soviets as justification for U.S. imperial pursuits, 9/11 opened up a path for what Bush and the neo-conservative  members of his administration called, “The New American Century.” According to a Foreign Affairs Article written by the then newly appointed Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, The goal of the project was to strengthen U.S. hegemony around the globe by restructuring the military away from a heavy cold-war era to a lighter more mobile force that could respond to asymmetrical threats like terrorists, strengthening our alliances and more directly confronting enemy states, what Bush referred to as the axis of Evil. According to a report by the Brookings Institute and the Independent development watchdog, DARA, during this time, NGO’s either served a greater role in carrying out U.S. foreign policy through contracting or were scrutinized greater for their possible ties to terrorists. Aid work also increasingly shifted from agencies like USAid and NGO’s to the military. Thus, making aid more directly an instrument of the foreign policy of governments.

Ideas discussed in this post are also discussed in the following Village Earth online courses: Approaches to Community Development as part of our online Certificate Program in Sustainable Community Development.

Village Earth Affiliate “Earth Tipi” Builds Caretaker Cabin on the Pine Ridge Reservation

Thank you to those who contributed to our Caretaker cabin! We were able to build the entire cabin including the roof, insulation, siding  as well as installed the doors and windows. We have enough funds remaining to install a basic propane system with a tank and heater. We still need additional funding to purchase a propane refrigerator and small solar system as well as finish off the interior with a kitchen and bathroom.  A single father and his two children have been occupying the space all winter in exchange for helping care for our homestead model site and education center.
We expect volunteers to arrive later this week to continue working on some interior details well as to do some earth works around the outside to keep water from running off the hillside above it underneath the foundation.

We still need $4000 to complete the project including fixing some damage that occurred during the winter months.
We could not do these projects without your support!
Lila Pilamayaye!
(Thank you very much)
Shannon, Director Earth Tipi

Village Earth & Colorado State University Launch New Online Training in Agroecology

Responding to UN urging for a “paradigm shift” in agriculture to more climate-smart practices that are more “adaptive and resilient to environmental pressures, while decreasing farming’s own impacts.”

Today, Village Earth announced the opening of registration for a new online course focused on the theory and practice of Agroecology. This is the newest course in Village Earth’s Online Certificate Program in Sustainable Community Development offered through Colorado State University’s Online Plus Program. The course was developed in response to a calls by the United Nations and the recommendations of the Global Alliance on Climate-Smart Agriculture ( to shift towards a more climate friendly, sustainable and socially just agriculture system.

In a release dated February 28th, 2015 the head of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO ( said “The model of agricultural production that predominates today is not suitable for the new food security challenges of the 21st century and the need to be more sustainable, inclusive and resilient.” In the same release the UN FAO Director-General also highlighted agroecology as a promising way to move food production onto a more sustainable path. The approach uses ecological theory to study and manage agricultural systems in order to make them both more productive and better at conserving natural resources.

According to the Village Earth course description, Agroecology has a broad scope and includes many different meanings. The term has been used to describe an interdisciplinary scientific field, to characterize a set of farming practices, and to name convergent social initiatives. In this course we will identify their common root (the agroecological lens) and learn how to use it as a transformative tool for social and environmental justice. The agroecological lens will be used to reflect step by step, traversing perspectives from a narrow scope (the field) to the broadest level (the food system). Throughout this process, diverse themes ranging from soil care to food sovereignty will be explored. Case studies from initiatives around the globe will be used to inspire enhanced understanding of the actions and perspectives necessary to successfully develop one’s own agroecological project. Successful stories with positive effects can radiate their energy and contribute to the improvement of society beyond their locality.

Since 2003, Village Earth and Colorado State University have provided cutting-edge online training in the field of sustainble community development. Their Online Certificate program uses a multi-sector, participatory approach that focuses on empowerment of people as both the ends and means of a sustainable development process. Rather than teaching prescriptive solutions to community problems, we provide you with the tools to use the community’s input and vision to create options and solutions that truly meet community needs.

The certificate program is designed for people who currently work in community development and desire to advance their careers as well as those who plan to work or volunteer in this field. You will be equipped with practical tools to meet today’s challenges as project directors, community leaders, grassroots activists, funders, and field workers in community-based organizations and governmental and nongovernmental organizations. With a wide variety of electives, you can tailor the program to meet your needs and interests.

Students of the program can choose to specialize in one of five tracks Economic Development (…), Political Empowerment (…), Food Security / Agriculture, Participatory Facilitation, Community Planning and Development. This new course will count towards the Food Security / Agriculture Track.

To earn a certificate in sustainable community development, students must complete the required courses of their chosen track and any elective courses of your choosing. Each course runs five weeks and requires a minimum of 20 hours of student participation. You may take courses in any order.  Each course costs $390.

To learn more about this exciting new course offering visit: //

Village Earth Affiliate “Titukuke RCDA” Helping Youth to Start Peanut Farms in Zambia

4 Beneficiary Youths cultivating peanuts


The organization was privileged to have received funding from Global Giving meant to help 40 youths start an out grower scheme for production of peanuts in Petauke district in Eastern Province in Zambia, Southern Africa.

The youths were given certified seed and planted the high oil yielding MGV4 Peanut variety in the month of December, 2015. The 40 youths were divided into 8 groups so that they find it easy to cultivate the crop that is burdensome especially when weeding. The progress of their crop was monitored by the Field Extension officer. The crop is expected to be ready for harvesting in the month of

May, 2016. Major challenges so far are that the rain pattern was not too good because it came in December instead of October thereby meaning that the amount of rain was enough. However, being that the variety used was early maturing; the peanuts are expected to yield above average. The other challenge was the impassable roads that hindered the Field Officer to utilize the motorbike all the way to beneficiaries’ fields. He had to leave the motorbike half way and walk.

The organization is very thankful to all the donors whose donation has made this dream come true. The youths are very thankful too for the support and wish that yet many youths can be assisted to join them

Village Earth Global Affiliate “Maloca” to bring Kamayura Chief to UN Permanent Forum

KThank  you to everyone who donated to Village Earth Affiliate “Maloca” so they could bring – for the first time – the Kamayura cacique (chief) Kotok from Xingu Indigenous Park in Brazil to New York. The chief will attend the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues where he will bring important messages from Xingu, will exchange experiences with other leaders and will learn first-hand about mechanisms and tools Indigenous Peoples have to defend their human rights, traditional knowledge and their territories. He will forge alliances with foundations and universities in the hope this will open doors for the Kamayura to receive much needed support .The cacique will raise awareness on the incredibly well preserved Kamayura culture and territory (which they want to keep intact for as long as they can, a most difficult job due to aggressive penetration of outside economic interest and western cultural elements).

Maloca is also honored to host a an event with the this distinguished guest April 23, 2015 4:00 pm – 8:00 pm At the National Museum of the American Indian One Bowling Green New York, NY 10004. If you are interested in attending you can purchase tickets online here.

The Kamayura are Indigenous Peoples that live in Xingu Indigenous Park, Mato Grosso state of Brazil. The region is the transition zone between the Brazilian Amazon rainforest and the savannah, an area particularly rich in biodiversity, also known for its high deforestation rates due to intense cattle ranching and soy cultivation. In 2009, the deforestation rate around the Park was 47% as per ISA (Instituto Socio Ambiental).

Xingu Indigenous Park is home to 14 different ethnicities, counting roughly 5,000 people. Chief Kotok Kamayura is the cacique of the main Kamayura village, Ipavu, where about 350 people live. The chief, having great knowledge of what is happening inside Xingu Indigenous Park, will speak about common issues to all inhabitants of the Park, showing how life in their remote villages is affected by human activities outside the Park. As cacique, he is responsible for his community and he must have a vision for their future. With all the aggressive outside influences penetrating village life, he is concerned about the future of their children and grandchildren, with their cultural survival and the integrity of their territory. The Kamayura are dependent on nature and its cycles. Their livelihoods are based on fishing and cultivating manioc. They use medicinal plants from the forest to keep a strong body and cure illnesses. The fish, manioc crops, water supply, and even medicinal plants are already affected by changes in weather patterns.  Chief Kotok will be presenting at the 14th Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues where he will discuss these crucial issues and will forge alliances with other Indigenous leaders. As part of his first trip to New York City, he will be speaking at the National Museum of the American Indian.  Attendants will be able to meet Chief Kotok and his son Aira personally and glimpse into their captivating world. Together we will discuss pressing issues like climate change, cultural survival, the environment and possible solutions.

The Kaweshkar Inhabiting Tierra del Fuego, Chile.  The land which Ferdinad Magellan named Land of Smoke, Land of Fire is one of the most inhospitable places on the continent, where survival is hard.  With never-ending winds, cold descending to below zero , snow and the fury of the sea where throughout their lives, as lonely as the landscape, small groups of these nomads wandered searching for food and survival. Denominated as nomads, hunters and gatherers these avid canoers made their habitat in the Patagonian canals where to the present day the survivors remain.  The Kaweshkar Indigenous language remains after over 13 centuries.  During the decades of the 30’s they were abruptly hit by civilization and cultural change. Developing illnesses caused by the sudden forced change from their customary otter ski clothing to regular clothes that were not appropriate to endure the below zero temperatures causing them illness and death.  Otter skins were very much in demand in those days and hunters would kill the Kaweshkar to take the skins from their bodies.  Alcoholism was also a cause of death. .  In 2009 UNESCO declared the remaining Kaweshkar survivors as Human Living Treasures of Humanity.  Carlos Edén Maidel (Peteyem) is one of the last 9 remaining Kaweshkar.  The survivors are all pure blood Kaweshkar, all Elders (5 men and 4 women).  What will become of the last 9 remaining survivors?  Times passes and we just see them die off one by one until there will be no more – an entire Indigenous Nation extict forever.  Carlos will also attend the 14th session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues to inform on current state of his nation and to seek support to produce and publish memories of his Nation.

Teca Woasniye Wicoti (Youth Healing Camp) on The Pine Ridge Reservation a Success!

Youth Camp 10
Porcupine, SD- On a cold February morning three grassroots organizations met on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation to discuss the five completed suicides and how they could intervene; participating in this meeting were Mila Yatan Pika Pte Oyate Okolakiciye (Knife Chief Buffalo Nation Society), Tasunke Wakan Okolakiciye (Medicine Horse Society) and Oaye Luta Okolakiciye (Red Journey Society). Through the course of this meeting it quickly became apparent that with each program there had an intense desire and need to help the youth and their families suffering from the impact of this epidemic.

Tiospaye Sakowin Wounspe na Woapiye O’Tipi (Seven Extended Families Education and Healing Center) was born and a strategic plan developed to continue to provide healing services to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. These organizations are the first of seven families to align in this effort to promote Lakota Cultural Healing and Education and they were quickly joined by Sung Nagi Okolakiciye (Spirit Horse Society) from Manderson, SD. Since the centers inception on February 15, there have been four additional completed suicides bringing the total to nine completed suicides.

First thing on the agenda? Provide a culturally relevant way for individuals in the helping field to assist and address the suicide issue on the Pine Ridge Indian reservation. On March 26 and 27th Tiospaye Sakowin hosted “Lakota Mental Health First Aid Training” facilitated by Richard and Ethleen (Iron Cloud) Two Dogs. This training provided the participants with the opportunity to understand the spiritual growth of individuals from their time of birth until their passing and what happens when this natural growth is interrupted through unnatural sources such as abuse (of all kinds), violence, accidents and suicidal ideation and completion.

The presenters, board members of the collaborating societies, shared their insight and knowledge into the cultural perspective on indigenous healing. To a room of thirty plus participants, Mr. and Mrs. Two Dogs shared their knowledge through integrating the Lakota Customary, Natural, and Spiritual laws within the educational process, and to revitalize and implement the Lakota interventions through education and practice.

Participants in the training ranged from youth to elderly; from as far away as Standing Rock Indian Reservation and as close as Porcupine and Manderson. A surprise visit from Oglala Lakota Nation Tribal President John Steele highlighted the day’s events when he acknowledged the work being completed within the center and thanked all the participants in their vested interest in the epidemic.

Collectively this program and its partnering societies provide a foundation of 20 plus years working with Lakota elders and traditional healers to revitalize and strengthen the Lakota life ways and laws through education, healing and collaboration. Their primary programmatic focus is to empower the Lakota Tiwahe (families) in reclaiming their Lakota identity. Each of these organizations provides a unique attribute that provides healing and empowerment services to the Lakota Oyate. With room to grow, Tiospaye Sakowin will partner with seven organizations with like minds, missions and philosophy to strengthen and expand the impact of indigenous services.

During the Easter holiday weekend this Lakota community-based organization, hosted a healing opportunity for our youth through a Teca Woasniye Wicoti (Youth Healing Camp) on April 2-6, 2015. Through this camp, learning, recreational and healing activities were offered to twenty six participating youth. Through this healing opportunity, as a way to give life to the values, gifts and teachings provided by Tunkasila (Grandfather/Creator) for the healing of the youth that were incorporated into the facilitation of programming. They included: Wacante Ognaka—to have a warm, compassionate environment for youth; Woapiye –traditional healing for their spiritual wounds from the trauma, grief or loss; Wopakinte—spiritual purification from the negative residue left by any trauma; Woyuskin—to provide a happy, fun and accepting environment; Lakol Caswicatun Pi – to provide an opportunity for those youth who do not have a spirit name to receive one as a way to reinforce their Lakota cultural identity; Wicozani—to provide an opportunity for wellness screenings and Wowasake—to provide an opportunity to achieve resiliency.

In recent years these collaborating organizations worked with community leaders, families and Lakota Oyate to provide healing opportunities to over sixty youth per annum in a series of youth camps based on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. These sixty youth reflect those young people who have addressed their unresolved trauma and emotional issues during these camps, then continue throughout life better equipped to address other issues. With financial support from local, state and Tribal organizations these camps are uniquely designed to address specific needs of the age and gender of the participating youth.

At conception, Teca Woasniye Wicoti was designed to service 24 Native American youth (12 males and 12 females) ages 12-17, who have experienced trauma, loss and/ or grief. Registration for the camp was closed on March 27th with 26 females and 13 males registered with continuing requests from the community for exceptions to the deadline so that more youth may attend; 26 youth completed the program.  Ethleen Iron Cloud-Two Dogs, Camp Lead on this project stated, “All registrations will be accepted, no one will be turned away.” She continues to say, “As adult relatives, we seek to instill in our youth the Lakota belief that every individual has a purpose on earth and that resiliency to confront life’s challenges can be achieved.”

Teca Woasniye Wicoti was set up to mirror a Tiospaye (extended family) governing which allows for all to work together. The youth of the camp engaged and participated in gender appropriate teachings and ceremonies. Each of the activities and ceremonies engaged the youth at different levels and allow them to work together in their healing experience, thus creating a small community approach. “There are so many people who came together to make this happen for our youth,” Cindy Giago, volunteer Program Manager for Tiospaye Sakowin states, “so many that it would be hard to name each person in one setting but there are those that go above and beyond to make things like this happen; like my brother and sister-in-law, my nephews, nieces and my daughter-in-laws that never back down from a good battle.”  Mrs. Giago goes on to state that the Tunkasila and the Unci (the ancestors) provide the most important and significant guidance through prayer and the Societies are blessed with the earthly spiritual guidance of her Tiblo (older brother) Richard Two Dogs, a Lakota Medicine Man.

Youth participant qualifications included being members of or have tribal ties to the Dakota, Lakota and Nakota Sioux nations as the camp’s foundation is based on Lakota Life Ways, culture and most importantly spirituality. Participants are between the ages of 10-17 years of age who would benefit from attending and receiving interventions designed to prevent progression of symptoms of depression, which could eventually lead to suicidal ideations.   In the end the camp effort is hosted over 75 participants who include the youth, their families, volunteers, mentors, spiritual leaders and security. Many local programs, schools and organizations supported the youth at the camp, as well as many individual donors nation-wide. Donations included clothing, food, supplies as well as monetary donations.

Tiospaye Sakowin Education and Healing Center will be hosting additional Camps this summer which include the Teca Woasniye Wicoti (Youth Healing Camp) that happened in April, Wakanyeja Wicoti (Children’s Camp) in July, Wikoskalaka Yuwita Pi (Lakota Gathering of Young Women) in August and the Lakota Koskalaka Wica Yuwita Pi (Lakota Young Men’s Gathering) times two in June and November 2015. As this organization depends greatly on charitable donations from well-meaning companies here in the United States; they ask you to please consider donating to their organization as you will be eligible for a charitable contribution for donating to a registered 501c3 organization. Please visit for more information or email: [email protected] The center invites you to be one of their partners in the successful implementation of these programs that will address the needs of the Pine Ridge Indian reservation in a much more in a culturally appropriate, positive and healing perspective.

Learn About Utah Tar Sands Resistance – April 22nd at the Fort Collins Old Town Library.


Join Village Earth and 350 Ft. Collins, a local affiliate of, April 22 at the Old Town Library at 6:30 PM for a screening of “Last Rush for the Wild West” a documentary about the tar sands mine currently under construction on the Tavaputs Plateau in Utah, part of it is on Uintah Ute tribal land, so there are several indigenous groups involved opposing the mine. In June 2014, the EPA told U.S. Oil Sands that it needed additional permitting to proceed because its mine sits on traditional Uintah and Ouray Ute tribal land. They continued operations without the permitting.

Melanie Martin, who organizes with Peaceful Uprising and Utah Tar Sands Resistance, we be speaking and answering questions following the screening. Last year she spent her summer and fall on the East Tavaputs Plateau working to halt the first potential fuel-producing tar sands mine in the U.S. She writes on climate justice issues for a range of publications such as Yes!, Waging Nonviolence, and Truthout, creates short film pieces, and makes a pretty badass chipmunk mask.