Village Earth Empowers Global Poor

By Drew Haugen
December 09, 2005

Addressing a meeting in Hong Kong in 1997, World Bank President James Wolfensohn commented on the global crises of the approximately 6 billion residents of Earth.

“We are living in a time bomb, and unless we take action now, it could explode in our children’s faces,” he said. “Three billion people live on less than $2 a day; 1.3 billion on less than a dollar; 100 million go hungry every day; 150 million never go to school; and long-standing inequities between rural and urban areas, and the skilled and unskilled, are widening.”

In direct partnership with the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) at Colorado State University, the Village Earth is taking action to defuse the time bomb in which we live.

The Village Earth, an institution for community-based development, works to “address global poverty by bridging the gulf between the two-thirds of the world’s population that live in rural areas and the technical, financial, social and informational resources enjoyed by the remaining third,” according to the organization.

Founded in 1993 at an International Conference on Sustainable Village-Based Development in Fort Collins, the mission of the Village Earth is “to achieve sustainable community-based development by connecting communities with global resources through training, consulting and networking with organizations worldwide.”

“How the Village Earth is different in its approach is we try to build local capacity so indigenous people can build, fund, and organize projects themselves,” said David Bartecchi, Village Earth director of program development.

Projects of the Village Earth range from providing farmers in Nasik, India with additional irrigation resources and training on advanced agricultural technologies to empowering the people of the Amazon Basin in Peru with resources for education, fish-farming, agriculture and river transportation.

“Rather than coming in and building an irrigation system or something like that, we work with the existing indigenous organizations and build off of what everyone already has,” Bartecchi said.

In September, the Village Earth celebrated with residents of the Pine Ridge Reservation the third release of buffalo on Pine Ridge land as livestock. Three families on the reservation now have buffalo herds, and many more residents are learning how to use their own lands, thanks to Village Earth trainings.

“We give them the training and resources, and they do it all themselves.” Bartecchi said.

Village Earth is always accepting volunteers and also has an internship program in which students can receive course credit for work.

Volunteer and internship programs are both flexible.

Village Earth, the Department of Anthropology and Reflexive Films will be premiering “Rezonomics,” a documentary on the Pine Ridge Reservation of South Dakota, on Sunday.

The film, to be shown at 7 p.m. in the Lory Student Center Theatre, explores the living conditions of the Pine Ridge Reservation, one of the most impoverished areas of the United States and the Village Earth projects on the reservation.

Immediately following the film will be a panel discussion with the filmmakers, Pine Ridge residents and anthropology Professor Kathleen Pickering.

Tickets can be purchased for $5 at the Lory Student Center Box office or by calling Village Earth at (970) 491-5754. All proceeds go to support Village Earth’s projects on the Pine Ridge Reservation.

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