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Meet the Interns: Hey, Alana!

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One of the best parts of doing what we do is meeting and working with the next generation of change-makers committed to a healthy and thriving Earth through our internship program. We’re honored to have had a chance to work with Alana this fall. Keep an eye out for her — she’s poised have a beautiful and lasting impact for women and our communities!

Name: Alana Young
Hometown: San Mateo, CA
 
If you had a superpower, it would be (and why): 
I would love to be able to fly so I can travel all over the world (and avoid Bay Area traffic!)
 
Why did you want to intern/volunteer with WEA?
I am passionate about environmental issues, global health, and women’s empowerment, and I think these issues are all deeply connected, so interning with WEA seemed like the perfect way to integrate all of my values into impactful work.
 
Tell us about a woman or women-led movement that who inspires you. 
I am extremely inspired by my grandmother. She grew up during a time when women were discouraged from going to school, but she still went to college and fiercely encouraged my sister and I to pursue our education and passions because she knew that education is vital for improving one’s life.
 
Why women and why the environment?
I profoundly agree with the way WEA frames this issue: when women thrive, the earth thrives. The environment and women are uniquely linked in that they are both beautiful sources of nourishment and life, yet they are often taken for granted and abused. If we can reverse our extractivist mentality about both women and the environment, I think we can mend past harms born of ignorance, selfishness, and inequality to ensure that women and the earth thrive far into the future.
 
What does your life outside WEA look like?
My life outside of WEA includes a lot of reading in bed with my dog, exploring San Francisco on weekends, taking care of my plants, and spending as much time as I can outside hiking and camping.
 
What’s your favorite thing to do in the Bay Area?
I love to explore the diverse art and culture that the Bay Area has to offer. You can usually find me on some form of public transportation trying to get to a museum, concert, restaurant, or art fair.
 
What are you currently reading / watching / listening to?
I am currently reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (which is extremely important for anyone who has ever benefited from modern medical advancements to read so they can understand the deep intersections and inequalities involved with race, gender, education, class, and health) and a trilogy by Philip Pullman. For comic relief I have been watching Broad City and The Good Place. I am listening to Shakey Graves, Kendrick Lamar, and several podcasts including Nancy, Ear Hustle, and The Moth (all highly recommended!!).

Meet The Interns: Hi, Arianna!

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Wondering who’s helping to keep the magic behind our social media going this summer? Please help us welcome Arianna to our WEA intern team! She a senior at the University of San Francisco, and will be using her passion for writing and social change to support our communications and the women environmental leaders we work with around the world.

Get to know Arianna better below!

Name: Arianna Casabonne

Hometown: Brentwood, California

If you had a super power what would it be (and why)? If I could have one superpower it would be to teleport. Partially because I would love to be able to easily travel the world, but also because it would be so convenient to be able to show up where ever I need to be immediately. I would never have to commute or ride the bus!

Why did you want to intern with WEA? I really wanted to intern with an organization that was doing work that I could identify with on a more personal level, and WEA is just that! The current state of the environment and where we’re heading makes it absolutely urgent that we take care of our planet. Also, for as long as I can remember I’ve always felt passionate about women’s rights and leadership. WEA’s mission is a great fit for what I’m interested in and what I want to work towards.

Tell us about a woman who inspires you. My mom, of course! She works extremely hard and handles everything and everyone around her with patience, love, and kindness. I aspire to be a woman like her who is dedicated and hardworking but also kind and empathetic to people and the environment.

Why women and the environment? Women are disproportionately affected by environmental catastrophes. When girls have to give up on their education and future careers to help their families as a result of environmental difficulties, an inequality that already exists is deepened.

What does life outside of WEA look like? I love spending time writing, drawing, listening to music, and working on crafty projects. I attend a lot of music festivals and love trying new things with my friends. I just moved back from a 5 month stay in France so I’m working on growing my plant collection again.

What’s you favorite thing to do in the bay area? There is so many it’s impossible to choose! I live in San Francisco so of course I love Dolores park, Golden Gate park, and Off The Gird. I’m always looking out for artists I love playing at small venues in the city.

What are you currently reading / watching / listening to? The Gorrilaz just came out with a new album so I’ve been listening to that a lot, but I love so much music It’s impossible to name it all. Right now, I’m reading Joan Didion’s Slouching Towards Bethlehem. Every summer I watch a show called Big Brother with my friends and my mom. Although I don’t love reality TV, we get really into this show and schedule times to watch it together.

Meet the Interns: Hey, Sadie!

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WEA is ecstatic to introduce you to one of our newest interns, Sadie! Her passion and devotion to protecting women and the environment makes her a perfect addition to our Programs + Operations Team. Sadie will be bringing her incredible skill set and warm spirit to our team for the rest of summer, and we’re so honored!

Help us welcome Sadie and read more about her below!

Name: Sadie Gray

Hometown: pacific palisades, CA

If you had a super power what would it be (and why)? I wish I had the ability to teleport because being able to travel anywhere on the planet in an instant would be a dream come true!

Why did you want to intern with WEA? As a Global Studies major with a concentration in Development, I’ve spent time studying how international development can often be more destructive than beneficial. Many development projects go wrong or go nowhere because organizations do not work on local levels, overlooking communication with those they are trying to help. WEA stood out to me because it is different in this sense, WEA’s philosophy embraces empowerment and education of women in local communities where things like climate change and contaminated water are effecting their daily lives. I’ve always been passionate about working to protect the environment, but felt as though there was so little I could actually do to effect change. Once I came across WEA, my view changed because I realized I could be involved in an organization that creates tangible change with all the right people in all the right places.

Tell us about a woman who inspires you. I’ve long been inspired by the career of Maria Shriver. She’s been a champion of women from all walks of life. During her time as first lady of California, she created The Women’s Conference which donated millions to women’s charities. Her work covers so many different bases, from investing in female entrepreneurs, to providing health care – she has always has women’s rights and empowerment as the foundation of her career.

Why women and why the environment? women have time and time again proven that they are are resilient and eager to deal with issues facing the  environment, despite being unprivileged in access to resources, education, and information. Women often face the burden of being the sole farmer and water provider for their families, but as climate change challenges normalcy of their daily routine, young girls are dropping out of school to help their mothers. This only perpetuates the inequality gap we see between men and women. That’s why its so important that we make an effort to work for and with the communities of women who are willing to improve the future of the environment.

What does life outside of WEA look like? I am a student at UC Berkeley, but when I am not occupied with schoolwork I love spending time outdoors and being active. Spending time with friends & family, cooking and drawing are my favorite ways to unwind!

What’s your favorite thing to do in the bay area? My favorite thing in the bay is hiking up the Clark Kerr fire trails at sunset, the view from the top is amazing and the hike is short but steep!

What are you currently reading / watching / listening to? I am currently trying to learn Spanish so I am re-watching Grace & Frankie on Netflix, but this time in Spanish! I’m reading Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn and loving listening to Leon Bridges and Jacob Banks.

Ripple Academy Project Update

Project: The Ripple Academy

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Exciting things are “rippling” away here at Ripple Academy HQ, and we can’t wait to share them with you!

1) Our design committee comprised of a global team of grassroots and organizational development leaders is building off of best practices from our combined 35 years of training programming. Over the last year, we carried out user surveys and listening sessions to build a light-framed and flexible curriculum framework. We are now piloting the Ripple Academy through a series of “Learning Labs” in India, in 2018 to generate direct input from participants, refine the curriculum, and strengthen the design for greatest impacts. Each Lab includes 3 days of in-person training followed by remote group video calls, mentorship, small group discussions, and exercises through our online platform. The Labs are laying the groundwork for the year-long program, while delivering valuable content to participants and building our trainer and partner community in the process. If you’re a woman leader in India, be sure to apply to join our India Ripple Academy Learning Lab today!

2) We’re designing the Ripple Academy Impact Dashboard, a data visualization tool based on a unique set of metrics that mix global and community-designed, qualitative and quantitative measures of success. Global indicators include Sustainable Development Goals, Project Drawdown metrics (like Gigatons Reduced of CO2), and the W+ Standard (measuring improvements in women’s social capital, like income, economic mobility, # businesses started, # women trained by participants etc.). Community-designed metrics encourage communities to define their own metrics of success, (like # of meals per day) and include qualitative stories of change.

3) We’re building a sustainability program to make the Ripple Academy self-funded in 5 years. When it’s ready to launch, you’ll be the first to know!

To learn more about the Ripple Academy, and for way to support this work, visit the Ripple Academy Project page.

Puerto Rico and Gendered Natural Disaster Resilience

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In September 2017, Hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated Puerto Rico and wiped out much of the island’s infrastructure. Hurricane Irma touched down on the island first, and left approximately 1 million residents out of the island’s 3.4 million without power. Two weeks later, Hurricane Maria, a Category 4 Hurricane, left more than 60% of the island without water and almost all without electricity. It was the worst hurricane to have ever hit Puerto Rico.

(US Department of Defense)

The hurricanes severely damaged the island’s power grid, and nine months later, Puerto Rico’s residents are still frustrated by the lack of power and stability available. Although electricity has at long last been restored to a majority of neighborhoods, many are still struck by random power outages which, at times, lasts for hours. This instability has kept residents in a state of perpetual limbo, uncertain when they’ll be able to return to anything resembling normal.

As Puerto Rico continues to grapple with the catastrophic scale of destruction on the island, it is crucial that we lift up those who are most often disproportionately impacted by natural disasters. While natural disasters affect all in its wake, research has shown that women and girls are at greater risk in post-disaster regions. Using data from more than 140 countries, the United Nations Development Program recognized the complex relationship between gender equality and natural disaster resilience, finding that natural disasters lower women’s life expectancy more so than for men – 14 times more. Many times, this is because women traditionally serve as primary caregivers in families and are often tasked with caring for (and therefore ensuring the safety of) children and the elderly.

Even in the aftermath of natural disasters, women remain at risk, often experiencing high levels of violence as a result of cramped and overcrowded shelters. Furthermore, UNDP found that women are more susceptible to sexual and domestic violence following disasters when possible perpetrators’ feelings of helplessness and loss of control are heightened. Prior to Hurricanes Maria and Irma in September, women in Puerto Rico already experienced high rates of violence as well as higher rates of poverty among women. These are often compounding factors; in post-Hurricane Katrina Louisiana, for example, many of those who faced the most violence were also those who experienced the deepest poverty – African American women and children.

(FEMA Photo Library)

As climate change-induced natural disasters increase, we will undoubtedly be faced with more hurricanes, typhoons, earthquakes, flooding and brush fires. It is critical that we center the needs of women and girls, both in disaster prevention and relief efforts. While women’s vulnerability post-disaster is great, so too is their strength and leadership to connect, support, and rebuild communities.

Here are just a few local organizations in Puerto Rico working to rebuild their communities: