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Calling Women Leaders in India – Inaugural India Ripple Academy Learning Lab Applications Are Open

Project: The Ripple Academy

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Applications for the India Ripple Academy Learning Lab are now open and we’re looking for women environmental leaders who are ready to strengthen and grow their work. If you are a leader in your community in India and working to transform environmental challenges into solutions, WEA invites you to apply to join our Ripple Academy Learning Lab! Environmental solutions could include safe drinking water, sustainable farming, clean cookstoves, seed saving, women’s land ownership and/or stewardship, ecotourism, food security, community disaster preparedness, and climate resilience among others. Applications are due July 31, 2018.

The India Learning Lab will be a 2-month program that includes a 3-day workshop in Rishikesh, September 14-16, and interactive online training. The Lab will support women leaders across India to strengthen their grassroots environmental initiatives and solutions, increasing the impact and sustainability of their vital work. In addition, Learning Lab participants will gain a greater sense of personal resilience and empowerment through connection with other women leaders working on similar initiatives in their region, building a powerful support system that will last long after the Learning Lab is complete. The 2-month journey will include:

  • Trainings on project design and management for impact, entrepreneurship, fundraising and marketing strategies, leadership, and special topics on environmental sectors
  • Discussion forums to share challenges, solutions, questions, and resources
  • Relationship-building with other women leaders, potential mentors, and specialists
  • Activities to celebrate participants’ unique cultural traditions (dances, songs, stories)
  • Exercises to promote self-care and resilience

As environmental issues intensify, women are often those most impacted by its effects, and are also those best positioned to address these impacts. Therefore, we recognize how crucial it is to invest in women and the solutions they know will work best for their communities. Fewer than 7% of global philanthropic dollars goes directly toward investing in women despite it being proven as the #1 most effective environmental and social welfare investment. WEA’s work centers women’s leadership, recognizing that the time is now to ensure that women environmental leaders on the frontlines are supported, resourced, and networked. The India Ripple Academy Learning Lab will equip these women leaders with resources and tools to forge high-impact environmental solutions that scale so they can do their work of protecting our earth and empowering communities.  

The Ripple Academy is a partnership of WEA and United Religions Initiative (URI).

Read more about the India Learning Lab and apply here.

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.

Join Us at The 2018 Women in Green Forum!

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Women’s Earth Alliance is beyond excited to attend the Women in Green Forum this upcoming August, and we would love to see you there too! The 9th Annual Women in Green Forum (WIGF) will convene leaders in the environmental movement, drawing an international audience of sustainability experts including academic researchers, CSR executives, energy analysts, and technology developers. The WIGF also appeals to regulatory agencies involved in developing policies and legislation surrounding green technologies for the private and public sectors. This is an opportunity for sustainability professionals from all sectors to share ideas and create lasting partnerships.

WEA is looking forward to participating in a forum that supports women’s leadership in the environmental industry. Use our 10% discount code to save on your Early Bird ticket! However, Early Bird tickets are only sold until this Friday, June 15th then the discount can only be applied to full price tickets. Use this link here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/9th-annual-women-in-green-foru

Join us this August 16, 2018 at the Luxe Sunset Boulevard Hotel for the 9th Annual Women in Green Forum! See you there!

A note from WEA’s Founder

This year-end note from WEA’s Founder, Melinda Kramer, is one way we keep our community up to date on the important news impacting our work and world and ways you can get involved!

In this year’s letter, Melinda shares our dream for the kinds of contributions that can best support WEA at year-end:

  1. 20 monthly supporters step forward at the $25, $50, or $125 level. Pooled together, these monthly gifts cover the costs for a woman leader to participate in a year of WEA training;
  2. 5 donors join our Giving Circle, a dynamic group of supporters who pledge $5,000-$50,000 each year for 3 years. This gives us the runway we need to plan our multi-year programming, serving our grassroots partners in a sustained way;
  3. 40 people make a one-time gift of $75 before Dec. 31st so we can meet a $3,000 match made by a generous WEA champion;
  4. 3 people agree to host an event or house party for WEA in 2018, introducing their community to our work;
  5. One person joins the Founders Circle of our Ripple Academy, a group that underwrites the program that will scale our impact across multiple regions.

Read the note in its entirety here, and be sure to sign up on our website to get all our updates in the future.

Seeds of Resilience: An update from our Seed Savers in India

Project: Planting Seeds of Resilience in Southern India

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Our Seeds of Resilience project has been underway for almost a year now and we are excited to share the progress being made to date in Southern India! This project, in partnership with Vanastree, aims to build communities’ seed and food sovereignty, catalyze intergenerational traditional knowledge sharing and strengthen women’s leadership, especially in the face of chemical-based agriculture’s influence on the Western Ghats region and mounting threats of climate change.

Photo Credit: Vanastree

Organic Home Gardening and Seed Saving

“Women lead their communities in intergenerational knowledge transfer advocacy and behavior change for small scale food systems.” -Sunita, Founder of Vanastree

The project began with a series of trainings, gatherings and projects that brought a select group of 20 women farmers from Karnataka, India together to gain new home-scale food production skills, micro-finance management skills,leadership skills, and self-empowerment skills. More recently, the gatherings for seed saving practices and gardening skills have taken the shape of communal knowledge sharing spaces, where experienced master gardeners share the skills they have accumulated throughout their tenure with those women farmers who are newly learning. This element of the project has been extremely successful in transferring knowledge between women and keeping these intergenerational traditional practices alive!

Photo Credit: Vanastree

From the start of the project, the women farmers and seed savers were also encouraged to maintain home garden journals to help them know the plants they are growing in their gardens, what they eat from there, what problems they face and how they can improve their food gardens. This tool has been so successful that the women plan to continue keeping a new journal in the coming year.


Micro-Enterprises and Financial Management

A core aspect of the trainings  has been building the micro-enterprise and financial management capacity of the women participants. Trainings focused on helping women become more cognizant of the financial demands of running a profitable seed saving business, a concept the women found challenging to master.  A recent refresher training shed light on their struggles and led to Vanastree’s decision to provide ongoing support to the women to help ensure the long-term sustainability of their businesses.

Photo Credit: Vanastree

One master home gardener and seed saver, Suvarna (photo below), has a nursery from which she sells her very well-known dahlia flowers. The Seeds of Resilience trainings have taught her how to maintain accurate financial records of how much is going into maintaining and growing her nursery as well as what she is receiving for her life’s work.  

“The finance management and micro-enterprise training workshop made me think for the first time about money and resources that go into producing something. I learnt how to cost expenses, and to track profit and loss. It will take practice and time, but I can see how much more careful and aware I have become now.” -Suvarna, master gardener and seed saver

Photo Credit: Vanastree

Kusuma, another woman participant, has also been keeping financial records in order to help inform decisions on how to grow her enterprise of bamboo curios (earrings and things).


Growth and Leadership at Home and in Community

One of the most important things we believe at WEA is the power of women to become influential leaders in their communities. Our Seeds of Resilience training included a leadership workshop that was organized and facilitated  by Vanastree. After leaving the workshop, the women participants had a new understanding of what characteristics make up a leader:

“A leader is someone who is capable of listening to everyone’s joys and sorrows, melding it together, and taking people forward as one group, hands entwined.” -Vinoda Naik, woman farmer and trainee

“A leader is someone who inspires courage in people, gets them to boldly cross thresholds they have not crossed before…who wants progress for all, regardless of their caste or religion.” -Vasumati Bhat, woman farmer and trainee

In fact, one of the most powerful drivers emerging from this project is that although the women enjoy their time in their gardens, growing various things and sharing what they grow and learn in their communities, they have become even more motivated by the leadership skills they have acquired and wish to share with other women.

One woman, Gayathri, who grows a lot of vegetables in her home garden, told our partner — “I never left my home alone”. Her daughter did brilliantly in her high school and was admitted to an engineering college 100km away. Post-leadership workshop, Gayathri felt empowered to be solely responsible for accompanying her daughter to this new town, pay her daughter’s college fees, find and settle her daughter into a hostel, and then return home.  She said “If you told me this last year…that I could do this… I would not have believed it!”

Photo Credit: Vanastree

We are so excited to how these women grow their seed businesses and home gardens.  We also want to say a big thank you to our partner Vanastree for all the amazing work they are doing in this region!

For more on WEA’s work with women farmers in India, visit our Seeds of Resilience Project.