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An innovative partnership for peace, justice and environmental healing

Project: The Ripple Academy

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Have you heard about The Ripple Academy?

For the last 6 months, WEA and United Religions Initiative have worked together to develop a framework and launch this innovative new partnership, and we couldn’t be more excited to be working together to support more women around the world than ever before!

This holistic training program merges the very best of our organizational models, integrating leadership, conflict resolution, and peace-building with action-oriented skills and tools for on-the-ground impact. By combining WEA’s capacity-building training model with URI’s vast network of women’s circles around the world, thousands more will be reached and provided with the skills and tools necessary to spark lasting change.

For WEA and URI, this partnership has been like finding a long-lost sibling. As URI Executive Director Rev. Victor Kazanjian explains, our organizations share a “deep-rooted connection to the empowerment of grassroots people.” WEA and URI are both organizations deeply invested in listening rather than telling. We share the core understanding that the wisdom necessary for communities to create change already exists within those communities.

URI Director Rev. Victor Kazanjian (right) with special guests at the launch of “The Ripple Academy” in early March. Photo: Eli Zaturanski Photography

After years of arriving at the same conclusions – that environmental protection and women’s empowerment are essential precursors to developing stable and thriving communities worldwide – our organizations have chosen to link efforts to develop a unified strategy that will create a greater impact than either organization could achieve on its own.

For URI, this comes from years of understanding the nature of patriarchal religions, shares Victor. URI has worked in over 97 countries worldwide, and has seen that women are often the most effective grassroots leaders in their communities, despite the structural and societal limitations they face. This experience has strengthened URI’s commitment to working with and supporting women’s leadership networks. Women are getting the work done!

“What we know is this,” Victor says. “Where women thrive, communities thrive.” WEA obviously could not agree more!

The Ripple Academy is not about outside experts telling communities what is needed. This innovative partnership will provide training to women grassroots change-makers so they have the skills they need to affirm their own visions for their communities.

“We are both light framed organizations,” Victor explains, “we are not organizations looking to build a big center that dictates what should be done. We’re not a development agency. We push resources out into communities to women so they can create change in their own communities.

URI and WEA come together at a critical time – when efforts to build bridges across nations, learn from each other, and activate people power are needed more than ever. Our partnership enables both organizations to reach deeper and wider, catalyzing a global ripple effect that begins in our communities. The time is now.

WEA and URI launch The Ripple Academy! 

Project: The Ripple Academy

Women’s Earth Alliance and United Religions Initiative have joined forces to launch The Ripple Academy, a coordinated training experience to equip leading change-makers with the skills, tools, and alliances they need to build bridges of cooperation and environmental solutions for generations to come.

Designed collaboratively by a global team, The Ripple Academy will bring together the best of URI and WEA’s training models. In its first year, 15-20 grassroots women leaders will complete coordinated trainings, building their skills in leadership, action planning and environmental stewardship. Ripple Academy participants will transform grassroots initiatives into high-impact and scalable projects with long-term ripple effects. Technical and entrepreneurship training, a networking platform, leadership skills, and mentorship will empower participants to organize communities, mobilize resources, and launch environmental projects and campaigns.

This is the ripple effect that WEA and URI have seen again and again in our work — that agency, skills, and empowerment build upon themselves exponentially.

WEA and URI have nurtured networks of committed grassroots leaders in a combined 100 countries over 28 years. Our organizations share a core commitment to following the lead of the grassroots leaders who are on the ground, sparking change in their own communities. As URI Director Rev. Victor Kazanjian said, “We are both light-framed organizations. We are not organizations looking to build a big center that dictates what should be done. We’re not a development agency. We push resources out into communities to women so they can create change in their own communities.”

WHY WOMEN AND THE ENVIRONMENT?

Because when women thrive, the natural world, peace, and justice thrive. As underscored by countless governments, development agencies, and the United Nations alike, women are often both the most impacted by conflict and environmental crises, as well as best positioned to design and spread solutions. This work fosters women’s environmental leadership because without a healthy natural world and access to water, food and clean energy, peace cannot flourish.

WEA and this partnership with URI — this is not small. This is at the very core and very heart of what it is we have to understand, enable, support, protect, honor, and allow to come forth…We can reverse global warming but we can’t unless we empower the majority of the world. And that would be women and girls.”
— Paul Hawken, Author, Entrepreneur, WEA Advisory Board Member

Download our brochure for more information on The Ripple Academy.

Stories are seeds that grow

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This International Women’s Day we are celebrating women storytellers around the world who protect our earth and safeguard our histories and traditions. Today kicks off a month-long tech drive to Support Women to Tell Their Stories. We are seeking donations of digital cameras, iPhones and other recording devices, iPod Touches, and laptop computers. 

As part of WEA’s training model, women participants gain skills in multimedia and storytelling so they can design and share their own narratives. Participants learn how to use cameras, recording devices, and laptops, as well as master effective storytelling and dissemination. Imagine how quickly our grassroots partners will be able to share replicable solutions with access to better tech tools!

Check out this slideshow from WEA Project Partner Vanastree. It depicts the Malnad Mela — a seed sharing festival in Bengaluru, India. This annual event spreads and celebrates women’s indigenous knowledge of their food forests, builds local economies around indigenous seed and food, and exchanges vital information about adapting to climate changes. Our partners could really benefit from having the tools they need to tell more stories like this.

To support women storytellers around the world on International Women’s Day, check out this flyer for details. Don’t have any tech to donate at the moment but still want to get involved? We are also accepting financial contributions!

Learn more here.

Fire, water, seeds, action!

Have you read our Winter WEAvings Newsletter? These quarterly emails are just one way we keep our community up to date on the amazing work our partners are doing, the exciting happenings behind the scenes here at WEA, important news impacting our work and world, and ways you can get involved!

In this newsletter we shared:

 

WEA winter newsletter 2017 new

Check WEAvings out here, and be sure to sign up on our website to get all our updates in the future.

Call for Donations: technology for storytelling

Project: Planting Seeds of Resilience in Southern India

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Vanastree Ashraya Seva Trust 7

We’re excited to share a new opportunity to support women seed savers and forest home gardeners in the Western Ghats of South India! From February 1-15, WEA will be collecting donated tech equipment that will go toward our work with Vanastree, our partner on the Seeds of Resilience Project, and the women we serve on the ground.

As climatic vulnerabilities increase in the Western Ghats and the pressures of agro-chemical market forces grow, it is particularly critical that women seed leaders and entrepreneurs are equipped to raise their voices and share the inextricably connected narrative of seed and life.

A core part of our work with Vanastree will be training women in multimedia and storytelling tools that will enable them to tell their stories of seed sovereignty, food sovereignty, and the future they envision for their communities. Trainings includes how to use cameras, recording devices, and laptops, as well as how to document their stories in authentic and compelling ways that can be shared with their communities in South India, as well as our communities here in the US. At the end of this project, we hope to be able to hold an exhibit to bring this work to light and support these farmers as they share their stories of transformation with the world.

We are seeking donations of cameras, iPhones, iPod Touches, and Mac laptops. Specifically, we are looking for:

Cameras:

  • Digital DSLR or mirrorless camera bodies with lenses and necessary accessories (especially batteries). Any make or model from 2003 or later.

Hand held devices:

  • iPhones, generation 4 or up, with working photo/audio/video recording. iPhones do not need to be unlocked for international SIM card use, as they won’t be used as phones. However, they do need to be passcode unlocked.
  • iPod Touch, generation 4 or up, with working photo/audio/video recording.

Laptops:

  • Any Mac model laptop (Macbook, Macbook Pro, Air) from 2009 or later.

PLEASE NOTE: Our women partners will not be able to use anything that needs repair, like a cracked screen or a battery that won’t hold a charge. Please wipe all the devices of personal information and make sure nothing is password protected.

If you’d like to make a “Technology for Storytelling” donation, and are in the Berkeley, CA area and would like to drop off your donation, please send us a quick email to coordinate a day and time. Otherwise, all donations can be mailed to WEA at:

Women’s Earth Alliance
The David Brower Center
2150 Allston Way, Ste. 460
Berkeley, CA 94704